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Missing Rules

Reynard

Legend
This comes up with some frequency in my games. The Str 8 to 10 characters always slow down the party!
Which suggests there is something missing from the rules in light of the statement "Your Athletics (strength) [applies when] You try to jump an unusually long distance" but no additional information is provided. I get that it is up to the GM, but is 5' feet hard? Easy? Impossible? Who knows?
 

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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
So what DC would you assign to that roll?
There's no one answer to that. As [MENTION=97077]iserith[/MENTION] points out, it works really well for circumstances in the environment. Maybe there's a boulder near the chasm and with an athletics roll the PC jumps onto the boulder and pushes off of that for some extra height and distance. Maybe there's mud at the edge that makes it hard to jump, but athletics reduces or eliminates the penalty. The DCs will depend on what is being attempted and what the environment is, and that's something only the DM can decide with an on the spot ruling. An general rule will not fit well.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Which suggests there is something missing from the rules in light of the statement "Your Athletics (strength) [applies when] You try to jump an unusually long distance" but no additional information is provided. I get that it is up to the GM, but is 5' feet hard? Easy? Impossible? Who knows?
Why does that suggest anything is missing from the rules? As I mentioned upthread, "in some circumstances" the DM might allow a character to jump higher than it normally can. (Notice this doesn't apply to long jumps, just high jumps). And "in some circumstances" suggests there's something going on in the environment or something different about the PC's approach to the goal of jumping that (1) possibly allows him or her to jump higher and (2) has an uncertain outcome and (3) has a meaningful consequence of failure. A PC can't just say "I try to jump higher than usual" and expect or demand to make a check. That's a goal without an approach and if the approach is to jump as normal, then the attempt to jump higher simply fails, no roll.
 

Reynard

Legend
It isn't the module that is the problem (if it is indeed a problem for one, and it is obviously not one for many posters in this thread), it is the incomplete rules regarding the action of jumping. "You can running long jump a number of feet equal to your strength. You MIGHT be able to jump farther with an Athletics check, but we won't tell you how."

"Just pick a difficulty and go" is a perfectly viable solution to the problem, but just because you have a solution does not mean there is not in fact a problem.
 

Reynard

Legend
There's no one answer to that. As [MENTION=97077]iserith[/MENTION] points out, it works really well for circumstances in the environment. Maybe there's a boulder near the chasm and with an athletics roll the PC jumps onto the boulder and pushes off of that for some extra height and distance. Maybe there's mud at the edge that makes it hard to jump, but athletics reduces or eliminates the penalty. The DCs will depend on what is being attempted and what the environment is, and that's something only the DM can decide with an on the spot ruling. An general rule will not fit well.
What DC would you apply to jumping 5 feet beyond your strength score?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Which suggests there is something missing from the rules in light of the statement "Your Athletics (strength) [applies when] You try to jump an unusually long distance" but no additional information is provided. I get that it is up to the GM, but is 5' feet hard? Easy? Impossible? Who knows?
The game knows and tells you, so you know too. 5 feet is automatic if your strength is 5 or higher, and an auto fail if 4 or lower. The jumping rules tell you straight out that you go your strength in distance. Period. No rolling at all unless you want to somehow go an unusually long distance. Below is the quoted jumping rule showing no roll is made to determine how far you go.

"When you make a long jump, you cover a number of feet up to your Strength score if you move at least 10 feet on foot immediately before the jump. When you make a standing long jump, you can leap only half that distance. Either way, each foot you clear on the jump costs a foot of movement."
 

Reynard

Legend
Why does that suggest anything is missing from the rules? As I mentioned upthread, "in some circumstances" the DM might allow a character to jump higher than it normally can. (Notice this doesn't apply to long jumps, just high jumps). And "in some circumstances" suggests there's something going on in the environment or something different about the PC's approach to the goal of jumping that (1) possibly allows him or her to jump higher and (2) has an uncertain outcome and (3) has a meaningful consequence of failure. A PC can't just say "I try to jump higher than usual" and expect or demand to make a check. That's a goal without an approach and if the approach is to jump as normal, then the attempt to jump higher simply fails, no roll.
I am not sure what you mean with the inclusion of "in some circumstances." It is pretty plain in the Strength entry in the PHB that one of the things you can do with Athletics is "jump an unusually long distance." That is a statement of the rules. What I am wondering is why there are no benchmarks for that action.
 

Reynard

Legend
The game knows and tells you, so you know too. 5 feet is automatic if your strength is 5 or higher, and an auto fail if 4 or lower. The jumping rules tell you straight out that you go your strength in distance. Period. No rolling at all unless you want to somehow go an unusually long distance. Below is the quoted jumping rule showing no roll is made to determine how far you go.

"When you make a long jump, you cover a number of feet up to your Strength score if you move at least 10 feet on foot immediately before the jump. When you make a standing long jump, you can leap only half that distance. Either way, each foot you clear on the jump costs a foot of movement."
You did not quote the part where I said 5 feet farther than your strength would allow. That is the context of my question. What difficulty does an additional 5 feet of jumping distance represent in play?
 

Caliban

Rules Monkey
I am not sure what you mean with the inclusion of "in some circumstances." It is pretty plain in the Strength entry in the PHB that one of the things you can do with Athletics is "jump an unusually long distance." That is a statement of the rules. What I am wondering is why there are no benchmarks for that action.
Because it is up to the DM, based on their sense of the situation and environmental conditions. Welcome to 5e.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
It isn't the module that is the problem (if it is indeed a problem for one, and it is obviously not one for many posters in this thread), it is the incomplete rules regarding the action of jumping. "You can running long jump a number of feet equal to your strength. You MIGHT be able to jump farther with an Athletics check, but we won't tell you how."

"Just pick a difficulty and go" is a perfectly viable solution to the problem, but just because you have a solution does not mean there is not in fact a problem.
Or maybe you just don't accept the solution which is "think about how hard you think it should be and assign a DC as appropriate".

There was a podcast a while back talking about a related issue (stealth) and they apparently had a detailed list of rules. Then they realized no set of rules could possibly be comprehensive and scaled way back. This is similar.

There is no perfect solution or style that will fit every campaign or DM style. If they had, there would just be questions like "what if there's a really strong head-wind?" or something else. The game rules can only do so much. That's not perfect, but the alternatives aren't really much better and are frequently worse.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I am not sure what you mean with the inclusion of "in some circumstances." It is pretty plain in the Strength entry in the PHB that one of the things you can do with Athletics is "jump an unusually long distance." That is a statement of the rules. What I am wondering is why there are no benchmarks for that action.
See "Special Types of Movement" in the Basic Rules, page 64, under the "Jumping" section. You actually can't jump an unusually long distance unless there is something allowing you to do that either in the environment or is otherwise different enough from the standard approach to jumping that a longer or higher jump is achievable. You can't just say "I try to make a Strength check to jump an unusually long distance." The game doesn't work that way. Jump is tied to Strength and Speed, not to ability checks except in some circumstances.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
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.
Well they were suspended platforms so I'm assuming both the launch and landing platforms are wobbly hence the athletics and perhaps a hard DC to both stick the take off and landing. I'm assuming the room offered some challenge to the PCs but I could be mistaken?
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
See "Special Types of Movement" in the Basic Rules, page 64, under the "Jumping" section. You actually can't jump an unusually long distance unless there is something allowing you to do that either in the environment or is otherwise different enough from the standard approach to jumping that a longer or higher jump is achievable. You can't just say "I try to make a Strength check to jump an unusually long distance." The game doesn't work that way. Jump is tied to Strength and Speed, not to ability checks except in some circumstances.
Edit: Retracted - I was trying to respond to Oofta :)
 

Reynard

Legend
Or maybe you just don't accept the solution which is "think about how hard you think it should be and assign a DC as appropriate".

There was a podcast a while back talking about a related issue (stealth)
I am not sure stealth is a good comparison since it is opposed. Opposed rolls are easy.

Generally speaking, I think it is more useful to have a list of "common difficulties" for tasks adventurers are likely to engage in, which the knowledge that circumstances are going to impact that thing. In the example of jumping, we know that the basic rule is that you can jump as many feet as your strength score. We also know that a Strength (Athletics) check allows you to jump farther than that. The question becomes what the difficulty for that Athletics check is, and there are a couple schools of thought. The first is that the difficulty is story dependent: that is, how difficult it is revolves around how iumportant, dramatic or fun the jump is. Another school of thought is that it is arbitrary, based on features or circumstances determined on the spot. Another school of thought is that it is standardized: jumping X far requires a DC Y check.

If it isn't obvious, I lean toward the latter case. I don't think story should have any bearing on the difficulty ("story" is a thing that emerges out of play, IMO). I certainly believe that circumstances and features of the environment and situation should impact the probability, but through modifies and especially advantage/disadvantage. Now, here's the thing: I can decide the relationship between the Athletics check and the distance jumped (and there are many different ways you can go on that, all valid) but I would have preferred there to be benchmarks for it in the rules. Why? Because ostensibly the system is well designed with lots of interconnected, moving parts, and knowing what the designers of that system considered "difficult" is valuable to me when I am making rulings.

A lot of people say "rules not rulings" but that is a false dichotomy. It is not an either/or situation. You need rules to make rulings, and rulings make rules better.
 

Reynard

Legend
Well they were suspended platforms so I'm assuming both the launch and landing platforms are wobbly hence the athletics and perhaps a hard DC to both stick the take off and landing. I'm assuming the room offered some challenge to the PCs but I could be mistaken?
There is boiling mud under the platforms, so that is the inherent difficulty: fall and you get boiled. The platforms themselves did not move or otherwise possess characteristics that increased the base jumping difficulty. But they were far enough apart that only the barbarian could make the jump per the movement rules.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
You did not quote the part where I said 5 feet farther than your strength would allow. That is the context of my question. What difficulty does an additional 5 feet of jumping distance represent in play?
Then I refer back to my post just prior to the one you just responded to. It answers the question you are asking, even if it's not exactly the answer you want. :)
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
We also know that a Strength (Athletics) check allows you to jump farther than that.
Here's the thing: It doesn't.

The action that the character takes may allow a character to jump higher or longer than what Strength or Speed would otherwise indicate. Without the player's description of what the character is doing, the DM cannot make a determination as to whether the outcome is certain or uncertain and, in the case of the latter, how difficult the check will be. Or even what check it is for that matter.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
There is boiling mud under the platforms, so that is the inherent difficulty: fall and you get boiled. The platforms themselves did not move or otherwise possess characteristics that increased the base jumping difficulty. But they were far enough apart that only the barbarian could make the jump per the movement rules.
Then jumping is not the solution for anyone other than the barbarian. They'll have to do something else. I see this plenty in my games. Take THAT Dex-based characters!
 

Reynard

Legend
Here's the thing: It doesn't.

The action that the character takes may allow a character to jump higher or longer than what Strength or Speed would otherwise indicate. Without the player's description of what the character is doing, the DM cannot make a determination as to whether the outcome is certain or uncertain and, in the case of the latter, how difficult the check will be. Or even what check it is for that matter.
I disagree. Or, at least, if a character is in a position to make a running long jump already but it going to come up short, the game rules are pretty explicit in saying all they need to do is succeed at a Strength (Athletics) check. Requiring anything more detailed than "I go for it" is a thing you are putting on the PC, not the rules.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I disagree. Or, at least, if a character is in a position to make a running long jump already but it going to come up short, the game rules are pretty explicit in saying all they need to do is succeed at a Strength (Athletics) check. Requiring anything more detailed than "I go for it" is a thing you are putting on the PC, not the rules.
There are no ability checks without a statement of goal and approach offered by the player that the DM judges is possible, but uncertain. That's how the game works. If the rules say it's possible that a Strength (Athletics) check can allow in some circumstances for a higher or longer jump than usual, it's on the player to describe what he or or she is doing that isn't the usual. And then the DM can call for a check, if he or she thinks the goal and approach the player described has an uncertain outcome and a meaningful consequence of failure.
 

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