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

This came up recently in another thread but it might be worth repeating here:

Grappling isn't an attack (PHB 194), so technically it doesn't break Sanctuary. That neatly solves the problem of "won't the guy I'm grappling just kill me to death instead of trying to move away?" Sanctuary is a bonus action spell which lasts for a minute without concentration, so if you want, you can cast Sanctuary with your free hand, and then grapple an enemy while holding a shield in your other hand. (Then on subsequent rounds you can Dodge while you drag the grappled enemy over to the cliff and shove him off.)

Sanctuary is available to Oath of Devotion paladins and to clerics.
 
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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.
The opposed roll in the Disarm maneuver is an Athletics or Acrobatics check, not an attack roll. Attacker makes an attack roll, defender makesn an Athletics or Acrobatics check. Attacker will have disadvantage on his attack roll because a greatsword is held in two hands; defender suffers no disadvantage on his Athletics/Acrobatics check from being prone. Advantage: greatsword wielder--but most monsters have rubbish Athletics so you might win anyway.
 

ktkenshinx

First Post
This came up recently in another thread but it might be worth repeating here:

Grappling isn't an attack (PHB 194), so technically it doesn't break Sanctuary. That neatly solves the problem of "won't the guy I'm grappling just kill me to death instead of trying to move away?" Sanctuary is a bonus action spell which lasts for a minute without concentration, so if you want, you can cast Sanctuary with your free hand, and then grapple an enemy while holding a shield in your other hand. (Then on subsequent rounds you can Dodge while you drag the grappled enemy over to the cliff and shove him off.)

Sanctuary is available to Oath of Devotion paladins and to clerics.
I disagree with this, but would be happy to see the discussion in the other thread. It seems pretty clear to me that grappling breaks Sanctuary.

Sanctuary is broken "If the warded creature makes an attack". Grapple is defined as "a special melee attack", and is even listed under the "Melee Attacks" section of the Combat chapter. It even says "If you're able to make multiple attacks with the Attack action, this attack replaces one of them" (emphasis added).

If Sanctuary broken when "the warded creatures makes an attack roll", then I would agree that grapple doesn't break it. But it just says "attack", and by two definitions grapple appears to be considered an "attack". So unless I'm missing something, I don't see how these two interact like others think they do.
The opposed roll in the Disarm maneuver is an Athletics or Acrobatics check, not an attack roll. Attacker makes an attack roll, defender makesn an Athletics or Acrobatics check. Attacker will have disadvantage on his attack roll because a greatsword is held in two hands; defender suffers no disadvantage on his Athletics/Acrobatics check from being prone. Advantage: greatsword wielder--but most monsters have rubbish Athletics so you might win anyway.
That's right. Got the check/attack roll part backwards. It's unclear if the attacker (the one doing the disarm) has disadvantage or they have neither disadvantage nor advantage. If the defender is prone, then the attacker would normally get advantage on all attack rolls made against them. Therefore, the disadvantage from two hands would be cancelled out by the advantage of attacking a prone target. Then again, are you attacking the target or are you attacking the sword itself, which isn't prone in its own right. How would other people rule this? For reference, prone states "An attack roll against the creature has advantage if the attacker is within 5 feet of he creature." Is the attack roll in Disarm "made against" the creature?
 


ktkenshinx

First Post
Will this guide be completed at any point?
Absolutely! I just have a lot of things on my plate and can't always put hours into it each day. I'll roll out some more changes to it today and then keep the updates coming. The original guide on the Wizards forum is done: I just need to paste it, reformat it, and edit/update it.
 

Shove your enemy prone.
Easy enough, but once you do, you are either letting them go ( breaking the grapple) or following them down.

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.
This would require a second grapple attempt if you are still standing, which is possible if you have 2 attacks per attack action.
 

ktkenshinx

First Post
Easy enough, but once you do, you are either letting them go ( breaking the grapple) or following them down.



This would require a second grapple attempt if you are still standing, which is possible if you have 2 attacks per attack action.
As a DM, you would be free to rule these things, but your players would also be free to argue against you with the RAW. The RAW is very clear that shoving an enemy prone does not break the grapple. The only two things that break a grapple are incapacitating the grappler or removing the grappled creature from the grappler's reach (PHB, 290). Shoving an enemy prone just knocks them prone without actually removing them from your reach. So RAW, there is absolutely nothing that suggests you are breaking the grapple or prone yourself.

As other users have said, including Bal Sofs Tihl, this also makes sense from an RAI perspective. There are countless examples in real-world grappling where a standing grappler can be grappling a prone opponent. Add the magical and fantastical elements in D&D and it's totally within RAI, as well as already being within RAW.

People are always welcome to change those RAW mechanics to fit their game, but I have no interest in doing that in this guide. This guide is designed to follow the RAW 100%, and all the grappling interactions are within those RAW.

Also, I will definitely be finishing the guide before the end of the month. Lots of things came up to get in the way but the project will be done!
 

Noctem

Explorer
Yeah I have no idea why someone would claim that me shoving someone prone while grappling them forces me to either release the grapple or also become prone. That's very clearly not part of the rules and completely nonsensical.
 
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grave77digger

First Post
I have some who are insisting if I grapple someone into an AOE (Cloud of Daggers) That I would also be in the AOE. Is there a rule that plainly states they are wrong?
 

ktkenshinx

First Post
I have some who are insisting if I grapple someone into an AOE (Cloud of Daggers) That I would also be in the AOE. Is there a rule that plainly states they are wrong?
They are wrong, although you could choose to be in the AOE if you wanted. As per the PHB rules on point of origin (PHB, 203), "You select a cube's point of origin, which lies anywhere on a face of the cube effect... A cube's point of origin is not included in the cube's area of effect, unless you decide otherwise". Simply project the cube into one 5 by 5 by 5 cube and then stand on the edge of the cube, dragging the enemy into the cube's area. They will be affected by the Cloud and you will not.
 

mellored

Explorer
I have some who are insisting if I grapple someone into an AOE (Cloud of Daggers) That I would also be in the AOE. Is there a rule that plainly states they are wrong?
It's perfectly possible to hold someone over a fire without being in it yourself.

A compromise might be that the creature takes 1/2 damage, since it's not all the way in, or you take 1/2 damage, since your only part of the way in.
 

Arandomperson

First Post

  • Athlete
    The cornerstone of the powerbomb suplex grapple technique (see builds later). Athlete lets you jump really high with your grappled target(s), throw them to the ground, and then land, stand, and re-grapple. All in one turn. Without Athlete, your jumps will be shorter, your standing will be slower, and the combat style will be much less efficient.


THe page on the official forums got deleted and I didnt find a builds section here, could you post that please? I am rly interested in the suplex one since the jumping+grapling mechanics are hazy at best
 

Vileo Sufora

First Post
  • Athlete
    The cornerstone of the powerbomb suplex grapple technique (see builds later). Athlete lets you jump really high with your grappled target(s), throw them to the ground, and then land, stand, and re-grapple. All in one turn. Without Athlete, your jumps will be shorter, your standing will be slower, and the combat style will be much less efficient.
THe page on the official forums got deleted and I didnt find a builds section here, could you post that please? I am rly interested in the suplex one since the jumping+grapling mechanics are hazy at best
Thankfully the Web Archive exists. Google Way Back Machine and punch in the WotC forums URL. I'd post a direct link, but forums and less than three posts.
Enjoy, all. Also, first post!
 

the_move

First Post
Thank you for this very enlightening guide. It helped me quite a lot so far.

Although I wonder if Heavy Armor Master is a bit underrated (at least for the eldritch knight) because of several reasons.
First it is quite potent early on. It might fall back at higher levels, when magical or spell attacks and energy attacks do happen more often, but still non-magical weapon attacks might be the most common damage source you'll have to face your entire career.

Secondly
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.

Now in case of being overwhelmed throw in a Blade Ward. Now you have resistance against slashing, piercing and bludgeoning (magical and non-magical) weapon attacks and - afaik - the damage reduction by Heavy Armor Master is applied after cutting the damage in half. Ok, you might not be able to grapple that turn (except when using Action Surge), but at least you have the bonus action attack (War Mage). If you do not get focused by the mob however this is where you can do your job, which is catch and pin the bad guys.

Another issue is the Create Bonfire Cantrip. If you probably run out of the most important concentration spell - Enlarge - or you might want to save a slot for worse, Create Bonfire might not be this bad, especially when focusing on one (medium or large sized) target. Grab him, prone him, strike him (11th). Now Eldritch Strike is in effect. Cast Create Bonfire on 2nd turn. You also might cast it before the battle begins and drag your victims into it. You can also cast it right between your enemies before you get into the thick of things. 3d8 fire damage while you have all your attacks left and Eldritch Strike further increases Create Bonfire's potential. It might not be gold, but at least it might be a viable last resort or backup plan, especially because it does not need a spell Slot (unlike other choices).

These are just some ideas. Feel free to disagree.
 
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Vileo Sufora

First Post
Thanks for posting the link for me! I mentioned it a couple posts back. The builds section also has the special moves with their corresponding builds, giving a lot of ideas for interesting combats.
 

ktkenshinx

First Post
Sorry for not finishing this up yet. I've been DMing a campaign and that's taken up most of my D&D planning time. I'll get some of those ported over, along with some new stuff, one of these days soon! There's a lot of vacation coming up which will definitely help.
 

ktkenshinx

First Post
With the holiday season here and more time-off on my horizon, I'm getting back to the editing process! Finished up the level 3 and 4 spells today and will keep working at this as the month goes on. Let me know if there's anything people want added or addressed!
 

TheBigHouse

Explorer
With the holiday season here and more time-off on my horizon, I'm getting back to the editing process! Finished up the level 3 and 4 spells today and will keep working at this as the month goes on. Let me know if there's anything people want added or addressed!
yay! thanks
 

Solandros

First Post
Huge fan of your guide! I studied it intensively on the wizards forum before it got closed. It's thanks to your guide my party was able to take down a young green dragon at lvl 3 without a single casualty. Can't wait to see what amazing combinations will show up next. Have you considered using true polymorphs secondary effect? That being that if the duration of an hour passes the transformation becomes permanent. Perhaps one could use this to shapeshift into an adult dragon for keeps and use the natural shapeshift ability of its new form/race to maintain its old class abilities and skills?

EDIT:
To elaborate a bit more on the idea:

A level 17 bard would get access to True polymorph as a level 9 spell
True polymorphs spell desc states and I quote: "If you concentrate on this spell for the full duration, the transformation becomes permanent."

The second part of this spell that's important is what you can transform into: "If you turn a creature into another kind of creature, the new form can be any kind you choose w hose challenge rating is equal to or less than the target’s (or its level, if the target doesn’t have a challenge rating). The target’s game statistics, including mental ability scores, are replaced by the statistics of the new form. It retains its alignment and personality. The target assumes the hit points of its new form"

Basically what this means is that level=CR, so a lvl 17 character can transform into a CR 17 creature like..oh, I don't know, an adult golden dragon would do.

So this means the spell not only provides us with a form of permanent transformation into another race/species, but also potentially a massive statbump on top of that. (Not to mention new abilities such as flight, breath attacks etc).

Now the downside of assuming a new form is that the spell notes that spells, actions and even talking can be limited or even impossible depending on what form you're in, but that's where the beauty comes in: not only can an adult dragon speak, use basic and advanced actions and even spells, they also have the ability to Change Shape naturally. Meaning a PC that became a dragon for keeps through this spell could simply Change Shape into the form they had before they were changed by the spell. (useful for entering dungeons and many other occurances).

An important detail regarding this is that it's mentioned that the statblock of the dragon sticks around when it shape changes, effectively providing a PC with 27 STR to use the adult golden dragon example.

The total result of this? A grappler with 27 STR, 25 CON, 14 DEX and 24 CHA (mentioning CHA for bards regarding spellcasting). Since AC is natural armor+Dex and an adult gold dragons AC is 19 we're dealing with a natural AC of 17 instead of 10, making it especially amazing for barbarians which suddenly end up with AC 26 (without a shield or any magic items!), a very potent AoE breath attack (hordes are grapplers weakspot afteral), the ability to Change Shape to avoid size restrictions and finally what makes it so amazing for us grapplers: The ability to grapple GARGANTUAN creatures (adult gold dragon is huge size after all), a massive STR bonus to grapple and all that on top of our athletic skill.

Ladies and gentlemen *puts down mug* We can grapple the Terrasque.

EDIT2: Note that this costs NO concentration after the spell becomes permanent and can be cast on allies as well!
 
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