“The crowd cheered as the two fighters circled each other in the pit. The amount of gold bet on this fight alone would make even the wealthiest of merchants raise an eyebrow.
The larger of the two fighters swung wildly. He was undisciplined, but he didn’t need to be careful. If any one of his hits landed they would shatter bone. With a final swing, his balance was off and the shorter man struck.
He spun around behind the larger man and shoved him off balance. Before the big man was on the ground the smaller man was on him. He held his arms down with one hand and started to rain down blows.
The fight was done. There was nothing the larger man could do.”
The Complete Guide to Grappling in DnD 5e
Grappling is one of the best control options outside of using magic in Dungeons & Dragons. Grappling a character is also one of the best ways to stop another player’s movement and gain an advantage over other players.
What is Grappling?
Grappling is a special attack action that any character can make. This includes player-controlled characters and DM-controlled characters alike.
A Grapple Attack replaces one of a character’s regular melee attacks.
- One hand must be free
- The Target must be at least one size larger or any size smaller than the attacker.
The target then gets a chance to defend themselves. The attacker and target both make an opposed check.
- The Attacker makes a Strength (Athletics) Check.
- The Target makes a Strength (Athletics) Check or a Dexterity (Acrobatics) Check.
If the attacker wins, their target is grappled. If the target wins, nothing happens and they are not grappled.
It sounds pretty easy, but after a target has been successfully Grappled, there’s quite a lot that can be done.
Grapple 5e Rules
If you want to check out the official rules as they are written, you can find them in the Player’s Handbook on page 195.
The target of your grapple must be no more than one size larger than you, and it must be within your reach. Using at least one free hand, you try to seize the target by making a grapple check, a Strength (Athletics)check contested by the target’s Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check (the target chooses the ability to use).
If you succeed, you subject the target to the grappled condition (see appendix A). The condition specifies the things that end it, and you can release the target whenever you like (no action required).
Again, these rules seem rather simple, but the full breadth of the Grapple attack isn’t readily apparent without jumping back and forth between several different chapters of the Player’s Handbook. Even then, there are feats and special conditions that all do different things that benefit the Grappler.
To clarify this important action, we’re putting all of the rules and conditions that you may need to know as a DnD Grappler in this rules section.
Size is one of the major factors in whether or not a creature can be grappled. To sum it up simply, you can grapple a creature if it’s only 1 size larger than you. Anything smaller also can be grappled.
Part of the confusion with the Grapple rules is the terminology. There is a Grappling Action and a Grappled Condition.
The Grapple Condition is the result of a successful Grapple Action.
When a Creature is grappled, its speed becomes 0 and it is not allowed to move. This ends if the Grappler becomes incapacitated or if the Grappled creature is moved out of the attacker’s reach. Typically, this happens when a spell knocks the target away or if the Grappled creature is thrown.
The main takeaway from the Grappled condition is the target’s speed is set to 0. The target cannot willingly move away from the attacker until the Grappled Condition is broken.
The attacker, however, can still move at 1/2 speed and perform actions that only require one hand. Grappling an opponent takes up 1 hand and therefore, any action requiring two hands cannot be done.
Restrained Condition & Pinning
Restrained is another condition that may pop up when grappling during combat. An attacker attempting a Grapple Attack with the Grappler Feat has the ability to Pin their opponents after grappling. When pinned, both the attacker and target are considered Restrained.
When a creature is Restrained its speed becomes 0.
The Restrained creature has Disadvantage on any attack rolls that they make and any attack rolls made against the restrained characters are done with Advantage.
If attempting a Pin using the Grappler feat, keep in mind that on a successful pin, both the attacker and defender are considered Restrained while being Pinned or Pinning an opponent.
Shoving is a separate special attack similar to a Grapple attack. Although they are different special attacks, it’s important to know the rules because of their synergies. Shoving rules can be found in the Player’s Handbook on page 195.
The Shove action takes up 1 attack (similar to Grapple). Both attacker and target make opposed checks.
- Attacker: Strength (Athletics)
- Target: Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics)
If the Attacker’s check succeeds, they can knock their target prone or shove them away 5ft.
If the Target’s check succeeds, nothing happens.
Prone is another condition that may pop up, especially if you’re effectively Grappling and using Shove Attacks.
The Prone Condition occurs when a character is knocked to the ground or willingly lays down. This is one of the possible outcomes of a Shove attack.
- When Prone, all of the attacks made by the Prone character are done at a Disadvantage.
- All attacks against the Prone character within 5ft (standard melee range) are made with Advantage.
- All attacks against the Prone character greater than 5ft are done at Disadvantage.
- Standing up requires 1/2 of a character’s maximum speed.
- If a character has a speed of 0, they cannot stand up from being Prone.
That last rule is probably the most important one and worth repeating. If you have a speed of 0 you cannot remove the Prone condition.
What can I do after I Grapple an opponent?
Now onto the fun stuff. After you’ve grappled your opponent, what do you do with them?
There are several different actions and options that you can now take while Grappling an opponent.
- Anything 1 handed.
- Shove Attacks (throw them).
- Move at 1/2 speed.
- Stop Grappling.
- Cast spells.
As you can see, once you’ve Grappled someone, there are not a lot of options and not a lot of restrictions.
You can basically do everything as long as it takes only 1 hand, and your speed is cut in half.
The rules as they are written are a little silly to visualize when it comes to 1-handed attacks. You can probably visualize a character holding onto someone and hitting them with a 1-handed club or a dagger, but can you visualize someone Grappling someone and hitting them with a War Pick or a Trident?
Both of those examples are weapons that can be used 1-handed and therefore by the rules, you can absolutely hit your Grapple opponent with them. I can’t visualize it in my head, but it’s completely legal by the rules. Your DM may only allow certain weapons to be used but as it’s written, all the weapon needs to be is 1-handed.
At any point during the Grapple, players can simply decide to end the Grapple attack. This is basically just your character letting go of their opponent.
Breaking a Grapple
There are a few ways to break a Grapple once a successful Strength check has been made.
- Grapple Checks
As the attacker, you can simply stop Grappling someone to end the effect.
If you die or are knocked unconscious while Grappling with an opponent, the Grapple ends.
If you are forcibly moved away (5ft) from your target or attacker by a Shove or spell, the Grapple ends.
Finally, if the target uses their action to force another Grapple Check and succeeds, the Grapple ends.
What you can do after Grappling & Tactics
Now that we’ve been stuck in the rules lawyer’s office, it’s time for the fun parts: tactics, dealing damage, and what you can do after you’ve grappled an enemy.
A character that has 2 attack actions and a high-strength stat is going to be extremely well-equipped to Grapple and a monster to deal with.
The standard approach for straight damage dealing is as follows.
- Shove your opponent to knock them Prone.
- Grapple them.
- Continuously hit them with your 1-handed weapon.
- Rinse & Repeat
Shoving your opponent Prone first is key. Remember, if their speed is reduced to 0, they can’t break the Prone Condition. They’ll have to break the Grapple first. This is going to be difficult for them since all of your attacks have Advantage and all of their attacks have Disadvantage.
In addition to all of that, since their movement is at 0 and they are being Grappled, they can’t withdraw, move, or dodge. There’s nothing for them to do until they break the Grapple.
In a 1v1 fight, this is absolutely brutal. You basically take an opponent out of the entire fight and hit them until they die and there’s not a lot they can do about it.
Another creative tactic is to forcibly move your opponent. There are spells and other abilities that knock characters around, but Grapple lets you grab hold of a character and take them with you. If there are environmental hazards, you can simply drag them to them and shove/throw them into them.
- Throw them off a cliff.
- Throw them overboard on a ship.
- Throw them into a choke point and use them as a meat shield.
- Throw them into a well.
- Throw them into an enemy.
There are endless possibilities and since you’re not relying on spell slots to move your opponents, you can simply do it on every turn if you wish.
Enlarge/Reduce Spell & Grappling
One of the main restrictions on whether or not a character can successfully Grapple another character is their size. As we know from the previous sections, a character can attempt to Grapple a character 1 size larger than itself.
The Enlarge/Reduce spell either enlarges the target 1 size bigger and gives them Advantage on Strength checks or shrinks the target 1 size smaller and gives them Disadvantage on Strength checks.
In addition to the extra size, the Enlarged creature now has Advantage on all Strength checks, which means they’ll have Advantage on all of their Grapple checks. If attempting to Reduce a character’s size, they’ll have Disadvantage on their Strength checks.
From smallest to largest, the DnD sizes are:
Most player characters are Medium-sized creatures, so they will be able to attempt to Grapple any creature Large or smaller.
A spellcaster can either Enlarge an ally so they can attempt a Grapple or Reduce an enemy to get them to a size that can be Grappled.
The best way is to Enlarge an ally since it can be done automatically on a willing creature. Attempting to Reduce an enemy prompts a Constitution save that can negate the effects of the spell.
What happens when I’m grappled?
If you’re Grappled and you’re still standing, there are still several options you can take.
You can use your action to attempt another Grapple check. If you succeed, then you break the Grapple and have full use of your speed. If you fail, you just burned your action for that turn. Keep in mind I said action and not attack. If you have multiple attacks, you still only get 1 chance to break the Grapple.
If you’re a melee fighter, you still have full use of your arms. As a Grappled character, you can attack, cast spells, and do pretty much anything else you could do before with the exception of movement.
If you’re Grappled, sometimes the best course of action is to attack with everything you have. Make them hurt for grabbing onto you until they let go, are knocked unconscious, or die.
If you’re prone and being Grappled, you’re in a bad spot. The best thing to do is cast a spell or rely on an ally. If you break the Grapple, you’re still prone. If you can deal enough damage to break the Grapple that would be ideal, but all of your attacks will have Disadvantage.
The best options are to have an ally come to your aid or have an ally cast a spell that knocks them or you far enough away to break the Grapple.
Grapple Builds & Optimization in DnD 5e
There are quite a few different ways to build a good Grapple character. The main attribute you’ll need is Strength followed closely by Constitution.
Strength powers all of your Grapple abilities. The stronger you are, the easier it will be to hold on to your enemies, and the stronger your attacks, the more damage they will take after they are Grappled.
The second ability, Constitution, is important since you’re going to be hit…a lot. Your enemies will be able to hit you back after you Grapple them, so the higher your hit points the better. You won’t need to put many points in Dexterity since you can use Armor to buff your AC.
Next, we’ll walk you through the best races, classes, and feats to make the best Grapple build character.
Best Feats for Grapplers
If you want your character to focus on Grappling, there are a few feats that you’ll want to pick up.
The Grappler Feat, as you might imagine, grants heavy bonuses to Grappling in combat. It basically grants 2 bonuses that will help you.
Prerequisite: 13 Strength
You’ve developed the skills necessary to hold your own in close-quarters grappling. You gain the following benefits:
- You have advantage on attack rolls against a creature you are grappling.
- You can use your action to try to pin a creature grappled by you. To do so, make another grapple check. If you succeed, you and the creature are both restrained until the grapple ends.
Creatures that are one size larger than you don’t automatically succeed on checks to escape your grapple.
You may notice the strike-through on the 3rd bullet point. You may find this bullet point in your Player’s Handbook, but it’s a remnant from the playtest rules. It has since been clarified in errata published afterward. You can simply ignore it.
Just to clarify though, creatures that are one size larger do not automatically succeed in their Grapple checks with or without the Grappler feat. They will always need to make the Strength or Dexterity Check.
The second feat you’ll want to pick up as a Grappler is Tavern Brawler.
Tavern Brawler offers 2 main bonuses to a character that focuses on Grappling.
- Extra Strength
- Bonus Action Grapple
Since Grappling relies primarily on a character’s strength score, the bonus Strength will allow players to successfully Grapple and hold their opponents.
Next is the Bonus Action Grapple. Whenever a character hits with an Unarmed Strike or an Improvised Weapon, they can then use their Bonus Action to immediately take a Grapple Action against the target.
An often overlooked feat, but one of the most important a Grappler can pick up is Skill Expert. The Skill Expert Feat can be found in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.
Skill Expert does 3 things.
- Increases an Ability Score by 1.
- Gain Proficiency in a skill of your choice.
- Gain Expertise in a skill of your choice that doubles your Proficiency Bonus with that skill check.
All three of these things are incredibly useful to a Grapple-build character.
The extra strength when combined with Tavern Brawler should be enough to get you an extra point to your modifier. This will help with your Grapple checks, Attack rolls, and Damage rolls.
The Proficiency and Expertise bonuses though are the real winners of this Feat.
With this Feat and no other bonuses, a level 1 character with Skill Expert and 15 Strength will be able to make their Grapple Checks with a +6 modifier. That’s pretty impressive for a level 1 character. However, with racial bonuses and other features combined with Skill Expert, you can easily get that bonus to +8 as a level 1 character.
There are very few bonuses a level 1 character will have that get that high and there will be very few things you won’t be able to Grapple and beat into submission.
Mage Slayer is a great defensive feat when attempting to Grapple a spellcaster.
The Feat offers 3 bonuses:
- When a spell is cast within 5ft, you can use your reaction to make a melee attack.
- You have Advantage on spell saving throws against spells made by creatures within 5ft.
- When you damage a creature concentrating on a spell they have Disadvantage on its save to maintain Concentration.
One of the risks when Grappling a spellcaster is that they can simply cast a spell to knock you away. This is one of the easiest ways to break a Grapple. The Advantage on saving throws against their spells increases your odds of overcoming the effects and hanging onto your target.
If that still fails, then you at least get a free attack at them using your reaction.
Best Races for Grappling
The Goliath, introduced in the Elemental Evil sourcebook, is probably everyone’s first thought when picking a Grapple-based character. They’re not a bad choice by any means and they do have some excellent abilities, but not the ones you might think.
- +2 Strength
- +1 Constitution
- Natural Athlete
- Stone’s Endurance
- Powerful Build
The bonus to Strength plus Natural Athlete will allow Goliath characters to pass their Grapple checks more easily by adding to their ability score and granting proficiency with Strength checks.
Their Constitution bonus and Stone’s Endurance ability will let them take more blows than the average character.
These are all great abilities that work well together to make a decent Grapple Character, but most people choose the Goliath because of the Powerful Build ability. The funny thing is, it doesn’t do anything for Grappling.
The Powerful Build ability lets a character be counted as 1 size larger when it comes to carrying weight, pushing, and pulling. Unfortunately, this extra size bonus does not count for Grappling and Grappling has no requirements on weight.
The Powerful Build ability that draws most people to the race when building a character has zero effect when it comes to grappling.
All things considered, the Goliath still makes an excellent Grapple character.
Variant Human & Custom Lineage
The Variant Human or Custom Lineage are the best options for building a Grapple-based character.
Essentially, you are picking and choosing the stats of your choice and since Humans are so versatile, you can pick which bonuses you want. The Custom Lineage rules, introduced in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, let you do the same thing, but with different races.
- +1 Strength
- +1 Constitution
- Proficiency in Strength Athletics
- Skill Expertise Feat
This will double your proficiency bonus to your Grapple checks and should give you enough Strength and health to be an effective Grappler from level 1. Taking the Skill Expertise feat at level 1 lets you double your proficiency bonus without having to multiclass as a Rogue to get it.
- +2 Strength
- Proficiency in Strength Athletics
- Skill Expertise Feat
As you can see, it’s essentially the same thing as the Variant Human, but the Custom Lineage gives you more cosmetic options on what your character race looks like, plus you get a +2 bonus instead of two +1 bonuses.
Overall, the Custom Lineage is going to be the better choice.
Dragonborn is an interesting class to choose from when considering a Grapple build. There are two features that make the Dragonborn a viable Grapple character.
- +2 Strength
- Breath Weapon
The Dragonborn’s ability score modifiers have an excellent +2 to strength, but they do lose out with a +1 to Charisma that you’ll never use.
The fun part is their Breath Weapon. While Grappling a character, they can simply use their Breath Weapon from close range. They can even Shove an opponent to the ground, use their Breath Weapon with Advantage, and then Grapple them. It’s a bit horrifying to visualize, but it is effective.
Dwarves have a lot of tanky bonuses that work well with a Grapple build, but the Mountain Dwarf subrace is the best choice.
- +2 Strength
- +2 Constitution
These ability score improvements make them excellent all-around fighters and are exactly the stats you need to make an effective Grappler. They don’t have any other innate bonuses or abilities, but they’ll hit hard and be able to take a hit.
Best Classes for Grappling
If you’re making a Grapple character then there are really only two main classes to choose from. Barbarian or Fighter.
For an easy all-around character, Druid is a good choice for a Grapple build by using their Wild Shape ability. Finally, there’s one class that works well as a multiclass to the Fighter and Barbarian, and that’s the Rogue.
The Barbarian’s Rage ability is one of the best melee buffs in DnD 5e. The standard Barbarian Rage gives Advantage on Strength checks, bonus Strength damage, and Resistance to several damage types.
Rage alone is an excellent ability, but Barbarians also get extra attacks. When you combine that with their subclass abilities, they’ll be incredible Grapplers. When optimized, there won’t be many creatures that will be able to break free from their Grapple attacks.
Path of the Battlerager
The Path of the Battlerager is the best Barbarian subclass that seems designed for a Grapple build character. There is one crucial flaw in its design though, it’s restricted to only Dwarf classes. If you do decide to go with the Battlerager then the Duregar Dwarves are your best bet.
Many of their abilities actively buff Grapple attacks.
Every time they hit while raging, the target takes 1d4 piercing damage, and whenever they make a successful grapple check, they deal an additional 3 damage.
At level 14, their spike abilities grow even stronger and any time someone hits the Battlerager with a melee attack, the attacker takes 3 damage.
These two abilities are perfect for a Grappler. The extra damage may be small, but it adds up over time.
Path of the Beast
The Path of the Beast allows the Barbarian to take on bestial traits while raging.
This gives them several options for natural weapons and offers some extra options to heal themselves.
The Bite bestial weapon allows them to deal damage and heal at the same time.
The Claw attacks deal more robust unarmed damage and offer extra attacks.
The Tail attack isn’t as strong as the other options, but it excels at defense. The tail allows the Barbarian to use its reaction to boost its AC when being targeted for attacks. This is crucial for Grappling since getting surrounded is one of its weaknesses.
Path of the Zealot
The Path of the Zealot adds extra necrotic damage while raging, which is always good and they also offer quite a few group buffs.
It’s not the best damage-wise, but it’s a good choice when combined with the other buffs the subclass offers.
The Fighter is the second-best choice for a Grappler. The main advantage that they’ll have is the multiple attacks that they’ll eventually get. They’ll eventually get at least 4 extra attacks per turn. With that, they can Shove an opponent down, lock them up with a Grapple, and then hit or stab them twice.
That’s a brutal combination.
Fighters also have excellent health and focusing on a Strength/Constitution build will easily allow you to fight normally in combat or exclusively Grapple your opponents.
Some of the more interesting Fighter Subclasses to choose from are:
- Echo Knight
- Rune Knight
Choosing the Echo Knight as your Fighter subclass also adds some interesting qualities to an Echo build. If you’re thinking of a luchador or wrestler type of character, this essentially brings your own tag team partner to the fight.
Since a Grapple character is susceptible to large numbers of enemies, having an extra target for them to hit is very helpful.
In addition, when Grappling or pinning a character you can have your Echo stand there and help hit your target. You’re basically holding someone down while someone else hits them.
Hit them with your fists and then your mind.
Psi-Warrior may not be the most optimized build, but it does offer some interesting new ways to power up your Grapple attacks.
The Psi-Warrior can use its abilities to cause additional damage after they make a hit, and it can maneuver players around the field using its telekinetic powers. In addition, their Psi-Powered Leap can propel them toward hard-to-reach enemies and into Grappling range.
At level 15, their Bulwark of Force ability can give them half cover while they’re busy putting someone in a chokehold.
It’s an interesting build, but a lot of the Psi-Warrior’s abilities rely on Intelligence, which is going to be a tertiary priority at best.
The Rune Knight is probably the best Fighter Subclass to choose from if you’re building a Grapple character.
The two runes you want to inscribe on your equipment are the Fire and Frost runes.
Fire runes will allow you to deal additional fire damage, and in addition to grappling a character, you have a chance to magically restrain them with fiery chains that deal damage.
Invoking the frost runes gives a +2 bonus to all of your Strength checks for 1 minute (10 rounds) and on top of your other bonuses, it’ll be pretty hard for anything to break free from your Grapple.
The best part about the Rune Knight is their Giant Might ability. It essentially makes the character Large-sized, adds 1d6 to weapon and unarmed damage, and gives Advantage on Strength checks. It’s a better version of the Enlarge spell and it doesn’t require any spellcasting knowledge.
All of those are the core abilities needed to Grapple successfully and Giant Might will make you an absolute monster on the battlefield.
Rogue & Multiclass
Most people won’t consider a Rogue as their go-to for a Grapple build and honestly, they’re not the best single class to choose from.
However, by taking a single level in Rogue, players get access to Expertise, similar to the Skill Expert feat at level 1. The double proficiency bonus is huge when considering the extra modifiers it adds to your Strength checks. Supposing that this will be your main strategy, it’s not a bad idea to use a single level to gain the feature.
Bards also gain the Expertise feature, but you’ll have to sacrifice three levels to get it.
Druids & Wild Shape
Druids can just hit the easy button if you want to Grapple opponents without having to make an entire character dedicated to Grappling.
Their Wild Shape ability allows Druids to shape-shift into animals and gain their stats. Circle of the Moon Druids in particular are better suited for this since they have more beast form options to choose from.
- Giant Frog
- Bears of all types
- Giant Octopus
- Giant Toad
- Constrictor Snake
- Giant Constrictor Snake
- Giant Crocodile
- Earth Elemental
Most of these options are much easier to obtain or only obtainable as the Circle of the Moon Druid. Other Druids will have access to the weaker Wild Shape variants, but since the Circle of the Moon subclass focuses heavily on Wild Shape, they will have much better options.
Grapple for DMs
The DM has the hardest job in the game. They have to keep track of all the rules that are being used in the game and they also are responsible for creating and running an entire world that lives and breathes around the characters.
Having a Grapple-based character in the party or having the monsters suddenly grab onto your players can make for an extremely fun and tense battle.
Building Grapple Encounters
Having a character that specializes in a particular skill is fantastic. It means your players are interested in the game and their character.
However, that excitement may not last if they never get to use their specialty.
Grapple builds are great at locking up high-HP enemies and whittling down their health. If, during the final battle of the campaign, the Grappler simply arm-locks the Big Bad Evil Guy (BBEG) and beats them to death, it’s going to feel anticlimactic.
Grapplers are not good at fighting swarms of low HP enemies, though. Their tactics focus on a single target at a time.
However, having the Grappler get swarmed by little minions every turn is going to be just as infuriating.
As a DM, you’ll need to find a balance that will interest your players as well as give them a challenge. A BBEG should have some minions to back them up or a few tricks up their sleeves to escape.
If you find your players are using the same tactics over and over, it’s time to change up the encounters so combat doesn’t become formulaic.
Have a mixture of enemy types and if they’re fighting intelligent foes, try an ambush or sneaky tactics to throw them off. They can still use their specialty, but they’ll have to think a little harder about how to do it.
Player Expectations and Rules
As a DM, you have to keep in mind that you’re playing the same game as your players, but with very different rules and objectives. The DM’s job is to create and run a fantastical world in which your players can explore.
You are allowed to change the way things work in your own world, but you have to be consistent. There are a lot of ambiguities in the rules despite numerous rounds of playtesting and errata. At the end of the day, the rules are what the DM says they are.
That being said, you need to be consistent and clear as to what those rules are or you’ll quickly find yourself sitting at an empty table with a bunch of dice in your hand.
When it comes to Grappling, there are several different builds that can make them extremely powerful and there are some unintended consequences that the writers of the rules never intended.
If you feel that certain aspects of the game aren’t working or breaking the world you are building, you need to have a talk with your players and come up with a solution. Your players will be going over the rules that apply to them with a fine tooth comb and if there’s a way to break the game, they’ll find it.
The Prone + Grapple combo is particularly brutal and can break the flow of the game if you’re not careful.
Other players have also come up with interesting spell combinations like Twinspell + Enlarge to instantly create massive players. How you deal with these situations is entirely up to you, but it must remain consistent throughout the course of the campaign.
Monsters can Grapple too
One of the major things to remember as the DM is that any creature can theoretically Grapple another creature and if you want to make challenging fights, you should definitely take advantage.
Swarms of smaller to medium-sized creatures can be absolutely devastating to a low-level party if they can manage to Grapple a player character, even for a short amount of time.
Why do people hate Grapple rules?
Since the first version of Dungeons & Dragons, Grapple rules have been considered needlessly overcomplicated and generally terribly written.
Of course, this is no longer the case as of DnD 5e, but it’s worth noting to understand the memes talking bout Grapple rules.
In the first edition and AD&D versions, Grappling rules were incredibly vague and filled with examples that were only barely related to Grappling.
DnD 3.0 and 3.5 were also generally considered badly optimized. The 3.0 and 3.5 versions of Grappling had players constantly make opposing dice checks to hold the Grapple.
It slowed down combat and took up quite a bit of real-time when playing and most players considered it a nuisance that broke the flow of combat. It took a theoretically-cool combat mechanic and turned it into a dice roll-off between the player and DM.
5e Essential has boiled down the Grapple rules to an opposed Strength check. It sounds simple, but to effectively use it, you’ll still have to flip back and forth in the Player’s Handbook to find the different conditions, feats, and rule variations that all go with it.
How does Grapple work in 5e?
During combat, a player can use their attack action to make a Grapple attack. If you have multiple attacks you can replace one attack action with a Grapple attack.
To Grapple, players essentially make opposed ability checks, Strength vs. Strength or Dexterity. If the attacker succeeds, the target is Grappled. If the attacker fails, nothing happens.
Does Grapple give advantage in 5e?
By default, Grappling a character does not grant Advantage to attacks against a Grappled character. However, once the target is Prone or Pinned, all attacks against it have Advantage. With the Grappler Feat, the Grappler can gain Advantage on attacks and if they Pin the target using the Grappler Feat, everyone will have Advantage when attacking the target.
How do you break out of Grapple 5e?
Players can use an action to make an opposed ability check, Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) vs. Strength (Athletics). If they succeed the check, they are free from the Grapple. If they fail, they are still Grappled. The second way is to forcibly move the characters apart by 5ft. This can be done using spells or an allied character.
Who wins a tie in a grapple 5e?
If a tie happens on the first attempt to grapple a character, nothing happens.
If a tie happens while a character is attempting to break a grapple, the break fails and the character is still grappled. This is according to the rules in the Player’s Handbook on page 174, “If the contest results in a tie, the situation remains the same as it was before the contest. Thus, one contestant might win the contest by default.”
Before starting GameCows with his wife Kendra, he used to teach English Language Arts in the US. He combined his love of gaming with education to create fun game-based learning lessons until he eventually decided to run GameCows with Kendra full-time. He’s known for pouring over rulebooks in his spare time, being the rule master during game night, and as the perma DM in his DnD group. Bryan loves board games, writing, traveling, and above all his wife and partner in crime, Kendra.