The scenario:

Fighter McFighterson has found himself between two opponents. He decides that he is best-off by grappling both of them so that his team can fire away. Maybe he'll pin them later with his Grappler feat, who knows?

McFighterson Succeeds and now has an enemy in each hand.


Can Fighter McFighterson make attacks against either (or both) of his two grappled opponents?

Either Unarmed Attacks, or using each of them as an improvised weapon against the other.


Related: What is an unarmed strike
Related: Enemies as Weapons

  • How can you grapple two creatures at once? – Kieveli Nov 8 at 19:17
  • Related: increasing grappler utility – goodguy5 Nov 8 at 19:20
  • 3
    @Kieveli Grappling only requires the use of one hand. – goodguy5 Nov 8 at 19:20
  • Which is pretty limiting. No leg grapples. Unless DM okays it :D – cde Nov 9 at 2:16
  • I think, though I'm not certain of my source, that I've read that if you have more than two arms you can even make weapon attacks or cast spells. While two hands are taken for grapples, you can still stab/slice/clobber/cast with the remaining free hand(s). Are you interested in "all of my hands are taken by grappling" or "exactly two of my hands are taken by grappling but I might have others free"? – Pilchard123 Nov 9 at 9:43
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Yes, you can make as many unarmed attacks as you can utilizing your Attack action, any Extra Attacks, or any Bonus Action1 against either or both of those grappled target.

If you want to attack them with unarmed strikes in the same turn that you have grappled them then you:

  1. will need to have spent from your attack action using to successfully grapple each opponent .
  2. Have them within reach.
  3. Have a free hand per opponent.
  4. Be no smaller than one size smaller than your target (PHB page 195):

    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. Using at least one free hand...

  5. Use any remaining extra attacks or bonus action attacks to make your unarmed strikes.

Note the rules governing unarmed strikes that needn't require a free hand as they aren't a weapon, or that the strike be a punch. You may strike either target with your available knee, foot, head, mutant 3rd arm, etc.

PHB Errata V1 DTD 2015:

Melee Attacks (p. 195). The rule on unarmed strikes should read as follows: “Instead of using a weapon to make a melee weapon attack, you can use an unarmed strike: a punch, kick, head-butt, or similar forceful blow (none of which count as weapons). On a hit, an unarmed strike deals bludgeoning damage equal to 1 + your Strength modifier. You are proficient with your unarmed strikes.”

If you want to attack them on the round after you have grappled them, then all attacks you can use during your Attack action and any bonus action attacks can be used to make unarmed strikes against those grappled opponents.


1 - For clarity, I understand that, and intend to communicate that: a PC may only use a bonus action to make this unarmed attack if they have some sort of ability/feature/item that would grant them the ability to make it. One cannot simply decide to use a bonus action and punch/kick/head-butt something. Thank you various reputable users from the comment section for your helpful advice and discussion.

  • How is the Fighter gaining access to bonus action unarmed strikes? – David Coffron Nov 8 at 19:38
  • @DavidCoffron I'm reading "any bonus action" as indicating if you have a bonus action for attacking, then it can be used in the same fashion. IOW Token isn't expecting to know every possible source of lowercase-a-attacks and leaves the door open that someone could use a bonus action attack this way. Am I reading you right, Token? – nitsua60 Nov 8 at 19:45
  • 1
    Yes @nitusa60 "any bonus action if one is available through any unaccounted for feature/trait/ability that all collectively may be too numerous to list". That is, I think, as accurately as I can put it. Basically, if you have a bonus unarmed strike somehow, go for it. – Token Nov 8 at 19:48
  • For clarity, the only official way right now to gain a bonus action unarmed strike at the moment is through the Martial Arts monk feature and the War Priest cleric feature; but your answer is future proofed so no problems from me. :) – David Coffron Nov 8 at 19:56
  • @Token You may want to revise the wording of the answer itself with edits, since comments are only temporary, and votes are on the wording of the answer rather than answer+comments. – SevenSidedDie Nov 8 at 19:58

Yes, McFighterson the fighter can.

From the PHB errata:

Melee Attacks (p. 195). The rule on unarmed strikes should read as follows: “Instead of using a weapon to make a melee weapon attack, you can use an unarmed strike: a punch, kick, head-butt, or similar forceful blow (none of which count as weapons). On a hit, an unarmed strike deals bludgeoning damage equal to 1 + your Strength modifier. You are proficient with your unarmed strikes.”

Cut and dry. He can even multi-attack with unarmed attacks such as: headbutts, knee blows or kicks.

Weapon attacks for the fighter would require at least one hand free, but unarmed attacks now clearly have no such restriction.

  • Just not for a ton of damage :) – NautArch Nov 8 at 19:35
  • 1
    Sure. But its not always about the damage :). Those two goons are ready to fail any dex checks thrown at them and (if this was at my table) disadvantage (advantage to the checking PC) on Intimidation checks to drop combat all together. – BaronBart Nov 8 at 19:42
  • I like this; any smart fighter should know how to use their head... – Matthieu M. Nov 9 at 7:35
  • No one said grappling two is a good idea, but it works. – András Nov 9 at 9:36

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