Can a player character grapple a ship?


The situation contemplates engaging with a huge or gargantuan ship, by means such as an 18th level Rune Knight using the Runic Juggernaut feature as described in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, pg 46 (also applicable for a large rowboat, in which case a ballista/harpoon as described in Storm King’s Thunder pg 133, similar to an Oaken Bolter’s harpoon attack as described in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes pg 126).


I am assuming that a vehicle like a ship is not a creature, as that appears to be dealt with in other questions regarding the effects of spells that target creatures but not objects etc.


According to chapter 9 Combat, section Grappling, PHB pg 195, it states (italics mine):

When you want to grab a creature or wrestle with it, you can use the Attack action to make a special melee attack, a grapple. //snip// The target of your grapple must be no more than one size larger than you and must be within your reach. //snip// A grappled creature can use its action to escape.

Further according to Appendix A: Conditions, PHB pg 290 it states (italics mine):

Conditions alter a creature’s capabilities in a variety of ways and can arise as a result of a spell, a class feature, a monster’s attack, or other effect.

According to chapter 9 Combat, section Making an Attack PHB pg 192, it states (italics mine):

  1. Choosing a target. Pick a target within your attack’s range: a creature, an object, or a location.

According to Objects section, DMG pg 246, it states:

For the purpose of these rules, an object is a discrete, inanimate item like a window, door, sword, book, table, chair, or stone, not a building or a vehicle that is composed of many other objects.

According to Appendix A: Of Ships and the Sea, section Components, in Ghosts of Saltmarsh (“GoS”) pg 186 states (italics mine):

A ship is composed of different components, each of which comprises multiple objects.

In all the example stat blocks of ships in GoS, despite all of the examples being immune to most condtions, none of them have immunity to the grappled condition (or the restrained condition, for that matter).

According to the description of a Kraken’s Tentacle attack MM pg 197, it states (italics mine):

Melee Weapon Attack: +17 to hit, reach 30 ft., one target. Hit: 20 (3d6 + 10) bludgeoning damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 18). Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained.

Which is different from a infernal war machine Scavenger’s Grappling Claw, which according to its stat block Descent into Avernus pg 219 it states (italics mine):

Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: The target is grappled (escape DC 12). If the target is a creature, it is restrained until the grapple ends.

It appears that an attack would (presumably) be targeting the hull component of a ship, either as (the equivalent of) an object, or a location, however it is unclear which.

It also appears that while the rules for grappling in PHB refer to targeting only creatures, the rules elsewhere strongly imply that items other than creatures can be grappled.

It is not clear whether the rules elsewhere (eg. Kraken, Scavenger, harpoon) can only be used by non player characters, or whether a player character wielding a harpoon/ballista against a large (possibly huge?) ship, or a huge Rune Knight against a huge or gargantuan ship, can make use of the grappling rules. Like this.

Accordingly, can a player character grapple a ship?

How Does a Grapple Gun Work?

The crux of the question is how to build an effect that would allow you to target a point, be it with an arrow head, claw, magnetic tip, magical leash, or otherwise, and subsequently use that point as a fulcrum regarding angular movement with respect to it, moving the point and its attached structure angularly with respect to yourself, or otherwise moving yourself directly towards the point or moving the point and its structure directly toward yourself. This would be my understanding of a grapple-like extension, with which you can swing things around you or pull to move yourself or the target as fits the scenario.

The Crime Fighter archetype has a Grapple Gun which is nothing more than the Movement 1 (Swinging) effect. Perhaps it can be explained why I’m wrong, but this seems so bizarre to me. There’s no indication within that as to how long the grapple gun could reach, which to me seems like a key factor. It could theoretically be across the world, if you have a high enough movement speed. While a descriptor could surely be made to make that make sense somehow, it might seem more reasonable to have a shorter reach but a stronger pull, to then sling you moreso than actively be swinging. I suppose it could be left as a complication, but it just seems far too open to interpretation given how pivotal length is regarding a rotating object.

My best attempts thus far have been utilizing an Elongation effect, Limited to the Grapple device/power, and linking it to movement: swinging. That then defines the length from which you can grapple things. If you then want to grapple quickly, you can have Speed ranks limited to grappling. Furthermore, moving a target with your grapple could potentially be easily handled with a Move Object, limited direction (tangentially to the user or directly toward or past them), and potentially make it instant if the target immediately escapes the grab of the move object effect at the end of your turn as opposed to remaining grabbed.

Perhaps I’m thinking too far into this, and the distance and such can be left up to descriptors and complications. I tend to be more specific and technical in my games, so this may be a fault of me rather than the system. Even so, I’m curious as to any insight regarding building/handling an effect like a Grapple Gun. Thank you!

Can a 5th level Pact of the blade warlock, use his action to grapple, then attack twice with his pact weapon?

By RAW, when I use a grapple:


When you want to grab a creature or wrestle with it, you can use the Attack action…"

And the 5th level eldrich invocation:

"Thirsting Blade

Prerequisite: 5th level, Pact o f the Blade feature

You can attack with your pact weapon twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn."

So, by RAW, can the warlock, with those requisites, use his action to grapple and then attack twice with his pact weapon?

Should a Bugbear PC take damage when holding an enemy on the other side of a Wall of Fire with Grapple?

Bugbears have long arms, allowing them to grapple enemies 10 ft. away.

The Bugbear’s square is not in the effect range of the Wall of Fire. However, about 5 ft. worth of one of the Bugbear’s hands is supposedly in a square that is.

Mechanically, should the Bugbear take damage? If so, simulationally, how do we reconcile that such a small fraction of the player being in the square and taking just as much damage as a character residing fully in the area of effect?

What happens if DM wouldn’t count Grapple and Shove as “an attack”?

This is how Player’s Handbook (p. 194) describes what counts as an attack:

If there’s ever any question whether something you’re doing counts as an attack, the rule is simple: if you’re making an attack roll, you’re making an attack

There are ambiguous exceptions from this rule though — so-called "special attacks", Grapple and Shove in particular.

This raises additional questions, like Does grappling count as a hit? As a DM, for the sake of clarity and consistency I want to call Grapple just "an action" or "a contest", not "special melee attack". So instead of

you can use the Attack action to make a special melee attack, a grapple

the text of the house rule will be

you can use the Attack action to make an action in combat, a grapple

So does for Shove. This is also consistent with the PHB "Contests in Combat" (emphasis mine):

Battle often involves pitting your prowess against that of your foe. Such a challenge is represented by a contest. This section includes the most common contests that require an action in combat: grappling and shoving a creature. The DM can use these contests as models for improvising others.

So the lowercase "attack" is changed to "action" or "contest". For instance, the next passage in the Grappling description will be "If you’re able to make multiple attacks with the Attack action, this contest replaces one of them". The rest of the rules remains unchanged.

In terms of game mechanics, what consequenses/repercussions this change will have?

Does the Hunter Ranger’s Giant Killer allow you to grapple or shove with the reaction?

The Hunter Ranger’s Giant Killer feature says:

When a Large or larger creature within 5 feet of you hits or misses you with an attack, you can use your reaction to attack that creature immediately after its attack, provided that you can see the creature.

Since it says "you can use your reaction to attack that creature" without specifying that it has to be a melee weapon attack, could you instead use "special melee attacks" like grapples or shoves for this reaction?

Can you escape a grapple during a time stop (without teleporting or similar effects)?

Some context: during our last game a hidden creature charged and grappled (with improved grab) one of the PCs (a 20th-level Sha-ir/Cleric/Dweomerkeeper) during the surprise round. After that this same PC won initiative and the first thing he did was casting time stop. We decided to stop the game there for several reasons, it was already time, one other player had already left and this was an important encounter he didn’t want to miss, and I wasn’t really sure how to rule this situation yet.

So regarding the question itself, say you’re in a grapple with another creature, and during your turn you cast time stop (since it only has verbal components you can cast it while grappling with a DC 29 Concentration check), but you’re inside the area of a forbiddance spell, so you can’t just teleport out.

Could you escape the grapple while time is stopped using the normal method (by making a grapple or escapism check)? I’m guessing that since the opponent can’t move or be moved he can’t make a grapple check either so you can’t even try the opposed check.

Would casting freedom of movement be of any help at all? You automatically succeed on the grapple check to free yourself, but I don’t think you can make that check to begin with.

What other methods could you use to escape before the time stop ends?

Does improved grapple count in determinig the CMB when casting while grappled

I’ve always stayed away from grapple & overrun rules, but, this time, i can’t ignore it.

The rules says that

A grappled character who attempts to cast a spell or use a spell-like ability must make a concentration check (DC 10 + grappler’s CMB + spell level, see Concentration)

so does the feat, special abilities, objects granting bonus on the grapple check count against the DC of concentration?

Does the bonus like flanking count?

Can a Way of the Astral Self monk grapple with its Arms of the Astral Self?

In the Unearthed Arcana version of the Way of the Astral Self, the monk’s Astral Arms were treated as monk weapons.

Under that wording, the monk probably couldn’t grapple/shove with them because weapon reach and the reach of the character’s hand that could make the grapple/shove are different things.

That is, it’s hard to see how you could grapple with the end of a polearm, for example (through a lenient DM might allow a shove).

However, in the official release, the wording was changed then from monk weapons to unarmed strikes:

  • You can use the spectral arms to make unarmed strikes.

  • When you make an unarmed strike with the arms on your turn, your reach for it is 5 feet greater than normal.

Under this revised wording, it seems like the monk could grapple/shove with its Astral Arms.

But can it?

Is escaping a grapple an action or an attack action?


When you want to grab a creature or wrestle with it, you can use the Attack action to make a special melee attack, a grapple. If you’re able to make multiple attacks with the Attack action, this attack replaces one of them. 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).

Escaping a Grapple.

A grappled creature can use its action to escape. To do so, it must succeed on a Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check contested by your Strength (Athletics) check.

Moving a Grappled Creature.

When you move, you can drag or carry the grappled creature with you, but your speed is halved, unless the creature is two or more sizes smaller than you.

Is escaping a grapple a single attack (part of the attack action) or a separate action?

It says very clearly that while attacking, if a player can grapple someone with an attack action, and if they have multiple attacks with the Attack action, this [grappling] attack replaces one of them. Shouldn’t it be the case that escaping a grapple could also be one of those "multiple attacks?" I can’t see the distinction with ruling it otherwise.