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When a vampire hits a creature with its Unarmed Strike attack and chooses to grapple it instead of dealing damage, the creature has an escape DC of 18.

However, if I cast Hex on the vampire and choose to give him disadvantage on his Strength ability checks, does that lower the escape DC for the grapple?

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No, disadvantage on ability checks doesn't affect the fixed DC

If a vampire makes an unarmed strike attack and the attack is successful, it can choose to grapple instead of dealing damage. (MM, p. 297) Interestingly, the DC is already set as with other monster grapple attacks. The Vampire does not make a Strength (Athletics) check as is described in the Combat chapter in the Player's Handbook (p. 195).

So, the Vampire's grapple attack is a "monster grapple" with a set DC. The Vampire does not roll a Strength (Athletics) check. Also, remember that to break free from the grapple you can use either Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics).

Escaping a Grapple. 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 [or the Vampire's] Strength (Athletics) check.

The disadvantage caused by the Hex spell will not improve the creature's chance to break free from the Vampire's

But... you could tackle this from other angles:

  • you reduce the Vampire's chance to hit in the first place, e.g. cast Protection from Evil and Good before
  • you increase the creature's AC before facing the Vampire, again reducing the chance the Vampire's attack roll is successful
  • you improve the chances to succeed in the ability check, e.g. cast Guidance or Enhance Ability (Bull's Strength)
  • you provide assistance by using your action to Help, which provides advantage on the Athletics/Acrobatics check to break free

I hope this helps.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Another option would be to force the grapple to end by pulling or pushing either the grappled target it the vampire \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Jan 1 at 0:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks Medix2 - can you explain this a bit more. Would that pushing/pulling add a bonus or advantage to the Str/Dex skill check of the the creature that is currently grappled and trying to break free? \$\endgroup\$ – Senmurv Jan 1 at 12:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ya know, I'm unsure on that stuff... I moreso meant that any means of forcing the grappler and grappled to become separated would also end an ongoing grapple \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Jan 2 at 4:17

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