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Inspired by: If you are grappled by a creature with 10'+ reach, can you make a ranged attack without disadvantage?

Also related, but targets a standard 5' reach: When you grapple an enemy, where are they?

Grappling

When you want to grab a creature or wrestle with it, you can use the Attack action to make a special melee attack, a grapple. If you're able to make multiple attacks with the Attack action, this attack replaces one of them. The target of your grapple must be no more than one size larger than you, and it must be within your reach. [...]

Escaping a Grapple.

A grappled creature can use its action to escape [...] The condition also ends if an effect removes the grappled creature from the reach of the grappler or grappling effect, such as when a creature is hurled away by the thunderwave spell.

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.

Based off of the information for grappling, there is no reason for the grappled target to be forced to be adjacent to the grappler, nor any requirement for the grappled target to be adjacent to the grappler to begin with, only that the target is initially within the grappler's reach.

I see a number of things that need to be addressed:

  • Can the grappler move you back and forth within their reach?

  • Can they only move you closer/further when they move?

  • Are you stuck at the same distance that you were at when they initially grappled you?

Anyone have any information on this?

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The Grappler Can Move Closer to You

As you mentioned, the rules for moving a grappled creature are fairly clear:

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.

Since the only manner given for moving the grappled creature is if the grappler moves itself, that implies that "moving the grappled creature back and forth within your reach" isn't part of a grapple by RAW (if you wanted to do so, you'd need to Shove the creature). However, many of the results you mentioned could still be accomplished.

Note the "can" in the quoted sentence. You are entirely capable of moving the grappled creature with you as you move around. But you could also move without moving the grappled creature if you so desired.

Naturally, if you move far enough away from the grappled creature that they are now outside of your reach, the creature would no longer be grappled. (In this case, the "effect [that] removes the grappled creature from the reach of the grappler" would be the grappler's movement.) But otherwise, the grappled creature will remain grappled.

As such, a grappler may not be able to pull a grappled creature closer to it, it could certainly move closer to the grappled creature. So a creature wouldn't be "stuck at the same distance that you were at when they initially grappled you," but changes in this would come about by the creature moving, not by their moving you.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ From your answer, I gather that if my grappled target is 5 feet away, and I move, I can basically move them further or keep them at the same distance when I move. But if I wanted to move them closer to me as I drag them, I would effectively need to move closer to the target first, and then move away, so that they maintain the new (closer) distance? Did I understand that correctly? \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel Zastoupil Aug 14 '18 at 14:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, that's correct. \$\endgroup\$ – Gandalfmeansme Aug 14 '18 at 15:23

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