Learn how the restrained condition works and how to benefit from using it in combat
The restrained condition is an effect in D&D 5e that causes movement of a character to be heavily restricted, adding along with it, some unpleasant consequences. Restrained is easily confused with grappled which is a weaker form of restricting an opponent’s movement.
While there are often a lot of nuances to the conditions in D&D 5e (and restrained is no different), we’re here to keep things nice and clear. In our guide, we’ll also explain how you can take advantage of restraining your opponents as well as what you can do if you happen to be restrained.
The Player’s Handbook explains the rules for the restrained condition, explaining that it causes the following effects:
Player’s Handbook, p292
- A restrained creature’s speed becomes 0, and it can’t benefit from any bonus to its speed.
- Attack rolls against the creature have advantage, and the creature’s attack rolls have disadvantage.
- The creature has disadvantage on dexterity saving throws.
What is the restrained condition?
The restrained condition occurs when you are prevented from moving by something holding you in place. It’s distinct from being grappled as a grapple involves being grabbed by another person, usually with a single hand. Restrained on the other hand, tends to involve being tied or held by something that isn’t a creature (though some feats and abilities do allow characters to restrain an opponent in a much more complete way than with a grapple).
Examples include being tied up with ropes, being held by twisting vines or being caught in a spider’s web.
How does restrained work?
Restrained occurs because a creature is prevented from moving by whatever is restraining it. A restrained character also has their capacity to manoeuvre away from attacks and make their own attacks impaired by this condition (hence disadvantage on attacks and advantage on attacks against the creature). This makes it a more powerful condition than grappled.
It’s also important to consider that different restraining effects may need to be handled differently by a DM. Vines grasping at a creature will usually affect creatures in the ways explained above, but being bound by the wrists and legs might prevent you from attacking at all. A DM may rule that certain kinds of restraints might have a greater effect than those described above.
Again, a restrained character is able to take the dodge action, though your DM might rule that this isn’t possible under certain circumstances. As an example, you might be able to dodge if your hands are bound, but if your hands are tied to your legs very efficiently, this may simply be impossible.
How do you restrain someone?
The most obvious way to restrain someone is to tie them up. Ropes, chains, manacles and the like are all great at keeping someone restrained. If you’re tying up an enemy, you may want to consider how you tie them up as this may prevent certain actions. For instance, tying up legs will stop an enemy moving far, chains will be much harder to break than ropes and other considerations.
There are a bunch of otherwise to cause the restrained condition which we’ve detailed below.
Spells that cause restrained
There are a load of spells that can cause someone to be restrained. We’ve included these in the table below:
|Spell||Level||Casting Time||Range||Saving Throw||Duration||Classes||Description|
|Ensnaring Strike||1st||1 bonus action||Self||Strength||1 minute concentration||Ranger||When hitting an enemy, may restrain them and cause 1d6 piercing damage per turn|
|Entangle||1st||1 action||90ft (20ft square)||Strength||1 minute concentration||Druid||Creatures in area may be restrained and ground is difficult terrain|
|Evard’s Black Tentacles||4th||1 action||90ft (20ft square)||Dexterity||1 minute concentration||Wizard||Creatures in are may be restrained and take 3d6 bludgeoning damage|
|Flesh to Stone||6th||1 action||60ft||Constitution||1 minute concentration||Warlock, Wizard||Target may be restrained and eventually petrified|
|Imprisonment||9th||1 minute||30ft||Wisdom||Until dispelled||Wizard||Restrained in a very difficult prison to escape|
|Prismatic Spray||7th||1 action||Self (60ft cone)||Dexterity||Instantaneous||Sorceror, Wizard||Various including being restrained|
|Telekinesis||5th||1 action||60ft||Strength||10 minutes concentration||Sorceror, Wizard||Move a creature or object and restrain them|
|Web||2nd||1 action||60ft (20ft cube)||Dexterity||1 hour concentration||Sorceror, Wizard||Area is difficult terrain and can restrain|
|Bones of the Earth||6th||1 action||120ft (6 cylinders 5ft diameter and 30ft high)||Strength or Dexterity||Instantaneous||Druid||Possibility of being restrained and taking 6d6 bludgeoning damage|
|Maximilian’s Earthen Grasp||2nd||1 action||30ft||Strength||1 minute concentration||Sorceror, Wizard||Possibility of 2d6 bludgeoning damage and being restrained|
|Mental Prison||6th||1 action||60ft||Intelligence||1 minute concentration||Sorceror, Warlock, Wizard||Possibility of being restrained and 5d10 psychic damage|
|Snare||1st||1 minute||Touch||Dexterity||8 hours||Druid, Ranger, Wizard||Possibility of being restrained|
|Transmute Rock||5th||1 action||120ft (40ft cube)||Strength||Until dispelled||Druid, Wizard||Various including being restrained|
|Watery Sphere||4th||1 action||90ft||Strength||1 minute concentration||Druid, Sorceror, Wizard||Various including being restrained|
|Whirlwind||7th||1 action||300ft (10ft radius, 30ft high cylinder)||Dexterity and Strength||1 minute concentration||Druid, Sorceror, Wizard||10d6 bludgeoning damage and be restrained|
|Wrath of Nature||5th||1 action||120ft||Strength||1 minute concentration||Druid, Ranger||Various including being restrained|
Abilities that cause restrained
If you’re not a spellcaster (or don’t want to use your spell slots on a restraining spell), then there are 2 class abilities that can cause the restrained condition. These are:
- Paladin: Oath of the ancients (channel divinity: nature’s wrath)
- Fighter: Rune knight (runecarver: fire Rune)
There’s also a feat called “Grappler” which allows you to cause an opponent to be restrained by grappling them, and then making a second grapple check to restrain them.
Items that cause restrained
There are a handful of items you can acquire that can be used to restrain an enemy. The net isn’t even magical and could be acquired easily, though it does have many shortcomings unfortunately. These items include:
- Rope of Entanglement
- Iron Bands of Binding
- Wand of Viscid Globs
- Rope (though not explicitly stated, tying someone up would cause the restrained condition on that individual)
How do you escape being restrained?
Fortunately, if you do find yourself restrained, there are a few ways to escape. These include:
- Saving throws – Certain types of restraints might offer opportunities to make a saving throw at the end of each turn to see if you manage to escape the restraints. This is the case for the web and entangle spells. Even if there are no specific rules for this, say when you’re tied up, your DM might decide to include certain checks. For example, you might be able to make a strength check to see if you break the ropes or a dexterity check to see if you can slip out or unpick a lock.
- Break concentration – Alternatively, if a spell or ability is causing you to be restrained, you can attempt to make the Spellcaster lose concentration by hitting them (or, more likely, having an ally hit them). You could also incapacitate the enemy causing the effect.
- Use magic – You’re also able to escape a restraint through magical means. Misty step is a great spell for these types of situations as it can still be cast when restrained (unless your DM feels the restraints are too difficult to cast spells in).
All condition guides
Conditions are powerful tools or problematic obstacles in D&D 5e. You can learn more about all these conditions in our guides below: