5E Fear with no Options

My group had a creature grappled and prone. Then the bard cast Fear on it, which says that a creature can only take the Dash action, unless there is nowhere to move.

It technically did have places it could move, so it would would have used Dash. But since grappled and prone, the creature had a speed of 0 and could not Dash. But since Dash was the only action available to it, it could not escape the grapple.

I ruled that the creature could attempt an escape to try to get away, but I gave it disadvantage. Then it would dash,

Did I miss something in the rules that would have solved this issue differently? How would you have ruled?

Thanks,
Beaumont
 

jaelis

Explorer
Yes I would give them the chance to escape. Probably wouldn't impose disadvantage, myself. But I'd make sure to tell the player before he casts.

(Forgot frightened condition itself gives disadvantage.)
 
Last edited:
I would not have allowed the creature the chance to escape. The effects of the spell are explicit and the intent in casting it on a grappled creature seems obvious: keep the creature from breaking out of the grapple. I would have had the creature shake with terror until the spell ends or the grapple is released,.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
Yeah, that critter is pretty much done for.

If you successfully manage to inflict all of the Grappled, Prone and Feared conditions, you pretty much a game over win.

So I wouldn't change a thing: the monster simply cowers ineffectually and is at your mercy. Good enough for me.

Sent from my C6603 using EN World mobile app
 

Hawk Diesel

Adventurer
Disadvantage was appropriate given that the Frightened condition states the subject as having disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks. And although the Dash option was not available, escaping the grapple was the only way for the target to position himself to use dash. I imagine it like hugging a cat. The cat wants to get away, and will wildly flail until it can run. Likewise, this guy was so caught up be their fear that he was trying to get out of the grapple wildly rather than with calm focus or skill (hence the disadvantage).

Good call.
 

ad_hoc

Hero
I would not have allowed the creature the chance to escape. The effects of the spell are explicit and the intent in casting it on a grappled creature seems obvious: keep the creature from breaking out of the grapple. I would have had the creature shake with terror until the spell ends or the grapple is released,.
Their options for moving are 0 so they don't take the Dash action. It would be reasonable to have the creature attack as well.

If you corner a frightened animal, they will likely attack you. Or a frightened person for that matter too.

Disadvantage is appropriate because they are also Frightened so they have disadvantage to ability checks and attack rolls while the creature they are frightened of is in line of sight.
 

Barolo

Visitor
Good call, nothing to add that was not mentioned by other fellow posters.

Anyway, I keep reading the thread title as "Feat with no Options", go figure.
 

Hriston

Adventurer
IMO, your ruling is correct. The fact that the creature's speed is 0 due to being grappled should be understood as the creature having nowhere to move, and thus as waiving the requirement that the creature use its action to dash away from the caster, allowing the creature to select from its full range of possible actions. I also agree that the contested check to escape would be made with disadvantage due to the creature being frightened.
 
I'd have ruled the same, because I believe the spirit of the "unless there is nowhere to move" bit of the fear spell is for the affected target to be able to do whatever it can to survive and find a way to get away (i.e. escape the grapple and then flee, or if backed into a corner fight past you and flee in a different direction).
 
Good ruling, I'd have ruled the same way. This is exactly the kind of edge case that isn't explicitly covered by the rules and needs the DM to make a reasonable call.
 

Satyrn

Visitor
Aye, good ruling.


It would also have been a fine ruling to have the frightened foe whimper and cry and beg for mercy instead of trying to escape. Or anything else you decided on that fit the spirit of being frightened and pinned.
 

Eltab

Adventurer
+1 to 'good call'

As I understand the situation, the target would have to break the grapple anyways and then stand up* before it could Dash away.
When you are Frightened you can still do what it takes to make an opening to run away from whatever Frightened you.

Looking at it from the target's view, the result might just be (auto-fails a morale roll) "Please don't kill me! I surrender!" and dissolves into an utterly defeated puddle on the floor.

* Doesn't this provoke Attacks of Opportunity?
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Agree with all the good calls - with a choice of following the letter or the spirit of the rules when they conflicted, you went for the spirit. That makes a strong game.
 

Bacon Bits

Adventurer
Fear says the only action they can take is Dash as long as there is a space you can move into. A creature with speed 0 has no space that it can move into. Therefore, the action restriction doesn't meet it's conditional requirement.

I would probably rule that the only action a grappled creature could take would be to attempt to break the grapple and then flee.
 
Thanks for the responses. I think if I could do it again, I would have warned the Bard before he cast the spell that I would allow the creature an escape action in case it would have made him change his mind on casting. In the heat of the moment, I didn't realize it would cause a problem until after the spell was cast. So, if it happens again in the future, I'll add that little adjustment.
 

Hriston

Adventurer
I don't see what the problem is. The rules are quite clear that the creature is only limited to taking the Dash action if it has somewhere to move. This creature had nowhere to move due to being grappled, so its other actions were available. Was the problem that the bard player had different expectations about how the spell was supposed to work?
 

Advertisement

Top