Control Shape
Decipher Script
Disable Device
Escape Artist
Gather Information
Handle Animal
Iaijutsu Focus
Martial Lore
Move Silently
Open Lock
Sense Motive
Skill Tricks
Sleight of Hand
Speak Language
Use Magic Device
Use Psionic Device
Use Rope

Climb (Str; Armor Check Penalty)

Use this skill to scale a cliff, to get to the window on the second story of a wizard's tower, or to climb out of a pit after falling through a trap door.

Check: With a successful Climb check, you can advance up, down, or across a slope, a wall, or some other steep incline (or even a ceiling with handholds) at one-quarter your normal speed. A slope is considered to be any incline at an angle measuring less than 60 degrees; a wall is any incline at an angle measuring 60 degrees or more. A Climb check that fails by 4 or less means that you make no progress, and one that fails by 5 or more means that you fall from whatever height you have already attained. A climber's kit gives you a +2 circumstance bonus on Climb checks. The DC of the check depends on the conditions of the climb. Compare the task with those on the following table to determine an appropriate DC.

Climb DCExample Surface or Activity
0A slope too steep to walk up, or a knotted rope with a wall to brace against.
5A rope with a wall to brace against, or a knotted rope, or a rope affected by the rope trick spell.
10A surface with ledges to hold on to and stand on, such as a very rough wall or a ship's rigging.
15Any surface with adequate handholds and footholds (natural or artificial), such as a very rough natural rock surface or a tree, or an unknotted rope, or pulling yourself up when dangling by your hands.
20An uneven surface with some narrow handholds and footholds, such as a typical wall in a dungeon or ruins.
25A rough surface, such as a natural rock wall or a brick wall.
25An overhang or ceiling with handholds but no footholds.
-A perfectly smooth, flat, vertical surface cannot be climbed.
Climb DC Modifier¹Example Surface or Activity
-10Climbing a chimney (artificial or natural) or other location where you can brace against two opposite walls (reduces DC by 10).
-5Climbing a corner where you can brace against perpendicular walls (reduces DC by 5).
+5Surface is slippery (increases DC by 5).
¹ These modifiers are cumulative; use any that apply.

You need both hands free to climb, but you may cling to a wall with one hand while you cast a spell or take some other action that requires only one hand. While climbing, you can't move to avoid a blow, so you lose your Dexterity bonus to AC (if any). You also can't use a shield while climbing. Any time you take damage while climbing, make a Climb check against the DC of the slope or wall. Failure means you fall from your current height and sustain the appropriate falling damage. (The Dungeon Master's Guide has information on falling damage.)

Accelerated Climbing: You try to climb more quickly than normal. By accepting a -5 penalty, you can move half your speed (instead of one-quarter your speed).

Making Your Own Handholds and Footholds: You can make your own handholds and footholds by pounding pitons into a wall. Doing so takes 1 minute per piton, and one piton is needed per 3 feet of distance. As with any surface that offers handholds and footholds, a wall with pitons in it has a DC of 15. In the same way, a climber with a handaxe or similar implement can cut handholds in an ice wall.

Catching Yourself When Falling: It's practically impossible to catch yourself on a wall while falling. Make a Climb check DC = wall's DC + 20) to do so. It's much easier to catch yourself on a slope (DC = slope's DC + 10).

Catching a Falling Character While Climbing: If someone climbing above you or adjacent to you falls, you can attempt to catch the falling character if he or she is within your reach. Doing so requires a successful melee touch attack against the falling character (though he or she can voluntarily forego any Dexterity bonus to AC if desired). If you hit, you must immediately attempt a Climb check (DC = wall's DC + 10). Success indicates that you catch the falling character, but his or her total weight, including equipment, cannot exceed your heavy load limit or you automatically fall. If you fail your Climb check by 4 or less, you fail to stop the character's fall but don't lose your grip on the wall, if you fail by 5 or more, you fail to stop the character's fall and begin falling as well.

Action: Climbing is part of movement, so it's generally part of a move action (and may be combined with other types of movement in a move action). Each move action that includes any climbing requires a separate Climb check. Catching yourself or another falling character doesn't take an action.

Special: You can use a rope to haul a character upward (or, lower a character) through sheer strength. You can lift double your maximum load (see page 162) in this manner.

A halfling has a +2 racial bonus on Climb checks because halflings are agile and surefooted.

The master of a lizard familiar gains a +3 bonus on Climb checks.

If you have the Athletic feat, you get a +2 bonus on Climb checks.

A creature with a climb speed (such as a monstrous spider, or a character under the effect of a spider climb spell) has a +8 racial bonus on all Climb checks. The creature must make a Climb check to climb any wall or slope with a DC higher than 0, but it always can choose to take 10 (see Checks without Rolls), even if rushed or threatened while climbing. If a creature with a climb speed chooses an accelerated climb (see above), it moves at double its climb speed (or at its land speed, whichever is slower) and makes a single Climb check at a -5 penalty. Such a creature retains its Dexterity bonus to Armor Class (if any) while climbing, and opponents get no special bonus to their attacks against it. It cannot, however, use the run action while climbing.

Synergy: if you have 5 or more ranks in Use Rope, you get a +2 bonus on Climb checks made to climb a rope, a knotted rope, or a rope-and-wall combination.


When exploring caverns, chasms, and the like, getting where you want to go relies as much on going down as it does climbing up. Those who wish to see how deep a cave goes typically use full climber's kits, including ropes and safety harnesses, allowing them to both rappel over a ledge into the darkness and climb back up to safety afterward.

Check: You can use a rope and climbing gear to descend over a precipice or down a sheer cliff. You must have a rope and at least 1 rank in either Climb or Use Rope. You must declare the distance you intend to cover, then make a successful Climb check and a successful Use Rope check according to the parameters below.

Climb: While you are rappelling, the Difficulty Class to climb down a wall of any texture, even one that is perfectly smooth, flat, and vertical, becomes DC 10. Add 5 to the DC if the surface is slippery, or 10 if you are rappelling with no surface to brace against.

Use Rope: While rappelling, you can descend at your base land speed with a DC 10 Use Rope check, or you can take a full-round action to move twice your speed. If you make a DC 20 Use Rope check, you can take a full-round action to descend at four times your base speed.

If you fail either your Climb check or your Use Rope check, you still descend your declared distance but may go into an uncontrolled fall. To prevent this outcome, you can attempt another Use Rope check (DC equal to previous DC +5). On a success, you take 1d6 points of damage but halt your movement; on a failure, you fall. If you don't hit bottom by the start of your next turn, you can try to arrest your descent with another Use Rope check (DC equal to previous DC + 10). Success means you take 3d6 points of damage; failure means you continue to fall.

Action: None. A Climb or Use Rope check to rappel is included in your movement, so it is part of another action.

Expanded Description - Complete Adventurer

Skilled climbers can climb much more quickly than others or even fight effectively while climbing. The rapid climb option first appeared in the Epic Level Handbook, but the following uses of Climb are open to characters of any level provided that they are willing to accept the appropriate penalty.

Rapid Climb: You can climb more quickly than normal. By accepting a -20 penalty on your Climb check, you can move your speed (instead of one-quarter your speed).

Combat Climb: You can move freely enough to avoid blows while climbing. By accepting a -20 penalty on your Climb check, you can retain your Dexterity bonus to AC while climbing.

Expanded Description - Races of the Wild

Sometimes, the best way to move around a treetop or other area that offers good handholds but unsteady footing is to climb. You can use the Climb skill to move horizontally or vertically. Climbing always requires you to use both hands; if you decide to swing along using only your hands (like an ape), you use the Climb skill to do so. Very strong characters may find climbing safer than balancing, if slower.

Check: A successful Climb check allows you to move up, down, or across a forest canopy at one-quarter your normal speed. Typical DCs are as follows:

Climb DCExample Activity
0Grasping nearby branches to move along a branch too narrow or too steeply angled for normal walking
5climbing a tree with plenty of sturdy branches for handholds and footholds
10Climbing a tree with few or fairly weak branches
15Climbing a tree trunk with no branches but small enough to clasp with the arms
20Climbing a tree trunk with no branches and too large to clasp with the arms

Catching Characters Falling out of Trees: If you fall when climbing, you can try to catch yourself on the way down; you also can try to catch another character who falls. It's much easier to catch yourself or another falling character up in a tree's canopy, where there are plenty of branches to grab, than when climbing a wall or sheer cliff, so the Climb check to stop the fall is slightly easier (DC equal to the tree's or branch's DC +5)

Expanded Description - Stormwrack

Most climbing in seafaring games takes place on or around ships. Characters scramble up into rigging, sahuagin clamber up the sides, and stealthy rogues can creep up anchor chains while a ship is in harbor.

Climb DCExample Activity
5Anchor chain
5Ship's rigging
20Ship's hull

Skills Index
Character Creation