Corefinder Design Digest #35: Grapple Check!!!

This material was posted on patreon by Legendary Games

Few things inspire so much dread in players and GMs as grappling, all the way back to AD&D and its bananas rules for unarmed combat. For the players in my group, though, the declaration of needing a grapple check as far back as 3.0 has usually prompted someone to shout out “Grapple-check” in the tone of voice a stereotypical movie police chief always uses on a Loose Canon Cop Who Plays By His Own Rules (and a lot of police on TV and movies seem to have names that sound kind of Eastern European), when he shouts, “You’re off the case, Grapple-check! Turn in your badge!” At this point, it’s just an in-joke making fun of itself.

Behold grappling in just 386 words. You don’t even have to turn in your badge! We played around with a lot of options, and separating the act of grabbing someone from the active wrestling part just made the rules a lot cleaner. See what you think.  


Grab (Standard, Chain, Sized)

You grab hold of your opponent and prevent them from moving.

Special Modifiers and Rules: Grappling conditions increase in order of severity: grabbed > held > grappled > pinned (and/or gagged). If the target already has one of these conditions, a successful grab maneuver increases severity by one step (two steps on a critical success).

When you successfully grab a target, you gain a grappled condition one step less severe than your target (plus one step for each size your target is smaller than you).

Critical Success The target is held until the beginning of your next turn.

Success The target is grabbed until the beginning of your next turn.

Failure The target’s speed on its current turn is reduced 5 feet (no effect if the target is larger than you).

Critical Failure No effect, and you provoke an attack of opportunity from your target.

Grapple (Standard, Chain, Sized)

Once you have grabbed (or been grabbed by) an enemy, you try to control the grapple. If a grapple ends, all grapple conditions end.

Special Modifiers and Rules: At the beginning of your turn, if your grapple condition is less severe than your opponent, you can use a grapple maneuver to maintain your hold; if you don’t, treat as a critical failure.

Moving a Creature: On a successful maneuver, if able to move you can use the Carry action that round to force your target to move with you. At the end of your movement, place the target in any unoccupied square adjacent to you. If this is an inherently hazardous location, such as a pit or bonfire (GM’s discretion), the target can make a grapple maneuver with a +5 bonus to escape; this does not require an action.

Trade Maneuver: You can trade increasing your opponent’s grapple condition for the effect of a successful bull rush, drag, or trip maneuver success (one step) or critical success (two steps).

Critical Success You can increase your opponent’s grappled condition by two steps, increase it one step and decrease your condition by one step, or decrease your condition by two steps.

Success Increase your opponent’s grappled condition by one step or decrease yours by one step.

Failure Both grappled conditions remain unchanged.

Critical Failure As failure, and your opponent may choose to end the grapple.


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