5th Age Campaigns' home rules
Our approach to skills in 5th Edition is based on the following philosophy: Using a skill can not be as powerful as any related special ability provided by a class, race or feat.
Furthermore, if you make a skill check it is always relevant to the pursuit of the adventure. If you fail a check, this failure has meaning, and that check can only be made again if new circumstances occur to obtain the desired result.
Exceptional Success (G&G)
Any skill Roll that beats DC by 10 is called an Exceptional Success.
If your Skill check is an Exceptional Success, the DM may give you advantage on one related follow-up skill check or another advantage linked to the high degree of success of your check.
Only one re-roll per check (HOM)
For any given check (including attacks and saving throws), the maximum number of d20s that can be rolled is 2 (or 3 if conditions of advantage or disadvantage apply to the check), regardless of where the power to re-roll originates from (powers like indomitable, feats like lucky, or having 3 inspiration points to spend).
Stacking advantage (G&G)
PHB (pg. 173) states that multiple advantages and disadvantages do not stack. You can increase realism and tactical complexity by allowing multiple advantages and disadvantages to stack. To stack, they need to originate from different players or conditions, for example being Prone and Frightened by a creature at the same time. Abilities or spells with the same name cannot stack their benefit.
If after cancelling advantages with disadvantages you are left with more than one advantage, you apply one of the advantages but the rest give a +1 bonus to the roll each (max +3). If you are left with more than one disadvantage, you apply one of the disadvantages and the rest give a -1 penalty to the roll each (max -3).
(RAW) Using an action to help during combat by distracting an opponent provides advantage to the next ally attacking the distracted opponent.
(G&G) _When you use the Help action to aid another character in a task, you must have proficiency in that Skill.
(HOM) Some skills are strictly individual, and can’t benefit from the help action outside of Group Checks or Skill challenges : Perception, Insight, and any Knowledge skill (Arcana, Religion, History, Medicine and Nature)
(HOM) You can help one person stand up from prone with a readied action while in reach from them. The character being helped only need to spend 5’ to stand up, instead of half their move.
(RAW) Note that any creature with a speed of 0 can’t stand up, even if helped.
Group checks (RAW)
Group checks are used when all the members of the group are helping each others to do a task that can be undertaken as a group, as per PHB p 175 rules. Group check scope is used when the activity does not warrant using the Skill Challenges rules (a group check can have a maximum of two different skills).
If at least half of the checks for each skill succeed, the check is a success.
If all the group’s checks succeed, it is a total success instead.
If more than half of checks fail, the group check is failed, and if all the checks failed, it is a total failure.
An exceptional Success on a group check count as two successes.
You can’t help someone else for a group check (you can simply use your own check to do the same thing if you are in position to do so).
You can forgo your check to use the guidance spell on someone else instead.
Simple checks (HOM)
When doing such a check, all the required proficiency required for the check are added together.
Any natural 20 on a simple check involving a tool proficiency also triggers a learning progress check toward the related tool proficiency (practice).
Specialized checks (HOM)
Those checks are always made with disadvantage if the character does not have all the required proficiency for that check.
- Specialized checks can’t benefit from the Help action.
- Crew bonuses can’t be added for specialized checks unless everyone in the crew is proficient.
The most common specialized checks are foreign knowledge checks and some checks requiring the usage of tool kits with a skill, like picking locks or disarming traps. A few other checks like guiding, foraging while traveling or finding a good campground also fall into the specialized checks category.
Incremental checks (HOM)
Some checks become more difficult for each previous check made before. Their difficulty (DC) increases by +1 incrementally for each check thereafter.
Forced March is an example, or failed athletic check when swimming.
Tools and Kits Proficiency (HOM)
Most tools can be used by anyone, even if they are not proficient with them.
The rule for specialized checks can apply to any tool check, at the DM’s discretion.
If a character is not proficient while making a check using a tool or kit, any natural roll of 1 on any of the dice, or a result of 1 or less, indicates Complications, including but not limited the loss of the material being used if crafting, and the time spent so far on the activity.
Standard complications for tools are listed here.
If the character is in the process of learning the proficiency and has already made some progress in their learning, they can make a progress check (a percentage check with their current progress value as the DC) to avoid the effect of Complications.
A crafting result of 20+ with a tool indicates a masterwork grade result, if applicable.
note that crafting with unusual material always require a masterwork result for the item to be properly crafted with that special material.
Proficiency dice (RAW – variant)
When using a knowledge skill or a tool a character is proficient with, the player can always chose before making a check to use the proficiency die (see DMG p 263) instead of the default proficiency bonus for this roll.
lvl 1-4 → d4 (Default is +2)
lvl 5-8 → d6 (Default is +3)
lvl 9-12 → d8 (Default is +4)
lvl 13-16 → d10 (Default is +5)
lvl 17-20 → d12 (Default is +6)
Regular checks can never add two proficiency bonuses
The only way to add two proficiency bonuses together is for simple checks and from powers like the rogue’s Expertise feature or the prodigy feat.
Detailed skills usage
Acrobatics check, Stamina
(RAW) You take 1d6 of falling damage for each 10’ of fall.
You also drop the objects in your hand, except for a shield that has been strapped.
If you take damage from the fall, you fall prone at landing, else you are standing up.
(HOM) The creature falling can use a reaction to make an acrobatics roll to lessen the damage (medium and heavy armors have penalties to these checks, see campaign rules).
A DC 10 Acrobatics check is required to either keep one item in hand or cancel 1d6 of potential damage. This choice is made again for every 5 points above the DC.
Anyone trained in acrobatics can still cancel one d6 of damage if the check fails.
Cancelled fall damage dice are not rolled
If the character jumps voluntarily, the acrobatics check is made with advantage.
The details for training animals can be found here.
Arcana check can also be used to identify aberrations, construct or undead creatures.
Breaking a fall
A creature can help break the fall of another with a Dexterity check, as a reaction if they are located within reach of the space where the creature is falling to. For each 5 point of the dexterity check result above 5, 1 point of falling damage will be removed from the falling creature.
Anyone attempting to break this fall will automatically take half damage from the fall and also fall prone if the creature falling takes any damage from the fall.
Catching someone starting to fall
Athletics check, stamina
As a reaction, you can catch someone the same size as you that is just starting falling with a moderately difficult Athletics check provided you have one free hand, and the distance between both is less than the sum of both individual’s reach. The check’s is made with disadvantage for creatures one size larger, and advantage for creatures one size smaller.
Note that there is no opportunity for someone cacthinh themselves as this is already included in any contested check or saving throw made before falling
Survival or Dexterity and Perception/Stealth, Stamina
Check the rules for chasing here.
Athletics check, Stamina
An athletics check is made for each move or dash action spent climbing (thus using a dash while climbing uses 2 stamina).
In case of failure, the character falls from the current height they started their action at. Any fall under 10’ do not cause damage, else it is 1d6 per 10’ of fall (see Falling).
With only one hand free, the check is done with disadvantage (including with a strapped shield).
Any armor heavier than light carries a penalty: Medium (-2) and Heavy armors (-5).
If the athletic check fails because of the armor penalty, the character can use a reaction to make an acrobatic check to remain on the wall, with the same penalty and DC.
The difficulty of the climb can be assessed before starting the climb. Without climbing speed, the distance is half the regular move speed of the character (except when climbing down using a rope or ladder – see below).
While climbing, if you receive a critical hit from an attack, you must immediately use your reaction to make an athletic check to avoid falling, with a DC equal to the highest of the DC of the surface being climbed or the damage received.
Falling occurs at the start of the move action on a failed climbing check (to adjudicate the height). A falling creature always falls 500’ per round.
These can be used to provide an easier climb, making climbing very easy regardless of the surface when they are spaced 5’ from each others. It takes one action to place each new piton, and when doing so the one putting the pitons in must make a regular climbing check for the surface. This is noisy (hammering) and time consuming (use the action, no dash possible), and the pitons can’t be recovered. If pitons are placed 10’ from each others, the climb becomes easy, and moderately difficult if they are spaced 15’ from each others.
The move speed per round when using pitons is equal to the spacing distance between them
When a team using pitons ropes themselves together, if one of them fall from a failed check, the others can make an Anchor STR check as a reaction, with a DC equal to double the climbing DC from the pitons.
This check accumulate disadvantage for each failed check during the round.
Special pitons (from the climber’s kit)
These are re-usable, and can be anchored or removed with one action, doubling the climbing time but not leaving any pitons behind.
They provide the same advantage as regular pitons, but once anchored, these special pitons (and rope) also prevent falling more than 25 feet from the current height.
Using a rope provides advantage to the climbing check, if the rope is within 5’ of the surface being climbed. If the rope is simply dangling, it allows for an easy climb check. When going down, a rope allows to use one’s full movement speed, even without any climbing speed.
A hempen rope can safely bear up to to 600lbs of weight
A Silk rope can safely bear up to 800lbs of weight
Throwing a rope and grappling hook to get a hold is a sleight of hand check that requires two hands, and is made with disadvantage if only one hand is used. The normal range for this throw is equal to twice the dexterity of the thrower, the long range is doubled.
A rope can also be used with an action to haul someone with athletics check, provided the haulers have two free hands, the total weight to haul is under the maximum carrying capacity weight, and the rope can’t bear the weight.
Each extra hauler forfeit their action, and can make an athletics check too, while providing their strength modifier bonus to the haul regardless of the roll.
The maximum distance pulled up in one round also depends on the added encumbrance level of all the haulers if the check is successful.
Double the distance when lowering someone.
The hauling distance is used provided at least one athletics check succeeds.
Someone with two free hands can hold a rope and maintain it as an anchor while it is being used to climb.
If a roped character starts to fall, an anchor STR check must be done (see below). If all anchor checks fails, the anchor(s) lose grip on the rope who falls out of their hand.
The DC is based on the load on the rope as indicated on the table below.
If more than one person help anchor the rope this way, only one of them needs to succeed the check to maintain the anchor.
DC for Hauling/Anchoring
The check’s DC depends on the encumbrance as shown below, and are made with disadvantage for creatures one size larger, and advantage for smaller creatures.
Heavily encumbered (weight up to maximum load)
Hauling: 1’+sum of STR modifiers of the haulers
Encumbered (weight up to heavily encumbered)
Hauling: 5’+sum of STR modifiers of the haulers
Normal weight (Weight up to encumbered)
Hauling: 10’+sum of STR modifiers of the haulers
Coating injury poison on a blade
Sleight of hands check
The DC to successfully apply a poison is based on the time used to coat a blade (slashing or piercing only) or up to 3 pieces of ammunition or tips (javelins or darts).
With a full round, the DC is 5.
With one action, the DC is 10.
With one bonus action, the DC is 15.
The coating is inefficient and the poison has no effect and is lost.
If the check roll is 5 under the DC or a natural 1, the character injures himself with the poison, suffering its effects.
The poison is applied and lasts for 10 rounds.
On a roll of 20+, the save DC is increased by +2.
A character must have both hands free to coat poison.
With only one hand free, the check is made with disadvantage.
Faertouched weapons grant advantage to the roll to coat the weapon with poison.
Bargaining for an item
Two skills out of Persuasion, Insight and Deception
The rules for bargaining can be found here.
See Crafting for more details.
Deception and Disguise kit
This is a specialized check, which also requires a costume.
Setting up and working on the disguise requires a mundane activity. The character can decide to spend another mundane activity to improve on the disguise after seeing the Disguise check result.
Sleigh of Hands, Investigation and Thieves tools
This is a specialized check that require thieves tools.
Both skill checks need to succeed to disarm a trap successfully.
If both check succeed, the time required to disarm a trap is equal to its DC in rounds, minus 1 per point of success above the DC of the lowest roll (minimum one round).
If both check fail the trap triggers for full effect after number of round between 1 and the DC of the trap.
If only one check succeeds, the required time is a number of minutes equal to its DC, minus 1mn per point of the highest roll (minimum 1 minute).
Also, a proficiency check with thieves tool must be done at the end of that time, or the trap triggers (any damages from the trap are halved).
As usual, any result of 1 causes Complications, usually the trap triggers and inflicts a critical hit, but it can vary according to the trap’s design.
Finding a camp site
The rules for finding a camp site can be found here.
Survival and Nature
The rules for Foraging can be found here.
When on guard duty, a character is using a perception action every round, and always roll a Perception check to hear any incoming threat, contested by the stealth check of the intruder. If the check is lower than the passive perception of the guard, the passive perception is used instead.
Hide action and movement
See the Stealth and hiding summary page.
Identifying a non magical potion or substance
A medicine check can be made as a free action to recognize what it is before drinking it, with the following difficulties.
Healing potions – Very easy
Poisons -Moderately difficult to very difficult
Antidotes – Moderately difficult to very difficult
Remedies – Difficult
Chemical compounds -Difficult to Very difficult
Note: A medicine check result of 20+ will always find out if a potion or substance is magical, without further information. Identification with detect magic or identify spells would be required to get more information.
There are no interaction skill rolls between Players’ characters.
Skills like Insight, Deception, Persuasion or intimidation are exclusively used with Non Players Characters (NPC).
Saying the same thing to a NPC and trying to make one check every round will not work, unless there is a different circumstance applying. In the same way, multiple characters trying to convince someone are not going to each make a check, as this amount to multiple advantages to a given check. The help other action can be used and role played from a character with proficiency in the skill being used.
These three skills have the same modifiers when used
When not using common or undercommon
Speaking the native language fluently +2
When using common or undercommon.
– 5 if one side speaks broken (less than 50% ) common or undercommon
– 2 if one side speaks poor (less than 100%) common or undercommon
An Athletic check is always made when jumping. If the Athletic check is superior to the character’s STR value, the result of the Athletic check is used as the STR value (and to determine STR mod too).
In all cases (including magical help) the distance covered with an horizontal jump can never be higher that the total move for the character when using a move and a dash action, and the distance covered with a vertical jump can never be higher than the move speed for the character.
If an horizontal jump covers a distance superior to the regular move speed of the character, the character must use the dash action(s) to cover the full distance of the jump, and the character must make an acrobatic landing check with advantage, using the length of the jump as the fall distance_
The six knowledge skills are Arcana, Nature, History, Medicine, Religion and Engineering
- Players can always state before rolling that they are going to use the proficiency die when making a knowledge check.
- When a character examines something with the intent to extract knowledge from it, the character can name one of the knowledge checks they are proficient with, and will focus their mind on trying to recall information in that specific field when making their check (easy or very easy subjects do not require proficiency). Characters can only do one knowledge check per item/name and the choice of knowledge they make determine the skill they chose to use. Further information requires using the Research Downtime activity.
- Relevant expertise bonuses always apply to Knowledge checks.
- If relevant, mastery of the appropriate language provides a +2 bonus to a knowledge check.
- Knowledge related to any living thing is now strictly under Nature, even if the creature is from other planes or magical (except for aberrations, constructs and undeads, for which related knowledge is Arcana, and devils, demons and celestials for which related Knowledge is Religion).
- Due to their class training, Clerics and Paladins get advantage on their proficiency dice for all religion checks and can’t roll lower than the proficiency bonus
- Due to their class training, Wizards get advantage on their proficiency dice for all Arcana checks and can’t roll lower than the proficiency bonus
- Due to their class training, Druids get advantage on their proficiency dice for all Nature checks and can’t roll lower than the proficiency bonus
- Due to their class training, Bards get advantage on their proficiency dice for all History checks and can’t roll lower than the proficiency bonus.
- Due to their class training, Rangers get advantage on their proficiency dice for all Medicine checks and can’t roll lower than the proficiency bonus.
Nature check is used to identify any living being (except for constructs and undeads, which relate to Arcana, and demons, devils and celestials, which relate to Religion)
Check the Perception page for details.
Check the Performing page for details.
Sleigh of Hands and thieves tools
Thieves tools equipment must be available to attempt this action, and the other hand needs to be free. Picking regular locks is a simple Sleight of hand check, using the Thieve’s tools proficiency.
Some complex locks require proficiency with Thieves Tools to be picked. Picking those locks is a specialized check.
It takes one action to try to unlock and open a locked door. The character can decide to use more time, using a full round for a +2 bonus (uses an action, then make the check at the end of the character’s next turn), or a full minute for a +5 bonus.
On a roll of 1, Complications will occur (breaking the thieves tools).
Religion check can also be used to identify demons and devils as well as celestial beings.
Check the rules for Search.
Check the Stealth summary page for details.
Must-read for any rogues
(RAW) Without a swimming speed, swimming is done with half your speed, rounded down.
(HOM) Current and sinking
- Any forced movement from a current are applied to everyone in the water at the start of each round. Unless people are tied together, the current may pull them in different direction (use a d3, where 2 is the general direction of the current, 1 one step left, and 3 one step right)
- Any forced movement from sinking (see encumbrance) are always applied at the start of a character’s turn. The character can use part or all of their movement speed then to counter the sinking before going under by using some or all of their speed from one move action. If they do so, they can only use the remaining movement speed, including dashes, left for that round.
(RAW) An Athletics check may be required by the DM just before the current or sinking takes place to overcome difficulties, according to the circumstances, as follow:
- A swimming check is an incremental check using Athletics. Those checks are made when someone is entering the water without getting in it on their own volition, or other special circumstances decided by the DM, like areas of changing currents and other watery difficulties to overcome.
- Whenever a swimming athletics check is required, the character expands one point of stamina, and make the check at the start of any move action for the round. If the check fails,
the swimmer’s speed is halved, or, if it was already halved, it becomes 0 (like the grapple effect) for this round,
Characters with a swimming speed always have advantage to any required swimming check.
A swimmer that is suffocating must always make swimming check with disadvantage.
- In calm waters (or current speed of 10’ or under), it is a very easy check (DC 5).
- In quick waters (or current speed of 15’ to 25’), it is an easy check (DC 10).
- In rough waters (or current speed or 30’ to 40’), it is a moderate check (DC 15).
- In other conditions it is a difficult check (DC 20).
If the required Athletics check fails, a struggle occurs.
If this first check is a natural 1, and the check fails the required DC, the swimmer is also immediately pulled under and can’t hold their breath, immediately starting suffocating.
For each further failed athletics check, the swimmer is pulled under a number of feet equal to the check DC. They must then continue making athletics checks with an extra +1 to the DC for each previously failed check (incremental check) until they can swim out a distance equal to the total distance they have been pulled under, or die.
When a check is successful on a given round, the swimmer can use their movement and leave the hazard pulling them under when they can move the full distance they have been pulled under.
Anyone providing help must be proficient in athletics and make the same checks DC to get themselves in position to help. They can only help if they don’t fail their own check, and if they can move to the same distance the struggling character has been pulled under.
Note that the pull-under distance is in addition to any sinking from encumbrance.
Tailing someone (urban areas)
Stealth and Investigation
The rules for tailing someone are included with the chasing rules here.
Tracking someone (Outdoor areas)
The rules for tracking someone are included with the chasing rules here.