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Among other things, the Gaseous Form spell allows a creature to

pass through small holes, narrow openings, and even mere cracks

The spell does not explicitly make the creature immune to the grappled or restrained conditions, so presumably despite being gaseous, the creature can still be grappled or restrained. However, it seems that the ability to pass through small cracks unimpeded would enable a gaseous creature to escape from any non-airtight mundane restraint in a manner similar to Freedom of Movement, since the spaces between a person's fingers and the rings of a pair of manacles would both seem to fit the above definition of what the creature is able to pass through.

So, can a creature affected by Gaseous Form be grappled or restrained? If so, can it escape from a non-magical, non-airtight grapple or restraint using its ability to pass through small spaces?

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    \$\begingroup\$ As might be imagined, this came up while I was comparing the texts of Wind Walk and Gaseous Form for this other question. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan Thompson May 2 at 20:48
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You are substantial enough to be attacked by mundane weapons, so you are substantial enough to be restrained/grappled

I understand that this seems illogical to grapple a gaseous form, but the primary problems are that it doesn't state immunity to those conditions and that the form itself is mechanically able to be interacted in a mundane manner via attacks.

There is nothing in gaseous form that states it makes you immune to either Grappled or Restrained conditions and spells do what they say and no more.

Because it doesn't state that it provides immunity to those conditions, then it doesn't provide immunity to those conditions.

Mundane interaction with the gaseous form

While the spell does state that worn/carried objects can't be interacted with, it does not say that the creature can't be interacted with. In fact it also states that it is susceptible to mundane damage:

The target has resistance to nonmagical damage...

While in the form of a misty cloud, the target can't talk or manipulate objects, and any objects it was carrying or holding can't be dropped, used, or otherwise interacted with. The target can't attack or cast spells.

If you can still be bludgeoned, pierced, or slashed while in gaseous form, then it's not unreasonable to also allow being grappled or restrained. There is clearly enough substantial matter left.

It's weird to think about, but while in gaseous form the target can still be grappled or restrained - just like it can be hurt by a mundane weapon.

What about the clause regarding openings/cracks?

To answer your concern quoted in the question regarding cracks/narrow openings, the problem isn't that it can use those - the problem is that you have no movement to use them.

If you are under the effects of Grappled/Restrained, then your speed is zero. If your speed is zero, then you can see those opening/cracks, but you can't utilize them to escape.

A grappled creature's speed becomes 0, and it can't benefit from any bonus to its speed.

A restrained creature's speed becomes 0, and it can't benefit from any bonus to its speed.

Without being able to move due to having their speed set to 0, they simply can't take advantage of those small openings.

It's not that they are paralyzed and can't do anything, it's just that if they are under those conditions, then they have no speed and therefore no movement to leave. The only way they can leave is by first removing the condition or by moving without using movement (misty step, dimension door, etc.)

Counterexample: freedom of movement

Had the rules allowed for immunity to these conditions, they could have utilized the language found in the spell freedom of movement:

The target can also spend 5 feet of movement to automatically escape from nonmagical restraints, such as manacles or a creature that has it grappled.

Without the use of this, or any other, clause, the implication is that the normal rules apply.

Counterexample: Monsters

There are monsters that are immune to the grappled condition. Many of them have similar 'properties' to that of gaseous form (air elemental, i'm looking at you), but each of them specifically state they are immune to the grappled condition.

It is that listed immunity which provides the immunity. Without it...they aren't.

As another example here, the gray ooze can fit with openings as narrow as 1 inch without squeezing. And it's an ooze. And this ooze can be grappled.

How can it escape?

The same way every other grappled creature can. They can either magically move themselves with an action/bonus action with spells like misty step or dimension door, or they can use their action to try and break the grapple with a contested ability check.

A grappled creature can use its action to escape. To do so, it must succeed on a Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check contested by your Strength (Athletics) check.

Being able to pass through small openings doesn't give you a free grapple removal (if it did, it would say so as in the freedom of movement spell.) It enables you to pass through small openings when you actually have movement to pass through them.

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    \$\begingroup\$ In your experience, does anyone take this interpretation seriously at the table? \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells May 3 at 15:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you sure movement is required to use the ability to fit through small openings? It seems it could just as well apply to flailing about trying to escape from a grapple. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan Thompson May 3 at 16:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ In that case how does anyone ever escape being grappled? "Your speed is zero, so your movement is zero, so you are literally unable to move any part of your body, so you will stay here being grappled forever." \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells May 3 at 16:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Zero movement is not the same as being paralyzed. You could still try to pull your arm out of the enemy's grip, and if the ability to pass through small openings applies, the escape attempt would automatically succeed, at which point you regain your ability to move away from the grappler. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan Thompson May 3 at 16:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ You remove a grapple by using an action to attempt to do so. Until then, you suffer the conditions. You can do other things, you just have a speed of 0 until condition ends. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 3 at 16:24
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A character in gaseous form can be grappled or restrained, but doesn't have to remain so.

The spell does not specifically grant immunity to the conditions. So they're not immune to them. However, it does grant them some methods for readily escaping.

Keeping a character under the effect of gaseous form restrained would require containment that does not have "small holes, narrow openings, nor mere cracks", because the gaseous form spell explicitly states that they can move through openings like those.

Example

Gary the gaseous is escaping from some brutish fellows.

  1. Gary casts gaseous form and moves away.
  2. A brute grapples Gary, and the fellows move in to attack.
  3. Gary's player asks the DM if there are any narrow openings or cracks between the hold the brute has on him.
  4. The DM responds with yes.
  5. The player states that Gary moves through these as the spell says he can, and removes himself from the grapple.
  6. the DM narrates the surprise and confounded look on the brute's face.
  7. Gary, being free from the grapple, continues his flight away from the brutes.

This works because having a move speed of 0, as from grappled condition, does not mean the character is paralyzed. They just cannot move out of their square. Since passing through the small cracks or openings in the grip of the grappler doesn't require moving out of their square and the spell explicitly allows it, it's hard to keep a gaseous Gary grappled.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you support your 2nd paragraph, especially with the speed changes from those conditions. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 2 at 21:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch If you can move through whatever is "restraining" you, then it's not restraining you. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells May 3 at 4:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MarkWells If you're restrained/grappled, then your speed is zero. If your speed is zero, you can't move. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 3 at 14:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ I tend to agree with @Naut, but I would agree with this answer, too, if it was reframed as "rule of cool." \$\endgroup\$ – Rykara May 3 at 17:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rykara spells are pretty cool. \$\endgroup\$ – GcL May 3 at 18:20

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