Grapple 5e: A Practical Guide for DnD 5e

Grapple 5e: A Practical Guide for DnD 5e

Grappling has been a staple tactic of smart players since the 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) release. It has also existed for decades in prior editions of the game. The ability to grapple to hold foes in place, especially while prone, can be a powerful advantage. Having a capable Grapple 5e in the party can be a huge asset. 

In this article, we will explore the rules of grappling, do a small quantity of math, and look at ways that you can both make grappling work for you and handle the inevitable situation where an enemy grapples you.

The Rules

As with any set of rules, understanding them well is key to getting the most out of using those rules. Let us look at the rules text from the System Reference Document (SRD) and ensure we understand exactly what it all means. We will need to look beyond the Grapple 5e rules, too, so settle in. 

Once you have gotten your head around this, you will hopefully never need to reread this section, but I promise it is worth your time. Moreover, if your Dungeon Master (DM) ever looks at you and says, “It cannot possibly work like that,” point them here.


When you want to grab or wrestle with a creature, you can use the Attack action to make a special melee attack, a grapple. This tells us some important things:

  • Grappling uses the “Attack” action and is not its own action.
  • You make a special melee attack to initiate a grapple.

Escaping a Grapple 5e

A creature can use its action to escape a grapple by succeeding on an Athletics or Acrobatics check (their choice) against your Athletics check. If they succeed, they are no longer grappled.

The Grappled Condition

When a creature is grappled, its speed becomes 0, and it cannot benefit from any bonus to its speed. The condition ends if the grappler is incapacitated or if an effect removes the grappled creature from the reach of the grappler or grappling effect.

Moving a Grappled Creature

You can move a grappled creature by dragging or carrying it. The creature’s speed becomes 0, and it moves with you. You can release the grapple at any time (no action required).


You can use the Attack action to make a special melee attack, a shove, to knock a creature prone or push it away from you. Shoving can be useful in conjunction with grappling.

Two-Weapon Fighting

If you have the Extra Attack feature, you can use one of your attacks to grapple or shove.

Climbing a Creature

You can climb onto a larger creature as if it were difficult terrain. The larger creature must be willing or incapacitated. Once you are on, you can move within the larger creature’s space.

Optimizing For Grapples

The Fundamentals

Understanding the rules is crucial, but let us discuss character options enhancing your grappling abilities. Here are some ways to optimize your grappling prowess:

Character Options


Certain races, like the Goliath or Lizardfolk, have innate advantages for grappling due to their size and abilities.


Classes like the Barbarian and Fighter offer features that enhance grappling. The Tavern Brawler feat is also a great choice.


Consider feats like Athlete or Grappler to improve your grappling capabilities.


Spells, like Enlarge/Reduce or Enhance Ability, can aid in grappling situations.

Magic Items

Items like the Gauntlets of Ogre Power boost your Strength for better grappling.

Example Builds

Let us explore some example builds for effective grapplers:

  • Barbarian/Rogue: Utilize the Rage feature and Expertise in Athletics.
  • Monk: High mobility

Countering Grapple 5e 


Preventing an enemy from grappling you is crucial. Here are some strategies:

  • Stay Out of Reach: Position yourself away from enemies who might attempt to grapple you. Use ranged attacks or spells to keep them at bay.
  • High AC and Saving Throws: Invest in armor class (AC) and abilities that boost your saving throws. A higher AC makes it harder for enemies to hit you, and strong saving throws resist their grappling attempts.
  • Enlarge/Reduce: The spell Enlarge/Reduce can make you larger, granting an advantage on Strength checks to resist grapples.

Breaking a Grapple 5e

If you find yourself grappled, consider these options:


  • Athletics or Acrobatics Check: Use your action to escape the Grapple 5e. Roll either an Athletics (Strength) or Acrobatics (Dexterity) check against your opponent’s Athletics check.
  • Spells: Some spells can help. For instance:
  • Freedom of Movement: Grants immunity to grapples.
  • Misty Step: Teleport out of the grapple.
  • Dimension Door: Instantly move away from the grappler.

Class Features and Feats

  • Barbarian’s Rage: Advantage on Strength checks helps break grapples.
  • Monk’s Evasion: Avoid being grappled by Dexterity saving throws.
  • Grappler Feat: Allows you to pin opponents.


Grappling can be a powerful tool in D&D Grapple 5e, whether you do the grappling or try to escape it. Understanding the rules, optimizing your character, and countering grapples effectively will enhance your gameplay. Remember, a well-executed Grapple 5e can turn the tide of battle in your favour.

Some Frequently Asked Questions

What is grappling in D&D 5e?

Grappling is a combat maneuver where you physically restrain an opponent, limiting their movement and actions. It involves using the Attack action to initiate a special melee attack called a grapple.

How do I initiate a grapple?

To grapple, use your Attack action. Make a special melee attack against the target. If successful, the target becomes grappled.

How can I escape a grapple?

A creature can use its action to escape a grapple by succeeding on an Athletics or Acrobatics check against the grappler’s Athletics check.

Can I move a grappled creatur?

Yes, you can move a grappled creature by dragging or carrying it. The creature’s speed becomes 0, and it moves with you.



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