Can you grapple a creature as an opportunity attack?

This came up in a game I was in the other day, so I’m curious as to know what people think.

A gnome was attempting to flee past us up the stairs and I declared that I’d like to try and stop him, by using my reaction to make a grapple attack of opportunity. My DM declared that I wasn’t able to use grapple as an AoO (obviously what the DM says is fine, but I want to know what RAW/RAI says). Instead I had to “attack” the gnome with non-lethal force (which scared the gnome into running more).

Can you grapple as an attack of opportunity?

Grappling:

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. (PHB pg.195)

Attacks of Opportunity:

You can make an opportunity attack when a hostile creature that you can see moves out of your reach. To make the opportunity attack, you use your reaction to make one melee attack against the provoking creature. The attack interrupts the provoking creature’s movement, occurring right before the creature leaves your reach. (ibid)

My thoughts on this are that

  • RAW: You need to use the Attack action to make a grapple.
  • RAI: Grapple is an a melee attack and can be used as an opportunity attack.

Not allowed to use Acrobatics vs Grapple Ankheg

Now, I know this sounds like something small, but it did annoy me. We were fighting an Ankheg. We killed one, and after combat ended the DM had another one come up from the ground and grapple me with no checks to find it (we even have a player with a passive perception of 21). It had its full turn attack and movement, then he had it start at the top of initiative after that giving it effectively two rounds in a row.

This was a little bad, but I’m okay with this. He then would not let me us acrobatics to escape because it was a vice grip, so only athletics as a ranger halfling. It seemed weird, but I wasn’t sure if it was something with the creature. I checked after and couldn’t find anything. Also, the creature was put to sleep by a spell, but he said that still in its sleep it would keep me in its grip for only athletics checks. I enjoy the game, but I get very frustrated when the DM changes the rules to punish the players. Please let me know if I am crazy here or if I’m just being a big baby about it. He consistently does this type of thing, and I’m starting to get kind of worried for the future of his sessions, but perhaps it is just me.

Does carrying/dragging a willing/unconscious creature cause half movement as per the grapple rules?

When you carry/drag an unwilling creature that you have grappled, your movement speed is halved.

Is the same true when you carry/drag a willing or unconscious creature (ex: move your friend out of danger) ? Or in other words, a creature that does not resist against your attempt to move it ?

(This assumes that you have a good enough carrying capacity to easily carry/drag an object of the same weight as the creature you wish to move)

Does Strahd’s unarmed strike deal full damage if used to grapple?

In the text of Strahd’s Unarmed Strike, it says (emphasis mine):

If the target is a creature, Strahd can grapple it […] instead of dealing bludgeoning damage.

This seems to be copy/pasted from the vampire stat block, which makes sense since a vampire deals bludgeoning damage with its unarmed strike.

However, Strahd’s unarmed strike deals slashing and necrotic damage.

Should Strahd’s stat block say he can grapple instead of dealing the slashing damage, or is he supposed to be able to do full damage and grapple since he’s the "final boss" of the campaign?

Has this been addressed in any errata?

Does using the Tavern Brawler feat with a rope give you a 20’+ grapple attack?

If I gain the Tavern Brawler feat, and use it with a rope as an improvised weapon, can I initiate a Grapple at 20+ feet away (depending on the length of rope)

When you hit a creature with an unarmed strike or improvised weapon on your turn, you can use a bonus action to attempt to grapple the target.

So as an action I attack by whipping the rope out, presumably doing 1d4 damage + strength (up to the DM). Then as a bonus action I initiate the grapple by tugging the rope and having it wind around the opponent.

I envision this as a lasso, but I suppose a grappling hook would work too.

Can a grapple be released?

According to the Grappling rules, once all the initial checks and movement are resolved, there’s no distinction between "grappler" and "graplee", at least that’s how I’ve always interpreted this:

Regardless of who started the grapple, while you’re grappling, you can perform only the following maneuvers.

That would mean you can’t just release a grappled opponent, because he’s grappling you too, you’d need to escape his grapple. There is one exception, you can release an opponent from a grapple if you Pin him first:

You can release a pinned opponent as a free action. If you do so, you’re no longer considered to be grappling that foe (and vice versa). You finish by moving into any unoccupied space adjacent to that in which you were grappling.

But I found recently that the Rules Compendium lists "Release grappled or pinned opponent" as a free action in the table Actions in Combat (p.8), but not in the Grappling section (p.60). And searching the internet I found a lot of people argue in favor of allowing this. Is this a typo, or else why isn’t this mentioned anywhere else?

If true, this would lead to exploits like a creature with multiple natural weapons (for example, 12 tentacles), low BAB, improved grab, and constrict, making several attacks and constrictions per round by releasing whoever they grappled immediately after doing constrict damage and attacking again.

Does the grappled creature have to be the one that is moved in order to force the grapple to end, or can the grappler be the one that is moved? [duplicate]

The description of the grappled condition reads, in part:

The condition also ends if an effect removes the grappled creature from the reach of the grappler or grappling effect, such as when a creature is hurled away by the thunderwave spell.

For the grappled condition to end, does the grappled creature have to be the one that is moved, or can the grappling creature be the one that is moved?

For example, could a College of Swords bard’s Mobile Flourish* be used to push the grappling creature away, ending the grapple? Or would the bard have to attack the grappled creature with the Mobile Flourish in order to end the grapple in this way?

*Access to Xanathar’s Guide to Everything in D&D Beyond is required for this link to work.

Can the reaction attack from the third benefit of the Sentinel feat be triggered by a shove or grapple?

The third benefit of the Sentinel feat says (PHB, p. 169-170; emphasis mine):

  • When a creature within 5 feet of you makes an attack against a target other than you (and that target doesn’t have this feat), you can use your reaction to make a melee weapon attack against the attacking creature.

Do shoves and grapples meet the requirement of a creature “making an attack” (since they’re described in the rules as “special melee attacks”)?

If so, does the shove or grapple attempt need to be successful in order to trigger the reaction attack from the Sentinel feat?

I suspect that the answer to the first part of my question is yes, given this similar question about the third benefit of the Mobile feat, but I’m less sure about the second part of my question.

(I know that the reaction attack from Sentinel would only occur after the triggering attack by the enemy is resolved.)