The question requires a two-part answer:

  1. Does a character affected by Freedom of Movement need to make a successful grapple check to use the Move action, or would success be automatic?
  2. If successfully using the Move action, is a character affected by freedom of movement able to move the grapple by its full movement speed or only half?


You can move half your speed (bringing all others engaged in the grapple with you) by winning an opposed grapple check. This requires a standard action, and you must beat all the other individual check results to move the grapple.

Note: You get a +4 bonus on your grapple check to move a pinned opponent, but only if no one else is involved in the grapple.

The main issue to consider is how the Freedom of Movement effect works on the other characters in the grapple. Is the only bonus granted in a grapple the ability to simply leave the grapple whenever desired, or does it work more like encumbrance reduction and allow the character to move at full speed (dragging others along) when it would otherwise be unable to do so?


1 Answer 1


The 4th-level cleric spell freedom of movement [abjur] (Player's Handbook 233) is notoriously vague. (See this question.) The most liberal reading of the spell allows the subject to move normally through walls, while the most conservative reading views the spell's even in the first sentence of the spell's description as and therefore limiting the subject to exactly and only the effects the spell mentions by name. (My experience has been that most folks fall somewhere in between.)

That means you should ask your DM. However, I can explain how I'd rule on the two issues the question raises.

  • Must the subject of a freedom of movement effect make a successful grapple check to exercise the grapple option move? Yes. This DM would rule that just because the subject of the freedom of movement effect can automatically succeed on grapple checks to escape a grapple, here the subject is not. Instead, the subject is trying to bring a struggling opponent with whom the subject is grappling to a different place of the battlefield. The freedom of movement effect is of no help in this task.
  • If the subject of a freedom of movement effect successfully exercises the grapple option move action, can the subject move its full speed? No. In this DM's campaigns a freedom of movement effect includes neither the ability to carry excessive weight and still move and attack normally nor the ability to move at normal speed while wearing medium or heavy armor. Hauling around a struggling opponent, to this DM, falls into the same general category as those two ideas.

Again, the freedom of movement spell is enormously unclear on what it covers, and a player should expect every DM to have made different house rules to enable the spell's functionality. One DM's freedom of movement is highly unlikely to be exactly the same as another DM's freedom of movement.

Note: My house rules actually say, "When there’s a question whether or not freedom of movement affects an effect, if the DM has no opinion, those present at the table table will vote, and the freedom of movement effect will affect or not affect that effect thereafter." My original plan for my house rules had me include a list of every possible thing in the game that the spell freedom of movement could and couldn't affect, but the list still remained unfinished after three pages. I excluded that incomplete list and included that blurb instead. It just seemed a better tack to take.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm struggling to see how reading "even" as "and" is "conservative", rather than obviously wrong. That just doesn't seem to be a possible, let alone reasonable, interpretation of that text to me. Could you elaborate on how that specific conclusion was reached (by you or the other person you were playing with)? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 9, 2019 at 15:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AnthonyGrist "Conservative interpretation" as in "the spell does fewer things", vs "liberal interpretation" in that "the spell does more things". The spell does not describe what it does in anything except the listed circumstances mechanically; which means everything else it does is DM/table fiat. In the limit, it does nothing but what it lists. Near that limit, it might do exactly what it lists, but also covers effects that are supernatural but not magical (say, a breath weapon the slows targets). \$\endgroup\$
    – Yakk
    Sep 9, 2019 at 18:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @yakk I think Anthony Grist's point is that changing "even" to "and" is not an interpretation, but a house rule to change the effect of the spell at from RAW, and imo he's not wrong \$\endgroup\$ Sep 9, 2019 at 20:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @WannabeWarlock Sure, but "and" is in a sense the "limiting case" of "even". A DM can choose what outside of "even" is included and what is not; some will permit more things, others less. In the extreme limit in one direction you can walk through walls; in the extreme limit in the other, there is nothing beyond the "even" that the DM permits. \$\endgroup\$
    – Yakk
    Sep 9, 2019 at 21:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @yakk Think of this statement: "this glue will stick to anything, even greasy marbles." There is literally no limiting factor -- if anyone interprets that statement to exclude anything, they are grossly misinterpreting. Now: "This spell enables you or a creature you touch to move and attack normally for the duration of the spell, even under the influence of magic that usually impedes movement, such as paralysis, solid fog, slow, and web." The "even ..." clause is equivalent to "even greasy marbles." I think that's his point, and it's the reason I haven't marked correct. I did up-vote, though. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 9, 2019 at 21:36

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