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I have design for a character, that is multiclassed into monk. I'm interesting the "wall running" ability that a monk has.

However, I'm uncertain about what this means. If I'm wearing armor, do I lose the ability to 'wall run' from the monk?

Starting at 2nd level, your speed increases by 10 feet while you are not wearing armor or wielding a Shield. This bonus increases when you reach certain monk levels, as shown in the Monk table.

At 9th level, you gain the ability to move along vertical surfaces and across liquids on your turn without falling during the move.

My read on this is if you are wearing armor or carrying a shield you don't get the +10 scaling bonus to movement, but this seems to leave the level 9 ability usable.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Deleted my previous comment; it was pooly worded. Welcome to RPG.se. When you have time, please take our tour. Bloocinder and SSD already helped with the question formatting, don't worry about being new - the Stack format is different from what we are used to, and sometimes it takes time to get used to it. We hope you enjoy the site. \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint Jun 12 '18 at 1:34
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At 9th level, you gain the ability to move along vertical surfaces and across liquids on your turn without falling during the move.

The name of the ability, in which the quoted part is stated is Unarmored Movement. Although I would agree that it's not clear that the restriction applies to the whole feature, it is probably intended that it does. Two reasons for that:

  1. Otherwise, it would be a different feature overall.
  2. The name would be heavily misleading.

Note that this is not an issue about multiclassing per se (you would have the same problem if you decided to play, say, a Mountain Dwarf Monk, for some reason).

From that reasoning, no, you can't wall run while wearing armor.


For some conjecture, I will recreate the argument from NautArch. "Does the name actually matter?"

In any piece of writing, context matters. If a rule has multiple sentences, they're meant to be read together. For example, the first sentence of Divine Sense is meant to be read with the rest of the feature's sentences, which explain that first sentence. [1]

It might also be worth to note that, while I agree with Ruse's statement that there are many spell and features names with no specific meaning (i.e. are there for flavor), Unarmored has at least one other entry, Unarmored Defense (for Monk and Barbarian), which also only works while not wearing armor and shields, so it's arguably one of the few words that actually carry a consistent meaning.

From my perspective, if the two features should be read completely separated (and not as the second being just an addition to the first, while maintaining the restriction), there is no reason for them being together, i.e., the second should be a different feature.

Naruto Wall Climbing

At 9th level, you gain the ability to move along vertical surfaces and across liquids on your turn without falling during the move.

This is how the book consistently works: features that are disconnected are different features.

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RAW, armored monks can move along vertical surfaces and across liquids

Unarmored Movement is unambiguous.

Starting at 2nd level, your speed increases by 10 feet while you are not wearing armor or wielding a shield. This bonus increases when you reach certain monk levels, as shown in the Monk table.

At 9th level, you gain the ability to move along vertical surfaces and across liquids on your turn without falling during the move.

The first benefit only works without armor and shields, while the second benefit only works during your turn.
They are distinct benefits with distinct restrictions stated in distinct paragraphs.

If the second benefit were subject to the armor and shield restrictions I would expect the second paragraph to somehow reference the first. For example:

At 9th level, this bonus grants you the ability to move along vertical surfaces and across liquids on your turn without falling during the move.

(edits mine)

Is the RAW reading legitimate?

If the RAW reading does not defy our expectations significantly, then I find no reason to stray from it. For the reasons below, I don't think that Unarmored Movement defies our expectations enough to discredit the RAW reading.

Other similarly-structured features

There are other class features that provide two distinct benefits with a similar two-paragraph structure. For example, the barbarian's Feral Instinct and the ranger's Land's Stride just to name a couple.

Unarmored Movement is unique in that the second distinct benefit comes at a later level, but that does not imply that the second benefit is subject to the first benefit's restrictions. If anything, it implies that the two benefits are even more distinct.

Other monk features

Most of the monk's features work while wearing armor and wielding shields, so it's reasonable for the 9th level benefit to also work in such circumstances.

It's also worth noting that the 9th level benefit is implicitly weaker if you are wearing armor or wielding shields as you won't be able to move as far along vertical surfaces and across liquids.

Other features with misleading names

The fact that the feature is called "Unarmored" Movement is of no importance as there are plenty of features and abilities that defy their own naming. For example, the Pact of the Blade feature benefits all melee weapons, not just blades. The errata also agrees with this point when discussing mage armor:

I find it confusing that the mage armor spell is named that when it doesn’t count as armor. Some spells and class features have figurative, not literal, names. The text of the spell or class feature explains what it does. In this case, mage armor (PH, 256) surrounds the target with “protective magical force”; the spell doesn’t provide armor.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Your answer focus too much in the "name" aspect, but the major flaw I see there is: "They are distinct benefits with distincts restritions stated in distinct paragraphs." - why aren't they distinct features, then? While I can see not wanting to guess intent without dev's statements, this reading is inconsistent with every other organization of class features presented in any book that I'm aware of. Your answer would be more accepted if it could provide a reasoning or other scenarios where that happens and is clearly intended. \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint Jun 12 '18 at 8:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HellSaint I agree, I had focused to much on the name aspect. I've now expanded my answer to cover more arguments and clarified my main point. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruse Jun 12 '18 at 9:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Greatly improved, I think you make a compelling case. +1 \$\endgroup\$ – BrianH Jun 12 '18 at 13:35

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