Is the bard’s Jack of All Trades intended to apply to initiative?

7 thoughts on “Is the bard’s Jack of All Trades intended to apply to initiative?

  1. WHUTAGUY says:

    P 174 says ability checks “has a chance of failure.” initiative does not. While p 177 calls initiative a dexterity check, it is not in the subheading of ability checks. Just stirring the pot

    • Victor Wilburn says:

      Specific beats general.

      And it IS under the heading of types of Dexterity checks, it’s just not under the heading of SKILLS. You can have a raw ability check where no skill proficiency applies. Initiative is one such check. It’s the only one I can think of that is defined as a general rule (though I could well be missing something), but there are tons of more specific or ad hoc examples (e.g. pre-written adventures often have ad hoc skill-less ability checks). Like any ability checks, they are tools for the DM to use as they see fit.

  2. Gustavo says:

    What about the Champion’s Remarkable Athlete feature? Does it add half of the proficiency bonus (rounded down) to initiative rolls?

    • Victor Wilburn says:

      Yes, the same logic applies, as that feature says it applies to ability checks. Unlike JoAT, it is limited to certain abilities, but Dexterity is one of those.

  3. UUJestee says:

    How is initiative a Dexterity ability check but a Dexterity saving throw not? This seems a ridiculous hair to split.

    • Victor Wilburn says:

      It is not at ALL hair splitting. There are three distinct, non-overlapping categories of d20 rolls — attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws. This is pretty fundamental to 5e and is covered in the section entitled “The D20” on page 7 of the PHB, right up front. Something that is one of those categories is not in the others, and initiative is explicitly described as an ability check, not a saving throw (PHB 177 and PHB 189).

      If you were not aware of that fundamental 5e concept, you’re going to have a lot of trouble reading a lot of rules correctly. By contrast, understanding that concept will make the rules a lot clearer for you.

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