A Sixty-Encounter Grapple Playtest


Combat & Magic

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32

I had a few free hours earlier today, so I ran a playtest of the grapple rules. I used ten versions of the same combat. Each time, I ran the encounter three times using the 3.5 OGL rules and three times using the Pathfinder rules, for a total of sixty fights.

Here's the scenario: a trap has separated one adventurer from his party. The adventurer is attacked. He isn't surprised, but he loses initiative. He must attempt to survive until his party can reach him after three full rounds of combat.

Here's an abridged version of what happened:

Human 1st-level fighter vs. four kobold 1st-level warriors

Spoiler:
3.5 OGL rules

1st run-through
Round 1: All kobolds attempt to grapple, one succeeds. The fighter chokes the grappling kobold unconscious by making a grapple check to deal damage.
Round 2: Combat continues without any further grappling

2nd run-through
Round 1: All kobolds attempt to grapple and fail. Fighter kills two kobolds using Cleave.
Round 2: Combat continues without any further grappling.

3rd run-through
Round 1: All kobolds attempt to grapple, one succeeds. The fighter chokes the grappling kobold unconscious by making a grapple check to deal damage.
Round 2: Combat continues without any further grappling.

Pathfinder rules

1st, 2nd, and 3rd run-through
Round 1: All kobolds attempt grapple and fail, despite high rolls. Fighter kills two kobolds using Cleave.
Round 2: Combat continues without any further grappling.

Gnome 1st-level wizard vs. four kobold 1st-level warriors

Spoiler:
3.5 OGL rules

1st run-through
Round 1: All kobolds attempt grapple but all fail due to poor rolls. Gnome incapacitates three kobolds with color spray.
Round 2: Last kobold attempts to grapple. Gnome ruins the attempt with a successful attack of opportuinity. Gnome then clobbers kobold with his quarterstaff and wins the fight.

2nd run-through
Round 1: All kobolds attempt grapple, all succeed. Gnome attempts to escape and fails.
Round 2: All kobolds attack with spiked gauntlets, three hit and injure gnome. Gnome attempts to escape and fails.
Round 3: All kobolds attack with spiked gauntlets and win the fight.

3rd run-through
Round 1: All kobolds attempt grapple, two succeed. Gnome attempts to escape and fails.
Round 2: All kobolds attack with spiked gauntlets, two hit and injure gnome. Gnome attempts to escape and fails.
Round 3: All kobolds attack with spiked gauntlets, one hits and injures gnome. Gnome attempts to escape and fails.
Round 4: The gnome's party comes to the rescue.

Pathfinder rules

1st run-through
Round 1: All kobolds attempt to grapple, one holds the gnome. Gnome incapacitates three kobolds, including the one holding him, with color spray.
Round 2: Combat continues without any further grappling.

2nd run-through
Round 1: All kobolds attempt to grapple, one holds gnome. Gnome incapacitates one kobold with color spray.
Round 2: All kobolds attempt to grapple, two hold the gnome*. Gnome knocks one holding and one non-holding kobold to 0 hp with burning hands.
Round 3: The injured kobolds retreat. The other kobold holding gnome grabs gnome. The gnome injures this kobold with ray of frost.
Round 4: The gnome's party arrives and comes to the rescue.

3rd run-through
Round 1: All kobolds attempt to grapple, all fail. Gnome incapacitates three kobolds with color spray.
Round 2: Combat continues without any further grappling.

* What happens when two opponents hold the same creature; do two holds add up to a grab?

Human 2nd-level fighter vs. four orc 1st-level warriors

Spoiler:
3.5 OGL rules

1st run-through
Round 1: All orcs attempt grapple, all fail on poor touch attack rolls. Fighter kills two orcs using Cleave.
Round 2: Combat continues without any further grappling.

2nd run-through
Round 1: All orcs attempt to grapple, one succeeds. Fighter kills grappling orc with armor spikes.
Round 2: Combat continues without any further grappling.

3rd run-through
Round 1: All orcs attempt grapple, two succeed. Fighter injures one grappling orc with armor spikes.
Round 2: Grappling orcs attempt to pin, one succeeds. Third orc attacks with spiked gauntlet and injures fighter. Fighter attempts to escape pin but fails.
Round 3: Grappling orcs attempt to maintain pin, one succeeds. Third orc attacks with spiked gauntlet and injures fighter. Fighter attempts to escape pin and succeeds.
Round 4: Fighter's party arrives and comes to the rescue.

Pathfinder rules

1st run-through
Round 1: All orcs attempt grapple, one holds the fighter. Fighter attacks an orc and misses.
Round 2: Orc holding fighter to maintain grapple*, but fails. Fighter drops two orcs using Cleave.
Round 3: Combat continues without any further grappling.

2nd run-through
Round 1: All orcs attempt grapple, one grabs on a natural 20**. Unable to use his greatsword, the fighter injures the grabbing orc with armor spikes.
Round 2: The grabbing orc attempts to maintain grapple* and again grapples the fighter. The other orcs attack with spikes gauntlets and injures fighter. Fighter kills grappling orc with armor spikes.
Round 3: Combat continues without any further grappling.

3rd run-through
Round 1: All orcs attempt grapple, all fail. Fighter attacks and misses.
Round 2: Combat continues without any further grappling.

* - Does maintaining a grapple provoke attacks of opportunity as though starting a grapple?
**- What degree of success does a natural 20 automatically provide? A full grapple? Just a hold?

Gnome 2nd-level wizard vs. four orc 1st-level warriors

Spoiler:
3.5 OGL rules

1st run-through
Round 1: All orcs attempt to grapple, one succeeds. Gnome attempts to escape and succeeds.
Round 2: All orcs attempt to grapple, gnome fails an attack of opportunity, three orcs succeed. Gnome attempts to escape and fails.
Round 3: All orcs attack with spiked gauntlets and win the fight.

2nd run-through
Round 1: All orcs attempt grapple, all succeed. Gnome attempts to escape and fails.
Round 2: One orc pins the gnome. The others attack with spiked gauntlets and win the fight.

3.5, 3rd run-through
Round 1: All orcs attempt to grapple, three succeed. Gnome attempts to escape and fails.
Round 2: Two orcs attempt to pin, the second succeeds. Other orcs attack with spiked gauntlets and win the fight.

Pathfinder rules

1st run-through
Round 1: All orcs attempt to grapple, one grabs and three hold*. Gnome incapacitates three orcs with color spray.
Round 2: Orcs attack gnome with spiked gauntlets and miss. Gnome injures orc with burning hands.
Round 3: Orcs attack gnome with spiked gauntlets and win the fight.

2nd run-through
Round 1: All orcs attempt to grapple, three grab the gnome*. Gnome incapacitates three orcs with color spray.
Round 2: Combat continues without any further grappling.

3rd run-through
Round 1: All orcs attempt grapple, all fail on poor rolls. Gnome incapacitates three orcs with color spray.
Round 2: Combat continues without any further grappling.

*-Should multiple grabs and holds count as a grapple or a pin? If so, this combat would have ended with the gnome remaining grappled and not getting off any of his spells.

Human 4th-level fighter vs. two chokers

Spoiler:
3.5 OGL rules

1st run-through
Round 1: Both chokers attack and miss. Fighter attacks and injures one choker.
Round 2: Both chokers attack and hit once, but fail to grapple. Fighter drops injured choker.
Round 3: Choker attacks and misses. Fighter attacks and misses
Round 4: Fighter's party arrives and comes to the rescue.

2nd run-through
Round 1: First choker hits once and grapples, but fails to pin with its extra action. Second hits once and grapples, then pins the fighter with its extra action. Fighter attempts to escape pin and succeeds.
Round 2: Both chokers grapple and constrict fighter. Fighter attacks with armor spikes but misses.
Round 3: First choker pins and constricts fighter. Second choker fails with grappling. Fighter attempts to escape pin and succeeds.
Round 4: Fighter's party arrives and comes to the rescue.

3rd run-through
Round 1: First choker attacks, hits once, crits once, fails to grapple each time. Second choker attacks and misses. Fighter attacks and kills one choker.
Round 2: Remaining choker attacks and misses fighter. Fighter charges and injures choker.
Round 3: Choker hits twice but fails to grapple. Fighter attacks and misses choker.
Round 4: Fighter's party arrives and comes to the rescue.

Pathfinder rules

1st run-through
Round 1: Chokers attack. One hits and holds the fighter. Fighter attacks and injures holding choker.
Round 2: Choker holding fighter grabs and constricts fighter. Second choker hits but fails to grapple. Fighter attacks and kills grabbing choker with armor spikes.
Round 3: Remaining choker hits twice, fails to grapple. Fighter attacks and injures choker.
Round 4: Fighter's party arrives and comes to the rescue.

2nd run-through
Round 1: Both chokers attack, hit once, and fail to grapple. Fighter attacks and drops one choker.
Round 2: Remaining choker hits, grabs on a natural 20*, then grabs again**. Fighter attacks and injures choker with armor spikes.
Round 3: Choker grabs and then holds the fighter. Fighter crits and drops choker with greatsword.

3rd run-through
Round 1: Chokers attack, hit twice, and hold once. Fighter attacks and injures the holding choker.
Round 2: Holding choker maintains its hold twice in a row**. Second choker crits once but fails to grapple. Fighter attacks and misses the holding choker.
Round 3: The holding choker grabs, then grapples the fighter, winning the fight with its constriction damage.

*-Again, what sort of automatic success does a natural 20 on a grapple allow?
**-Does a choker grabbing and holding twice in one round gain some sort of advantage other than constriction damage?

Gnome 4th-level wizard vs. two chokers

Spoiler:
3.5 OGL rules

1st run-through
Round 1: First choker crits but fails to grapple. Second choker hits, grapples, and wins the fight with its constriction damage.

2nd run-through
Round 1: First choker attacks and misses. Second choker hits once, grapples, and pins the gnome with its extra action. Gnome attempts to escape pin and fails.
Round 2: First choker hits and wins the fight.

3rd run-through
Round 1: First choker attacks and misses. Second choker hits once and grapples, but fails to pin with its extra action. Gnome attempts to escape grapple and fails.
Round 2: First choker hits once, grapples, and wins the fight with its constriction damage.

Pathfinder rules

1st run-through
Round 1: First choker hits twice, grabs on second hit. Second choker hits twice, grabs on first hit, holds on second hit, and wins the fight with its constriction damage.

2nd run-through
Round 1: First choker hits once, fails to grapple. Second choker hits once and holds the gnome. Gnome misses with a scorching ray.
Round 2: First choker hits once, grabs, and wins the fight with its constriction damage.

3rd run-through
Round 1: First choker hits once and holds the gnome. Second choker hits twice, holds the gnome twice, and wins the fight with its constriction damage.

Human 8th-level fighter vs. four ogres with Improved Grapple

Spoiler:
3.5 OGL rules

1st run-through
Round 1: All four ogres attempt to grapple, three succeed. Fighter attempts to escape grapple and fails.
Round 2: First ogre pins fighter. Other ogres attack with spiked gauntlets, hit twice. Fighter attempts to escape pin and succeeds.
Round 3: First ogre pins fighter again. Other ogres attack with spiked gauntlets, hit thrice.
Round 4: Fighter's party arrives and comes to the rescue.

2nd run-through
Round 1: All ogres attempt to grapple, one succeeds. Fighter hits grappling ogre twice with armor spikes.
Round 2: Grappling ogre pins fighter. Other ogres hit fighter twice with spiked gauntlets. Fighter attempts to escape pin and succeeds.
Round 3: Grappling ogre pins fighter again. Other ogres hit fighter once with spiked gauntlets. Fghter attempts to escape pin and fails.
Round 4: Fighter's party arrives and comes to the rescue.

3rd run-through
Round 1: All ogres attempt to grapple, three succeed. Fighter attempts to escape grapple and fails.
Round 2: First ogre pins fighter. Other ogres hit fighter thrice with spiked gauntlets. Fighter attempts to escape pin and fails.
Round 3: First two ogres fail to pin fighter, third succeeds. Last ogre hits fighter with spiked gauntlet. Badly injured fighter attempts to break pin and fails.
Round 4: Fighter's party arrives and comes to the rescue.

Pathfinder rules

1st run-through
Round 1: All ogres attempt to grapple, all fail. Fighter attack and badly injures an ogre.
Round 2: Three uninjured ogres attempt to grapple. The first takes an attack of opportunity. Two ogres hold the fighter. The injured ogres attacks and misses with a spiked gauntlet. Fighter attacks and drops an injured ogre.
Round 3: Fight continues without any further grappling.

2nd run-through
Round 1: All ogres attempt grapple, one grabs on natural 20*. Fighter attacks grabbing ogre with armor spikes.
Round 2: Grabbing ogre holds the fighter. Other ogres attack with spiked gauntlets and hit three times. Fighter attacks with greatsword, drops one holding ogre, injures another.
Round 3: Fight continues without any further grappling.

3rd run-through
Round 1: All ogres attempt grapple, two hold the fighter**. Fighter attacks and injures one holding ogre.
Round 2: Holding ogres maintain their holds. Other ogres attack with spikes gauntlets, hitting twice. Fighter attacks and kills one injured holding ogre, attacks and injures the other.
Round 3: Injured holding ogre fails to maintain its hold. Other ogres attack with spiked gauntlets, hit twice. Fighter attacks with greatsword, drops one ogre.
Round 4: Fighter's party arrives and comes to the rescue.

*-Again, what sort of automatic success does a natural 20 on a grapple allow?
**-Again, what happens when two opponents hold the same creature?

Gnome 8th-level wizard vs. four ogres with Improved Grapple

Spoiler:
3.5 OGL rules

1st and 2nd run-through
Round 1: All ogres attempt grapple, all succeed. Gnomes fails Concentration check to cast dimension door.
Round 2: One ogre pins the gnome and covers the gnome's mouth. Other ogres attack with spiked gauntlets, hit thrice, badly injure the gnome. Gnome attempts to escape pin and fails.
Round 3: One ogre pins the gnome and cover's the gnome's mouth. Other ogres attack the gnome with spiked gauntlets and win the fight.

3.5, 3rd run-through
Round 1: All ogres attempt to grapple, all succeed. Gnomes casts dimension door and escapes.

Pathfinder rules

1st run-through
Round 1: All ogres attempt grapple, three grab, one on natural 20*. Gnomes casts dimension door and escapes.

2nd run-through
Round 1: All ogres attempt grapple, one holds and one grapples**. Gnome fails Spellcraft check to cast dimension door.
Round 2: Grappling ogres maintain their grapple by grabbing and grappling the gnome. Other ogres attack with spiked gauntlets, hitting once. Gnome injures and deafens all four ogres with a shout spell.
Round 3: Grappling ogres maintain their grapple by grapple and pinning gnome. Other attack with spiked gauntlets, hitting twice. Gnomes attempts to escape pin and fails
Round 4: Gnome's party arrives and comes to the rescue.

3rd run-through
Round 1: All ogres attempt grapple, two hold and one grabs. Gnome casts dimension door and escapes.

*-Once again, what degree of success is automatically achieved when rolling a natural 20?
**-What happens when two opponents grapple the same creature?

Human 12th-level fighter vs. purple worm

Spoiler:
3.5 OGL rules

1st, 2nd, and 3rd run-throughs
Round 1: Worm hits with bite and sting, grapples fighter. Fighter attacks with armor spikes, hits three times.
Round 2: Worm swallows fighter. Fighter attacks with armor spikes, hits three times.
Round 3: Fighter attacks with armor spikes, hits three times, escapes worm's gullet.
Round 4: Fighter's party arrives and comes to the rescue.

Pathfinder rules

1st and 2nd run-through
Round 1: Worm hits with bite and sting, grapples fighter. Fighter attacks with armor spikes, hits three times.
Round 2: Worm swallows fighter. Fighter attacks with armor spikes, hits three times.
Round 3: Fighter attacks with armor spikes, hits three times, escapes worm's gullet.
Round 4: Fighter's party arrives and comes to the rescue.

3rd run-through
Round 1: Worms hits with bite and sting, grabs fighter. Fighter attacks with armor spikes, hits three times.
Round 2: Worm rolls a natural 1 and fails swallow fighter. Fighter attacks with greatsword, hits three times.
Round 3: Worm hits with bite and sting, pins fighter. Fighter attempts to break pin and fails.
Round 4: Fighter's party arrives and comes to the rescue.

Gnome 12th-level wizard vs. purple worm

Spoiler:
3.5 OGL rules

1st, 2nd, and 3rd run-through
Round 1: Worm hits with bite and sting, grapples gnome. Gnome casts dimension door and escapes.

Pathfinder rules

1st run-through
Round 1: Worm hits with bite and sting, pins gnome. Gnome fails Spellcraft check to cast dimension door.
Round 2: Worm swallows gnome. Gnome injures the worm with a still cone of cold.
Round 3: Gnome injures the worm with a still lightning bolt.
Round 4: Gnome's party arrives and comes to the rescue.

PF, 2nd run-through
Round 1: Worm hits with bite and sting, pins gnome. Gnome casts dimension door and escapes.

PF, 3rd run-through
Round 1: Worm hits with bite and sting, grapples gnome. Gnome casts dimension door and escapes.

Conclusions:

Having run thirty combats using the 3.5 OGL grapple rules and thirty using the Pathfinder grapple rules, I get the distinct impression that the Pathfinder Alpha rules are only marginally less complicated than the 3.5 rules. On the plus side, fewer die rolls are required, and miniatures don't have to move into one anothers' spaces. However, this convenience is offset by the need to track cumulative grapple check bonuses.

Also, when I was using the Pathfinder system, I needed to consult the rules just as frequently as when using the 3.5 system. Often, this was the result of small details that varied between one 'level' of grappled and the next. (Does being grappled affect Spellcraft checks, or just being pinned? Can I freely cast spells while grabbed the way I can while being held? Wait, what actions can I take while being held again?).

In addition, several issues kept coming up that weren't addressed in the Pathfinder rules. Specifically:

1) When performing a combat maneuver, a roll of a natural 20 is an automatic success. But what does "automatic success" mean when grappling? Does the target become fully grappled? Or does a hold count as "success" when grappling?

2) What happens when I attempt to grapple a grappled creature? Do I get a bonus? Do multiple holds count as a grab? A grapple? A pin?

3) For that matter, is it possible to escape from multiple holds, grabs, grapples, and/or pins? Is each escape attempt its own standard action, therefor making it impossible? If not, what is the DC for escaping multiple grapples at once?

It didn't seem that any of these issues were addressed in the Pathfinder rules.

As for the results of grapple checks while using the Pathfinder rules:

Regarding creatures with improved grab, the two systems ended up producing fairly similar results. As promised, the Pathfinder system offered a slightly greater chance of countermeasures in most cases, but not so much that it became implausible.

Regarding creatures with the Improved Grapple feat, the Pathfinder system was horribly biased in favor of negligible results. In sixteen attempts, ogres with Improved Grapple managed to "grapple" an 8th-level gnome wizard three times and "pin" only once. The rest of the time, the wizard's hands were left free to cast devastating spells. That may be more fun for the wizard's player, but having a lone gnome evade four well-trained ogres working in unison to establish a grapple seems like a bit of a stretch, especially since those ogres were an appropriate challenge for an entire party of four.

This latter problem could be rectified in the above case by providing bonuses when grappling a creature that is already held, grabbed, or otherwise grappled; or by having multiple holds and grabs add up to grapples or pins. However, this would add further complexity to the system. And even with this fix, grappling remains a sub-optimal choice for any lone creature that doesn't have improved grab. In the Pathfinder system, grappling as anything other than a free action is largely a wasted action, even if you have the Improved Grapple feat.

Sovereign Court

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Holy crap! Now that's what I call a playtest. Bravo!


And Epic Meepo steps forward once again.

You are a credit to your race sir/madam.

A suggestion to you though, in the future lead with your problems first - such as the Pathfinder rules questions that kept coming up in your tests. Then follow up with your results.

This will make finding the "problem areas" in your posts easier, plus help ensure they are in the quoted section of your post when someone clicks the Reply button.

Other than that, I have nothing to add. Well done.


Nicely done great playtest

The Exchange

Amazing!

I thank you for posting that and further more running that. That's should be very helpful for Jason.

The Exchange

Quick question for you Meepo, can you run those test again and this time have the monsters deal damage with each successful grapple? I don't have the time to run such an extensive test and you already have the characters made up. What do you say?


I'm curious to know if the multiple attackers were using the aid another action during their grapples, or if they were all trying to grapple individually? It would seem to me that having 3 buddies giving you a +6 to your grapple check would be more effective than having them all try to hold on their own.

If these were all individual grapples, could you post some playtest results for them using the aid another action?

I have a feeling the Paizo guys wanted to see this action used more in their rules.


I agree that no more then one person should be grappling at a time, unless the one they grapple is realy large. Otherwise the use of aid another is the best way.

I think a natural 20 would only mean success unless you want to make a second roll (like a critical) and a success on this one would mean a pin (or something).

And by the way...

Epic Meepo wrote:

3rd run-through

Round 1: All orcs attempt grapple, two succeed. Fighter injures one grappling orc with armor spikes.
Round 2: Grappling orcs attempt to pin, one succeeds. Third orc attacks with spiked gauntlet and injures fighter. Fighter attempts to escape pin but fails.
Round 3: Grappling orcs attempt to maintain pin, one succeeds. Third orc attacks with spiked gauntlet and injures fighter. Fighter attempts to escape pin and succeeds.
Round 4: Fighter's party arrives and comes to the rescue.

A pined opponent is considered helpless. If I was running thos orcs I would have them commit to a coup de gras when they managed to pin the fighter.

Scarab Sages

Is there a reason the opponents resorted to punching, rather than drawing a sword and hacking the grappled PC?
That would have made much shorter work of them, maybe?

Also, the gnome wizards in your examples did seem to have a lot of 'verbal-only' spells. Without them, many of those combats would have been over very quickly.


A pinned character is held immobile but not helpless if I recall correctly.

Dark Archive

Epic Meepo wrote:
1) When performing a combat maneuver, a roll of a natural 20 is an automatic success. But what does "automatic success" mean when grappling? Does the target become fully grappled? Or does a hold count as "success" when grappling?

Looking at the rules myself the question is even with the nat 20 what was his end result? What did the Orc get to beat the DC of 15+CMB of the Fighter, and what is the orc's CMB as well? As just getting the DC will be a hold and each +5 above the DC gives you more benifits as the attacker from held to pinned, yes you can pin someone on the first roll now.

Also onece in grapple if the Fighter does not break the grapple the orc must maintain said hold but they get a +5 per round to a max of +15 if the grapple wasn't broken by the target, plus any other benifits the hold the orc has on the target.

For right now we all still need to look at the rules but I find the pathfinder rules are much more stream lined and work on the same principle as most of 3.5 did: Higher is always better.
I also sense that we will all see CMB will be added to all Pathfinder adventure after the release.


I have a question for the OP, with the purple worm test, how good were the fighters odds of escaping once the worm grappled? My calculations gave a fighter next to no chance of escape, but I have not been able to actually playtest it since my gaming group is on a short break.

The rules seem to work well overall, but for creatures with the swallow whole ability, it seems that escape is unlikely (not that your chances were ever that good in 3.5).

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32

Disenchanter wrote:
A suggestion to you though, in the future lead with your problems first - such as the Pathfinder rules questions that kept coming up in your tests. Then follow up with your results.

Good thought. I'll be sure to do that in the future.

fliprushman wrote:
Quick question for you Meepo, can you run those test again and this time have the monsters deal damage with each successful grapple?

I'll need a few days to digest the results of the playtest, but I think I may run a few more encounters with some fixes/variants that came to mind. I'm envisioning a grapple system that is less fiddly but more robust - including options for dealing damage, choking, and tossing opponents around. More on that in a few days, assuming playtests show that my ideas actually pan out.

Pop'N'Fresh wrote:
I'm curious to know if the multiple attackers were using the aid another action during their grapples, or if they were all trying to grapple individually? It would seem to me that having 3 buddies giving you a +6 to your grapple check would be more effective than having them all try to hold on their own.

I was unsure about how the aid another action worked in conjunction with grappling, but I can also say with some certainty that those poor ogres would still have had difficulty, even with a +6 bonus. Against the gnome, that would have still resulted in a mere 50% or so chance of preventing somatic component spellcasting per round. At that point, they may as well just all attack for large amounts of damage and kill the gnome in one or two rounds.

Snorter wrote:
Is there a reason the opponents resorted to punching, rather than drawing a sword and hacking the grappled PC?

The humanoids were equipped specifically for grappling. Their tactic was supposed to be: keep both hands free with spiked gauntlets, grapple and pin, then beat the opponent while he's down. This tactic actually worked with a fair degree of success in the 3.5 rules. It only proved particularly sub-par in Pathfinder.

Snorter wrote:
Also, the gnome wizards in your examples did seem to have a lot of 'verbal-only' spells. Without them, many of those combats would have been over very quickly.

The gnome had only two verbal-only spells: dimension door and shout. To the best of my knowledge, all of the other spells he cast had somatic components. The Pathfinder rules allow you to cast spells with somatic components when grabbed or held; hence the wizard doing so well in those fights. The gnome was not nearly so well off in the combats using the 3.5 rules.

(The still lightning bolt the gnome cast when in the belly of the purple worm was an ordinary lightning bolt affected by a metamagic rod he happened to be carrying in his hand when swallowed. If you own metamagic rods, you may as well be carrying a useful one at all times, no?)

Thraxus wrote:
I have a question for the OP, with the purple worm test, how good were the fighters odds of escaping once the worm grappled? My calculations gave a fighter next to no chance of escape, but I have not been able to actually playtest it since my gaming group is on a short break.

The fighter's odds were terrible, as demonstrated by the fact that he never once escaped. In general, this closely matches his odds under the 3.5 rules. However, the Pathfinder rule that a natural 1 always fails helped a small amount.

In fact, as a result of this rule, the purple worm actually failed one of the grapple checks it attempted against the gnome wizard! Also, the purple worm occasionally only grabbed instead of fully grappling or pinning its target, leaving him free to counterattack.

(Incidentally, the fighter was wielding a greatsword, which requires two hands to use. Thus, he was occasionally attacking with armor spikes even when he had one hand free.)


Lenarior wrote:
A pined opponent is considered helpless. If I was running thos orcs I would have them commit to a coup de gras when they managed to pin the fighter.

Pinned characters are not considered helpless. Not according to the pathfinder rules, nor according to the SRD:

From the SRD: When an opponent has pinned you, you are held immobile (but not helpless) for 1 round.

From the Pathfinder rules: ...the target is pinned and can take no actions except to attempt to break the grapple or actions that require only speech or thought (such as casting a spell with only verbal components). The target cannot cast spells or use spell-like abilities without succeeding on a Spellcraft check. The target takes a –5 penalty on checks made to break the grapple.If you are grappled, you can attempt to break the grapple as a standard action by making a combat maneuver roll or Escape Artist check (DC 10 + opponent’s CMB). If you succeed, you break the grapple and can act normally. Grappling creatures take a –2 penalty to their Dexterity unless involved in a pin. Pinned creatures (both the grappler and the target) are considered flat-footed.


Pop'N'Fresh wrote:

I'm curious to know if the multiple attackers were using the aid another action during their grapples, or if they were all trying to grapple individually? It would seem to me that having 3 buddies giving you a +6 to your grapple check would be more effective than having them all try to hold on their own.

If these were all individual grapples, could you post some playtest results for them using the aid another action?

I have a feeling the Paizo guys wanted to see this action used more in their rules.

you cannot use Aid Another to assist a grapple because a grapple check is neither an attack, nor a skill check. It is a grapple check which is its own type of check.

From the SRD:

Aid Another with a Skill Check:

Spoiler:
You can help another character achieve success on his or her skill check by making the same kind of skill check in a cooperative effort. If you roll a 10 or higher on your check, the character you are helping gets a +2 bonus to his or her check, as per the rule for favorable conditions. (You can’t take 10 on a skill check to aid another.) In many cases, a character’s help won’t be beneficial, or only a limited number of characters can help at once.

In cases where the skill restricts who can achieve certain results you can’t aid another to grant a bonus to a task that your character couldn’t achieve alone.

Aid Another in Combat:

Spoiler:
In melee combat, you can help a friend attack or defend by distracting or interfering with an opponent. If you’re in position to make a melee attack on an opponent that is engaging a friend in melee combat, you can attempt to aid your friend as a standard action. You make an attack roll against AC 10. If you succeed, your friend gains either a +2 bonus on his next attack roll against that opponent or a +2 bonus to AC against that opponent’s next attack (your choice), as long as that attack comes before the beginning of your next turn. Multiple characters can aid the same friend, and similar bonuses stack.


Epic Meepo wrote:

The fighter's odds were terrible, as demonstrated by the fact that he never once escaped. In general, this closely matches his odds under the 3.5 rules. However, the Pathfinder rule that a natural 1 always fails helped a small amount.

In fact, as a result of this rule, the purple worm actually failed one of the grapple checks it attempted against the gnome wizard! Also, the purple worm occasionally only grabbed instead of fully grappling or pinning its target, leaving him free to counterattack.

(Incidentally, the fighter was wielding a greatsword, which requires two hands to use. Thus, he was occasionally attacking with armor spikes even when he had one hand free.)

I tested a similar encounter last night. I replayed an encounter between from my Age of Worms game between the Battle Dancer and an Overworm. I left the Battle Dancer at her current level (19th). She has a CMB of 24 (I also allowed her to use her Dex instead of Strength). The Overworm was not advanced and had a CMB of 39. The worm was able to grab her initially, but not grapple.However, she would have to roll a natural 20 to even reduce the level of the grapple.

One thing I notice, under the new rules it is almost impossible to prevent unarmed combatants like monks and battle dancers from being able to attack. Even if they cannot use their hands, they can always use their feet.

I really do think that any creature should be able to use its Dex or Strength, whichever is better, without needing a feat. In most cases, the difference is not all that great.

In general, it looks like any creature with a high strength (30+) that can swallow whole or constrict multiple targets will do so with no real effort.

Sczarni

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber
Thraxus wrote:


One thing I notice, under the new rules it is almost impossible to prevent unarmed combatants like monks and battle dancers from being able to attack. Even if they cannot use their hands, they can always use their feet.

I think this is the best thing about the new rules to be honest. If you pin my hands, I'll roll onto my shoulders and choke you out with my legs. You sit on my stomach to prevent that, and you'll get a sharp bony knee to the kidney.

Sovereign Court

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

impressive analysis...what do you do for a living?

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32

Cpt_kirstov wrote:
Thraxus wrote:


One thing I notice, under the new rules it is almost impossible to prevent unarmed combatants like monks and battle dancers from being able to attack. Even if they cannot use their hands, they can always use their feet.
I think this is the best thing about the new rules to be honest. If you pin my hands, I'll roll onto my shoulders and choke you out with my legs. You sit on my stomach to prevent that, and you'll get a sharp bony knee to the kidney.

There's a related problem with the new rules, though: if I have superior reach and I beat you in a grapple, you can't attack me at all. Even though my hands are all over you, my space is outside your reach, so you can't attack back. You can't even try to grapple me!

I think something needs to be done to correct that.

Incidentally, I've posted a rough idea for a grapple fix in This Related Thread. But that idea needs some independent playtesting. Though I've had fun with it, I suspect it'll need some input if it's going to be useful to a larger audience.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Epic Meepo wrote:
Cpt_kirstov wrote:
Thraxus wrote:


One thing I notice, under the new rules it is almost impossible to prevent unarmed combatants like monks and battle dancers from being able to attack. Even if they cannot use their hands, they can always use their feet.
I think this is the best thing about the new rules to be honest. If you pin my hands, I'll roll onto my shoulders and choke you out with my legs. You sit on my stomach to prevent that, and you'll get a sharp bony knee to the kidney.

There's a related problem with the new rules, though: if I have superior reach and I beat you in a grapple, you can't attack me at all. Even though my hands are all over you, my space is outside your reach, so you can't attack back. You can't even try to grapple me!

I think something needs to be done to correct that.

Perhaps a requirement that you move to the adjacent space for the grapple?

Though, at the same time, I think about something with 15 ft tentacles grabbing me, and I don't know how I would be able to attack back even if I wanted to...

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32

Shisumo wrote:

Perhaps a requirement that you move to the adjacent space for the grapple?

Though, at the same time, I think about something with 15 ft tentacles grabbing me, and I don't know how I would be able to attack back even if I wanted to...

You shouldn't have to move to an adjacent space if you have superior reach. But your target should at least be able to attack the appendages you are using to grapple, even if they are long tentacles.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32

DitheringFool wrote:
impressive analysis...what do you do for a living?

Sadly, blue-collar work that could be done by a trained chimp. But at least it frees me up to think about lots of unrelated stuff while whatever talents I have are being wasted.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Epic Meepo wrote:
Shisumo wrote:

Perhaps a requirement that you move to the adjacent space for the grapple?

Though, at the same time, I think about something with 15 ft tentacles grabbing me, and I don't know how I would be able to attack back even if I wanted to...

You shouldn't have to move to an adjacent space if you have superior reach. But your target should at least be able to attack the appendages you are using to grapple, even if they are long tentacles.

I don't disagree, but D&D doesn't handle attacking appendages well. (E.g., the hydra.) It basically requires a specific ruleset just to handle it, if you treat them as a distinct target for attacks, and produces disbelief-shattering consequences if not.

Consider the following scenario: a monster with a 15 ft reach grapples Character A. Character B is standing right next to Characer A; they both have a 5 ft reach and are 15 ft from the monster. Why is it that Character A can attack the monster's appendages but Character B cannot?

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32

Shisumo wrote:
Consider the following scenario: a monster with a 15 ft reach grapples Character A. Character B is standing right next to Characer A; they both have a 5 ft reach and are 15 ft from the monster. Why is it that Character A can attack the monster's appendages but Character B cannot?

I don't have a very good answer to that.

My best effort at a justification: a monster can use a grappled character as a living shield to prevent non-grappled characters from attacking the monster's extended limbs.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Epic Meepo wrote:
Shisumo wrote:
Consider the following scenario: a monster with a 15 ft reach grapples Character A. Character B is standing right next to Characer A; they both have a 5 ft reach and are 15 ft from the monster. Why is it that Character A can attack the monster's appendages but Character B cannot?
I don't have a very good answer to that.

To be fair, I don't expect you to, nor do I mean to overly criticize your work. But the ideal of a grapple system that both functions and makes sense is an extremely elusive one.


Shisumo wrote:
Epic Meepo wrote:
Shisumo wrote:
Consider the following scenario: a monster with a 15 ft reach grapples Character A. Character B is standing right next to Characer A; they both have a 5 ft reach and are 15 ft from the monster. Why is it that Character A can attack the monster's appendages but Character B cannot?
I don't have a very good answer to that.
To be fair, I don't expect you to, nor do I mean to overly criticize your work. But the ideal of a grapple system that both functions and makes sense is an extremely elusive one.

Perhaps an addition to the rules, such as "You can attack creatures grappling creatures in your reach as though the target creature was in your reach." is in order.


The above posts got me thinking of lots of rules about the not occupying the same square.

Grappling moves you into adjacent squares seems to be the best way to resolving that, but then we bring up all the rules of attacks of opportunity as your moved.

Grapple is always going to be a complicated system to iron out.


beware of kobold wrote:
Lenarior wrote:
A pined opponent is considered helpless. If I was running thos orcs I would have them commit to a coup de gras when they managed to pin the fighter.

Pinned characters are not considered helpless. Not according to the pathfinder rules, nor according to the SRD:

From the SRD: When an opponent has pinned you, you are held immobile (but not helpless) for 1 round.

From the Pathfinder rules: ...the target is pinned and can take no actions except to attempt to break the grapple or actions that require only speech or thought (such as casting a spell with only verbal components). The target cannot cast spells or use spell-like abilities without succeeding on a Spellcraft check. The target takes a –5 penalty on checks made to break the grapple.If you are grappled, you can attempt to break the grapple as a standard action by making a combat maneuver roll or Escape Artist check (DC 10 + opponent’s CMB). If you succeed, you break the grapple and can act normally. Grappling creatures take a –2 penalty to their Dexterity unless involved in a pin. Pinned creatures (both the grappler and the target) are considered flat-footed.

Hmmm... The rules seem abit strange to me right here, although I wont dispute that you have correctly quoted the rules as written. But as the rules say a pinned opponent is immobile and can't do anything until it's his turn, and even then he can only try to escape the pin or use some sort of spell that might not even work.

This still doesn't stop the orcs from doing coup de gras since the target is flat-footed, won't do any attacks of opportunity, and is in fact immobile.

Honestly, no matter what the rules might say, being pinned seems very much like helpless to me.


Lenarior wrote:

This still doesn't stop the orcs from doing coup de gras since the target is flat-footed, won't do any attacks of opportunity, and is in fact immobile.

Honestly, no matter what the rules might say, being pinned seems very much like helpless to me.

the definition of pinned in the SRD states explicitly that pinned is: Held immobile (but not helpless) in a grapple.

the definition of pinned in PRPG does not state that the character is in a helpless condition (which must be present in order for the character to be coup de graced). This is not a matter of opinion. It is simply a fact of the rules that a creature must be helpless in order to be coup de graced. Neither version of pinned is considered helpless. Therefore creatures can not be coup de graced while pinned.

When you are helpless, your dexterity is considered to be 0, not just flat-footed. When you are helpless, you can only take mental actions (unless you are unconscious), whereas when pinned you can take physical actions such as "escape the pin".

Until either version of pinned specifies that the pinned creature is helpless, there isn't a basis for claiming that a pinned creature can be coup de graced.


On a slightly different matter, perhaps Pathfinder should have a bit of a look at the Swallow Whole rules?

In the playtest it's noticable that on both occasions being swallowed was only a one-round inconvenience for the fighter. And in some situations it's actually a bonus, because the swallowed PC can attack a much lower AC, and doesn't have to worry about the swallower's allies or its regular attacks, which are generally much more dangerous than the acid/constriction done by its gullet. And considering how low the damage threshold for escape tends to be, the innards of large, Swallow-Whole-using creatures can come to resemble revolving doors.

This might be more a matter for the Bestiary than the grapple rules, but I thought I'd throw it out there...

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