The party are at an elemental cult's shrine. The cleric contributed to the desecration of the shrine when she stuck a javelin with continual flame burning into the ground (for RP reasons). That makes her the target.
Proposed method to bury / drown / suffocate this cleric
Earth elemental burrows up out of the ground and grapples cleric. Cleric's Strength is 13, Earth Elemental's is 20. This is a standard PHB grapple attempt, not a special grapple attack in the monster's stat block. Assume that the earth elemental is successful in this attempt.
- 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.
- Salient stat block issues: EE Burrow movement speed is 30. EE has two slam attacks (under Multi-attack). It can try to grapple her once.
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.
Two different ways this goes down (yeah, pun intended).
Elemental begins 5' under the earth's surface, burrows up (moves 5 or 10 feet), grapples cleric, and then moves 20' remaining (divided by two, so 10 feet of movement remaining) under ground. This does not leave a hole, per earth glide's text: the elemental doesn't disturb the material it moves through (MM, Earth Glide)
Elemental encounters the party, engages, grabs the cleric with a grapple, and then moves 15' straight down under ground.
In either case, the cleric suffocates until enough rounds have passed to kill her (18 Constitution, she'll last a little while), or, the party figures out a way to dig her out before she suffocates 5', 10', or 15' under the ground. The cleric has no burrowing speed, nor access to earth glide via items, spells, or features.
Does this work like I think it does?
Can a creature who can enter a terrain that another creature can't, bring that other creature into that terrain? I know a water elemental can do this, but most PCs easily enter into water. Can a earth elemental do this with earth in a similar fashion?
A note on drowning: the picture I had in my head was of the earth elemental bursting up out of the ground, and then pulling the character under ground. This is similar to a sea monster, or a water weird, reaching up to pull a character into the water to drown them. That is where the idea of "drowning" the PC in the earth like that comes from, although it is strictly more of a suffocating, smothering, burying alive in a literal sense.