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)

  • \$\begingroup\$ very related Can one PC grab another PC and drag them? \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 15:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you ask as a player or as a DM? Dragging other PCs at full speed and without expending their movement can be exploited multiple ways. Here's an example: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/91141 There is a reason why dragging speed is halved RAW. \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 15:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ In the real world, lifting and carrying a conscious willing person is significantly easier than lifting and carrying an unconscious person, particularly the lifting part. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kevin
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 20:01

3 Answers 3


This is a slightly foggy area...but thankfully, Jeremy Crawford (official voice of rules for WotC) has weighed in on this in several (indirect) ways...

Q: what are the rules for creatures carrying friendly PCs? e.g mage polymorphed into giant eagle carrying allies? (5e)

A: See "Lifting and Carrying" in the Player's Handbook (p. 176) for rules on carrying capacity.


Additionally, in relation to grapple/drag...

Q: is pushing/dragging a grappled creature subject to the carrying capacity rules?

A: The rule on moving a grappled creature (PH, 195) works regardless of a creature's weight. It cares about creature size.


So, this gives us a baseline to build on top of.

Crawford has said that you can carry a friendly (and thus, willing) target around with you using the Lifting and Carrying rules. This seems rather evident, because horses don't have to grapple you to carry you (or someone you captured and threw over their haunches) around. Additionally, giving someone a piggy-back ride is not at all like seizing someone in combat. Furthermore, he states that the Lift/Carry rules do not apply to Grappling.

From here, we don't have any further clarity from the developers, but we can move on to plain English definitions to clear things up. Because that was the intent of D&D 5E is that plain English definitions could be used to help adjudicate the rules.

Grapple: to seize and struggle with another

Mirriam-Webster Dictionary

Based off this definition, we can work out what 'grappling' is. A "Grapple" is when you have seized someone who does not want to be seized. They are resisting you and trying to get loose.

If someone is not resisting you, you are not grappling with them. If someone is not capable of resisting you, you are not grappling with them. You're just holding them. Throwing an unconscious or willing individual over your shoulder is not grappling, that's carrying.

Thus, the ruling that makes the most sense, based off both Crawford's rulings, simple definitions, and logic--is this:

"If a target is unwilling, you are grappling them. If the target is willing or unable to resist, you are carrying/dragging them."

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Not sure if it's worthwhile, but rather than using a dictionary to define Grapple, why not just say if you had to do a Grapple attack? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 14:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Because I've known some DMs who adjudicate that you still have to make a Grapple check to grab an ally. And I wanted to be extra clear :) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 14:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Heh. But that's still actually making the check and taking the action to do so: which then would firmly put it in the grapple rules. In that case, it does get trickier though as forcing to grapple a voluntary creature would suggest having to use the grapple limitations. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 14:36
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Behacad I'm pretty sure you did your math wrong. Also, see Size and Strength under the lift/carry rules. A normal bird (size Tiny) with STR 15 can lift 112lbs \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 10:40
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov I would love to--unfortunately, at the time this answer was written, unofficial tweets and plain english definitions were the only resource for answering this question--given the "plain text" nature of how we're supposed to interpret the 5E rules, this is a common approach to answering questions in the case where no clear answer exists either in the rulebooks or in Sage Advice. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 22, 2020 at 12:21

You should use the rules for Dragging.

As per the PHB p176:

Push, Drag, or Lift.

You can push, drag, or lift a weight in pounds up to twice your carrying capacity (or 30 times your Strength score). While pushing or dragging weight in excess of your carrying capacity, your speed drops to 5 feet.

Carrying Capacity.

Your carrying capacity is your Strength score multiplied by 15.

emphasis added to the word weight to show that you can drag creatures (who are not resisting) or objects

A character with a 16 Strength, could drag another creature or object that weighed 240 lbs (including equipment) without being slowed or up to 480 lbs and slowed to a speed of 5 feet. This is also adjusted by the size of the dragging character (not the load).

  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you sure that dragging rules can apply to living creatures ? If so, most characters that like to grapple-and-move their enemies would use these rules in order not to have their speed halved. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gael L
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 13:57
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ I am confident that it can apply to creatures who put up no more of a fight than an object would. The question is specifically asking about non-opposed grappling, i.e., dragging. You could even assign a small benefit if the dragged creature was helping a little. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick Brown
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 13:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ That seems worse than grappling because half movement is generally much more than 5 feet. Or is this for cases where the other player does not make you exceed your carrying capacity? \$\endgroup\$
    – nwp
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 14:51
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I suppose that you could choose to grapple a very heavy medium creature (auto fail the opposed grapple) and suffer only half speed rather than the 5 foot speed. This is the weirdness of using D&D rules to simulate reality. I prefer to use the rule that is most tailored to the situation, but in the case where grappling is better (if the draggee is helping), I would probably allow the higher speed if that's how the math worked out (or better if the draggee is able to bear some of their own load). If the draggee is not helping, I would completely use the rules for Dragging. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick Brown
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 15:07

If it is a creature, use the grapple rules, if it is an object, use the encumbrance rules.

All the cases you list are handled by the rules. If you wish to drag a creature with you, you can do so by grappling them. This is not changed by the creature being willing or unconscious.

The body of a dead creature is an object and thus carrying it is handled with encumbrance. There are multiple options here and the exact effect depends on which one your table uses.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ The rules quoted in Nick Brown's answer specify a weight, not an object. The grapple rules are intended for a combative opponent, and the dragging rules appear to apply for anything behaving as a unresisting weight - to include willing or unconcious creatures. \$\endgroup\$
    – Bedro
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 14:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Bedro Well, the rules also do not explicitly call out that you cannot drag an unwilling creature, yet no one questions that you should use the grapple rules there. It is a matter of interpretation, and I have given mine. \$\endgroup\$
    – Szega
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 14:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Grapple is an opposed ability check/attack. An unconscious/incapacitated creature cannot oppose that ability check. Answer does not seem to fit the game mechanics. There isn't a need to roll the dice on order to pick up and carry something/someone who isn't resisting. I did not down vote because (even though I disagree) you explained your reasoning using game terms/features. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 19:57

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