The 2nd-level Sor/Wiz spell levitate [trans] (Player's Handbook 248), in part, says

Levitate allows you to move yourself, another creature, or an object up and down as you wish. A creature must be willing to be levitated, and an object must be unattended or possessed by a willing creature. You can mentally direct the recipient to move up or down as much as 20 feet each round; doing so is a move action. You cannot move the recipient horizontally, but the recipient could clamber along the face of a cliff, for example, or push against a ceiling to move laterally (generally at half its base land speed).

Can a Medium creature that's grappled by a Medium opponent be automatically liberated from the grapple by using on itself a levitation effect or by having an ally use on it a levitation effect?

Note: A low-level totemist that's fond of riding animals is deciding whether to bind to his totem chakra the Magic of Incarnum soulmeld blink shirt (60) that allows the wearer to use an effect like dimension door except only on himself or the Dragon #350 soulmeld gravorg tail (87) that allows the wearer to use an effect like the spell levitate except that it can affect all allies within 10 ft. of the totemist and that subjects can be levitated 20 ft. (+10 ft./essentia) per round. Sure, the totemist likes himself alive, but he likes himself and his mount alive, too! Note that I'm aware that the levitate effect, if possible, will likely provoke attacks of opportunity from the grappler for leaving its threatened area, but, y'know, that's what the feat Mounted Combat is for. Also, I'm aware of this inconclusive 2013 Pathfinder thread on this topic that, while for a different system (with substantially different grappling rules!), might nonetheless provide respondents with food for thought.


3 Answers 3


I'm not aware of some rules about this kind of situation and I agree with those who said is up to the DM. In my opinion one way you could handle it is using a method similar to freeing someone from quicksand (Sandstorm manual), just to quote an official rule. I would have the grappler (the one without levitate cast on him) to make a Strengh check (DC up to DM, bound to the DC of the spell OR the weight of the greature) and if he fails the other slips from his hands and levitate out of grapple. If he wins I would have the levitating one make another Strengh check to see if he can "lift" the opponent. If he fails he stays on the ground, if he wins they both lift. That's just my thought and how i would have handle it


First, you can't cast the spell if your hands aren't free... If someone else is casting it on you or you are casting it on an ally, you risk levitating whatever may be grappling you as well. So I wouldn't say it's an automatic liberation, but it could work towards that purpose.

  • \$\begingroup\$ (Not my downvote) Note that the usage that the question hangs on is not the casting of levitate, but the usage of an ability that replicates the spell. Thus the casting while grappled is not especially pertinent. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chemus
    May 28, 2018 at 19:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Despite false refference to a free hand, this answer seems pretty much right to me in answering what is really asked. I think the most reasonable outcome will be grappling creature hanging on your levitated ally still grappling him even if its some kind of irresistible force. \$\endgroup\$ May 29, 2018 at 16:39

Based on the quote you gave us;

A creature must be willing to be levitated, and an object must be unattended or possessed by a willing creature.

While the second mentions an object, the implication seems to be that you can't 'snatch' something from someone's grip using levitation. To that end, it seems pretty clear that you couldn't escape a grapple by being the subject of a levitation spell unless the grappler was willing to cooperate.

If you can't escape the grapple, I'd say it would fail, as you couldn't levitate the grappler along with the grapplee, again unless the grappler was "willing to be levitated."

  • \$\begingroup\$ D&D 3.5e has a rather strict creature/object divide. While it's accurate to say that a levitation effect can't snatch an object from a unwilling creature's grasp, lifting a willing creature using levitation really is a different—and, in this case, more puzzling—scenario. \$\endgroup\$ May 28, 2018 at 8:33
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan I don't see Isaac's argument as saying that the rules are explicit, but that levitate can't lift objects that 'resist' (due to being attended). Following that 'resistance' train of thought, it's reasonable to rule that levitate can't lift creatures that are resisted either. To an extent, the 'willing' clause is the same thing; all a creature has to do to not be levitated is not want to be. I don't think that there is an explicit or more strongly implicit rule to be found regarding this; it will most likely come down to individual DM ruling. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chemus
    May 28, 2018 at 19:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Chemus It's unfortunate that the levitate spell doesn't say what happens when it's used against an unattended yet secured object. I mean, I guess the DM must decide either that levitate is some kind of irresistible force or that levitate is only usable on the already unrestrained. Probably—as a 2nd-level spell—the latter's a better choice than the former. \$\endgroup\$ May 28, 2018 at 21:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that if levitate is used on a willing ally in a grapple, that might work, but then you have to figure out what happens to the grappling unwilling enemy that wasn't targeted. Sounds like it would be an external attempt to break a grapple, which aside from figuring out how much STR a levitate translates to, starts addressing aspects of a grapple that the rules never seemed to have envisioned. \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    May 29, 2018 at 13:16

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