If my character is elevated above a creature (on a table, rock, etc.), is there anywhere in the Player's Handbook or Dungeon Master's Guide that states I gain advantage for my attacks? Do attacks against me gain disadvantage? Do these rules apply for ranged attacks as well?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to rpg.stackexchange. Good first question. \$\endgroup\$ – JWT Jul 10 '17 at 15:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Star Wars Episode III would have us believe that even a few feet of high ground affords an insurmountable advantage. \$\endgroup\$ – Nuclear Hoagie Jul 10 '17 at 19:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ The moral high ground and a dollar doesn't even get you a dollar. The ones without the moral high ground will steal it. \$\endgroup\$ – cde Jul 11 '17 at 4:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ Since this is not intended as an answer, but more a personal thought, I will leave it as a comment. Refer to the actual answers for RAW. As a personal DM ruling, I would not grant advantage or disadvantage for high ground. The only benefit I would grant would be allowing max range on ranged weapons without the disadvantage usually imposed, since the high ground would grant better view of the battlefield and distance benefits related to trigonometry. Note I classify high ground as something akin to a large hill or watch tower, not 3 steps up a flight of stairs or standing on a dining table. \$\endgroup\$ – Derka Jan 16 '19 at 3:47

It is in the hands of the DM.

You usually gain advantage or disadvantage through the use of special abilities, actions, or spells. [...] The DM can also decide that circumstances influence a roll in one direction or the other and grant advantage or impose disadvantage as a result. (PHB 173)

Consider granting advantage when: Circumstances not related to a creature's inherent capabilities provide it with an edge. Some aspect of the environment contributes to the character's chance of success. (DMG 239)

Granting Advantage or Disadvantage based on the environment is encouraged, but the actual decision rests with the DM. Whether being 2 steps higher on a staircase is enough to gain Advantage or being on top of a tall table inconveniences you (as you cannot use your usual fighting stances etc) all depend heavily on the particular situation. 5e leaves it in the hands of the DM in those cases.



Your specific example is not listed, but the text doesn't go into many specific examples. The last line of the "Advantage & Disadvantage" section of the PHB says...

The DM can also decide that circumstances influence a roll in one direction or the other and grant advantage or impose disadvantage as a result. - PHB, p173

Page 239 of the DMG doesn't offer any specific examples, either, just general guidance.


That said, as a DM, I would not grant advantage to a melee combatant for standing on a table. I don't see the benefit of height outweighing the difficulty of swinging low - I'd call it a wash.


It not specifically outlined in the rules, so therefore it's up to the DM

This is a common enough circumstance that I personally lean towards the idea that it is not specifically called out in the PHB or DMG, because the designers don't think it really warrants it generally.

From the PHB pg 173

The DM can also decide that circumstances influence a roll in one direction or the other and grant advantage or impose disadvantage as a result.


High Ground

In my (and other's) opinion, Obi-Wan probably shouldn't be granted advantage.

A least for melee there is not much advantage when attacking if you have elevation. Possibly, IRL it may grant a bonus to missile combat due to gravity, but not much of one. Having the high ground did give a small bonus to attacks in earlier editions (+1), still I do not think it warrants granting advantage.

The benefit of having the higher ground can also be realized via battlefield control, and stopping / slowing the enemy from engaging in melee, or breaking through the fighter rank to the squishies in the back.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The high ground in a one-on-one conflict is considered to be a benefit because it allows easy strikes at the more vulnerable parts of the body—head, neck, shoulders—and denies the same to the combatant on lower ground. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 10 '17 at 16:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is that what Obi-Wan was on about? I can see that. I will change my wording to be less absolute. I am getting my perspective from The Art of War which has for of a group tactic and strategic view. So then the question is - is it worth the approximately +5 that advantage gives you? \$\endgroup\$ – JWT Jul 10 '17 at 16:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's definitely debatable — hence up to the DM as you say! (I do, because Advantage/Disadvantage was added to replace all the little bonuses with something simpler, and I'm used to editions that give a bonus for higher ground.) (As for Obi-Wan, it could be argued he meant the moral high ground.) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 10 '17 at 16:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie ...from a certain point of view. ;) \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Jul 10 '17 at 17:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ You ever try charging up a hill into a shield wall with your fellow spearmen? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 11 '17 at 2:13

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