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?

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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\$ Jul 10, 2017 at 19:41

4 Answers 4


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\$ Jul 10, 2017 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, 2017 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\$ Jul 10, 2017 at 16:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie ...from a certain point of view. ;) \$\endgroup\$
    – T.J.L.
    Jul 10, 2017 at 17:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ You ever try charging up a hill into a shield wall with your fellow spearmen? \$\endgroup\$ Jul 11, 2017 at 2:13

The concept is supported in third party publications

Cubicle 7's now ceased publication Adventures in Middle-earth, Loremaster's Guide has an excellent section on Scenery in Combat that includes this text,

Sloping terrain A simple incline to the battlefield provides a tactical consideration as well as making the world feel a bit less like a flat battle map. Whether it’s part of a rolling grassy hill, a tussocked ridge, or a stony promontory, a slope might affect the whole battlefield or just a part of it. Different slopes might occur in different directions.

  • A shallow slope provides creatures on the higher ground with Advantage on attack rolls.
  • A steep slope additionally inflicts Disadvantage on attack rolls to creatures on the lower ground

So certainly some designers suggest granting advantage for "higher ground" and, at least in this case, disadvantage for those on "lower ground". This agrees with the concept of more or less vital targets.

Previous editions, like 3.5 called this out specifically,

Attacker is Melee Ranged
On higher ground +1 0

but the benefit is much less than Advantage.

However, with the way multiple sources work in 5e, advantage/ disadvantage is probably the better mechanic.

As previously stated,

Ask your DM


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