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D&D 5E Rogue’s Fast Hands and Manacles

As a dm do you allow the ability for a rogue to with quick hands to clip manacles on someone? Do what kinds of penalties you you give? What kind of check is it?

My Dm has been doing slight of hand vs athletics or acrobatics. The rogue, though, has expertise in slight of hand so it’s almost guaranteed success. It usually hampers a target enough that they are no longer a factor in a battle. Seeing it in action, I’m not sure I’d allow it in a game I’d run. But idk. Fast hands is kind of fun.

thoughts?
 

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MarkB

Legend
Simple question: How would you normally rule manacles being applied to someone? If it would normally be either a Sleight of Hand check as an action, or an object interaction, then it qualifies for Fast Hands.

I'd tend towards allowing it - it's a common trope in media for someone dextrous to sneak a set of handcuffs onto an opponent when they're distracted. However, I'd be concerned about how this stacks with both Expertise and Reliable Talent - it could easily become an effectively unblockable tactic.
 

jgsugden

Legend
If you're talking about slapping manacles on someone in the middle of combat, I would make it far more difficult than a sleight of hand check versus the AC or athletics/acrobatics of the enemy. This would require some sort of an ability tailored to applying the manacles, a helpless/restrained foe, or something of that nature. There is a reason in the real world that cops don't just approach a person with a weapon out and apply cuffs without disabling the person, first.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I would not. At least not against a creature defending itself.
Why?
The cost: a pair of manacle costs 2 gp and the DC to break or escape them is rather high (DC 20) and its a flat ability check, so no athletics or acrobatics against said DC.

So, as a Bonus Action, at the minimal cost of 2 GP, the rogue can more or less remove a creature from battle? That's a little too powerful to be at-will, IMHO.

Against an incapacited target, no problem though.

Or maybe I'd let the rogue do it, but the ability check to escape de manacle only requires an interact with an object action instead of a full action. And the penalty from having his hand bound would be something like:
  • No 2-handed weapons, no shield.
  • Disadvantage on attack roll.
  • Disadvantage on ability check that would requires free hands.
 

Well, I might allow it after someone is grappled. The slight of hands thing is cool but I’d require the target to be distracted: So, in a fight, the target couldn’t be actively engaging the rogue. If the target is fighting another PC, the rogue could sneak up and do it. In our game, the rogue was in ‘honourable combat’ with a warrior. He slapped on the manacles and whapped the guy. Slight of hand implies your hands aren’t being watched. I might have required an athletics check in this situation instead of a slight of hand. But that just my feelings.

targeting AC seems even easier than an opposed check.

also, how do you manacle someone whose doing sword and board? Their hands aren’t even close enough to each other to get the manacles on. Maybe on their ankles?
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Depending on circumstances, yes. The target creature has to be standing next to something you can manacle them to, even if it's to an adjacent creature.

However I wouldn't allow it in combat unless target is unconscious or stunned.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Well, I might allow it after someone is grappled. The slight of hands thing is cool but I’d require the target to be distracted: So, in a fight, the target couldn’t be actively engaging the rogue. If the target is fighting another PC, the rogue could sneak up and do it. In our game, the rogue was in ‘honourable combat’ with a warrior. He slapped on the manacles and whapped the guy. Slight of hand implies your hands aren’t being watched. I might have required an athletics check in this situation instead of a slight of hand. But that just my feelings.

targeting AC seems even easier than an opposed check.

also, how do you manacle someone whose doing sword and board? Their hands aren’t even close enough to each other to get the manacles on. Maybe on their ankles?

I don't think I'd allow it while grappled, I'd require restrained or paralyzed. Grappled is just held in place, the target still generally has full use of their arms.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Since this is not a standard combat maneuver with set rules in the book, it would fall under a DM's Rulings, Not Rules. Thus the viability of the action would almost entirely be up to the narrative story situation the party and the target find themselves in... and I'd make a ruling based on how the action was described, what the target was doing, any distractions, what were in the target's hands, etc. etc. etc.

A rogue that had hid and then snuck up from behind the target to slap the manacles on them when they weren't expecting it? Cool idea, and a Sleight of Hand check would make sense (and I'd give the target Disadvantage on the Athletics/Acrobatics check to defend themselves against it.) But a target wielding a greatsword currently fighting in melee against the party's platemailed paladin tank and the rogue says they want to just walk up in the middle of that fight between the two behemoths and try and slap the handcuffs on the target at the same time? Probably penalized out the wazoo for the attempt, plus receiving at the very least an Opportunity Attack from the target (and heck, maybe even the paladin accidentally as well). And because of how ridiculous the narrative is of this action is, that OA I'd probably rule would make the rogue possibly drop the manacles altogether.

But hey... if the rogue still tried it and it ends up working? That makes for an awesome story! And more importantly, the difficulty of the action would hopefully compel the rogue to not really try it again in normal circumstance... thereby making that story wholly original and memorable... and not just the first of dozens of repeated actions each and every combat. Cause if that's what the rogue wants... I'll make the whole manacle-in-combat thing a feat and balance the rules of it against grappling and low-level spells and the like so it becomes a standard rogue combat action that doesn't create any unbalance to the other players and monsters.
 

I don't think I'd allow it while grappled, I'd require restrained or paralyzed. Grappled is just held in place, the target still generally has full use of their arms.
I guess my point is that, to manacle someone, it’s not just a straight action. There needs to be some kind of circumstance set up before you can do it.
Being sufficiently distracted might do it (for slight of hand) but that feels like an out of combat maneuver.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I guess my point is that, to manacle someone, it’s not just a straight action. There needs to be some kind of circumstance set up before you can do it.
Being sufficiently distracted might do it (for slight of hand) but that feels like an out of combat maneuver.
I think we agree - I can't think of many situations combat that I'd allow just a sleight of hand check. If you're in the middle of battle and not incapacitated in some way, you're moving around and assumed to be aware.

Even paralyzed for example, it would depend. Is the target next to something you can handcuff them to? I'm not going to assume the target was paralyzed with their arms behind their back. This has never come up in any of my games, I think it would require multiple checks including grappling plus other opposed checks. Likely require multiple attackers as well.

Outside of combat I have allowed it under the right conditions.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
As a dm do you allow the ability for a rogue to with quick hands to clip manacles on someone? Do what kinds of penalties you you give? What kind of check is it?

My Dm has been doing slight of hand vs athletics or acrobatics. The rogue, though, has expertise in slight of hand so it’s almost guaranteed success. It usually hampers a target enough that they are no longer a factor in a battle. Seeing it in action, I’m not sure I’d allow it in a game I’d run. But idk. Fast hands is kind of fun.

thoughts?
Only when the target can't take actions or reactions in my game (incapacitated, paralyzed, petrified, stunned, unconscious).
 

Yeah. Manacles aren't modern, spring-loaded ratcheted handcuffs. You need to clamp a cuff around someone's limb, close the hinge then turn the key, and lock the cuff.

I'd definitely allow a rogue's Fast Hands ability to help. But it would take several actions to apply to an unresisting target and opposed grapple checks in addition for a resisting one.
 

I don't think I'd allow it while grappled, I'd require restrained or paralyzed. Grappled is just held in place, the target still generally has full use of their arms.

While I agree that this is the way the rules read, the problem is that there's no longer any way in the rules to escalate a grapple to a restraint pin without taking a feat -- which itself is an optional rule. The problem is that there's no way to restrain an unwilling creature at all short of magic. That's absurd. It's saying you can't wrestle another creature to the ground and tie them up. I understand why they don't want combat to be like that, but it's still completely absurd.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
While I agree that this is the way the rules read, the problem is that there's no longer any way in the rules to escalate a grapple to a restraint pin without taking a feat -- which itself is an optional rule. The problem is that there's no way to restrain an unwilling creature at all short of magic. That's absurd. It's saying you can't wrestle another creature to the ground and tie them up. I understand why they don't want combat to be like that, but it's still completely absurd.
I've never had it come up in combat, but it would be some kind of contest that's not really covered by the rules. I'd also probably lean heavily in favor of the target because I wouldn't want it to be a go-to tactic out of personal preference. Like others have said, manacles are not generally pictured as handcuffs, although that of course is going to vary from campaign to campaign. This post on an old thread had a good picture of what I envision.
 

Arvok

Explorer
I could see allowing it in combat as with quick hands, but only to manacle one hand. To get the other one in the manacles would require a grapple check. Also there would be some obvious limitations. You couldn't use it against someone's shield arm and probably not against someone armored (medieval manacles weren't adjustable like modern handcuffs and even those might not be big enough to get around armored gauntlets).

To restrain someone with manacles would probably require a group effort and several grapple checks. Now if the rogue already had the manacles attached to something, he might be able to limit the target's mobility...
 

Unwise

Adventurer
Would you let somebody use "Interact with Object" to say that they are going to put a sword inside somebody? Surely that is easier than manacling somebody.

I would say that you can use "interact with object" to put manacles on somebody you already have grappled. You would have to have something else to put it on though, I am not letting anybody manacle both hands together, unless they make a second grapple attack.

So a rogue could grapple with their attack, grab the persons arm, then interact with an object to put manacles on the arm they are holding. The next round, they could grapple again to grab another arm or leg and manacle that too. Of course, it would be simpler to just chain them to a bannister, or pole or something.

I would let them use Dex for the grapple if they were not looking to hold on, just to slap the manacles on.
 

ECMO3

Explorer
As a dm do you allow the ability for a rogue to with quick hands to clip manacles on someone? Do what kinds of penalties you you give? What kind of check is it?

My Dm has been doing slight of hand vs athletics or acrobatics. The rogue, though, has expertise in slight of hand so it’s almost guaranteed success. It usually hampers a target enough that they are no longer a factor in a battle. Seeing it in action, I’m not sure I’d allow it in a game I’d run. But idk. Fast hands is kind of fun.

thoughts?
Is the person holding out his hands to be cuffed? If so yes. If not then no.

If it is in combat I would make the Rogue or someone else complete a grapple first, then do an ahtletics check to position the enemies hands (which would require another action or a BA with fast hands), then a third action or fast hands BA to put on the manacles. So a Rogue-fighter could do this is one turn using action surge, otherwise it requires two people or two turns.

If it is not in combat , like it is just while he is talking and wants to slap them on I would allow it with a SOH check, in that case it does not really matter if it is with fast hands. I wouldm alternatively allow it with a deception check if he described how he was going to do it.
 

Fast hands is an often overlooked or forgotten ability.
I think a grapple and restrain first might be a good idea.
So it could work like:
1st round:
Grapple. Fast hands draw manacles.
2nd round:
athletics to drop prone, fast hands to use manacles.

A different idea would be, as you mentioned, sleight of hand after a successful bluff or stealth check, to get the manacles around 1 arm and something else.
 

So, thinking about it more, the issue is in the description.

"I use my bonus action to put manacles on him"

Rolls are had and DM narrates success. "He's all tied up and can't swing his sword. He's at disadvantage to attack"

I'd require more description: "How will you put on the manacles? He's looking at you as you approach. Are you putting them on his wrists or his ankles? Are you trying to tie his limbs together or are you trying to tie him to an obstacle or another person?"

From there, it seems easier to adjudicate. I come to this conclusion trying to imagine what my character would do to defend himself against the rogue if the rogue was dominated or something. if I keep my arms apart instead in a sword/sheild combo instead of wielding a sword in two hands, he can't lock my arms together. If I keep my stance wide, he can't lock my legs together. To do so, he'd need to physically move my limbs together which would require athletics (which I'm trained in) instead of Slight of Hand.

Essentially, 'I know the trick' so I can deny him the use of his apex skill which relies on distraction and deception.

So, given that train of thought, in combat, for a rogue (or anyone) to slip on manacles as an action, with slight of hand, they'd need to have surprise: the target must be distracted and not expecting to be manacled(probably requiring a stealth check, at the least). The action (what body part do you manacle) must make sense for the stance of the attacker also. I'd say that trying to manacle to hands together to be almost impossible. But you might get one hand. Or you might even be able to manacle two people together.

Essentially, each situation might be adjudicated differently instead of a general 'Slight of Hand vs opposing skill'.

My overall impression is it might take multiple actions to 'lock' someone down.
 

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