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Yora
2009-07-08, 12:47 PM
I play 3rd edition since it was released and in all that time one character I played once was the only one I ever saw that grappled. During the years I tried to really understand what you can do with grapple, and I think I really did it just now.
So I think it's safe to assume, that a lot of people don't have an actual idea what grapple does and what fun things you can do with it. So lets make a thread about grapple tactics!

Here are some tactics I found, which I think are pretty neat.

Characters in Grapple lose their Dexterity bonus to AC: Unfortunately, not against you. (And the roules don't say that, but obviously they should lose their Shield bonus as well and can't use combat expertise.) But an opponent who uses mostly his Dexterity and mobility to avoid hits becomes an easy target for your allies.

You can deal unarmed damage with a grapple check: You don't have to beat AC. The damage output is very poor, unless you specialized in unarmed combat, but not having to beat AC might be a great help at some times. (Also, I'd houserule, that the damage is from strangling and twisting of limbs, so you don't have to penetrate the opponents skin. In my oppinion, this makes most forms of Damage Reduction not apply. And then, it can be quite a usefully option to take.)

Characters in Grapple can't use one-handed or two-handed weapons: If you're fighting against someone who causes total mayhem with a vorpal greatsword or a keen scythe: Start a grapple and poke him with a short sword. You can't use your own big weapons as well, but it might still be a very good trade for you, and more so if he's trying to butcher non-melee allies of yours.

Disrupting spellcasters: Grapple checks are made with BAB and Strength-modifiers, both things arcane spellcasters completely lack. If you grapple a wizard, he has almost no chance of escaping. And while grappled, a character has to make a DC 20 + Spell level Concentration check to cast a spell. Which at least at lower levels, is pretty hard to archieve. Some spells will probably get through, but as an attacker, you are not more vulnerable to spells in grapple, as you would be in normal melee.
Once the wizard is pinned, you can prevent him from speaking, and spellcasting is practically over.
The best thing is, that there's only a single spell that helps a wizard in that situation, (and personally I don't understand why freedom of movement works in that situation. Grapple is not a magical effect). Sometimes a wizard will have it cast. But not all wizards will have it prepared and even if they do, they must not fail the concentration check to cast it. Every other spell, that protects against attacks, is just useless against being grappled. You might not be able to harm him, but without casting spells, he's no threat at all.

A grappling character can't move: There are not that many, but some characters have to move to be effective.

Please tell me, if you see any flaws with these tactics or can think of some more.

NEO|Phyte
2009-07-08, 12:51 PM
Please tell me, if you see any flaws with these tactics or can think of some more.
Already one flaw I'm aware of.

No Dexterity Bonus

You lose your Dexterity bonus to AC (if you have one) against opponents you arenít grappling. (You can still use it against opponents you are grappling.)
:edit: Post editing shenanigans!

Yora
2009-07-08, 12:53 PM
Yeah, I've seen it probably the same moment as you. He can still use his bonus against you. But it seems there's no chance to hit an ally instead of an enemy, when they are in grapple. If you have an allied rogue at hand, that means sweet sneak attack time. :smallbiggrin:

JeenLeen
2009-07-08, 12:54 PM
I had a Totemist character which I realized could have easily been a grappler build and it was a lot of fun. I had at least +40 to grapple at around level 17 due to soulmelds without even aiming at grappling.
One time I grappled a large golem so that we could get to the caster it was protecting. That was a lot of fun.

I'd like to add the question: is there any way that grappling can overcome Freedom of Movement? I've thought of dispelling gauntlets, but I don't think that should work.

Edit: one flaw is needing Improved Grapple, and thus Improved Unarmed Strike, not to have your grapple attempts disrupted by the AoO they otherwise provoke. But the feats are there, or a level dip into Monk can do it.

Pharaoh's Fist
2009-07-08, 12:54 PM
Sometimes a wizard will have it cast.
Wizard's can't cast Freedom of Movement because it's not on their spell list, but they can get a ring of it. And the ring is a 24/7 effect.


personally I don't understand why freedom of movement works in that situation. Grapple is not a magical effect
Because the spell description says so.


This spell enables you or a creature you touch to move and attack normally for the duration of the spell, even under the influence of magic that usually impedes movement, such as paralysis, solid fog, slow, and web. The subject automatically succeeds on any grapple check made to resist a grapple attempt, as well as on grapple checks or Escape Artist checks made to escape a grapple or a pin.

Fenix_of_Doom
2009-07-08, 12:56 PM
I see a huge flaw called freedom of movement/hearth of water.

also

Special Size Modifier

The special size modifier for a grapple check is as follows: Colossal +16, Gargantuan +12, Huge +8, Large +4, Medium +0, Small -4, Tiny -8, Diminutive -12, Fine -16. Use this number in place of the normal size modifier you use when making an attack roll.

Yora
2009-07-08, 12:58 PM
Because the spell description says so.
Yes, that's true. But I think that makes the spell somewhat broken. There are few ways to keep a spellcaster from casting, and this single spell, which can be made in an always active item, gives you total immunity against it. The rules say it works that way, but I think spellcasters are much more interesting for everyone involved, if they require protection from allies to cast their spells unhindered. If they can do it without any help, it makes them the solo-characters they are, and I think that's not a good thing for the style of play I want to create in my campaigns.

Regarding size modifiers: That's of course a problem when trying to grapple larger opponents. But at the same time it's a bonus when fighting against gnomes or goblins, or if you have an ogre in the party or cast that cleric spell that increases your size. :smallbiggrin:

-Cor-
2009-07-08, 01:04 PM
There's always the RAW abusing 8 person grapple ball of speed.

I think there's a whole big long thread devoted to it on here somewhere.

That said, Grapple was always one of those things that was just a nightmare for me as a DM because it only crept up just often enough for me to forget all the rules about it and have to look it up thus causing a 5-10 minute lull in play as I read the 6000 page Grapple entry again.

((Same thing with Dispel Magic)).

Even when I put a handy dandy printout of both behind my DM screen it still didn't occur often enough for me to have it memorized.

Biffoniacus_Furiou
2009-07-08, 01:10 PM
You can deal unarmed damage with a grapple check: You don't have to beat AC. The damage output is very poor, unless you specialized in unarmed combat, but not having to beat AC might be a great help at some times. (Also, I'd houserule, that the damage is from strangling and twisting of limbs, so you don't have to penetrate the opponents skin. In my oppinion, this makes most forms of Damage Reduction not apply. And then, it can be quite a usefully option to take.)

An unarmed strike is considered a melee attack, even when you replace the attack roll with a grapple check. Power Attack is added to all of your melee attacks, including when you use this. Since Power Attack applies a penalty to your attack rolls, and a grapple check is not an attack roll, you can Power Attack for the max and take no actual penalty for it. There are even creatures based around this tactic, such as the Frost Giant Mauler in Frostburn. Despite this and the fact that it works by RAW, WotC has said that it shouldn't be allowed because you get something for nothing...

Remember that you can only use one type of weapon in a grapple, so for example if you grapple a dragon or the Tarrasque it can only use its bite until it escapes the grapple. The only exception to this is Rake attacks, which can be used in addition to the one weapon limit. Even if a creature gets a 2 Claws attack routine, it only gets to use one claw in a grapple.

Creatures with Improved Grab must use the natural weapon that they grabbed you with when grappling you, but they have the option of making a Grapple check in place of an attack roll to deal damage with that natural weapon. If it has a Constrict special attack then it can choose to make a grapple check to deal constrict damage instead.

Characters who make grapple checks to deal unarmed strike damage should instead get the Crushing Weight of the Mountain stance from Stone Dragon, either via Swordsage or Warblade levels or with the Martial Study/Stance feats. That grants a Constrict special attack that deals 2d6 plus one and a half times your Strength bonus, though Power Attack doesn't work with it.

Wild Shape, Polymorph, and Metamorphosis are good for taking the forms of creatures that are good at grappling. Various cat forms like (Dire) Lion and (Dire) Tiger are good because they're Large and get both Improved Grab and Rake attacks. There's also the Annis Hag, Darktentacles (MM2), Cave Troll (MM3), and especially the Behir for someone using Polymorph or Metamorphosis.

Yora
2009-07-08, 01:13 PM
The actual rules aren't that complicated, they are just explained one step in detail at a time in the PHB and SRD. If you write the steps down in a simple list, it's actually pretty easy to do.
I did the same thing for tripping for a first time player who took the Improved Trip for his 1st level fighter.

Yora
2009-07-08, 01:15 PM
Various cat forms like (Dire) Lion and (Dire) Tiger are good because they're Large and get both Improved Grab and Rake attacks.
Also, there's nothing coming even close to the joy of jumping an enemy and tearing him to shreds until he stops moving. ^^

Jack Zander
2009-07-08, 01:30 PM
If you really want to have fun with grappling, then you need to get 5 poeple together, and have four of them grapple the fifth.

Now, on everyone's turn, they need to make a grapple check to move everyone involved in the grapple at half their move speed (15 feet).

Because you can choose to fail at any check you make, the 4 people being pulled choose to fail their grapple checks and be dragged 15 feet that round.

This nets you a move speed of 75 feet per round (faster than a hussle) and because there are no rules for battle fatigue, hugging your friends lets you move faster than you can jog and without ever becoming tired.

But wait, it doesn't stop there! The rules state that you can be grappled by 4 other people. What about the people who are grappling you? They each can be grappled by another 3 people! Get 450 people involved and you are breaking the sound barrier by sheer power of the group hug!

But how can we use this knowledge to produce a weapon of mass destruction? Well, realizing that those 450 people are all in one 5 by 5 foot space, all you need to do is break the grapple (fireball is a good choice). When the grapple is ended, every character is shunted to the nearest open 5 foot space. This means that some people will travel as far 2250 feet if they are at the end of a 2250 by 5 foot corridor.

So now we have a weapon that can move faster than sound and explode in a 75 foot area spread in open terrain.

What's the most fun to be had with this? Psychologial warfare. The explosion deals no damage except for the fireball, which has a smaller spread than the bomb. What it does is violently throw corpses throughout the town square. Corpses which could be captured prisoners or loved ones. And this bomb detonates just prior to the actual attack. Or maybe you just keep raining dead bodies through their town until they surrender.

Another idea is to use this on soldiers and have them rush into the front gate at the speed of sound before it can close. Once inside they can voluntarily end their grapple for the same effects with no damage, and you've got a large force of 450 troops inside their walls ready to deal as much damage as possible to the city.

WARNING: Do not lock all 450 people in a 5 by 5 by 5 foot room with a rogue in the center and fireball trap. Your session will crash, all your books will be sucked into roguespace, and your character sheets will be lost by divison of zero.

ericgrau
2009-07-08, 08:31 PM
^ Yes I've heard of that movement silliness before. Though I hope no one actually believes it. As for fitting people in a space, the rules make a limit of about 4 medium creatures.

A ring of freedom of movement isn't cheap. A caster probably won't have it until level 15+ and NPCs will have to wait even longer. More likely he needs to ask a friendly cleric nicely. Plus there are at least half a dozen anti caster tactics. Maybe the caster can spend all his WBL countering one early, or a spell slot (or allies' spell slot) to counter one, but not all of them. So best solution is to use all the tactics and be ready. Plus casters tend to have lousy BAB and often no melee weapon in hand, or are otherwise vulnerable, so these tactics are good to know even if you don't have any feat or build options in that direction at all. Also note that casters cannot use spells with somatic components while grappled, on top of the concentration check. So barring the ring of FoM, you pretty much just need to force him to blow all his dimension doors.

Oh, and for the 2nd time today I'm pointing to my sig. Those cheat sheets are handy for grappling and all kinds of tactical things. Good to have on hand when playing.

Pharaoh's Fist
2009-07-08, 08:32 PM
A ring of freedom of movement isn't cheap. A caster probably won't have it until level 15+

You can afford one at level 12.

ericgrau
2009-07-08, 08:35 PM
^ Technically level 10 but not practically even at level 12. Even 15 is pushing it; 1/4 your gold is a lot. It's not like this is the only thing he has to worry about like I said. You can also afford an +6 int item fairly early but, guess what, you can't blow all or half your gold on every item that costs all or half your gold. There are other things you need too or that'll become the new weakness.

Pharaoh's Fist
2009-07-08, 08:39 PM
When all you have to worry about is basically items that boost your saves, casting stat, and defense, 1/4 your WBL on a superb defensive item doesn't seem that bad.

At least with all the casters I've ever played.

ericgrau
2009-07-08, 08:40 PM
Hmm, maybe if your particular DM only sends grapplers at your casters. Otherwise it's just 1 of a few things you need to worry about.

Darrin
2009-07-08, 10:43 PM
You can afford one at level 12.

Whenever I consider a grappler build, Freedom of Movement still gives me headaches. I just haven't been able to find a reliable trump card for it.

Rings at least are easy enough to sunder, but clerics (particularly with the travel domain) or wizards with Arcane Disciple... ugh. The only thing I could come up with to trump FoM is a Spellthief's steal spell effect ability. Unfortunately, you have to take a lot of Spellthief levels to consistently beat the FoM caster level, which generally prevents you from taking levels in things that help grappling.

Hmm. Grappler + Leadership to pick up a Spellthief cohort... might be a decent combo.

Jack Zander
2009-07-08, 11:34 PM
^ Yes I've heard of that movement silliness before. Though I hope no one actually believes it. As for fitting people in a space, the rules make a limit of about 4 medium creatures.

The rules state:


Multiple Grapplers

Several combatants can be in a single grapple. Up to four combatants can grapple a single opponent in a given round. Creatures that are one or more size categories smaller than you count for half, creatures that are one size category larger than you count double, and creatures two or more size categories larger count quadruple.

4 people can grapple a fifth person, and then 3 more people can grapple each of those four. Every person in the grapple is only being grappled by 4 people. It says nothing about a max number of people in a single 5 foot space.

Sstoopidtallkid
2009-07-08, 11:35 PM
I'm pretty sure one of the 'Heart of' line can be used to grant FoM, but I may be mistaken.

Glimbur
2009-07-08, 11:46 PM
Disrupting spellcasters:...
The best thing is, that there's only a single spell that helps a wizard in that situation, (and personally I don't understand why freedom of movement works in that situation. Grapple is not a magical effect). Sometimes a wizard will have it cast.

Many teleportation spells have only Verbal components. Dimension Door, Dimension Hopper, lots of others. Then there are the cheap magic items like Anklets of Translocation that let you escape grapples at about level 5 if you don't want to spend too much on one item.

lsfreak
2009-07-08, 11:50 PM
I'm pretty sure one of the 'Heart of' line can be used to grant FoM, but I may be mistaken.

And it's the lowest-level one. Heart of water, 3rd level, lasts and hour/lvl, gives bonuses to swim and escape artist, water breathing, and can be discharged as a swift action to give freedom of movement for 1rnd/lvl.

Frosty
2009-07-08, 11:56 PM
Isn't it a flat one round long FoM?