We have lost a character in a battle in a strange way. He was wearing the:

Slippers of Spider Climbing
Wondrous item, uncommon (requires attunement)

While you wear these light shoes, you can move up, down and across vertical surfaces and upside down along ceilings, while leaving your hands free. You have a climbing speed equal to your walking speed. However, the slippers don´t allow you to move this way on a slippery surfaces such as one covered by ice or oil.

and he was struck down to 0 HP while standing on a wall, over a well.

Would he fall into the well and drown? Or would he remain unconscious hanging by his boots?

Is there any difference between objects that require attunement and those that don't?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Are we ignoring the possibility of the subsequent relaxation of the muscles in unconsciousness and slipping out of said boots? \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Nov 9, 2016 at 16:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah! I thought about that, let's assume that you tied up the slippers really strong \$\endgroup\$
    – Kelhendros
    Nov 9, 2016 at 16:19

4 Answers 4


As a general rule, the magical item continues to function, however, what happens to the wearer of the shoes is a different matter. Since there is no guidance on what happens to an unconscious creature who is standing on the wall, we will need to make some assumptions. And just because the shoes allow him to walk on walls and ceilings doesn't mean that our assumptions about gravity in the game world stop applying.

If he falls unconscious and is unable to control his body, then it stands to reason he will fall down. The magic item continues operating, but that doesn't mean he is magically stuck to the ceiling (or does it? see below...). I would rule the same for a spider on a wall or ceiling. With no mental faculties with which to maintain control of your body, you go limp and fall.

To be clear, this answer is based on my discretion as a DM, as there is no rule for what should happen here. If I were the DM in your scenario, the character would fall off the wall and down the well (though perhaps not drown -- that takes quite a bit of time in terms of rounds -- usually more than enough to mount a rescue attempt, anyway).

It would also be perfectly acceptable for you, as DM, to determine that Slippers of Spider Climbing do work as sticky pads which always work and never slip off the feet of the wearer, even when the wearer is unconscious and dangling upside-down from the ceiling over a pit of lava or what-have-you.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I think spiders can stick to walls even if they are dead. Maybe only thanks to their webs but I don't think so. Any biologist around (or someone with more time and skill than me to research)? \$\endgroup\$
    – th_pion
    Nov 10, 2016 at 9:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've found dead bugs stuck to walls. Geckos, too. Cicada shells stay stuck to stuff even though there's isn't a bug inside at all! Of course, real bugs and geckos have more anchor points to keep the body from swaying in a way that peels it off the wall. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 10, 2016 at 13:05

To activate a magic item (DMG p.141):

Activating some magic items requires a user to do something special, such as holding the item and uttering a command word. The description of each item category or individual item details how an item is activated.

Slippers of Spider Climbing are a wondrous item that must be worn on the feet and attuned to be used. Specifically:

While you wear these light shoes, you can move up, down and across vertical surfaces and upside down along ceilings, while leaving your hands free.

Moving is how the slippers are activated.

Now, from PHB p.192:

  • An unconscious creature is incapacitated (see the condition), can’t move or speak, and is unaware of its surroundings
  • The creature drops whatever it’s holding and falls prone.

So, there are two things to consider - if you have moved and climbed up the wall, you have activated the slippers. If you are unconscious you are unable to move, I think this is subtly different from being able to and choosing not to. Do they keep operating from round to round if you cannot move? Well that is a matter for each group to decide as the rules are unclear.

Notwithstanding, even if you decide that they do keep operating, an unconscious creature "falls prone". In the section on Being Prone (PHB p.190):

Combatants often find themselves lying on the ground, either because they are knocked down or because they throw themselves down. In the game, they are prone, a condition described in appendix A.

Prone = Lying down

A person lying down does not generally have the soles of their feet on the surface. This is not definitive, however, it is suggestive. Again, each group must make their own decision.


Consider a character wearing a ring a fire immunity falling unconscious and tumbling into a fire. As long as he is wearing the ring he should be protected.

So strictly, there is no reason why he would not stay where he is on the roof.

If the DM would judge that he should fall (seems perfectly reasonable) then it would be a tad sadistic to also judge that he falls into the well and drown with no chance of survival. Death by DM-judgement should happen sparingly.

If he knew precisely this might happen and decided to brave the climb anyways, then sure. Otherwise let him fall beside the well or on the edge giving the party a round to save him from falling in or give him Dex-save to throw himself towards safety as a final action as he feels consciousness slipping.

  • \$\begingroup\$ He rolled the die for a chance to fall beside the well, but was a bad roll. Regarding your response my problem with the slippers is that they say "you can". Don't really know the exact wording for the ring of fire immunity, but the "can" part makes me think that you have to somewhat choose to walk on the wall. But I am not so sure anymore! \$\endgroup\$
    – Kelhendros
    Nov 9, 2016 at 23:07
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Logically if he is to actually walk on the wall he needs to be able to stick and unstick his feet by conscious control - if they just stuck once and stayed stuck walking would be impossible (This suggests he falls). On the other hand if that was the mechanism, it is hard to see how one could walk up a wall with hands free. Another interpretation is that it makes anything into a floor for the wearer, if he stumbles, he stumbles towards his floor (This suggests he stays where he is). There is plenty of room for interpretation - DM should judge and then stick with that item mechanism onwards. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sesdun
    Nov 9, 2016 at 23:32

The first thing that came to mind was the Periapt of Wound Closure. Coincidentally, it deals exactly with the state of dying, which means being unconscious (Except in the case of a certain feature in an Unearthed Arcana).

The Periapt stabilizes you at the start of your turn if you are dying, which would mean that you are unconscious (and incapacitated) and otherwise would be making death saving throws. (The Periapt has other effects, too.)

The other problem you have seems to deal with how much activity the character needs to be performing in order to stay on the wall, and since going unconscious prevents any such activity that brings up the question of where they should be going. That is up to the DM, really, depending on how much they want the magic to do with the character climbing on a surface.


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