I'm confused when it comes to the high ground combat modifier and fly or spider climb effects. Its clear that any ranged attack does not gain a high ground bonus. But just what exactly gives you high ground? A couple inches or feet?

At what height would you need to be in order to gain high ground while flying? One of my players often hovers or moves just above the ground. Is this sufficient for the bonus?

If you were on a wall using spider climb, could/would you gain it?

Since charge can be used while flying, if you charged down to an enemy do you gain it?

When you are larger than an opponent would you gain it, for example a large creature attacking a medium?

  • \$\begingroup\$ 10k views but only 3 upvotes \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Sep 28, 2019 at 14:59

2 Answers 2


I would argue that Tim's answer is not accurate. I understand that his proposed solution is not based on raw, but it is based on the idea that "your opponent must fight gravity to advance".

That it is just not the case for this rule. Higher ground advantage does not seem to emanate from a difficulty your opponent has, this is already covered on a separated rule for fighting uphill. It seems to come from an ease to strike from having gravity aid you. Swinging down is easier than swinging up.

This is further evidenced by the rule on Combat while Mounted that specifically determines you get high ground bonus while mounted if your target is smaller than your mount.

It is still up to the GM to call what high ground is, I would recommend simply giving higher ground advantage to any creature who is at least 5 foot higher than another.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It's unclear to me what the concrete conclusion of this answer is. It does make effective commentary, but does not appear to distill that commentary into conclusions. I think it would help to directly answer the questions asked: do you gain high ground advantage while flying, yes or no? Do you gain it while on a wall using sipder climb? Etc. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 30, 2021 at 21:43

The Advantage is for Higher Ground, not just Height

The advantages conferred in combat by high ground are not just awarded for being above your opponent. In order to have "higher ground," you have to have a position where your opponent must fight gravity to advance.

A flying character, regardless of whether they're two inches or two feet off the ground, does not have a high ground advantage because their opponent does not need to move uphill in order to attack into their space - unless they're directly above their target, in which case they're still not at an advantage because vertical reach is easier than horizontal reach.

The same goes for a climbing creature. Unless the climbing creature is attacking from a slope, where their opponent would have to cross uphill terrain in order to reach them, they do not receive any bonus.

As for how much height would be needed assuming it was ground, that's subject to DM's discretion. I would personally say that you need at least a foot of difference (a 20% grade over 5 feet) - a single stair-step is enough to grant the bonus, but anything less than that isn't.

Large creatures - while they don't get a Higher Ground bonus just for being tall - could use their longer legs to advance over larger gaps in elevation, requiring more elevation for someone to have the high ground on them. (a 20% grade is a 20% grade, but 5-feet of it might no longer be enough) There's noting in RAW to back that up, though, so it would really be up to the DM.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I got caught up on the higher part instead of the ground part. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Sep 20, 2015 at 18:09
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ This seems to be based on (incorrect) real-world assumptions. I'll grant that might be all we have to go on, though. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Oct 5, 2018 at 22:15

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