Candlelight flickers across the stone walls as the party wizard utters the arcane words to a spell. A shimmering portal opens on the floor before them, and a viscous grease begins to ooze out, covering the dungeon tiles in a slippery film. The goblins pursuing the adventurers don't stand a chance as they rush heedlessly into the conjured trap, feet flying out from under them as they crash to the floor. The party rogue grins and flourishes his daggers, descending upon their fallen foes.
So goes a classic maneuver using one of the most versatile and underappreciated spells in Dungeons & Dragons: grease. As a 1st-level conjuration spell available to wizards, artificers, and certain subclasses, grease allows even low-level casters to exert impressive battlefield control. With nothing more than a bit of butter or pork rind, an enterprising adventurer can turn the very ground against their enemies.
Yet for all its usefulness, grease receives surprisingly little discussion compared to flashier spells. Well, readers, your slipperiness education begins today. This guide will explore everything you need to know to master grease, from its game mechanics to optimal uses. We'll slip and slide through every edition of D&D, glean sage advice from the designers themselves, and share real grease stories from players and dungeon masters.
By the end, you'll see grease as we do – not just as a spell, but as an instrument of chaos ready to be unleashed with the proper arcane expertise. So lace up your most surefooted boots, grab a tarp for your gaming table, and let's get slippery!
Understanding Grease in 5th Edition
Before strategizing about grease, we must first understand exactly what this tricky conjuration does by the 5E ruleset.
The grease spell covers a 10-foot square area centered on a point within 60 feet of the caster. As soon as the magical lubricant manifests, the targeted surface becomes difficult terrain. Any creature standing in the area when grease is cast must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw or instantly fall prone. After the initial casting, any creature that enters the grease or ends its turn within must also make the Dexterity save or suffer the same slippery fate.
As veteran players know, the prone condition is no joke. Prone creatures have disadvantage on attack rolls and attackers within 5 feet gain advantage when targeting them. However, attackers further than 5 feet away are also hindered by the prone target. Plus, crawling through grease subjects creatures to additional movement penalties beyond the difficult terrain alone.
Grease also stands out for its duration – a full minute, maintained without requiring concentration. This allows a caster to keep slippery terrain active while maintaining a separate concentration spell. That's an advantage offered by few other area control effects at low levels.
- Covers 10 foot square in viscous grease
- Dexterity save or fall prone
- Half speed crawling movement
- Prone causes attacks within 5ft to have advantage, attacks beyond 5ft to have disadvantage
- Duration 1 minute without concentration
Now let's envision how to put this slippery spell to work for us in the dungeon…
Finding the Perfect Spots for Grease
The adventuring party has cleared away the cobwebs, disabled the traps, and picked the lock to the inner sanctum. But as the rogue eases open the stone door, you hear guttural shouts – the sanctuary guards have been alerted! Girding themselves for battle, the party falls back through the doorway into a narrow passage. “This is our chance!” shouts the wizard. “When they rush us, I'll grease the threshold. Their numbers will count for nothing if they can't reach us!”
As that scenario illustrates, grease truly shines when cast in tight spaces that enemies must pass through. A greased 5-foot corridor can function as the wizard's own personal superpower, turning away small hordes of foes.
Any environment that funnels enemies into a limited approach is prime real estate for grease. The spell excels in:
- Narrow hallways and doorways
- Stairwells and ladders
- Small chambers with one entrance (beware – this also risks trapping your party!)
- Natural chokepoints like mountain passes
Besides bottlenecking movement, grease also prevents enemies from fleeing. If you catch a foe alone in a dead-end chamber, a patch of grease covering the exit can lock them in. Let your party pummel them while they fruitlessly crawl about!
The uses aren't limited to dungeon delving either. If your campaign includes urban adventures, grease works nicely on city streets. Cast it beneath the feet of pursuing city guards to send them slipping into mud and muck. Just take care near sewer grates…
But we've only just scratched the surface of grease's potential. Let's look at how it synergizes with other spells and abilities for even slipperier scenarios…
Getting More Mileage from Grease
While grease shines on its own merit, combining it with other spells and abilities can amplify its impact. Don't look at grease in isolation – look at it as a component you can integrate into a broader battlefield control strategy.
For example, grease pairs exceptionally well with acid and fire. Use a spell like Produce Flame or Fire Bolt to ignite the grease and create an environmental hazard that burns and restrains enemies simultaneously! Water spells like Shape Water can also make greased areas more perilous by turning the ground to mud.
Alternatively, make the greased surfaces more treacherous with a Conjure Barrage for a barrage of splintery ice and stone to pelt foes, or instead of flaming grease, have a call lightning storm strike any creature ending its turn inside the hazardous zone.
If you don't have a pyromaniac wizard handy, other spellcasters can aid with forced movement. A warlock's Eldritch Blast with the Repelling Blast invocation can fling enemies into the slippery patch, as can a thunder wave or gust of wind. Battlemaster fighters truly shine here, using maneuvers like Pushing Attack to reposition foes into greasy trouble zones with their weapon strikes.
Looking beyond the core rules, some of our favorite grease combinations include:
- Spike Growth + Grease – The carpet of enchanted spikes deals automatic damage whenever creatures are forced to move through it. Have the druid entangle enemies in place while the wizard greases the trapped area for recurring damage.
- Web + Grease – Further constrain movement by layering areas of web over grease. Creatures restrained by webs suffer further movement penalties when slicked by grease beneath.
- Cloud of Daggers + Grease – Sustained magically hovering daggers deals automatic damage to anyone starting their turn within the deadly cloud. Combine with grease for added pain to clumsy foes.
With creativity and coordination between party members, the possibilities for stacking grease with other spells are nearly endless. Don't overlook its potential in concert with the rest of your arsenal.
Using Grease Creatively Outside of Combat
While grease shines in combat, creative dungeon masters and players have crafted some clever utility purposes from the slippery stuff as well.
Need a distraction to sneak past guards? Coat the stairs to the warden's office in grease and enjoy the audible pratfalls.
If your rogue needs to climb a precarious rope, grease beneath him lets him descend safely. No more worrying about failing athletic checks and plummeting embarrassingly in front of the party.
Is the party wizard tired of the arrogant noble belittling him? Wait until the blowhard leans back in his chair for an unceremonious greasing. His peers will surely mock any claims that a “merely academic” mage bested him afterwards.
Grease even excels as a makeshift cooking oil. While it lacks flavor, grease conjured in a pan can fry rations to crispy perfection. Beats eating flavorless iron rations yet again while on watch.
From pranks to cooking, grease is limited only by your creativity outside of combat. But if you still need a little inspiration, check out our favorite grease anecdotes submitted by readers later in this guide. Their antics are sure to get your wheels spinning!
Optimizing Grease as a Control Spell
We've covered where to cast grease and useful spell pairings, but let's dive deep into battlefield strategy to maximize its control potential. Used judiciously, our slippery friend can shape entire encounters.
First and foremost, make grease count by catching multiple enemies within its area of effect. A lone greased enemy is easily routed; a bottlenecked horde has no choice but to brave the grease and play by your rules.
When placing grease, don't just consider the immediate turn, but how you can use it in later rounds. Shift your party to create openings that enemies must move through your greased killbox to exploit. You dictate their positioning, not vice versa.
Second, keep the action economy in mind. Enemies losing their action to stand up from prone is a significant advantage. Consider “baiting” tougher enemies into wasting their turn recovering while your party focuses fire elsewhere.
Relatedly, don't forget enemies can escape the area. While grease excels at initial control, you'll need a tank to block the exit or readied attack actions to punish those fleeing your butter zone. Cut off their escape, and the true pain begins.
As for party configurations, grapplers obviously love giving enemies disadvantage on escape attempts. Rogues also appreciate easy advantage through prone foes, along with the benefit to their ranged attacks once baddies close in.
Of course, spellcasters benefit most, especially those packing damage over time and battlefield control spells. Oddly enough, the humble druid often utilizes grease best with their plentiful AOE effects. Don't overlook our natural casting friends!
Beyond class synergy, several game features improve grease's capabilities. The Metamagic Adept feat lets sorcerers extend grease's duration to soak large areas indefinitely. Warcaster is essential for concentration, since many combos rely on concurrent grease and other concentration spells.
Lastly, don't forget the tactical basics. Eliminate potential cover within greased areas so enemies suffer ranged attacks at full disadvantage. Extinguish light sources to impose the prone and blinded conditions simultaneously. And watch those robes – we'd advise waterproofing.
Follow these tips, and you'll be surfing through combat atop a magical wave of enemies writhing in greasy misery. Now that's battlefield control!
Grease Throughout the Editions of D&D
Grease has slipped and slid through every edition of Dungeons & Dragons since its origins. Let's review how the ooze has evolved across the different rule editions:
- OD&D – Grease is a level 1 spell available to magic-users. Duration is a whopping 12 turns (2 hours!). Material component is either butter or bacon rind.
- AD&D 1e – Available to magic-users at level 1. Duration reduced to 3 turns (30 minutes). Adds language about creatures in grease having penalties to attacks and AC.
- AD&D 2e – Now available to wizards and gnomes. Duration decreased to 1 round/level. Dex check added to move through grease at half speed. Additional detail around falling prone added.
- D&D 3e/3.5e – Available at level 1 to bards, sorcerers, and wizards. Duration further reduced to 1 minute/level. More defined rules for crawling movement and balance checks integrated.
- D&D 5e – Available to wizards, artificers, arcane trickster rogues. Duration now fixed at 1 minute regardless of caster level. Balance checks removed in favor of more general Dexterity saves.
Clearly, earlier editions of D&D put high level magic in the hands of low level casters compared to 5E standards. A 2 hour grease spell usable from level 1? Even 10 rounds would be excessive by today's game balance.
Yet it's a testament to grease's enduring versatility that it remains valued despite repeated rebalancing across editions. And who knows? In future editions, perhaps area or duration will scale again for higher level slots. We can dream!
Until then, don't hesitate to borrow ideas from past editions to enhance your 5E grease usage. Making greased creatures flat-footed for ranged sneak attacks has origins in 3.5E rules, for example. Work with your DM to experiment with grease houserules pulled from D&D history.
Greasing the Creative Juices – Real Stories and Uses
Don't just take our word on grease's usefulness – listen to these slippery stories shared by players and DMs:
“Our ranger cast grease on the deck of a pirate ship during a storm to send the scallywags sliding helplessly into the raging sea!”
“We were almost wiped escaping from an ancient tomb. I threw down a last grease to let the rogue flee while I held off the mummies.”
“Grease down the Lord Regent's red carpet was the perfect capstone to embarrassing him at the royal gala. Huzzah!”
“Accidentally greased our dwarf barbarian before the jousting competition. His lance spins shot off into the crowd, but he manages to stay mounted for the win! Go grease!”
“The paladin smote the demon with holy fire until it dropped prone. My wizard then greased a path for the ranger's bear to grapple slide the fiend off the cliff edge.”
Casters out there – we hope these anecdotes stir your imagination! If you have your own grease stories, share in the comments. Let's make this the definitive community grease repository.
Mastering Grease FAQs
We've covered a ton of slippery ground, but no guide is complete without answering common grease questions:
Is grease flammable?
By strict RAW, no. Jeremy Crawford has clarified nothing in grease's description indicates it is inherently flammable. But many DMs allow it, so chat with yours if you want to ignite greasy terrain.
Does grease work on flying creatures?
No, grease only affects the ground, so flyers ignore it completely. Use earthbind, wind wall or control weather to ground airborne enemies before greasing.
Can multiple overlapping grease spells make enemies fall automatically?
Nope. Each casting forces a separate save, but they don't otherwise combo. Grease atop grease is still just grease.
Can grease be dispelled? What about covering it?
Yes to dispel magic, but effects end when the 1 minute duration expires regardless of concentration. Covering it with dirt just creates difficult muddy terrain. Other spells like control water work better for wiping it away.
How does grease interact with heat metal?
Another common question! Since metal doesn't ignite grease, we treat it as just creating difficult terrain. But rule of cool suggests letting a generous DM allow hot items to fry the grease.
Does grease work on oozes, gelatinous cubes, etc?
Unclear! As creatures with amorphous bodies, some DMs argue they could pass unhindered. But Crawford suggests oozes follow normal prone rules. Chat with your DM before relying on grease against them.
Slippery When Greasy – Concluding Thoughts
We hope this guide has opened your eyes to grease as the Swiss army knife of low-level control spells. Use its slipperiness creatively, combine it with other spells, and share your own greasy stories with us.
Grease is one of D&D's most enduring spells for good reason. Its battlefield control potential scales incredibly well into higher tiers by constraining movement and action economy. Few spells achieve such chaos so efficiently.
So don't overlook grease in favor of flashy damage spells. With this guide's tips, you'll gain newfound appreciation for grease's incredible versatility. Just mind your footing, or you too may end up prone in dungeoneering disaster!