Grasping weeds and vines sprout from the ground in a 20-foot square starting from a point within range. For the duration, these plants turn the ground in the area into difficult terrain.
A creature in the area when you cast the spell must succeed on a Strength saving throw or be restrained by the entangling plants until the spell ends. A creature restrained by the plants can use its action to make a Strength check against your spell save DC. On a success, it frees itself.
When the spell ends, the conjured plants wilt away.
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 90 feet
Components: V, S
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute
School: 1st-level conjuration
Player’s Handbook, pg. 238
A fantastic control ability that can quickly swing an encounter in your favor, Entangle is a much-loved spell in Dungeons and Dragons. And from a power perspective, I’d rank Entangle as the #1 control spell of 1st-level options in DnD 5e.
This article covers its rules and provides tips on how to maximize Entangle’s potential in-game.
Who Can Cast Entangle in 5e?
The following classes have Entangle on their spell list:
No subclasses get Entangle for free.
What Does Entangle Do in 5e?
Entangle forces all creatures in a 20-foot square to make a Strength saving throw. If a creature fails, it is retrained until the spell ends or until it succeeds on a Strength check against the caster’s spell save DC.
Additionally, the space is difficult terrain until the spell ends (each foot of movement costs one extra foot of speed).
For reference, here’s what the restrained condition does:
Speed is 0 and can’t benefit from any bonus to speed
Attack rolls against you have advantage, and your attacks have disadvantage
Disadvantage on Dexterity saving throws
What Are the Rules for Entangle in 5e?
The rules for Entangle in DnD 5e are as follows:
Entangle cannot target a space in the air. DnD 5e doesn’t have explicit rules for square-shaped area-of-effect spells; they’re fairly rare. However, the game’s developers have made it clear that the spell can’t target a space in the air.
This likely includes hovering creatures, but this might be DM- and/or situation-dependent (how big do the plants grow, how high is the creature hovering, etc.).
You can still force a creature’s movement while they’re Entangled — and they remain restrained if they leave the spell’s area. The restrained condition brings a creature’s movement speed to 0, but that doesn’t stop it from being forcibly moved by an effect like Thorn Whip or Thunderwave.
Even if a creature restrained by Entangle is pushed out of Entangle’s range, they remain restrained. Spells only do what they say, and Entangle never says that the restrain effect only lasts as long as the creature remains in range of the original spell. The only conditions for ending the restrain effect are 1) a successful Strength check and 2) the spell ending.
Entangle (possibly) works in (shallow) water. The game’s developers have stated that they’d allow Entangle to work when cast “over water,” which is a little unclear. They mention seaweed and vines (which makes sense to me), but the spell does appear to still require a ground.
I’d rule that if a creature is within 5 feet of the body of water’s floor, Entangle works. Your DM may rule differently.
The word “ground” is open to DM interpretation. While we don’t have developer input on Entangle specifically, we do have their advice on running Teleportation Circle.
“The DM decides how generously to interpret words like ‘ground.’ Unless we redefine or focus a word, we use it in its idiomatic English sense, knowing that some words are open to creative interpretation…Saying that a wall is the ground defies the idiomatic meaning of the word ‘ground.’ But a DM is free to allow bonkers things.”
Entangle does not require existing plants. Nothing in the spell’s description indicates that you need to have plant life present to cast it, so you don’t.
Entangle does not require a specific ground material. Metal, stone, sand, ice, the floor of a ship, etc. — all these things should allow for Entangle to work. The spell doesn’t require an actually suitable surface in which plants could grow (i.e., soil).
This is in sharp contrast to a spell like Mold Earth, which requires a specific material to target. This is somewhat up to DM interpretation (as in, a DM is free to decide what the word “ground” means), but disallowing Entangle in a host of common adventuring environments is an unnecessary and ultimately arbitrary nerf to Entangle’s power and utility.
How Do I Use Entangle in 5e?
Here are a few ways to use Entangle in DnD 5e:
Target big groups of non-ranged enemies. This is where Entangle really shines — large groups of bad guys that have no way of attacking your party at a distance. Once they’re restrained, you can safely take pot shots at them. Or focus down the ones that aren’t restrained, so the odds are tipped in your favor once the others break free.
This is extra good if you know you’re dealing with enemies who have a low Strength modifier as well.
Even if you use this trick on enemies with ranged attack options, they’ll still have disadvantage on their attack rolls while restrained. Not as good as preventing attacks entirely, but still pretty good.
Take advantage of choke points. 20 square feet is fairly big, but in open terrain, enemies won’t have much trouble avoiding the area or quickly vacating it once they break free of their restraints. But if you position Entangle in a narrow passageway, enemies will have no choice but to suffer the slowed-down speed for the entire 20 feet of difficult terrain.
That’s enough to eat up an entire round of movement, or force an enemy to use the Dash action.
Follow up with Dexterity saving throw-based, area of effect spells. Being restrained gives disadvantage on Dexterity saving throws. That means that spells like Fireball are much more likely to land on all the creatures you successfully restrain with Entangle.
Talk about a winning combination of spells.
Focus fire restrained creatures. Attacks against restrained creatures have advantage. In most circumstances in DnD, it’s best to eliminate one target at a time. Wiping out vulnerable targets first is usually a good bet.
However, restrained creatures also have disadvantage on their attacks, so, in some cases, it may be more optimal to attack an enemy who’s more actively threatening your party.
Take advantage of negative Strength modifiers. Spells like Bane, Hex, and Bestow Curse can give a target disadvantage on their saving throws of a certain ability (Strength, in this case). Bane is especially good for pairing with Entangle, since it can affect multiple creatures.
Counter with Speak With Plants. This is a defensive tip — if your party is caught in an Entangle spell cast by an enemy, the spell Speak With Plants can instantly cause plants to release restrained creatures (PHB 277).
Beware friendly fire. Last but not least, look out for your fellow party members when you cast this spell — they’ll risk becoming restrained if they’re in range of the spell’s effect when you cast it.
Additionally, the difficult terrain might cause tactical issues for one of your allies, so consider how everyone (not just enemies) will be affected by Entangle in the following rounds of combat.
Who Can I Target With Entangle 5e?
You can target a 20-square-foot space of ground with Entangle. Because the spell text specific that the area starts “from a point within range” (90 feet), this means that a player can affect a space up to 110 feet away with Entangle (90 feet for the origin + 20 feet for the area of effect).
This is rare among cubic and spherical DnD spells, which mostly specify that they are centered on the point of origin.
Entangle can be cast on any surface, regardless of whether plants could actually “sprout from” it. The definition of “ground” should be read as idiomatic (common sense) according to the game’s developers. Any edge rules on what constitutes “ground” are up to your DM.
Is Entangle 5e a Good Spell?
Yes, Entangle is an incredibly good spell in 5e. In fact, I’d say it’s on the short list of best 1st-level control spells in the game. A 20-square-foot area of effect is pretty big, and the restrained condition is very powerful.
So powerful, in fact, that the only other 1st-level spells that restrained (Ensnaring Strike and Snare) are both single-target spells. The potential to affect 16 total creatures (unlikely, but technically possible) with Entangle is just bonkers. Even if you just hit three enemies, you’re getting huge utility for a single spell cast.
That’s at least three enemy turns wasted and likely a few turns of attack advantage against those targets/disadvantaged attacks coming from those targets.
Many spells allow for automatic saving throws to be made at the start or end of an affected creature’s turn, without using an action. The fact that an enemy has to choose to blow their action breaking free or make a weaker attack is exactly the type of “rock and a hard place” situation you want to put enemies in.
Finally, Entangle scales incredibly well as you progress through a campaign. Your spell save DC will naturally rise, and the restrained condition remains powerful against creatures of any level. And the fact that you never have to upcast Entangle means that you’re getting an equally good effect for a spell slot that becomes cheaper and cheaper to expend as you level up.
Entangle 5e Compared to Ensnaring Strike
Ensnaring Strike is a 1st-level Ranger-exclusive spell. It’s a bonus action, lasts for up to 1 minute (concentrion permitting), and causes the next weapon attack that lands to alows for a Strength save or restrain the target.
The target also takes 1d6 piercing damage (scalable with upcasting) at the start of its turns while it remains restrained. The creature or another creature can use an action to make a Strength save to break free of the restraints.
In almost all scenarios, Entangle is superior to Ensnaring Strike. 3.5 average piercing damage per round is unimpressive, and the fact that another creature can free the restrained creature makes it less effective at shutting down the specific enemies you want to shut down.
And, of course, it only affects a maximum of one creature. To me, this makes it several magnitudes of utility worse than Entangle. And since Tasha’s added Entangle to Rangers spell lists, there’s really no reason for anyone to take Ensnaring Strike anymore.
Entangle 5e DM Tips
I left DMs with a somewhat open rules question — what is “ground”? For my two cents, any surface that land-bound creatures can walk on without Spider Climb counts as ground. Don’t worry too much about the logistics of this.
For example, plants bursting from the ground of a boat would likely cause the boat to capsize. But that’s not what Entangle does, nor should you complicate matters by considering it.
Basically, just look at the mechanics of what the spell actually does and forget about the flavor text — when it becomes inconvenient.