Questions about 5e jumping rules are one of the main movement issues when it comes to playing the fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons. While the rules about movement and jumping are spelled out in the Player’s Handbook (PHB), there remains a lot of room for interpretation based on specific circumstances while engaging in gameplay. While it is a strength-based maneuver, it’s not a typical ability check. The parameters are actually well spelled out on page 182 of the fifth edition PHB.
All About Jumping
Your character’s Strength score determines the distance you can jump. There are two types of jumping; the long jump and the high jump.
If you walk at least 10 feet on foot right before a Long Jump, you will cover a unit of distance up to your Strength score. You can only leap half that distance when doing a standing Long Jump. Each unit of a distance you clear on the jump costs a unit of movement in both cases.
If you go 10 feet on foot before making a High Jump, you leap into the air for a number of feet equal to 3 + your Strength modifier. When you do a standing High Jump, you can only jump halfway. Each unit of distance on the jump costs a unit of distance of Movement. Your Dungeon Master (DM) may enable you to make a Strength (Athletics) check to leap higher.
The difference between a long jump and a high jump is simple to visualize. Do you need to jump across something (a long jump) or over something (a high jump)? Then it’s a question of whether or not you have the space to walk/run 10 feet before you jump. It you do, you can go farther.
Let’s imagine Salome has encountered into a hole in a dungeon floor. Can she just jump across it?
The first question to ask is “how wide/long is the hole”? If it is 5 feet long, she’s ok. Her Strength score is 8. She has 8 feet of jumping distance if she does a “running” long jump. She can walk/run 10 feet first and then can cover up to 8 feet in her long jump – as she has a total movement speed of 30 feet. If she is right at the edge of what she needs to jump, and doesn’t not want to move back, she is in trouble. She would only have 4 feet of distance to work with. (If it is simply a hole she has to get across, there is no reason for her to even consider a high jump.)
If Salome is facing a 10 foot hole, she is in trouble. Her low Strength score is simply not going to let her do it, unless the DM decides to consider “special circumstances.”
With a Strength score of 17, Bob is going to be much better able to do both a long jump and a high jump. He would have no problem with Salome’s 5 foot hole. He can also handle a 10-foot hole. If he does a running long jump (expending 10 feet of movement) he has a full 17 feet to work with.
If Bob was faced with a stack of boulders instead of a hole, he would need to do a high jump. He can do a running high jump and leap into the air for leap for a number of feet/meters equal to 3 + his Strength modifier. With a modifier of +3, he can leap over something as high as 6 feet.
In 5e, what ability controls jumping?
Again, it’s all about your Strength score. For long jumps (which look at distance across), you are going to look at your overall Strength score. For high jumps (which look at how high in the air you need to jump), it is your Strength modifier.
Is jumping an action?
Jumping does not take an action. Rather, it takes your Movement. Of course, if you want to do anything on your turn in combat besides jumping, your DM will likely take your choice to jump into consideration. It should be noted you can extend your arms half your height above yourself during the jump. Essentially, you can reach for something located a distance equal to the height of the jump plus 1.5 time your height.