Searching the PDF, I cannot find any rules for how non-thieves can climb stuff. But the character sheet as a “climb movement rate”.

Was there an oversight somewhere?

I’m guessing they need to have the Climbing proficiency (p.59) or the Mountaineering proficiency (p.62) to perform non-thief climbing of any significance.

I’m also guessing that climbing movement is listed on the character sheet because climbing is an inherent skill for thieves.

Adventuring proficiency would cover all forms of climbing that are short of Mountaineering or scaling sheer surfaces. For exampe, climbing up a rope. A character would climb at their climbing movement rate.



But what is the climbing movement rate?

Thieves climb at 1/4 their combat movement rate (p. 24, Climb Walls).

Thanks, missed that! Now non-thief style climbing I presume it’s out of combat time but how far can they reasonably climb in a turn?

I’m pretty sure that climbing, like swimming, only has one movement rate. For humans, that comes out to 10’ per round, 60’ per minute, and 600’ per turn.

This is approximately as realistic as humans having a movement rate of 120’.

I noticed on p. 113 that swimming is 1/4 normal movement. So maybe if it’s easy enough for non-thief types to climb /at all/ they can climb at 1/4 move.


The "120' per turn" movement rate must rank up there as one of the most misunderstood elements of D&D since hit points. The human movement rate of 120' per turn is quite realistic in the context of *exploration*.

You can empirically verify this. Go to a store with interesting merchandise (B&N, for instance). Monitor your speed of movement as you walk through the store. Given a 40' x 40' store, with a perimeter of 120', it will take at least 10 minutes. If shopping doesn't convince you, consider your rate of movement through a museum or art gallery, etc. That's exploration speed.

If the adventurers are crossing through areas they have already traversed, not concerned with noise or traps, and aren't mapping, they shouldn't be moving at exploration speed.




The rules state "Thieves climb at ¼ their standard combat movement rate." While correct insofar as combat movement, the rule seems to imply that combat movement is the only available movement when climbing, which is not the intent.

Climbing speed is intended to be at 25% of normal movement rate, whatever movement is being engaged in. A moment's reflection will reveal why this must be so; obviously, there must be some rate at which a thief climbs if he is fighting with 1 hand or foot, and another rate if he's climbing all-out, and a third rate if he's cautiously climbing a long distance, taking care to be relatively quiet and probing along the way.

For an unarmored human, the combat movement rate is 40' per round in indoors and 40 yards per round outdoors. The running/charging movement rate is 120' per round indoors and 120 yards per round outdoors.

A thief therefore moves 10' per round indoors if he's "combat climbing" and 30' per round indoors if he's "running up the walls" (e.g. climbing to the exclusion of all other activities).

A thief who is "climbing all out" can move 30' per round indoors and 30 yards per round outdoors. That seems fast! But it's not implausible. In a recent Rockmaster World Championship, the world champion climbed a 25 meter rock wall in 6.3 seconds.  That works out to 4 meters per second for a master climb. 4 meters per second translates to 43 yards per 10-second combat round.

Meanwhile, 1.53 meters per second on a climbing wall was (according to sources I consulted) a decent rate for a good climber. 1.53 meters per second is 1.67 yards per second or 17 yards per 10-second combat round. If you average these two values, you get (17 yards/round + 43 yards/round  = 60 yards/round //2 = ) 30 yards per combat round, which is what ACKS assigns to a thief climbing outdoors.

In a dungeon, where the walls are likely smoother and wetter than an outdoor rock-face, the climbing rate will be much less. And  a character who is combat climbing will obviously be much less than that.

Related topics:

The world record for swimming is 5.34 mph for 100 meters; or 26.6 yards per 10 seconds. For long distances, it is about 3 mph. ACKS movement rates for all-out swimming (120y/round / 4 = 30 yards per combat round) are therefore world-class.

The world record for running is 34 feet per second, or 113 yards per combat round. ACKS (and D&Ds) running/charging movement rate outdoors is therefore faster than today's fastest humans. 

I wouldn't let the fact that ACKS assumes peak 21st century human-performance levesl for adventurers bother you, though. The book Manthropology does a brilliant (and depressing) job showing that in virtually every area of human physique, modern humans are slower and weaker than our ancestors raised under more primitive conditions. Olympic rowers cannot achieve galley speeds routinely achieved by Greek rowers. Olympic sprinters in high-tech shoes on rubber tracks cannot achieve running speeds of hunter-gathers racing barefoot in the mud. Great book.







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