View Full Version : [3e] Changing size bonuses/penalties?

PairO'Dice Lost
2010-05-19, 10:49 AM
One of my players has a grapple-focused character and was bemoaning the fact that size is an essential component of grappling: you really need to be larger than your opponent to reliably grapple them, and you get screwed by things much larger than you. He made the point that since size increases already increase Strength and reach, it's adding insult to injury to add a size modifier as well; plus, once a creature is larger than you are, the ways you take advantage of their size don't change significantly once they get past a certain threshold.

So the question is, how would it affect the game if the rules for size modifiers were changed to simply grant a flat +2 to attack larger foes (and a corresponding -2 to attack smaller ones) and a flat +4 on grapple checks against smaller foes (and -4 against larger ones)? I'm not necessarily planning to ever implement this, but it's an interesting thought experiment. Off the top of my head, I can see it benefiting PCs by making grappling much more viable; larger monsters would benefit from an easier time hitting PCs and a higher touch AC. One potential drawback is having to add the size modifier in during the game instead of having it precalculated, though a +2/-2 for size isn't much more fiddly than the +2 for flanking or -4 for firing into melee.


2010-05-19, 11:14 AM
Realism first...

Grappling something significantly bigger/smaller than you is basically not gonna work. There's a very good reason the various (non-theatrical) wrestling leagues have tight weight classes. Even those small weight differences within human norms are enough to make or break you. Consider wrestling something literally twice as big as you (imagine going bare-handed against a fully grown gorilla, and you're still only into "powerful build" territory). Or consider a father wrestling against his 10-year-old son as a game. He'll pull his strength because he knows he is going to flatten him otherwise. That's a size class difference.

For two size classes difference, imagine your pet cat (or a chihuahua) grappling your arm when you play with it. It just isn't ever going to pin you. Worst case, it might cause you to drop whatever was in that hand.

There is something about using the weight of the other person in martial arts. But those techniques are all about throws and using momentum; wrestling requires quite a different approach, and one in which the opponent's greater weight isn't so useful; because wrestling is mostly about holds, there isn't the momentum to use his weight to your advantage.


PairO'Dice Lost
2010-05-19, 11:44 AM
Realism is an issue, though your examples do reinforce my player's point that strength should matter more than size. Is a 10 year old as strong as his dad, or a human as strong as a gorilla? Not by a long shot; however, the strongest human alive might be able to wrestle a gorilla, and in that case the difference between an ape's 21 Str and the human's 18 isn't too wide a gap. Plus, given the system's granularity or lack thereof, when every single wrestler is Medium size with the differences being due to Str, Con, Improved Grapple, etc. comparing humans isn't the best test.

Obviously reducing the modifiers isn't too realistic; realism is why grappling is so complex and ineffectual against larger creatures in the first place. I suppose I should have been more clear that the question is whether it affects the game-as-game more than whether it affects the game-as-simulation. Despite how often the commoner vs. housecat comparison is brought up to show off rules absurdities, the kind of situation where this change would really matter would be Hercules grappling the hydra or Joe Barbarian grappling an ancient red dragon, not a 10 year old grappling his dad or a housecat grappling Joe Commoner.

2010-05-19, 02:54 PM
Is it that you want a simpler system, with just one bonus and penalty, or that the current adjustments are too big?

If it's the latter, then the Pathfinder grapple rules just apply the standard (not the special D&D 3.5 grapple) bonuses and penalties.
That's effectively half the adjustment of the 3.5 D&D grapple rules.