Role-playing Games Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for gamemasters and players of tabletop, paper-and-pencil role-playing games. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

This is not a question about the mechanical effects. I'm just trying to figure out why 4e defines two effects that appear to be the same. If something is grabbed, isn't it in effect also restrained? If something is restrained wouldn't it also be grabbed by something? As a DM, I'm trying to figure out when/where I would use one effect over another.

share|improve this question
up vote 7 down vote accepted

You'd use restrained over grabbed in circumstances where the victim isn't just prevented from moving away, but also otherwise inconvenienced. (That's where the -2 and "grants combat advantage" come in.) Consider "held firmly by the arm" and "wrapped up in animated vines."

share|improve this answer
In other words, restrained is a more intense form of grabbed. – AceCalhoon Feb 22 '11 at 1:46

If I've got your wrist in one of my hands, you're grabbed. If I've got a rope around your belly, again, grabbed.

If I've got both your wrists behind your back, you're restrained. If my rope is pinning your arms, you're probably restrained.

share|improve this answer
Would it be safe to say that you could grab something a lot larger than you, but not restrain it? – migo Mar 16 '11 at 2:47
It's a lot harder to restrain something that's bigger and/or stronger than you. Not imposible, but unlikely. Vera, one of the Security Guards when I was in high school, more than once simply picked up peeved football players who outmassed her by double, and had 2' of height on her. Kept them from getting suspended. – aramis Mar 16 '11 at 2:51
That's still in the same size category though. I'm thinking S vs M or M vs L. – migo Mar 16 '11 at 2:53

Grabbed - in simple terms means to "hold" or "stop" something. Restrained is more of "restriction" type wherein the object is not able to execute a particular action

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.