28
\$\begingroup\$

The Thief archetype Rogue's Second-Story Work (PHB, p. 97) feature states:

[...] you gain the ability to climb faster than normal; climbing no longer costs you extra movement.

However, the Centaur's Equine Build racial trait (GGR, p. 16) says:

In addition, any climb that requires hands and feet is especially difficult for you because of your equine legs. When you make such a climb, each foot of movement costs you 4 extra feet, instead of the normal 1 extra foot.

Both of these in my opinion are specific, in the "specific beats general" type of rulings, but does one supersede the other? Would a Centaur Thief climb 40 feet or 8 feet (1+4 extra feet) per round?

\$\endgroup\$
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Maybe this will help someone. Doesn't work as well for centaurs, but sometimes my wolf animal companion has to make climb checks. I imagine them working like this: youtu.be/OPgh-wywsKA?t=589 \$\endgroup\$ – Nacht May 25 at 11:49
40
\$\begingroup\$

From logic, one would arrive at:

  1. "Climbing for a thief no longer costs the thief extra movement,"
  2. "Climbing for a centaur costs 4 extra feet,"
  3. "4 extra feet is extra movement," (implied from "instead of the normal 1 extra foot")
  4. (2&3) "Climbing for a centaur costs extra movement"
    C. (1&4) "Climbing for a centaur thief would not cost any extra movement."
\$\endgroup\$
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! This is a great first answer. The tour and the help center are available if you want to know more about how we do stuff. Happy gaming! \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Starnes May 23 at 22:22
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ I feel that this is a perfectly acceptable reading of the rules, but potentially breaking the spirit of them. - DM and Players may benefit from a discussion to decide if adding that much power to a character is in the spirit of their campaign. ["The centaur thief climbs as well as a bipedal non-thief for example", or their penalty is reduced by 1, could be more fitting.] \$\endgroup\$ – TheLuckless May 23 at 22:33
  • 9
    \$\begingroup\$ @TheLuckless: Counter argument: mountain goats. \$\endgroup\$ – nick012000 May 24 at 5:20
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @nick012000: Mountain goats are not particularly fast when climbing (compared to them running), and I interpret the extra movement to be intended to account for slower climbing (compared to running) in a given turn. \$\endgroup\$ – Flater May 24 at 11:45
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ @nick012000 Counter Counter argument: They're talking about centaur thieves, not satyr thieves... Horses aren't known for their great ability to climb walls, and are no more a goat than a plucked chicken is a man... The first rule of applying rules in a table top game is that the group should enjoy working with said rules. To avoid conflict, the party and DM should acknowledge how they prefer to have a rule like this actually read and applied. \$\endgroup\$ – TheLuckless May 24 at 15:58
34
\$\begingroup\$

The way to reconcile these, IMHO, is to realise that the Thief ability is written assuming that the character is an ordinary humanoid biped. They would pay one extra foot of movement for each foot of climbing, and the ability removes that penalty.

So you could plausibly claim that a centaur Thief with Second-Story Work pays three extra feet of movement for each foot of climbing, rather than four. That gives them a climbing move of ten feet, better than a normal centaur, but worse than a biped non-Thief. That seems like a plausible outcome within the game world.

Being a centaur who climbs buildings isn't a very sensible idea, and should not be made plausible by over-literal rules interpretation.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 9
    \$\begingroup\$ Counter argument: mountain goats. \$\endgroup\$ – nick012000 May 24 at 5:21
  • 23
    \$\begingroup\$ @nick012000 Counter-counter argument: Centaurs are not mountain goats. \$\endgroup\$ – BradenA8 May 24 at 8:02
  • 10
    \$\begingroup\$ I'd like to see a mountain goat climb a drain, or a straight wall without ledges... \$\endgroup\$ – Jorn May 24 at 8:41
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, this is not an answer in the Stack standards. This is just a houserule without any basis. \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin May 24 at 12:57
  • 8
    \$\begingroup\$ It would have to be a pretty damn smooth wall (including where the stones are mortared) for a goat to not be able to climb it. earthporm.com/… \$\endgroup\$ – T.E.D. May 24 at 13:43
6
\$\begingroup\$

Specific Beats General Still Applies

Second-Story Work’s description is:

[...] you gain the ability to climb faster than normal; climbing no longer costs you extra movement.

This rule applies to any climb you make, whether that is up or down a vertical surface or object, such as a rock wall or a rope, or if you are climbing along a horizontal surface, such as a cliff edge or monkey bars.

The Centaur’s Equine Build’s description is:

In addition, any climb that requires hands and feet is especially difficult for you because of your equine legs. When you make such a climb, each foot of movement costs you 4 extra feet, instead of the normal 1 extra foot.

However, if a climb requires both your hands and your feet, this second rule comes into play. This is because a “climb that requires both your hands and feet” is a more specific term than just a “climb”, so specific beats general.

A vertical climb, more often than than not, requires both your hands and your feet to climb (your hands to reach up and your legs to push you). However, a horizontal climb may only require use of your hands and not the use of your feet so this second rule would not come into force. Using the example of monkey bars, your legs typically dangle downwards and you swing your body forwards to grab the next bar, they do not require use of your feet, only the use of your hands to grab the bars and your body to swing you forwards.

Additionally, any climb that only required the use of your feet, such as climbing stairs, or hills, or rocks or any other uneven surface. As long as your hands weren’t needed for the climb, the second rule would not apply.

So then, if a climb required both the use of your hands and feet, you could only climb 8 ft (1ft + 4 extra cost). If however a climb required only the use of your hands or only the use of your feet, then you could move 40 feet.

\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk May 26 at 2:06
1
\$\begingroup\$

Order of operations suggests that it doesn't cost extra movement to climb. It's ripe for DM interpretation, though.

Consider specific versus general, and look at it as an order of operations thing. If the Thief is more specific, then the centaur increases it from 1 to 4, and then the thief nulls it. If the centaur is more specific, then the thief nulls it, and the centaur... well, the centaur's feature says "instead of", and by the time you get there, there is no "1 extra foot" for the "4 extra feet" to replace. As such, it falls off again, and you wind up with the same answer.

That having been said, there are two things to consider. The first is that this is a somewhat implausible type to begin with. Centaurs don't get any dex bonus (which the thief needs), they do get a str bonus (which the thief can't really use), and they have nothing in particular that makes them all that good at being rogues (carrying capacity?). Those few centaurs that do want to be rogues would probably want to be Scouts, rather than thieves. The only way one of these is showing up in campaign is if the DM puts it there deliberately as an NPC or a player decides to do it because they want to be wacky.

As such, this is not a "limits of optimization" question. A centaur thief-rogue is already significantly nonoptimal. This is a "how silly do you want your gameworld to be" question. If your wacky, wacky player wants to run a centaur who can climb walls faster even than other thieves, do you want that in your gameworld? There's a sliding scale of serious vs silly-but-awesome and the real answer to the question (in the cases where it'll actually be asked) should be based more on that than on a legalistic reading of two rules that pretty clearly weren't intended to meaningfully interact.

\$\endgroup\$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.