Grapple in practice


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Of all the offerings presented in the Pathfinder RPG - Alpha Release 1, the alternative grappling rule caught my attention the most. I plan to test it at my next Eberron session in April, but have been keenly interested in others who have already done so.

Christopher Adams (mhacdebhandia) over at rpg.net used it on the spur of the moment for his RotR AP and shared his observations:

http://forum.rpg.net/showpost.php?p=8624756&postcount=119

http://forum.rpg.net/showpost.php?p=8624919&postcount=121


We are planning on testing the combat maneuver rules in our Sunday Pathfinder game. We had a cliffhanger stop wherein my Paladin failed his will save and is now Charmed into defending the big baddie.

This seems like it will definitely be a time when these maneuvers will most certainly be put into use with the party members tripping, grappling, and disarming each other. So, I did some precalculations to see how it would work out and doesn't really look good.

My Paladin has a CMB=9, the Scout has a CMB=7, the Binder/Wizard has a CMB=3, and the Spirit Shaman a CMB=4. In the grand scheme of things these are really still very close to each other in total. However, a quick check will show that the Binder/Wizard CANNOT Trip, Grapple or Disarm my Paladin at all. He needs to hit a DC of 24 (just to get to the very first level of success on any of these) and only has a +3 on his die roll.

Further than that, the Scout can get a minor success against my Paladin with a roll of 17, but for grapple that is only a "held" condition - she can't do better than that on the first round. On the second round she might be able to achieve a "grabbed" condition - but that is it.

So you might think that the Paladin would dominate in the other direction...but it is not entirely so for grappling (and his numbers are reasonable for the other maneuvers). Against the Scout he needs a roll of 13 to get a "held" condition and an 18 to get a "grabbed" and can't do better than that on the first round or ever get a pin. Against the Binder/Wizard he will need a 9 for "held", 14 for "grabbed", 19 for "grappled" and then might pull off a pin on the second round with a 19.

These grapple rules have a sweet spot where they have reasonable odds of success when your CMB is something like 8 to 15 higher than your target but outside that they don't seem to work well.

Likewise all of the other maneuvers have a sweet zone but in a slightly lower range of -4 to +10.

Opposed rolls may be more difficult to run but they have a much wider range wherein weak opponents succeed and strong opponents fail.

Scarab Sages

To me if the Escape artist CMB is 10 plus the BAB and Size, why isn't the Grapple check the same way. Is it easier to get away from some one grabbing you, then holding on to someone? Don't know, seems it favors the grapplie than the grappler. Just my two cents.


Speaking from experience, yes it is easier for the grappler to grapple, if he has a hold, than for the grappled to escape.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Kruelaid wrote:
Speaking from experience, yes it is easier for the grappler to grapple, if he has a hold, than for the grappled to escape.

We don't need your bedroom exploits in this thread.

Seriously, don't forget the wonders of 'aid another' Even a CMB of +3 vs a target of 10 gives a70% (I think) chance of success.


When you look at the statistics for the escape, it is impossible for anyone to escape from someone who has a CMB 11 points higher than their own (unless 20 always wins). Compare this with the current system in 3.5 with opposed checks the person with 11 points lower still has about an 11% chance of success. And in the reverse, if it is the CMB with 11 higher trying to escape he can do so automatically (unless 1 always fails), while in the current system he will fail 11% of the time.

Still, will you often encounter such differences in CMB? I am not sure. The system is certainly easier, but not sure how well it covers the broad range of possiblities.

We will be trying things Sunday and have more to report.


Derringer wrote:

This seems like it will definitely be a time when these maneuvers will most certainly be put into use with the party members tripping, grappling, and disarming each other. So, I did some precalculations to see how it would work out and doesn't really look good.

My Paladin has a CMB=9, the Scout has a CMB=7, the Binder/Wizard has a CMB=3, and the Spirit Shaman a CMB=4. In the grand scheme of things these are really still very close to each other in total. However, a quick check will show that the Binder/Wizard CANNOT Trip, Grapple or Disarm my Paladin at all. He needs to hit a DC of 24 (just to get to the very first level of success on any of these) and only has a +3 on his die roll.

I think this is intentional. What chance would a bookish weakling like me have to tackle a special forces soldier who plays rugby in his free time? None at all. Wizards are not meant to grapple or disarm main fighters.

Also, I think it makes combat much more interesting, because taking out the wizard becomes the main objective for all opponents and the party members have to prevent this from happening.

Liberty's Edge

So, am I missing something or can the grappler no longer damage the grapplee? If this is indeed the case, can we get that adjusted?

The Exchange

That's something I noticed as well. Is grappling going to able to cause damage?


I think it might be a little better if specializing in something like grapple or trip by taking the Improved feat gave a +4 bonus instead of +2. Extra legs give the same bonus to defense as before, and dwarves are still stable at a +4. It seems kind of lame that having expertise in a given combat maneuver has been downgraded just when the manuever has become slightly harder to do. In some test rolls, a CR 6 Hook Horror with two legs is a DC 30 to trip. For a 9th level character with the appropriate feats and extra advantage, they have odds around 1:5 or 1:6. Granted, the system is simplified, but an opposed role, however unrealistic, still kept the maneuver fun to try. I would say either the DC has to be lowered, the specialization feats need to give a better bonus, or the DC should use some measure other than the other character's CMB bonus.

Maybe switch it around so that combat maneuvers require the person being attacked to make the save. I could easily see it favor the player more if they were the one adding 15 to their CMB and telling the Hook Horror to make a reflex save for DC 26. Honestly, it looks a lot harder for the Hook Horror to not be tripped in that instance. Unbalanced? Maybe. But the player who spends feats to make their character the best tripper around won't get frustrated because they only have a 1:6 chance to trip a big two-legged critter that's not paying attention to them.

If that's too unbalanced, what about a circumstance bonus to tripping if it's part of an attack of opportunity?

Even as I say all of this, I don't know how the players are going to take it. Maybe a flat DC that they probably fail will speed up combat and lead them to try the same thing until it works, rather than leading to the inevitable, "Hm, now that they're tripped, should I spring attack them, go trip someone else, tumble around and skirmish back to hit them for more damage, delay until the fighter gets here to flank with me..." So, maybe harder is better for the game. I'll report back when I see for myself, but I am mightily tempted to give +4 instead of +2 for taking Improved Trip.

Paizo Employee Director of Game Design

Lets take a look at a few scenarios here to illustrate a few points...

In the 3.5 system, a 10th level fighter, str 18 (+14) vs a fire giant (+25).
- Assuming the giant rolls and 11, the fighter cannot succeed in grappling the giant.
- For the giant to grapple the fighter (assuming he rolls an 11), the giant needs a 1.

In the PFRPG system, a 10th level fighter str 18 (+14) vs a fire giant (+22).
- The fighter cannot grapple the giant.
- For the giant to grapple the fighter, he needs a 7.

In both cases, the fighter cannot grapple the fire giant, (which seems to make sense). However, under the old system, the fire giant could grapple the character nearly every time. These rules were designed specifically to make grappling harder to accomplish. This was done because being grappled really limits what you can do and makes the combat quite a bit less fun for the affected parties.

I know there are plenty of other scenarios that could be played out that show how tricky it is, and show various corner cases. At this time, I think I want to see more feedback about the system in actual use. I look forward to reading the reports.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Jason Bulmahn wrote:

.....

At this time, I think I want to see more feedback about the system in actual use. I look forward to reading the reports.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer

For what its worth here is my feedback. I figure others will be in total disagreement with me, but this is how I see things. Your new system is harder for me to use than original grapple. In the old system everything was a simple opposed roll and you either won or failed. After reading Grapple once I was easily able to run player after player through a grapple without ever looking at the rules again.

Now I have to refer back to a chart and compare my roll to a DC and then figure out how much I beat the DC by. This means I have to have this PDF document open all the time or have Grapple printed and on my DM screen. On top of this I have to keep track of a +5 Circumstance bonus that must be tracked across different rounds.

I also think this new system is more dangerous in some ways. The first being that if the AoO hits the grapple does not end where it would in 3.5. In the new system you can only attempt to escape a grapple once a round? So a 20th level fighter only gets 1 attempt in your system instead of the 4 he would get in 3.5.

The last is I can't tell from whats written is how a Monk is affected by this change. It sort of looks like a Monk would not get a -4 penalty as its unlikely to have his hands full which is good. It looks like the monk gets to do his full unarmed attack damage if grappled, but has to make an attack roll instead of a grapple or CMB check. So he doesn't get the bonus from Improved Grapple while trying to do damage. I personally don't agree with that.

The only thing I really liked is that a new CMB check must done each round to maintain the grapple so its no longer automatic like it is in 3.5. This I may roll into my house rules as I think that is a small change that can help balance the dangers of a grapple. I also agree with the bonus from Sizes that you have and I had already changed it in our games to be very similar.


Jason Bulmahn wrote:

At this time, I think I want to see more feedback about the system in actual use. I look forward to reading the reports.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer

I was curious how a purlpe worm would fair against a fighter in the PFRPG system (for the purpose of its swallow whole ability).

Using a 12th level fighter with an 18 Strength, the fighter has a +16 vs the purple worms +32. The worm needs a 9 or better to grapple the fighter. You may need to define how "held" and "grabbed" would work in this case.

The big problem with all of this is that the fighter can never break free (even with the Escape Artist skill) and that failure would give the worm a +5 to the check to swallow him. Even if a failed swallow attemp gave the fighter a +5 to escape (if the worm needs another "grappled" result), he still could not succeed (worm CMB 32+10=42; Fighter maxed CMB roll 16+5+20=41).

The results are just as bad with the T-Rex.

The problems crops up with high Strength and either size or high BAB. Having a static DC can create situations where a character can never escape. Of course, that existed in 3.5 already.

I will concede, it may be easier to fix the improved grab/swallow whole ability.

The Exchange

I have a little playtest report. The reason it's so little is because I only got in one combat tonight. CMB works nicely. I have a party of 3rd level characters face off against an Ankheg tonight. The party consisted of a Human Duskblade, a Human Binder, a Halfelf Warmage, and a Gnome Rogue. The Ankheg come up from the ground and surprised the Warmage and instantly attacked him. The attack roll succeeded so I went into Improved Grab mode. The DC 16 the Warmage put up against the Ankheg's +8 CMB(+2 BAB, +5 Str, +1 size) was a bit of a joke for the creature, I had a total of 23 for my first grapple attempt so the Warmaged was Grabbed. I didn't have any rules for the damage this should do so I just had the creature do it's damage each time it succeeded on it's checks. On the Warmage's turn, instead of trying to escape, he attempted to cast a spell but failed his Spellcraft check. My group and I agreed that this should be a Concentration check after that occured. The next round the Creature once again attempted to maintain the grapple and succeeded again but it was a 23 again because I rolled low that time. So the creature did damage again and I had the creature move down it's hole. I figured that since the creature decided to use it's standard action to maintain it's hold on the warmage, I wouldn't need to make another Grapple check to move with the creature. The other players were able to take down the monster eventually and the Warmage was able to survive this encounter thanks to the addition of another rule of Extra HP at first level. I gave the 10 HP at first level(though I technically gave them this HP tonight because 1st level happened months ago.) I like this new system of CMB.


Jason Bulmahn wrote:
In both cases, the fighter cannot grapple the fire giant, (which seems to make sense). However, under the old system, the fire giant could grapple the character nearly every time. These rules were designed specifically to make grappling harder to accomplish. This was done because being grappled really limits what you can do and makes the combat quite a bit less fun for the affected parties.

Again...Thank you so much for involving us in this discussion...and I will be playtesting this tomorrow. However, I wanted to point out some more detailed statistics of your example. Assuming 20's and 1's don't mean anything special in either system -

CMB System-
Giant grappling fighter (in first round) - 70% chance "held", 45% chance "grabbed", 20% chance "grappled" and the fighter then has a 15% chance of escape on his turn.

Fighter grappling Giant - 0% chance and if it happened giant has 95% chance of escape

3.5 System-
Giant grappling fighter- 91% chance and the fighter has a 9% chance of escape.

Fighter gappling Giant- 9% chance and the Giant has a 91% chance of escape.

Taking away the opposed rolls takes the "wings" off of the edges of the probability curve that I believe add some cinematic excitment to the game - giving people that "hail mary" shot.

If you used CMB but kept opposed rolls it might work nicer without adding that much complication. You could still use a sliding scale of success and/or give defender bonuses to adjust the likelihood of success.

The Exchange

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Jason Bulmahn wrote:
I know there are plenty of other scenarios that could be played out that show how tricky it is, and show various corner cases.

Actually, the problem I see is not on the corner, it's smack in the middle. If two fighters of roughly equal ability get into a rasslin' match, neither one can ever achieve a pin, and there is a less than 1% chance that one would land a grapple.

The agressor needs a 15 or higher (30%) to hold, or a lucky 20 (5%) to grab. If he is successful, the defender can free himself with a 10 or higher (55%). Or, he could not bother and simply move to the other side of the fighter (not provoking, since the figher has empty hands) and beat on the wizard the fighter was protecting anyway.

If he lands the hold, and dodges the escape attempt (13.5% overall), he must now maintain the grapple. 45% to lose it, 25% to maintain a hold, 25% to upgrade to a grab (which still does not prevent the fighter from beating on him or adjacent targets with a 1h weapon), or a lucky 5% to get a grapple. Only if he achieves that grapple (30% * 45% * 5% = .7%) does he actually prevent that foe from attacking him or his friends. His foe still has a 55% chance of getting free, and even if unsuccessful, the aggressor needs another lucky 20 next round to maintain the grapple.

Basically, the fact that you need a CMB+25 success on grapple in order to inflict a meaningful hindrance on your enemy means it will *only* be used in the overbalanced situations above, and there is no reason for similarly-capable people to ever even try.

What about a staging system? Using the same equal-skill case above:

The aggressor needs a 15 to hold, or a 20 to grab. If he gets lucky, and lands the grab, the defender now attempts to get free. On a 10, he can push it back to a hold, a 15 and he's completely free. Let's say he misses, and remains grabbed.

The aggressor can now simply maintain the grapple as-is as a standard action with no roll (why should the defender have two chances to escape every round?) or attempt to push it and roll. 4 or lower (missing by 10) loses the grapple entirely, 9 or lower stages back to a hold, 10 maintains, 15 stages up to a grapple and a 20 goes to a full pin.

Please note that in my suggested system the +5 to the aggressor for a failed escape and the -5 to the defender for a pin are eliminated.

Thoughts?

Liberty's Edge

evilvolus wrote:
[Actually, the problem I see is not on the corner, it's smack in the middle. If two fighters of roughly equal ability get into a rasslin' match, neither one can ever achieve a pin, and there is a less than 1% chance that one would land a grapple.

I think the most important thing to remember is that in a "normal" wrestling match, nobody is trying to kill the other person. They are often not even trying to cripple the other person by breaking a limb or tearing out an eye or ripping off an ear. That eliminates a whole lot of defense, and a considerable amount of offense.

Since the grappling rules assume you are doing non-lethal damage by default, it should be reasonable to expect that, in fact, a wrestling match is really not going to result in all that much effect. All you are doing is rolling around, trying to get a lock that you will not take to completion. A "sport" grappling contest should assume something like a -10 or -15 circumstance penalty to defense and a -5 circumstance penalty to attack, with Dexterity being more important for establishing the initial hold. Someone could achieve a pin in those circumstances.

Grappling in a lethal melee it would be next to impossible to get a finishing hold. The person is not going to resist by a simple strength contest as if it were an arm wrestling match, he is going to resist by jabbing a finger in your eye, going for the family jewels, biting your hand, or something else equally unpleasant. If you are trying to grapple in such circumstances, then you are really desperate, and the chances of success are not going to be that good, and you are better off just trying to "hold" with one hand and do something lethal with the other.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

I have a small playtest experience to add.

Ran my group (now 3rd level) in Home Under The Range by Michael Kortes. The first actual fight of the night was against a choker adept 2. With the changes to size penalties and improved grab only giving a +2, I calculated her CMB for grappling at +7. Per the encounter tactics, she tried to grapple a foe from hiding to drag into an acid pool. I grabbed for the rogue. CMB of only +2. I couldn't do better than "grabbed," and she escaped before I could try again the next round with the extra +5, so I don't know if the results would have been any different.

I'm fine with grappling being a little harder, but a monster that relies on grappling for it's CR (like the choker) really suffers under the current rules.


Vigil wrote:
I'm fine with grappling being a little harder, but a monster that relies on grappling for it's CR (like the choker) really suffers under the current rules.

The problem actually reverses for most big creatures with Improved grab. See my post above for the Purple Worm.

The CMB system is a good start. It just needs a little tweeking.

Liberty's Edge

Jason Bulmahn wrote:
These rules were designed specifically to make grappling harder to accomplish. This was done because being grappled really limits what you can do and makes the combat quite a bit less fun for the affected parties.

It also makes the monsters that are good at it fearful for the characters, this is always a good thing, in my opinion!

On the other hand as a DM who rolls plenty of grapples against PC's, let me say I do think the monsters are sometimes way, way too good and there is really NO chance the PCs have of avoiding it or breaking out, so I am willing to give the new grappling a good test.

-DM Jeff


Tonights practice, just using the new grapple rule. (We're instituting each change one at a time, to get the feel for each new mechanic)

7th level rogue, Str 14, leather armor +1, dagger +2
5th level warrior Str 15, long sword with shield, leather armor

The warrior drew his sword, moved in, swung, and missed. The rogue grappled, and managed to grab the warrior, keeping a dagger in his off hand. The warrior hit with the attack of opportunity, but only did 4 points of damage.

Second round, the rogue stabbed the warrior for 5 points of damage, and continued the grapple. With the +5 bonus to grapple, he managed to get 11 points higher than the warrior.

The warrior was in trouble, and couldn't break the hold.

The rogue stabbed him again. The warrior attempted to slam the rogue with a knee, but the leather armor bounced it.

The fourth round, the warrior completely blew the roll, and the rogue had him by 15 points. (A modified 5 for the warrior, a modified 22 for the rogue)

It was sneak attack to the rescue, and the warrior was shanked to death in 2 more rounds.

The second grapple check came in against a wizard being grabbed by a guard and then beat up by a second guard.

The third grapple was the fighter grabbing and holding a thief, that's when the player of the fighter wanted to know why his 22 Str fighter was unable to just crush the weak 8 Str thief to death.

This rule makes grappling a lot easier to deal with, but there a couple of suggestions:

A feat like Weapon Finesse that allows a foe to use dexterity instead of strength. Useful for kobolds and the like, as well as rogues. We modified Weapon Finesse, added Improved Grapple as a prerequisite, and tried the thief VS warrior combat again. The warrior got owned in about 3 rounds. Dead in the alleyway with 3 stab wounds in the back.

The addition of "Controlling Pin" , maybe make it 20+ or just add it as an option to the standard pin. This would allow a warrior or a rogue to use an arm bar to either force the grapplee to take a 5' step in the direction of the grappler choosing, or the grapplee is flat footed while the grappler is no longer flat footed. I did a stint as a bartender and snatching someone's arm behind their back and bum rushing them out the door while keeping my off hand free and my ability to react to any of the drunk's friends was a handy tactic I had to use more than few times.

Someone asked about nonlethal damage coming into effect. You can seriously injure someone while wrestling.

Just some thoughts and observations after tonights game.


"Grappling in a lethal melee it would be next to impossible to get a finishing hold. The person is not going to resist by a simple strength contest as if it were an arm wrestling match, he is going to resist by jabbing a finger in your eye, going for the family jewels, biting your hand, or something else equally unpleasant. If you are trying to grapple in such circumstances, then you are really desperate, and the chances of success are not going to be that good, and you are better off just trying to "hold" with one hand and do something lethal with the other."

Sam I disagree with this part of your post. It is actually quite a bit easier grappling/finishing when someone is striking you or trying to grab your groin (protecting your groin is actually pretty easy just shift one leg ahead of the other when standing). Watch the Ultimate Fighting Championship, it is MUCH easier to take someone down when they are throwing a punch or a kick, especially if the kicker loads up on it. If I am on the ground and in the process of pinning someone, I pray to God that they try to poke me in the eye or otherwise move their arms away from the frame of their torso -- my whole objective is to get an arm or leg extended away from its support system and then use my body to break it or you can choke someone with their own arm if it comes away from the body(my favorite choke)!

I was a high school wrestler and have 10 years of BJJ/mixed martial arts experience and I've seen many and been in a few street fights when I was young and stupid.

Sam, one thing to think about is that I'm not in the slightest bit scared of a "normal" person poking me in the eye (I'd just close my eyes) or hitting me (big deal) when I take him down and break his arm or choke him unconscious within 30 seconds or so. I AM very scared of knives "the grapplers nightmare". In a grapple, light weapons should be -4 to hit but should automatically do critical or even massive damage on a hit vs. humanoid type creatures.

I do like the fact that Pathfinder grappling is a bit harder to get a decisive hold. It OUGHT to be quite difficult for two equally matched fighters to pin each other. Most high level wrestling, BJJ and mixed martial arts matches are LONG (say 10 minutes or 60+ melee rounds!) and are often decided/influenced by fatigue. Similarly, vast differences in skill or size (giants) should be a massacre.

I need to do some specific playtesting before I have other specific comments.


RSM wrote:


This rule makes grappling a lot easier to deal with, but there a couple of suggestions:

A feat like Weapon Finesse that allows a foe to use dexterity instead of strength. Useful for kobolds and the like, as well as rogues.

Look at the Agile Maneuvers feat on page 32 of the PDF....

I've not gotten a chance to put this into play yet, but there is a good chance that my players will be forced into a grapple this Friday. I'll give this a shot, and see how it works. I'm not sure I'm liking what I've seen reported so far, but I'll see how it works in my game.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32

Thraxus wrote:
Vigil wrote:
I'm fine with grappling being a little harder, but a monster that relies on grappling for it's CR (like the choker) really suffers under the current rules.

The problem actually reverses for most big creatures with Improved grab. See my post above for the Purple Worm.

The CMB system is a good start. It just needs a little tweeking.

Reading through the above playtests and looking at a few of the numbers, it does seem that the fixed DC tends to amplify monster strengths and weaknesses. Small monsters usually have lower Strength scores and lower base attack bonuses. Conversely, large monsters almost always have higher Strength scores and higher base attack bonuses. In a system that doesn't use opposed rolls, this makes smaller monsters a bit worse at grappling, and larger ones a bit better.

Maybe the combat maneuver rules could benefit from the removal of the size modifiers. After all, size is already going to be reflected in relative Strength scores and relative base attack bonuses. To preserve realism, just add a few stipulations along these lines: you can't use X maneuver against creatures Y size categories larger than yourself.

In the case of grappling, maybe replace the size modifiers with a rule saying you cannot grapple or pin creatures larger than yourself.

For example, you could grab a dragon's tail just as easily regardless of its size, but if the dragon is twice as long as you are tall, you couldn't do anything at all to pin all its limbs at once. And your angry owl familiar could latch its claws onto an orc's arm fairly easily, it just couldn't grapple or pin the orc by doing so.

On an unrelated note, I would suggest changing the four levels of successful grapple into three: held, grabbed, and pinned. Any successful grapple is a 'grapple,' so 'grapple' shouldn't also be a degree of success that you might achieve while 'grappling.' (Too many different things named 'grapple!')

The Exchange

Well with the new CMB system, they already have severely reduced the size penalties as it is. Small have a -1 while a large has a +1. I think that's better for this system than drop them as a whole.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

The inability to deal damage in a grapple is a problem.

Liberty's Edge

m wadlington wrote:
Sam I disagree with this part of your post. It is actually quite a bit easier grappling/finishing when someone is striking you or trying to grab your groin (protecting your groin is actually pretty easy just shift one leg ahead of the other when standing). Watch the Ultimate Fighting Championship, it is MUCH easier to take someone down when they are throwing a punch or a kick, especially if the kicker loads up on it. If I am on the ground and in the process of pinning someone, I pray to God that they try to poke me in the eye or otherwise move their arms away from the frame of their torso -- my whole objective is to get an arm or leg extended away from its support system and then use my body to break it or you can choke someone with their own arm if it comes away from the body(my favorite choke)!

I have watched the UFC. They are not allowed to gouge eyes or go for the genitals, or too many other things.

Only an incompetent needs to wind up for a kick, nor does someone need to separate their arm to reach the face of someone grappling with them. If they did, you would not be able to grapple someone in the first place. In particular, I do not need to extend my arm to strike. My punching range, and thus the punching range of the people I train, is 1-5". Overall range between both people is the length between the elbow and shoulder.

m wadlington wrote:
I was a high school wrestler and have 10 years of BJJ/mixed martial arts experience and I've seen many and been in a few street fights when I was young and stupid.

I have 17 years of martial arts experience.

m wadlington wrote:
Sam, one thing to think about is that I'm not in the slightest bit scared of a "normal" person poking me in the eye (I'd just close my eyes) or hitting me (big deal) when I take him down and break his arm or choke him unconscious within 30 seconds or so. I AM very scared of knives "the grapplers nightmare". In a grapple, light weapons should be -4 to hit but should automatically do critical or even massive damage on a hit vs. humanoid type creatures.

There is no such thing as a "normal" person in a fight.

If you think an eyelid can stop a finger from gouging out your eye, nobody has ever tried gouging out your eye. Not poking it. Driving in, twisting, and tearing it out. Those are two very differnt things. The "mild" pain from someone simply putting firm pressure on your eyeballs through your eyelids can cause you to release most preliminary holds.
As for taking someone down in 30 seconds, that is not going to stop somone who is hitting you 3-5 times each second. If you think you can focus on breaking an arm or choking someone out while being hit that many times, then I question the ability of the people hitting you to actually hit.

m wadlington wrote:
I do like the fact that Pathfinder grappling is a bit harder to get a decisive hold. It OUGHT to be quite difficult for two equally matched fighters to pin each other. Most high level wrestling, BJJ and mixed martial arts matches are LONG (say 10 minutes or 60+ melee rounds!) and are often decided/influenced by fatigue. Similarly, vast differences in skill or size (giants) should be a massacre.
Quote:

That is because, as I said, they are not trying to kill or cripple each other. They are deliberately trying to only subdue each other. That removes a large number of techniques from their repetoire, and ensures the fights will take an exceptionally long time.
I have sparred for 10-15 minutes as well. Yes, it is exhausting. It is also sport, and not survival. I would never want to spend that much time just slapping at someone if I suspected they really wanted to hurt me.

The Exchange

I do see that. For my playtest, I houseruled that with a successful grapple check each round, the creature would do it's normal damage. It didn't make the creature stronger but If I had taken it away, the creature would have been way weaker. The Ankheg was the example.


I've playtested these new grapple rules. My party (all 13th level; paladin10/divine-champ3, druid13, Wizard6/EldrichtKnight7, Rogue8/Assasin5, Bard13) faced a band of frostgiants (with a shadow template). The palladin is an insane damage dealer. He has a 2handed flaming greatsword and hefty strenght bonus..., well, you do the math, he can chop some of the nastiest monsters in pieces within seconds. Most of the time he just stands still on the playing field to roll all his damage dice... If I, as a DM want to grapple somebody, he will always be my first choice!

In the past we never used the 3.5 or 3.0 grapple rules (way to complicated... especially when some of your players love pit fights, but non of them want to look up the rules, including me as a DM)... So the old combat manoeuvre rules (including trip, sunder and disarm) were all banned... With the new pathfinder rules I decided to give the grapple thing another try. I was quite eager to do so because these rules could vastly increase my creative possibilities as a DM.

These are my findings (only the paly got grappled):
PALY CMB (BA 13, +5 STR, +2 Bull's Strenght) = +17
SHADY FROST GIANT CMB
(BA +10, +9 STR, +1 Large, +2 shadow template, it was dark) = +22

because it was the frost giant who initiated the grapple he had only to roll a 10 (DC 32) to succeed, which he did he rolled a 16
according to these new rules the paly was now pinned. Which was nice... alas... that is what you would think. My Shady frost giant was now flat-footed which made him an easy target for the rest of the part!

now this is what i like and don't like
1) i like the fact that a good roll matters (cascading DC)
2) i would like to see some damage done in the grapple maybe auto crush damage in the pin?
3) i don't now if i like the fact that the frost giant with CR 11 has always the overhand in a grapple situation even against a maxed out paly CR 13. (frost giants are not known for their grappling skills, are they?)
4) i do like the fact that it is possible for the paly to escape the pin (in this case DC was 32) wich gave the paly 25% chance of escaping
(not that he did, he tried, but the assasin finished the shady frost giant first, with a succesfull death attack, which was a quite remarkable feat on its own)
5) has somebody thought of an opposed combat manoeuvre check... which seems more dynamic and underlines the luck factor a bit more.
I now that this is almost 3.0 or 3.5 but can't we mix both systems and use only the cascading system of the pathfinder rules???


I was thinking about some new feat... to make the grapple more lethal/flavourful:

CHOKE HOLD:
when you succeed the grapple DC with 16 or more
you pin the opponent but you can start a choke hold.
(the pinned character starts drowning as per the drowning rules)

Dark Archive

It seems that the 15 CD bonus makes more difficult to monsters grapple foe, but turns against the grappled adventurer.
So, if we give a +5 to the CMB to escape attempt it could balance it.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

An option to consider in escaping a grapple would be to consider damage inflicted on the grappler.

It's both realistic (self-defence teaches that as the first way to try and get out of someone's grip) and cinematographic (hit the beast hard enough and it let's go of the damsel while yelling in pain) that a creature grappling someone could drop or let go of his victim if inflicted enough damage (possibly 10+CMB h.p. or more in a single attack).

Low intelligence creatures could get a penalty (ex.: double the int. score penalty). This option could also help some Wizards since they could use their 1st level damaging supernatural Ability (no casting or AoO) to try that option but damage is still on the low side but with the int. penalty option it could work out nice.

Just a thought.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I did a bit of remote playtesting for this last night(just in a chat with a couple of friends, testing out various combats). Overall I have to say that I really like what this system does and much prefer it to the standard rules in how it simplifies and combines all the combat options.

The one thing I would change(and tried last night, to general agreement) is using the base 10 for the save. I know there are a lot of debates out there for using a base 10 for saves just like is done for armor, and it has its pluses and minuses, but because of the way degrees of success scale in this system I think the randomness of having both sides roll and add their CM is really important. It gives one side that chance to make a high roll while the other side makes a low one, so they can score a maneuver they might not have been able to otherwise, or slip away when they wouldn't have had a shot before.

-Tarlane


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber

We played our first session of Burnt Offerings last night using the Alpha rules release and grappling was used by one of the characters. The characters are all first level, built using a 28 point buy and the races from the Alpha. The grappling character is a 1/2 orc cleric of Gorum (sp?).

One of the goblins interupting the Swallowtail festival ran up and attacked the cleric with his dogslicer, rolled a 1 and had it's weapon shatter. The cleric, seeing a good opportunity to take a prisoner for later interrogation, announced he was going to grapple. If I remember correctly, the cleric's CMB was +3 (16 Strength), The goblin's CMB was 0 (+1 BAB, -1 Size). The Cleric succeeds (with an 18) and now has a hold of the goblin. The goblin attempts to escape on his action but doesn't succeed (needs an 18 on it CMB check).

The next round, the cleric wants to damage the goblin (I believe the quote was "I shake him like I'm a British Nanny!"), but there doesn't seem to be any way to do that, since he has to make another check to maintain the grapple (this time with a +5 bonus to his CMB for a total of +8). He rolls a 10 (18 net result), maintaining the hold. The goblin, figuring that it is not going to get out of this grapple ever, decides it's going to bite the cleric (it seemed like a cool thing to do in the combat from my perspective). An attack roll is made, it hits and deals damage as per a small creature (1d2).

The following round, the cleric realizes that he's essentially wasted his actions. Without any way to damage a grappled target and with no-one able to assist him, he wants out of the grapple. The goblin on the other hand, is happy where it is. I allowed coolness to overcome the rules and let him move the grapple and bash the goblins head against a table.

Afterwords we were talking about the rules and what we think of them and the lack of usefulness of the grapple came up. Of course, this is only at low-level play, but the player wasn't impressed with the new grappling rules. While the system is undoubtable easier to use, it's also much less effective and the static DCs seem to reduce the fun (even if they work out the same probability wise). There needs to be a way to do more than just keep an opponent out of the fight.

We're doing another session tonight, so I'll get some more feedback from the other players and post it up tomorrow on what they think would make grappling more interesting.

EDIT: May be a double post, after submitting my post I got logged out and dumped back to the main Paizo Screen (which is why it's always good to Copy your post before submitting!)


PFRPG ALPHA made good progress to finding a solution to all our grapple/grapplin/grab problems...

I have some suggestions:

Why not making the Combat Maneuver a skill?

Fighter and MONK would have CM as a class-skill. Maybe swinging a sword is not the same as wrestling, but BAB is the same in bothsituation... Not all monsters will have this skill, and some would only be trained as cross-class.

Examples:
Fire Giant (CR10), not trained.
CMB+11 (+10str, +1 size)

10th-level Fighter Str18, trained
CMB+17 (10+3 caracter level, +4 Str)

10th-level Monk Str16, Improved Grapple
CMB+18 (10+3 caracter level, +3 str, +2 Imp. grapple)

10th-level halfling Rogue Dex18, Agile maneuver feat, trained as cross-class
CMB+11 (5+3 level, +4Dex, -1 size)

0-level or 10th-level Sorcerer, Str10
CMB+0

Purple Worm, Str35, trained, Improved Grab
CMB+37 (16+3 level, +12 str, +4 size, +2 Imp. grab)

Size categories must restricted the maximum level of grapple. A gnome should never be able to pin a Great Wyrm, but should be able to "hold" on the Great Wyrm one-handed (-4 penalty) while poking him in the back...

About the fixed DC... 3.5 rules use a touch attack to initiate the grapple. Bigger and slower creatures have a lower touch AC than smaller and quicker ones (try to grapple a will-o-wisp...). CMB looks a lot like a melee attack and could be resolved like one. Maybe this goes along the line of BDB (base defense bonus).

Dark Archive

Nyarlathotep wrote:
since he has to make another check to maintain the grapple

In the book it says that you have tu make another check to maintain the grapple, but it doesn't say that you have to take an action to do so. Am I wrong? How must be played this rule?

Liberty's Edge

Slime wrote:

An option to consider in escaping a grapple would be to consider damage inflicted on the grappler.

It's both realistic (self-defence teaches that as the first way to try and get out of someone's grip) and cinematographic (hit the beast hard enough and it let's go of the damsel while yelling in pain) that a creature grappling someone could drop or let go of his victim if inflicted enough damage (possibly 10+CMB h.p. or more in a single attack).

Low intelligence creatures could get a penalty (ex.: double the int. score penalty). This option could also help some Wizards since they could use their 1st level damaging supernatural Ability (no casting or AoO) to try that option but damage is still on the low side but with the int. penalty option it could work out nice.

Just a thought.

Sounds reasonable.

How about just simply adding damage to the next escape attempt?
Or using the damage as a DC for the next grapple if it is greater than the usual CMB?


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Samuel Weiss wrote:
... How about just simply adding damage to the next escape attempt?

I'm not sure what you mean by that ?

I'd like to crunch some numbers over your other suggestion and figure if it would make sense to allow this for the character being "grappled" or if it would work for anyone attacking the "grappler". How did you see it working? I might scribble some numbers this weekend.

Thanks for the feedback.

Dark Archive

Samuel Weiss wrote:
Slime wrote:

An option to consider in escaping a grapple would be to consider damage inflicted on the grappler.

It's both realistic (self-defence teaches that as the first way to try and get out of someone's grip) and cinematographic (hit the beast hard enough and it let's go of the damsel while yelling in pain) that a creature grappling someone could drop or let go of his victim if inflicted enough damage (possibly 10+CMB h.p. or more in a single attack).

Low intelligence creatures could get a penalty (ex.: double the int. score penalty). This option could also help some Wizards since they could use their 1st level damaging supernatural Ability (no casting or AoO) to try that option but damage is still on the low side but with the int. penalty option it could work out nice.

Just a thought.

Sounds reasonable.

How about just simply adding damage to the next escape attempt?
Or using the damage as a DC for the next grapple if it is greater than the usual CMB?

I like this idea as well as it would allow other party members to help get allies out of a grapple and it would add to the cinematics of the battle (barbarian clubs the gray render which then drops the wizard and turns menacingly on the barbarian). I'm thinking damaging a grappling creature forces a grapple check at DC 10+damage dealt or the grappling creature must release the enemy creature it is grappling.


Just my 2 cents here, but, I think making it more of an opposed check might work. Along the lines of damage in Mutants and Masterminds/True 20. Grappler and grapleree make checks with their respective CMB 's and the Grappler's degree of success determines the effect. Simple and to the point.


The system works well except when dealing with Huge or larger creatures with high Strength scores. In challenges equal to the creatures CR, a T-Rex, Kraken, or Purple Worm cannot easily (if at all) be escaped from.

I think that a lot the problem in this case can be addressed by redefining how the Improve Grab and Swallow Whole creature powers work.

I am also in favor of some rules for dealing damage when grappling. That would help creatures like the dire bear. As the rules are currently written, a dire bear can grapple and then do nothing.

Liberty's Edge

Slime wrote:

I'm not sure what you mean by that ?

I'd like to crunch some numbers over your other suggestion and figure if it would make sense to allow this for the character being "grappled" or if it would work for anyone attacking the "grappler". How did you see it working? I might scribble some numbers this weekend.

Thanks for the feedback.

If you are grappling someone and get whacked upside the head, the DC for your next grapple check is not 15 + CMB + damage dealt.

Or the damage could just replace the regular DC.

The first version makes damage relevant at low levels, since doing 20 points of damage at 1st level is likely to knock someone senseless anyway.
The second version gives the grappler a more reasonable chance to maintain a hold, even when the barbarian is playing Bam Bam on his head at 15th level.

Of course, it is currently 3:42, and I should be asleep and not posting. If that is too confused, I will try again tomorrow.


Kruelaid wrote:
Speaking from experience, yes it is easier for the grappler to grapple, if he has a hold, than for the grappled to escape.

I would like to comment on my real world view of things, even though it's hardly required for a game like this.

I have a fair amount of grappling experience. I was a college wrestler, compete in jiujitsu and submission grappling tournaments, and have fought MMA professionally.

Grappling a person who doesn't know how to stop it, or has no idea what you are doing is easy. Grappling a person that knows what he's doing or is experienced along with a massive size advantage is very very difficult. In shape, I'm about 200 lbs ...heavier when I'm not) and for a person that's 140 to grapple with me is very difficult. If I want to avoid the grapple my weight gives me a MASSIVE advantage to avoid it.

Now this in comparison to the game is human vs human, and for the most part humans aren't built to be more than about 250lbs even if they weigh more than that. When you are talking about a human vs something naturally twice it's size and natural weight is well over 350 lbs. Grappling a creature of this size that knows what he's doing and is at it's natural weight has already entered into the point of unrealistic. (I refer to natural weight because grappling some people that are artificially large via fat or added muscle mass isn't much tougher than grappling somebody who's naturally 250 lbs if they both know what they are doing).

In relation to fighting MMA (mixed martial arts for those of you who don't know), you have guys that through experience and practice are nearly impossible to take down due to their defensive habits. Chuck Liddel is one of these people...he's managed to stuff or immediately recover the takedown attempts of Randy Couture, Kevin Randleman, Jeremy Horn, Tito Ortiz, Jeff Monson, and Renato Sobral. Now this list for those of you who don't know is impressive. Four have a fairly high level of college wrestling experience, Two have both international and greco experience, Four have competed at two of the three highest levels of submission grappling, one is the most experienced submission fighter in the game today, one is an NCAA champion, and another was an olympic alternate in wrestling.

Now Chuck Liddel is a good grappler but isn't a better grappler than over half the guys on that list in my opinion. This would be an example of an amazing "escape artist" ability, and somebody specifically trained in that is VERY hard to take down in a fight.

If the "escape artist" skill represents training specifically to avoid being grappled or to escape grappling in a fight, then it should be quite difficult to grapple that person if they have such training.

Sorry for the oversized post on the topic but I thought I could shed some light on the action.


Slime wrote:

An option to consider in escaping a grapple would be to consider damage inflicted on the grappler.

It's both realistic (self-defence teaches that as the first way to try and get out of someone's grip) and cinematographic (hit the beast hard enough and it let's go of the damsel while yelling in pain) that a creature grappling someone could drop or let go of his victim if inflicted enough damage (possibly 10+CMB h.p. or more in a single attack).

Low intelligence creatures could get a penalty (ex.: double the int. score penalty). This option could also help some Wizards since they could use their 1st level damaging supernatural Ability (no casting or AoO) to try that option but damage is still on the low side but with the int. penalty option it could work out nice.

Just a thought.

In regards to this, it's only true if the attempted grappler's instinct is not to grapple first. This is why it works in self-defense but not necessarily with those who's natural instinct is to grapple.

If outclassed on the feet, one of the first instincts you will see trained grapplers do in MMA is shoot or clinch. When fighting and the distance naturally closes due to both men comming forward, somebody who is more grappler than striker will often initiate the clinch, which often wrecks the offense of his opponent if he has him outmatched.

This has been done so long it's become habit. Now if we assume something with improved grapple or a natural tendency for grappling or grabbing (like lets say a bear) then the instinct to damage inflicted in an attempt to escape won't be to let go but to either reinstate a superior position or return the favor... not break the grapple. Same thing with an animal like the pitbull. If a pitbull clamps down on your leg, you can't punch your way out because it's natural instinct is to clamp down until victory, even to a fault.

Also, in attempting to hurt something that's a more experienced grappler than you are in the grapple will often lead to the grappler getting an advantage because he banks on such an act. One of the easiest ways to get a takedown or submission is to wait and let the person become overly-aggressive.


David Jackson 60 wrote:
If the "escape artist" skill represents training specifically to avoid being grappled or to escape grappling in a fight, then it should be quite difficult to grapple that person if they have such training.

The Defensive Combat Training feat also works well to show this training.

I would like to see a either feat that helps with ESCAPING from a grapple once it occurs or have Defensive Combat Training grant a +4 bonus to your rolls to escape from a grapple (I would prefer the second option). This would help when dealing with creatures that have size and strength, such as a Purple Worm or Kraken.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

... a creature grappling someone could drop or let go of his victim if inflicted enough damage...

David Jackson 60 wrote:


In regards to this, it's only true if the attempted grappler's instinct is not to grapple first. This is why it works in self-defense but not necessarily with those who's natural instinct is to grapple.
...
If a pitbull clamps down on your leg, you can't punch your way out because it's natural instinct is to clamp down until victory, even to a fault.
...

Good points, I didn't think of the dog-clamp but I know how it's almost un-breakable enven on small (tiny actually) dogs. And I also remember that a croc's death-grip wound'nt loose before either the croc or the victim would be over with.

I guess Feats and Racial Traits could oppose or prevent that type of a attempt to get free.

I'm still looking for a strategy that could help a typical wizard (not usualy investing in Escape Artist or in Improved Grapple Feat) to stand a chance without insuring his escape.

Actually a self-affecting version of the Grease spell with casting comparable to Feather-fall spell could be considred...

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
ShadowChemosh wrote:
Now I have to refer back to a chart and compare my roll to a DC and then figure out how much I beat the DC by. This means I have to have this PDF document open all the time or have Grapple printed and on my DM screen. On top of this I have to keep track of a +5 Circumstance bonus that must be tracked across different rounds.

This comment stuck. Granted, in time it should be relatively easy, because we are considering +5 increments on outcome. So, as long as we know the progression of outcomes, it becomes a mathematical exercise.

Liberty's Edge

David Jackson 60 wrote:
In regards to this, it's only true if the attempted grappler's instinct is not to grapple first. This is why it works in self-defense but not necessarily with those who's natural instinct is to grapple.

Sure it does. Pain is a great way to discourage anyone.

David Jackson 60 wrote:
If outclassed on the feet, one of the first instincts you will see trained grapplers do in MMA is shoot or clinch. When fighting and the distance naturally closes due to both men comming forward, somebody who is more grappler than striker will often initiate the clinch, which often wrecks the offense of his opponent if he has him outmatched.

And people trained to punch and kick have "instincts" to hit someone coming in to try and grab them, as well as "instincts" to avoid being grabbed in the first place.

This wrecks both the offense and the defense of the grappler who is not trained to inflict any damage outside of a grapple.

David Jackson 60 wrote:
This has been done so long it's become habit. Now if we assume something with improved grapple or a natural tendency for grappling or grabbing (like lets say a bear) then the instinct to damage inflicted in an attempt to escape won't be to let go but to either reinstate a superior position or return the favor... not break the grapple. Same thing with an animal like the pitbull. If a pitbull clamps down on your leg, you can't punch your way out because it's natural instinct is to clamp down until victory, even to a fault.

It is very variable with animals. Most large predators will actively avoid absorbing damage because it may make it impossible for them to hunt in the future. A domestic animal bred and trained for pit-fighting will actually be going against its normal instincts to remain locked down, as it is effectively sacrificing its life for no real biological reward.

David Jackson 60 wrote:
Also, in attempting to hurt something that's a more experienced grappler than you are in the grapple will often lead to the grappler getting an advantage because he banks on such an act. One of the easiest ways to get a takedown or submission is to wait and let the person become overly-aggressive.

Provided you have not been incapicitated yourself absorbing damage up until that point.

And assuming the goal is sports fighting and not survival fighting.
Basing unarmed combat for D&D on any sports fighting, be it wrestling, boxing, or any other modern martial arts competition would be a significant mistake. The goals and equipment are not the same.


Well a few things in regards. First is the concept of "pain compliance" which is often taught to police officers, security, in self-defense courses...etc etc.

Pain compliance works because most people aren't used to pain. An untrained person will often shut down a bit when pain is inflicted, which supports the concept of pain compliance. This doesn't work with trained fighters, or by people who have overcome their natural reactions in a dangerous situation.

Lets take boxing because the idea of punching is easier for most people to understand as an action. If I take a guy who's never done any boxing or fighting he will have typically poor habits to start out with, and getting him to react the way I want is pretty simple. He will telegraph everything he throws, he will flinch when he both punches and sees punches comming (a natural reaction to protect the eyes), he will cross his feet up because it seems like the most efficient way to move, and when hit he will shy away or turn his head... something that makes fighting somebody untrained all too easy. They will also get the initial adrenaline dump that they cannot control, causing them to gas out in typically under a minute.

This won't happen with a trained boxer and instead the pain causing compliance, it merely causes reaction...same thing with grappling once it becomes instinctive. You may be able to cause an opening that gives you the ability to do what you want, but it's reaction and not compliance. Pain won't discourage a grappler from grappling but it may make him shift or go for something in haste, giving you a shot to escape.

Certainly if you incapacitate somebody they will no longer grapple...but they will no longer do anything because they are incapacitated. In 3.5 that typically means being at zero hit points. Injury doesn't really cut it because I've just seen too many fighters/grapplers/etc fight with broken hands, ribs, feet, fingers...with bleeding cuts and eyes swollen shut, with sprains and tears and separated ribs.

One of my fights I got gouged in an eye I could hardy see out of causing a severe cut on the lense that made me have to sit in the dark for a week; another I took enough punishment to the legs that I couldn't walk the next day and required a cortizone shot in my left knee to get the swelling to go down...but during the fight I continued both times to win. The gouge in specific is something that is commonly thought to automatically break the grapple, but it certainly didn't in my case and most cases I've seen where your dealing with an experienced fighter.

Now to define experience, I would say it's just about every character ever rolled up. Even the Wizard by the time he hits 5th level or so would demolish your average person in hand to hand combat...forbid the fighter or barbarian.

In this sense, I would say that every D&D character is a well trained combatant with the ability to deal with pain. Given that, I would say that pain causing a grapple to break would be an action of intelligence and not a pain compliance to shut the person down.

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