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Consider this situation: you are facing an opponent who is standing on the border of difficult terrain. You are on a square directly in front of the opponent, but you are not standing on difficult terrain.

You begin your turn with the opponent already grappled. You drag the opponent through difficult terrain, while staying outside of it yourself. Is your movement speed affected because you're dragging someone through difficult terrain?

Scenario

This is a useful combination if you were somehow able to cast Spike Growth with the opponent standing on just the border, and (for flavor) you dragged your opponent's face on the ground after the grapple.

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A grappled creature has a movement speed of zero, so it can only be moved by the grappler (or an effect that forces it to move, like thunderwave).

Since the only movement that matters in a grapple is the creature/player doing the actual grappling, that's where the focus lies. The pertinent rules are as follows.

For the grappled target, under the PHB pg.290, title Conditions:

Grappled

• A grappled creature’s speed becomes 0, and it can't benefit from any bonus to its speed.

And for the rules as they apply to the creature/player doing the grappling; PHB pg.195:

Moving a Grappled Creature.

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.

This makes the physical location of the grappled creature entirely irrelevant by RAW since it's movement speed is zero anyways. All that matters is the grappler's location, and the terrain the grappler is moving across.

In addition, your specific scenario would also deal damage to the creature since Spiky Growth does damage. Your movement speed would follow the grappling rules, but the creatures location with respect to the grappler is up to the creature/person that has established the grapple. If you control the target's movement, you can position them wherever you please.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I find the ordering of your first two sentences a little odd: the titular question of OP asks about the speed of the character applying the grapple. In your post you're 'headlining' the speed of the targeted character, then you describe the speed of the applier. I suggest you somehow swap the focus. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Mar 20 '16 at 4:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Both answers have the same content, but I'm accepting this as answer because it cites the rules and goes into a little more detail. New players stumbling into this question will probably have an easier time getting this answer. \$\endgroup\$ – user27327 Mar 23 '16 at 19:05
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To answer the question as posed:

Your speed is halved due to the grapple, but you don't incur heightened movement cost due to difficult terrain.

That's because your we're stipulating, per your question, that you manage to not be in the difficult terrain while moving. If you're not in difficult terrain, you don't take the whack to your movement.

(To be precise, difficult terrain doesn't affect your speed, it costs more per foot of movement. Your question asks about difficult terrain affecting speed, which never happens; I assume you're asking about the heightened move cost which has, roughly, the same effect.)

The possibility of meeting your question's requirements is discussed in this question.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Appreciate the branched off question \$\endgroup\$ – user27327 Mar 23 '16 at 19:04

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