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D&D 5E Grappling Rune Knight

tglassy

Adventurer
I was looking at the last two UA's, and it looks to me that with the addition of the Rune Knight and the new options for Fighters, a grappler is now a viable option.

I'd made a grappler once. We rolled stats, so by lvl4 he had 20, 20, 18, 17, 15 and 12. I went with Variant Human Draconic Sorcerer, took Enlarge/Reduce, with the Prodigy Feat that gave him expertise in Athletics checks, and put the two 20's in Strength and Charisma, with decent Con and Dex, too. He was a powerhouse. He didn't do much damage himself, but at lvl 5 he had a +11 to Athletics Checks, could Quicken Enlarge/Reduce to make himself Large, which would give him Advantage on Athletics and the ability to grapple Adult Dragons. Which he did. A successful shove prone, and a +11 with Advantage meant the Dragon spent most of its time trying, but failing, to break free of the grapple, and the rest of the time trying, and failing, to attack with disadvantage. The rest of the party just unloaded on him from a distance. My DM was pissed. We we're only lvl 5.

But now I'm looking and apparently this build would be even better with a Rune Knight, with the new UA giving the Fighter more versatility. Here's the build:

Lvl 1: Variant Human. Prodigy Feat, take Athletics as your Expertise skill.

Lvl 2: Fighting Style: Unarmed. Fists are now as good as a Quarterstaff, and you deal extra damage when grappling on every hit.

Lvl 3: Rune Knight. The Runes are cool, and the Frost Rune is the only required one. It allows you to have +2 Strength for a minute. But the real bread and Butter is that Giant Might ability, which is basically using the Enlarge portion of Enlarge/Reduce. Makes you Large, grants Advantage to Athletics checks (which Grappling is), and gives you an extra d6 of damage to every hit. Also, it doesn't require concentration, which means you're free to wail!

As for stats, assuming Standard array, you've got a 16 Strength at lvl 1, Pick up Martial Adept at lvl 4, and then get your strength to 18 at lvl 6 and 20 at lvl 8,

So at lvl 4, when you are large and using the Frost Rune, you have a +8 (3 Str, 1 Frost Rune, 4 Expertise Athletics) Athletics Check with Advantage. You also have a d6 you can add to your score if you use your Superiority Dice. Also, if you do succeed on the grapple, you're doing a d6 (free hand) + d4 (Unarmed fighting) +d6 (Giant Might) + 3 Str.

At lvl 6, you have two attacks, and your Athletics Check is +11 with Advantage + D6. He now has 2 attacks that do d6+d4+d6+3 damage.

At lvl 9 you now have a +14 Athletics check with Advantage +d6 if need be.

At lvl 20, you have a +18 Athletics Check and a D6 if need be.

All the while, you're doing a d6+d4+d6 every time you hit someone while grappled, which at lvl 5 is twice, 11 is three times and 20 is four times, and the attacks are often with advantage, either from the Superiority Dice or just using an attack to shove them prone. And that's only using ONE of the Runes he has, so the other Runes can open up out of combat utility. And everything regenerates on a Short rest. And he can grapple Huge creatures without worrying about having his concentration broken.

I think I've finally found the Fighter I've been looking for.
 
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6ENow!

The Game Is Over
@tglassy, a few misconceptions/errors on your build:

1. Giant Might is two uses and refreshes on a long rest, not short.
2. The Strength gained from Frost is for 10 minutes, not 1 minute.
3. Making an unarmed strike and grappling are two separate things, you won't gain the d4 grapple damage on an unarmed strike. So, you won't be doing a d6 (d8 if both hands free) and a d4, it is one or the other.
4. The advantage from Giant Might will only be useful against Large creatures since you already have advantage on STR (Athletics) due to Prodigy. So, really Giant Might will be more about the extra damage on unarmed strikes (it won't add to the grapple damage, sadly) but this is even better than the d4 you get for Enlarge.

Given that many of the combo features are limited use/duration, the build will still shine when you need it to, of course.

EDIT: there is a bit of ambiguity in the part of Unarmed Fighting:

"Until the grapple ends, you can also deal this damage to the creature whenever you hit it with a melee attack."

This does seem to read you can add the d4 damage to melee attacks you make while grappling, but since unarmed strikes are not melee attacks (they are melee weapon attacks), the wording becomes debatable (big surprise, huh? ;) ).
 
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Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
@tglassy
4. The advantage from Giant Might will only be useful against Large creatures since you already have advantage on STR (Athletics) due to Prodigy. So, really Giant Might will be more about the extra damage on unarmed strikes (it won't add to the grapple damage, sadly) but this is even better than the d4 you get for Enlarge.

If activated in the right sequence, there's nothing that says Giant Might and Enlarge don't stack. You activate your Giant Might first to become large. Enlarge then doubles your height to Huge.

They aren't both spells, so shouldn't overlap for that rule as far as I can tell.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
If activated in the right sequence, there's nothing that says Giant Might and Enlarge don't stack. You activate your Giant Might first to become large. Enlarge then doubles your height to Huge.

They aren't both spells, so shouldn't overlap for that rule as far as I can tell.
Oh, sure. I never said they wouldn't stack for damage. But sources of advantage never stack into rolling more d20s with a few notable exceptions (such as Elven Accuracy) which grant additional d20s as part of their descriptions.

The size issue would help though, allowing you to grapple even larger targets!

Base size: medium
Giant size: Large
Enlarge: HUGE

This way you could even grapple Gargantuan creatures. :)
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
Base size: medium
Giant size: Large
Enlarge: HUGE

This way you could even grapple Gargantuan creatures. :)

Yeah agreed no stacking of advantage.

Evil grin... because of the way it’s currently worded

Base size: small
Giant size: large
Enlarge: HUGE

Bring on that army of halfling Rune knights with their Gnome wizards enlarging them!!
 

tglassy

Adventurer
Oh, sure. I never said they wouldn't stack for damage. But sources of advantage never stack into rolling more d20s with a few notable exceptions (such as Elven Accuracy) which grant additional d20s as part of their descriptions.

The size issue would help though, allowing you to grapple even larger targets!

Base size: medium
Giant size: Large
Enlarge: HUGE

This way you could even grapple Gargantuan creatures. :)

That’s it, my next goal is to grapple/restrain a Tarrasque.
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
This does seem to read you can add the d4 damage to melee attacks you make while grappling, but since unarmed strikes are not melee attacks (they are melee weapon attacks), the wording becomes debatable (big surprise, huh? ;) ).
I think Unarmed strikes are absolutely Melee Attacks. You can tell this because they are not Ranged Attacks.

I think you might be confusing the fact that they are not Weapon Attacks (which is not surprising because the language is super confusing).

Melee Attack = attack that isn't a ranged attack - could be unarmed strike
Weapon attack = Attack with an Weapon - is certainly not an unarmed strike IMHO
Melee Weapon Attack = A specific game term which really means a Melee non-spell Attack - unarmed strikes qualify for this due to the specific game rule for unarmed strikes

Ugh, This should be easier to parse.

Edit: Still it's better to Grapple and then beat the target with a Martial 1 handed weapon.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
I think you are really looking at (assuming STR 16):

normal damage: d8 (unarmed strike) +3
add Frost rune: d8 + 4 (10 minutes)/ grapple: d4 +4
add Giant Size: d8 + d6 + 3 (10 rounds)/ grapple: d4+3
add both: d8 + d6 + 4/ grapple: d4 +3

making unarmed strikes against a grappled target while frost runed and giant size: d8+d6+d4+4

the last depends a bit on interpretation, but as a DM I would allow the extra d4, it won't break anything.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
I think Unarmed strikes are absolutely Melee Attacks. You can tell this because they are not Ranged Attacks.

I think you might be confusing the fact that they are not Weapon Attacks (which is not surprising because the language is super confusing).

Melee Attack = attack that isn't a ranged attack - could be unarmed strike
Weapon attack = Attack with an Weapon - is certainly not an unarmed strike IMHO
Melee Weapon Attack = A specific game term which really means a Melee non-spell Attack - unarmed strikes qualify for this due to the specific game rule for unarmed strikes

Ugh, This should be easier to parse.

Edit: Still it's better to Grapple and then beat the target with a Martial 1 handed weapon.
Yeah, it gets totally confusing because the official stance is Unarmed Strikes are melee weapon attacks but are not weapons (so spells, etc. won't work with them).

The melee attack clause is because grapples are "special" melee attacks. IOW, you can continue to grapple and deal the d4 damage while grappling. This works well for creatures with good ACs where grappling will likely be more successful than attack rolls.
 


BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
I would consider Duergar as they have the racial Enlarge spell so they can get to huge all by themselves.

Although, You would lose out on Athletics expertise unless you dip Rogue, Bard, or now UA Ranger.
 
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Istbor

Dances with Gnolls
Yeah, it gets totally confusing because the official stance is Unarmed Strikes are melee weapon attacks but are not weapons (so spells, etc. won't work with them).

The melee attack clause is because grapples are "special" melee attacks. IOW, you can continue to grapple and deal the d4 damage while grappling. This works well for creatures with good ACs where grappling will likely be more successful than attack rolls.

Makes simple sense to me.

Yes, I am stabbing you with my shortsword, but because I have my arm around your neck, I am also squeezing that neck dealing additional d4.

All that happens on the same turn. And now, you can easily replace that shortsword with just punches or knees, or kicks, or a headbutt. Pretty awesome.
 


6ENow!

The Game Is Over
Is attacking with a grappled creature an improvised attack or an unarmed strike?

If you mean trying to pick up and move the grappled creature (swinging them) into another target, it would be an improvised weapon. However, as a DM I would say you have to be pretty strong to move them depending on the weight of the creature you have grappled. :)
 

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