Grapple Process

Simple Explanation of Grappling by Camber

Step 1: The attacker (A) wants to grapple.
1A. The target (B) gets an Attack of Opportunity (AoO).
1B. Exceptions: some special abilities, Improved Grapple feat, etc.
1C. If the target (B) deals damage in the AoO, the grapple failed.

Step 2: A gets to try to grab B.
2A. This is a Touch attack (usually Str+BAB vs Touch AC).
2B. Disregard armor, shields, natural armor, etc.
2C. Add a size modifier to A’s attack.
2Ci. Huge +8, Large +4, Medium +0, Small –4, Tiny –8, etc.
2Cii. This takes the place of A’s normal size modifier to attack.
2D. If it hits, A grabbed B.
2E. If it doesn’t hit, the grapple failed.

Step 3: A gets to try to hold B (GRAPPLE CHECK).
3A. This is a free action.
3B. Usually this means A makes a Strength check.
3C. Then B makes an opposed check with either their Strength or Dexterity (whichever is highest).
3D. If there is a tie, the higher grapple check modifier wins (unless B is 2 sizes larger than A).
3E. If it’s still a tie, roll again.
3F. If B wins the check, the grapple failed.

Step 4: The two creatures are now ACTUALLY grappling!
4A. Everything before this was to determine whether Grappling started or not.
4B. A deals damage to B as if with an unarmed strike.
4C. A has moved into B’s space. (But if A can’t move, A automatically lets go of B.)
4D. This can trigger AoOs from other adjacent opponents.
4E. While grappling,
4Ei. A and B do not threaten any squares.
4Eii. A and B lose Dex bonus against opponents they aren’t grappling.
4Eiii. A and B can’t move while grappling (exception: option 3A below).

Note: Either A OR B can initiate these during their own turn during a grapple.
Once a grapple is successful, BOTH A and B are considered as “grappling”
…regardless of who started it!
Symbol Key:
* Requires another grapple check (before the action)
+ Can be done while pinning
# Can only be done while pinning
= Possible if pinned

Option 1. Attack action options while grappling:
1A. PIN opponent for 1 round *
1Ai. (or prevent from speaking)
1Aii. The one pinned takes -4 AC vs others’ attacks
1B. Damage opponent *+
1Bi. Deals unarmed nonlethal damage (-4 check usually)
1C. Use opponent’s light weapon *+
1Ci. Attack roll is at -4 with the opponent’s weapon
1D. Escape from grapple *
1Di. Move into unoccupied square
1E. Break another’s pin/hold*
1F. Disarm opponent #
1G. Trip opponent *+ (NOTE: Different from Trip attack!)
1Gi. No initial touch attack needed
1Gii. Both A and B end up prone
1H. Toss your foe *#
1Hi. Strength check
1Hii. Throw 5 feet for every 5 points above 5
1I. Escape from pin * (attack action)
1Ii. Same rules as escaping from a grapple
1Iii. Except that you are still grappled, just not pinned

Option 2: Full-round option while grappling:
2A. Retrieve a spell component or easily reached item.

Option 3: Standard action options while grappling:
3A. Move the opponent you are grappling *+
3Ai. +4 if opponent is pinned
3B. Escaple from grapple
3Bi. With escape artist check
3C. Activate magic item
3Ci. Except with spell completion
3E. Cast a spell =
3Ei. Only if casting time is 1 standard action or less
3Eii. No somatic components allowed
3Eiii. Any material components must be in your hand
3Eiv. No “precise and careful action” allowed
3Ev. Concentration DC is 20 + spell level
3F. Use spell-like ability (SLA)
3Fi. Possibly supernatural/extraordinary abilities may be allowed

Option 4: Move action option while grappling:
4A. Draw light weapon *

Option 5: Free action options while grappling:
5A. Release opponent +
5Ai. Ends the grapple

Note: There is no truly simple explanation of Grappling. If confused, consult the resources at the bottom.

Note: Although Trips use many of the same rules as Grappling, there are important differences.
Example: if A attempts a Trip attack and fails, their opponent (B) can make their own free Trip attempt (usually).
This isn’t true of failed Grapple attempts. For Grappling, if an attempt fails, the opponent (B) simply breaks free.

Grapple Flowchart:
Grapple SRD page:
Trip SRD page:

All About Grappling WoTC series:
Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:
Part 4:

All About Trip Attacks WoTC series:
Part 1:
Part 2:

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