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Missing Rules

Reynard

Legend
In other cases, level of success may change the result. Leaping across a chasm and get a 5? You're hanging on by one hand and may still fall. Get a 10? Okay, you made it but you still have to pull yourself up as an action and so on.
Do you ever find that players are uncomfortable with that sort of uncertainty? I only ask because I have a couple players that do not like arbitrary shifts in difficulty for essentially identical tasks. For them, swinging on a chandelier or running up broken stairs should have a consistent DC. Of course circumstances can modify that difficulty and that's one place where 5E really shines: advantage and disadvantage are truly inspired mechanics for making rulings on the fly.

In short, I think you can have both.
 

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jgsugden

Legend
Your PCs have heights and distances they can clearly jump. If they want to go beyond that, you decide how hard it is and assign a DC to the ability check. Those are the rules and they seem pretty easy to me to adjudicate.

As for missing rules? Psionics.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Do you ever find that players are uncomfortable with that sort of uncertainty? I only ask because I have a couple players that do not like arbitrary shifts in difficulty for essentially identical tasks. For them, swinging on a chandelier or running up broken stairs should have a consistent DC. Of course circumstances can modify that difficulty and that's one place where 5E really shines: advantage and disadvantage are truly inspired mechanics for making rulings on the fly.

In short, I think you can have both.
You can't please everyone all the time, so I aim to please the majority most of the time.

But take the broken staircase as an example. In the case of a stone staircase it was loose bits of rubble and steps breaking off so acrobatics seemed appropriate. But how broken is it? Is it missing sections you have to leap across which might make athletics more appropriate? A wooden staircase with half-burned steps so use perception? Was there a pattern to the burn marks so investigation (particularly for that PC with the carpenter background)?

The same situation may call for different checks based on how I know my players will approach it. One may just take plow through while another may dodge gracefully. Someone may not have the strength to jump a chasm but I've described roots hanging down from the ceiling so they want to jump and swing across using an acrobatics check.

Last, but not least, I simply don't tell them a target number. I just describe the scene and let them know if there's a risk of failure and why.
 

Reynard

Legend
Your PCs have heights and distances they can clearly jump. If they want to go beyond that, you decide how hard it is and assign a DC to the ability check. Those are the rules and they seem pretty easy to me to adjudicate.

As for missing rules? Psionics.
What is the difficulty you would assign a 15' standing long jump? How did you arrive at that DC?
 


Reynard

Legend
Last, but not least, I simply don't tell them a target number. I just describe the scene and let them know if there's a risk of failure and why.
I use blind rolls too, usually to assess success when there is really no chance of failure, or when I don't have a preconceived notion of the outcome. Like say the PCs decide to go carousing in search of a loose lipped castle guard. That's a thing will little threat and likely success, so an appropriate check will help me as DM decide what exactly they find. A poor roll and they'll have to spend a decent amount in drinks. A good roll and they find a disgruntled peon looking to get back at his supervisor.

But those kinds of checks a different than the jump check IMO.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Right but the description of Athletics says you can use the skill to jump unusually long distances but provides no guidelines on that use of the skill. That's the sort of thing I am talking about.
If there were rules for it, it wouldn't be an unusually long distance. It would be a usually long distance for everyone with the skill. My take is that it's for once in a while "if we don't make the extra few feet we're dead" situations, and the DM needs to make that call.
 

Reynard

Legend
If there were rules for it, it wouldn't be an unusually long distance. It would be a usually long distance for everyone with the skill. My take is that it's for once in a while "if we don't make the extra few feet we're dead" situations, and the DM needs to make that call.
So what DC would you assign to that roll?
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
If there were rules for it, it wouldn't be an unusually long distance. It would be a usually long distance for everyone with the skill. My take is that it's for once in a while "if we don't make the extra few feet we're dead" situations, and the DM needs to make that call.
Short of there being some circumstance in the environment like, I don't know, a springboard or something that the PCs could use to get a few extra feet from their jumps, then the normal speed and jumping rules apply and they simply die in my view. The standard approach to jumping wouldn't work as they'd fall short. They're going to have to come up with something else.
 

smbakeresq

Explorer
We had a thread on this before. I use 4e rules, the DC is the number of feet you want to jump using a running start, with your minimum as STR score. You add your athletics modifier also. So 25 feet is DC 25 with a running start of 10’ or 5’ with Athlete feat. Standing jumps are half those values.

This makes Boots of Striding and Springing worth attunement, tripling your jump ability is pretty big as an 20 Str PC can always jump 30’ from standing start.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
You can't please everyone all the time, so I aim to please the majority most of the time.

But take the broken staircase as an example. In the case of a stone staircase it was loose bits of rubble and steps breaking off so acrobatics seemed appropriate. But how broken is it? Is it missing sections you have to leap across which might make athletics more appropriate? A wooden staircase with half-burned steps so use perception? Was there a pattern to the burn marks so investigation (particularly for that PC with the carpenter background)?

The same situation may call for different checks based on how I know my players will approach it. One may just take plow through while another may dodge gracefully. Someone may not have the strength to jump a chasm but I've described roots hanging down from the ceiling so they want to jump and swing across using an acrobatics check.

Last, but not least, I simply don't tell them a target number. I just describe the scene and let them know if there's a risk of failure and why.
Yup on the not one true way bandwagon, i treat characters as befits their statistics... which often means they would have an idea whether a task is say in the range of 95% fail likely or 95% success likely... so i actually do not do blind checks.

They may not know factors which would alter the DC, but i at least give them the benefit of the doubt based on the factors they know.

I am no athelete but if someone were to drop a plastic bag of socks to me from the second floor i would have a good idea whether or not i was likely to catch it... and if it were a plastic bag of heavy bricks i would know differently... nothing blind except the final outcome.

For a proficient character looking at a task... nothing blind except those things they dont know.

It just always seemed to me the games play out better when the assumption of competence comes from the character and players are able to make informed choices, rather than blind ones, in the longer scheme of things across many different types of games. its much more dramatic when they know their chances and take the risk as opposed to just blindsiding them with "maybe, maybe not" odds making.
 

Reynard

Legend
It just always seemed to me the games play out better when the assumption of competence comes from the character and players are able to make informed choices,
Doesn't that require consistency and transparency, as afforded by a set of specific DCs for actions?
 

I guess I was just taken aback because it had never come up before, at least in a way that had us searching for a rule. Usually I design my own adventures and run improvisationally (which, to be clear, means I really like 5e for that) but since last night I decided to quickly grab a module I was surprised to be presented with a very specific sort of challenge with specific rules to run it. Now, it was one of the Lair Assaults, which I believe were 4e modules, so it may be partly an issue of conversion and different assumptions. The same sort of challenge written natively for 5e might have presented the difficulty in a different way.
I like having those per skill charts. Even if I decide to ignore them, because they serve as mental benchmarks. I can compare what kind of jump the designers consider "difficult" to my own perspective and make a fast, reasonable ruling. If i don't have anything to go on, i feel a little less certain. I am not a huge fan of story-based DCs (assigning difficulty based on how i want the scene to feel or whatever) because it cuts into player agency, IMO. Slightly less fuzzy benchmarks help them make meaningful decisions (and enjoy the consequences of success or failure). Obviously, YMMV and I get the desire to eliminate those pages and pages of charts.
Comparing these two posts is interesting.
Yes, it's handy to have some skill DC examples. But, as you said, you never made such a check before. So even if there had been a chart in the book, you likely wouldn't know it off the top of your head. And so you'd have to pull out the rulebook, read the chart, and decide what DC fits best. That's going to slow things down compared to just saying "ummm... make an Athletics check."

Out of curiosity, do you think consistency is important in the DM's adjudication, or do you think the immediate needs of a given action or scene are more important?
If I can't remember how I made a call previously, then the players likely won't either. If they ask, if I made it easier previously, I'll generally rule in their favour (unless I can think of a good reason otherwise).
 

Caliban

Rules Monkey
I guess I was just taken aback because it had never come up before, at least in a way that had us searching for a rule.
Given how many years 5e has been out and this just now came up...maybe the designers were right and it's not a common enough situation to need a specific
rule?
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
Doesn't that require consistency and transparency, as afforded by a set of specific DCs for actions?
It requires a good degree of consistency within the campaign - yes.

i consider it a intentional goal of mine to apply a fairly consistent set of Dcs, derived from the basics outlined in the DMG and the concept of "who could do this reasonably" or "who set the challenge up."

if the answer is "not skilled at it and not exceptionally adept (non-proficient and no ability score boost) the DC is 10

if the answer is "either skilled or adept but not both" (either proficient or ability boost but not both) the DC is 15.

If the answer is "skilled and adept both" the answer is 20.

After that the question becomes one of resources:
if the circumstances are such that extra resources were brought to bear on the "setup" or necessary resources are absent that are needed the DC gets worse up to 25. An example would be a wealthy sort who hired very very good security and gave them lots of resources due to being paranoid.

if the circumstances are the reverse - maybe a tightward who after hiring a good firm cut back and underpiad them etc... or the money dried up so upkeep did not keep going... DC can drop by 5 down to 5

They key is you do not need pre-set book provided laundry list of generic DCs for pre-defined tasks - you need a consitent set of standards that can be used over and over again.

Obviously when you hit cases of direct and active opposition the idea of "who vs who" becomes more obvious but the same sort of principle is more or less imbedded in the DMG recommendations that include the 10-15-20 are fine bits etc.

For example, i could not answer the question of the DC for a 20' standing jump cuz a lot of things matter including the strength of the jumper (to give me an idea of what his default minimum would be so i know how "unusually long" this jump is.)

But thats how i run it and so far it has worked great. My players and i seem on the same page the vast majority of the time and they make informed decisions and have no problem accepting a variety of outcomes.

But, my advice for a GM who has issues between his players and himself over skill DCs would be two-fold - first try and be consistent and let your basic prinicple be established publically session zero and Second consider the PHB "progress with setback" reference from the PHB as to what a failed skill check is very carefully and realize you have a very wide lattitude even if you do not go as far as the "success at cost" and other minimal success type options in the DMG.

I find reasonable process for assigning DCs (as they provided) much better than scads upon scads of pre-fabbed lists of Dcs that may or may not apply.

EDIT TO ADD: By the way, a side benefit of this is when the PCs in an otherwise ratty scale inn find a chest with a DC25 lock they cannot pick - its a clue they pick up on that something is not as it should be, something is out of place, etc. thats part of the advantage of a campaign where consistency and informed decisions are common - outstanding elements are features not bugs. its a cue to me the Gm to describe things a certain way and for PCs to question the whys and wherefores of whats going on.
 
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robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
We had an impromptu Fantasy grounds session (due to technical difficulties with another Roll20 game) and I quick purchased a module. In it there is a room with some hanging platforms, so we had to look up the jumping rules.
It seems to me that this is a failure of the adventure rather than the rules. All the adventure writer needed to do was suggest a DC for jumping between the platforms (and what happens if the PCs fail) as this is an obvious thing for PCs to attempt in the room (obviously not every scenario needs to be analyzed, but the basic parameters of the challenges of the room should be documented).

Basically suggest a ruling for uncertain DMs rather than just leaving it up in the air (so to speak), and making people reach for the rulebook.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
It seems to me that this is a failure of the adventure rather than the rules. All the adventure writer needed to do was suggest a DC for jumping between the platforms (and what happens if the PCs fail) as this is an obvious thing for PCs to attempt in the room (obviously not every scenario needs to be analyzed, but the basic parameters of the challenges of the room should be documented).

Basically suggest a ruling for uncertain DMs rather than just leaving it up in the air (so to speak), and making people reach for the rulebook.
i would suggest that it depends on the nature of the module.

if it is an introductory module where the goal is to illustrate and teach the game and system then yes by all means eat up space with info expanding on each mechanical aspect of significance.

But if it is one for say tier-2 characters, then one should expect in module design a reasonable system-fu for some of the basics like say "jumping" and not have to offer up space for "here are the relevant rules cites" for tasks they expect the PCs to take.

basically, not every module has to be built for novices who do not know the rules and eat up space for it.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
i would suggest that it depends on the nature of the module.

if it is an introductory module where the goal is to illustrate and teach the game and system then yes by all means eat up space with info expanding on each mechanical aspect of significance.

But if it is one for say tier-2 characters, then one should expect in module design a reasonable system-fu for some of the basics like say "jumping" and not have to offer up space for "here are the relevant rules cites" for tasks they expect the PCs to take.

basically, not every module has to be built for novices who do not know the rules and eat up space for it.
I'm not saying there needs to be rules - but a simple: "Jumping between platforms is hard (DC 20)." I've not seen the module but some indication of the expected degree of difficulty navigating the room doesn't seem too much. I think module writers often get distracted by the coolness of their creations and forget to give some basic info that would make running things with little prep much easier.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I'm not saying there needs to be rules - but a simple: "Jumping between platforms is hard (DC 20)."
And that would only be necessary if something about the platform or some other element of the circumstances complicated the jumping. Otherwise, the PCs just jump according to their Strength and speed. If they can't clear the distance, then they'll need to figure out another solution.

This comes up with some frequency in my games. The Str 8 to 10 characters always slow down the party!
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I'm not saying there needs to be rules - but a simple: "Jumping between platforms is hard (DC 20)." I've not seen the module but some indication of the expected degree of difficulty navigating the room doesn't seem too much. I think module writers often get distracted by the coolness of their creations and forget to give some basic info that would make running things with little prep much easier.
Not knowing the scene, jumping between platforms could be automatic if you have a high enough strength. Or if some PCs can't make it there may need to be some teamwork.

Or it's just a poorly written mod. All I can say is how I've run it. I can also say that writing mods is not simple, so assuming that they're blinded by their own brilliance doesn't help much.
 

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