A situation came up in our game where a PC cast cause fear (Xanathar's Guide to Everything, p. 151) on an enemy that was grappling the PC and trying to push them towards a torture device. This made the enemy frightened, which prevents it moving closer to the PC.

Does the frightened condition prevent the enemy from continuing to move the grappled PC (the source of its fear) towards the torture device? Or can it continue to move, since the enemy remains adjacent to the PC and therefore it is not moving closer?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Yes. edited to clraify that the PC being grappled was the one that cast Cause Fear.. \$\endgroup\$
    – Agent DM
    Aug 22, 2018 at 1:04

2 Answers 2


The frightened creature can keep moving the caster.

The creature being frightened is already adjacent to the source of the fear so there is no way he can move closer. He can keep pulling the caster around. However the creature, because it can see the source of his fear, will have disadvantage on his strength(athletics) check when the caster tries to escape the grapple.

A DM may rule the creature doesn't want to keep touching (grappling) his source of fear and make the creature let go, but that is not how frightened condition normally works according to the rules-as-written. While it's not RAW for the condition, it is still within reason as DM decides how the world reacts to the players in general. You wouldn't want to 'hug' something you are truly afraid of.

Some spells like Fear may force this to happen even without additional DM ruling:

While frightened by this spell, a creature must take the Dash action and move away from you by the safest available route on each of its turns, unless there is nowhere to move. If the creature ends its turn in a location where it doesn't have line of sight to you, the creature can make a Wisdom saving throw. On a successful save, the spell ends for that creature.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @ravery: While that might be true of the fear spell in particular, nothing in the descriptions of cause fear or the Frightened condition would suggest that that is the case for any other source of fear. (The DM could houserule otherwise, of course.) The mechanics of a particular spell don't necessarily have implications on how other spells or conditions work. I see what you mean, though. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Aug 22, 2018 at 1:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've added the related part of the description, thank you. \$\endgroup\$
    – FenrirG
    Aug 22, 2018 at 1:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ To be fair, having the source of your fear under your grappled control makes some sense too... then fleeing if/when they break out and endanger you again. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 22, 2018 at 2:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ While you may not want to hug something, if that something is hugging you; and you're afraid of it - were I DM, I'd give a BONUS to grapple checks to escape and flee (though, negatives to any other grapple action); because fear to that degree allows people to perform superhuman feats. \$\endgroup\$
    – UKMonkey
    Aug 22, 2018 at 12:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you saying that the Fear spell will prevent the "carry along movement" or not (with the "must move away" requirement)? Can you be explicit, and include your reasoning? \$\endgroup\$
    – Yakk
    Aug 22, 2018 at 13:37

You can grapple and move a creature you're frightened of.

The Cause Fear spell simply causes the frightened condition and has no other effect:

The target must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or become Frightened of you. The frightened target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns.

The Frightened condition says:

The creature can’t willingly move closer to the source of its fear.

But moving a creature you are grappling does not require you to move closer to the grappled creature. You're already as close as you can possibly get, in that you're literally touching.

So even when frightened, moving a grappled creature functions as it normally would:

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.

However, you'd have disadvantage on the Strength check to maintain the grapple if the source of fear tried to escape.

More powerful effects, like that of the Fear spell, place additional requirements on the frightened creature:

While frightened by this spell, a creature must take the Dash action and move away from you by the safest available route on each of its turns, unless there is nowhere to move.

But the Frightened condition by itself (as caused by the Cause Fear spell, Wrathful Smite, or a dragon's Frightful Presence) does not have this more powerful effect.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Obviously frightened condiotioned gives disadvantage to all ability checks that is pretty clear. Was just interested in how the move closer aspect interacts with the monster trying to move you. It's seems slighlty strange that something that can't move closer to you can push you towards something but can't move closer. But i think RAW that is how it should work. This is how the DM ruled it at the table which seems reasonable. \$\endgroup\$
    – Agent DM
    Aug 22, 2018 at 1:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you saying that the Dash+move requirement demands that the creature stop dragging the grappled person, or that they are free to Dash and move and carry while "moving away"? \$\endgroup\$
    – Yakk
    Aug 22, 2018 at 13:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ You can't move away from a creature you're grappling, so you'd have to end the grapple. \$\endgroup\$
    – Apocalisp
    Aug 22, 2018 at 13:45

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