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Outmaneuvered

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Even in the midst of PaizoCon preparation, the design staff just loves those crazy little rules questions that pop up on the messageboards, during actual play, or that just randomly stray into our heads when we are designing an archetype or putting the finishing touches on a monster.

Since I just returned from Comicpalooza in Houston, I had a number of those questions come up while conversing with players or that popped up during play, and shared those experiences when I returned. Well, no good deed goes unpunished. While in the middle of sharing my experiences, Jason quickly pointed out that we needed a Design Tuesday blog. So let's look at some question and answers involving everyone's favorite subject—combat maneuvers! Today I'll go over a couple of pressing ones. We will get into more minutia next week.

Illustration by Allision Theus

Question: Standing up provokes an attack of opportunity. I can attempt to trip a creature with an attack of opportunity. Can I use the trip combat maneuver to keep my opponent down on the ground?

In a word, no. By far this was the most common combat maneuver question at the show that people asked me. I had folks try to use it in the game, and I can understand why. As a tactic, it seems pretty powerful. Too powerful, and that's why there are some subtle timing issues that are going on when a creature attempts to stand up and provokes the attack of opportunity.

When the attack of opportunity is provoked for standing up, the creature is still prone, since an attack of opportunity interrupts the action that provoked it. Since that's the case, the creature is still prone when the attack is provoked, and you cannot trip a prone creature, as it is already prone.

Okay, all you trip monkeys out there, don't fret overly much. If you want an effect similar to the one you desire, you just have to pay a higher action cost. Use the ready action. Just make sure your triggered action is "after the creature stands up from being prone" or something similar. I know, it's not nearly as sexy (or free) but I have faith you'll find a way to make it work to the detriment of those wily monsters.

Question: A creature grappling an opponent typically needs to make two combat maneuver checks to pin someone (one to grapple, the next to pin). If you're pinned, do you also need to succeed at two checks to escape, one for the grab and the other for the pin?

The answer to this question is also no. When a creature is pinned, it gains this more severe version of the grappled condition, and the two conditions do not stack (as described in the pinned condition). While this means that you do not take both the penalties for both the grapple and the pin, this also means that pinned supersedes the grapple condition; it does not compound it. For this reason you only need to succeed one combat maneuver or Escape Artist check to escape either a grapple or a pin.

Stephen Radney-MacFarland
Pathfinder RPG Designer

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Allison Theus Animals Anti-Paladins Design Tuesdays Grapple Pathfinder Campaign Setting Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
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Dark Archive

For some reason I can see Hyrum using "trip monkey" as an avatar.

Grand Lodge

This is fantastic. This will end the forum arguments about this!

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Card Game, Modules Subscriber

Excellent blog. Very necessary. This will kill bunches of arguments.

Liberty's Edge

Nice.

Sovereign Court

Dale Wessel wrote:
This is fantastic. This will end the forum arguments about this!

I doubt it. It'll just move it here, and then a month later it'll be on the forums again.

Some people just really want the trip lock. It's great to highlight RAW, but what's needed is a long RAI discussion.


Dale Wessel wrote:
This is fantastic. This will end the forum arguments about this!

You are overly optimistic.

Marathon Voter 2013

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Wasn't the part about Tripping someone who is prone already in the FAQ?

Grand Lodge

Gignere wrote:
Dale Wessel wrote:
This is fantastic. This will end the forum arguments about this!
You are overly optimistic.

I am, mostly because I have this thing in my brain that allows me to filter out threads that argue something that has already been resolved.

I think it's a tumor, but my doctor says it's benign, so I'm good!

Paizo Employee Designer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Cheapy wrote:
Wasn't the part about Tripping someone who is prone already in the FAQ?

It is, but we are still getting a lot of questions about it, so we figured that maybe repetition would help hit the point home.

Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Good start - but we need to know more things! More good designer, more!

Paizo Employee Designer

LoreKeeper wrote:
Good start - but we need to know more things! More good designer, more!

Tune in next week.


Cheapy wrote:
Wasn't the part about Tripping someone who is prone already in the FAQ?

If anyone even knows they exist, I doubt they know where to find them.

There needs to be a better distribution and attention getting method for FAQ items.

Silver Crusade Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

What about creatures that get a free trip attempt as part of an attack, like wolves for example? (only one I can think of)


Speaking of Pinned, did you know it's easier to attack from Pinned than from Grappled?

Liberty's Edge

Thanks for the update/clarification. While you're at it can we get some more information on what a creature can do while grappled or pinned?

Can a grappled creature full attack at all?
Can a grappled creature full attack with a weapon? (say dagger)
Can a grappled creature full attack with natural weapons? (say a dragon with claw/claw/wing/wing/bite)

Can a pinned creature use something like a breath weapon?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Gallard Stormeye wrote:

Thanks for the update/clarification. While you're at it can we get some more information on what a creature can do while grappled or pinned?

Can a grappled creature full attack at all?
Can a grappled creature full attack with a weapon? (say dagger)
Can a grappled creature full attack with natural weapons? (say a dragon with claw/claw/wing/wing/bite)

Can a pinned creature use something like a breath weapon?

1) No

2) No. They can make a CMB check to deal damage with a light or one-handed weapon.
3) No. They can make a CMB check to deal damage with a single natural weapon.
4) Probably.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Pinning someone just got a lot less desirable since it's just as easy to escape a grapple as it is a pin.


I´ve run into confusion over whether the ´Controller´ (I know, we´re not supposed to mention that term),
needs to ¨Maintain¨ the Pin, or if the Pin continues (while Controller takes other actions) until broken.

Or relatedly, do you need to use the Pin option repeatedly when maintaining, i.e. can´t use the Damage or Move options when Maintaining a Pin?

And since Pinned is a stronger version of Grappled, does that mean that a Pinned character who wins their CMB check also has the option to ´Reverse´ the Grapple, leaving both characters Grappled but the Pinned character now ´in control´?

Also, what is the deal with Spellcasting in Grapple/Pin, in some areas it seems barred completely, in some areas it´s just a Concentration check. What gives?

And the biggest question for me: WHY IS GRAPPLE SO CONFUSINGLY WRITTEN? (still, after 2 years or so)
Why was probably THE most confusing approach chosen to describe it?

The PostMonster General wrote:
Speaking of Pinned, did you know it's easier to attack from Pinned than from Grappled?

How could that be true? They don´t STACK, but the worst of all penalties apply.

Kyle Baird wrote:
Pinning someone just got a lot less desirable since it's just as easy to escape a grapple as it is a pin.

Since I´ve always played it this way, I can say that I find the fact they can´t do anything else besides try to escape (like Full Attack or Spellcasting), a desirable effect of having somebody Pinned vs. merely Grappled.

EDIT: My Edits don´t seem to be appearing. Hopefully that changes.

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

But doesn't the Escape Artist entry specifically say a success means you "change from a pinned condition to merely grappled."?

Link, Under Grappler

Or am I misreading the blog as saying that's no longer the case?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber
Kyle Baird wrote:
Pinning someone just got a lot less desirable since it's just as easy to escape a grapple as it is a pin.

It's actually easier as the DC (winner's CMD) is less if their Dex is 16 or more, and if you're using Escape Artist you check doesn't suffer a -2 because you don't have a Dex penalty. So basically, never pin someone (it also opens you up to sneak attacks!)


Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:

But doesn't the Escape Artist entry specifically say a success means you "change from a pinned condition to merely grappled."?

Link, Under Grappler

Or am I misreading the blog as saying that's no longer the case?

Hurray, rules clarifications produced without familiarity with the rules!


Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:
But doesn't the Escape Artist entry specifically say a success means you "change from a pinned condition to merely grappled."?

The blog is discussing using Grapple CMB checks. So perhaps it´s just the case that Escape Artist is WORSE than actually being a good Grappler at getting out of a PIN as opposed to merely being Grappled. On the plus side, it has other uses, and reasonably for the people who max Escape Artist, it gives them better odds than they would have via CMB... A Barbarian doesn´t bother with that skill, at least for escaping from Grapples/Pins. Kind of like how small, dextrous characters are good at utilizing Tumble to evade AoO´s, while big, strong (and light on skill rank) characters are better off using Over-Run.

Liberty's Edge

Kyle Baird wrote:
Gallard Stormeye wrote:

Thanks for the update/clarification. While you're at it can we get some more information on what a creature can do while grappled or pinned?

Can a grappled creature full attack at all?
Can a grappled creature full attack with a weapon? (say dagger)
Can a grappled creature full attack with natural weapons? (say a dragon with claw/claw/wing/wing/bite)

Can a pinned creature use something like a breath weapon?

1) No

2) No. They can make a CMB check to deal damage with a light or one-handed weapon.
3) No. They can make a CMB check to deal damage with a single natural weapon.
4) Probably.

Can Stephen confirm this?

I have always suspected this was the case but it's something that's been left up to table variation for some time.

My question was in reference to the grappled (the victim) not the grappler.

Liberty's Edge

Cartigan wrote:
Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:

But doesn't the Escape Artist entry specifically say a success means you "change from a pinned condition to merely grappled."?

Link, Under Grappler

Or am I misreading the blog as saying that's no longer the case?

Hurray, rules clarifications produced without familiarity with the rules!

Ouch, Stephen can we get a clarification for the clarification or is Escape Artist supposed to be worse than using CMB to escape a pin?


I´m DAMN certain that Paizo staff have chimed in on threads verifying that Grappled characters are free to full attack, from the principle that you can take any normal action/option unless a condition prevents you from doing so. Only restriction is that you can´t take actions which require 2 hands, e.g. 2 handed weapons, 2WF, magus spell combat.


Gallard Stormeye wrote:
Cartigan wrote:
Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:

But doesn't the Escape Artist entry specifically say a success means you "change from a pinned condition to merely grappled."?

Link, Under Grappler

Or am I misreading the blog as saying that's no longer the case?

Hurray, rules clarifications produced without familiarity with the rules!
Ouch, Stephen can we get a clarification for the clarification or is Escape Artist supposed to be worse than using CMB to escape a pin?

More like a retraction. His 'clarification' specifically contradicted the written rule. Otherwise the answer is "Yes for Escape Artist checks."

In fact, I'm not sure why it wouldn't be "Yes." Period. Why bother pinning anyone at all? You are spending and turns making them more constrained but not making it any more difficult for them to escape the hold.


Cartigan wrote:


More like a retraction.

And retractions are valid. It happens. More then a few times I have seen rule clarifications that do the opposite, then the authors of those clarifications begin jumping through hoops to maintain the original statement. There is no need for this. If an error is made in a clarification post; just acknowledge and retract. Simple.


cibet44 wrote:
Cartigan wrote:


More like a retraction.
And retractions are valid. It happens. More then a few times I have seen rule clarifications that do the opposite, then the authors of those clarifications begin jumping through hoops to maintain the original statement. There is no need for this. If an error is made in a clarification post; just acknowledge and retract. Simple.

Agreeable.


I believe the advantage of a pin is that you can then tie them up or put on manacles. Grappled does not let you do that.

Additionally pinned cannot attack other then to take a CM or EA check to break free. Grappled DOES let you attack as long as you do not use something large or with two hands.

Pin is MUCH more restrictive... but you can still escape a pin with about the same success as a grapple.


Thazar wrote:
I believe the advantage of a pin is that you can then tie them up or put on manacles. Grappled does not let you do that.

If you can hold them down long enough. In the time it takes to try and do that, they have had 3 chances to escape from your grapple entirely.

Quote:
Additionally pinned cannot attack other then to take a CM or EA check to break free.

Where does it say that?


In the PRD.HERE.

" A pinned creature is limited in the actions he can take..."

Edit - And yes pinning is hard and since it has the ability to total negate a character once "the cuffs are on". It should be hard to do and give several chances of escape. This bypasses HP and Saves in making a target unable to act unless they have a very high CMB or Escape Artist or great concentration and spells without anything other then verbal components... and even then the concentration DC is Herculean.

I believe they have the "Limited" clause to allow some DM latitude in how clever players try and RP and escape plan.


Cartigan wrote:
Where does it say that?

Pinned: A pinned creature is tightly bound and can take few actions. A pinned creature cannot move and is flat-footed. A pinned character also takes an additional –4 penalty to his Armor Class. A pinned creature is limited in the actions that it can take. A pinned creature can always attempt to free itself, usually through a combat maneuver check or Escape Artist check. A pinned creature can take verbal and mental actions, but cannot cast any spells that require a somatic or material component. A pinned character who attempts to cast a spell must make a concentration check (DC 10 + grappler's CMB + spell level) or lose the spell. Pinned is a more severe version of grappled, and their effects do not stack.

-------------------------------------------------------------

It doesn´t actually have the ´you can take no actions except...´ wording that would be technically valid (this has been mentioned on the boards previously), but the repeated statements that you are limited in your actions followed by actions you CAN do makes clear that the RAI is that you can´t take any actions except those explicitly allowed. Otherwise doesn´t make any sense, since it never details how you are restricted from taking few actions, i.e. by idiot-read RAW you AREN´T limited to taking few actions even though it says that twice.

This is basic stuff... How can you spout off on the rules when you have so little grasp of it?

EDIT: Note, it would certainly not take any MORE space, and most likely LESS, to have technically-valid wording, and remove the UTTERLY REDUNDANT repetition of the ´few/limited actions´ bit. Most issues with the RAW can be fixed with LESS, not more, word count IMHO. Repeating rules for clarity is certainly a valid concern, when rules are spread across various sections. When they are separated by 2 short sentences, it´s definitely not needed.

Grand Lodge

Hey foot, cmere. I need to gnaw on you for a bit.


Thazar wrote:

In the PRD.HERE.

" A pinned creature is limited in the actions he can take..."

"A bird is limited in the forms of movement it can engage in."

What are those forms of movement.
Just like my example, the statement from your rules quotation literally says nothing. I read that and dismissed it as nothing. I was hoping you had something better.


Cartigan wrote:
Thazar wrote:

In the PRD.HERE.

" A pinned creature is limited in the actions he can take..."

"A bird is limited in the forms of movement it can engage it."

What are those forms of movement.
Just like my example, the statement from your rules quotation literally says nothing. I read that and dismissed it as nothing. I was hoping you had something better.

Click the link label HERE and read the whole thing yourself if you would like.


Quandary wrote:


It doesn´t actually have the ´you can take no actions except...´ wording that would be technically valid (this has been mentioned on the boards previously), but the repeated statements that you are limited in your actions followed by actions you CAN do makes clear that the RAI is that you can´t take any actions except those explicitly allowed.

No. It doesn't. You cannot reasonably construe lack of limitation to be a definitive limitation.

Quote:
Otherwise doesn´t make any sense, since it never details how you are restricted from taking few actions, i.e. by idiot-read RAW you AREN´T limited to taking few actions even though it says that twice.

Idiot read? Apparently everyone who plays this game is expected to either have a doctorate in English or to have failed it. How else can players be expected to extract from text rules that don't exist within it?

Again, if the RAI can be MULTIPLE things, then the RAI do not exist and you must fall back on the "idiot-read" (that's "literal" for everyone following along at home) of RAW.
Just like the text "A pinned creature is tightly bound and can take few actions. " means NOTHING. If you want to assert that means something, then you must assert a pinned creature is also bound which is defined as helpless. A pinned creature is helpless. I coup-de-grace it.


Thazar wrote:
Cartigan wrote:
Thazar wrote:

In the PRD.HERE.

" A pinned creature is limited in the actions he can take..."

"A bird is limited in the forms of movement it can engage it."

What are those forms of movement.
Just like my example, the statement from your rules quotation literally says nothing. I read that and dismissed it as nothing. I was hoping you had something better.

Click the link label HERE and read the whole thing yourself if you would like.

I read the whole thing. That sentence literally means nothing. There is neither a positive nor a negative limitation included in that sentence. It's like saying "Birds can move" without bothering to say how or like "there is a rock" without bothering to give any description and then in both cases expecting people to use this "data" to form conclusions above and beyond the information provided.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber
Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:

But doesn't the Escape Artist entry specifically say a success means you "change from a pinned condition to merely grappled."?

Link, Under Grappler

Or am I misreading the blog as saying that's no longer the case?

Well spotted, but does that text supersede the Pinned condition text? How could Paizo have made Grappling more confusing and complicated?


The language is regrettably ambiguous, but the intent is obvious.

When pinned, you can try to escape, or take verbal or mental actions only (including spellcasting if applicable).

That's not what it says, but that's how I would adjudicate it when the poor wording inevitably forced me to do so.

Liberty's Edge

Evil Lincoln wrote:

The language is regrettably ambiguous, but the intent is obvious.

When pinned, you can try to escape, or take verbal or mental actions only (including spellcasting if applicable).

That's not what it says, but that's how I would adjudicate it when the poor wording inevitably forces me to do so.

Even that isn't entirely clear.

I bring up the dragon breath weapon example again. Many DMs would allow it. Many others would not. What is the intent of pinning?


Gallard Stormeye wrote:
Evil Lincoln wrote:

The language is regrettably ambiguous, but the intent is obvious.

When pinned, you can try to escape, or take verbal or mental actions only (including spellcasting if applicable).

That's not what it says, but that's how I would adjudicate it when the poor wording inevitably forces me to do so.

Even that isn't entirely clear.

I bring up the dragon breath weapon example again. Many DMs would allow it. Many others would not. What is the intent of pinning?

It is clearly to make the opponent Helpless so he can be coup-de-graced by your Rogue.


Gallard Stormeye wrote:

Even that isn't entirely clear.

I bring up the dragon breath weapon example again. Many DMs would allow it. Many others would not. What is the intent of pinning?

You're absolutely right. Does anyone really think the rule could be written to cover every case? I don't. But it could be much clearer than it is now, that's for certain.

For the record, I actually think the ability to negate a breath weapon by pinning should be context dependent. If the pinning creature could conceivably hold the mouth shut, then yes, sure. But putting specific language into this rule for breath weapons might cause more harm than good.

On the other hand, if the intent was for pinning to prevent the creature from executing an attack, then I think that should probably be mentioned. Otherwise we end up here.

Liberty's Edge

Evil Lincoln wrote:
Gallard Stormeye wrote:

Even that isn't entirely clear.

I bring up the dragon breath weapon example again. Many DMs would allow it. Many others would not. What is the intent of pinning?

You're absolutely right. Does anyone really think the rule could be written to cover every case? I don't. But it could be much clearer than it is now, that's for certain.

For the record, I actually think the ability to negate a breath weapon by pinning should be context dependent. If the pinning creature could conceivably hold the mouth shut, then yes, sure. But putting specific language into this rule for breath weapons might cause more harm than good.

On the other hand, if the intent was for pinning to prevent the creature from executing an attack, then I think that should probably be mentioned. Otherwise we end up here.

If a pin assumes the creature is strong/skilled enough to hold victims's limbs immobile and unable to attack it seems just as likely that the grappler could hold the victims head/neck in such a way to make a breath weapon unusable.

Or not.

Paizo Employee Designer

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Gallard Stormeye wrote:
Cartigan wrote:
Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:

But doesn't the Escape Artist entry specifically say a success means you "change from a pinned condition to merely grappled."?

Link, Under Grappler

Or am I misreading the blog as saying that's no longer the case?

Hurray, rules clarifications produced without familiarity with the rules!
Ouch, Stephen can we get a clarification for the clarification or is Escape Artist supposed to be worse than using CMB to escape a pin?

I sure can. Just got out of a chat with Jason about this.

The Grappler text in the Escape Artist skill entry is a holdover from 3.5, and is not the case in Pathfinder. An Escape Artist check escapes the pin entirely, it does not make you grappled, as the text in the pinned condition states.

Paizo Employee Designer

Gallard Stormeye wrote:
Kyle Baird wrote:
Gallard Stormeye wrote:

Thanks for the update/clarification. While you're at it can we get some more information on what a creature can do while grappled or pinned?

Can a grappled creature full attack at all?
Can a grappled creature full attack with a weapon? (say dagger)
Can a grappled creature full attack with natural weapons? (say a dragon with claw/claw/wing/wing/bite)

Can a pinned creature use something like a breath weapon?

1) No

2) No. They can make a CMB check to deal damage with a light or one-handed weapon.
3) No. They can make a CMB check to deal damage with a single natural weapon.
4) Probably.

Can Stephen confirm this?

I have always suspected this was the case but it's something that's been left up to table variation for some time.

My question was in reference to the grappled (the victim) not the grappler.

Spoiler alert. We will grapple with these next week...maybe the week after. We will see lucid we are after PaizoCon is over.

Shadow Lodge Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

Stephen Radney-MacFarland wrote:

I sure can. Just got out of a chat with Jason about this.

The Grappler text in the Escape Artist skill entry is a holdover from 3.5, and is not the case in Pathfinder. An Escape Artist check escapes the pin entirely, it does not make you grappled, as the text in the pinned condition states.

Thanks for the clarification, Stephen!


I think what we can take away from this is pinning is a terrible thing to do. Unless it does make the opponent helpless.

Liberty's Edge

Stephen Radney-MacFarland wrote:

I sure can. Just got out of a chat with Jason about this.

The Grappler text in the Escape Artist skill entry is a holdover from 3.5, and is not the case in Pathfinder. An Escape Artist check escapes the pin entirely, it does not make you grappled, as the text in the pinned condition states.

Thanks!

Although, this really hurts the viability of grappling as a combat maneuver since it takes two actions to pin a creature and only one action to break free.

Turn 1

Grappler initiates the grapple.
Grappled creature full attacks Grappler in the face.

Turn 2

Grappler pins.
Pinned creature breaks free.

Hopefully your answers in the coming weeks to my other questions will level the playing field again. If, in fact, grappled creatures are limited to singular attacks grappling won't just be a terrible idea.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 4

Kyle Baird wrote:
Gallard Stormeye wrote:

Thanks for the update/clarification. While you're at it can we get some more information on what a creature can do while grappled or pinned?

Can a grappled creature full attack at all?
Can a grappled creature full attack with a weapon? (say dagger)
Can a grappled creature full attack with natural weapons? (say a dragon with claw/claw/wing/wing/bite)

Can a pinned creature use something like a breath weapon?

1) No

2) No. They can make a CMB check to deal damage with a light or one-handed weapon.
3) No. They can make a CMB check to deal damage with a single natural weapon.
4) Probably.

1) If you are the grappler it takes a standard action to maintain the grapple, this usually limits how many attacks you can get. If you are the grapplee you can only make a single attack with a light or one-handed weapon.

2) A grappler requires a succesful CMB check, but the grapplee does not. Same amount of attacks as 1)
3) See 2)
4) Technically no, there are only 4 actions listed that you can perform as a grappler. As a grapple you could.


My previous post with issues re: Grapple doesn´t seem to be reflecting Edits, so here they are...
I understand you can´t deal with them all now, but whenever you can do a thorough look at Grapple issues would be AWESOME...

Quandary wrote:
Also, what is the deal with Spellcasting in Grapple/Pin, in some areas it seems barred completely, in some areas it´s just a Concentration check. What gives?

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