Grapple Denies Dexterity?


Rules Questions


13 people marked this as FAQ candidate. Answered in the FAQ.

All page numbers noted in this post refer to the Second Printing.

In the grapple rules on page 200, it states that both creatures have the Grappled condition.

On page 567, the Grappled condition indicates that the affected creature cannot move, takes a -4 to Dex, a -2 penalty on attack rolls and combat maneuver checks (except those made to grapple or escape a grapple.)

However, page 195, in the Armor Class Modifiers table (Table 8-6) indicates "Defender is Grappling (but attacker is not): +0 Melee (1), +0 Ranged (1)" where footnote 1 indicates "The defender loses any Dexterity bonus to AC."

This information seems to be contradictory. Neither the text of the grapple rules, nor the grappled condition, indicates that either the attacker or defender is denied their dexterity, just that they take -4 penalties. Traditionally speaking, anything in text overrides what a table says. However, some members of my gaming group are insisting that because the text does not explicitly say whether or not dexterity is denied by being grappled, this implies we must defer to the table.

In searching the forum, I can find mentions of this contradiction in threads, but no official posting from the developers as far as what the ruling on this issue is. If we could get an official statement on whether or not the chart is misprinted, that would be most appreciated.

Liberty's Edge

We ran into this the other night. We didn't notice the table entry.

This is how I understand it:

1) If you grapple an opponent, you both have the grappled condition. This does not deny dex bonus to AC.

2) If you pin your opponent, he is pinned and you are still grappled. However, you pick up the additional condition of being denied your Dex (this per the text on pin).

3) If you pin your opponent, he gains the pinned condition, and is then flat footed.

I understand the table to be calling out the condition of the pinning character, which is then clarified by the text. As you've noted, text trumps table.


+1


just when you thought grapple was cleared up :0


I 'grappled' with this subject for a while but i'm fine now that i've 'pinned' a flowchart to my wall. lol


I think it might mean that you lose your Dex bonus to AC vs. opponents that you are not grappling while keeping it vs. the opponent that you are grappling.

Being -4 on Dex would also effect your Ref Save, skills and probably some other things as well.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber

I think the footnote to the table is a mistake - when Paizo changed grappling to impose a -4 Dex penalty rather than losing Dex bonus to defense to those you aren't grappling, I figure they forgot to update the table.

Its confusion like this why I actually prefer the 3.5 grapple rules.


DigitalMage wrote:
Its confusion like this why I actually prefer the 3.5 grapple rules.

ru serious? CMB's such a good mechanic IMO.

Besides, using the rule of text over table, where's the confusion?


Tanis wrote:
DigitalMage wrote:
Its confusion like this why I actually prefer the 3.5 grapple rules.

ru serious? CMB's such a good mechanic IMO.

Besides, using the rule of text over table, where's the confusion?

Now that I think about it a little more, the rule of text over table is probably correct. There is no need to lose your Dex bonus because you are grappled. I am certainly not going to abandon a superior rule because of a typo.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber
Tanis wrote:
DigitalMage wrote:
Its confusion like this why I actually prefer the 3.5 grapple rules.

ru serious? CMB's such a good mechanic IMO.

Deadly serious. The CMB mechanic itself isn't bad, its all the mechanics that take place after that and all the little changes Paizo have made that is the issue.

E.g.
Dex penalty of -4 when grappling rather than 3.5's losing dex bonus to AC, this means having to recalculate AC, CMD and possibly CMB (if using Agile Manouevres feat), whereas in 3.5 Flat Footed AC was already on the character sheet.

Having to keep track of who is winning the grapple (winner can release grapple with a free action and gets +5 bonus), whereas in 3.5, you were both simply grappling.

Extra modifiers added in by Paizo.

There are lots of other issues as well, check out a few threads around here including this one.

Also it seems that I am not alone in preferring the 3.5 Grapple, check out the Things you miss about 3.5 thread for evidence of this.


DigitalMage wrote:
Tanis wrote:
DigitalMage wrote:
Its confusion like this why I actually prefer the 3.5 grapple rules.

ru serious? CMB's such a good mechanic IMO.

Deadly serious. The CMB mechanic itself isn't bad, its all the mechanics that take place after that and all the little changes Paizo have made that is the issue.

E.g.
Dex penalty of -4 when grappling rather than 3.5's losing dex bonus to AC, this means having to recalculate AC, CMD and possibly CMB (if using Agile Manouevres feat), whereas in 3.5 Flat Footed AC was already on the character sheet.

Having to keep track of who is winning the grapple (winner can release grapple with a free action and gets +5 bonus), whereas in 3.5, you were both simply grappling.

Extra modifiers added in by Paizo.

There are lots of other issues as well, check out a few threads around here including this one.

Also it seems that I am not alone in preferring the 3.5 Grapple, check out the Things you miss about 3.5 thread for evidence of this.

1) Write -2 next to CMB and AC. Problem solved.

2) They only get +5 to grapple after they've held the grapple for a round. That's not hard. Neither are the extra modifiers you're talking about.

I think the problem is exaggerated.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber
Tanis wrote:

1) Write -2 next to CMB and AC. Problem solved.

2) They only get +5 to grapple after they've held the grapple for a round. That's not hard. Neither are the extra modifiers you're talking about.

I think the problem is exaggerated.

Please don't try to convince me otherwise or suggest that I am exaggerating. You asked whether I was serious for preferring the 3.5 grapple, I responded and included some of the reasons why.

And note that "some" part in the previous sentance, my list of reasons wasn't exhaustive. I know the 3.5 grapple rules, am comfortable with them and because of that prefer them - that is my prerogative. I am not trying to convince you that 3.5 is better, I can understand that people prefer PF grapple, I just do not.

If you really want to discuss this, I suggest starting another thread (but only after searching previous threads on the topic).


Yeah, i've seen the other threads, ho hum.

I'm not interested in convincing you or anyone else to play any game apart from your own, i just love debating the merits and mechanics of the game.

I wasn't suggesting you were exaggerating, i said the problem is exaggerated.

No worries, good luck to you.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber
Tanis wrote:
I wasn't suggesting you were exaggerating, i said the problem is exaggerated.

I am not quite sure I see the difference, which I guess is why I may have been a little brusque (apologies for that).

Tanis wrote:
No worries, good luck to you.

And to you too!


I just wish they'd clear up the outright contradiction about casting in a grapple (the grapple rules say you can with one hand, the spellcasting rules say you can't)


BigNorseWolf wrote:
I just wish they'd clear up the outright contradiction about casting in a grapple (the grapple rules say you can with one hand, the spellcasting rules say you can't)

To cast a spell with a somatic component, you need one free hand. Have you read something that contradicts that Wolf?

Liberty's Edge

3 people marked this as FAQ candidate.
Pathfinder Maps Subscriber

Could it be this...

From the Grapple section of the PRD:
Instead of attempting to break or reverse the grapple, you can take any action that requires only one hand to perform, such as cast a spell or make an attack with a light or one-handed weapon against any creature within your reach, including the creature that is grappling you.

From the Grappled Condition of the PRD:
In addition, grappled creatures can take no action that requires two hands to perform. A grappled character who attempts to cast a spell must make a concentration check (DC 10 + grappler's CMB + spell level), or lose the spell.

From the Components section of the PRD:
Somatic (S): A somatic component is a measured and precise movement of the hand. You must have at least one hand free to provide a somatic component.

Basically the rules say:
You can't take any action that requires two hands whilst grappling
You can cast a spell whilst grappling
To cast a somatic spell you must have one hand free

Those three things would indicate that you can cast a somatic spell whilst grappling (albeit requiring a Concentration check as per the Grappled Condition).

However, then the Magic rules explicitly state that you can't cast somatic spells whilst grappling.

From the Magic section of the PRD:
Grappling or Pinned: The only spells you can cast while grappling or pinned are those without somatic components and whose material components (if any) you have in hand.

Although I wouldn't say its a direct contradiction, it would have been better for the grapple rules to explicitly state that somatic spells couldn't be cast.

Unfortunately by providing brevity in the grapple rules, Paizo seem to have left them slightly ambiguous (you can do anything that only requires one hand) but then go on to state more specific restrictions elsewhere in the rules.

You really need to pull together several different sections of the rules (Skills, Combat, Magic, Glossary) to understand how grappling works in Pathfinder.


All of this discussion is exactly why I want a confirmation from the developers. It really isn't clear at all. There are too many small contradictions.


"Grappling" term = "grappled" condition ?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber
Jayme Howard wrote:
All of this discussion is exactly why I want a confirmation from the developers. It really isn't clear at all. There are too many small contradictions.

All of this discussion is exactly why I prefer the 3.5 grapple, and one of the reasons why I have chosen to stick with 3.5 :)

IkeDoe wrote:
"Grappling" term = "grappled" condition ?

Care to elaborate on what you're getting at here?


DigitalMage wrote:


IkeDoe wrote:
"Grappling" term = "grappled" condition ?
Care to elaborate on what you're getting at here?

Some people argue (not me) that the one "Grappling" is just the attacker, while the "grappled" condition applies to both creatures. Grappling isn't defined anywhere in the book btw.

Some texts use "grappling", others "grappled".

I.e. With that reasoning that rule "The only spells you can cast while grappling are those without somatic components and whose material components (if any) you have in hand" applies only to the attacker. That's wrong IMO but I would want to know how it is intended to work.

There is a summary of those issues at the end of this page of the Core Rulebook Errata Thread: Core Rulebook Erratas

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber
IkeDoe wrote:

Some people argue (not me) that the one "Grappling" is just the attacker, while the "grappled" condition applies to both creatures. Grappling isn't defined anywhere in the book btw.

Some texts use "grappling", others "grappled".

I.e. With that reasoning that rule "The only spells you can cast while grappling are those without somatic components and whose material components (if any) you have in hand" applies only to the attacker. That's wrong IMO but I would want to know how it is intended to work.

I understand where you are coming from now. But, like you I don't think I agree with this.


It's fairly safe to assume that grappling means "involved in a grapple," and all creatures involved in a grapple gain the grappled condition, per RAW.


Although I wouldn't say its a direct contradiction, it would have been better for the grapple rules to explicitly state that somatic spells couldn't be cast.

The direct contradiction is that it says you can do anything requiring one free hand, and specifically mentions casting a spell.

you can take any action that requires only one hand to perform, such as cast a spell

Grappling or Pinned: The only spells you can cast while grappling or pinned are those without somatic components and whose material components (if any) you have in hand.

Now, I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that a stilled spell or one without somatic components does NOT require one free hand to cast. Baring that, you have a newly written section on grappling that says "Go ahead, make the concentration check and cast the spell" and the copy pasted section on casting that says "Sorry caster, you're completely hosed"

There is no interpretation that makes both of those rules make sense. They specifically call attention to the ability to cast a spell with one free hand in the grappling rules, and then say you can't do that in the spell-casting rules.

As near as i can figure they made a deliberate change in the grappling rules and forgot to change it in all the other sections it relies on.

The only plus side to the pathfinder grappling rules is for sorcerers: they can use still spell in the grapple now.


IkeDoe wrote:

Some people argue (not me) that the one "Grappling" is just the attacker, while the "grappled" condition applies to both creatures. Grappling isn't defined anywhere in the book btw.

Some texts use "grappling", others "grappled".

That's my take on it. The attacker is grappling the defender, and they both have the "grappled" condition. At least the casting rules make sense under that interpretation (the attacker can't cast spells with a somatic component, but the defender can).

I agree that the wording is totally ambiguous, though.


Over a week later, no response from the devs, and still really no consensus from the community. Obviously this is a highly debated and contested mechanic, and it would be very nice to get a clear, official ruling on it. Grapple rules are a very gray area, but are critical, mechanically, to the playability of Monks, and some builds of other classes. Certain interpretations of this set of rules completely ruin the viability of grappling in any multi-opponent combat, and as such an official errata/clarification of how grapple functions (possibly even deserving of its own web enhancement PDF) appears to be in order. We, the community, look forward to an official response on this unclear set of rules.


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

I too wish to know whether a grappler loses their Dexterity modifier or not. This very issue came up in our game last night.


I too wish an answer to this question. There's no definitive one in the dozen or so topics about this subject.


I believe it is quite reasonable to a interprete grappling as something refering to the one controlling the grapple.

The word grappling in that form refers to an action, opposed to just being in a grapple.
Furthermore the grapple rules seem to use this term deliberately when it comes to the one doing the action, on several occasions. First of all, it states that "once you are grappling an opponent, a succesful check allows you to continue grappling...", and concerned with the victim it explains that "Alternatively, if you succeed, you can become the grappler, grappling the other creature".

Additionally if you use this interpretation the rules are not contradictory. While you might argue, that it is somewhat uneccesary to specify that you can't cast spells with somatic components when you control a grapple since you need to use a standard action to maintain it, it does remove some cornercases such as casting quickened spells, while you do it.

The Exchange

I don't wish for an answer. My character has this version of Uncanny Dodge:

Uncanny Dodge (Source: Live System)
Prerequisites: Dodge
Benefit: The character never loses their Dex bonus from their Defence Class.

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