DnD grapple 5e guide

This 5e Grapple guide will teach you everything you need to know about grappling in D&D, and fill you in on how the Grappler feat works.

DnD grapple 5e: Two DnD characters struggling to overpower each other.

When you need your D&D character to restrain an owlbear or are itching to put a beholder in a bear hug, the move you’re looking for is the DnD grapple 5e. Slinging a fireball or swinging a sword at an oncoming monster is all very well and good, but sometimes you’d rather get up close and personal.

Your common, everyday 5e grapple is a type of attack move that deals no damage, but when successful it prevents an enemy from moving around. They now have the grappled condition, essentially removing their speed. Grappling can therefore be super useful in a number of D&D scenarios, from catching a fleeing DnD Rogue, to preventing a minion from performing a detrimental action like sounding an alarm, or activating the snake pit trapdoor.

You don’t need pages upon pages to understand grappling because the grapple 5e rules are far simpler than the ones you’d find in previous editions of the game. That said, grappling is still one of the more niche combat moves. If you’re looking for a recap, here’s everything you need to know about how to grapple in D&D 5e. We’ll have you all filled in and ready to rumble in a jiffy.

Every DM needs to understand how a D&D grapple works, but it also helps for players to learn, too. So, once you’re done mulling over your favorite DnD classes, DnD races, DnD backgrounds, and DnD character builds, take a look at our comprehensive guide to the grapple.

DnD grapple 5e - Wizards of the Coast art of shirtless characters stretching, with an enormous lizard person in the background

Grapple 5e rules

When you attempt to grapple, you’re taking a special kind of melee attack action. The rules are very similar to those used when trying to shove an enemy prone 5e. You can only target creatures up to one size larger than you, and instead of an attack roll, you make a strength check contested by your target’s strength or dexterity DnD stats.

Once you’re grappling a creature, they have the grappled condition (makes sense) which means their speed goes to zero, and they can’t move. They can still attack you though, so you may want to be careful who or what you grapple with. Before trying to force a dangerous DnD monster into a headlock with a grapple, consider finding a way to restrain your foe, or just running away.

A creature can attempt to escape a grapple and end the grappled condition by using up their action. Essentially when doing this, the original grapple check is rolled again – the grapple-ee tests their strength or dexterity against the strength of the grappler.

You might think that with an enemy held in place, it’d be easier to hit them, but in fact you and the rest of your party don’t normally get any bonus to attacks made against a grappled foe. (Unless you knock them prone, which is a great idea as they’ll then have to break the grapple before they can stand back up.)

However, there are also few downsides to the DnD 5e grapple. You can still attack or cast 5e spells as normal with an opponent grappled – in fact you can pretty much take any action that doesn’t require two hands. You can also still move around while keeping hold of your grappled target. However, lugging a struggling bad guy around the battlefield isn’t easy, so your speed will be halved unless you’re two sizes (or more) bigger than the guy you’re holding onto.

DnD grapple 5e - Wizards of the Coast art of a warrior armed with a staff leaping towards a giant warrior.

Grappler 5e feat

If grappling is something you’re super keen on, it could be worth taking the Grappler feat. The only prerequisite for this feat is that you have a strength stat of at least 13. While Grappler is certainly not among the best 5e feats, it still has its uses.

Basically, the Grappler feat means you have advantage against your grappled foe. Grappler also gives you the chance to pin a creature you have grappled, giving both you and it the restrained condition.

But, unfortunately, that latter move probably isn’t worth doing most of the time, unless you don’t mind dramatically lowering your own damage output to give your party a chance to wail on a guy. If you’re really trying to go for a highly optimized D&D character build, it’s probably not worth taking Grappler over an ability score increase. But it could be fun on a character who’s like… a pro wrestler or something.