Can you climb over a wall of force?


Rules Questions

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In our last game, the party created a wall of force about the height of an opponent. The top was within reach, so I judged he could grab the edge and climb over. Does it have an edge you can grasp? The opponent had DR 10, so I didn't think it would cut him or anything, but the players objected. What do you think?


I would have top say no for a couple of reasons.

Core Rule Book Pg 365 and 367 wrote:
A wall of force creates an invisible wall of pure force. The wall cannot move and is not easily destroyed. A wall of force is immune to dispel magic, although a mage’s disjunction can still dispel it. A wall of force can be damaged by spells as normal, except for disintegrate, which automatically destroys it. It can be damaged by weapons and supernatural abilities, but a wall of force has hardness 30 and a number of hit points equal to 20 per caster level. Contact with a sphere of annihilation or rod of cancellation instantly destroys a wall of force. Breath weapons and spells cannot pass through a wall of force in either direction, although dimension door, teleport, and similar effects can bypass the barrier. It blocks ethereal creatures as well as material ones (though ethereal creatures can usually circumvent the wall by going around it, through material floors and ceilings). Gaze attacks can operate through a wall of force. The caster can form the wall into a flat, vertical plane whose area is up to one 10-foot square per level. The wall must be continuous and unbroken when formed. If its surface is broken by any object or creature, the spell fails. Wall of force can be made permanent with a permanency spell.

First the spell doesn't say that it has an edge or not but simply it has 2 dimensions of impassable force. This also sounds like it is a force field, which it basically is, thus it is probably also frictionless. You can circumnavigate it, so it could be plausible that it may have an edge and would be a complete judgment call on the GM's part but this can create future problems. First it sets precedence in which a creative playing could possibly take advantage of. Second if someone was crawling/climbing over the edge of something towards my character then that would present an attack of opportunity which is not a good idea, but of course that is a situational example.

Secondly the wall is invisible so unless the creature/NPC has an ability to see that there is an edge or not to try and grab hold of would not know that there is a reachable edge or not. If the creature/NPC is using the knowledge of what the "Player" said OOC then that is unfair to the player and become meta gaming on the GM's part.

Now it is conceivable that a creature or NPC could fly over the wall of force if it was outside because it would only take a reasonable intelligence to figure out the wall would have some kind of limits. But this is the reasoning that it was outside or there was a lot of head clearance like say in a huge cave or something.


The room had 60 foot ceilings, but the wall was only a bit taller than the creatures because of the length involved. The creatures spent a round running into the wall, and they made a spellcraft check, so they knew what the spell was. They reached up, found an edge and did a chin up. The creatures could fly, so eventually they just flew over the top.

Yes, a wall of force having an edge has consequences, which is why I posted it here. You could climb over the edge, you could hook a grapple onto the top, etc. I guess I have trouble envisioning something so solid it stops you and stops line of effect, but also has no clear edges.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

It's a wall. I see no reason you couldn't climb it.


ItoSaithWebb wrote:
First the spell doesn't say that it has an edge or not but simply it has 2 dimensions of impassable force.

The spell description says no such thing. I think you're inferring from the statement "flat vertical plane," that the wall is two-dimensional.

If we want to get all physics-y, then there can be no such thing as a two-dimensional "wall of force," anyway, as Force = mass x acceleration. There is no mass with a two-dimensional plane, and if mass is zero, then Force becomes zero.

But it's "magic," I know.

I agree with your point about a creature not being able to see the wall, to see the edge, as the wall is invisible. I'd allow a creature to find the upper edge, after searching, but I wouldn't treat it as being un-grabbable.


In 3.0 D&D, it was possible to escape artist through a Wall of Force (DC 120).


From digging around, it looks like a Climb DC of 70 is about right.


Ashenfall wrote:
ItoSaithWebb wrote:
First the spell doesn't say that it has an edge or not but simply it has 2 dimensions of impassable force.

The spell description says no such thing. I think you're inferring from the statement "flat vertical plane," that the wall is two-dimensional.

If we want to get all physics-y, then there can be no such thing as a two-dimensional "wall of force," anyway, as Force = mass x acceleration. There is no mass with a two-dimensional plane, and if mass is zero, then Force becomes zero.

But it's "magic," I know.

I agree with your point about a creature not being able to see the wall, to see the edge, as the wall is invisible. I'd allow a creature to find the upper edge, after searching, but I wouldn't treat it as being un-grabbable.

Well like I said before it is a judgment call for the GM in that case. The search would require at least a standard action and then unless they have some kind of climb movement it would count possibly as difficult terrain, but I am not sure in combat. Like the OP eventually the creatures did just fly over the wall, so this thread is really just academic.


In round two they were standing there. There was combat on the other side, so it was clear there was sound coming over, but not through the wall. Round two began, they made their spellcraft check to know it was a wall of force. Feel revealed that the top of the wall was within hands reach and they pulled themselves up to top. I just wanted to clear up if they could grab the top since the party often uses walls of force to separate enemies and fight them piecemeal. This will come up again.


Toss a grappling hook on top of it, climb up, even if it's two-dimensional, you can still do it.


That was my thought, too, but some players questioned it.


Toss a demilich on the side of the wall of force they're on. Then see how much they question it.


They might have some motivation to climb it then!


Prawn wrote:
They might have some motivation to climb it then!

You mean leap it in a single bound.


Well as I understand it it is two dimensional and if the wall is low enough it would be climbable then again it would be 2 dimensional which would make climbing it extremely difficult (like trying to lift your body on the edge of a dull razor.)


Again, if it's two-dimensional, it cannot exert force. Therefore, it must be three dimensional, if only a micron thick.

If that's the case, there must be one hell of an acceleration factor.


gnomersy wrote:
which would make climbing it extremely difficult (like trying to lift your body on the edge of a dull razor.)

That's why I mentioned that the monsters had DR 10.


Ashenfall wrote:

Again, if it's two-dimensional, it cannot exert force. Therefore, it must be three dimensional, if only a micron thick.

If that's the case, there must be one hell of an acceleration factor.

That's a non issue given that A) the spell specifies it's using a square which is a 2 dimensional object and B) Magic. and C) If you really want to have a roundabout explanation the spell anchors your wall into the very core of the planet hence why no matter how much force you apply the wall does not move it only breaks.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
gnomersy wrote:
If you really want to have a roundabout explanation the spell anchors your wall into the very core of the planet hence why no matter how much force you apply the wall does not move it only breaks.

What do you think happens when you cast this spell upon the deck of a moving ship out at sea? :P


Ravingdork wrote:
gnomersy wrote:
If you really want to have a roundabout explanation the spell anchors your wall into the very core of the planet hence why no matter how much force you apply the wall does not move it only breaks.
What do you think happens when you cast this spell upon the deck of a moving ship out at sea? :P

Hilarity.

The wall cannot move (2nd sentence of the spell). Ships are modes of transport, so unless it's docked or anchored in completely still water, it's probably moving.

If you cast it in the air in front of the mast, the ships mast and wall of force would do damage to each other. If you cast it on the poop deck, someone aft of the wall of force might get knocked off... unless they duck under it, since it would have to be positioned higher than the gunwale on either side.

If a single rope were traversing the area where the wall is cast though, the spell would fail, since if the surface is broken by any object or creature, the spell fails.


The wall of force is still a wall. The fact that it is made of force instead of ice, stone, or iron does not change that.
The wall of force takes up the entire square it is in. That means it must have length, height, and width. If not then part of the square is open, and someone can just walk by it.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Irontruth wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
gnomersy wrote:
If you really want to have a roundabout explanation the spell anchors your wall into the very core of the planet hence why no matter how much force you apply the wall does not move it only breaks.
What do you think happens when you cast this spell upon the deck of a moving ship out at sea? :P

Hilarity.

The wall cannot move (2nd sentence of the spell). Ships are modes of transport, so unless it's docked or anchored in completely still water, it's probably moving.

If you cast it in the air in front of the mast, the ships mast and wall of force would do damage to each other. If you cast it on the poop deck, someone aft of the wall of force might get knocked off... unless they duck under it, since it would have to be positioned higher than the gunwale on either side.

If a single rope were traversing the area where the wall is cast though, the spell would fail, since if the surface is broken by any object or creature, the spell fails.

I do not believe it is so simple.

One could easily interpret it as not moving in relation to whatever surface it is cast on.

I'm not particularly opposed to either interpretation, I'm just meaning to say that it isn't as clear cut as you imply.


Ravingdork wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
gnomersy wrote:
If you really want to have a roundabout explanation the spell anchors your wall into the very core of the planet hence why no matter how much force you apply the wall does not move it only breaks.
What do you think happens when you cast this spell upon the deck of a moving ship out at sea? :P

Hilarity.

The wall cannot move (2nd sentence of the spell). Ships are modes of transport, so unless it's docked or anchored in completely still water, it's probably moving.

If you cast it in the air in front of the mast, the ships mast and wall of force would do damage to each other. If you cast it on the poop deck, someone aft of the wall of force might get knocked off... unless they duck under it, since it would have to be positioned higher than the gunwale on either side.

If a single rope were traversing the area where the wall is cast though, the spell would fail, since if the surface is broken by any object or creature, the spell fails.

I do not believe it is so simple.

One could easily interpret it as not moving in relation to whatever it is cast on.

I'm not particularly opposed to either interpretation, I'm just meaning to say that it isn't as clear cut as you imply.

I can cast it on top of a carriage/wagon?

How about a wheelbarrow?
My shoe?

All methods of transport.


The ship is moving and the wall of force extends off the ship. The ship passes close to an island with a rock outcropping. Are you implying that the island runs into the "unmoving" wall of force?


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Irontruth wrote:

I can cast it on top of a carriage/wagon?

How about a wheelbarrow?
My shoe?

All methods of transport.

Of course not, those are not acceptable "surfaces." They are things that would interrupt the formation of the wall if you tried to cast it upon them. I would think an acceptable surface to be a (relatively) flat surface large enough to fit the entire length of the wall.

I find the idea of an immobile wall of force moving with a ship a fair bit less silly than a wall of force that is stationary and stopping/slowing the orbit of the planetoid it sits upon (you DO know planet aren't immobile, right?).


Ravingdork wrote:
Irontruth wrote:

I can cast it on top of a carriage/wagon?

How about a wheelbarrow?
My shoe?

All methods of transport.

Of course not, those are not acceptable "surfaces." They are things that would interrupt the formation of the wall if you tried to cast it upon them. I would think an acceptable surface to be a (relatively) flat surface large enough to fit the entire length of the wall.

I find the idea of an immobile wall of force moving with a ship a fair bit less silly than a wall of force that is stationary and stopping/slowing the orbit of the planetoid it sits upon (you DO know planet aren't immobile, right?).

It's about relative motion Raving if the wall is tethered to the planet it follows the planet's pull and anything which applies force on the wall in any direction is counteracted due to the equal force which must be applied.


Please leave physics out of magic when not needed people it leads to long drawn out debates and headaches.

On topic however its space is a number of 10ft squares/lvl which i assume to mean it uses up a whole 5ft square when placed down which makes it climable once you can feel around a bit.

The Exchange Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

I think it would be tough to climb the wall of force but possible. Perhaps DC 30 if they can grap the top (I assume it's a fairly perfect/ frictionless surface). Without the handhold on the top it would be DC 50 or more.

The wall of force isn't really great unless it can completely block access.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I just ran into one of these in our ADnD game.


If you make it high as the person it doesn't matter how slick it is, they can grab the top and hop over.

otherwise, from the climb skill

A perfectly smooth, flat vertical (or inverted) surface cannot be climbed.


gnomersy wrote:
It's about relative motion Raving if the wall is tethered to the planet it follows the planet's pull and anything which applies force on the wall in any direction is counteracted due to the equal force which must be applied.

Yes, but the spell does not specify what it's immobile relative to. And saying "the planet" doesn't actually answer it. What part of the planet? Does a wall of force move with continental drift, or does it hold in place while the continent moves, or does it get destroyed by the power of the continent drifting against it?

Shadow Lodge

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DM call. No wrong answer.


Ravingdork wrote:
Irontruth wrote:

I can cast it on top of a carriage/wagon?

How about a wheelbarrow?
My shoe?

All methods of transport.

Of course not, those are not acceptable "surfaces." They are things that would interrupt the formation of the wall if you tried to cast it upon them. I would think an acceptable surface to be a (relatively) flat surface large enough to fit the entire length of the wall.

I find the idea of an immobile wall of force moving with a ship a fair bit less silly than a wall of force that is stationary and stopping/slowing the orbit of the planetoid it sits upon (you DO know planet aren't immobile, right?).

I'm pretty sure EVERY spell in the book violates the laws of physics in one way or another. Is it more rational to assume a Wall of Force "cannot move" in relation to the nearest object? Or should we pick only a single object from which to determine all Wall of Force spells?

Two Walls of Force, one on a ship, one 10 feet away over the rock outcropping on the island. At the end of the round, the ship moves 25 feet. If the Wall of Force on the ship moves with it, this spell that "cannot move" has changed position from another spell that "cannot move" by 25 feet. That clearly violates the rules of the spell, so this interpretation cannot be correct.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32, 2012 Top 4

Ravingdork wrote:
What do you think happens when you cast this spell upon the deck of a moving ship out at sea? :P

Along those same lines, I ran a session once with a Beholder aboard a fast-moving ship. He had to be tethered to a safety line while on deck, to keep from being left behind.

Edit for on-topic: DC 70 to climb the surface of the wall, regular DC for rope if you use a grappling hook. The real question is what happens if you try and stand on top of the wall.


RE the ship: I have ruled that the wall creates a barrier that a ship can run into. Does a lot of damage.

Talonhawke wrote:
it uses up a whole 5ft square when placed down which makes it climable once you can feel around a bit.

I don't like this interpretation. If it uses the whole 5 ft square, they could walk around on top of the wall, or put a ladder up there or something. This seems to go against the idea of the wall being very very thin.

TOZ wrote:
DM call. No wrong answer.

That's not true. The answer that pisses off my players is the wrong one, and since this is something we disagreed about, I posted here for further opinions.

Shadow Lodge

Nah. Your players don't have to like your decisions, and you're under no obligation to make sure your rulings please them.


TOZ wrote:
Nah. Your players don't have to like your decisions, and you're under no obligation to make sure your rulings please them.

They are my friends, and if I alienate them by making capricious, unpopular decisions, I will lose friends and players both.

If rule 0 is "the DM is always right", rule -1 should be "Don't be a dick."

If you violate rule -1 too often you end up (ahem) playing with your self.


Prawn wrote:
TOZ wrote:
Nah. Your players don't have to like your decisions, and you're under no obligation to make sure your rulings please them.

They are my friends, and if I alienate them by making capricious, unpopular decisions, I will lose friends and players both.

If rule 0 is "the DM is always right", rule -1 should be "Don't be a dick."

If you violate rule -1 too often you end up (ahem) playing with your self.

Don't be a dick is in a tangentially related rule set of "behaving like an adult" and has a couple of clauses attached to it.

Shadow Lodge

Prawn wrote:


They are my friends, and if I alienate them by making capricious, unpopular decisions, I will lose friends and players both.

If they expect you to cave to their every whim, they're not your friends. And I never said you must make such decisions, that is your own projection.


TOZ wrote:

they expect you to cave to their every whim,

Great job at taking things out of context. I don't want to piss off my friends unnecessarily, so I am asking people on this forum for advice about a little corner case ruling on a spell. Construing this as caving in to their every whim is "your projection," Toz.

I think my ruling that the wall has an edge works fine. That creates some interesting ramifications for the way the spell will be used in the campaign.


Prawn wrote:


Talonhawke wrote:
it uses up a whole 5ft square when placed down which makes it climable once you can feel around a bit.

I don't like this interpretation. If it uses the whole 5 ft square, they could walk around on top of the wall, or put a ladder up there or something. This seems to go against the idea of the wall being very very thin.

If the wall can support weight from the top, you could put a ladder up there. Think of a ladder with inverted horseshoe hooks on the bottom of the legs. Could put a firing platform on the top, too (something that looked like a capital Pi). I'm not sure how you'd get it up there that wouldn't make it pointless, however.


Yes, with special preparation. But if the wall takes up 5 ft square, that makes it sound like it is five feet wide at the top, which means you could easily use it as a bridge, or use it to stand on to fight people on the battlements of a castle. That's the kind of thing I am arguing against.

Shadow Lodge

Prawn wrote:


Great job at taking things out of context.

You forgot an important part of my statement.

"If".

So again, if the shoe fits, wear it. Otherwise, kick it to the curb.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Why couldn't you lean a latter against the side/top of the wall? It's a wall. It functions like a wall. You can put ladders on walls.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
TOZ wrote:
Prawn wrote:


Great job at taking things out of context.

You forgot an important part of my statement.

"If".

So again, if the shoe fits, wear it. Otherwise, kick it to the curb.

Don't you mean if the shoe fits, you must acquit?

Shadow Lodge

THIS DOES NOT MAKE SENSE.


Magical shoes might size to their wearer, unless you are a defendant, and then it is a cursed shoe.

Raving makes a point. In some respects, it is a wall, so you could lean a ladder against it. If it stops a person, it should stop a ladder.


Prawn wrote:
TOZ wrote:
Nah. Your players don't have to like your decisions, and you're under no obligation to make sure your rulings please them.

They are my friends, and if I alienate them by making capricious, unpopular decisions, I will lose friends and players both.

If rule 0 is "the DM is always right", rule -1 should be "Don't be a dick."

If you violate rule -1 too often you end up (ahem) playing with your self.

My friends don't always agree with me, and when they GM I don't always agree with them. Disagreeing with someone does not make you a dick. Being a jerk while disagreeing with them does. I am not saying "don't take their opinions into consideration", but I am saying "sometimes they just have to deal with it".


Tonight is the 89th game of our current campaign. It's been running about two years. I have been playing with some of these guys since 1996 or 1997. I think the longevity of the campaign and the group shows that people have a good time. Part of my ensuring this continued good vibe are posts like these. If there is a ruling that someone isn't happy with during the game, we set it aside and return to it later. We talk about it together, and then if we can't decide, I post it here. I don't think any of my players would call me a push-over, but I have no vested interest in most of the rules. The campaign started playing 2nd edition, then moved to 3rd, then 3.5 and now pathfinder. I try to be fair. I am not going to interpret the rules to give someone a big advantage, but neither do I want to arbitrarily interpret them in a way that will piss off my friends. Consider this post my due diligence in seeking an objective opinion that I am not violating rule -1.


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Ashenfall wrote:
ItoSaithWebb wrote:
First the spell doesn't say that it has an edge or not but simply it has 2 dimensions of impassable force.

The spell description says no such thing. I think you're inferring from the statement "flat vertical plane," that the wall is two-dimensional.

If we want to get all physics-y, then there can be no such thing as a two-dimensional "wall of force," anyway, as Force = mass x acceleration. There is no mass with a two-dimensional plane, and if mass is zero, then Force becomes zero.

But it's "magic," I know.

I agree with your point about a creature not being able to see the wall, to see the edge, as the wall is invisible. I'd allow a creature to find the upper edge, after searching, but I wouldn't treat it as being un-grabbable.

F = m*A are you kidding me? Where's the acceleration that gives this a value of greater than 0. Gravity pushing straight down? Grasping at physics equations that wouldn't be applicable to what's happening here aren't relevant. There is no force that this wall is exerting. All the force is a representation of is the force effects that exist in a world of magic that are capable of stopping incorporeal creatures.

As RD said, its a wall and can be scaled if you do not make it so a creature couldn't do so. Leaning a ladder against it would work. Unfortunately in the climb rules it states that a wall that is perfectly smooth cannot be climbed. The argument against this is that it is considering something that you couldn't grasp the top of and pull yourself up. The wall is a perfectly flat vertical plane that is conjured with magic. It's impossible for our minds to grasp how a two dimensional object would react with our three dimensional bodies. One plane of existence doesn't exist and as such it could just as likely pass through your body as it would get caught on something.

I like keeping things simple so I'd just stick with the climb ruling that it can't be climbed unless you have extra means of doing so like a ladder to lean against the wall. Gripping a razor seems fitting for this example but imagine that razor was a million times sharper as something in two dimensions could split atoms that exist in the third dimension.

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