Of Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition’s conditions, Restrained is a good one to use by both player characters and Game Masters for making encounters a bit more dynamic. But, it comes with some rules which may be confusing for those newer to the game.
What is the Restrained condition in 5e? How does it work? How do you cause and break out of it?
This article goes everything you need to know about 5e’s Restrained condition works when starting out.
Let’s start by first looking at what Restrained means in D&D 5e.
The Restrained Condition in 5e
Restrained is a condition in D&D 5e which effectively pins a creature in place by reducing their speed to 0. It also makes attacking harder for the Restrained creature but makes attacking the Restrained creature easier.
Essentially, 5e’s Restrained condition represents a creature getting held in place in such a way that free movement becomes much more difficult. It’s kind of like a more extreme version of the Grappled condition.
The full description for the Restrained condition in the Player’s Handbook reads as follows:
Attacking While Restrained
Becoming Restrained makes attacking more difficult but it does not prevent a creature from making attacks while under the affects of the condition.
The Restrained condition doesn’t prevent a creature from attacking. That said, it does make attacking harder as it imposes disadvantage on attack rolls while affected by the condition.
So, you can still make attacks while Restrained including opportunity attacks, attacks using an off-hand weapon, and spell attacks.
Casting Spells While Restrained
The Restrained condition does not restrict a creature’s ability to cast spells. As such, a creature may still cast spells even while Restrained.
Like attacking, nothing in the Restrained condition’s description restricts a creature’s ability to cast spells. So, spellcasters in 5e can still use their magic even while Restrained.
Now, if a spell requires an attack roll like how firebolt or shocking grasp do, those attacks are made at disadvantage due to being Restrained. Just keep that drawback in mind.
How to Cause the Restrained Condition
Inflicting the Restrained condition on another creature is a great tactical move during combat in 5e. Player characters and Game Masters have a few options available to them aside from specific monster abilities for causing a creature to become Restrained in 5e.
Of course, being as good as it is, players and Game Masters have somewhat limited options for inflicting the Restrained condition. But, that doesn’t mean you’re out of options, however limited they may be.
The most commons ways to Restrain a creature in 5e are:
- The Net Weapon
- The Grappler Feat
Let’s go over each of these and their advantages and drawbacks.
Using a Net
The Net weapon restrains a creature hit by it unless the targeted creature is formless or of Huge size or bigger.
I’ll be upfront here; the net is kind of a bad weapon in 5e. That said, it is one of the few methods of restraining a creature in 5e, so I’ll get into the drawbacks in a second.
Let’s look at the basic rundown of the net weapon:
- Cost: 1 gp
- Damage: None
- Weight: 3 lb.
- Properties: Special, thrown (range 5/15)
The Special weapon property is how the net is able to restrain a target creature. So, here’s what the net’s Special reads:
Alright, time to break this down.
First off, attacks made with a net are always made at disadvantage due to being ranged attacks. This is because of the rules concerning ranged attacks which impose disadvantage when a hostile creature is within 5 feet of the attacker. Since nets have a normal range of 5 feet, even making an attack against an adjacent target imposes disadvantage. Furthermore, making a ranged attack out to 15 feet, the net’s long range, means rolling with disadvantage.
Immediately, this is a major drawback.
Second, attacks with nets don’t actually do any damage. The sole purpose is to impose the Restrained condition on a target creature. Granted, the targeted creature doesn’t get to make a save to resist becoming restrained. That said, the attacker is still rolling at disadvantage, so the odds are still stacked against the attacker.Third, it’s only a DC 10 Strength check and an action to break the Restrained condition imposed by a net. That or a creature, including the restrained one, can attack the Armor Class 10 net and only need to deal a total of 5 damage to break out. Both options are very easy to pass. The benefit being, ideally, a full round of combat when your allies can focus on the Restrained creature and the use of an action to break out. But, that’s all very circumstantial and requires planning to ensure optimal turn usage.
Finally, using a net as an action, bonus action, or reaction means the attacker gets only that single attack. That’s it. Even if a 20th-level Fighter with 4 attacks thanks to the Extra Attack feature, not counting Action Surge, uses a net to restrain a creature, that’s all they get. Those 3 extra attacks simply don’t get used.
Yes, the net is definitely a method to impose the Restrained condition in 5e, but it has so many drawbacks it’s rarely worth it, if ever.
The Grappler Feat
The Grappler feat allows a creature to make a grapple check against a grappled creature to then Restrain them.
That’s a lot of grappling all in one sentence. Basically, the Grappler feat allows you to make a check to further solidify your hold on a creature to impose the Restrained condition until the grapple ends.
To do this, you must first already be grappling the target creature. You can then use your action to make another grapple check against the grappled creature. If you succeed, you effectively pin the creature, imposing the Restrained condition on both the target and yourself.
That second part’s important to remember. While using the Grappler feat to restrain a creature, your character is also Restrained, causing them to suffer all the drawbacks of the secondary condition including disadvantage on attacks while pinning the target.
A number of spells in 5e inflict the Restrained condition.
Perhaps the most reliable way to restrain a creature in D&D 5e is through the use of spells. There are quite a few spells which impose this condition across a variety of levels and classes. So, you have a good number of options for when you want to restrain a creature during combat.
What’s more, a lot of these options have other uses aside from inflicting Restrained like dealing damage or even causing other conditions.
The following spells can inflict the Restrained condition in 5e:
- Ensnaring Strike – 1st-level
- Entangle – 1st-level
- Snare – 1st-level
- Maximilian’s Earthen Grasp – 2nd-level
- Web – 2nd-level
- (Evard’s) Black Tentacles – 4th-level
- Watery Sphere – 4th-level
- Telekinesis – 5th-level
- Transmute Rock – 5th-level
- Wrath of Nature – 5th-level
- Bones of the Earth – 6th-level
- Flesh to Stone – 6th-level
- Mental Prison – 6th-level
- Prismatic Spray – 7th-level
- Whirlwind – 7th-level
- Imprisonment – 9th-level
- Prismatic Wall – 9th-level
- Ravenous Void – 9th-level
How to Break Out of Restrained in 5e
Generally, the only way to break the Restrained condition is to succeed on a saving throw or opposing Ability Check. However, teleporting is a valid method for escaping a Restraining effect.
Breaking the Restrained condition in 5e typically involves 1 of 3 methods:
- Making a saving throw
- Destroying / Beating whatever’s causing the condition
- Teleporting away
First off, many things which cause a creature to become Restrained involve a saving throw. Both the Grappler feat and pretty much every spell which cause it force a saving throw. Further still, even if a creature fails the initial save, they can usually make saves later on to break out of their restraints. Even the net, which doesn’t force a save, gives a Restrained creature the option of using their action to make a Strength check (technically not a save, but I’m putting it here) to escape.
Next, breaking restraints or defeating a creature which is restraining their target gives more combat focused characters the option for breaking the Restrained condition. A net only needs to take 5 damage before becoming so tattered it can’t hold a creature and knocking a creature unconscious or slaying it of course means they (usually) lose their grip on a Restrained target.
Now, this works less well on spells which cause the Restrained condition as few spells actually have a physical entity causing the condition. But, there are exceptions like the web spell which explicitly mentions the webs are flammable and may be destroyed by fire. Just make sure to read the spells thoroughly to see if they restrain a creature through physical or intangible means.
Finally, as mentioned earlier, the Restrained condition doesn’t place a restriction on casting spells or using other abilities. If a creature has the ability to teleport away, they can simply leave their restraints. The misty step, blink, and dimension door spells are all examples of teleportation spells you can use to escape the Restrained condition. The Eladrin’s Fey Step trait and the Shadow Step feature from the Way of Shadow Monk Monastic Tradition are examples of non-spell methods of teleportation for breaking out of restraints as well.
Knowing how to cause the Restrained condition and breaking out of it is all well and good, but actually using it in your game is the next step.
Using the Restrained Condition in Your 5e Game
The Restrained condition is beneficial to both players and Game Masters as a tactical tool to use during combat.
Now that you know the basic rules surrounding how Restrained works in 5e, time to get into the fun stuff; using it.
Restrained is primarily a combat-oriented condition. You’ll generally encounter it because a monster grabs a player character or said player character decides to pin an enemy. But, it can help add more to non-combat encounters as well.
Let’s go over some ideas and tactics both players and Game Masters can use utilizing 5e’s Restrained condition.
For Player Characters
As a player, you’ll probably focus mostly on pinning down enemies to lessen the potential damage coming at your character and party members. A lot of combat encounters involve more enemies than player characters, so reducing the combat effectiveness of hostile creatures is a huge benefit.
Barbarians make particularly great single-target grapplers. Taking the Grappler feat is great if you want to focus on grabbing 1 enemy and holding them in place for your allies to focus their attention on either your target for a quicker takedown or on other, more pressing targets without fear of being overrun.
Fighters also can make decent grapplers thanks to their greater number of attacks they get as they level up. Since a grapple check is a special kind of attack, you can eventually make a grapple check, a second to restrain, and still have 2 more attacks left at 20th-level (just remember those would be at disadvantage).
Aside from that, spellcasters have a variety of spells at their disposal for locking down and restraining multiple enemies. If you’re up against a large group of hostile monsters, using a spell like web or entangle to cover a wide area and potentially impose the Restrained condition is a huge benefit to your adventuring party. Every creature which fails their save against becoming Restrained then confer advantage on attacks made against them, benefiting all your range allies and giving the melee player characters more time to prioritize their targets.
For Game Masters
Restraining the player characters instills a sense of urgency in your players. Reducing even 1 character’s capabilities is a huge detriment to the adventuring party. So, if you want to push your players a bit out of their comfort zone, using monsters and creatures with Restraining abilities is a great way to cause a little panic.
Of course, you’ll usually use these during combat. Restraining the Barbarian or Fighter player character is a huge problem for the player characters, but less so for the spellcasters. Yes, their spell attacks would be made with disadvantage, but they can still cast spells which force saving throws.
So, in-combat, see about restraining the martial characters to force the spellcasters into tougher situations as their primary defense force becomes much less capable.
Now, out-of-combat use of the Restrained condition is a bit different.
Yes, Restrained is mostly good for preventing a creature from moving and attacking at full strength. But, clever Game Masters can use it to instill a sense of urgency regarding traps or oncoming dangers.
You can use traps specifically designed to pull creatures into a dangerous area or hold them in place as another hazard comes their way. For example, a living tree with roots which rapidly curl up around a creature as a boulder comes barreling down a hill towards the party. Or, enchanted chains which erupt from a wall and slowly drag a creature into a pit filled with poisonous gas. Both of these adventuring encounters restrain a creature and put them in harm’s way, forcing player characters to jump into action to prevent themselves from getting harmed or helping their allies.
Restrained Condition FAQ
Can You Teleport While Restrained in 5e?
Yes, a creature may use a spell or other ability to teleport away while Restrained in 5e. The effects of the Restrained condition do not restrict the ability to cast spells, use class features, or use racial traits.
The Restrained condition doesn’t do anything to prevent a creature from casting spells or using racial traits or class features. So, if a Restrained creature has one of these abilities which allows them to teleport, they can still do so.
Does Freedom of Movement Remove Restrained?
The freedom of movement spell prevents a creature from becoming Restrained. Since it prevents becoming Restrained, freedom of movement effectively removes the condition.
Freedom of movement’s spell description explicitly states; "spells and other magical effects can neither reduce the target’s speed nor cause the target to be paralyzed or restrained." So, targeting a creature with freedom of movement effectively removes the Restrained condition if they’re currently afflicted by it.
Does Restrained Break Grapple?
The Restrained condition does not break a Grapple. In some cases, Restrained actually acts as an extension of the Grappled condition.
The Restrained and Grappled conditions often interact with each other. That said, while becoming Restrained is often the result of a creature furthering their Grapple of another, that doesn’t necessarily end the Grapple. It simply means a creature become both Grappled and Restrained.
Summary of the Restrained Condition in 5e
That about sums up how the Restrained condition works in D&D 5e.
Restrained effectively prevents a creature from moving and imposes hindrances on their attack rolls and Dexterity saves while granting benefits on attacks made against them. Players and GMs have a few standard options for imposing this condition through the net, Grappler feat, and spells. Breaking out of Restrained usually involves making a saving throw, breaking restraints, or teleporting away. And, using the Restrained condition is great for both player characters and GMs for encouraging more dynamic play.
Have you played a character which focused on restraining monsters? How have your players dealt with becoming Restrained in your game? Leave a comment below to share your stories!
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