D&D 5E The Grappler's Manual (2.0) - Grappling in 5th Edition

ktkenshinx

First Post
First time poster here. Thanks for updating this guide, I was thinking about making a grappling build from some time ago, but until I saw all the options and uses It had in combat I wasn't convinced it would be worthwhile, keep up the good work. :D
Glad you enjoy it! Let me know if there are other grappling options you want to see.
Frenzy shouldn't be rated nearly that high, especially for Grapplers. No-one wants exhaustion, limiting Frezny to 1/day, but for Grapplers every level of exhaustion is a negative for them. Either they're losing speed, or getting disadvantage on their grapple/shove checks, or they're dead.
Disagree here because you don't always have to Frenzy. You'd just use the ability in your main fight of the day (adventures typically have one of those). You're only going 6 levels deep in Barbarian to get the best of Frenzy anyway, and level 5 is giving you Extra Attack which is usable outside of Frenzy. It's definitely not a gold or sky blue ability, but it's solidly blue.
Grappling has some cool specific uses but it isn't all that. There is nothing preventing a great sword fighter that you have grappled from chopping you to bits will all of his attacks every round until you let go or die.

Knocking someone prone is nice but YOU are prone too unless you let go. No- you cannot maintain a grapple while standing AND hold a foe prone with one hand-that is stupid.
While prone, the greatsword fighter will have disadvantage on all his attack rolls. You can also start attempting Disarming Attacks once they are stuck on the ground, either through Fighter maneuvers or through the DMG Disarm rule. The DMG Disarm rule is particularly nasty here because they will have disadvantage on the opposed attack roll to avoid being disarmed.

As for your second point about being prone, that's a purely RAI ruling and you are welcome to make it as a DM (although your player would justifiably argue against it). RAW you are not prone: there is nothing in the "prone", "grappled", "shove", "grapple", or other rule sections that even remotely suggests it.

Moreover, it isn't even a reasonable RAI ruling because there are countless examples of grappling techniques where an opponent ends up prone and you are still standing. I'm normally on board with RAI rulings when they make sense, but this one doesn't. Just look up any instance of "knee on belly" in jujitsu, or the immediate aftermath of any Judo throw.
 

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Gillywonka

First Post
Very nice write up on grappling. Reminds me of the GURPS writes up that come out talking about specific topics and going in depth. Well done.
My gaming group, i'm the DM, we don't use grappling as it's written. I wrestled in high school then a year in college, and to grapple with one hand, that's crazy... so we don't use that.
To make a successful grapple, the initiator must make their grapple roll and the target must miss, only then is the target in a grappled state.
Encumbrance also imparts penalties, if carrying STRx2 pounds -1 to roll, STRx3 is -2, STRx4 is -3, STRx5 - 4 (that's as far as i've fleshed out)
If unarmored person grapples with someone in armor, the unarmored person takes a d3 damage per round grappling.
Those that can bite, like a lizard man, get a bite attack in the grapple.
Anyway, these are soft rules we use. No reflection on your write up which is well done and inspires me to get my poop together and fleshout my business.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Grappling has some cool specific uses but it isn't all that. There is nothing preventing a great sword fighter that you have grappled from chopping you to bits will all of his attacks every round until you let go or die.

Knocking someone prone is nice but YOU are prone too unless you let go. No- you cannot maintain a grapple while standing AND hold a foe prone with one hand-that is stupid.

But you can. If you don't like the rules, either use your imagination to explain how it works, or house rule it out. But, of course a guide about these rules will mention rules that work just fine at other people's tables.

To me, knocking people prone while you are standing and keeping them grappled is the whole point of a grapple build. It's usually that, or dumping them off a cliff, that you're trying to do.
 
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ktkenshinx

First Post
Very nice write up on grappling. Reminds me of the GURPS writes up that come out talking about specific topics and going in depth. Well done.
My gaming group, i'm the DM, we don't use grappling as it's written. I wrestled in high school then a year in college, and to grapple with one hand, that's crazy... so we don't use that.
To make a successful grapple, the initiator must make their grapple roll and the target must miss, only then is the target in a grappled state.
Encumbrance also imparts penalties, if carrying STRx2 pounds -1 to roll, STRx3 is -2, STRx4 is -3, STRx5 - 4 (that's as far as i've fleshed out)
If unarmored person grapples with someone in armor, the unarmored person takes a d3 damage per round grappling.
Those that can bite, like a lizard man, get a bite attack in the grapple.
Anyway, these are soft rules we use. No reflection on your write up which is well done and inspires me to get my poop together and fleshout my business.
Very cool rule modifications. I practice BJJ and totally agree that it doesn't make a lot of sense for the average human to grapple with one hand. I also think it's a little more reasonable in D&D where you have Strength 16 at level 1, which is the equivalent of an Ape (i.e. a gorilla). Once you get to 18 Strength you're in grizzly bear range, and we definitely see Bears hold stuff down with one paw. You bring up an interesting point with encumbrance though. The PHB has rules on lifting and carrying, and I think a DM would reasonable rule that a prone enemy (who has speed 0) does have to be dragged. At that point, these rules apply. So you would only be able to drag 15xStrength Score lbs without reducing your speed. Once you exceed that carrying capacity, you would have 5 speed as per the "Push, Drag, or Lift" rules (PHB, 176), and once rounded down from grappling you couldn't move at all.

This is an interesting enough point that I'll add something in the primer about it. Definitely an important thing to consider.
But you can. If you don't like the rules, either use your imagination to explain how it works, or house rule it out. But, of course a guide about these rules will mention rules that work just fine at other people's tables.

To me, knocking people prone while you are standing and keeping them grappled is the whole point of a grapple build. It's usually that, or dumping them off a cliff, that you're trying to do.
Totally agree here. Although, as mentioned above, I think there are very real RAW concerns at play in dragging prone opponents.
 

fuindordm

Adventurer
This came up quite a lot in a recent game of mine. An important point to keep in mind is that the creature being grappled can use its action to grapple its grappler.

Why would they want to do this? Because RAW, only the grappler can move the pair around the battlefield. But if both creatures are grapplers, then each one can force-move the other.

This could lead to a dance of back-and-forth. The rules are silent on dealing with this situation, so I added a house rule: in a mutual grapple, forcing movement across the battlefield requires an opposed Athletics roll. Another possible ruling would be to say that mutual grapples prevent any forced movement--one creature has to break free first before it can force the other to move.

Ben
 

ktkenshinx

First Post
This came up quite a lot in a recent game of mine. An important point to keep in mind is that the creature being grappled can use its action to grapple its grappler.

Why would they want to do this? Because RAW, only the grappler can move the pair around the battlefield. But if both creatures are grapplers, then each one can force-move the other.

This could lead to a dance of back-and-forth. The rules are silent on dealing with this situation, so I added a house rule: in a mutual grapple, forcing movement across the battlefield requires an opposed Athletics roll. Another possible ruling would be to say that mutual grapples prevent any forced movement--one creature has to break free first before it can force the other to move.

Ben
I've also seen that come up before. Your ruling solution seems like a really elegant one, although I kind of like the idea of two grapplers flailing back and forth around the battlefield. Regardless, I've put a note in the rules section about this interaction: definitely worth keeping in mind.
 

PnPgamer

Explorer
But you can. If you don't like the rules, either use your imagination to explain how it works, or house rule it out. But, of course a guide about these rules will mention rules that work just fine at other people's tables.

To me, knocking people prone while you are standing and keeping them grappled is the whole point of a grapple build. It's usually that, or dumping them off a cliff, that you're trying to do.

I think some people think that prone means being flat on your belly, for which I have really hard to imagine you can grapple and defend yourself effectively. Others tend to the image of being on all fours or at least on your knees, which makes it more probable to work. Either way, rules arent clear yadda yadda blah blah dm call.
 


Nebulous

Legend
I would hate to see a party of 5 PCs trying to grapple 5 gnolls all trying to grapple back, especially after reading this thread. I wish they'd just hack themselves to death :(
 

Bal Sofs Tihl

First Post
Grappling has some cool specific uses but it isn't all that. There is nothing preventing a great sword fighter that you have grappled from chopping you to bits will all of his attacks every round until you let go or die.

Knocking someone prone is nice but YOU are prone too unless you let go. No- you cannot maintain a grapple while standing AND hold a foe prone with one hand-that is stupid.

Shove your enemy prone. Pick up his ankle. Tuck that ankle in your armpit with his foot behind your back and curl your arm around it, bringing your hand to your chest. You now have a free hand and it will definitely take an athletics or acrobatics check to escape. Consider standing on his crotch or nearest joint/limb/putting your big toe in his mouth.

Just look up any instance of "knee on belly" in jujitsu, or the immediate aftermath of any Judo throw.

Yeah! Complete basic arm spin or Japanese whizzer, maintain wrist control, step on your opponent's face/neck, put your big toe in his mouth.

Very nice write up on grappling. Reminds me of the GURPS writes up that come out talking about specific topics and going in depth. Well done.
My gaming group, i'm the DM, we don't use grappling as it's written. I wrestled in high school then a year in college, and to grapple with one hand, that's crazy...

Underhook, whizzer, collar tie, pick up a single leg...even just decent wrist control would work for a seasoned grappler versus someone inexperienced. Pretty much every MMA fight features grappling with one arm while striking with the other fist or with knees and if headbutts were allowed, you'd definitely see those, just like the biting you mentioned. Encumbrance would definitely be an issue, haha.

I don't think an armored opponent would necessarily cause damage, assuming the grappler is smart enough not to head fight with a steel helm, haha. I would say more like it should make grappling harder: so, maybe their armor factors into the opponent's resist attempts somehow.

Overall, I think the biggest change I would make to grappling would be to make acrobatics/dexterity usable in both offensive and defensive grappling. Royce Gracie alone should be proof that strength alone does not a grappler make. After that, some kind of bonus to offensive and/or defensive actions would be inherent to the grappled condition (the first bullet of the grappler feat is probably a little too strong for this). The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of just coming up with a whole system of additions to the grappling system: special moves, submissions...though, I do think there is something to be said for the simple system in place already. I think it is actually quite nice.
 

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