[RPG] Can a creature with a climbing speed climb across ceilings without penalty


As the title says, I am unsure as to whether a creature with a climbing speed would be able to climb across the ceilings using their climb speed and avoid any difficult terrain penalties.

This question came about because of a feature of a Simic Hybrid from the Guildmasters' Guide to Ravnica, which gives a player character a climbing speed.

Best Answer

A creature with a climb speed can climb across ceilings but not any better than a creature without a climb speed.

Per RAW, creatures with a climb speed only gain a benefit to climbing vertical surfaces as outlined in the MM.


A creature with a climbing speed can use all or part of its movement to move on vertical surfaces (emphasis mine). The monster doesn't need to spend extra movement to climb. (MM p. 8)

Creatures with climb speeds do not explicitly gain any benefit to moving across ceilings, though any creature that could reasonably scale a ceiling may still do so. A creature spends 2 feet per 1 foot of its movement scaling a ceiling regardless of whether or not it has a climb speed.

If any character or creature has themselves, the capacity to scale the underside of a horizontal surface (e.g. a ceiling), and if that surface has enough outcroppings or other characteristics that would make such a feat possible, then that creature can do so using the climb rules outlined in the PHB.

Climbing, Swimming, and Crawling

When climbing ..., each foot of movement costs 1 extra foot (2 in difficult terrain, unless the creature has a climbing ... speed. (PHB p. 182)

It should also be noted that having a climbing speed does not necessarily exempt you from having to make Athletics checks under duress or when failing a climb could have consequences. The following rules, per RAW, still apply.

Ability Checks

... The DM calls for an ability check when a character or monster attempts an action ... that has a chance of failure. (PHB p. 171)


Using Each Ability

Strength Checks

Athletics. Your Strength (Athletics) check covers difficult situations you encounter while climbing... Examples include... climbing a sheer or slippery cliff, avoid hazards while scaling, cling to a surface while something is trying to knock you off. (PHB p. 175)