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Grappling

When you want to grab a creature or wrestle with it, you can use the Attack action to make a special melee attack, a grapple. If you're able to make multiple attacks with the Attack action, this attack replaces one of them. The target of your grapple must be no more than one size larger than you, and it must be within your reach.

Using at least one free hand, you try to seize the target by making a grapple check, a Strength (Athletics) check contested by the target's Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check (the target chooses the ability to use). If you succeed, you subject the target to the grappled condition (see appendix A). The condition specifies the things that end it, and you can release the target whenever you like (no action required).

Escaping a Grapple.

A grappled creature can use its action to escape. To do so, it must succeed on a Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check contested by your Strength (Athletics) check.

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.

Is escaping a grapple a single attack (part of the attack action) or a separate action?

It says very clearly that while attacking, if a player can grapple someone with an attack action, and if they have multiple attacks with the Attack action, this [grappling] attack replaces one of them. Shouldn't it be the case that escaping a grapple could also be one of those "multiple attacks?" I can't see the distinction with ruling it otherwise.

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    \$\begingroup\$ For clarity, there are no "full-turn actions" in 5e: there are actions, bonus actions and reactions. Similarly one of the choices you can make for your action is the Attack action which will give you one (or more) attacks, you can also make an attack using some bonus actions and reactions: an "attack" and an "attack action" are very different things. \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Apr 17 '16 at 7:08
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A grappled creature can use its action to escape.

It says an action, so it requires an action. If it could be done as one of several attacks, it would say so, just like it says for making a grapple.

If you're the DM, you can houserule this, of course, but think carefully before doing so, because allowing one attack of Extra Attack to escape grapples vastly favours the players. There are some monsters that are only dangerous because of grappling, so making it easier to escape a grapple is fairly crippling for them. Also, due to the way Multiattack works, this will only make it easier for players to escape monster grapples, not for monsters to escape player grapples.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I felt that it might the case. It is just that it was embedded under the subheading of "Melee Attacks" under the subheading for "Grapple," and the text "Escaping a Grapple" was bold making me think that it might be yet another "attack action" action. I'm ruled it that way in the game, but I wanted to confirm other's interpretations. \$\endgroup\$ – Gaming Unplugged Apr 17 '16 at 0:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GamingUnplugged I think it's there because when someone starts a grapple, the next thing someone will probably want to check is how to escape. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Apr 17 '16 at 0:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ It can favours grappler specced players without the houserule though, think how many monsters don't have acrobatics/athletics points, those contests would always lean towards the player grappler; the monster trapped and forced to use one action instead of one attack to escape. Happened to me with a dragon being grappled by a 18str warrior with just one of his attacks and double proficiency in athletics, the dragon could not move/fly and could not forfeit his 3 attacks or breath just to use an action to break free with a contest of +4 str against the +9 of the warrior! \$\endgroup\$ – Ghilteras Mar 1 '17 at 23:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ghilteras was the dragon not too big to be grappled? I thought you can't even attempt a grapple if the target is more than 1 size cat larger than you. \$\endgroup\$ – Graham May 17 '18 at 19:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Graham it was young so "only" large \$\endgroup\$ – Ghilteras May 17 '18 at 21:32
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The entry for grapple quoted by OP seems to indicate that an attacker is allowed to use Extra Attack in conjunction with Grappling, but that a defender (creature escaping a grapple) "can use its action to escape", meaning its entire action, not an Extra Attack because Extra Attack is a separate "Action" from the Escaping a Grapple "Action". "Attack" and "Action" are two separate but related things (that both have six letters and start with "A").

The Grappled condition does NOT prevent a creature from attacking however.

Grappled

A grappled creature's speed becomes O, and it can't benefit from any bonus to its speed. The condition ends if the grappler is incapacitated (see the condition). The condition also ends if an effect removes the grappled creature from the reach of the grappler or grappling effect, such as when a creature is hurled away by the thunderwave spell.

So you could use Extra Attack while grappled, even rolling your own counter-grapples against your wrestling opponent. But you would still be Grappled until these attacks Incapacitate whatever is holding onto you, or force it to move out of reach.

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