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D&D 5E Strength is agile

Yaarel

Adventurer
Strength check
Strength includes agility. All of the images here are feats of Strength. In D&D, they are actions that use Strength and Strength checks: climb, high jump (3+ feet), long jump (10+ feet), weight lifting (namely body lifting, using the body as the weight set), and melee attack. Wall running is a application of high jump and sometimes climb. Most of melee combat is various kinds of body stunts. Use the Strength ability for any body stunt.

Climb scale building Parkour .pngJump longjump highjump Climb strobe climbing wall Parkour.pngJump longjump leap alley parkour.pngJump wallrun high Parkour.pngJump highjump dance fly.pngJump highjump dance franco-nieto.png
Body flag stadium.pngBody flag train bridge.pngBody handspin gymastics pomel horse.pngBody pullups hoop.pngBody pullups park.pngBody pushup gymnastics rings Jordan-Jovtchev.pngBody pushup street-workout-leskovac.pngBody pushups balance court.pngBody pushups bridge Parkour.pngBody pushups climb ceiling pipes.pngBody pushups gymnastics rings poise.pngClimb cling cliff.pngClimb cling skyscraper.pngClimb rock tower.pngClimb wall bounce walkways Parkour.pngClimb wallbounding building.pngClimb wallbounding trees.pngJump highjump aerial cathedral.pngJump highjump beach fence.pngJump highjump bin Parkour.pngJump highjump dance jeff-wolfe christian-denice.pngJump highjump dance kick.pngJump highjump dance sissone prince.pngJump highjump freefall.pngJump highjump gymnastics tumble.pngJump highjump longjump stairs Parkour.pngJump highjump stairway.pngJump highjump standing highjump dance.pngJump highjump street Parkour.pngJump highjump terracing Parkour.pngJump longjump buildings alley duo.pngJump longjump canyon Parkour.pngJump longjump stairway.pngJump longjump strobe alley offices Parkour.pngJump longjump strobe stairway.pngJump longjump to wall.pngJump wallrun aerial duo Parkour.pngJump wallrun and a touch of insanity Dom_and_the_Tic-Tac.pngJump wallrun backflip stairway.pngJump wallrun handspin Parkour.pngJump wallrun high Parkour.pngJump wallrun palmtrees parkour.pngJump wallrun patio.pngJump wallrun Shoulin monk.pngJump wallrun spider walk parkour.pngJump wallrun wall hop Parkour.png
Body - handstand pushups.pngBody pullups rings.pngBody pushups - almost strong enough to maintain body balance.pngBody pushups and handspins stairway.pngBody pushups beach sand.pngBody pushups beach.pngBody pushups camping.pngBody pushups classic.pngBody pushups Corbis.pngBody pushups equal military press equal Strength.pngBody pushups form.pngBody pushups freehand.pngBody pushups gym ok also eyecandy.pngBody pushups gym workout.pngBody pushups gym.pngBody pushups gymnastics rings.pngBody pushups handspin.pngBody pushups one-handed by_Michelle_xD.pngBody pushups one-handed poise.pngBody pushups poise planche.pngBody pushups poise walkwayt.pngBody pushups proper balance.pngBody pushups push form Soubbotine Marshall Free Parallette HSPU.pngBody pushups ringdips.pngBody pushups rings gymnastics form.pngBody pushups riverbank workout.pngBody pushups rocks.pngBody pushups sequence form.pngBody pushups sequence.pngBody pushups street - Copy.pngBody pushups strong kid - Copy.pngBody pushups workout.pngBody pushups.pngBody pullups hoop.pngBody pullups park.pngBody pullups reverse and highjump fall.pngBody pushspin gymnastics pommel horse.pngBody pushup gymnastics rings Jordan-Jovtchev.pngBody pushups balance court.pngBody pushups balance.pngBody pushups bridge Parkour.pngBody pushups climb ceiling pipes.pngBody pushups grips.pngBody pushups gymnastics rings poise.pngBody pushups hand.pngBody spring gymnasitcs highbar danell-leyva.pngClimb cliff cling.pngClimb cling apartment.pngClimb cling cliff.pngClimb cling overhang blue.pngClimb cling overhang go together.pngJump highjump dance jeff-wolfe christian-denice.pngJump highjump dance sissone.pngClimb rope - Copy.png
Attack - attack with sword accurately while running.pngAttack - grapple highjump.pngAttack highjump bruce-lee.pngAttack highjump kick bag.pngAttack highjump kick front.pngAttack highjump kick kung fu.pngAttack highjump kick kungfu duo.pngAttack highjump kick.pngAttack highjump knee.pngAttack highjump punch.pngAttack highjump Thai.pngAttack highjump.pngAttack punch accurately 120.pngAttack spear longjump.png


Dexterity check
Where Strength represents the big robust movements of the body, Dexterity especially represents the small gracile movements of the hand. Use Strength for the accuracy of body stunts. But use Dexterity for the accuracy of precision stunts. If the challenge is more like grappling or moving a sword, then use Strength. But if the challenge is more like aiming an arrow or moving a surgery scalpel, then use Dexterity.

Dexterity archery duo.pngDexterity knitting.pngDexterity video game competition.png


This is what ‘agile’ people look like: Muscular
Here is an image of the Team USA Gymnastics, the mens division, while competing in Brasil. The picture shows them relaxing on the beach. These gymnasts are extremely muscular - even when zero steroids are present. Actualizing agility, such as moving ones own body on a pommel horse, high bar, parallel bars, and tumbling floor, requires and develops extreme Strength. Conversely, being strong enables one to maneuver ones own bodyweight, and makes it possible to do agile actions such as a ‘hand spring’. If a person cannot even to do a handstand pushup, something like a hand spring is even less doable. Agility is explosive Strength and bodily mobility.

Team USA Gymnastics.png


Body Stunts
Translating into D&D, this is less of a case of using Strength and Dexterity at the same time. It is more of a case of using Strength for the innate ‘proficiency’ with ones own body, similar to a proficiency with a longsword that also requires Strength. Wielding ones body requires even more Strength than wielding a sword. Like the proficiency to wield a sword, a character that has high Strength and high level can wield their body accurately and masterfully. Actions that apply Strength also necessarily apply ‘agility, reflex, balance, and poise’. Body stunts are agility stunts, including climb, long jump, body lifting, grappling, and so on. Body stunts are a special category of coordination, and in D&D, it is normally the Strength ability that represents it.

Use the Strength ability for any and every body stunt. Invest in Strength if you want a hero that is mobile and agile.
 

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Yaarel

Adventurer
I intended the images to be smaller with thumbnails. But if it is ok, it is worth seeing better these amazing stunts of the human body.
 


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I find that the tactic of using a bazillion images of different people dong the same things over and over again is not terribly convincing. Yes, you can find a bunch of images of folks doing handstands. That's not a good argument. I say you need reasoned arguments, not artwork.

you can't just present images of people doing things that we might call for strength and/or dex checks, and assert they are all strength, to be terribly convincing. An image does not actually tell me what game mechanic I am using. The fact is that the game stats are abstractions for things that aren't independent in the real world - you'll find tons of images of long-distance runners that look muscular, by dint of how they've gotten rid of every ounce of body fat. Those images are not in and of themselves evidence one way or the other that marathon-running should be Strength as opposed to constitution based. We have to draw a few arbitrary lines here and there.
 


Yaarel

Adventurer
Finesse check (Strength or Dexterity)
The above images in the Original Post, are reasonably straightforward visualization of actions that apply Strength and Strength checks. D&D heroes are exceptional and amazing, as are the athletes above.

In addition to Strength check and Dexterity check, there are also special circumstances that seem able to benefit from either a Strength check or Dexterity.

These situations resemble the situation with a rapier. Swords normally use Strength because they are part of body agility. But the rapier is a special situation. Obviously, the rapier requires some amount of Strength to wield proficiently - and indeed the rapier actually tends to be longer than a D&D longsword. But average Strength suffices for a rapier, and it benefits highly from the small sensitive wrist flicks of Dexterity. A rapier can be used for precision stunts. While it is possible to wield a rapier robustly and effectively using Strength alone, it is a kind of weapon that allows a combatant to substitute Dexterity instead of Strength.

Likewise, there are special situations that allow the hero making certain kinds of athletic movements by substituting Dexterity of Strength. Classic examples of such use of Dexterity include surviving a fall by landing in a precisely relaxed way, rotating the body while freefalling in a gravityless environment, maintaining balance while climbing (but with no exceptional pullups), and doing aerial cartwheels (but with no high jump, and with head sweeping inches above the ground).

There seems to be a lot of room for DM discretion. The rules seem to encourage the DM to adjudicate each scenario case by case. There is leeway for DMs to interpret the rules differently depending on style.

Having looked into how to represent human agility for a while now, I see the agility and poise of ‘natural athleticism’ to necessarily include the innate balance of the body, while walking, jumping, climbing, and so on.

There for, I now use a Strength check for the balance necessary to walk a tightrope, a task that most might associate with a Dexterity check. It seems to me, the balance necessary for a precarious climb up a mountain cliff is the same as the balance necessary for a tightrope walk. Because upper body Strength is less important for the tightrope walk, the Strength stunt is even easier than the climb. But because upper body is less prominent, tightrope walking is a Finesse check. A player can choose whether to use Strength or Dexterity for this particular body stunt.

The main purpose of including tightrope walking among the ‘naturally athletic’ Strength checks, is so every and any body stunt can be represented simply and effectively with a single D&D gaming mechanic: the Strength check.

Stunts that are part of body movement benefit from Strength.



In 5e, I like the way Jump works. The Jump description should probably be part of the Strength description. It occurs in the Adventuring - Movement - Special Movement section of the Players Handbook.

You can reliably jump a longjump with a distance equal to your Strength score. A Human on average longjumps about 10 feet.

You can reliably jump a highjump, high enough to clear about 3 feet plus your Strength modifier of the ground. On average, a Human highjumps about 3 feet.

Both kinds of jumps require a running start of at least 10 feet, and if the run is unavailable the jump distances achieved are half.

The stronger a hero is, the farther (and more accurately) a hero can jump.

Jumps that exceed the reliable distance, require a Strength check to go exert oneself to go the extra distance. A DM decides how much farther or higher is possible. On the one hand, it cant be much more, because these reliable jumps are already close to the physical limit of an individual hero. On the other hand, the hero should somehow benefit from Strength and skill proficiency to determine jumping reach.



Strength is the necessary determiner of the reliable jumping distance. A hero with 20 Strength can normally longjump about 20 feet. But the check to determine how far the hero can go beyond this seems to be a Finesse check. Strength represents big robust body movement. Dexterity represents small precise movements for noticeable effect. So, for example, a hero with 12 Strength and 18 Dexterity might be able to make a longjump whose distance with effort might reach upto 12 Str score + 4 Dex, a total of a possible 16 feet. Each DM might adjudicate this differently.



There are Strength checks, Dexterity checks, and Finesse checks. DMs can decide for themselves, which apply best.

In general, any motions that seem part of melee combat, grappling, sword aiming, climbing, jumping, exercise balance and poise, sprinting, and so on, are all part of innate athletic aptitude. Strength represents body stunts.
 


The six categories are, to a certain extent, arbitrary. You could argue that there just be "physical" and "mental" if you would like. Again, given the age and how entrenched these categories are, I don't think it will be persuasive. But maybe I'm wrong.
You could go "Physical", "Social", and "Mental".
Or "Power", "Finesse", and "Resistance".
But then you would be a different popular game. B-)
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
I find that the tactic of using a bazillion images of different people dong the same things over and over again is not terribly convincing. Yes, you can find a bunch of images of folks doing handstands. That's not a good argument. I say you need reasoned arguments, not artwork.

you can't just present images of people doing things that we might call for strength and/or dex checks, and assert they are all strength, to be terribly convincing. An image does not actually tell me what game mechanic I am using. The fact is that the game stats are abstractions for things that aren't independent in the real world - you'll find tons of images of long-distance runners that look muscular, by dint of how they've gotten rid of every ounce of body fat. Those images are not in and of themselves evidence one way or the other that marathon-running should be Strength as opposed to constitution based. We have to draw a few arbitrary lines here and there.

They main point of the multiple images, is to drive home the point: the image of an ‘athletic’ ‘agile’ ‘acrobatic’ stunt is the same thing as the image of muscle workouts in an exercise weight training gym. The body stunt that some people make look easy can only happen after the grueling weightlifting. All athletic agility comes from Strength. Some maneuvers might be able to ‘finesse’ Strength, like using ones elbow to support most of the weight of a horizontal handstand, or doing flip by inertia that with ones head slightly above the floor. But the Strength ability covers everything.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
Many reallife people who have extremely high Dexterity are also obese, elderly, and in other ways non-athletic, and are unable to do any of these body stunts. Dexterity cannot do a body stunt.
 


Yaarel

Adventurer
By the way, in the Original Post, all of the images of people in a still shot of a handstand, are not simply doing a handstand, but are doing a ‘handstand pushup’. These body pushups are extremely difficult. I find it remarkable to see women athletes that are able to do them effectively. These body pushups are a prerequisite for most of the ‘acrobatic’ movements that locomote bodyweight.

Because most people dont regularly walk on their hands, most people are simply not strong enough to keep balance while doing body pushups. But, once a person is sufficiently strong enough, then the same balance that happens while standing and walking, also naturally happens while moving on ones hands.
 

Salamandyr

Adventurer
On the one hand, I'm in complete agreement with the OP; Speed comes from power, and power comes from brawn. Dexterity is actually an apt description of "dexterity". A dextrous person is great at needlepoint. An agile person is great at dodging thrown spears.

You can't be agile until you are at least strong enough to throw around your body weight under control.

However, this is a losing battle. Dexterity as a sub for agility is so ingrained into D&D I don't think it can be changed, and most people wouldn't want to anyway.

Just think of it this way; D&D rules are a model of reality. All models have necessary breaks with reality. A more complex model (like Rolemaster for instance) may model reality more accurately, but, then you have to deal with that complexity. D&D's model works "good enough".

I just suffice by rigidly enforcing Strength (Athletics)'s role in climbing, and jumping. An acrobat who neglects strength is going to be a poor one if he wants to anything more than tumble across the ground and not fall down.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
Several of the photographic examples meant to show that Strength is agile are of acrobatics, which by RAW is a Dexterity check

Most of the examples that look like acrobatics should also be three feet or higher off the ground, thus be a highjump, thus use Strength by Rules-As-Written.

RAW does sometimes describe Dexterity as ‘acrobatic’. But it uses the term improperly, to actually not mean reallife acrobatics. And instead redefines this term as ‘falling’ and ‘balancing’ only. Properly, acrobatics means much more than falling and balancing.

Reallife acrobatics moreso implements jumping, climbing, and bodylifting - which are Strength.

That said, there are cases - like falling and balancing - where Dexterity can finesse the bodyweight, similar to the way it can finesse a rapier. So there are certain situations where carefully controlled small motions can achieve an ‘acrobatic’ action.

Now, I would go so far as to adjudicate, the same balance that happens during melee combat, climbing, jumping, and so on, is the same balance that happens when walking a tightrope. So I would allow the Strength ability for the check to walk across a tightrope, in the sense of ‘natural athleticism’. But I would also allow the choice of substituting Dexterity because tightroping actually is a situation that benefits from short sensitive movements.

The main thrust of this thread is, it is reasonable to treat the Strength agility as the go-to stat for all body stunts.
 



Yaarel

Adventurer
I also want to loosen the correlation between the Strength ability and weight lifting.

This is easy enough to do. Just make ‘Weightlifting’ a separate skill. Therefore, a hero adds both the Strength and the skill proficiency bonus to determine the total amount of weight that the hero is able to lift.

In other words, a person who is naturally athletic is not necessarily benching 500 pound weights. Oppositely, even a person who isnt especially athletic by aptitude can still train for and maintain pumping weights. Moreso, it is impossible for athletes to lift extreme weights without special training. Weightlifting really is a skill.

Weightlifting is a skill that benefits maximum weight and carrying capacity.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
It's just a convenient split for mechanics balance in game, nothing more.

The Dexterity ability tends to be overloaded, and too powerful in comparison to the other five abilities.

Allowing Strength to benefit from agile actions, helps Strength be more useful. It especially helps the Fighter do more stuff better out of combat.

Being able to physically interact with ones physical environment generally becomes a Strength check, similar to how being able to socially interact with ones social environment generally becomes a Charisma check. There can be special exceptions, but these are the go-tos.

To emphasize the body agility of Strength helps make it more balanced mechanically.
 
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Psikerlord#

Explorer
The Dexterity ability tends to be overloaded, and too powerful in comparison to the other five abilities.

Allowing Strength to benefit from agile actions, helps Strength be more useful. It especially helps the Fighter do more stuff better out of combat.

Being able to physically interact with ones physical environment generally becomes a Strength check, similar to how being able to socially interact with ones social environment generally becomes a Charisma check. There can be special exceptions, but these are the go-tos.

To emphasize the body agility of Strength helps make it more balanced mechanically.

Yeah, I think finesse weapons are a mistake and should not exist, in earlier versions of DnD Str was more valuable. Overall though I think Str is valuable enough in 5e, it's just Dex is OP.

If I were going to rebalance the two, I would go back to OSR principles. Str is all melee, Dex is ranged and AC, and there is no modifier for initiative. No such thing as a finesse melee weapon. Then in terms of environment interaction, I'd stick with the current str/dex split.
 

dmnqwk

Explorer
I am not completely sure about the point you are making Yaarel, except that you believe Acrobatics should be a Strength skill.

The main issue I have is that you are under the impression Acrobatics in 5th edition is related to the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound, which it is not. Acrobatics is more representative of the old balance or tumble checks while Athletics, a strength skill, is now a catch all which includes both weightlifting and gymnastics in a single skill.

Gymnastics is a physical discipline but it is less based on dexterity and more on strength. It is also not really tied to Acrobatics in DnD, but Athletics. Gymnasts may or may not have a high dexterity, however the key to remember is that Proficiency (or even Expertise) is a larger percentage in 5th edition of the total skill modifier than in previous editions:

A Level 20 Rogue with a Strength of 8, but expertise in Athletics, will never score less than a 21 on her checks (-1 attribute, +12 from double proficiency and any roll of 1-9 is automatically treated as a 10). This means that anyone who is not proficient in the skill, but has a Strength of 20, is going to be beaten in an Athletics contest 84% of the time (with 3.5% ties). So while realism is something you can consider, it's really not worth picking a single argument and fighting over it because you're ignoring the bigger picture, which is using numbers to define things will never cause an accurate picture.
 

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