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The Plasmoid's Amorphous trait (from Ch. 1 of the Astral Adventurer's Guide in Spelljammer: Adventures in Space) says, in part:

[...] You have advantage on ability checks you make to initiate or escape a grapple.

Does "escape" include avoiding the grapple in the first place? Or does it only mean attempting to break out of an adversary's successful grapple?

In other words, do plasmoids make all grapple-related checks with advantage?

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2 Answers 2

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No. “Escaping a Grapple” is a specific mechanic.

The rules for grappling include a section called “Escaping a Grapple”:

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 Strength (Athletics) check.

When the plasmoid’s Amorphous trait refers to escaping a grapple, it is referring specifically to this mechanic.

One might make the case that the contesting check to avoid a grapple falls under “initiating grapple”, but I don’t find that reading particularly tenable.

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It is extremely likely the author meant this to be applied to all checks related to grappling.

The source of this confusion is that the author wrote 'you make to initiate'. This unfortunate phrasing implies that you only gain advantage when you are initiating a grapple, aka making the special attack (as part of the attack action) to begin a grapple, not defending against one being made against you - after all, you aren't making that check to initiate the grapple, right? You're making a check as part of that action to not initiate a grapple.

However, there is a more awkward and still applicable reading - you're making checks as part of [the process] to initiate a grapple. Which you are - someone is attempting to initiate a grapple, and you're rolling ability checks to see if they succeed.

The main thing though is that there is no indication in the text or other text related to plasmoids, that this should apply to only initiating grapples and the specific action to escape them. When abilities grant advantage (or other effects) to specific parts of checks or actions (such as in specific circumstances) they usually spell that out fairly explicitly. This ability reads much more like those that apply a blanket bonus to a type of action or check, and therefore I find it extremely likely that it was meant to apply to all instances of grapple ability checks that the plasmoid finds itself in.

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