Grapple Checks

Repeatedly in a grapple, you need to make opposed grapple checks against an opponent. A grapple check is like a melee attack roll. Your attack bonus on a grapple check is:

Base attack bonus + Strength modifier + special size modifier

Special Size Modifier: The special size modifier for a grapple check is as follows: Colossal +16, Gargantuan +12, Huge +8, Large +4, Medium +0, Small –4, Tiny –8, Diminutive –12, Fine –16. Use this number in place of the normal size modifier you use when making an attack roll.

Starting a Grapple

To start a grapple, you need to grab and hold your target. Starting a grapple requires a successful melee attack roll. If you get multiple attacks, you can attempt to start a grapple multiple times (at successively lower base attack bonuses).

Step 1: Attack of Opportunity. You provoke an attack of opportunity from the target you are trying to grapple. If the attack of opportunity deals damage, the grapple attempt fails. (Certain monsters do not provoke attacks of opportunity when they attempt to grapple, nor do characters with the Improved Grapple feat.) If the attack of opportunity misses or fails to deal damage, proceed to Step 2.

Step 2: Hold. Make an opposed grapple check as a free action.
If you succeed, you and your target are now grappling, and you deal damage to the target as if with an unarmed strike. If you lose, you fail to start the grapple. You automatically lose an attempt to hold if the target is two or more size categories larger than you are. In case of a tie, the combatant with the higher grapple check modifier wins. If this is a tie, roll again to break the tie.

Step 3: Maintain Grapple. To maintain the grapple for later rounds, you must move into the target’s space. (This movement is free and doesn’t count as part of your movement in the round.)
Moving, as normal, provokes attacks of opportunity from threatening opponents, but not from your target.

If you can’t move into your target’s space, you can’t maintain the grapple and must immediately let go of the target. To grapple again, you must begin at Step 1.

Grappling Consequences

While grappled, you suffer certain penalties and restrictions, as described below.

  • You must use one of your hands (or equivalent limbs) to grapple, preventing you from taking any actions which would require having two free hands. For example, you cannot attack with a two-handed weapon while grappling.
  • You take a -2 penalty to all attack rolls except those made to grapple.
  • You lose your Dexterity and dodge modifiers to AC to all opponents except the one you are grappling.
  • Anyone making a ranged attack at you has a 50% chance to strike the other participant in the grapple instead.
  • You do not threaten any opponents except for the creature you are grappling with.
  • You take an additional -4 penalty to attack rolls made with one-handed weapons, since they are too large and cumbersome to be used effectively in a grapple.
  • You cannot cast spells with somatic components.
  • Casting a spell without somatic components requires a DC 20 + double spell level Concentration check.
  • You cannot move normally (but see Move the Grapple, below).

Other than the restrictions listed above, you can act normally. You also gain the ability to use three special actions. Each of these is normally used as a standard action. If you have Improved Grapple or a similar ability, you can take these actions as attack actions.

Escape the Grapple: You can make a grapple attack or Escape Artist check to attempt to escape the grapple. Unlike normal, this is opposed by a grapple attack from the foe who is grappling you. If you succeed, you break the grapple and can act normally.

Lift: A held opponent can be lifted by expending an attack action as if it were inanimate gear of twice its weight (since it's struggling). A pinned opponent can be handled as if it were inanimate gear of its actual weight.

Throw: A lifted opponent can be thrown just out of your reach if it can be lifted off ground, and up to twice as far if it can be lifted over head.

Move the Grapple: You can make a grapple attack to attempt to move the grapple. If you succeed, you can move both yourself and your opponent up to half your speed. At the end of your movement, you can place your target in any square adjacent to you. This can be used to place the target in dangerous positions, such as near a wall of fire or over a pit. You can only move the grapple once per round, regardless of how many grapple attacks you can make.

Pin: You can make a grapple attack to attempt to pin your opponent. If you succeed, your opponent becomes pinned, while you remain grappled. A pinned creature is helpless, but it cannot be the target of a coup de grace. The only action it can take that requires movement is to free itself through a grapple attack or Acrobatics check (using its normal Dexterity, not 0). A pinned creature can take mental actions, but cannot cast any spells that require a somatic or material component or focus. Being pinned is a more severe version of being grappled, and their effects do not stack.

Multiple Grapplers

Multiple creatures can attempt to grapple one target. The creature that first initiates the grapple is the only one that makes a check, with a +2 bonus to its CMB and CMD for each creature that assists in the grapple (using the Aid Another action). Multiple creatures can also assist another creature in breaking free from a grapple, with each creature that assists (using the Aid Another action) granting a +2 bonus on the grappled creature’s grapple attack.

Grappling a Mounted Opponent

You may make a grapple attempt against a mounted opponent. The defender may make a Ride check and use it instead of his opposed roll if it is higher. If you succeed, you pull the rider from his mount, and he lands prone in a square adjacent to both you and his horse. However, neither of you are considered grappled, and you must succeed on a second grapple attack to grapple him.

Combined Effort

When 2 or more grapplers are engaged in a grapple, their combined score is used by taking the maximum BAB & STR scores within the group. Each grappler in the group beyond the 1st adds +2 to the group's grapple check result.

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