In Savage Worlds, the Entangle power lasts until the affected character either breaks free, or is broken free by others (or is freed in a different manner depending on the trapping).

Is that Strength or Agility roll to break free an action?

The situation was, an NPC who was entangled rolled to escape, and succeeded. It was then argued that, since the NPC hadn't declared that he was taking multiple actions (and thus hadn't taken the -2 multi-action penalty on breaking free), he lost the rest of his turn, and could not further act besides moving his pace. Is this interpretation correct?

The other interpretation argued at the table was that escaping from Entangle works on the same timing as recovering from Shaken, which would mean the NPC would be able to act normally with a simple success (following the May 2015 Shaken update).

I feel as if the design intent was to make this similar to being Grappled (costs an action to break free, success means that's all you do, raise means you can act normally), but I feel this would also be more in the realm of "reasonable house-rule" than "what the book says".

  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG Stack Exchange! Great first question! \$\endgroup\$ Jul 9, 2017 at 21:49

2 Answers 2


Yes, Escaping From Entangle is an action.

From the Savage Worlds Deluxe Explorer's Edition source book's description of Entangle on pg 130

Each following action, an entangled target may make a Strength or Agility roll to break free.

Emphasis Mine

And actions are specifically defined on ibid pg 74

Characters perform “actions” when their card comes up each round. A character can move (see Movement) and perform one regular action—attacking, running, casting a spell, and so on—without penalty.

I can see no support for the Shaken interpretation of the rules. If they wanted to add Entagle / Grapple / Ensnare to the Shaken update, they most likely would have. The Shaken update's scope is very narrow and well defined. It only applies to shaken rolls, and nothing else. From the Savage Worlds FAQ and Update May 2015

On their action, Shaken characters must attempt to recover from being Shaken by making a Spirit roll:

• Failure: The character remains Shaken. She can only perform free actions.

• Success: The character is no longer Shaken and may act normally.

There is however, some support for the grapple interpretation of "a raise allows you to act on the round you escape". This is how grapple works (as you noted) on ibid pg 83,

Once entangled, the defender may attempt to break free on his next action. Both the defender and attacker pick either their Strength or Agility and then an opposed roll is made. If successful, the defender is free but the attempt consumes his action. If he does so with a raise, he’s free and may act normally.

Emphasis Mine

Also there is this rule from the Savage Worlds Super Powers Companion's description of the Ensnare power on pg 27 - which works almost exactly like Entangle.

[T]he target may make a Strength or Agility roll at –2 to escape. A raise allows the victim to break free and act in the same round.

Of course the other option is to just declare two actions before trying to escape the Entangle. But, if you allow raises to "[allow] the victim to break free and act in the same round" that opens another can of worms as the game is not clear on how it handles a conditional action economy.

What you might do is have them declare two actions, and if they escape with a raise, make them immediately declare an action to occur after their currently declared actions. This action will not cause any additional multi-action penalties.

There are of course many ways to handle this. But no matter what, it is likely best to decide now how your group wants to handle it so you will all have the same expectations going forward.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Yep this is correct. Breaking a grapple does take an action. In addition, although the core rules are not explicit, Clint Black, Savage Worlds brand manager, has made several statements that conditional actions are not generally allowed. However, this is one area where GMs can and do house rule considerably. At my table I disallow all conditional actions and make players declare their entire action at the start. \$\endgroup\$
    – Wibbs
    Jul 10, 2017 at 14:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your last sentence doesn't make sense. If they declare 3 actions, they have a -4 to all three of them due to the Multiple Action Penalty no matter what. This is the problem with allowing conditional actions. If you go down that route you HAVE to apply the MAP for the maximum possible number of actions they are carrying out, whether they actually do them or not \$\endgroup\$
    – Wibbs
    Jul 10, 2017 at 14:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ I changed it to hopefully make more sense. But this is basically what we do if they declare only one action, right? \$\endgroup\$
    – JWT
    Jul 10, 2017 at 15:04
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It needs something along the lines of 'Whether an action is conditional or not, it must be taken into account when calculating the Multiple Action Penalty for the round, as this impacts on the actions that precede it' \$\endgroup\$
    – Wibbs
    Jul 10, 2017 at 15:49
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The argument (note: not my argument, merely one presented at the table; strange use of "your" in the answer) for it being like Shaken is, the Shaken text says "On their action, Shaken characters must attempt to recover from being Shaken by making a Spirit roll." Unless "being Shaken" is a special overriding action that grants an action with no MAP upon success, it appears to be worded that the Spirit roll is not an action. The argument is that something can be on your action without being your action. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 10, 2017 at 21:42

Just to confirm, yep, it counts as an action to break free of Entangle (or break someone free).

The roll to recover from Shaken is always a special case since the result determines the character's ability to take actions as a whole.

Entangle just limits certain action, so instead of being in a situation where the player "must" roll to recover, the player "may" roll to escape or not. Remember the effect only applies to skills linked to Agility to Strength, so Smarts or Spirit linked Skills are completely unaffected by Entangle (unless descriptively there's some physical aspect per GM determination).

Hope that helps and clarifies a bit.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Clint, thanks for the clarification. In this case, the GM had ruled that the mage who was entangled couldn't cast spells, because he required "somatic components" a la D&D (aka required waving his hands around to cast the spell). It was clear that was a trappings/flavor decision, however. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 15, 2017 at 19:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ For those who didn't know, Clint Black is the official rules manager for Savage Worlds. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 15, 2017 at 21:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ The "requiring a hand to cast spells" is definitely a physical aspect of a Smarts-based skill that more commonly comes up. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 18, 2017 at 16:49

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