While DMing my session today, I encountered a situation I wasn't sure how to answer. The PCs were attacked by a werewolf and decided to flee onto their nearby horses. Two of them were already mounted and two of them were on foot. One player on the ground (a wizard) attempted to cast a spell on the werewolf and failed. He then moved closer to the mounts but couldn't make it with his speed. After a few turns it was the barbarian's turn. The barbarian wanted to drag the wizard with him and plop the wizard onto a horse and then mount with his remaining movement speed.

I wasn't sure quite how to handle it, so I made a compromise. I allowed the barbarian to drag the wizard. However, because the rules specifically state that it takes half of a character's movement to mount, I wouldn't allow the barbarian to force the wizard to mount. However, if the barbarian wanted to, he could mount the horse himself as he had enough remaining movement.

The reason I allowed the barbarian to drag the wizard is because of the lifting, dragging, and pushing rules in chapter 7 of the Player's Handbook. The barbarian had more than enough strength to push our tiny, lightweight wizard around.

I'm not really sure if I handled it right at all. I'm not entirely sure that those rules apply to living beings, especially living beings that can move. I would really appreciate some advice on whether or not players can drag other players after their (the player who is being dragged) turn is over or if players can drag other players at all. If I recall correctly, I believe the wizard still had about 5' of movement left, if it makes a difference.


From page 74 of the 5e Basic Rules:

When you move, you can drag or carry the grappled creature with you, but your speed is halved, unless the creature is two or more sizes smaller than you.

Or in the PHB p.195:

When you move, you can drag or carry the grapplee with you, but your speed is halved, unless the creature is two or more sizes smaller than you.

So yes, you can grapple someone and then drag them. Now in this case the real unanswered rules question is that you are dealing with an "unopposed grapple" - the wizard isn't looking to avoid it, so does the barbarian need to roll to hit or what? I normally allow such a move to succeed if unopposed, unless it's the prototypical "guy is falling down a pit/off a wagon/etc" situation where there's a question of whether the barbarian could easily lay his hands on the wizard in the first place.

Keep in mind they'd both be grappled, and the barbarian possibly encumbered, while doing all this, though you can disengage a grapple at will. But other than that, sounds like you handled it fine. The barbarian could probably have mounted his horse still carrying the wizard along, as he could also lift him (see the push, drag, and lift rules under Strength, you can do all three to the same weight for a given Strength). Actually getting the wizard to mount another horse would probably incur the same "half movement" cost as mounting it himself.

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I'd like to point the fact, that the actions are happening simultaneously, and that complicates matters quite a bit. But it makes more plausible - the barbarian is not dragging life-less body that used all its move, the whole thing is dynamic: they both run, barbarian overtakes the wizard and picks him up on his way.

Assuming that barbarian is further from the horse, the barbarian and the wizard will meet at one point, but it is neither ones starting position, nor at the wizards max range. That means that barbarian would have to carry/drag wizard longer than it would appear. If the barbarian is closer to the horse, then he would have to actually wait for the wizard to catch up to him, and that means that he's forfeiting part of this time.

On the other hand a willing wizard should be considered as AT MOST an item to pick up, or even better - he hold to the barbarian by himself, reducing the inconvenience and time necessary for pick up. If the wizard weights little enough to fit in barbarians carry capacity, then rules for encumbrance should apply to decide how much the barbarian will be slowed down. My guess is - not much.

To avoid doing too much math, I'd probably calculate for the worse than worst case scenario (from the wizard starting position), and see if the barbarian would be able to make it while encumbered by a load equal to wizards weight (and his belongings, unless he drops whatever he carries). If the numbers are close (remember, it's actually worse than worst-case scenario), then I'd allow the guys to ride off ON THE SAME HORSE, wizard basically being a backpack for the barbarian. For the barb to put the wiz on another horse - don't think so, although one could argue, that he just drops him next to one and both of them jump on their respective horses.

The actual math is a wee bit complicated - basically:

D - distance from barbarian to wizard
Sb, Sw - barbarian, wizard speed
X - overtake point, when barbarian picks the wizard up

       X/Sw = (X+D)/Sb
          X = (X+D) * Sw/Sb
          X = X*Sw/Sb + D*Sw/Sb
 X - X*Sw/Sb = D*Sw/Sb
X(1 - Sw/Sb) = D * Sw/Sb
          X = D * Sw/Sb / (1 - Sw/Sb)

If the D = 5ft, Sw = 30ft, Sb = 45ft, then:
X = 5 * 30/45 / (1 - 30/45) = 5 * 2/3 * 3 = 10ft

Therefore the barbarian goes 15ft with his full speed, then picks up the wizard and the rest of the way he makes possibly encumbered.

PS Math is not necessarily correct, I don't have pen&paper on hand ;)

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It doesn't need to be that complicated.

The barbarian had more than enough strength to push our tiny, lightweight wizard around.

End of discussion. Task accomplished.

Sure, the wizard cannot "mount" the horse, but the wizard is being forcibly moved so, by all means the barbarian can throw him on the back of a horse. The wizard is not resisting so this isn't something you need to consult the grapple or shove rules for. Unless there's some compelling reason to draw this out, where something very interesting happens on failure, it should only take a moment to resolve at the game table and shouldn't require any rolls.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Unless something very interesting happens on failure You mean like being the only unmounted character with a werewolf attacking? This is precisely the reason the rules don't stop on page 6's statement that "The players describe what they want to do, The DM narrates the results of the adventurers' actions." This answer could really benefit from a closer look at how the rules deal with the kind of interaction described, which is what the OP is asking for. \$\endgroup\$ – Rykara Jul 27 at 23:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rykara I do not. You might. \$\endgroup\$ – Wyrmwood Jul 28 at 17:43

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