If you have a Warlock that has the Warcaster feat, could you grapple the enemy, then Witch Bolt it the next round? You only need one free hand to cast with Warcaster, and only one free hand to grapple. Casting an attack spell in melee would be at disadvantage, but if you hit, as long it doesn't break free, or break the Warlock's concentration, you would hold the creature in place and continuously Witch Bolt it, correct? I understand that Grappling doesn't prevent the enemy from attacking you either, it just reduces its movement to zero.


There is nothing to prevent a character from casting Witch Bolt on a target that the character has grappled.

Grappling places the target in the grappled condition which reduces their movement to zero. It only takes one hand free per Page 74 of the 5e Basic Player Rules.

Using at least one free hand, you try to seize the target by making a grapple check,...

Allowing you to cast Witch Bolt with the other free hand due to the rule on Somatic spell components on page 205 of the PHB

Spellcasting gestures might include a forceful gesticulation or an intricate set of gestures. If a spell requires a somatic component, the caster must have free use of at least one hand to perform these gestures.

However the target of the grapple is free to attack the person who is grappling him. Which will cause concentration checks if damage is done to the caster.

Also as a house rule, a referee may decide that because Witch Bolt is a lightning effect and since the caster is grappling the target, that the caster is subject to the effects of the spell due to how electricity and lightning works in the real world. Again this is not in the RAW rules, it would be a house rule. I am mention because in my experience it is common for referee apply what they know of real life to various rulings even in a fantasy game like D&D.

While it is useful in that it prevent the target from moving beyond the 30 foot range of the spell, the fact the target can still attack means that it is likely that concentration checks will ensue. If failed it negates the point of casting the Witch Bolt in the first place. Combined with the disadvantaged ranged spell attack roll makes this a marginal tactic in my opinion.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ although I agree it's probably not the best tactic, standing 10' away and witch bolting is probably better, the idea of grappling a caster from behind and wichbolting the hell out of them, seems like a fun visual during roleplaying. Thanks for your answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Killer_Kelly May 21 '15 at 17:48
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Get someone else to grapple them! \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M May 22 '15 at 4:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Killer_Kelly, the thing is the spell is only has a 30' range versus the typical movement rate so pinning down the target is useful. It may not be this method but you are on the right track. \$\endgroup\$ – RS Conley May 22 '15 at 12:15
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The bit about the lightning affecting the caster doesn't make sense. You're already tethered to the target by the witch bolt in the description, so it's already attached to you. Since it's not hurting you then, a ruling that you would take lightning damage due to grappling is nonsense that is inconsistent with the spell description. This would like shocking grasp hurting you when you're grappling somebody. \$\endgroup\$ – Lino Frank Ciaralli Apr 11 '17 at 13:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.