Grapple and Spellcasting re Somatic Components


Rules Questions


4 people marked this as FAQ candidate.
Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I know this subject came up in 2009 and before, but from what I can find, it came down to the problem that the core rule book seemed to contradict itself. So if someone can direct me to where it is more clearly decided, I would be very happy.

Situation: Serina the Sorcerer gets successfully grappled by a Fred the Fighter. Serina still has one hand free. She wants to cast a spell. Either way she knows she needs to make a concentration check but is confident in her ability. The spell she wants to cast has a somatic component.

Now if Serina were pinned she knows she would be out of luck but in a grapple she isn't sure because in the grapple explanation in the combat section of the book, she knows that casting the spell only requires one hand - because were she not be grappled but carrying a dagger she would be fine.

Combat/If you are Grappled wrote:
If You Are Grappled: If you are grappled, you can attempt to break the grapple as a standard action by making a combat maneuver check (DC equal to your opponent's CMD; this does not provoke an attack of opportunity) or Escape Artist check (with a DC equal to your opponent's CMD). If you succeed, you break the grapple and can act normally. Alternatively, if you succeed, you can become the grappler, grappling the other creature (meaning that the other creature cannot freely release the grapple without making a combat maneuver check, while you can). Instead of attempting to break or reverse the grapple, you can take any action that doesn't require two hands to perform, such as cast a spell or make an attack or full attack with a light or one-handed weapon against any creature within your reach, including the creature that is grappling you. See the grappled condition for additional details. If you are pinned, your actions are very limited. See the pinned condition in Conditions for additional details.

Further more the description of the grappled condition in glossary means she is good:

Glossary/Grapple wrote:

Grappled: A grappled creature is restrained by a creature, trap, or effect. Grappled creatures cannot move and take a –4 penalty to Dexterity. A grappled creature takes a –2 penalty on all attack rolls and combat maneuver checks, except those made to grapple or escape a grapple. In addition, grappled creatures can take no action that requires two hands to perform. A grappled character who attempts to cast a spell or use a spell-like ability must make a concentration check (DC 10 + grappler's CMB + spell level), or lose the spell. Grappled creatures cannot make attacks of opportunity.

A grappled creature cannot use Stealth to hide from the creature grappling it, even if a special ability, such as hide in plain sight, would normally allow it to do so. If a grappled creature becomes invisible, through a spell or other ability, it gains a +2 circumstance bonus on its CMD to avoid being grappled, but receives no other benefit.

But wait - she turns to the magic section to check her DC and finds:

Magic/Concentration wrote:
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. Even so, you must make a concentration check (DC 10 + the grappler's CMB + the level of the spell you're casting) or lose the spell.

So can Serina cast? (For the purpose of this example we will say invisibility.)

And seriously if someone can point me to where this was hashed out I'd would be very grateful.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Companion, Pawns, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

The magic/concentration section doesn't really leave much space for interpretation. You can only cast spells without somatic components. True you only need one hand to cast, but that's superseded by the grappled limitation.


I believe that you still cannot cast a spell with somatic components while grappled.

boots of escape, having a staff of journeys in hand when youre grappled (and be able to activate the freedom of movement), having liberating command as a spell to cast, wand of dim door(or just the spell), or something similar would get you out.

the fact that liberating command exists, and is verbal only makes me lean towards that conclusion. but i am not aware of anything conclusive.

Dark Archive

Specific > General. It specifically states you can't cast spells with somatic components, despite the general use of one free hand while grappled.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Paizo has explictly stated that the rules in the magic section are wrong:

"Still Spell is really only useful for situations where you do not have one hand to devote to spellcasting, such as when you are pinned. You can attempt to cast a spell when grappled, and you must make a concentration check to cast it (whether or not the spell has a Somatic component). Still spell is also handy for casters who intend to wield weapons or shields quite frequently.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing"

LINK

"There is an incongruence btw the magic chapter and the grappled condition (and a few other spots). This will be cleared up, but the grappled condition wins out here.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing"

LINK

NOTE: There is another rule, not yet mentioned that maybe implies that if somone is grappling (e.g., controlling/maintaining a grapple) instead of being grappled, they cannot cast spells with somatic components: "To cast a spell with a somatic (S) component, you must gesture freely with at least one hand. You can't cast a spell of this type while bound, grappling, or with both your hands full or occupied." But for a couple of reasons I could detail I think this is one of the "other spots" indicated by Jason Bulmahn and should therefore be ignored.


I do not see the problem here. the grapple section says that you can attempt to cast spells but do not say what kind of spell you can cast. The concentration section tell you what spells you can try to cast. So for me is clear that you can not cast spells with somatic components while grappled.


It's an hard time for a caster when he is grappled, because with "monster" (as opposed to NPC with class levels) the DC for concentration 10+ grappler's CMB +level of spell may be very very high.
Of course, SLA is in the same case of spell and monster with SLA has to do a concentration check to do if it don't want to lose its SLA...

1) grappled and your're the victim of grapple
you may cast verbal and somatic spell if you have an hand free for that, You may cast spell with material only if the material was in your hand before the grapple (you cannot reach your pouch except by magic i.e Instant Summon or Glove of Storing)
You have to do a Concentration Check DC 10+ grappler's CMB +level of spell cast

2) grappled and you're the grappler (i.e "grappling" in magic section)
2) a) If you do the grapple for the round with only one hand and then have a -4 to the combat maneuver roll, and you other hand is free, you may cast a spell with same rule as above.
Except that if you don't have feat Greater Grapple or in all case for the first round, it's only with a swift action.

2) b) If you do the grapple for the round with your 2 hands, you have not the penalty to the combat maneuver roll, but you cannot cast somatic spell.
Concentration check and swift as 2)a)

EX:
1st round: you initiate a grapple (i.e case 2) you're the grappler) with a standard action with your 2 hands free. You have not the penalty of -4.
You succeed and now are grappled.
As it's the first round of grapple, you could cast a spell only with a swift action.
No hands free, so you have to cast only verbal or mental spell: of course you have to do a concentration check.

2nd round: your victim is always grappled by you. You have to do a grapple check to maintain the grapple (a standard action except if you have feat Greater Grapple which allow to do as a move action).
You choose to maintain grapple only with 1 hand.
So bonus to grapple check to maintain are
+5 circumstance bonus because the victim/target do not break the grapple
-4 penalty because you do grapple with only 1 hand
If you maintain grapple (i.e succeed the check), you may take one of the four actions listed CRB p200: Move, Damage, Pin or Tie Up.
Note: you could do these actions only when you maintain a grapple, so at the 2nd round & more of a grapple.
After you may cast a spell:
- with a standard action if you have feat Greater Grapple
- with a swift action for other case
As you have now a hand free, you may cast Verbal, Somatic spell, but not spell with material (because you've used 2 hands to initiate the grapple).
Of course you have to do a concentration check as above.

Concentration check for the grappler: it's a check against you!!!! so DC= 10 +your own CMB +level of spell cast

3) you're pinned
You can only cast spell verbal or mental (condition pinned supersedes rule of magic section).
And of course you have to do the concentration check as above.

Contributor

3 people marked this as FAQ candidate. 11 people marked this as a favorite.

I pointed out to Jason that the no-somatic text only appears in the rules on concentration, not on grapple, and is a legacy of when grapple was a whole-body thing instead of a just-an-arm thing. The no-somatic rule is being errata'd out of the game, it shouldn't have been left in.


Thanks SKR.


So sad to hear that SKR.


Thanks SKR
So... the hard time for spellcaster is bigger than before...


I think he is saying that a restriction is being lifted so casting just became easier.


I don't see how it would be more difficult for spellcasters when a restriction on casting is being removed..


Sorry but english is not my native language. And as say SKR, it's difficult for me to understand.
So it is as i explain???


He said it is easier for the casters.


Defraeter wrote:

Sorry but english is not my native language. And as say SKR, it's difficult for me to understand.

So it is as i explain???

SKR is saying that if the caster make his concentration check then he can cast spell with somatic components.


oh! i was good, cool!
Thank you at you 2


and so only pinned has a somatic restriction now?
that's what I always thought was intent, but how the RAW is is far from clear...


Sean K Reynolds wrote:
I pointed out to Jason that the no-somatic text only appears in the rules on concentration, not on grapple, and is a legacy of when grapple was a whole-body thing instead of a just-an-arm thing. The no-somatic rule is being errata'd out of the game, it shouldn't have been left in.

So my oracle of the heavens can Color Spray in a grapple now as long as I have some colored sand in my hand before I get grappled? Thank you, Sean!


KingHades wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
I pointed out to Jason that the no-somatic text only appears in the rules on concentration, not on grapple, and is a legacy of when grapple was a whole-body thing instead of a just-an-arm thing. The no-somatic rule is being errata'd out of the game, it shouldn't have been left in.
So my oracle of the heavens can Color Spray in a grapple now as long as I have some colored sand in my hand before I get grappled? Thank you, Sean!

You don't even have to have the component in hand before you're grappled. Just retrieve it as a move action, no check required.

Liberty's Edge

Defraeter wrote:
Concentration check for the grappler: it's a check against you!!!! so DC= 10 +your own CMB +level of spell cast

I have not very clear why should it be this way... true that the rule states that the concentration check is against the grappler CMB but pay attention: if both are considered grappled, each one is the "grappler" of the other! It doesn’t say “the person controlling the grapple’s CMB”, just “the grappler’s CMB”.

So if I am grappling someone and I want to cast a spell I understand the concentration check would be against the CMB of the creature I am grappling! (since he is also "grappling" me and so "the grappler" in that case).

In my opinion this way is logic and makes more sense: if I am grappling someone very good in these techniques it will be difficult to cast a spell and the other way around. If I am a very good grappler it doesn't make sense to have more difficulty to cast a spell while I am grappling.

Please tell me if you agree, I believe my interpretation is the right one but I might be wrong.

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