~The Grappler's Manual~
Taking 5th Edition Combat to the Ground (2.0)
It's hard to cast a spell when you are pinned to the ground in a zone of Silence. Good luck to any mobile, dual-wielding assassins when they are held in place by their collars. And even the toughest great-sword wielder might as well just be packing a dagger when he's dragged to the ground with a Grizzly Bear on top of him. The D&D 5.0 grappling mechanic lets you do all that and more, denying your opponent's their strengths, controlling the battlefield, and generally exerting your will over any enemy you meet. Both from a rules perspective (grappling acts on an axis that most enemies are unprepared for) and a flavor one (ever wanted to put a Dragon in a chokehold?), grappling is one of the most interesting and useful mechanics in the core rulebook. This guide will teach you how to grapple in D&D, how to build your character, and how to get the most out of different grappler optimizations.
If you doubt the power of grappling, you are going to feel like everyone not named Royce Gracie at UFC 1. If you're already a believer, this guide will give you new tips and tricks on how to bring your favorite mechanic into your games. The goal of this guide is simple: To get you to love grappling, and to get your DM and his monsters to hate it.
NOTE: This guide originally appeared on the Wizards Community forums, but was migrated over to EN World and updated in September 2015.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Why Grappling?
- Grappling Rules
- Wrestling Races
- Class Overview
- Magic and Spells: Cantrips - Level 3
- Magic and Spells: Level 4 - Level 9
- The Dojo: Grappling Tactics
- Build 1: Herculean Wrestler (Fighter/Rogue/Wizard)
- Build 2: The Mage Slayer (Bard/Fighter)
- Build 3: Grizzlyman - (Druid/Barbarian/Rogue)
- Build 4: BJJ Master - Battlefield Jujitsu - (Monk/Rogue/Fighter)
- Gold: Mandatory. It's a rare rating that denotes something that is so good that you must take it, or you can't call yourself optimized.
- Green: Conditional choice. In the right build, or if you build around it, it can be incredibly strong. Otherwise, best to stay away from it.
- Sky Blue: A fantastic choice. An option you should strongly consider above most others.
- Blue: A good choice. It definitely helps your character in the majority of cases.
- Black: Solidly average. You're not hurting your character by taking this, and it might even help in some situations, but there are better choices.
- Purple: A substandard choice. It might be useful in corner-case situations, but overall it's not worth the investment.
- Red: Red is dead. A trap that you will want to avoid at all costs, either because it's ineffective or because it's thoroughly outclassed by another option that accomplishes something similar.
Ever wanted to armlock an ogre? Drag that cowardly, bow-sniping Ranger over a cliff? Hold down two orcs while kicking the third? Grappling can help you do all this and more.
Why grapple? Easy; Grappling is mechanically unfair. To start, most enemies in D&D derive their strengths from unrestricted movement, free reign to cast spells, ability to target certain PCs in the party, high ACs, etc. All this is totally shut down by a good grappler. Although it looks like an innocuous condition, being "Grappled" (and/or Prone/Restrained on top of that) is a serious hindrance for most enemies. If you can impose these conditions at will, you will dominate the battlefield.
When thinking about mechanics, I like to think about their axis of interaction. Attack rolls are opposed by AC. Spells are opposed by saving throws. High damage is opposed by high HP. Looking over the Monster Manual, most enemies are generally well prepared to fight attack rolls/spells/damage, by virtue of high AC, high saves, and/or high HP. Not every monster has those traits (bless your soul, little goblin), but over the course of your travels, you will often encounter monsters that directly counter these angles of interaction.
Then there's grappling. Grappling is a skill contest (not an attack roll!) based on the Athletics skill. Most monsters, even those with high strength scores, have the Athletics/Acrobatics checks of a 1st level commoner. Sure, you will fight monsters that can't get grappled (Ghosts...why did it have to be ghosts...), but the vast majority of monsters will be crying uncle against a good grappler. That lets you dictate how the enemy moves, who they attack, how they take hits, etc. That is a degree of battlefield control most classes can't boast.
Overall, here are the pros and cons of grappling in 5.0.
- Very hard to interact with. Most monsters are about as good at Athletics/Acrobatics as a first level character.
- Negates mobility. It's amazing how many opponents rely on movement and how many can't do anything once that speed hits 0.
- Makes monsters easier for your party to hit. Grapple them, knock them prone, don't let them stand up, don't let the run around: it's "I hold, you punch" at its finest.
- Cripples offensive capabilities. Grappled monsters already don't get free reign to choose targets or use their weapons. Now give them disadvantage on top of that, or even take their weapons away.
- Combo potential; Grapple a spellcaster in a zone of Silence and no one will hear him tap. Hold two guys in place while your Wizard rains Fireball on their heads. Plant the badguy on the ground as your rogue stabs away. Jump out of a window while holding your targets. The possibilities are endless!
- Weak against large numbers of opponents. As in real life (for those martial artists in the audience), grappling is not particularly effective against multiple attackers. You can only meaningfully engage with as many attackers as you have hands, which is often just going to be two.
- Relatively low damage. Most grappling builds don't deal too much damage on their own, and will have to rely on either allies for massive damage output.
- Low mobility. You will often find yourself in situations where you can't dart around the battlefield without releasing your grappled targets back into the fight. This can be a problem in chaotic battles.
- When you get shut down, you get shut down HARD. Come up against a monster that's immune to shove and grapple? Have fun poking him for the rest of the encounter. Run into that one spellcaster who pre-cast Freedom of Movement? Better hope someone has Dispel Magic. Dragon won't land from the sky? Grow wings or throw insults at him.
- Not for the faint of heart: Don't all guides have some ridiculous weakness like this? Seriously though; if you don't want to get in the face of something two size categories larger than you, a frenzied enemy with a greatsword, or a wizard casting damage-maximized evocation spells, this isn't the class for you.
Before we can start bringing our jujitsu to the battlefield, we need to know exactly how D&D 5.0 grappling works. Ever since I started playing in 3rd Edition, grappling has always been regarded as one of the most complicated and unintuitive mechanics in the game. Thankfully, 5.0 has done a great job at cleaning up the old issues with the rules, while still preserving a lot of its power level.
Let's start with the basics: What exactly is a grapple? (The complete grappling rules can be found on page 195 of the PHB). Here's the rule broken down into steps, with quotes pulled out where needed.
GRAPPLING 101: DEFINITIONS
- Grappling is a "special melee attack".
- To grapple a target, you must "use the Attack action" to then make your special melee attack (the grapple).
- From an RAW perspective, the "Multiattack" ability of monsters cannot enable multiple grapples because it is its own action type.
- If you have multiple attacks for the Attack action, you can replace as many of them as you want with grapple checks.
- You cannot replace bonus action attacks (e.g. from the Monk or a Barbarian's Frenzy) with grapples.
- A grapple check is an Ability check contested by a target's ability check. It is NOT an attack roll!
- Your grapple target "must be no more than one size larger than you". It must also be within your reach.
- You need at least one free hand to initiate a grapple.
- If you or your target are subject to any involuntary movement, the grapple ends immediately.
- Unlike in previous D&D editions, there is no penalty for grappling multiple targets. You can grapple as many targets as you have hands (typically two).
Enough basics. Time to start wrestling.
GRAPPLING 101: INITIATING A GRAPPLE
- Start by using your Attack action to make a grapple check. If you have "multiple attacks with the Attack action, this attack replaces one of them."
- Make a grapple check, a Strength (Athletics) check, as contested by the target's Strength (Athletics) OR Dexterity (Acrobatics) check. They get to choose what they contest with.
- If you fail the ability check contest, nothing happens. There are no consequences for you or your target for failing a grapple check.
- If you have multiple attacks using the Attack action, commonly from the Extra Attack class feature, you can replace another one with another grapple check.
- If you succeed at an ability check contest, the target is instantly subjected to the grappled condition.
- You do not move into the target's square: both of you stay right where you were when you started the grapple.
GRAPPLING 101: BEING IN A GRAPPLE
- While grappled, the grappled creature has the "Grappled" condition (PHB 290).
- The grappler himself does NOT have the grappled condition.
- As a result of the grappled condition, the target's movement speed drops to 0. It also "can't benefit from any bonus to its speed" during that time.
- "A grappled creature can use its action to escape". This will require them to make a Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check as contested by your own Strength (Athletics) check.
- If they succeed, they are immediately free of the grapple, but they have used their action.
- If they fail, they are still grappled and have still used their action.
- If a grappled creature does not try to escape, you automatically maintain the grapple from turn to turn.
- Because escaping isn't very action-efficient, some opponents might try to shove you instead (remember that shove replaces Extra Attacks). This forced movement would also break the grapple. Indeed, any involuntary movement on either of your parts would break it.
- A grappled creature can also grapple the grappler himself! This will set both grapplers' speeds at 0 and neither will be able to move.
As they say in the grappling arts, this style of fighting is all about position before submission. Up until now, we've been setting up our position. Now it's time for the submissions.
INTERMEDIATE MOVES: BASIC ATTACKS/OPTIONS WHILE GRAPPLING
- Move an opponent. You can move grappled creatures without any check. When you use your movement, they will simply be dragged with you, but your speed will be halved (unless the target is 2 or more sizes smaller than you).
- Keep an opponent in place. If you don't move, they don't move either.
- Attack with a weapon. You can make an attack roll with any weapon in your free hand. It's a normal attack roll, except your target is subjected to the grappled condition (so they couldn't use the Dodge action, amongst other penalties).
- Attack with an unarmed strike: If you don't have a weapon in your free hand, or you don't have a free hand, you can punch/kick/headbutt instead.
- Cast a spell: Unlike with previous editions, you CAN cast a spell while grappling a single target. If you don't have a free hand, however, you won't be able to cast spells with somatic components, or many material components.
- Release an opponent: At any time, you can always let go of your target.
Speaking of fun combat sequences..
INTERMEDIATE MOVES: MORE ATTACKS/OPTIONS WHILE GRAPPLING
- Shove an opponent prone: Using the "shove" special melee attack, you can add the "Prone" condition to your enemy. Just make another Strength (Athletics) contest as opposed by their Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check. If they fail, they are now also prone and STILL grappled. That's a huge problem for most opponents because standing up from prone costs movement, and grappled sets their movement to 0.
- While Prone (PHB 292), an opponent suffers disadvantage on attack rolls, and all attack rolls against the creature have advantage if the attacker is within 5 feet. This includes your attacks. All attack rolls made from further away have disadvantage.
- Normally, the prone creature can just stand for half their movement, but if they are grappled, their speed is set to 0. Prone explicitly states that creatures with 0 speed can't stand, which means they are stuck in that position.
- IMPORTANT: Shoving + Grappling is one of the best things you can do as a grappler, so make sure you are using it frequently.
- Shove an opponent away: You can also use the shove option to move someone 5 feet. Very useful if you grapple them over to an edge or some other hazard and then just push them over/in. Note that this will automatically end the grapple.
- Grapple someone else! As long as you have at least one free hand, you can initiate another grapple. So go find another enemy and repeat the whole process from step 1.
- Once the second enemy is grappled, you won't be able to do actions that require a free hand.
- Thankfully, you WILL be able to knock either of them prone; shoving does not require a free hand.
While talking about dragging prone opponents in the comments, an interesting point on encumbrance came up. Although moving a prone creature while grappling them is totally RAW, there are also some RAW entries on dragging, lifting, carrying capacity, and encumbrance we need to account for. Here are the most important rules in that category:
ENCUMBRANCE AND DRAGGING WHILE GRAPPLING
- While prone, a creatures move speed is 0. This suggests that they are unable to move themselves even though you can move them.
- More importantly, under the "Moving a Grappled Creature" subsection, the PHB states "you can drag or carry a grappled creature with you" (PHB, 195). This suggests you need to account for the rules on "Lifting and Carrying" and the "Push, Drag, or Lift" options when moving grappled opponents (PHB, 176).
- If these "Lifting and Carrying" rules are at play, grapplers moving a prone creature have additional limitations.
- Your "carrying capacity" is equal to your Strength score multiplied by 15.
- You can push, drag, or lift up to twice your "carrying capacity", but your speed drops to 5 feet when you are exceeding that baseline capacity.
- While grappling an enemy, your speed is halved if you move them.
- Therefore, if you are trying to move an enemy that weighs greater than your carrying capacity, you can't move at all: your speed drops to 5 and is then halved (rounded down) to 0.
- At 16 Strength, your maximum carrying capacity (and, by extension, your maximum drag capacity) is 240 lbs. That goes up to 255 at 17 Strength, 280 at 18 Strength, etc.
- If you are size large (and/or have the Goliath's powerful build trait!), those capacities are all doubled. A Goliath benefitting from Enlarge Person would actually have their base carrying capacity quadrupled!
This is not an exhaustive discussion of grappling rules, and weird situations WILL come up in your sessions. So keep the PHB ready to handle rules questions, and feel free to post any new ideas to the thread. We'll go over these techniques again, and add in some new ones, in the later "Grappling Tactics" section.
[anchor="races"]3. [/anchor]Wrestling Races
For the most part, any race that looks good at grappling is probably pretty good at grappling. Bruiser dwarves, brutish half-orcs, and brawling humans all make tough wrestlers. Similarly, all the races that look like they suck at grappling probably suck at grappling. The only thing that Elves grapple with is their trees.
Mechanically, grappling is all about Strength (for your ability checks), Constitution (so you don't die when 1-2 attackers focus on you exclusively), and Dexterity (you retain your dex bonus to AC while grappling). Depending on what type of grappler you are playing, other ability scores might come into play as well, but they generally aren't as important as those main ones. This makes race selection fairly easy. On the subject of ability scores, Wisdom is also important if you want to avoid the aptly named "frightened" condition. When frightened, you'll have disadvantage on all ability checks, and Wisdom is the main ability score governing saves against fear.
There's one big exception to these ability score guidelines: Grapplers that use Wild Shape or Shapechange (Polymorph and True Polymorph work too but are generally worse). These spells replace your physical attributes with those of the new form, which totally changes how race selection works. I will try and talk about those possibilities as they come up with the different races. As a general rule, you want transformation grapplers to have higher mental stats and lower physical ones: avoid races that need to transform to grapple and also have Str/Dex/Con bonuses.
- Mountain Dwarf
When it comes to grapplers, it doesn't get any more simple or solid than the Mountain Dwarf. Bonus Str and Con are excellent, freeing up other ability points into Dex. This ensure a well-rounded combat ability set. That movement speed penalty stings, but you won't notice it much with the added attributes.
- Hill Dwarf
Some of the hardiest grapplers around, with bonus hit points on top of the inherent +2 to Con. The Wisdom increase is something you will have to build around if you are playing this class; Monk is a natural choice for the added AC from unarmored defense. The 5 foot speed reduction isn't great but again, if you are playing a Monk Hill Dwarf, you can easily offset that bonus Monk movement speed.
- High Elf
Elves are about as good at grappling as dwarves are at playing harp, but High Elves get a bonus cantrip which can give some interesting combat options. Chill Touch is nice here if you are playing a grappler that grinds down a single target. If they are already prone, you will get advantage on the spell, which will hit for damage and shut down healing for a whole turn. Blade Ward is also useful if you anticipate taking a lot of damage. Unfortunately for the High Elf, you can get those spells elsewhere, which makes the race a subpar choice.
- Wood Elf
Stick to hugging trees, not trolls. The only redeeming quality of this race is the Fleet of Foot feature, which gives you a bit more speed to drag enemies around the battlefield.
- Dark Elf
Darkness at level 5 is strong, but you can get the same bonuses (better. in fact) from Tiefling. Between the light sensitivity and the useless base Elf bonuses, the Drow subrace makes for a terrible, although flavorful, grappler.
- Lightfoot Halfling
Remember White Belt Grappling Rules? Your target can't be more than one size larger than you? When you're small like a Halfling, that means you can't grapple anything bigger than a human. That means you can't grapple in a fantasy world at all. Add to that a lower base speed, irrelevant ability scores, and no valuable racial features, and you have a subrace that might be the worst grappler in the PHB.
- Stout Halfling
To review, Small + low speed + irrelevant ability mods = Bad grappler.
No matter what grappler you play, there are a few feats you want to pick up. This includes Tavern Brawler for extra damage, Mage Slayer for shutting down spellcasters, Warcaster for anyone using Concentration, etc. Human gets these earlier than any other race, which ensure you are relevant at lower levels and helps you race to that coveted 20 Strength. You even get a Str/Con bonus to boot!
Strength bonus alone is reason to consider the Dragonborn, but it's the breath weapon that is more interesting. When using the Grappler feat, you can "restrain" a target to give them disadvantage on dexterity saves. The save against your breath weapon is itself Dexterity based. That's an awesome image (holding down two guys as you breathe acid on them), but not particularly powerful from a damage perspective. But coupled with the Str bonus, it's enough to make Dragonborn a viable, interesting, and mega flavorful option.
- Rock Gnome
If you are going to be a transformation grappler, Gnomes aren't bad choices. They have advantage on a lot of different saves against magic (important for tanking spells), and that +2 Int makes them great Wizards. Their small size and low move speed won't matter when you transform, especially if your crafted Panacea gives you +10 move speed on top of the +10 from Longstrider.
- Forest Gnome
Avoid physical bonuses on transformation grapplers. Just stick with Rock Gnome if you want to go the Polymorph Wizard route.
Even if you are a Bard or Sorcerer Polymorph grappler, this race isn't really doing you a lot of favors. Gnome make good Polymorph grappler due to their ridiculous advantage on saves against spells. Half-Elves just have a bad ability score bonus and no relevant features.
Along with Humans and Mountain Dwarves, this is the third PHB grappling race. Compared to Human, you lose the bonus feat but get to 20 Strength faster. Compared to Dwarf, you lose a bit of HP but gain full move speed. The added tankiness from Relentless Endurance is also nice. Generally speaking, when playing a grappler you'll be picking between these three races.
Just like Dark Elves (can cast Darkness), but slightly better because of the improved features: fire resistance is decent, bonus Charisma helps out a Bard Polymorph grappler, and you don't have that ridiculous vulnerability to light. Even so, there are better options out there.
The birdmen don't get the best ability score bonuses, and they even suffer from a 25 foot base speed instead of the usual 30. They make up for this in their 1d4 unarmed strikes and, more importantly, the 50 foot fly speed. You'll need to get your Strength a lot higher to make use of this in a grapple (your carrying capacity definitely affects your fly speed), but if you can pump enough iron you can easily carry enemies into the sky before dropping them. You can even use flying to close the gap on hard-to-reach enemies! Overarakocra's have a unique grappling playstyle but it's a very rewarding one if done right.
- Deep Gnome
Just as bad as the other gnomes. Still not better than Rock Gnome even if you want to play a transformation grappler.
You can do worse than the Earth Genasi and it's +1 Strength, +2 Constitution from the base Genasi race, and ability to ignore rock/stone difficult terrain. Spike Growth grappling is a cute combination, and Earth Genasi's do it better than most. All the other versions are generally worse than other options out there, although you could consider a deep-sea grappler in the Water Genasi, depending on your campaign setting.
If you don't need the bonus feat from Humans, this is the best grappling race around. You'll get the +2 Strength of a Half-Orc and Mountain Dwarf along with the +1 Constitution bonus. Stone's Endurance is a rock-solid tanking skill that doesn't even interfere with your other actions. But the real reason to play Goliath is for the Powerful Build trait, which dramatically increases your dragging/carrying capacity when moving around the battlefield. Prone enemies can't move on their own which means you have to pull them along for the ride, like Joy dragging Sadness in Inside Out. As an 18 Strength Human, your carrying capacity is a mere 270 pounds. For Goliaths, that jumps up to 540 just on Powerful Build alone, which is more than enough to drag any one (even two!) medium humanoids around the battlefield. Add Enhance Ability to the mix and you effectively quadruple the capacity up to 1080. That's enough to drag all but the largest bear around the battlefield.
If your DM lets you use the Waterborne Unearthed Arcana, Minotaurs make ferocious grapplers. Like Half-Orc, you get a +2 to Strength and a full 30 feet of movement speed. You lose the Human's bonus feat and the Dwarf's constitution, but you gain an insane 1d10 unarmed strike damage die: a lot of grapplers use their feat to pick up Tavern Brawler anyway, and the horns are just plain better. That said, you'll rarely use Goring Rush or Hammering Horns (the latter can't shove enemies prone), and the advantage on Horns shove attempts won't often matter (you are getting advantage from other abilities already). Even so, the Minotaur is a excellent grappling race for those with UA's allowed in their adventures.
Shifters come out of the Eberron Unearthed Arcana, and although they are no Minotaur, they still have decent grappling options. Shifting itself gives bonus hit points, and both the Longtooth and Beasthide options have grappling applications. Longtooth is a weird one because, as written, it's not clear how it interacts with regular Attack actions. Avoid Razorclaw: you can get bonus attack actions elsewhere.
Solid but boring, which is kind of what you have to expect from Eberron's Warforged race. The AC and ability score increases are relevant, but there are better options out there. A+ for flavor though.
As a Duergar, you retain the +2 Constitution from Dwarf and add a nice +1 Strength to the mix. Duergar Resilience gives some relevant save bonuses, and the Darkvision isn't bad. But the real reason to take Duergar is a free Enlarge spell starting at level 3. Enlarge is already one of the best spells in the PHB for grapplers, particularly at low level, but only Wizards and Sorcerers get access to it. Duergar's are the only race which can allow Valor Bards, Clerics, Druids, etc. to get this spell without a 3+ level multiclass into the arcane spellcasters. I'm overvaluing this trait a little because you can derive the same benefit with Potions of Enlarge, but it's still an innate spell usable even without fancy gear.
- Aquatic Half-Elf
Here's a weird one. Half-elves are normally not worth it, but this is an RAW way to pick up a swim speed for your nautical campaign. Underwater grappling is definitely a thing, and having a swim speed makes it significantly easier than having to do it with all those underwater movement penalties.
- Winged Tiefling
A less conditional Aarakocra! You lose 20 feet of airborne movement but gain +5 to your groundspeed and the ability to use medium or heavy armor as long as you have proficiency. The ability scores aren't much better than the avian alternative, but darkvision is nifty and the extra armor makes up for the lost speed.
[anchor="classes"]4. [/anchor]Class Overview
There is no single best way to grapple. Almost every class has its own strengths and weaknesses, and many grappler builds will require at least a few levels of multiclassing anyway. To get you started on your own grappling optimizations, here's a feature-by-feature evaluation of each class and its grappling abilities.
It should come as no surprise that Barbarians make outstanding grapplers. Rage really is just as good as it sounds. In fact, it's probably better than it sounds, because until you play a Barbarian grappler, you won't realize quite how often advantage lets you win grapple rolls and fights. Add strong tanking features, a ton of HP, extra damage, and a bunch of other useful abilities, and you have what is probably easily one of the top three best grappling classes in the game.
[sblock="Barbarian Ability Review"]
- HD - D12: Doesn't get any better than this for frontline bruising.
- Rage: No matter what grapplign build you are playing, you will need to get advantage on your Athletics check in some way. Rage is the best nonmagical way to do that. The bonus damage is also nothing to sneeze at, as is the damage resistance for your frontline fighter.
- Both Grapple and Shove are "special melee attacks", so you don't need to worry about rage ending prematurely for lack of attacking.
- Remember: you can't cast spells OR concentrate on them while raging. A Rage-based grappler will almost always be a nonmagical grappler (Wildshaping Druids are an exception)
- Unarmored Defense: There aren't a lot of good reasons to avoid armor as a grappler, unless you are changing shapes (where Unarmored Defense won't help anyway because your stats get replaced), or you are a Monk. If you do end up going Monk, you'll want the Barbarian's Unarmored Defense before picking up the Monk's. Grappler constitution scores will generally be higher than their Wisdom scores.
- Reckless Attack: Some grappling builds won't make a lot of attacks, which means Reckless Attack is farily useless. Other builds rely on attacks, and that's where Reckless Attack will shine. It works great with natural weapon attacks made while Wild Shaped or Polymorphed, and it's unfair when you are using Fighter maneuvers in tandem with grappling.
- Danger Sense: It feels like cheating that Danger Sense works, while you are grappling a single enemy, let alone 2 of them. Great when you are holding badguys in place while your team rains down area spells on their/your heads.
- Fast Movement: More speed to drag people around with? Sign me up.
- Extra Attack: Mandatory for any nonmagical grappler build. You can only make extra grapple/shove attempts as part of the Attack action, and Extra Attack is the only way to pick those up. Even magical/transformative grapplers should seriously consider the ability: most of their forms will be better grapplers with two attacks instead of one (remember: Multiattack is not an Attack action).
- Feral Instinct: If you can grapple an enemy before their turn, you can completely lock them out of the fight. Instinct really helps you take that initiative.
- Brutal Critical: Grapplers aren't really about damage. If they are, it's probably through a feature that isn't helped by this ability (e.g. Sneak Attack).
- Relentless Rage: Strong ability for any frontline tank, even if it has no particular synergy with grappling.
- Persistent Rage: Gives you more tactical options during the battle because you don't always need to be attacking. Most importantly, lets you Rage in advance of an encounter so you don't need to waste that valuable first bonus action by raging.
- Indomitable Might: This isn't a bad ability: a guaranteed 20+ on an Athletics check means you don't have to worry abotu unlucky rolls. The problem is, even if you rolled a 2 for your check as a 20 Strength Barbarian with Expertise from Bard/Rogue, your minimum roll would still be a 19 (2 + 5 Strength + 12 Proficiency). But then you'd have all the Bard/Rogue benefits too, as opposed to an 18 level investment in Barbarian. This option becomes significantly better if your DM doesn't like multiclassing. Otherwise get out of Barbiarn earlier.
- Primal Champion:: For 20 levels of Barbarian, you get a +2 bonus to grapple that you can't get elsewhere. Unless, of course, you just bought a Belt of Stone Giant Strength and settle for a +1 instead of a +2. As with Indomitable Might, this isn't a bad ability: it's just worth the opportunity costs of the 20 level investment.
- Path of the Berserker: When I first wrote this guide on the Wizards forums, I severely underrated the Berserker archetype. Then I figured out how this archetype interacts with Fighter and the Battlemaster maneuvers, and I haven't looked back since. When it comes to nonmagical grapplers, there's no one more versatile and flexible than a Battlemaster/Berserker grappler, and it all begins with the Frenzy skill.
- Frenzy: At first glance, this ability doesn't seem too special. Lots of other classes pick up a bonus action attack, and we can't even use that action to make a grapple check. We can, however, use that bonus action attack to deliver a Battlemaster maneuver. We also benefit from the bonus action attack while Raging and en route to the powerful Mindless Rage feature. You'll need to wait until the Fighter section to see how the maneuvers synergize with grappling, but know for now that Frenzy is one of the best ways to perform them.
- Mindless Rage: If you're a grappler, being frightened sucks. Being charmed isn't much better. Unconditional, nonmagical immunity to these conditions is awesome, especially as your DM throws more anti-grappling monsters at you.
- Intimidating Presence: Frightened opponents are worse grapplers (they get disadvantage on ability checks), but Charisma-based abilities are not what we want to be doing as a grappler. We also don't want to sacrifice our action just to scare someone. If you want to make someone afraid, just stick with the Fighter's Menacing Attack and get out of Barbarian before you pick this up.
- Path of the Totem Warrior: If you're playing a damage-dealing grapple with flexible battefield control options, you're playing a Berserker. If you're just holding bad guys and tanking damage, you're playing a Totem Warrior. You can also play a Totem Warrior for some flashy Eagle-based flight builds, or to combine the durability of a Bear totem Barbarian with a Tripping Attack-style feature from the Wolf.
- Totem Spirit: In most cases, you'll pick up the Bear totem at this level. Resistance against all damage, even all those weird magical and elemental types, is invauable on the front lines. The Eagle option is a great way to pick up an equivalent ability to the Rogue's Cunning Action feature, although you'll miss out on Expertise. Going Wolf Totem is another frontline option, emphasing team damage-dealing instead of solo damage-absoprtion.
- Aspect of the Beast: It's Bear or bust for this feature; the added carrying capacity gives you more dragging power after you shove enemies prone (plus hilarious options for lifting characters up walls/into the air once they are grappled). Once you get a climb and/or fly speed, the possibilities are limited only by your evil imagination and the terrain. Eagle and Wolf don't do anything at all for grappling.
- Totemic Attunement: Although not grappling-specific, Bear is a great culmination to your Barbarian tanking features. Be aware that it can be a bit redundant if you already knocked two of the enemies prone. The Eagle route gives you some hilarious options of picking up characters, flying away while holding them, and then dropping them to the ground. Or over a cliff. You can also pick up Wolf for the free trip attack, but this will generally be worse than either a direct shove attempt or tacking a maneuver onto a bonus action attack.
Wait a moment... aren't Bards support characters or something? Isn't their main stat Charisma? Don't they play flutes and harps and stuff? That's all true, and it doesn't mean that they can't wrestle you straight into the dirt. Along with Barbarians, Bards are some of the best grapplers in 5th Edition. If it helps, think of them as gladiators or cagefightesr. Or WWE wrestling champs. Between Cutting Words, Expertise, and some excellent spells in their list, Bard is one of the best dips or even mainclasses you can pursue.
[sblock="Bard Ability Review"]
- HD - D8: Well, at least it's not a D6.
- Bardic Inspiration: Unless you are playing some crazy summoner grappler who grapples through his minions, don't waste your bonus action to help your team. That's the Cleric's job.
- Jack of All Trades: Seems unimportant, until you remember that Initiative is actually a dexterity check. Random, untyped initiative bonuses are awesome, especially when your combat style is most effective if you act first.
- Expertise: Because there are so many ways to build grapplers, there aren't a lot of mandatory abilities you need to be viable. Except, that is, for Expertise. This feature gives you a huge, untyped bonus to grapple/shove you can't get anywhere else. And unlike Rage, it works with basically every possible build you might use, especially the magical ones. If you aren't going Bard 3 or Rogue 1 for that Expertise bonus, you are either playing a bad grappler, or a really weird one. There is just no reason to skip this ability because the bonus just keeps growing and easily outpaces the opposed skill checks of other creatures.
- Font of Inspiration: More Cutting Words throughout the day? Works for me!
- Magical Secret: There's this thing called class balance. Wizards designs different class with certain spell lists to keep them balanced: things stay fair that way. Pick up Magical Secret? No more class balance in the spell list.Bards were never meant to have Enlarge Person on their spell list, and Magical Secret ensures you get it without losing your class progression.
- Countercharm: Why are you using your turn to sing? Stop that. If you want to be a lover, spread those hugs to your enemies.
- Superior Inspiration: Nifty ability, but you shouldn't be going straight Bard 20 as a grappler anyway.
- College of Lore: If you want to get the highest single grapple check in 5th Edition, College of Lore is the path for you. You can get an effective +2d12 to grapple checks by level 15, although you won't have as many Attack actions to use it with (assuming no multiclassing). Lore Bards make the best single-target grapplers in the game, although they'll lose some of their utility if denied rests in between combat.
- Bonus Proficiencies: It never hurts to have more skills under your belt.
- Cutting Words: Let me get this straight. I can give all my enemies a -D6 penalty to their opposed grapple/shove checks? One that scales up to D8/D10/D12 as I level? And I can do this multiple times per combat? Very cool, sounds like a great way to use my bonus action. Wait, what's that? It's actually a REACTION?? Yikes. Cutting words is insane. It's one of the rare optimization features that is both strong and flavorful; it's literally a mechanic for smack talking.
- Additional Magical Secrets: As if the regular Magical Secrets weren't strong enough, College of Lore gives you two more to play with. This is critical for picking up Enlarge at a reasonable level, which is a big improvement over Enhance Ability.
- Peerless Skills: The only reason this isn't rated higher is because it's overkill. Between Cutting Words, Expertise, and advantage from Enlarge Person, you don't need yet another +D6/D8/D10/D12 to your grapple check. It's not even a separate action! You can just get the bonus as part of your Athletics check itself. This capstone skill is the reason your Lore Bard is the best single-target grappler in the game, especially if you hang in there until True Polymorph at level 17.
- College of Valor: Magical Secrets breaks one aspect of class balance in opening up spell lists. College of Valor breaks another by giving a spellcasting Bard access to armor and Extra Attack. College of Lore Bards are going to become relevant at earlier levels, but once you hit level 10 and get Enlarge Person via Magical Secrets, the Extra Attacking Valor Bard becomes a battlefield terror.
- Bonus Proficiencies: The added AC is nice, but the real win here is in picking up shield proficiency. This lets you use the mighty Shield Master feat to make bonus action shove attempts. You can theoretically get these proficiencies from a level 1 start in Fighter, Paladin, or a similar class, but this delays your Bard and spell progression.
- Combat Inspiration: As with Countercharm and Bardic Inspiration, don't help your allies with your valuable Bardic Inspiration dice. Help them by grappling.
- Extra Attack: Spellcasters shouldn't get access to this. Valor Bards aren't going to have the same 2d12 swing that we see in the Lore Bard builds, but you will have more grapple attempts per turn to tangle with more enemies.
- Battle Magic: You can cast spells while grappling so long as you have a free hand (or if the spell lacks somatic components), which makes Battle Magic a neat tool for a mid-combat spell. Very strong when combined with Battlemaster maneuvers, either picked up from Fighter or from the Martial Adept feat.
What do the following spells have in common? Guardian of the Faith, Flame Strike, Blade Barrier, Fire Storm. They are all Cleric spells, and they are all Dexterity-saved based. The Grappler feat lets you restrain targets at will and, once Restrained, they will suffer disadvantage on their saves. You will too but you can negate that through smart optimization. Unfortunately, that optimization is often very resource and level intensive, and it often ends up being worse thanother options. Clerics do have a lot of AC/HP to handle the front lines, and a strong spell list to keep them alive. But other classes can just do things a bit better. The only reason this gets an average rating instead of falling lower is that unique combination of a strong spell list on top of innate tankiness.
[sblock="Cleric Ability Review"]
- HD - D8: Slightly better for a Cleric than for a Bard because you automatically get medium armor.
- Channel Divinity - Turn Undead: Grapple the undead; don't make them run away. Useful against ghosts and other grapple-immune monsters, but otherwise a bad use of your entire action. Also, a bad use of your limited Channel Divinity pool.
- Destroy Undead: See above - good agains ghosts, bad against other undeads, and an inefficient use of your resources.
- Divine Intervention: Depending on your DM, this feature will range from broken (a Level 10 Cleric invoking an Antimagic Field) to underwhelming (free Healing Word!) to downright harmful (EARTHQUAKE ON THE WHOLE PARTY). Mechanically, Intervention has a lot of interesting interactions with grappling, because your God is casting the spell and you aren't. That means you can hold down two attackers when asking for a spell; it's just not a very reliable option.
- Knowledge Domain: Why is it that the priests of knowledge are worse at skill checks than a hippy who parties his way through college (see: Bard at College of Lore)? The abilities and spells in this domain have nothing to do with grappling so they aren't even worth reviewing.
- Life Domain: Heavy Armor proficiency is nice, but thats where the domain's utility ends (you can also get the proficiency from the War domain). Remember: you don't help your party by casting spells to heal them. You help them by grappling enemies. Healing, and by extension all the healing-related features here, is a poor allocation of your actions.
- Light Domain: Solid but not particulary inspired choice for a grappling cleric. The Light spell list is packed with dexterity-based saving throw spells, including Fireball and Wall of Fire which you otherwise wouldn't normally get as a Cleric. Warding Flare is also a strong feature both for defending yourself and, at level 6, for protecting allies. If you go this route, you'll be casting Wall of Fire, restraining enemies with the Grappler feat, and holding them in the Wall for repeated dexterity save failures.
- Nature Domain: There are some decent survivability options here, including heavy armor proficiency and an elemental damage resistance feature you can use at will. This is one way to pick up the Spike Growth spell for Spikedragging, a grappling technique involving dragging an enemy back and forth through an affected area. Master of Nature also lets you command animals to perform the Assist action, giving you advantage on all your grapple attempts, or just bite/claw/peck away at your pinned opponents.
- Tempest Domain: Similar to Light Domain, but heavier on the damage and lighter on the survivability. The flavor of this domain is just electrifying (sorry) with grappling. First, you grab a guy and restrain him with Grappler. Then you power up some lightning-based spell with Destructive Wrath (Note that RAW, you can use this with spells from other classes; hello Wizard/Cleric Lightning Bolt Grappler!). Then you blast the bejesus out of him and hurl him 10 feet away towards some unpleasant end. Awesome. Makes for a great dip if you are going with the dex-save-based spellcaster and don't mind sticking with zappy spells.
- Trickery Domain: Polymorph is interesting here, largely because it's a spell Clerics can't otherwise access. Indeed, Cleric Polymorphing is slightly better than in other classes because you have more no-concentration buff spells you can keep around. Unfortunately, Polymorph grappling isn't that great to begin with: it's mostly just a placeholder until you get Shapechange or True Polymorph at level 17 in other classes. Cloak of Shadows is a noteworthy gap closer, as is Improved Duplicity at level 17, but there are way better things you could be doing as a grappler.
- War Domain: At early levels, these features can be quite strong for grapplers. The bonus action attack overlaps with Fighter maneuvers, although it draws from your Channel Divinity pool as opposed to a more at-will option like Frenzy or Monk Martial Arts. Guided Strike also helps the Fighter maneuver option, although again, it's probably worse than Barbarian with Frenzy and Reckless Attack. War Domain Clerics also pick up heavy armor proficiency, even if you're probably better off getting it from Tempest Domain.
If you've ever wanted to be a crocodile dragging their prey underwater, a python crushing the life out of a target, or an ape hurling his enemies from the treetops, then the Druid grappler is for you. Deriving their grappling powers from the Wild Shape ability and concentration spells (typically Enhance Ability), the Druid is one of the more formidable grapplers in the PHB, although you'll need to learn how Wild Shape works to have success with the Druid. Druid grapplers also get a lot of non-grappling utility with all their other spells and class features, which can't be said of more narrow builds in Barbarian, Fighter, Rogue, etc.
[sblock="Druid Ability Review"]
- HD - D8: Normally a D8 would be purple, but you'll adopt the Beast's HP while Wild Shaping so it's less of a problem for Druids.
- Wild Shape: Anyone remember Wild Shape Druids from 3.5? I remember them both as a player and as a DM, and holy crap those guys were broken. 5.0 Wild Shape is a lot more balanced than the 3.5 nuttiness, but Wild Shaping Druids still make powerful grapplers. One could write a whole guide on Wild Shape grapplers alone, but here are the most important mechanical and rules points to consider when assessing whether this playstyle is right for you.
- You can only Wild Shape into the "beast" type of monster from the Monster Manual, and "your ability to...take any actions that requires hands is limited to the capabilities of your beast form." Per RAW, grappling requires "a free hand", so this places some limitations on your beast form.
- When Wild Shaping, you gain the beast's phyical ability scores and all of its other game statistics.
- When Wild Shaping, you keep your mental ability scores and any features "from your class, race, or other source and can use them if the new form is physically capable of doing so."
- There are level and movement mode limitations on your beast form. Circle of the Moon Druids can mitigate those limitations.
- You can concentrate on spells while grappling. This will almost always be Enhance Ability unless you are getting advantage on ability checks from another source.
- Multiattack is itself an action. It is not actually part of the Attack action, so you can't replace multiattacks with grapple/shove attempts. Because of this, most Druid grapplers will want to pick up Extra Attack elsewhere.
- Timeless Body: They say martial arts, particularly grappling, can sustain you into old age. I guess the Druids agree!
- Beast Spells: Back in 3.5, this was a broken feat that your broken Druid could get as early as level 3. The ability is still just as strong in 5th as it was back then: you just have to wait a lot longer to get it.
- Archdruid: Most players underestimate how important short rest/long rest abilities are in a real adventures. Unlimited Wild Shape rocks, even if it's probably better to dip into Rogue for Expertise instead of go straight Druid 20.
- Circle of the Land: The different spell lists aren't necessarily bad for Druid grapplers; they are just worse than the Circle of the Moon options. Things like Spike Growth, Misty Step, Silence, Cone of Cold, haste, and other spells are all highly synergistic with grappling classes, but you are wasting your Druid levels by getting them here instead of improving Wild Shape.
- Circle of the Moon: If you're grappling as a Druid, you're almost always grappling as a member of the Circle of the Moon. Later in this guide, I'll dedicate an entire build to all the different beast-forms in your arsenal, but for now here's a quick discussion of all the Moon abilities and how they improve your grappling.
- Combat Wild Shape: Action economy is critical in fights, and the difference between Wild Shaping as an action and as a bonus action is enormous. The healing is also useful, freeing up your party's Cleric to heal other targets. Between this healing ability and re-Wild Shaping, Druid grapplers can be surprisingly durable.
- Circle Forms: From levels two through five, you are still going to be stuck with CR 1 monsters. Starting at level 6, your options expand dramatically, By level 17, you'll be able to Wild Shape into CR 6 monsters, but there are plenty of strong CR 2-5 monsters in between. As a general rule when picking forms, you want to avoid the grapple-on-hit monsters once you hit level 6. They are fine at early levels when your Athletics check isn't that high, but a grapple-on-hit is based on a static DC, not a skill contest. When you finally reach 6+, stick with high-strength forms that have hands to grapple, or at least forms that have appendages reasonably close to hands: only the most humorless DMs wouldn't let you grapple as a mighty Polar Bear.
- Primal Strike: Even though grappling isn't about big damage numbers, you don't want to be totally useless in a fight against higher-CR monsters. This guarantees you can dish it out as enemies get tougher.
- Elemental Wild Shape: Or, should I say, Earth Elemental Wild Shape, because that's basically what this will be for Druid grapplers once you hit level 10. With 126 HP, 17 AC, 20 Strength, and a ton of resistances/immunities, Earth Elementals make terrifying grapplers. Earth Elementals are also some of the best damage-dealing grapplers out there, especially if you can pick up a way to do bonus attack actions. Just grapple and prone an enemy and then clobber him with three 2d8+5 Slam attacks per turn.
Air Elementals are also excellent forms for closing the gap on a flying monster.
- Thousand Forms: Not necessary with all the Wild Shape goodness, and you'll almost never want to concentrate on this instead of something like Enhance Ability.
Two words: Action Surge. This ability alone makes Fighters one of the best dips you can take for grappling, along with Rogue for Expertise. Add in the maneuvers at level 3, a bonus feat/ability score increase at 4, extra attack at 5, and another bonus feat/score at 6 and you have one of the best base classes for grapplers around. Fighter is also the only class that gives you a third attack courtesy of Extra Attack, which encourages you to stick in the class until at least level 11. Fighters will still need to pick up Enlarge Person or some other way of getting grapple advantage (Eldritch Knight can do it at level 8), but the attacks alone make this an excellent all-around class.
[sblock="Fighter Ability Review"]
- HD - D10: Grapplers are tough. Fighters are tough. It's a good match.
- Fighting Style: Three of these options don't actually work while grappling, and the fourth (Protection) is a poor substitution for just shoving a target. That leaves you with Defense, a handy but not particularly interesting +1 to AC, or Dueling for a small damage bonus. You won't benefit from Dueling if you are holding two opponents, but it still works if you are grappling a single enemy and have a weapon in the other hand.
- Second Wind: Random bonus healing? We'll take
- Action Surge: This gets my vote for most broken low-level ability in 5th Edition, especially because you only need a two-level dip to pick it up. In the early game, Action Surge is a perfect substitute for Extra Attack, allowing you to grapple/shove an opponent in the same turn. By level five and Extra Attack, Action Surge lets you grapple/shove not one but two opponents in one turn. Things get really crazy if you pick up Extra Attack (2) at level 11. As long as you can take semi-frequent short rests, Action Surge is an awesome way to open up fights and unload on a major badguy.
- Ability Score Improvement: I mention this as a class-specific bonus because Fighter gives you an extra score increase/feat at evel 6. In feat-intensive builds with Alert, Mage Slayer, Grappler, Tavern Brawler, etc., this really helps you reach your optimized potential.
- Extra Attack: Another place to pick up your more-or-less mandatory ability. Most optimizations will get Extra Attack through Fighter, just because they are already going to be three levels deep in the class for maneuvers. If you stick in Fighter until level 11, you'll get up to Extra Attack (2), which will give you more attacks, grapples, and shoves than you will know what to do with.
- Indomitable: Just like Second Wind, random bonus saves never hurt anyone! Particularly strong if you are going to be facing down a lot of spellcasters or enemies with fear effects.
- Martial Artchetype - Champion: By far the weakest of the Fighter archetypes, especially for grapplers. We just don't care enough about damage for the critical ranges to matter, mostly because we don't make enough attacks with a weapon (we spend more actions grappling/shoving than actually dealing damage). Abilities like Remarkable Athlete and Survivor are significantly weaker than other options at level 7 and 18 respectively.
- Martial Archetype - Eldritch Knight: Surprisingly useful as a grappler. Knight is one of the best ways to pick up Enlarge Person, because you get it en route to Extra Attack (2) at level 11. You'll take Enlarge Person at level 8, which is a little later than most classes get it, but you'll be getting it as part of your valuable Extra Attack progression. You'll even have more feat pickup opportunities in Fighter, which synergizes nicely with the concentration-based Enlarge Person (you'll definitely need War Caster). Eldritch Strike is also more powerful than a lot of grapplers might give credit. As long as you have a free hand (i.e. grappling only one target), you can hit them with advantage on the attack and then bestow disadvantage on their next saving throw. Ater that, they are at the mercy of your evocation spells. Arcane Charge is also nothing to sneeze at, but unless you are going Fighter 20 to get Extra Attack (3), you can probably do better with a multiclass.
- Martial Archetype - Battle Master: Grapplers get a lot of their power from flexibility and battlefield control. Battle Master maneuvers give you a wealth of options to mix and match with your grappling routine. Although none of the strikes directly interact with a shove/grapple attempt, you can easily stick them on bonus action attacks (e.g. from Frenzy or Martial Arts) and use them as part of your combat sequences. The only reason this isn't rated higher is that you can get maneuvers from the Martial Adept feat, which means you are often better off pursuing an Eldritch Knight and its level 8 Enlarge Person. Whether you use the maneuvers while progressing in Battle Master or from the Martial Adept feat, look for ways to stick them on bonus action attacks so you don't give up your valuable grapple/shove attempts.
- Commander's Strike: Normally, you don't want to give up your action. But if you have two people prone and grappled, it might be better to just give the attacks to your stabby assassin friend than to save them for yourself. Make sure your party can take advantage of this before you invest in it.
- Disarming Strike: One of the best abilities on the list, especially with grappling. If your opponent fails that strength check and drops the weapon, you can just drag them away and they will never touch it again. This is devastating for most enemies that rely on weapon attacks, and will completely end their contributions to the fight. Unfortunately, many people you disarm are going to have very high Strength saves, so this isn't always going to work. It's a bit redundant with the DMG Disarm variant, but a) your DM might not allow that and b) Disarm has some conditions around two-handed weapons and size categories that might make it worse.
- Distracting Strike: Useless. Just knock them prone and you'll give all your allies advantage, at least those in melee range.
- Evasive Footwork: Handy for darting around a battlefield, or for dragging your victims through threatend squares. Footwork requires no action at all (no bonus action, no reaction, no nothing) which makes it a great way to maximize action economy.
- Feinting Attack: Use shove to get advantage and don't waste your valuable superiority dice.
- Goading Attack: They'll have disadvantage anyway once you knock them flat on the ground.
- Lunging Attack: This maneuver has some weird synergy with Tavern Brawler grapple attempts or other grapples made as part of an attack roll (not the normal Athletics check grapple roll). Depending on how you and your DM interpret it, it's either very good or very bad. At its best, you'll extend your reach, hit and start the grapple, and then either pull the opponent one square towards you or pull yourself one square towards them. At its worst, you lose the reach after the attack and then the grapple automatically ends.
- Maneuvering Attack: In most situations, it's better to spend resources on grappling/shoving/being proactive. Maneuvering Attack is a bit of an exception because it helps your allies get closer to grappled/prone enemies. Particularly strong if you have a melee Rogue or other close-range damage-dealer that needs to join the action.
- Menacing Attack: If you can chain Menacing Attacks together from turn to turn on a bonus action attack, it will be almost impossible for an enemy to escape a grapple. You'll have advantage on your own, plus your innately high check. They'll have their crappy check and disadvantage from the frightened condition. Only works against enemies with lower Wisdom saving throws, but as most monsters only have a +0 to +2, you'll succeed more often than not.
- Parry: Can't go wrong with more tankiness! Good for grapplers who are mostly absorbing damage and clogging up the battlefield.
- Precision Attack: This ability gets a lot better if you have attacks which impose effects when they hit. The Tavern Braweler bonus action attack would fall in this category. You're generally better off spending your superiority die elsewhere, and/or just getting Reckless Attack from Barbarian.
- Pushing Attack: This is a really monstrous push distance, and grapple puts you in a great position for making that 15 feet of push into something much more lethal. It's a Strength-based save, so avoid using it against big strong fighters and save it for flimsy Wizards and archers and other creatures that don't want to get thrown off cliffs.
- Rally: Don't heal your allies. There are much better things you can do with your bonus action.
- Riposte: Doesn't work with your normal Attack action-based grappling, and doesn't even work with Tavern Brawler (the attack isn't made on your turn). You can still take advantage of the extra damage, which is the only thing saving this from red status.
- Sweeping Attack: Even if you are using grapple-on-hit attacks, this doesn't actually trigger grapples on the followup attack. The second attack doesn't "hit" the target. It just deals damage to them. That terminological distinction makes this useless for even creatures that can grapple on a successful attack
- Trip Attack: Strong at early levels when you have fewer actions and want to use your bonus action attack in place of a shove attempt. This is still a Strength saving throw, so not all creatures are going to be knocked down so easily, but it's an added layer of insurance to guarantee you get a target to the ground.