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I know about group checking, but for a collective push, pull, or lift, it would make more sense to me that the Strength of each character is added together, even if fractions of the originals, to the score used for the check.

As an example, the party is trying to move a heavy door that requires a DC 25 Athletics check to move, and no one in the party is able to roll that high alone. In a group check, this would be an impossible task, as each roll is considered separately, but in realty, if 4 humans were to work together, they would be able to move or lift an object much heavier than any one person could do alone.

Is there any rule or mechanic that I am unaware of to replicate the realistic outcome/scenario?

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    – V2Blast
    Sep 11, 2022 at 8:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think the example really makes sense. If the DM wants to allow a group check to do the thing, it shouldn't be at the same DC as a single character doing it. Like, you might assign a group check DC 14 for a group of three to move a couch up the stairs. That doesn't mean one guy rolling an 18 can do it all by himself. It's just not possible to do alone. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 12, 2022 at 16:06

2 Answers 2

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Yes, creatures can combine their strength to move an object

The rules for moving and lifting are not based on a check. They are automatically successful, if the character has sufficient strength to push, pull or lift the object (page 176 PHB).

Your Strength score determines the amount of weight you can bear. The following terms define what you can lift or carry.

When you push or lift normal objects in the real world with several people, the weight of the object distributes across them, so each of them only needs to push or lift their share. Everyday objects behave as we would expect them in the game, therefore the strength of several characters can be combined to push or lift a heavy object using the normal lifting and carrying rules.

So, "for a collective push, pull, or lift" the strength scores of the characters are effectively added together.

There also is precedent, for example from the 5e edition of The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan in Tales from the Yawning Portal (page 67), where there is a large stone block the characters might want to move (emphasis added):

Moving the Block. (...) the block can be pushed inward by the combined effort of up to four characters with a total strength of 48 or higher.

In your example with the door, the issue is that you are modeling opening the door as an Athletics check with a DC, which is different from moving or lifting an object. You can avoid this problem by presenting the door as a weight to be moved, or as the required Strength to spare the DM some calculation, stating that X characters can combine to achieve a strength total of Y to force the door open. In doing so you lose the uncertainty created by a die roll that a check has, which may be OK for you or not.

If you are looking for a specific rule or rule variant that enables combining strength scores in a situation that calls for a check, there is none.

I agree with Dale M's answer, that this is easily within the range of things where the DM could make a ruling to maintain verisimilitude, for example by ruling that each helper adds some (but not all) of their strength to the total strength used for the check.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Out of curiosity, you've got an example of a specific case and wording for when you can have more than one person do the task - is there a reason you think that option is always on? If so, why would they need to call out the specific times if it's a general always-on rule? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Sep 11, 2022 at 15:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the option is always on based on the general rules for carrying weight. You could leave out the example from Shrine, it is not neccesary for the argument. I just included it as an example case where this was done, as examples can help demonstrate something, and my goal is to help the querant understand. It is also nice as it saves the DM some maths, by basing it on the Str directly, instead of making the DM calculate back from a pound value. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 11, 2022 at 16:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, I see! You’re saying the dragging/carrying apply to these tests, too. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Sep 11, 2022 at 16:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ This could also work by analogy: rpg.stackexchange.com/a/198921/2788 \$\endgroup\$ Sep 11, 2022 at 17:10
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Yes, there is a rule

It’s on page 6 of the PHB:

  1. The DM describes the environment
  2. The players state what they want to do
  3. The DM narrates the result

Can 4 people carry more than 1? Sure, I’ve seen it happen heaps of time. In fact, I’ve seen 6 people manhandle a 350kg steel beam; I’m really glad I was watching rather than helping. I’ve been part of teams that have moved pianos, furniture, even motor vehicles by hand.

D&D modules have a long tradition of specifying a cumulative strength score required to accomplish something and that’s certainly a sensible approach. However, it still leaves the DM with having to make a ruling if inventive players use levers, block and tackles, or other force multipliers.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Worth noting, among the list you have, block and tackle actually do have rules for them in the Basic Rules. Additionally, levers would lkely use the same rules as the crowbar which specifically mentions "leverage" (i.e. granting advantage) \$\endgroup\$ Sep 13, 2022 at 2:15

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