Athletics (STR): The ability to “push through” and maintain movement in situations that tax your strength beyond the norm.
Absorbed: climb, swim
At it’s core this skill is nothing more than climb and swim checks combined. But if you read my last post on acrobatics then you know I’m not a fan of excessive skill checks. So I wouldn’t make people roll a check for climb or swim unless under extreme circumstance (and if you read acrobatics then you already know what those are).
So when are athletic checks required?
When taking damage! This is also a good place to mention that, just like balancing (see acrobatics), when climbing or swimming you lose your shield and dex AC. The check is…
- DC 5 + 1/2 Damage (min 1) + weight check (explained below)
So, for example, if you’re climbing and get struck for 10 damage by a crossbow bolt the check is… 10 (DC5 + 5).
Really, unless a check serves some dramatic purpose to the overall story or will just lead to an awesome situation I won’t bother. So the rules regarding swimming conditions and incline on climbs I ignore. The only exception I have is when a character is attempting to do either action with excessive weight (think Andre the Giant scaling a cliff side with two people on him in “The Princess Bride”).
For either climb or swim checks need to be made if a character is attempting to carry their lift over head load (LOH), lift off ground load (LOG) or their drag or push load (DOP). These weights include all gear the player has on them and anything else (such as a person) that they’re trying to swim or climb with.
- LOH – DC15
- LOG – DC20
- DOP – DC25
Remember to add these DC’s to damage checks when getting attacked.
If you fail the athletics check for climb, you fall. Depending on distance your DM could let you try to grab whatever you were climbing on again.
If you fail your swim check you get dragged under water at a rate of 5 feet per round until you pass the check that you failed (or hit the bottom). The only way to lower the check is to drop whatever it is you were carrying, but this would only get rid of the weight check DC (you’d still have to pass the 5 + 1/2 damage).
So that’s athletics. Nothing ground breaking, but I feel a good way to increase the value of skill points used for swim and climb.
May the fourth be with you.