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5E Climbing and falling

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
Down climbing is almost always harder.
I can certainly attest to the truth of this and I'm glad to hear from someone who actually sounds like they also have some climbing experience. I don't have a lot, but at least I have some IRL and I like your idea of using INT (Athletics) to read the wall. Very nice idea. :)
 

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Al'Kelhar

Adventurer
...I've seen 8 year olds climb a 20 foot knotted rope better than high school football players, even though the football players should have a higher 'athletics'. It's strength to mass ratio...
S*t yeah. Little kids are like friggin' monkeys. (Well, actually, they are little monkeys. But I digress). They're really good at getting into tiny spaces, too. Every good adventuring party should have an 8-year-old stashed in their Handy Haversack.

Cheers, Al'Kelhar
 
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robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
Just curious: when an adventure presents a DC to climb a wall, how do you adjudicate failure?

Let’s say a PC has ended up at the bottom of a 20-foot deep pit with rough stone/earth walls. The DC to climb out is set at 10.

What happens if the PC fails the check? Are they just stuck at the bottom, unable to climb at all? Or do they make it partway up but not all the way? Or do they make it partway up and then fall?

If you rule that a failure equals a fall, how do you determine how far they’ve made it before they fall?

I have my own methods but I’m curious to know how other DMs handle climbing and potentially falling.
The key question is what is causing the PC to not climb with care? If the PC can take their time they can easily climb a DC 10 wall. So what is causing the uncertainty? Why are they hurrying? If it’s something in the pit that’s going to eat them then that’s the cost. If the other PCs are trying to move quickly then failure means this PC is left behind. If it‘s just a bit of bludgeoning then fine, but it‘s not super interesting reason for a roll IMHO :)
 

TaranTheWanderer

Adventurer
I can certainly attest to the truth of this and I'm glad to hear from someone who actually sounds like they also have some climbing experience. I don't have a lot, but at least I have some IRL and I like your idea of using INT (Athletics) to read the wall. Very nice idea. :)
Thanks. Just to be clear when I said down climbing, I meant it to be different from climbing down. If you are climbing down a cliff from the top, and you have ropes (depending on how high it is) it’ll be pretty easy. Probably not even a climb check If you are rappelling or using other techniques, like having someone belay you from the top or self belaying. ( I’m not sure what skill proficiency that is. Survival probably?)

But down-climbing - picking your way down a steep cliff without the aid of a rope - can be really tough and dangerous.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
But down-climbing - picking your way down a steep cliff without the aid of a rope - can be really tough and dangerous.
Yeah, I figured that was what you meant. I live in upstate NY near a fair number of "valleys" and cliffs. Here is a photo of the creek near my house where I was dumb enough to climb as a kid:

1600228353027.png

If you look towards the back you will see the rocky "wall" rising above the river edge. I made it up and down that wall (along with others near my house) a couple times when I was feeling particularly stupid.

Now, being older and wiser, yeah I know with proper ropes and gear, climbing can be safe and a lot of fun. I'll never claim to know what I am doing LOL because I understand my experience is very limited in that sense and I've only gone rock climbing with trained professionals when I went out in Arizona.

And for people who've climbed IRL, that is why I want to play out those challenges with adventurers in my groups. Falling is dangerous and can be deadly. Sure, in D&D the mechanics get wonky when you have tons of HP, but the fear should be there IMO.
 

Crimson Longinus

Adventurer
S*t yeah. Little kids are like friggin' monkeys. (Well, actually, they are little monkeys. But I digress). They're really good at getting into tiny spaces, too. Every good adventuring party should have an 8-year-old stashed in their Handy Haversack.

Cheers, Al'Kelhar
Yes, but because in D&D climbing is a strength based rather than dexterity based the elephants are much better at climbing than monkeys. (This has always bugged me.)
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
Yes, but because in D&D climbing is a strength based rather than dexterity based the elephants are much better at climbing than monkeys. (This has always bugged me.)
It is another reason why I think proficiency should replace ability score if it exceeds your ability.

Baboon: STR 8 (-1), Proficiency in Athletics +5 or 6, total modifier should be +10 or +12 id you "double-count" proficiency since it is better than ability.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I can certainly attest to the truth of this and I'm glad to hear from someone who actually sounds like they also have some climbing experience. I don't have a lot, but at least I have some IRL and I like your idea of using INT (Athletics) to read the wall. Very nice idea. :)
Not particularly relevant but my wife and I went on our honeymoon backpacking in Big Bend national park which included a hike up into mountains.

Our first full day we decided to climb a ridge to see what was up there (mountain lion scat*, FWIW). Looked back down and decided to take the long route back to our camp site. Two lessons learned, climbing down is harder than climbing up. Even if you're just going for a quick morning hike bring water. Oh, actually make that three. Mountain lion scat that still fresh is kind of scary.

*it had bits of fur in it. Not quite as cool as the wild horses from that trip or as exciting as seeing a grizzly bear while hiking on another trip, but still.
 

TaranTheWanderer

Adventurer
It is another reason why I think proficiency should replace ability score if it exceeds your ability.

Baboon: STR 8 (-1), Proficiency in Athletics +5 or 6, total modifier should be +10 or +12 id you "double-count" proficiency since it is better than ability.
Yeah, the game replaced that with 'climb speed'. You probably remember that, In 3e, climbing creatures got insane bonuses to climbing if they were natural climbers (+4-+10)

Also, that picture looks cool. So, what's the DC of that piece of rock? :)

At one time I had a chart of all the levels and what DC they were. 5.5 (DC 5) being the easiest -technically, 5.0 but I wouldn't require a check for that - and 5.16 (I think it's, technically, 5.15c - they go a,b,c,d before going to 5.16) being the hardest (DC 30)

I was climbing/working on 5.12s before I got married and had kids and moved to a place that had no access to good climbing.

level 1 to 4 are hiking and mountaineering. Here's a break-down of climbing ratings

Edit: Level 4s could require checks depending on the situation...loose rocks, high altitudes etc...uneven terrain. It really depends on the story/narrative, So it doesn't perfectly scale.
 
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dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
Also, that picture looks cool. So, what's the DC of that piece of rock? :)
Thanks! It is a beautiful spot. You have a small lagoon area below the falls (which for reference are only about 5-6 feet or so). When we have good rains it fills up decently and becomes the local "swimming hole". It is less than a half mile from our house.

Well, it has been a LONG time, but I would rate it at about DC 10 (Easy). If you are careful, there are enough things to use for holds that spacing isn't an issue really. But, while there are lots of handholds, much of the rock is brittle or loose around the dirt and you really have to be careful. Finding plants/roots is your better bet as long as you can test them. You can't see the top of the ridge in the photo, but it isn't too much further than the photo shows. I would guess the entire climb is only about 40-45 maybe? One thing I can tell you IME in such situations, you are NOT climbing at half speed. Moving 15 feet (30 with a dash action) while climbing in 6 seconds would be INSANE!

Looking back at my childhood and all the dumb things I did, I am amazed I lived through it sometimes.
 

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