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The rules for jumping cover a long jump that can clear horizontal distance and a high jump that goes higher but covers no horizontal distance at all. The long jump rules also include the following regarding vertical clearance:

This rule assumes that the height of your jump doesn't matter, such as a jump across a stream or chasm. At your DM's option, you must succeed on a DC 10 Strength (Athletics) check to clear a low obstacle (no taller than a quarter of the jump's distance), such as a hedge or low wall. Otherwise, you hit it.

The high jump rules state:

When you make a high jump, you leap into the air a number of feet equal to 3 + your Strength modifier (minimum of 0 feet) if you move at least 10 feet on foot immediately before the jump. When you make a standing high jump, you can jump only half that distance. Either way, each foot you clear on the jump costs a foot of movement. In some circumstances, your DM might allow you to make a Strength (Athletics) check to jump higher than you normally can.

Now, for example when you have Strength 18, you can long jump and clear an obstacle that's 4' high vertically (18/4 rounds down per PHB p. 7) and travel 18' horizontally. If you attempted to clear the obstacle with a high jump, you could get up to 7' high vertically if before jumping you move 10' horizontally for runway as required by the high jump rules.

Assuming an obstacle that's 5' high, which is between the vertical range of the long jump and high jump rules, which would allow a character to horizontally move 18' or 0', respectively.

Another example is jumping up to a higher point. Assume for example you are at a chasm where the other side is 10 feet away, and 5 feet up. You again could not use a normal long jump or high jump to clear that chasm, even though it feels as if you should be, if you can either jump 18 feet long and 4 high, or 7 feet straight up.

Are there any rules that allow you to long jump a shorter distance, but clear a higher obstacle in exchange? For example, jump 5' vertically but travel only 16' horizontally.

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Kind of

The rules which were cited are perhaps the most specifically relevant to the issue at hand in that they set a default baseline for horizontal jumping distance and vertical jumping height.

However, there is one more set of rules which apply to the specific situation in the Athletics rules themselves:

You try to jump an unusually long distance or pull off a stunt midjump.

For the example given of somebody with an 18 Strength, they can long jump 18 feet and clear an obstacle that's 4' high while doing so provided they pass a DC10 Strength (Athletics) check.

However, the general rules stipulate that a DM can set an appropriate DC for checks which involve unusually long distances or stunts. Thus, a DM could set a DC to try and clear a 5' high obstacle with a long jump on the basis that it would require some sort of stunt to do so (perhaps describing it as the character catching the obstacle and vaulting themselves in a fashion that maintains their momentum); the horizontal distance then covered could then be adjudicated based on the results of the check.

To exemplify, the DM might say clearing the 5' obstacle with a long jump would require a DC15 check and stopping at that point, but for every point the check exceeds 15 is another foot of horizontal distance the character is able to move beyond the obstacle. So if the check is a 20, the character's long jump will take them 5' beyond the obstacle.

tl;dr: this is a rulings, not rules, scenario and the rules call out this situation as one where the DM should make a ruling.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ …I mean, you’re not wrong, but that’s the case for anything not in the rules. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Oct 11, 2023 at 19:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is true as a general philosophy for 5e. But I think it's notable, though, because the rules do describe the specific situation asked by the querent (i.e. jump an unusually long distance). \$\endgroup\$ Oct 11, 2023 at 19:33
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There isn't a rule for jumping "diagonally", but this is virtually never going to actually come up in play. It's very rare that a DM would have a scenario that's so specific and detailed about the objects around you that you need to worry about it. They'll usually just pick whichever kind of jump is more appropriate to the situation.

That said, I think you misread something. The horizontal jump doesn't move you at all by default; the 10 feet is how much of a run-up you need before making the jump to avoid halving your result. A DM can and should rule that you can make a high jump with some horizontal movement, but there's not a default amount.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, someone edited in the movement into the vertical jump I think. In my original version I hope it was clear that that was just the runway you need to get to the height. I will fix it in the question. The problem is exactly jumps that can not be done by either kind of standard jump, but sound like they should be within the athlectic range to jump over. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 13, 2023 at 14:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Fair enough -- still, I think an actual at-the-table situation where this could possibly come up would be vanishingly unlikely. We can say "what if there were objects arranged like this", but the answer is almost certainly that the DM who created the situation either already knows what kind of jump it would take or will simply make a ruling when it comes up. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 14, 2023 at 23:16

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