"David vs. Goliath" Grapple and Falling


Rules Questions

Sovereign Court

Participants: Medium Black Dragon vs. Gnome Alchemist

Scenario: Gnome is using a Fly extract and a Resist Acid extract, with Ring of Featherfall equipped, and goes airborne in pursuit of the dragon using Tanglefoot Bombs to knock it out of the air.

Details: The rest of the party is in a 300-style standoff against a horde of Gnolls, Giants, & Trolls.. using a Silent Image to create the "funnel" with Wind Wall to guard against arrows. The Dragon is the only enemy with a noticeable area attack, and airborne supremacy coupled with the potential to save vs. the illusion.

The dragon is distracted for the first few rounds of combat, while we setup the illusion/ambush/funnel and draw out the gnolls. After a few rounds pass, the Gnome is already airborne (50ft up) and firing from his longbow, using Heroism and Gravity Bow to his advantage in the process. Then the dragon circles back around from his diversion, due to a Gnoll blowing on his horn/alarm.

The Gnome sees it coming inbound and, rather than risk his party being destroyed by a line of acid damage as they're all bunched up in that funnel, heads the Dragon off and tags it with two Tanglefoot Bombs over two rounds. In the meantime, the Dragon blasts the Gnome for 38 pts of Acid - Gnome saves, 16 damage is completely resisted by Resist Acid spell effect/ward. Dragon pulls a u-turn to avoid the Gnome.

In an attempt to prevent the Dragon from circling around behind the rest of the party, the Gnome takes advantage of the half movement speed inflicted on the Dragon from the Tanglefoot Bombs hitting it and moves in front of the Dragon's flight path. This is where it gets complicated...

Question(s): If the Dragon uses his action to Grapple at the end of a Charge, for its turn... then immediately cease flight... what happens? Can you use Escape Artist to defend against a Grapple, or only break one on your turn? Does the impact of hitting the ground cause the Grapple to break somehow? Is there any chance to use a standard for an Escape Artist check prior to impact?

Solution used thus far: 90 degree change in flight path, immediately at the end of the charge, straight down 50ft into the dirt. The falling damage was only 17pts, so the Gnome is left with around 11 hp remaining after impact. After that far: we paused combat.

Silver Crusade

Grappling is a standard action, so it cannot be used in conjunction with a charge (a full round action) unless the creature as an attack that has the Grab ability.

Since the Dragon is controlling the Grapple, you could rule it needs a Fly check to remain hovering.

You can only use Escape Artist to escape a Grapple--your CMD is used to defend against it.

The Grapple does not break from the impact of hitting the ground.

A fall has to be greater than 500' to allow a standard action cast per the falling rules, so it's reasonable to assume you would need the same amount of height/time to use a standard action to escape.

The latter 2 are subject to GM fiat, discretion and rule of cool.


First of all, unless the specific dragon you're using has "grab" in one of its attacks it cannot grapple on a charge. A charge is a full-round action that allows an attack, while a grapple is a standard action. They are incompatible and the only way to combine them is with the "grab" special attack. Of course, if he's close enough he can just take a move action and then a standard action.

I'd argue that the two don't begin falling until the dragon's next turn. Since he's already ended his movement for this turn he will remain flying until his next turn, at which point he can start falling (now, if he used a standard action to grapple and still had his move action left, then he could fall on his own turn). This means the gnome should have one turn to act while grappled before falling occurs. I would argue that if the dragon chooses to fall while grappling someone, this would comes under the category of moving while in a grapple. Since slamming into the ground would count as a hazardous location, this would give the gnome a free chance to break free at a +4 bonus.


I agree with Dasrak.

Sovereign Court

Well, thank you guys. The feedback is appreciated, as always!

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