There you are, in melee combat. You're 5 feet away from your opponent. The swords go snicker-snack. You decide to grapple. You succeed! Are you still 5 feet away? I had always assumed the grappler and grapplee were in the same space. Tête–à–tête, as it were.

However, this question made me realize not everyone sees it the same way. I reviewed the RAW, and it seems to imply you're still 5 feet away. That just doesn't seem to make much sense. What am I missing?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Keeping in mind that a grapple in this case isn't a full-on grab. The initial grapple is getting a hand on someone and controlling their movement, not getting locked into it yet. \$\endgroup\$ – Sawyer Apr 1 '16 at 22:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Sawyer At least RAW there's only grappled and not grappled, there's no locked on. And grappled requires "at least one hand". \$\endgroup\$ – Jack Apr 1 '16 at 22:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ Indeed, I was portraying it in terms of real life. Some people get caught up in the iconic image of grappling and don't realize what is the nature of grappling as portrayed by the book. The "locked on" state would be represented in the Grappler feat, where one inflicts the restrained condition. \$\endgroup\$ – Sawyer Apr 1 '16 at 22:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Sawyer Ooo, that is a very good point. That implies that for someone without the grappler feat, it would be even much harder to restrain an opponent. \$\endgroup\$ – Jack Apr 1 '16 at 22:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh yeah. Restrained is a very difficult condition to inflict if one isn't a druid. On the GitP forums, it took a long series of posts with lots of pictures of different grappling martial arts to prove to someone how one can stand while grappling a prone opponent. \$\endgroup\$ – Sawyer Apr 1 '16 at 23:09

Keep in mind that the 5-foot squares are an abstraction. Per PHB p. 191:

Space: A creature's space is the area in feet that it effectively controls in combat, not an expression of its physical dimensions. A typical Medium creature isn't 5 feet wide, for example, but it does control a space that wide.

So you can be grappling (not so much wrestling on the ground as grabbing at each other's arms from a standing position) at the shared edge of your respective 5-foot squares and still have a certain influence over the rest of the area. You aren't literally 5 feet away from each other, but you are in "different squares" which, in a game where distance is measured only in 5' increments, makes you effectively 5 feet away. It's about the same distance you'd be for an unarmed or dagger strike, also notionally performed "from five feet away." There are systems like GURPS where grappling involves moving into the same space, but DND isn't quite that granular about space.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @SirTechSpec So you're saying that it's abstracted to the level that you're standing at the edge of your 5' square and you're grappling them at the edge of their 5' square. Not that that is the literal interpretation, but that that is the abstraction. \$\endgroup\$ – Jack Apr 1 '16 at 22:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Pretty much, yep. \$\endgroup\$ – SirTechSpec Apr 1 '16 at 22:33

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