How do I adjudicate attempting to put manacles on an unwilling creature?

I have a player in my campaign who has recently wanted to use manacles. While the Player’s Handbook entry for manacles describes in a pretty detailed way how difficult it is to escape from manacles, it doesn’t give any indication as to how difficult is to put them on an unwilling creature, particularly in the chaos of lots of things happening at once that we call combat.

But that’s okay: I’m a DM, and I can make something up. But I feel that I’m not really sure how to assess the difficulty of this, especially as I have no idea about how manacles actually worked in the medieval era that D&D is inspired by, beyond a general idea that “it’s an old-fashioned form of handcuffs”. Here are a few ideas I have:

  1. Treat this as an improvised-weapon melee attack roll. While there really isn’t a “called shot” mechanic in D&D 5e, this may be roughly the difficulty of trying to hit somebody with a stick, or maybe impose disadvantage due to the difficulty of needing to specifically get the manacles over the wrists. I’d probably require a separate attack for each wrist. That is, when a hit with manacles happens, one wrist gets enclosed in the manacles rather than it dealing damage.
  2. Treat this as a contest similar to a grapple. The rules specifically call out that grappling is just an example of a type of contest one can do. Using Strength for the character attempting to place the manacles makes some amount of sense as it’s trying to “apply brute force” to solve a problem, though allowing use of a proficiency in Athletics seems a little odd as it’s not really a “wrestling” kind of move, and in fact the finesse needed to place the manacles where needed might almost make sense as a Dexterity (Sleight of Hand) check instead. For the creature attempting to avoid getting the manacles, opposing with their choice of Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) as in a grapple still seems to make sense to me. This probably would also require a separate contest per wrist.
  3. Maybe manacles aren’t just “slap them on” like modern handcuffs might be. I should just disallow any attempt to put manacles on an unwilling or unrestrained creature.

How should I handle players attempting to put manacles on an unwilling creature during combat? I know that this may be a bit subjective, and I can ultimately do anything reasonable here without the world ending, but I’m hoping there are some Good Subjective answers out there of people who can “back it up” with their experience of handling either manacles specifically (as I’m guessing this isn’t the only group with a player who saw manacles on the equipment list and started getting ideas), or at least experience with creating new “contests” that inhibit opponents.

How to Adjudicate the Snowcasting feat?

I have a player who wants to take the Snowcasting feat. But before he does he wants to know how I will rule on the matter.

Snowcasting (General)

You add ice or snow to your spell’s components to make them more powerful.

Prerequisite: Con 13.

Benefit: If you add a handful of snow or ice as an additional material component to a spell when you cast it, the spell gains the cold descriptor. This does not actually change the nature of the spell you cast; a fireball cast with this feat still deals fire damage, but since it also carries the cold descriptor, it can be augmented by a number of feats listed in this chapter, such as Cold Focus and Frozen Magic.

If you add a handful of snow or ice as an additional material component to a spell when you cast it and that spell already has the cold descriptor, you increase the effective level of the spell being cast by +1.

Adding this additional material component requires you to spend a move action immediately before the spell is cast to gather fresh snow or ice from the surrounding environment. This snow or ice can be magically created by a conjuration spell, but no other ice manifested by a spell will do. You may take no other action between gathering the snow or ice and casting the spell (Frostburn, p. 50)

Here are my concerns

  • Very little if any of the campaign will be in a snowing region and it will be mostly indoors. He is okay with making a small open container made of Blue Ice to get ice from. I’m not sure this will work though due to this line, “Adding this additional material component requires you to spend a move action immediately before the spell is cast to gather fresh snow or ice from the surrounding environment.”. This leads me to believe a Blue Ice container wouldn’t work. Is this correct?

Eschew Materials (General)

Benefit: You can cast any spell that has a material component costing 1 gp or less without needing that component. (The casting of the spell still provokes attacks of opportunity as normal.) If the spell requires a material component that costs more than 1 gp, you must have the material component at hand to cast the spell, just as normal.

  • The main arguments against using Eschew Materials goes like this…”From a RAW point of view, I would also say no. The Snowcasting feat mentions requiring a move action to gather the snow/ice, and specifically defines it as an “additional material component”. The wording also says “if you add a handful or snow or ice” you get the effects described. By eschewing materials, you are not adding a handful of snow or ice. The Eschew Materials feat, meanwhile is worded to say you are able to cast a spell with material components less than 1gp without needing them. As the spells being cast do not require snow or ice to be cast, but do require them to be augmented I would interpret that as meaning that Eschew Materials does not allow you to augment a spell without the requisite component, but does allow the spell to be cast as normal.” (Doc Holiday, post at rpgcrossing.com)

Would the Eschew Materials feat let him ignore the requirements of the Snowcasting feat or is Doc Holiday’s interpretation correct?

How can I adjudicate the dismantling of monsters for parts?

I’m planning a GURPS 4e game in a scenario that uses monster parts as material for weapons and armors. After searching my books, however, I couldn’t find a proper way to dismantle monsters (or even animals).

Does GURPS 4e have a skill (or group of skills) suitable for dismantling? If it does, which one(s)? If not, how can it be done?

How do I adjudicate the logic modality of certain death regarding the Fast Friends spell?

When I cast the Fast Friends spell could I assign the afflicted target to a task that leads to a die roll that has a chance of 98% from death by falling damage without the spell ending immediately?

If the activity would result in certain death for the creature, the spell ends.

Does the task have to necessarily lead to death for the spell ending condition to take place?

How do I adjudicate death probabilities for the purpose of the duration of the Fast Friends spell?

Skills with different abilities: How to adjudicate what combination to use?

In the D&D 5e Player’s Handbook, there is a variant option called Skills with Different Abilities:

Normally, your proficiency in a skill applies only to a specific kind of ability check. Proficiency in Athletics, for example, usually applies to Strength checks. In some situations, though, your proficiency might reasonably apply to a different kind of check. In such cases, the DM might ask for a check using an unusual combination of ability and skill, or you might ask your DM if you can apply a proficiency to a different check.

Essentially, the rules allow for a DM to ask for an ability check but the player can apply a skill, normally associated with a different ability, to the check.

For example, attempting to blend into a crowd by engaging in conversation and acting like you’re meant to be there might call for a Charisma (Stealth) check. So the player would roll a Charisma check and apply their Stealth proficiency – if they have one – to the check.

However, not everything is clear cut, there are often overlapping skills which could equally apply. To use the same example, one could argue that it is not a Charisma (Stealth) check, instead it is a Charisma (Deception) as you’re deceiving the people about your intentions or (Persuasion) as you’re persuading them you’re meant to be there.

Another example, a player wants to parkour their way up to the top of some buildings. One could equally argue that this a Strength (Athletics) check as that is the usual ability associated with climbing or that it is a Dexterity (Athletics) check as you have to be exceptionally precise to quickly grab small ledges so you don’t fall to the ground.

So, my question is, when a player describes an action they want to take, how do you adjudicate which skill and ability to combine to make the check?


Answers must be backed up with your experiences of using this variant rule

Firing a relativistic kill missile at a god in an otherwise medieval world: How to Adjudicate? [on hold]

My players have come up with a (deviously clever) solution to an impossible quest to kill a particular god-like being: accelerate an unobtanium missile at it to relativistic speeds and smash it into said god. They have the missile in question and a method to accelerate it.

My trouble is this: how do I adjudicate a system for calculating the trajectory of such a missile in an otherwise medieval world? I don’t want to say

  • “It hits, you calculate correctly.”

  • “It misses, there’s no way you can do that calculation.” (While this might be realistic, they presumably could get access to instruments precise enough to target a missile like this)

  • “Give me your relativistic equations and I’ll error check them” (This would be no fun for anyone, and I’d be in way over my head)

  • “Make an attack roll/ability roll” (Doesn’t give the thing the weight it needs, and is a bad ad-hoc solution anyhow)

My goal is this: provide a ruling for calculating such a missile’s trajectory (end result it hits or misses) that isn’t overly reductive or as complex as the real thing it’s representing.

To reduce the scope of this question from the theoretically infinite rulings that could be made to something answerable with good subjective, bad subjective: What kind or ruling/system can I make that can engage all the players and give them a chance to affect the hit/miss outcome in a way driven by player interaction? (only a random roll or a character build option is undesriable) How do I give this the weight it deserves without devolving into mind-numbing calculation?

How can I adjudicate one character attemping to jump off a party member’s shield at the enemy? [on hold]

Last session, two of the members from my table attempted to make a combo together! I love when people contribute to the story, especially if it’s going to be something epic like this situation, but I need to learn how to deal with these situations and do the proper checks, because I want them to keep happening.

The situation:

There was a tall enemy, the elf rogue was 20 ft away, and the dragonborn fighter was between the rogue and the enemy. The rogue started running towards the fighter, the fighter held the shield making a step that the rogue could use to jump, the rogue jumped using the fighter’s shield and hit the enemy in the face.

What kind of check should I call to see if the characters manage to pull off their combo maneuver?

At the time I called for a DC 10 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check for the rogue, and a DC 10 Constitution check for the fighter.

If the rogue’s weight is 90 lbs., how much Strength or Constitution should a fighter roll to be able to hold the rogue’s weight?
1 per 10lb => 90lb = 9?

Similarly, if that rogue is fainted on the ground, what check should the fighter do to see if he can carry the rogue?

How far can a character jump?
How far can a character jump getting this type of boost? (I believe that next time I put a broken bridge on the map, they are going to try it.)