Unearthed Arcana Unearthed Arcana: Get Better At Skills With These Feats

The latest Unearthed Arcana from Jeremy Crawford and again featuring guest writer Robert J. Schwalb introduces a number of feats which make you better at skills. Each increases the skill's primary ability score, doubles your proficiency bonus, and gives you a little bonus ability. "This week we introduce new feats to playtest. Each of these feats makes you better at one of the game’s eighteen skills. We invite you to read them, give them a try in play, and let us know what you think in the survey we release in the next installment of Unearthed Arcana."

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Oofta

Legend
Doesn't that seem counter to how the skill system and action economy work, in general, though?

Special movement normally requires an Action.

The unwritten rule seems to be that skill checks which are an active thing you do, and which give you a direct benefit on a success, are an Action unless specificied otherwise or unless you've a feature that says otherwise.

I'm just explaining how I handle it. I'm ok with letting my players getting away with some cinematic/creative things if it make sense. Sometimes the dextrous guy can parkour up the wall, sometimes the barbarian can just bull her way through the brambles that should be slowing her down.

A lot of these kind of effects for thing like difficult terrain is just set dressing anyway. Making it a bonus action works too, but I don't always want to get bogged down in action economy. My players tell me what they want to do and I tell them if they can or if they can try (and potentially risk failure). I'm not too worried about running an "official" game for my home campaign, the D&D police haven't knocked on my door. Yet.
 

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Hussar

Legend
I'm just explaining how I handle it. I'm ok with letting my players getting away with some cinematic/creative things if it make sense. Sometimes the dextrous guy can parkour up the wall, sometimes the barbarian can just bull her way through the brambles that should be slowing her down.

A lot of these kind of effects for thing like difficult terrain is just set dressing anyway. Making it a bonus action works too, but I don't always want to get bogged down in action economy. My players tell me what they want to do and I tell them if they can or if they can try (and potentially risk failure). I'm not too worried about running an "official" game for my home campaign, the D&D police haven't knocked on my door. Yet.

But, again, this is perfectly fair for your home game. But, as you say, you're already off the ranch a bit when it comes to adjudicating how skills work. Not that this is bad. I probably do the same thing myself. And no worries.

However, there is a problem here. WotC can't design for your table or my table. They have to design for the game as it's written. And, as written, we're not actually following the rules. Thus, we get these feats.
 

Oofta

Legend
Umm, you can't really complain about blandness and then come up with a feat that is even more bland. :D +1 to stat and 2 proficiencies. And this is different from the existing Skill feat how? Oh, right, 3 proficiencies and no stat bump. Not exactly rocking the boat.

Isn't the point of a feat to do something no one else can? Isn't that how most of the feats work? Sharpshooter and GWF. Alert (cannot be surprised), and others. I mean, let's compare to a standard PHB feat shall we:
I never claimed to be a game designer, just that I think these feats are lacking. :p

Maybe I could think up something better if I spent more than two minutes thinking about it I could come up with something better. If these feats get published as they are and our group wants to use something like them, I probably will.


Now, you're telling me that the acrobatics feat, where you can cross difficult terrain is going to have an impact on your game, but, the fact that anyone with this feat can jump their strength, as part of their movement, anytime they want. Kinda negates most difficult terrain penalties when I can simply jump 15 feet. And I would think that climbing thing would come up rather often.

I'm thinking that the Athlete feat is likely the baseline for skill feats that they are looking at.

Huh? I'm not sure what you're saying. Using an acrobatics check to get around difficult terrain is something I already allow. I don't need a feat to do that. The same way I don't need a feat to allow someone to distract the guards with a song and dance routine.

A handful of them [picking one at random] like the animal handler make sense. Cool. A way to control friendly animals in addition to a proficiency in a skill that doesn't always see much use.

The others? Meh.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I'm just explaining how I handle it. I'm ok with letting my players getting away with some cinematic/creative things if it make sense. Sometimes the dextrous guy can parkour up the wall, sometimes the barbarian can just bull her way through the brambles that should be slowing her down.

A lot of these kind of effects for thing like difficult terrain is just set dressing anyway. Making it a bonus action works too, but I don't always want to get bogged down in action economy. My players tell me what they want to do and I tell them if they can or if they can try (and potentially risk failure). I'm not too worried about running an "official" game for my home campaign, the D&D police haven't knocked on my door. Yet.

Ah, see I assumed you were speaking to the value of the feat.
 

Hussar

Legend
I never claimed to be a game designer, just that I think these feats are lacking. :p

Maybe I could think up something better if I spent more than two minutes thinking about it I could come up with something better. If these feats get published as they are and our group wants to use something like them, I probably will.

:D Fair enough.


Huh? I'm not sure what you're saying. Using an acrobatics check to get around difficult terrain is something I already allow. I don't need a feat to do that. The same way I don't need a feat to allow someone to distract the guards with a song and dance routine.

A handful of them [picking one at random] like the animal handler make sense. Cool. A way to control friendly animals in addition to a proficiency in a skill that doesn't always see much use.

The others? Meh.

But, this is more to the point. You allow acrobatics to get around difficult terrain. However, that's not something that's in the game, just in your game. They can't design feats for your game. There's nothing in the description of acrobatics that allows it to avoid difficult terrain. It's not there. Now, it's not a bad extrapolation, I agree. But, again, they have to design feats based on what's actually in the game.
 

Oofta

Legend
But, this is more to the point. You allow acrobatics to get around difficult terrain. However, that's not something that's in the game, just in your game. They can't design feats for your game. There's nothing in the description of acrobatics that allows it to avoid difficult terrain. It's not there. Now, it's not a bad extrapolation, I agree. But, again, they have to design feats based on what's actually in the game.

To me, "using skills in combat" would make a fine optional rule for DMs.

Something we discussed frequently while playing 4E was that for a variety of reasons people took more of a board game approach to combat. We concluded that a reason was powers. There were powers/abilities for just about everything. If you let someone do something that was listed as the benefit of a power that they had you were taking away the cool factor of someone else's character.

I see these feats being the same. I describe a section of terrain as being difficult terrain because you have to carefully wend your way through thorn bushes to avoid getting snagged and I let anyone do it, then the person who took the feat effectively gets no additional benefit. All they get is the extra proficiency bump.

It also feels less creative? More mechanical? More I use my Performance Card? I dunno. But if you have a feat to distract someone with performance, you are just looking at it as another spell. There's no need for RP/dramatic flair or describing the scene.

Can you describe the scene dramatically? Sure. The same way in 4E that I could have described my fighter's "Come and Get It" as hurling insults at my foe and challenging them. The point is that I never did that. It just became a card in my deck of powers that could be applied under certain circumstances.

For the most part spells, and certain class abilities are always going to have the same kind of feel. The barbarian rarely describes how their blood is boiling, they just rage. But use of skills, particularly in combat? That's always been more "I start singing a song of bravery and courage to the soldiers in order to distract them while Flinx sneaks into the barracks." At that point I can ask for a history check to see if someone can think up the most appropriate song for this regiment (granting advantage if successful) and ask for a performance check.

It feels more organic, more natural then "I have the perform feat so I distract the guards" and "I have the history feat so I assist".

Can I take the former approach and not the latter even with the new feats? Sure. Will I? Based on my experience with 4E, sadly no. Will most DMs allow the former if they use the feats but the people haven't taken them? I doubt it.
 

Satyrn

First Post
Even arcanist would be better with expansion of what Arcana can do, than gaining cantrips, imo. Turn it into Soellcraft, 4e Arcana skill, and Use Magic Device skill, more or less.

I see I did a terrible job of explaining to you what I dislike about the Menacing and Diplomat feats :blush:

An expansion of what Arcana can do, locked behind this feat, would send me into a rage.
 

OB1

Jedi Master
But, this is more to the point. You allow acrobatics to get around difficult terrain. However, that's not something that's in the game, just in your game. They can't design feats for your game. There's nothing in the description of acrobatics that allows it to avoid difficult terrain. It's not there. Now, it's not a bad extrapolation, I agree. But, again, they have to design feats based on what's actually in the game.

Would like to quibble with this a bit. The game says that you describe what you want to do and the DM narrates the results, sometimes asking for a die role if the outcome is uncertain. So I would say that if a player says I run up, jump, plant my foot on a wall and backflip over the difficult terrain, or tumble my way through, assigning that a DC, defining what success and failure means, and asking them to roll an acrobatics check is well within the rules.

My problem with these feats, is that by codifying those actions into feats, the game is strongly suggesting that you can't attempt that action without the feat. The rules are now deciding instead of the DM. That's what I meant when way upthread I said that these feats shrink the game instead of expanding it.

I would much rather see a single Skill Feat that gives expertise, adds 1 to the corresponding ability, gives prof in 1 other skill with the same base ability, and allows you to use the skill as a bonus action any time it would normally take an action.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I see I did a terrible job of explaining to you what I dislike about the Menacing and Diplomat feats :blush:

An expansion of what Arcana can do, locked behind this feat, would send me into a rage.

It's more a description of what they should do. None of it is even hinted at in the description of Arcana.

But, like the other feats, it would need to also improve the action economy, or otherwise upgrade from what the system assumes is a normal usage. Like being able to use wands even if you have no spellcasting, or something, or do it as a bonus action, etc.
 

Hussar

Legend
Would like to quibble with this a bit. The game says that you describe what you want to do and the DM narrates the results, sometimes asking for a die role if the outcome is uncertain. So I would say that if a player says I run up, jump, plant my foot on a wall and backflip over the difficult terrain, or tumble my way through, assigning that a DC, defining what success and failure means, and asking them to roll an acrobatics check is well within the rules.

My problem with these feats, is that by codifying those actions into feats, the game is strongly suggesting that you can't attempt that action without the feat. The rules are now deciding instead of the DM. That's what I meant when way upthread I said that these feats shrink the game instead of expanding it.

I would much rather see a single Skill Feat that gives expertise, adds 1 to the corresponding ability, gives prof in 1 other skill with the same base ability, and allows you to use the skill as a bonus action any time it would normally take an action.

Does Sharpshooter prevent your players from shooting into combat when allies are in the way? It certainly doesn't do that in my game.

Does the Actor feat mean that your players never try to disguise themselves?

Do you players never try to jump or climb unless they have the Athletics feat?

Do they only attempt to grapple if they have the Grappler feat?

Does the existence of Martial Adept mean that no one every plays Battlemasters?

Does the Mobile feat (which negates difficult terrain) mean that no one tries acrobatics to move through difficult terrain?

Does the Sentinel Feat mean that no one ever readies an action to stop something from moving?

Sorry, I'm belaboring the point here, but, this stuff already exists in the game. We ALREADY have skill feats, in a slightly different form. And, they haven't caused any problems. If these skill feats were an issue, why haven't we been hearing how these other feats are a problem? These aren't new feats. They are simply extrapolations of existing feats. New twists on a well established idea.

I really don't see how any of these are actually going to cause an issue at the table. Not when you already have all of these. Battlemasters and Open Hand Monks both get a trip attack. Does that mean no one at your table ever tries to trip anything? If codifying maneuvers was a problem, then why aren't all these other facets of the game a problem? There are a boat load of codified effects, from spells to purely martial actions, that different classes get. Why are these any different?
 

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dco

Guest
Doesn't that seem counter to how the skill system and action economy work, in general, though?

Special movement normally requires an Action.

The unwritten rule seems to be that skill checks which are an active thing you do, and which give you a direct benefit on a success, are an Action unless specificied otherwise or unless you've a feature that says otherwise.
No.
No.
Who cares if it is unwritten.
 

Hussar

Legend
No.
No.
Who cares if it is unwritten.

What special movement doesn't require an action? Athletics with Jumping and Climbing Climbing, I suppose, as part of a move action. But, stealth requires an action to hide. Acrobatics pretty much always requires an action. And virtually everything else is an Action. Want to look for something in the room? Take an action to use Perception. Want to talk to someone to get them to help you in some way? Take an action to use Persuasion.

Using skills as an action is pretty much the standard application of skills, with a couple of exceptions that prove the rule.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Does Sharpshooter prevent your players from shooting into combat when allies are in the way? It certainly doesn't do that in my game.

Does the Actor feat mean that your players never try to disguise themselves?

Do you players never try to jump or climb unless they have the Athletics feat?

Do they only attempt to grapple if they have the Grappler feat?

Does the existence of Martial Adept mean that no one every plays Battlemasters?

Does the Mobile feat (which negates difficult terrain) mean that no one tries acrobatics to move through difficult terrain?

Does the Sentinel Feat mean that no one ever readies an action to stop something from moving?

Sorry, I'm belaboring the point here, but, this stuff already exists in the game. We ALREADY have skill feats, in a slightly different form. And, they haven't caused any problems. If these skill feats were an issue, why haven't we been hearing how these other feats are a problem? These aren't new feats. They are simply extrapolations of existing feats. New twists on a well established idea.

I really don't see how any of these are actually going to cause an issue at the table. Not when you already have all of these. Battlemasters and Open Hand Monks both get a trip attack. Does that mean no one at your table ever tries to trip anything? If codifying maneuvers was a problem, then why aren't all these other facets of the game a problem? There are a boat load of codified effects, from spells to purely martial actions, that different classes get. Why are these any different?
You're missing the point with most of these. In almost all of your examples, there's already a rule for how to do something and what kind of action it takes. Trip? Special attack that replaces and attack made as part of an Attack action. BM and monk just modify an already codified rule. Same with AS and cover. Same with many of your comparisons.

But, on most of the ski feat cases, there is no previous codification, rather they lived in the nebulous realm of DM rulings. But, by codification, the DM rulings are now constrained to be at least equal with the expectation of worse than the feat. Acrobatics allowing movement over difficult terrain is a great example.

Also, people are telling you they have a problem. Saying you can't see a problem existing in general is essentially saying you don't believe them. Disagree all you like, but maybe quit assuming the general opinion and instead affirm just your opinion.
 

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dco

Guest
What special movement doesn't require an action? Athletics with Jumping and Climbing Climbing, I suppose, as part of a move action. But, stealth requires an action to hide. Acrobatics pretty much always requires an action. And virtually everything else is an Action. Want to look for something in the room? Take an action to use Perception. Want to talk to someone to get them to help you in some way? Take an action to use Persuasion.

Using skills as an action is pretty much the standard application of skills, with a couple of exceptions that prove the rule.
The PHB is clear, in your turn you can move and take one action, movement can include things like climbing, etc, the DM can tell you to roll Athletics as part of that movement and I don't see why he could not tell you to roll acrobatics or stealth under other circumstances.
Stealth can be used with more things than hiding.
Most skills will be used out of combat where you don't need to control initiatives, moves, actions, bonus actions. In any case in my games the players can control their horses automatically or with a roll of handling animal, move and use athletics, acrobatics, stealth, if they see a symbol while fighting they can roll religion, history, arcana withouts spending an action, they can talk, sing, etc while they are picking locks, fighting, moving things around so they can roll charisma skills without taking an action, perception, insight are also used a lot of times without an action in my table, etc. In my games most skills can be used without an action and the PHB doesn't say I can not do it.
 

Hussar

Legend
You're missing the point with most of these. In almost all of your examples, there's already a rule for how to do something and what kind of action it takes. Trip? Special attack that replaces and attack made as part of an Attack action. BM and monk just modify an already codified rule. Same with AS and cover. Same with many of your comparisons.

But, on most of the ski feat cases, there is no previous codification, rather they lived in the nebulous realm of DM rulings. But, by codification, the DM rulings are now constrained to be at least equal with the expectation of worse than the feat. Acrobatics allowing movement over difficult terrain is a great example.

Also, people are telling you they have a problem. Saying you can't see a problem existing in general is essentially saying you don't believe them. Disagree all you like, but maybe quit assuming the general opinion and instead affirm just your opinion.

People are claiming that there is a problem. My point is that this problem is largely one of your own making and not an actual issue with the game. That you have a problem with these feats is obvious. However, as you yourself admit, the issue is caused because you have extrapolated beyond the rules. Since WotC cannot write rules for your table, but, rather for the game as its written, the problem isn't really with the system is it?

Taking the acrobatics example. There is nothing in the description of acrobatics that even hints that you can use it to move over difficult terrain. What's the DC? How do you even determine the DC other than the, "roll a d20, roll high" method? You've added this, and, additionally, added the idea that you can use acrobatics as part of a move. Again, this isn't even hinted in the rules. Swinging my sword takes an action, but, a series of front flips doesn't?

Hey, it's your game, so, more power to you. Fair enough. But, you're applying your particular interpretations of the rules, that aren't actually IN the rules, in a judgement of new rules and then wondering why everyone isn't instantly agreeing with you.

The PHB is clear, in your turn you can move and take one action, movement can include things like climbing, etc, the DM can tell you to roll Athletics as part of that movement and I don't see why he could not tell you to roll acrobatics or stealth under other circumstances.

A perfectly fair interpretation. However, it's not the only one, nor is it one that's actually supported by the rules. And, while it's fair for your table, it's not fair to assume that your table is the only way these rules can be interpreted. While your interpretation makes these skill feats problematic, another table would have no issues whatsoever, simply because they chose a different interpretation than you.

Stealth can be used with more things than hiding.

True, but, it still takes an action if you want to do it in combat. Which brings me to the next part of your post:

Most skills will be used out of combat where you don't need to control initiatives, moves, actions, bonus actions. In any case in my games the players can control their horses automatically or with a roll of handling animal, move and use athletics, acrobatics, stealth, if they see a symbol while fighting they can roll religion, history, arcana withouts spending an action, they can talk, sing, etc while they are picking locks, fighting, moving things around so they can roll charisma skills without taking an action, perception, insight are also used a lot of times without an action in my table, etc. In my games most skills can be used without an action and the PHB doesn't say I can not do it.

Too true. It's very true that outside of combat, there is no Move/Action economy. You simply do whatever. Fair point. But, also very much besides the issue. Since we're discussing feats that allow skills to be used in combat situations, saying that you can use them outside of combat is not terribly helpful.

However, fighting in particular is pretty hard to do in D&D outside of the action economy and very much outside of the scope of the rules. Perception in combat is specifically an action, as another example. And, in fact, the PHB very much does specify that performing certain actions during combat are very much subject to the action economy.

Again, WotC cannot write rules for YOUR table. And it makes it very difficult to carry a conversation when the rules are subject to the caveat of "well at my table" at every turn. I don't play at your table, and you don't play at mine. I'm telling you flat out that at my table, these feats are a complete non-issue. None. They do not cause me a second's pause, and, in fact, at the end of today's session, the group just hit 4th level and three of the six players took either skill feats or racial ones. THAT'S how little of an issue I'm seeing here.

Why am I not seeing a problem? Because the interpretations of the rules that I've made means that these feats are a complete non-issue.
 

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dco

Guest
A perfectly fair interpretation. However, it's not the only one, nor is it one that's actually supported by the rules. And, while it's fair for your table, it's not fair to assume that your table is the only way these rules can be interpreted. While your interpretation makes these skill feats problematic, another table would have no issues whatsoever, simply because they chose a different interpretation than you.
It is supported by the rules, another thing is if you use the rules other way, but then it is your case.

True, but, it still takes an action if you want to do it in combat. Which brings me to the next part of your post:
No.

However, fighting in particular is pretty hard to do in D&D outside of the action economy and very much outside of the scope of the rules. Perception in combat is specifically an action, as another example. And, in fact, the PHB very much does specify that performing certain actions during combat are very much subject to the action economy.

Again, WotC cannot write rules for YOUR table. And it makes it very difficult to carry a conversation when the rules are subject to the caveat of "well at my table" at every turn. I don't play at your table, and you don't play at mine. I'm telling you flat out that at my table, these feats are a complete non-issue. None. They do not cause me a second's pause, and, in fact, at the end of today's session, the group just hit 4th level and three of the six players took either skill feats or racial ones. THAT'S how little of an issue I'm seeing here.

Why am I not seeing a problem? Because the interpretations of the rules that I've made means that these feats are a complete non-issue.
Perception in combat is not an action. There is an action called "Search", it's not the same thing. If in your games people need an action to hear things and see things, ok, but it is your particular rule.
Good, you can do what you want in your table. I only answered to another post that was wrong, the combat chapter has a section dedicated to movement and there it is said you can jump, climb, swim which are special type of movements. There are a lot of examples where a skill check can be used out of a combat action. You don't need a combat action to think, perceive things, talk, etc. And if there is any doubt, the DM can invent the action he wants, it's there in the rules.
 

OB1

Jedi Master
Taking the acrobatics example. There is nothing in the description of acrobatics that even hints that you can use it to move over difficult terrain. What's the DC? How do you even determine the DC other than the, "roll a d20, roll high" method? You've added this, and, additionally, added the idea that you can use acrobatics as part of a move. Again, this isn't even hinted in the rules. Swinging my sword takes an action, but, a series of front flips doesn't?

I think we are coming at this from two very different perspectives. What I would like to see are feats that benefit both of our styles of play.

From my perspective, the most important rule in the game is the order of play. DM describes a scene, players describe what they would like to do, DM narrates the results, sometimes asking for a roll if the outcome is uncertain.

So if I describe an area of difficult terrain, say a muddy bog, and my player says, my years of running in the shallow waters of the Silvery Lake kicks in as I high step my way through the bog, I might determine okay, make a DC15 athletics check. On a success, your attempt to power your way through lets you avoid the normal movement penalty, on a failure, you get yourself stuck 5 feet in and are grappled by the bog.

I've taken a static feature and made it dynamic by applying rulings instead of rules. And I did it because I made the determination that someone who has trained their whole life in Athletics might be able to move across this type of difficult terrain faster than someone who hadn't.

Now, please understand that I don't expect WotC to design for my table. And I can completely understand how many styles of play could benefit from skill feats. My problem isn't with skill feats in general, it's with these specific implementations with them. And it is very hard to put a finger on it. They just seem small to me. I think WotC can and should do better. Again, make the single generic skill feat that allows you to turn a check that would normally take an action into a bonus action (as well as giving expertise and a +1 bonus to the ability of the check). That would cover both of our styles of play with meaningful benefit.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
People are claiming that there is a problem. My point is that this problem is largely one of your own making and not an actual issue with the game. That you have a problem with these feats is obvious. However, as you yourself admit, the issue is caused because you have extrapolated beyond the rules. Since WotC cannot write rules for your table, but, rather for the game as its written, the problem isn't really with the system is it?
I have not extrapolated beyond the rules, I'm using them exactly as presented. The skills section is intentionally vague so that DMs can do exactly this: set a DC and ask for a roll when an outcome is uncertain. These feats codify some of these decision points and provide a new, previously unestablished baseline. The acrobatics check is a prime example: prior to the new feat, I could ask for acrobatics to avoid difficult terrain as part of movement, with a possible negative outcome on a failure. Now, I cannot, because the new feat has established that to avoid difficult terrain a character must use a bonus action and make a DC 15 acrobatics check. The new proscription dramatically alters the existing guidance on how to use skills. It sets a new baseline. Pointing out how this affects the rules isn't asking WotC to design for my table, it's pointing out that the new codification of abilities sets new constraints on all games.


Taking the acrobatics example. There is nothing in the description of acrobatics that even hints that you can use it to move over difficult terrain. What's the DC? How do you even determine the DC other than the, "roll a d20, roll high" method? You've added this, and, additionally, added the idea that you can use acrobatics as part of a move. Again, this isn't even hinted in the rules. Swinging my sword takes an action, but, a series of front flips doesn't?
Except, you know, the name 'acrobatics'. What comes to your mind when you think this? Have you never seen a gymnastics competition (there's a fantastic one every four years)? Have you never watched a parkour video, where people flip over obstacles? It's all right there in the name of the skill.

As for determining a DC, come on, seriously? I can't say it's the DM's one job, but setting DCs is pretty high on the list of "Things DMs Do."


Hey, it's your game, so, more power to you. Fair enough. But, you're applying your particular interpretations of the rules, that aren't actually IN the rules, in a judgement of new rules and then wondering why everyone isn't instantly agreeing with you.

It is in the rules. The players ask if they can do something, the DM either says, "yes" or "no" or "sounds like an X ability check, kinda hard, so DC 18." And, no, I don't expect anyone to instantly agree with me. That's your bag, with the grand sweeping statements of how the game actually works. I'm perfectly fine with you disagreeing. Please do. I'm much less fine with you defining how you play as the way the game works and then dismissing other's concerns about playtest material based on that.
 

Oofta

Legend
Not specifically acrobatics related, but something that happened our last game.

The PCs were fighting a dragon. The barbarian had climbed a tower the previous round and the dragon had attacked other characters on the ground, ending it's flight close enough that the barbarian could leap on it's back (it was a young, stupid dragon that didn't know the barbarian had boots of springing and striding).

So I decided landing on the back of a flying dragon was not simple so I called for two athletics checks, one to leap onto the back of the dragon and land on it's neck the other to try to hold on (wrap her legs around it's neck). I decided to treat the first as a stunt during her movement, the second check as a grapple attack and she still had one action to swing her axe.

On the dragon's round he did a barrel roll as part of his movement to try to get the barbarian off (it didn't work) but I had her make another athletics check to hold on. I thought about having the dragon try to grapple the barbarian (to throw her off), but decided instead to just attack her because his breath weapon recharged.

It was a lot of fun, and very cinematic.

But according to [MENTION=22779]Hussar[/MENTION], the only thing she could have done was one athletics check per action. I don't see any support for that in the rules. I'm probably stretching the grapple a little bit, but she didn't ask "Can I jump on the dragon, grab it's wings and stop it from flying".

Like others, my concern is that if we start hard coding skills with specific results these types of things won't happen as often. It's very similar to how they handle stealth. They could have come up with very concrete rules, but chose to do more vague and give the DM a lot of leeway. That encourages me to reward my players for having their characters do creative things like hanging off the ceiling to hide from the guards entering the room even though there's technically line of sight.

The more skills with non-combat uses are "hard coded" the less creative the game gets.
 

OB1

Jedi Master
Like others, my concern is that if we start hard coding skills with specific results these types of things won't happen as often. It's very similar to how they handle stealth. They could have come up with very concrete rules, but chose to do more vague and give the DM a lot of leeway. That encourages me to reward my players for having their characters do creative things like hanging off the ceiling to hide from the guards entering the room even though there's technically line of sight.

The more skills with non-combat uses are "hard coded" the less creative the game gets.

This says it perfectly. And it's why I had no issue with the Weapon feats or the Racial Feats. Skills, as [MENTION=16814]Ovinomancer[/MENTION] put it, are some of the most intentionally vague rules in the game and I hope they stay that way.

Again, I'd love a generic skill master feat that gives expertise and the ability to shorten a skill that would take an action into a bonus action. That remains nebulous enough that depending on how your table rules regarding skills and actions, it would be a benefit regardless of the table.
 

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