Until the spell ends, one willing creature you touch gains the ability to move up, down, and across vertical surfaces and upside down along ceilings, while leaving its hands free. The target also gains a climbing speed equal to its walking speed.
Casting Time: 1 action
Components: V, S, M (a drop of bitumen and a spider)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 hour
School: 2nd-level transmutation
Player’s Handbook, pg. 277
Spider Climb 5e
Spider Climb, Spider Climb, do most things a Spiderman can. Spider Climb might not be the flashy combat spell that first-time spellcasters are always drawn to, but clever DnD players will recognize loads of potential in this utility spell.
We’ll go over just how it works, as well as a bunch of situations where Spider Climb is a great answer.
Who Can Cast Spider Climb in 5e?
The following classes have Spider Climb on their spell list:
The following subclasses get Spider Climb for free:
- Druid (Circle of the Land: Forest)
- Druid (Circle of the Land: Mountain)
- Druid (Circle of the Land: Underdark)
What Does Spider Climb Do in 5e?
Spider Climb grants a willing target you touch a climbing speed equal to their walking speed and allows them to walk on walls and ceilings with just their feet.
It’s a concentration spell that lasts up to an hour, and cannot be upcast. Like all touch spells, you can target yourself with Spider Climb.
What Are the Rules for Spider Climb in 5e?
The rules for Spider Climb in DnD 5e are as follows:
You can walk on surfaces with just your feet; your hands remain free. It’s right in the spell’s description, but players often ask if they can still cast spells, use weapons, etc. while using Spider Climb — you can.
Giving you a climbing speed ensures that your climb speed isn’t half your walk speed. “When climbing, each foot of movement costs 1 extra foot…unless a creature has a climbing speed” (PHB 182).
So if a creature doesn’t normally have a climbing speed, Spider Climb essentially doubles their climbing speed.
Difficult terrain still applies while under the effects of Spider Climb. As this Sage Advice thread points out, “slippery terrain would still be a hazard,” from which we can extrapolate that Spider Climb has no interaction with difficult terrain. Plus, the spell doesn’t mention anything about helping with difficult terrain.
“Moving 1 foot in difficult terrain costs 2 feet of speed” (PHB 182). So if your walking speed is 30 feet, Spider Climb makes your climbing speed 30 feet; but if you’re traversing a surface (wall, ceiling, etc.) that’s difficult terrain, you’ll only be able to move 15 feet per turn.
Spider Climb has no interaction with spells or effects that force your movement. Again, spells only do what they say. While the spell’s RP clearly makes your feet adhesive in some way, the spell’s description makes no mention of making it harder to force your movement.
So a spell like Thunderwave or Thorn Whip can still totally move you while you’re benefitting from Spider Climb. The same goes for natural/environmental forces like a rush of water or a strong gust of wind.
Gravity is still a thing. Spider Climb doesn’t affect the target’s personal gravity a la the Reverse Gravity spell. So hold onto your gear while you’re chilling on the ceiling.
A climbing creature knocked prone doesn’t automatically cause them to fall. This isn’t about Spider Climb per se, but it bears mentioning. This Sage Advice thread confirms that being knocked prone while climbing doesn’t necessarily make it fall (RAW).
That said, JC also indicates that the DM should “look at the environment and decide,” so its DM- and situation-dependent.
Normally, “cimbing a slippery vertical surface or one with few handholds requires a successful Strength (Athletics) check” (PHB 182). An additional buff that Spider Climb provides.
How Do I Use Spider Climb in 5e?
Here are a few ways to use Spider Climb in DnD 5e:
Use it as a poor man’s version of Fly. Fly is a 3rd-level spell that gives a lot more mobility — but the essential utility of Fly in combat is to make yourself untargetable by melee enemies.
Spider Climb can accomplish the same thing. Get your arrow-shooting, spell-slinging buddy on the ceiling, and your enemies won’t know what to do. Unless they’re spiders of course.
Avoid difficult/unpassable terrain. Traps, underground rivers, etc. — these are things that get in the way. But with Spider Climb, you can let one party member traverse such conditions without fear of harm.
Since you usually have to move your entire party over such hazards, it’s usually best to use Spider Climb on your party’s weakest link in the given scenario.
Sneak in. Most people don’t look up all that often; certainly not directly up. Most DMs will give you advantage on Stealth checks if you’re sneaking around investigating. You can overhear conversations, see how baddies spend their downtime, and set up ambushes.
Get to places you couldn’t get to otherwise. For example, getting a good vantage point from a ruined tower, or snagging an item that would otherwise be out of range.
Escape when you’re cornered. When there’s nowhere left to go on the X and Y axes, why not try Z? This is only really useful if your pursuers don’t have ranged weapons or spells.
Pair with spells/effects that pull the target. When you’re directly above a creature, and you pull them up 10 feet, they’re going to take 1d6 bludgeoning damage and fall prone when it hits the ground (PHB 183).
Spells like Thorn Whip, Lightning Lure, or Eldritch Blast (with Grasp of Hadar invocation) are your best friends for pairing with Spider Climb.
Protect weak NPCs you’re escorting. If a fight is about to break out and your job is to keep an NPC safe, putting them on the ceiling might not be a bad idea. If the enemy never sees them at all, they’re guaranteed to live.
And if the enemy does see your NPC, at least they’ll still be safe from melee attacks.
Spider horse. I don’t know how exactly this works with gravity and all, but that’s your DM’s problem! I also don’t know how to apply this really, but you sure can run real fast across the ceiling.
A more practical tip is to put your party’s mule on the ceiling for safekeeping if it’s carrying something important.
Is Spider Climb 5e a Good Spell?
Yes, Spider Climb is a good spell. It may not be something that you use in every DnD session, but it’s incredibly useful in a number of situations, both in and out of combat.
Plus, Spider Climb is a fun spell that encourages players to pay attention to and use their environment to their advantage. Laughing as you snipe out-of-range attackers or pulling baddies up and down like a yo-yo with ceiling-based Thorn Whips is just satisfying gameplay.
Spider Climb 5e DM Tips
DMs will get a lot of player requests on Spider Climb: advantage on saving throws for forced movement and some leeway on the effects of gravity vis a vis arrows n’ such are the two main ones.
In my opinion, Spider Climb is a spell that gets skipped over far too often, so I like the idea of giving these small buffs and quality of life improvements to the spell. RAW shouldn’t get in the way of fun, especially with a minor addition like this. And frankly, I feel for players who argue that stickiness should make them harder to move.
One last thing: if your players love Spider Climb but hate its concentration requirement, feel free to include the Slippers of Spider Climbing to your next dungeon’s treasure cache. It’s an uncommon item that basically grants the effects of Spider Climb, permanently. It’s a great option for the end of tier 1 play (levels 3-5).
Simple Spider Climb 5e Spell Text
Spider Climb: (2nd-level transmutation, Touch, Concentration, up to 1 hour, V/S/M (a drop of bitumen and a spider)) Grant one willing creature the ability to move on walls and ceilings while keeping its hands free. The target also gains a climbing speed equal to its walking speed.