Can a character grab the same creature twice? Can a monster do that?

The rules say that sustaining a grab occupies whatever appendage was used to initiate the grab and it takes a minor action to sustain a grab.

My questions is what happens if a creature that's already grabbing a creature with one hand attempts to grab it with the second hand also. Is it possible at all? If so, will the grabber have to spend two minor actions to sustain the grabs and would the grabbed creature have to make two escape checks to escape?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Under what circumstances are you figuring this would come up? To me, this feels like a very inefficient way to spent one's turn. \$\endgroup\$ – Purple Monkey Dec 26 '14 at 13:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ We had a monster that had a damaging-grabbing attack. We want to figure out if it can double-grab us. \$\endgroup\$ – Petr Hudeček Dec 26 '14 at 13:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ You might want to consider adding that (including what monster it was) to your question. \$\endgroup\$ – Purple Monkey Dec 26 '14 at 13:16

Probably yes, but more probably, this was a rules blank and you should talk about this with your group to come up with a definite yes or no. The Grab and Escape rules don't prohibit it. Problematically they don't appear to acknowledge the possibility of this either, whilst in the Rules Compendium they've at least created some rules around the case of multiple creatures each grabbing the same one. We've got what we've got though.

Core sources that comment on this are: Player's Handbook (grab p290, escape p288), Rules Compendium (grab and escape p243, the grabbed condition p231), Monster Vault (grabbed condition p307, worth noting for if there's anything specific for monster rules by this point). The RC and MV both talk about the grab occupying the "appendage, object or effect" used to initiate the grab, but "effect" here probably means something physical along the lines of an object or appendage, not that it occupies the power('s effect).

Since each grab costs a standard action, however, doing this would involve using up an action point to make two grabs in one turn. Then you can only sustain the grabs for as long as you keep spending two actions per turn on sustaining them, whilst you can't do anything else.

If your GM has used a monster with a power that could allow it to grab multiple times, it might have specific stuff to say on this topic, and you'd be in the territory of whatever those say.

Escaping afterwards

The mechanics of escape however will differ depending on whether you're using the PHB - the earliest version of the rules - or the RC - the latest version. In both versions, you have to Grab someone first (PHB 290, RC 243) and they have to use the Escape action to break free (PHB 288, RC 243 again) as a move action.

  • In the Player's Handbook rules, nobody probably even considered this. No clear word on whether you have to escape each grab individually or can just escape being grabbed altogether.
  • In the Rules Compendium, they had considered this. An Escape attempt when "multiple sources" are grabbing you requires just one escape attempt to break free of all of them, but the Escape attempt is harder for each additional source. One person grabbing you twice probably counts as "additional source."

Of course, being teleported out of the grabs or otherwise halting the grabber will end all of them immediately as usual.

This could be a bit of a headache to resolve for the same monster grabbing you twice, so I suggest your group work out how to handle it. I recommend adopting the Rules Compendium's stance and interpreting each grab as another "source."


Looking at the Kraken I am hard pressed to see any reason that a creature with extra grabbing limbs should get multiple attempts on the same target. The extra reach merely gives it extra targets, and a racial ability allows it to sustain every grab with the same minor action. It very explicitly states the multiple targets, but never multiple effects on a singular target.

No matter how many limbs, only one grab applies to a given target

Now, if this were something like 7th Sea you could spend an action to strengthen your hold but without specific, special rules, it doesn't matter if you have a dozen limbs or an articulate flipper.


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