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Reading the description of manacles, they don't seem to actually do anything rules-wise mechanically when used. Am I missing something or am I just being too literal?

Do the manacles actually mechanically impact the creature that they're on?

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Manacles do not have a mechanical effect as defined by the rules

Manacles are defined in the rules as follows:

These metal restraints can bind a Small or Medium creature. Escaping the manacles requires a successful DC 20 Dexterity check. Breaking them requires a successful DC 20 Strength check. Each set of manacles comes with one key. Without the key, a creature proficient with thieves' tools can pick the manacles' lock with a successful DC 15 Dexterity check. Manacles have 15 hit points.

Manacles literally "bind a creature", what this mechanically causes to happen would be entirely up to a GM.

If you wanted manacles that have more of an effect you would need the Dimensional Shackles which state:

You can use an action to place these shackles on an incapacitated creature. The shackles adjust to fit a creature of Small to Large size. In addition to serving as mundane manacles, the shackles prevent a creature bound by them from using any method of extradimensional movement, including teleportation or travel to a different plane of existence. They don't prevent the creature from passing through an interdimensional portal.

There are several other items which similarly have no mechanical benefits (or even less than manacles) such as: a Mess Kit, a Chain, Grappling Hook, Hammer, Sledgehammer, Miner's Pick, Piton, Iron Spikes, and a Whetstone. All of these either lack descriptions entirely or their descriptions do not mention any mechanical effect the item has (such is the case with the Chain and the Mess Kit)

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    \$\begingroup\$ note: since they're referred to as "metal restraints", it would be easy to conclude that they cause the "restrained" condition, even though it's not technically stated \$\endgroup\$ Aug 29 '19 at 18:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PixelMaster Actually I don't agree, the restrained condition prevents moving. Locking somebody's wrists together would in no way prevent them from moving \$\endgroup\$
    – Medix2
    Aug 29 '19 at 18:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Isn't the condition going to depend on how the manacles are used? If you're bound to a post you're Restrained, if you're bound hand and foot you're maybe Incapacitated, and most other ways of applying them aren't really covered by any condition. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Aug 29 '19 at 18:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MarkWells Maybe? Most things in 5e though specifically say if/what condition gets applied. I guess a DM can always rule how they want, but I was hoping that if they had intended these to do something, they'd have said it. BUt that's why I asked if i was being too literal :D \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Aug 29 '19 at 19:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ What about preventing the use of somatic components, which require "free use of at least one hand"? (Possibly also material components, although it seems less clear in that case.) \$\endgroup\$ Aug 31 '19 at 14:23
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There is a problem that can easily happen when trying to define the use of an item, especially the general use items like manacles, or rope:

whether made of hemp or silk, has 2 hit points and can be burst with a DC 17 Strength check.

What you don't want to happen, as the designer of the text, is for the description to be so specific that it allows for strange and weird behavior that is opposed to common sense of how the object is being used in any particular occurrence.

For instance, if it was declared that the object gives any specific condition, or prohibits specific kinds of actions, manacles could be attached with each end to two separate creatures and both of these creatures would have this condition, even though that's not really how manacles actually work.

You could continue to add to the mechanics, specifying how manacles or rope can be used and all the different effects that each different usage would have on the creatures involved, but doing so is either going to be an entire book by itself, "I'd like to see them take into account creatures with more limbs than four, or random usages like using them to zip line", or there's going to be limiting number of options, which is entirely against the nature of d&d.

Instead, the game does not attempt to describe what specific effects happen from the "binding" that manacles have, letting the DM interpret how they might be binding things together and what that means for the situation, and instead focuses on what can be done to the manacles and the DC of commonly-attempted actions against them to end the effects.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this has the bones of a very good answer, but there's a problems with it (for me.): you are assigning intent to the designers, which is nearly impossible without direct quotes and something we generally try to avoid. I think the guidance here at the end makes sense, but you should also answer the question directly on whether there are mechanics/conditions. It's even better if you can support how you've treated it in game in various circumstances rather than just talking theoretically (subjective answers still need support!) \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Aug 30 '19 at 19:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Let us continue this discussion in chat. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 30 '19 at 20:14
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None of the conditions fit having wrists, ankles, or both bound by manacles.

It seems clear that being bound by manacles is intended as a source of frequent Disadvantage, at the DM's discretion.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Why does that seem clear? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Aug 30 '19 at 16:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TheoBrinkman: Comments are for asking for clarification or suggesting improvements to the answer, not for disagreeing/argumentation. If you feel you have a different answer to the question, you can leave your own answer separately. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Sep 7 '19 at 0:17

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