If a fighter grappled another fighter, it seems to me that both should lose any benefit of dexterity to armor class when attacking each other within the grapple.

A grappled character could have disadvantage against the grappler using any weapon that requires a good swing, but if the grappled character used a dagger--I imagine the grappler would be in grave danger--advantage at the least.

The D&D 5e rules leave this up to DM ruling it as far as I know. What is the most consistent way to rule attacks in the context of grappling which makes sense and doesn't allow grappling to be an absurd buff which breaks all the familiar-world rules of martial contests?

Part of what I am asking is how other Dungeon Masters apply advantage or disadvantage in a grappled situation between two humanoids


closed as unclear what you're asking by Miniman, Purple Monkey, daze413, DuckTapeAl, Wibbs Sep 3 '16 at 7:11

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I am asking how other Dungeon Masters apply advantage or disadvantage in a grappled situation between two humanoids. \$\endgroup\$ – Greg Brown Sep 4 '16 at 18:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ FYI, by RAW there is no advantage or disadvantage due to grappling. It only reduces the grappled creature's speed to 0. Also AC doesn't lose dex in 5e like in other editions - that's what advantage is for. \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Brown Mar 22 '18 at 14:01

What is the most consistent way to rule attacks in the context of grappling?

The most consistent way to rule this depends on what rules you choose to use. If you are going from what we call RAW (the Rules as Written) then the only way this can be ruled consistently is as follows:

What does this mean? This means that if you use the Attack Action and replace one of your attacks with a Grapple attempt and succeed; then the one and only effect this has on the target is subjecting it to the 'Grappled' Condition, which states the targets speed (notice this does NOT say Dexterity) becomes 0 and it can no longer benefit from any bonuses to it's speed or movement.

So what does this mean in the context of combat while grappling a target? It means the target (as well as the one grappling the target) can and will still swing on you as per the normal rules of making an attack with a weapon, be it a large or dexterous weapon. It means they can still cast spells at you as per the normal rules of making spell attacks. It means they can take any action they could have otherwise taken before they were grappled. The only thing grappling a target does is prevent them from moving (due to having 0 speed).

Now, if you had a feat like Grappler or Tavern Brawler, the things you can do change a bit. If you are, instead, using house rules; then this matter becomes largely opinionated as house rules vary greatly.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a fair answer, but the tone of your first sentence strongly implied that using house rules is the wrong way to play, which is not an attitude we support around here. I'm editing to correct this; feel free to change it if you'd prefer different wording. \$\endgroup\$ – SirTechSpec Sep 3 '16 at 14:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SirTechSpec Oh I definitely did not mean to imply THAT! I am not sure of my former wording but I thought I was pretty cautious. I only meant to point out IF you are using default rules this is the only way you can rule it. If you use other rules, such as house rules, that changes everything. I use them myself in situations. \$\endgroup\$ – Airatome Sep 4 '16 at 12:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ That first sentence still doesn't make sense. The only consistency that you need is within the game you are running. As long as you are consistent with whatever house rules you have decided to use, then there's no problems with using them \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs Sep 4 '16 at 20:00

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