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10 Stupid Rules in Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition (That Make Zero Sense)

I love D&D. Duh. And I love Fifth Edition, too! But there are just a few rules that really irk the hell out of me. I understand that most of the time it’s for balance or for mechanics, but still.

Here they are in no particular order:

#1 – Medicine uses Wisdom modifiers for ability checks.

Medicine is based on Wisdom instead of Intelligence? Well, that’s dumb. Okay, it’s pretty obvious why. Only Clerics are going to use Medicine, and they’re MAD enough as it is. Making them have to be good at Intelligence, too, would be pushing it. Doesn’t make it any less dumb, though.

#2 – Everyone in the world can hold their breath for at least 30 seconds.

According to page 183 of the Player’s Handbook, a creature can hold its breath for a number of minutes equal to 1 + its Constitution modifier (minimum 30 seconds). This also means that a commoner–you, me, and everyone you know, probably–can hold their breath for one minute. Go ahead. Try it. Hold your breath for 1 minute. I can’t do it. I’ll probably pass out after 10 seconds. Dumb.

#3 – A commoner can deadlift 300 lbs.

A creature can push, drag, or lift a weight in pounds up to 30 times its Strength score. So that means that someone with a 10 Strength can lift 300 lbs off the ground (PHB, p176). Uh, I’m not trying to say I’m the strongest person that ever lived, but I’m pretty damn sure that if I tried to lift even 200 lbs I’d throw my back out, pass out, and piss myself. Of course, Strength and carrying capacity in Fifth Edition is all sorts of whack. Which leads me to my next point…

#4 – A tarrasque can only carry 450 lbs.

So, let me get this straight. According to 176 of the PHB (the same rule I mentioned in #3), a tarrasque can’t even lift 1/4 of a ton? Now, I’ve brought this issue up before on Facebook and folks explained to me that there’s some sort of law in physics that prevents large things from carrying heavy stuff (that’s why whales can only ever live in the ocean). But still–this is a fucking fantasy dinosaur-monster-thing! It can’t even deadlift as much weight as the world’s strongest man, Thor “The Mountain” Bjornnson. Edit: I forgot that gargantuan creatures can carry more  but it’s still only 3,600 lbs. Lame!

#5 – Everything is slow as shit.

Math time. According to the Googles, a human can walk 3.1 miles per hour. A mile is 5,280 feet. So a human can walk 16,368 feet in an hour. Combat rounds in D&D are in 6-second increments, giving us 10 rounds in a minute and 600 rounds in an hour. That puts us at 27.28 feet per round. Nailed it! However, a horse in D&D can move 60 feet in a round, 120 feet if it dashes. That’s 72,000 total feet in an hour, which is only 13.63 miles per hour. Horses in real life (the Googles again) can run 25-30 mph. And that goes for nearly any non-humanoid creature in the game. They’re all too slow!

#6 – The economy is busted.

This joke has been made time and time again, but if Dungeons & Dragons were the real world, global economics and markets would be a train wreck. An unskilled worker earns 2 sp per day and a skilled worker earns 2 gp per day. But the average 1st-level adventuring group should be able to pull roughly 200 – 500 gp worth of loot out of even a small dungeon. That is the almost the income of a single skilled worker for an entire year or six unskilled workers! Of course, this is represented by inflation. After all, a great sword costs 50 gp at the typical arms dealer. Ignoring living costs, an unskilled worker would have to save up all of their earnings for nearly 8 years before they could afford to own a greatsword. Therefore, carrying a greatsword is like carrying a freakin’ BMW 3-series on your back.

#7 – Naps heal wounds.

You know what I’m talking about. A long rest heals all lost hit points. So dumb.

#8 – Grappling. All of it.

I have the hardest time visualizing grapples. Your PC can grapple a creature, which effectively turns its speed to 0. Now, if the two of you were locked up and neither one of you were moving, that’d make sense. But instead, you can move the creature with you at half your movement speed. Okay, so you’ve got them locked up pretty good, right? Wrong! They’re not restrained, therefore they can do anything they want to except move. Unless they are restrained. But how can you restrain them? You can’t unless you get a feat! Why!?! Argh!

#9 – There are rules for other tools beyond thieves’ tools in Fifth Edition.

Good thing, too, because every D&D player in the world wants to spend 4 hours roleplaying a session of calligraphy and cobbling. 🙄

#10 – The index.

Okay, this is more of a book formatting/user experience gripe, but the one thing I TRULY hate about Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition is the fucking index. It’s not that it doesn’t have all the things I need, it’s that when I want to look up something like, say unarmed strike, instead of telling me what page to look at it instead says “see under melee attack.” How damn hard is it to just reprint the page number? It’s the same amount of ink! Hell, it’s probably less than the ink used to redirect me! What kinda cock-a-mamie MLS bullshit is that where instead of giving me the information I want it sends me to ANOTHER entry in the index instead?


Thanks for listening to my gripes. 😂

All kidding aside, I love Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition. And yeah, some of these logical consistencies exist to keep the game balanced.

What weirdo rules did I miss? Let me know in the comments below!

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See you next time.



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10 Rules Everyone Gets Wrong in Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition

If you’re a cranky old grognard like me, then you’re probably tired of learning a whole new ruleset every 8 years or so. It’s one thing to have learned an entire textbook’s worth of rules if you’re a player. But when you’re a DM, you need to learn three books! And probably even more.

And don’t even get me started on creating your own stuff. That’s a whole other level!

However, I’ve learned with Fifth Edition there are still a lot of rules that people seemingly get wrong. Chances are, I still get them wrong, too. So please, feel free to blast me in the comments (so long as you can back it up with empirical evidence, of course).

Here are 10 of the biggest culprits for your consideration.

#1 – Armor Class is Based on Builds, Not Modifiers

In Fifth Edition, your base armor class is usually a base value (typically 10-16) plus your Dexterity modifier. And that’s it. There’s no proficiency bonus, no stacking multiple types of unarmored combat, and no crazy 3rd-edition-esque ACs that spiral out of control. Unless you’re a tarrasque or an ancient red dragon, the highest AC you’re ever going to see is probably 22. And even then, you’ll be lucky if you can get there.

#2 – If You’re a Player, Grappling is a Contest, Not an Attack

This is one I screw up constantly, mostly because there are monsters like ropers and vampires that can automatically grapple on hits. But if you’re a player trying to start a grapple, you roll a Strength (Athletics) check contested by the target’s Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check. You do not make a melee attack to initiate it.

#3 – 9th Level Monks Are Not Jesus/Spider-man

At 9th level, your unarmored movement improves. The RAW reads as follows:

At 9th level, you gain the ability to move along vertical surfaces and across liquids on your turn without falling during the move.

Note that it says “during the move” at the end. That means you must end your turn on a solid surface. Otherwise, you gonna fall.

#4 – You Can Only Jump As Far As Your Normal Move

On page 182 (you’ll find that most of the confusion in the game comes from the movement section of the book), it gives rules for the long and high jump. What a number of players and DMs miss, though, is that even if you can make a crazy long jump–such as when you’re wearing a pair of boots of striding and springing–each foot you clear on the jump costs a foot of movement.

Now, here’s where it gets confusing. If your jumping distance is further than your normal move, that doesn’t mean you just land after the jump. Instead, you’re considered to be “in the air” during the jump and would complete your jump on your subsequent turn.

#5 – Suffocating and Holding Your Breath Are Not the Same Thing

This is just one I learned about myself. There are certain creatures that can suffocate players and there are those that make it so you can’t breathe. It might sound the same, but as far as RAW goes, it’s two different things.

On page 183 of the Player’s Handbook, under suffocating, it reads that “a creature can hold its breath for a number of minutes equal to 1 + its Constitution modifier (minimum of 30 seconds). Just below that it reads, “When a creature runs out of breath or is choking, it can survive for a number of rounds equal to its Constitution modifier (minimum of 1 round). Note the keyword “or is choking.”

My thought here (as well as some others I’ve read/spoken to) is that if a creature puts you into a position where you can’t breathe, then you’re suffocating. That means you go directly to the “number of rounds equal to Constitution modifier” rule. But if you voluntarily jump into a pond or decide to hold your breath to avoid breathing in poison gas, then that’s when you can hold your breath.

#6 – Difficult Terrain Does Not Cut Your Movement In Half

This is one that screws a lot of folks up and really, it does sound kind of the same and the wording makes it screwy. But the major difference is in Zeno’s Paradox.

Here is where part of the confusion comes from. On page 182 of the Player’s Handbook, it reads that when in difficult terrain, “You move at half speed in difficult terrain–moving 1 foot in difficult terrain costs 2 feet of speed–so you can cover only half the normal distance in a minute, an hour, or a day.” However, that particular block of text is for overland movement.

In the combat section, there is another block for difficult terrain (confusing, right?). It reads, “Every foot of movement in difficult terrain costs 1 extra foot. This rule is true even if multiple things in a space count as difficult terrain.”

While the two blocks seem similar, they’re different. The reason for this is because difficult terrain during combat can stack with other movement slowing effects. For example, on page 191, if you are prone, “To move while prone, you must crawl or use magic such as teleportation. Every foot of movement while crawling costs 1 extra foot. Crawling 1 foot in difficult terrain, therefore, costs 3 feet of movement.”

For example, if you moved 30 feet and you were to cut your movement in half because of difficult terrain and your movement in half again because you’re crawling, you would only be able to move 7.5 feet. And that means you can only move 5 feet, thanks to the grid variant found on the following page. Under entering a square, it reads “To enter a square, you must have at least 1 square of movement left, even if the square s diagonally adjacent to the square you’re in.”

Fortunately, that’s not how RAW works. When crawling in difficult terrain, you spend 3 feet of movement per 1 foot. Therefore, you would be able to move 10 feet or two squares versus 7.5 feet or one square.

See the difference?

#7 – Initiative Ties are Decided by the Dungeon Master or the Players Depending on the Circumstance

Most everyone knows how initiative works. Everyone rolls a d20, adds their initiative modifier plus any special bonuses, and then they are ranked. Highest goes first. But what if there is a tie? I’ve heard everything from “dice off” to “highest Dex.” But RAW states the following if a tie occurs:

  • DM-controlled creatures’ initiative orders are decided upon by the DM.
  • Players decide the order among their tied characters.
  • The DM decides the order if the tie is between a monster and a player character.

There are optional rules in the Dungeon Master Guide for initiative, but if you want pure RAW there it is.

#8 – Ready is Not the Same as Holding Your Turn

Ready is an action option, which means you use your action to convert an action or normal movement into a reaction. It does not mean that you get to take your full turn out of order. In fact, in this edition, there is no way to take your turn out of order, at least not in RAW.

Here is how you perform the Ready action:

  1. Decide the perceivable circumstance that will trigger your reaction.
  2. You choose an action you will take, or you choose to move up to your speed in response to the trigger.
  3. When the trigger occurs, you take your reaction before or after the trigger.

Additionally, holding a spell means that you use your normal action to cast the spell, but essentially “hold” the magic until you fire it off as your reaction. Furthermore, you must maintain concentration on the spell, or you lose it.

Remember, using your reaction for your ready action uses up your reaction for the turn, so you miss out on reaction-based features, spells, and opportunity attacks once you use your ready action.

#9 – You Can Only Cast One 1st-Level+ Spell Per Turn

This is a big one that a lot of players and DMs screw up. On page 202 of the Player’s Handbook, under casting time, it reads “you can’t cast another spell during the same turn, except for a cantrip with a casting time of 1 action.” That means that if you are a sorcerer and you cast a quickened fireball as a bonus action, you can’t then cast another fireball as your action. However, you could cast fire bolt.

What’s important to note, though, is that it specifically says “turn” and not “round.” Therefore, you can still use your reaction to cast reaction-based spells like shield.

#10 – The Dungeon Master is the Boss (But Doesn’t Have to be an Ass)

If there’s ever any question over the rules, all you need to know is right there on page 6 of the Player’s Handbook:

Ultimately, the Dungeon Master is the authority on the campaign and its setting, even if the setting is a published world.

And then again on page 4 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide:

… as a referee, the DM interprets the rules and decides when to abide by them and when to change them. […] You’re the DM and you are in charge of the game.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the DM should be a jerk about it. After all, Dungeons & Dragons is all about shared storytelling.  Shared! That means that while you may be the one populating the dungeons, the story is ultimately the player characters’, too. They’re here to have fun.

And going to the other extreme, that doesn’t mean you should give them everything they want either. After all, a game gets boring pretty quickly if it isn’t challenging. Use your best discretion!

And whatever you do, don’t be a hack Dungeon Master like me! 😉

Thanks for Reading!

Whether you’re a player or Dungeon Master, hopefully, this information was helpful for you.

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And as always, see you next time.