D&D (2024) Picking Locks and Disarming Traps - Dex or Sleight of Hand?

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I am (and have been) all for renaming the Dexterity ability to Agility. I'm afraid that cow is too sacred, though.

I do like that naming the ability Agility would allow for a skill called Dexterity. Would that lead lead to an Agility (Dexterity) check? No reason for a Dexterity skill to be based on Agility... but what other choice makes sense?
I mean, sure. Agility (Dexterity) for juggling, Charisma (Dexterity) for sleight of hand, Intelligence (Dexterity) for picking locks, Strength (Dexterity) for… I don’t know, opening a stuck jar? Winning a thumb war?
 

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Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
This is an answered question in the Rules Glossary section of the UA, which matches what we got in Xanathar's a few years back:

TOOL PROFICIENCY
If you have Proficiency with a tool, you can add your Proficiency Bonus to any Ability Check you make that uses that tool. If you have Proficiency in the Skill that’s also used with that check, you have Advantage on the check too. This means you can benefit from both Skill Proficiency and Tool Proficiency on the same Ability Check.

So it looks like Thieves' Tools or Sleight of Hand can be used to pick a lock, and if you are proficient in both you get Advantage.

Just like sometimes a History check or a Religion check might turn up information.

As a side note, this applies just as well to musical instruments and Perform, and other tools that have overlap. Tool proficiencies can be quite useful if you are smart about them.
I missed that. Very interesting.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Well… We kinda do have a word for all that stuff, it’s just that D&D already uses that word for an ability score. If we re-named Dexterity to Agility (which is what it actually functions as at this point), we could free up the word Dexterity to use for the skill currently known as Sleight of Hand.
True enough... although usually even then it gets called 'manual dexterity' in order for us to distinguish the hand motion work from the agility synonym we also use it as. And that's the issue... we've been reticent in English to just find/create a word to denote that specific agility of the hand... we always add that addendum of 'fine' or 'manual' to other words instead.

It's kind of the same way we've never come up with a one word non-compound descriptor for the weapon user spellcaster, other than 'gish' (which we apparently never agree to use as it's an odd word and not known like 'paladin' or 'ranger' are.)
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Curious, what makes you feel Wizards is removing tool proficiencies? Wouldn't they have taken the opportunity to do so before publishing this UA? Instead they are in both the classes and the Rules Glossary.
See above. I'd hope they would take the opportunity to remove them, because many skills require tools, so why call some "tool proficiencies?"
Survival: knife, flint, rope, axe
Animal handling: whip, harness, reigns, feed bag
Medicine: medicine (duh?)
Stealth: soft boots. Non-bard clothing. Leather or no armor
Attack: weapons

Threading a needle, playing the piano, pickpocketing, using small tools and so forth really should get a term to use to define that finger and hand agility...
As noted, it's "dexterity." Or as I like to call it: "left-handedness." But what you list seems to span skills. Something you might call an "ability" instead of a "skill." And, well, we're not going to get a 7th ability score. So Dexterity will continue to represent both bodily and digital quickness.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
True enough... although usually even then it gets called 'manual dexterity' in order for us to distinguish the hand motion work from the agility synonym we also use it as. And that's the issue... we've been reticent in English to just find/create a word to denote that specific agility of the hand... we always add that addendum of 'fine' or 'manual' to other words instead.

It's kind of the same way we've never come up with a one word non-compound descriptor for the weapon user spellcaster, other than 'gish' (which we apparently never agree to use as it's an odd word and not known like 'paladin' or 'ranger' are.)
I've never liked "gish". That word has a specific meaning in D&D lore, including the current version. We can do better. Heck, "Swordmage" is better.
 



billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
TOOL PROFICIENCY
If you have Proficiency with a tool, you can add your Proficiency Bonus to any Ability Check you make that uses that tool. If you have Proficiency in the Skill that’s also used with that check, you have Advantage on the check too. This means you can benefit from both Skill Proficiency and Tool Proficiency on the same Ability Check.
Yeah, I can’t say I’ve been a particularly big fan of that.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
When the original rules got released in 2014 and it made explicit the fact that there wasn't a Skill for opening locks disarming traps (whether that be Thievery, Engineering, Mechanics or whatever they might have called it) but instead just required a set of Thieves' Tools... my impression was that this was WotC's way of incorporating stylistically the AD&D ethos into the game for those players that wanted it-- those players who didn't wish to use Skills.

In fact that's why I thought all Tools were incorporated into the game rules so greatly at the time... to allow a part of the playerbase to play 5E in their preferred style... one that wouldn't want to use Skills and instead just make ability checks based on whatever the DM's determination was. Thus having Tools were a way to inform DMs when some actions required them to be done. You can't brew poisons without a Poisoner's Kit, you can't climb cliff faces without Climber's Kits, and you can't pick locks without Thieves' Tools.

But that was part of the design and build up to 2014, when they were still trying to throw bones to all the various former editions in some form or fashion. Something that I do not believe is a concern anymore. As many folks here will attest... the idea of turning this one edition into a matching set of all previous editions just turned out to be a hurdle that wasn't truly actionable, and instead 5E became it's own thing. 5E is now just 5E, and while there are echoes to editions past in certain rules or stylistic intentions... you really can't get 5E to match them. And thus... the designers now are needing to find ways to jerry-rig and turn the rules that were important one way in 2014 into something useable for 2024 now that the 2014 method has fallen by the wayside. And turning Tool proficiency into "auto-advantage" for matching Skills is their way of making Tools have some kind of meaning. Which also means finding applicable matching Skills for every Tool-- thus Sleight of Hand being upgraded to the new "Manual Dexterity" Skill.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Personally... I am in favor of having more Advantages and Expertises in the game, in order to truly separate the unskilled from the skilled in most checks. When the difference being trained in some skill versus being untrained is normally just a Proficiency Bonus in difference-- 2 points higher to start with at levels 1-4-- while the entire spread of the d20 roll is the actual other 90% of the equation... it's the game subtly telling us that random chance is so much more important than actual skill when it comes to performing actions. Which I've personally always found to be a bit lame. (And why I've done the 2d10 method for skill checks in campaigns past just to condense the number swing of the die roll more often.)

So the more we give actual trained professionals Expertise for higher bonuses, and Advantage for higher random chance more often... we can really start showing our skilled performers succeeding when our unskilled schlubs can't.
 

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