Assume for the following questions that an air elemental has been successfully bound with planar binding.

  1. Firstly, can it effectively be ordered around with a free action, taking actions on its own turn? I assume yes.

  2. Secondly, can it grapple? Again, I assume yes as there is nothing to say otherwise. Since it has Multiattack, can it grapple two targets? Does trying to move with two grappled target reduce its move distance twice? 22.5ft fly speed?

  3. Thirdly, can it use its Whirlwind action while grappling two targets. If so, what happens to them?

  4. Lastly, what happens when it carries a willing creature? Is its movement speed halved as usual? Does encumbrance come into play?

Additional context: none of this has come up in a game yet; however, I see it on the horizon and want to have a firm idea in my head of how these things would play out beforehand to avoid any inconsistencies or disappointments.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ These are... many questions. And some don't seem exactly related. I'm VTCing as Too Broad for now, as One question = One question. I think it would be better to ask one question about ordering the air elemental and another about what actions it can actually take. \$\endgroup\$
    – HellSaint
    Jun 23, 2018 at 23:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ I do not think this question is too broad. The problem being posed is something like "I need to be able to handle the details of how an air elemental's features work because it will come up in play soon and I want to be ready so that play goes smoothly when the elemental is summoned during play." \$\endgroup\$ Jun 23, 2018 at 23:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ Duplicate of one of your questions can be found here: Can monsters with multiattack take grapple and shove actions. Part of why I think it is Too Broad. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 24, 2018 at 0:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ The question about halving your speed twice is also duplicate and can be found here: Does the grappling movement speed penalty stack? \$\endgroup\$
    – HellSaint
    Jun 24, 2018 at 0:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Callow you are correct that your overarching question is too broad and that the correct way to ask your issues is to break it up into specific questions. However, each one of you questions needs to go into a separate question post in order for you to get the best answer to them. We have a rule limiting the number of questions asked per post to 1, but we have no limit on the number of question posts you can write. I would encourage you to do this because there is disagreement with the only answer you have right now and nobody can post another one until you fix the issue. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 24, 2018 at 18:47

1 Answer 1


Firstly can it effectively be ordered around with a free action, taking actions on its own turn? I assume yes.

Yes, you can speak as a Free Action (Other Activity on Your Turn)

You can communicate however you are able, through brief utterances and gestures, as you take your turn.

And the Planar Bind makes it obey your commands

A bound creature must follow your instructions to the best of its ability. You might command the creature to accompany you on an adventure, to guard a location, or to deliver a message. The creature obeys the letter of your instructions, but if the creature is hostile to you, it strives to twist your words to achieve its own objectives. If the creature carries out your instructions completely before the spell ends, it travels to you to report this fact if you are on the same plane of existence. If you are on a different plane of existence, it returns to the place where you bound it and remains there until the spell ends.

Monsters (can) do the same as PCs, as long as they fit the requirements and nothing on their statblocks say otherwise

This is the general answer for your questions 2 to 4, except for the Multiattack thing. I'll now handle each one individually.

Secondly, can it grapple? Again I assume yes as there is nothing to say otherwise? Since it has multi attack can it grapple two targets?

This is actually two questions: yes, monsters can grapple, as long as they meet the requirements from the grappling action - being the right size and having a free hand. Air elementals seem to have hands, so they should be able to. That depends on your DM interpretation though.

No, monster with multiattack can't grapple more than once in the same turn. TL;DR: Multiattack is not the Attack Action, but an action of its own. Monsters don't make multiple attacks as a part of the Attack Action, which is the requirement for grappling, rather, they take the Multiattack action. Grappling:

If you’re able to make multiple attacks with the Attack action, this attack replaces one of them.

Note that you can, however, grapple more than one target (or two targets), which is what you actually asked - but that is going to take two turns and has nothing to do with Multiattack.

Does trying to move with two grappled target reduce it's move distance twice? 22.5ft fly speed?

The Air Elemental has nothing about special grappling (i.e. no specific rule for it), so we use the general rule, which states

Moving a Grappled Creature: When you move, you can drag or carry the Grappled creature with you, but your speed is halved, unless the creature is two or more sizes smaller than you.

It's not clear if the speed should be halved twice when grappling two targets. The grappling seems to assume you are grappling one creature. By that interpretation, yes, it would cut it to 22.5 ft. Another interpretation is that even if it applies to each grappled creature individually, no, it does not stack. IMO, the rules are not clear enough for this case (and I didn't find anything on Crawford here), so I'm throwing it to up to the DM for now.

We already have this question here. Note that there are two contesting answers - and personally I don't think the accepted one has enough textual evidence for it to be RAW right.

Thirdly, can it whirlwind as an action while grappling two targets. If so, what happens to them?

Whirlwind doesn't state it requires a free hand, so technically it can. YMMV though, depending on your DM. Either way, releasing the grappled targets is a free action, so even if you can't, the Air Elemental can just release them and use the Whirlwind anyway.

"What happens to them?" is vague - but they will be released from the Grappling and Whirlwind takes effect anyway. The reason they are released from the grappling is:

is flung up 20 feet away from the elemental in a random direction and knocked prone.

which will put the enemies out of the Air Elemental's reach.

Lastly, what happens when it carries a willing creature? Is its movement speed halved as usual, does encumbrance come into play?

Again, there is no specific rule stated in the Air Elemental, so we are using the general rules from PHB.

Crawford says that carrying friendly PCs applies the Carrying and Lifting rules from p. 176 and that there is no distinction made between flying and walking.

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

The carrying capacity rules make no distinction between walking and flying creatures.

So, no, speed is not halved, although it is reduced to 5ft if (and only if)

While pushing or dragging weight in excess of your carrying capacity, your speed drops to 5 feet.

From comments, that carrying capacity is 420 lb.

Encumbrance is a variant rule, so it depends on your DM using it or not. Again, there is nothing there about halving the speed, though. Rather, we have fixed amounts of movement speed loss.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It doesn't look like you answered the part about cutting his movement speed in half twice. Does dragging two creatures mean the elementals movement is 1/4 or 1/2? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 24, 2018 at 0:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DavidCoffron actually, I will open a new question for that one. I don't think the rules are clear enough. - nevermind, it already exists. \$\endgroup\$
    – HellSaint
    Jun 24, 2018 at 0:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Wow this has already cleared up a lot of issues for me. Thank you. \$\endgroup\$
    – Callow
    Jun 24, 2018 at 0:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ I really don't think you should have answered this question. It is obviously too broad as you yourself pointed out. But by answering it you have given the asker no reason to divide the question up into questions that follow site rules. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 24, 2018 at 15:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ The air elemental can carry up to 420 lb before being over capacity ... so they should be able to carry most wizards just fine, as wizards seldom can carry more then 150 lb \$\endgroup\$
    – Pliny
    Jun 25, 2018 at 13:30

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