Swarms can be grappled?


Rules Discussion

Scarab Sages

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Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

So, I was looking over swarms and I don't see anything stopping you from grappling them, at least not mechanically.

Swarm: "A swarm is a mass or cloud of creatures that functions as one monster. Its size entry gives the size of the entire mass, though for most swarms the individual creatures that make up that mass are Tiny. A swarm can occupy the same space as other creatures, and must do so in order to use its damaging action. A swarm typically has weakness to effects that deal damage over an area (like area spells and splash weapons)."

I even checked some swarm creatures to see if they had common entries about it, but came up empty. Rat Swarm (276) has immunity to precision and swarm mind, but not grapple?

If you look at Incorporeal, they have this line "An incorporeal creature can’t attempt Strength-based checks against physical creatures or objects—only against incorporeal ones—unless those objects have the ghost touch property rune. Likewise, a corporeal creature can’t attempt Strength-based checks against incorporeal creatures or objects."

This is an oversight right? I'm not supposed to be able to roll around on a pile of spiders, keeping them in place or throw the entire swarm with whirling throw? Can we just add a similar line from incorporeal creatures to swarms so you can't grapple or trip them?

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Has anyone heard or seen anything from the developerd that they are aware of this issue. Perhaps even better, has anyone found and rules text indicating I'm just wrong here?


Sorry, don't have the book in front of me, but are there limits on how many creature you can grapple at a time? "Functions as one monster" is not exactly the same as being one monster (and might have been better to have been stated as "acts as one monster"), so if there is a limit on how many creatures you can grapple in the grappling rules, then by that rule it would be impossible to grapple a swarm, which is "a mass or cloud of creatures."


Sorry, I don't have the book in front of me, but what do the grappling rules say about grappling more than one creature at a time? If the rules set any sort of limitation on how many creatures you can grapple, then the definition of swarm (specifically "a mass or cloud of creatures") means you can't grapple the swarm, and you wouldn't need to say that in the swarm definition because it is in the grappling rules.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

The only restriction is that you need a free hand to grapple with, but I don't think that really solves the issue when Titan wrestler let's you grapple creatures of any size with a single hand. "Functions as one monster" is the problem here because I feel like it's too allowing of what you can do to swarms.


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Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

"Functions as one monster" is with respect to how the swarm itself functions, not how others function on it. That is to say, its actions in the game are treated as if a single monster, not as 100s of separate entities.

If you attempt a grapple against a swarm, you'll grab one of the constituent creatures and not the swarm itself.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Midnight Anarch wrote:

"Functions as one monster" is with respect to how the swarm itself functions, not how others function on it. That is to say, its actions in the game are treated as if a single monster, not as 100s of separate entities.

If you attempt a grapple against a swarm, you'll grab one of the constituent creatures and not the swarm itself.

I'd argue against that in this edition. Acts and functions mean different things and I believe the lack of extra rules about swarms is because things are intended to function normally against them for the most part, bar the swarm mind trait. After all, why would swarm mind be a separate trait about how mind affecting abilities work on swarms if we already had that information from the swarm trait being more than one creature?


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

Ever struggle to pick up and hold a large pile of laundry, particularly a bunch of small, wiggly items, such as socks and undergarments? I imagine it's kind of like that. ;D

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Ravingdork wrote:
Ever struggle to pick up and hold a large pile of laundry, particularly a bunch of small, wiggly items, such as socks and undergarments? I imagine it's kind of like that. ;D

Right? I'm assuming this is just an oversight that will be errated out in the future once they are aware of this issue...unless they intended it to work this way which I can't imagine being the case.


How much of a swarm has to be together to remain a swarm? It would be pretty easy to narrate a scenario where Ang-gar the Barbarian tries to grapple a swarm of rats and half (or more) of the rats wiggle free. What percentage counts for actually grappling the swarm? If he holds 40% of the mass of the swarm is he grappling the swarm? 50%?

And since this is the rules forum, I expect a rules-based answer.

If all the rats in one hand don't fit, then you must acquit.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I wasn't looking for a rules answer, especially right now when the rules say that you can grapple and/or trip a swarm because the entire swarm functions (not acts) as a single monster.

I mainly just want to put this information out there and hope a developer sees it or that we get our FAQ button that I can press for it.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Also, there doesn’t seem to be any actual immunities. It just says they are weak to aoe attacks. Have I understood that right? As previous edition and starfinder, they have immunities to individual targeting attacks etc.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Transmission89 wrote:
Also, there doesn’t seem to be any actual immunities. It just says they are weak to aoe attacks. Have I understood that right? As previous edition and starfinder, they have immunities to individual targeting attacks etc.

Swarms also have the Swarm Mind trait which makes them immune to mind-affecting abilities that only target a specific number of creatures. Other than that and precision damage, no, swarms don't appear to have any general immunities, although they tend to have really high damage resistance, like a level 1 rat swarm having damage resistance 6 to anything other than bludgeoning damage.


zer0darkfire wrote:
Transmission89 wrote:
Also, there doesn’t seem to be any actual immunities. It just says they are weak to aoe attacks. Have I understood that right? As previous edition and starfinder, they have immunities to individual targeting attacks etc.
Swarms also have the Swarm Mind trait which makes them immune to mind-affecting abilities that only target a specific number of creatures. Other than that and precision damage, no, swarms don't appear to have any general immunities, although they tend to have really high damage resistance, like a level 1 rat swarm having damage resistance 6 to anything other than bludgeoning damage.

They also have extra hit points compared to other creatures that have good resistances.

The weakness to AoE & splash effects helps counter that while a group fighting through the resistances might struggle.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

If you can meaningfully damage a swarm with single target damage spells, I don't see any reason why you couldn't grapple one. Little weird flavor wise but I think they would have written an exception in if they intended there to be one.

You can also shove, trip, push, pull, and otherwise reposition swarms, as far as I can tell.


MaxAstro wrote:

If you can meaningfully damage a swarm with single target damage spells, I don't see any reason why you couldn't grapple one. Little weird flavor wise but I think they would have written an exception in if they intended there to be one.

You can also shove, trip, push, pull, and otherwise reposition swarms, as far as I can tell.

Or maybe Paizo thought we were smart enough we didn't need an exception spelled out for us?

Also, maybe they didn't want to put a limit on those tactics because a PC might use creative methods, like using a blanket to toss over and wrestle the swarm.
And then there's Telekinetic Maneuver which in my imagining could pick up a horde of cockroaches and Shove it. Wouldn't want to exclude that by making a a rule, nor would we want every exception to every exception need to be spelled out.

Judging by statements by the devs in the playtest, I think PF2 was developed with a mind to respect our reasoning abilities, not our obedience. Paizo doesn't want to pre-GM all the corner cases (especially given the space needed and the inevitable missing examples), and it seems to start with not being explicit about the obvious.
Seems. Maybe we'll know someday. I like to think they want to foster GM ownership of rules interpretations w/o the RAW/RAI warfare of previous editions.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I'd be inclined to agree with you if incorporeal's didn't explicitly spell out that we can't grapple, shove, trip, etc. them. If they say it for one creature, why not another?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber

Just take your cloak, robe, bed roll , blanket etc and go grapple your swarm..... good luck, usually more convenient with 2 hands but... in an emergency ....


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This reminds me of the great ooze debates with D&D 4th ed (in that game oozes and gelatinous cubes could be knocked prone).

MaxAstro wrote:

If you can meaningfully damage a swarm with single target damage spells, I don't see any reason why you couldn't grapple one. Little weird flavor wise but I think they would have written an exception in if they intended there to be one.

You can also shove, trip, push, pull, and otherwise reposition swarms, as far as I can tell.

Although that was ultimately the stance that the D&D 4th ed developers took with the justification "these abilities are balanced around being able to use them so we're not going to stop PCs from being able to use them against these creatures. Get over it" I really hope the Pathfinder 2e developers don't adopt that stance. It was one of the most jarring decisions the D&D 4th ed dev team took and ultimately that philosophy really hurt the feel of the entire game for a lot of people.

Hopefully the Paizo devs come out and say that swarms are immune to a whole suite of things and say it was an oversight.

Does anyone who watch those streaming things want to ask them on the stream?


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Ravingdork wrote:
Ever struggle to pick up and hold a large pile of laundry, particularly a bunch of small, wiggly items, such as socks and undergarments? I imagine it's kind of like that. ;D

http://www.fbr-gang.us/pics/Armful'aFerts_sized.jpg

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