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In 5e to escape a Grapple check, I know you roll athletics (str) or acrobatics (dex) opposed by an athletics (str) check.

In the Otyugh entry in the Monster Manual it doesn't say there's any check, instead it assigns a set DC for an "escape" (DC 13... which is a str check with a 10 assigned as the "roll").

So the question is:

  • Does the Otyugh actually make a roll in this instance (like the general rule) or does it have a set DC (for the specific case)
  • OR is it just a poorly communicated version of the GENERAL rule being played out?

A little clarification on this would be AWESOME. In the event of a "specific vs general" scenario, what actually is the "escape" roll? What modifier is applied? None?

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

Well, it's not the grapple described in the PHB. It is a fairly standard monster grapple, though. Monsters have their own rules for grappling, detailed in the Grapple Rules for Monsters sidebar in the Monster Manual, page 11. (Or in the DM Basic Rules, page 6.)

Many monsters have special attacks that allow them to quickly grapple prey. When a monster hits with such an attack, it doesn’t need to make an additional ability check to determine whether the grapple succeeds, unless the attack says otherwise.

A creature grappled by the monster can use its action to try to escape. To do so, it must succeed on a Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check against the escape DC in the monster’s stat block. If no escape DC is given, assume the DC is 10 + the monster’s Strength (Athletics) modifier.

So no, the otyugh doesn't need to make any rolls. The player rolls Athletics or Acrobatics against the otyugh's escape DC as described.

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The "specific beats general" rule (p.7 PHB) applies and the effect of the Otyugh's tentacle attack is a specific feature that gives the restrained condition until the target escapes by beating the DC. It is not a grapple as described in the Player's Handbook.

Note that the Otyugh could take the Attack action and substitute the attack it gets for a Player's Handbook grapple which would follow the normal rules. This is clearly a sub-optimal tactic for it.

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