View Full Version : Grappling Wizard

2010-12-13, 10:36 PM
It was suggested, in this thread (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=179606), that one of the better ways for a Wizard to defend himself is through Grappling. Does anyone care to explain how a Wizard also becomes a Wrestler? Where (in terms of level advancement) does this tactic work best? What tricks do Wizards have to become Grapplers par excellence?

2010-12-13, 10:42 PM

Yes it's D&Dwiki, but this particular build is legit as far as I've observed. Effective grappling even at low level.

2010-12-13, 10:44 PM
Ok I'm sorry I know this is off topic, but what is the issue with dandwiki? People here seem really against it.

Joseph Silver
2010-12-13, 10:47 PM
Ok I'm sorry I know this is off topic, but what is the issue with dandwiki? People here seem really against it.
It's mostly homebrew. Like fanfiction, good homebrew is hard to come by.

2010-12-13, 10:53 PM
And it isn't called out as such. That makes it slightly dangerous, as it's hard to tell what is and isn't official, and therefore typically available for play.

Concerning the build presented, would it be viable from level one if you traded Scribe Scroll for Improved Grapple (via the Martial Wizard or whatever the ACF is called)?

2010-12-13, 10:55 PM
And it isn't called out as such. That makes it slightly dangerous, as it's hard to tell what is and isn't official, and therefore typically available for play.

Concerning the build presented, would it be viable from level one if you traded Scribe Scroll for Improved Grapple (via the Martial Wizard or whatever the ACF is called)?

Not sure what numbers you could get, but certainly sounds viable. Really the whole point is to get everything a normal grappling character gets, plus spells. Since there aren't that many good grappling feats, it's not hard to keep up, and the spells (and octopus familiar) push the build ahead.

2010-12-14, 10:26 AM
Whats the source of the octo familiar?

Killer Angel
2010-12-14, 10:35 AM
Whats the source of the octo familiar?


2010-12-14, 10:35 AM
Whats the source of the octo familiar?


2010-12-14, 10:35 AM
Ok I'm sorry I know this is off topic, but what is the issue with dandwiki? People here seem really against it.

Uuurrrrggh! Here I'm trying to have a nice campaign with not too many books allowed (read: all the ones that I know) - certainly no dragon magazine or homebrew, and then my players fall into the "but it's on dandwiki" trap.

Then I have to deal with telling them NO to their requests - I don't like saying no, I feel like it stifles creativity and can potentially make my players feel sad if they've been building up on this idea in their mind. Regardless, this will prompt further discussion and investigation... because it's on dandwiki. And if I even consider allowing it and check it out, I notice that it's ridiculously broken!!


2010-12-14, 10:54 AM
The spell Urchin's Spines from Stormwrack is pretty sweet for a grappling wizard. lvl 2 spell that adds a little dmg and a low dc dexdmg poison.

Small problem with the Octo familiar btw, they are aquatic.
And checking the MM that means they breath water, not air.
So it's prolly not an option. Lest you intend to keep it in a fishbowl inside a familiar-pocket.

2010-12-14, 12:22 PM
The grappling wizard build relies on the idea that grappling in 3.5 edition mosty relies on passive bonuses, most of which come from size. And spells, generally, are the best way to increase one's size easily. Not to mention other benefits, many of which can be found in Spell Compendium - like spells that deal damage whenever you hit by a natural or unarmed attack or grappled and non-size-based benefits to grappling like Fearsome Grapple.

Just from SRD, you can pick up Alter Self and Enlarge Person by the time you're level 3 wizard (or level 4 sorcerer, but unless you intend to grapple all the time, I'd suggest a wizard. A cleric might work too, actually, but that's another story).

Alter Self can turn you into a large humanoid (assuming you're not an outsider or abberation, ie not Tiefling or Elan) with some free str bonuses - so expect at least +4 size bonus to grappling, with possible extra bonuses from strength. At level 3, it lasts 30 minutes per a cast, so you shouldn't have too much trouble keeping it up. Or just have a few scrolls, they're cheap enough.

Enlarge Person is another size increase, with a decent duration - 1 minute/level. So it's another +4 size bonus to grapple as you become huge, and +1 from the extra str. Not to mention, as long as you're large, your reach is 10 feet - so you might not need the Improved Grapple after all, since a lot of targets you'll be grappling will not be able to AoO you anyways.

So that's at least +9 bonus to grappling and reach (which will generally let you avoid the AoOs) just from SRD, by level 3 wizard. And that's not counting whatever other bonuses you might have, from Octopus familiar or from strength or from Improved Grapple feat.

The true strength comes with Spell Compendium.

There are many, oh so many, useful spells at level 2 or lower you could use to help with your grappling. Of course, you can stick as many as you can on yourself, but some of them have shorter durations and without Persist metamagic ( or the cheaper Extend, which I do recommend here) and generally take 1 standard action to cast, so without some way to quicken them for free or make them longer (extend is your best option at low levels) you're better off using as few spells as possible for maximum benefit. So here they are:

1. Fist of Stone. Level 1 spell, lasts only 1 minute no matter the caster's level, gives a natural slam attack which you won't need and +6 str which can come handy both for grappling checks and landing the initial hit. +3 bonus for 1 minute from level 1 spell, available at level 1.

2. Fearsome Grapple. It has the virtue of being an Immediate Action to cast, but only lasts 1 round/level. It's a second level spell, and as a wizard you should have 3 rounds of grappling with it easily. Gives +4 bonus to grappling and cool tentacles, which can't be used for anything other then grappling. Improves to +8 to grapple at caster level 9.
With it's cast time, you should only be casting it on the same round as you try to grapple.

And now, the true gem of early wizard grappling - Balor Nimbus.

It's a level 2 spell, available to Clerics and Wizards/Sorcerers.
It's a prime candidate for Extend metamagic due to it's round/level duration.
And it's simply awesome.

While all other grapplers have to rely on measly unarmed damage to actually hurt someone when they grapple, you are above such nonsense! All thanks to Balor Nimbus (and it's much weaker lower level brother).

Whenever you grapple or are grappled, Balor Nimbus does 6d6 damage per round. At level 3, when it's available to a wizard, it will last 3 rounds - 1 round most likely lost due to casting unless you intend to cast mid-grapple. So it's only going to do 12d6 damage at level 3 if you're successful at your grappling attempt next round - and there's no reason you shouldn't be. That means an average of 42 damage should will be done within 2 rounds of grappling someone. That might be enough to kill most foes you meet at level 3 outright.

And when I was talking about it's smaller brother, I meant Babau Slime. It's a level 1 spell available to druids and wizards/sorcerers. It lasts 1 minute/level, but given it's benefits you might not bother using it too much. Whenever you're hit by a natural or touch attack, the attacker takes 1d8 acid damage. Same applies to grappling. At level 1, this is a good replacement for Balor Nimbus, especially given it's duration. At higher levels, you might not bother.
So that's some spells that can make you a grappling god at lower levels. I've only played around with this build at low levels, but there are certainly a lot of spells and effects you can use to improve it later on. One must keep in mind that this build is not nearly as powerful as other ways one can use a wizard, but it's got a cool concept, fairly low cost, and can come in power early.

You should still remember all the drawbacks associated with grappling - no dex to armor, can't threaten, can't really do anything aside from grappling.

Maybe I should write a guide or something =o

The final results. Keep in mind, this only gets better if you use other books and are willing to spend more time casting, but I'll only include the faster and cheaper ways to do it with low level spells alone.

For a level 1 character, assuming medium size and humanoid shape.
Fist of Stone, 1 min duration, effective +3 to grapple, attack bonus, and damage when grappling or slamming.
Enlarge Person, 1 min duration, effective +4 to grapple, -1 to attack, and reach.
Babau Slime, 1 min duration, effective 1d8 damage per round while grappling to enemies on top of your unarmed damage.

So a level 1 wizard can obliterate someone in one on one battle completely. +7 to grapple assuming you have only 10 str at level 1 is more then most will have. A raging level 1 barbarian with 18 str would only have +6 and he'd have to take an attack of opportunity if starting a grapple.
And during the actual grapple, you'll be easily doing more damage then the barbarian, too! 1d4 + 3 subdual damage and 1d8 acid damage (latter dealt at the start of your opponent's round) per round as opposed to 1d4 +7 subdual damage a raging, 18 str, barbarian would do.

At level 3, you will have all the previous spells available, some at longer duration. But you will also have:
1. Fearsome Grapple, +4 to grapple for 3 rounds, immediate action cast.
2. Alter Self - possibly str bonus and another size increase, to Huge, resulting in another +4 bonus. Cast that before you cast Enlarge Person, it has longer duration and it will only increase you by one step. Enlarge Person will take you to huge later. This might be a bit complicated if Powerful Build doesn't work in Alter Form, but you might be able to find a large race you can morph into anyways, especially if you're a tiefling or elan.
3. Balor Nimbus. Lasts 3 rounds, one of which will most likely be wasted. Does 6d6 damage per round in grapple.

That's another possible +8 or higher grapple bonus, and 6d6 damage per round when you really want someone dead. Make sure you understand that this will generally eat all your spell slots per day. Being a specialist wizard or an elf generalist wizard generally helps, and with that and high enough intellect you should have 3 2nd level slots open. If you can't do that, don't worry, you can always cut out some spells. Balor Nimbus, for all it's worse, is just an inefficient way of killing someone you grapple fast. Your party can replace it pretty well. You can perform reasonably well with just the level 1 spells at level 3.

Wands generally help, I certainly suggest a wand of Enlarge Person and Alter Self.

With greater then 10 strength you have a fair chance of grappling a black bear just at level 1. The latter gets +7 on grapple checks, same as you with 2 level 1 spells that are easily available in form of wands and no natural strength bonuses. If you're a human wizard with 12 str, 13 dex, and Unarmed Strike/Improved Grapple, you'd have +12 to grapple. And by the time you get to the bear's level, you'd have level 2 spell available, so another +8 to grapple is a possibility.

With just PHB and Spell Compendium, you have an equal chance of beating a black bear (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/bearBlack.htm) in a grapple at level 1. Or decent chances of beating it if you're willing to get improved grapple.

Angry Bob
2010-12-14, 12:31 PM
This (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=6702.msg219523#msg219523) has a level-by level breakdown of what you should do to grapple with a wizard. You'll notice that it stops at seven, because that's where you get polymorph. And once you get polymorph, you can, in the words of the post, "Do all your grapple BS as a remorhaz. I don't even care anymore."