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Last night one of my players found a Bag of Devouring. Everything was fine and well until we started putting things into it and also got sucked into it. We sat for a good 30 minutes debating the description due to technicalities.

The description states that a

creature inside the bag can use its action to try to escape with a successful DC 15 Strength check. Another creature...with a successful DC 20 Strength check (provided it isn't pulled inside the bag first).

Athletics is also Strength but it does not say Athletics anywhere in the description. We found this rather weird and could not find any reason as to why you wouldn't use Athletics over strength. Is there a specific reason given for this or could one use Athletics in place of a Strength Check?

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There are no Athletics checks, only Ability checks.

But sometimes you can add your proficiency bonus to your Ability check.

Sometimes, the DM might ask for an ability check using a specific skill — for example, “Make a Wisdom (Perception) check.” At other times, a player might ask the DM if proficiency in a particular skill applies to a check. In either case, proficiency in a skill means an individual can add his or her proficiency bonus to ability checks that involve that skill. Without proficiency in the skill, the individual makes a normal ability check.

Athletics is not a skill that applies to this check.

Unless your DM thinks it does.

A Strength check can model any attempt to lift, push, pull, or break something, to force your body through a space, or to otherwise apply brute force to a situation. The Athletics skill reflects aptitude in certain kinds of Strength checks.

Athletics. Your Strength (Athletics) check covers difficult situations you encounter while climbing, jumping, or swimming.


Quotes taken from Chapter 7 in the Player's Handbook.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Yep. Athletics is specifically about moving around, not about lifting heavy objects or breaking doors or whatever else. "How much force can you exert?" is a raw strength check. It's kind of a change from previous editions, where raw ability checks were extremely rare -- almost anything would fall under one skill or another. But in 5e, the skills are a lot more limited than many players (and DMs!) think they should be. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 17 at 15:34

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