The giant grappling the fly


Playtest Reports


I believe this subject was touched in another thread, but i can't seem to find it anymore... :)

Generally I think that the CMB system is wonderful, since it makes inordinary moves easily applicable.
But being a strenght AND size related attack roll and DC makes a lot of problems, especially towards grappling (and partially disarm).

In the titled example (though a bit out of the ordinary) it seem quite broken, that the giant, who might have a hard time clapping a fly, due to the extreme size difference, can't avoid to pick the same fly up in his hands due to the same difference in size, as well as strenght (though it might be an extraordinarily strong fly).

The same goes for disarm. Why is it easier to hit the weapon of a smaller creature, when it is harder to hit the creature itself. This seems rather illogical.

Game mechanically of course this can be partially mended by a feat allowing so use dex instead of strength. I do not think this is a viable solution, since feat bonus should not be used to mend mechanical issues (especially not if it requires pcs to use a feat to do so).

Instead I think the best way to avoid this problem is by making these moves a touch attack instead. Maintaning a grapple afterwards, as well as pinning the opponent or otherwise, should be a strict CMB roll.
This should apply to the moves which specifically involves 'hitting' the opponent, such as grapple and disarm.


I like the new method of handling special combat actions. The fact that it is a single attack and simple is key. If you start changing it back so that some forms of attack use different mechanics and multiple dice rolls then it adds unneeded complexity.

Agile Maneuvers is in the game to allow Dex based creatures and players to us that as the default modifier. It is no different then the fact that weapon finesse is there for melee combat. The only suggestion I would make if you feel that the extra feat is too much (I do not) is to combine for into Weapon Finesse.

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

HaraldKlak wrote:
Game mechanically of course this can be partially mended by a feat allowing so use dex instead of strength. I do not think this is a viable solution, since feat bonus should not be used to mend mechanical issues (especially not if it requires pcs to use a feat to do so).

Perhaps, instead of a feat, CMB is calculated using Dex if a creature is smaller than Med?

HaraldKlak wrote:

Instead I think the best way to avoid this problem is by making these moves a touch attack instead. Maintaning a grapple afterwards, as well as pinning the opponent or otherwise, should be a strict CMB roll.

This should apply to the moves which specifically involves 'hitting' the opponent, such as grapple and disarm.

Tripping a fly seems equally difficult for a giant as well. Bullrush and overrun I can see simply because the fly couldn't avoid the bulk of the giant's body, but tripping is a more finely executed maneuver.


Maybe adding the creatures size bonus to AC to the CMB?

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

Tom Cattery wrote:
Maybe adding the creatures size bonus to AC to the CMB?

This would make it easier for a fly to grapple a giant, though, and that should never happen. This type of variation on the rule should only apply to creatures who get a size bonus, not a penalty. But in either case, any creature that's not medium is getting a size bonus to CMB and that doesn't seem right.

Also, stop using my avatar. It's confusing.

Grand Lodge

Well, this seems to me sort of one of those extreme situations that can be created for any rule in the game to illustrate how broken it is.

Any rule taken to the absolute extremes without common sense thrown in will result in absurdities like this.

While I think CMB needs some adjusting, this is not a reason, to me, to make a change.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2013 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

There are several cases in 3.5 that allow some creatures (mainly tiny or diminutive animals, magical beasts, or fey) to substitute their dex modifier for their climb, jump, or swim skills. It's not unheard of to do the same for CMB.

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Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

Krome wrote:

Well, this seems to me sort of one of those extreme situations that can be created for any rule in the game to illustrate how broken it is.

Any rule taken to the absolute extremes without common sense thrown in will result in absurdities like this.

While I think CMB needs some adjusting, this is not a reason, to me, to make a change.

I don't think this is taking the rule itself to the extreme. Sure, the giant/fly thing is, but if you take an ogre and a halfling, it applies similarly. How is hitting a target's weapon (which for a small character would be what? fine? diminutive?) easier than hitting the small target itself. Using CMB is always going to be better for larger creatures, even if the strength of both creatures in question is the same. What amounts to a 2 point difference for to-hit/AC from Large to Small accounts for a 4 point CMB difference. When facing a smaller opponent there's no reason with current CMB rules not to do a combat maneuver every round. Their high AC becomes irrelevant since it no longer factors in the with the touch attack. Regardless of how large or strong you are, you can't initiate a grapple if you can't grab the target, and you can't trip them if you can't touch their legs. That's why the 3.5 grapple rules include the touch attack--it balances out the "grapple everything smaller than me" cliche.


Why not combine the dice roll? I mean think about it, if you grab the little guy it's an extention of the same movement to pull him in. (or knock him down whatever)
What I mean is this, why not have it so that you roll against CMB or Touch AC whitchever is higher, with you're CMB modifier (which is the same as your attack bonus, only a bitter higher with larger creatures)


This problem is based on the fact that the size modifier to CMB is the opposite of the size modifiers to hit and AC. For the purposes of AC and to hit, larger size is a negative and smaller size a benefit. For purposes of combat maneuvers, larger size is a benefit and smaller size is a negative. Simply adding the AC or to hit size modifiers only serves to cancel out the CMB size modifier. In that case you would be better off just dropping the size modifiers all together and save the calculation.


As far as I can see the trip manuever is a melee attack, and as I read this does not use CMB?

If this is the case, I think this is clearly precedent to make adjustments to others maneuvers.

I think, making the roll to initiate grapple a touch attack would remove the problem of smaller characters being unneccesary easy to grapple, without making larger characters substantially weaker.
This might make it possible for a hafling to grapple an armored ogre (by jumping on its face), but he still would have a really hard time pinning the ogre or even maintaining the grapple. The ogre might have a hard time catching the little bugger, but if it is succesfuld, it has got a new little toy to play with as long as it likes.

Disarm is a little bit more difficult. Using a touch attack here, will make it too easy for a halfling to disarm the ogre. Something, however, should be done to alleviate the problem of the ogre instantanously being able to disarm the halfling.

Scarab Sages

It did always bother me that the 'size bonus/penalty' applied to all CMB things. I would think that'd only apply to things like Bull Rush or Grapple.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Karui Kage wrote:
It did always bother me that the 'size bonus/penalty' applied to all CMB things. I would think that'd only apply to things like Bull Rush or Grapple.

A simple solution seems to be that past a certain size difference, different combat maneuvers lose significance. Overrun, Bullrush, Trip, Disarm and Sunder are all pretty ridiculous when the size difference is 3 steps or more different - something halfling sized (small) can effectively ignore an insect sized (fine) creature on these types of checks - the differences are too big to make it an effective tactic. Just smash the thing. In the reverse (insect vs halfling), the insect is so much smaller it can move around with virtual impunity (though overrun doesn't make sense, heh), but again tripping, disarming and sundering make no sense. Stab it in the eye!

This meshes nicely with the rules on page 144:

PRPG page 144 wrote:

Square Occupied by Creature Three Sizes Larger or

Smaller: Any creature can move through a square occupied
by a creature three size categories larger than it is.
A big creature can move through a square occupied by a
creature three size categories smaller than it is.

The biggest issue I see is grapple. If you need to capture something significantly smaller than you, getting ahold of it is difficult...but once you do, keeping it grappled should be nearly effortless (barring escape artist attempts). This sort of extreme size difference is where the introduction of a touch attack and then a normal grapple check makes sense to me.

I'm not sure if it should be worked into the rules, left as a sidebar, or left up to the discretion of DMs to adjudicate. It might be worth the same sort of treatment as the rule on page 144.

Thoughts?


Small creatures have a dex bonus. The smaller the creature the more dextrous. Anything tricky to capture like a fly or a slimy frog can easily have some ranks in escape artist. Negates the CMB penalties and gives them a fighting chance.

A giant swatting a fly doesn't sound very hard. Sure they are slow and flies are fast but a hand the size of a frying pan has to count for something.

If you want to trap the fly without killing it then throw a penalty to the CMB check otherwise it accidentally gets delt slam damage.

How about this

If a creature is attempting to grappling a creature five size catagories smaller than itself or smaller than it automatically deals damage appropriate to the limb used to start the grapple (slam, unarmed, claw bite ect,). Should the grappler wish to avoid this damage he takes a penalty to all grapple checks equal to 2x the difference in size modifiers (-10 for a large grappling fine, -12 for huge grappling fine ect)

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

Wight Lies wrote:

If you want to trap the fly without killing it then throw a penalty to the CMB check otherwise it accidentally gets delt slam damage.

I don't think the discussion is about whether a grapple would deal damage or not, but rather the difficulty of the task itself. A giant's ability to hit a fine target with it's greatsword should be relatively the same as trying to initiate a grapple. If it can't hit it, how can it possibly grab it? The high dex of small creatures and their size bonus is intuitive in the RAW because their small size makes targeting them more difficult, but it's obviously not quite as intuitive when one has to target them using a combat maneuver. Then they're effectively easier to target.


Is Pathfinder going to put back the rule that says you can grapple a creature without being considered grappled yourself if you take a -20 penalty on your roll? This, I think, was designed so that big, strong creatures like giants could just pick up a PC and hold him without suffering any grapple penalties.

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