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Say a player character attempts to move away from a creature, provoking an opportunity attack. The creature has an attack that will grapple an opponent if they are hit (e.g. Vampire Spawn's claw attack).

The rules state:

You can make an Opportunity Attack when a hostile creature that you can see moves out of your reach.

If the player character is hit by the opportunity attack, are they grappled?
If they are, how far away are they from the Creature?
Or, is it the case that the creature couldn't grapple the PC at all as part of the opportunity attack?

Intuitively I would say that if you're grappled then you're dragged back to within 5ft of the creature, but since the opportunity attack happens when you leave their reach (see quoted text) does it really make sense for them to be able to grapple?

Should the text read "when a hostile creature attempts to move out of your reach"?

Interpreting the rules as written, what happens here, and where does it leave the PC at the end of their movement?

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Depends on the reach of the grappling creature

Opportunity Attacks occur when

...a hostile creature that you can see moves out of your reach

Where the grappling occurs will entirely depend on the reach of the creature grappling. If they have a 5' reach, then the grappled creature remains 5' away. If they have a 10' reach, then the grappled creature remains 10' away. It's all about the distance they are at when the fleeing creature leaves the reach of the grappling creature.

The Vampire Spawn

In the case in question, a Vampire Spawn has a 5' reach on their Claws Attack.

+6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 8 (2d4 + 3) slashing damage. Instead of dealing damage, the vampire can grapple the target (escape DC 13).

If they choose to use this melee weapon attack for an Opportunity Attack, then the fleeing creature would be grappled at 5' (next to) the Spawn.

Some creatures can draw their grappled creature in

The Roper has a 50' reach(!) on their Tendril Attack which grapples its target on a successful hit.

This then pairs with its Reel Action that

pulls each creature grappled by it up to 25 feet straight toward it.

This is the type of effect you were imagining, but it is only active on creatures who have that specific ability.

All other creatures simply grapple the creature via an Opportunity Attack at the point in which they would leave the reach/range of the grappler.

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  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Recommend using Roper as an example. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jan 31 at 15:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Thank you! i was looking for that creature action to show the counter :) \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jan 31 at 15:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the great answer - as a secondary point, does this mean that the attack of opportunity resolves just before the point at which the victim moves out of the attackers reach? Presumably if it didn't they wouldn't be able to reach their victim. \$\endgroup\$ – Andy F Jan 31 at 20:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AndyF No problem! That's good other question to ask, but I think you've got it right :) \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jan 31 at 20:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AndyF: Yes: "You can make an opportunity attack when a hostile creature that you can see moves out of your reach. To make the opportunity attack, you use your reaction to make one melee attack against the provoking creature. The attack occurs right before the creature leaves your reach." \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jan 31 at 22:08

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