[RPG] What ability do tools use


In the player's handbook there is an example in the Dexterity category of Thieves' tools, so I know that Dex is the ability that is used for ability checks with thieves' tools, but I hadn't found the ability for the other tools. Is there any info about this in the books or is up to the DM to choose the ability?

Best Answer

It's up to the DM to decide based on the task you're attempting to accomplish.

From the Player's Handbook, page 154, the introduction of the Tools section:

Tool use is not tied to a single ability, since proficiency with a tool represents broader knowledge of its use. For example, the DM might ask you to make a Dexterity check to carve a fine detail with your woodcarver's tools, or a Strength check to make something out of particularly hard wood.

In addition, Xanathar's Guide to Everything suggests that tool proficiency also includes knowledge of the related profession, further widening the potential uses tool rolls. Many of these uses are probably intelligence-related, as you use them to find hidden aspects of an object or to learn facts about its history and structure.