Does doubling up on Rope and Manacles increase DC or just take multiple checks to escape?

My D&D group is new and we are all still getting used to playing the game and are running through the Starter Set adventure.

During this adventure we end up capturing a Wizard and we bound and gag him. My character being paranoid made sure to attach manacles to him and also to use two different lengths of 50ft rope to ensure that he would not be able to break free. During the return back to town the DM had him keep rolling strength checks against the manacles and rope and one by one he kept breaking through them and I ended up having to borrow the entire party’s supply of rope to keep him secure because he kept breaking through them. By the time I was able to deliver him he was wrapped in 200 ft of rope and looked like more rope than man after breaking my manacles and two different lengths of rope.

I know that the rules say that the DC of Hempen rope is 17 but I still think that in any real world sense it is ridiculous to think that this Wizard can Samson his way through each individual rope while also being held by several other lengths of rope and a set of manacles. One would think that the weight of the ropes alone would keep him in check.

I guess my question is that is there any precedent for the DC being raised when you are attaching multiple different factors into keeping a prisoner secure or are you just supposed to roll each rope individually?

Edit: My DM has responded to my post and it looks like I didn’t have all of the information originally

“I rolled 2 rolls per day of travel. This was his daily attempt to free himself from his bindings with disadvantage. He got 2 Nat 20’s the day he broke the manacles and a 19 & 20 to break free of the rope. His Str modifier is -1, but 18 still clears the rope’s DC. He had disadvantage due to the leather armor and sheer volume of rope around him He also had to break the manacles before he could even start trying to work at the rope, since you did put those on him first”

Do Dimensional Shackles share any of the properties of Manacles?

The Dimensional Shackles state:

You can use an action to place these shackles on an incapacitated creature. The shackles adjust to fit a creature of Small to Large size. In addition to serving as mundane manacles, the shackles prevent a creature bound by them from using any method of extradimensional movement, including teleportation or travel to a different plane of existence. They don’t prevent the creature from passing through an interdimensional portal.

You and any creature you designate when you use the shackles can use an action to remove them. Once every 30 days, the bound creature can make a DC 30 Strength (Athletics) check. On a success, the creature breaks free and destroys the shackles.

Does the bolded text mean that they actually have all the properties of regular Manacles?:

These metal restraints can bind a Small or Medium creature. Escaping the manacles requires a successful DC 20 Dexterity check. Breaking them requires a successful DC 20 Strength check. Each set of manacles comes with one key. Without the key, a creature proficient with thieves’ tools can pick the manacles’ lock with a successful DC 15 Dexterity check. Manacles have 15 hit points.

In particular then:

  • Can Dimensional Shackles be escaped with a DC 20 Dexterity Check?
  • Can you break them with a DC 20 Strength check?
  • Can somebody else break them with a DC 20 Strength check? (The DC 30 check only applies to the bound creature)
  • Do they come with a key?
  • Can they be opened with a DC 15 Dexterity Check using Thieves’ Tools?
  • Do they have 15 hit points?

For example, if they only have 15 hit points, couldn’t you simply headbutt them until they broke, which would take maybe 30 turns with a +1 Strength modifier, quite far from one try per 30 days.

How do I adjudicate attempting to put manacles on an unwilling creature?

I have a player in my campaign who has recently wanted to use manacles. While the Player’s Handbook entry for manacles describes in a pretty detailed way how difficult it is to escape from manacles, it doesn’t give any indication as to how difficult is to put them on an unwilling creature, particularly in the chaos of lots of things happening at once that we call combat.

But that’s okay: I’m a DM, and I can make something up. But I feel that I’m not really sure how to assess the difficulty of this, especially as I have no idea about how manacles actually worked in the medieval era that D&D is inspired by, beyond a general idea that “it’s an old-fashioned form of handcuffs”. Here are a few ideas I have:

  1. Treat this as an improvised-weapon melee attack roll. While there really isn’t a “called shot” mechanic in D&D 5e, this may be roughly the difficulty of trying to hit somebody with a stick, or maybe impose disadvantage due to the difficulty of needing to specifically get the manacles over the wrists. I’d probably require a separate attack for each wrist. That is, when a hit with manacles happens, one wrist gets enclosed in the manacles rather than it dealing damage.
  2. Treat this as a contest similar to a grapple. The rules specifically call out that grappling is just an example of a type of contest one can do. Using Strength for the character attempting to place the manacles makes some amount of sense as it’s trying to “apply brute force” to solve a problem, though allowing use of a proficiency in Athletics seems a little odd as it’s not really a “wrestling” kind of move, and in fact the finesse needed to place the manacles where needed might almost make sense as a Dexterity (Sleight of Hand) check instead. For the creature attempting to avoid getting the manacles, opposing with their choice of Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) as in a grapple still seems to make sense to me. This probably would also require a separate contest per wrist.
  3. Maybe manacles aren’t just “slap them on” like modern handcuffs might be. I should just disallow any attempt to put manacles on an unwilling or unrestrained creature.

How should I handle players attempting to put manacles on an unwilling creature during combat? I know that this may be a bit subjective, and I can ultimately do anything reasonable here without the world ending, but I’m hoping there are some Good Subjective answers out there of people who can “back it up” with their experience of handling either manacles specifically (as I’m guessing this isn’t the only group with a player who saw manacles on the equipment list and started getting ideas), or at least experience with creating new “contests” that inhibit opponents.

How long does it take to try to break manacles?

How long does it take to attempt to make the DC 20 Strength check to break manacles (or Dexterity check to try to escape)? Is it just one action?

(If so, manacles don’t seem that useful unless you are standing there watching your captive all the time since even a creature with no Strength or Dexterity bonus could break it in an average of 2 minutes).

What rarity should this home-brew Manacles of Subjugation item be?

What rarity should this home-brew Manacles of Subjugation item be?

For some reference, I am running an evil campaign and will be using these, but I bet my players will probably try and either steal these or kill the slaver to get these.

You can attach these manacles to a living creature. If you do, you have to spend a level 3 spell slot to form a connection (owner) for as long as these manacles are being used.

If you attach these to an unconscious living creature, they will get -5 penalty to their save after they wake up.

When the creature awakens or has manacles first put on them, they get a save.

Whenever the creature reaches 25% of their HP, it gets a save to break the manacles. As long as they are under 25% HP, they get a save every time additional damage is taken.

Once a creature breaks free of manacle of subjugation it will no longer be effective. If the owner is killed the manacles no longer have a connection and creature being Subjugated is immune to future attempts. (from this set)

If the creature breaks free and the owner still lives they retain a connection unless they voluntarily break it (spell slot is then returned) or the connection is forcefully broken.

DC to break free is owner level + prof + INT(modifier)

Target creature saving throw is 1d20 + CR.

If your level is less than creature’s CR, it makes saving throw with +2 bonus.(per level difference) If your level is higher than creature’s CR, it makes saving throw with -1 penalty.(per level difference) No adjustment if your level is equal to the creature’s CR.

Subjugated creature is treated similar to companion.

  • It rolls for initiative like any other creature, but you determine its actions, decisions, attitudes, and so on. If you are incapacitated or absent, your companion acts on its own.
  • Remove multi-attack feature and halve Hit die.

What rarity should this homebrew Manacles of Subjugation item be? [on hold]


Manacles of Subjugation

You can attach these manacles to a creature/person. If you do, you have to spend level 3 spell slot as long as these manacles are being used. If you attach these to an unconscious creature/person, they will get -5 penalty to their save after they wake up.

When the creature awakens or has manacles first put on them, they get a save.

Whenever the creature reaches 25% of their HP, it gets a save to break the manacles. As long as they are under 25% HP, they get a save every time additional damage is taken.

Once a creature breaks free of manacle of subjugation it will no longer be effective. If the owner is killed the manacles no longer have a connection and anyone can become the owner/user but the creature being Enslaved is immune to future atempts. (from this set)

DC to break free is owner level + prof + INT

Target creature saving throw is d20 + CR.
If your level is less than creature’s CR, it makes saving throw with +2 bonus. If your level is higher than creature’s CR, it makes saving throw with -1 penalty. No adjustment if your level is equal to the creature’s CR.

Subjugated creature is treated similar to companion.

  • It rolls for initiative like any other creature, but you determine its actions, decisions, attitudes, and so on. If you are incapacitated or absent, your companion acts on its own.
  • Remove multiattack feature and halve Hit die.

What rarity should this homebrew Manacles of Subjugation item be?

For some reference, I am running an evil campaign and will be using these, but I bet my players will probably try and either steal these or kill the slaver to get these.