Why is wizards so obsessed with grapple?

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It's not that complicated. Besides, it's nothing compared to the horror that is .... Turn Undead

First you must make a charisma check. Then you have to flip through the PHB where you can never find that stupid section that deals with Turn Undead (why isn't it just in the cleric section?) and look at a table that treats 6 points of charisma as equivalent to 1 level. You have to compare that with HD to see if you turn or destroy them, then roll 2d6+level+Cha, a totally arbitrary formula that is way too much at low levels (9 HD against a 1st level adventuring party? Yeah right) and way too little at high levels (A big 40 HD zombie would be easy for a 20th level party, but unturnable).

And besides, the problem with grapple isn't that it's complicated. The problem is that you tell one player or NPC "Hey, you have all these really awesome abilities, but you can't use any of them!" It really sucks when you have a grappler player. In any encounter, either the player is useless or the NPC is useless.
You have a good point. Turn Undead is too complicated. I think that Grapple is the poster child, though, because it's something that everybody has to deal with.
Then you have to flip through the PHB where you can never find that stupid section that deals with Turn Undead (why isn't it just in the cleric section?) and look at a table that treats 6 points of charisma as equivalent to 1 level.

Page 158 in my 3.5 PHB. I only know it because after doing 4 turning checks it kind of stuck.

I wonder if 10 years from now I'll still remember page 158.

But yeah, Turn Undead is seriously weak sauce.

I think in 4e it would be cool if Turn Undead could instead given Undead negative steps on the condition track. :D Maybe something sort like like the Holy Word (and other aligned spells) where different HD compared to your affect take a different number of steps, and any undead reduced to -5 steps has to run away (or maybe is destroyed).

Edit:

Also, Wizards are obsessed with Grapple rules because when a wizard gets grappled, he typically stays grappled :D
Actually I hope Turn/Rebuke Undead will be moved into some talent tree so you can play a cleric entirely without it. I can see that some gods are interested in undead, like Wee Jas (pro) Pelor (contra), but what does Odilamarra or Fharlagn (sp?) care about skeletons and vampires? It never fit the character role.
When I think about it, Turn Undead is one of those legacy abilities that was fine 'back in the day' but is much harder to justify now.

In 1e, clerics were clerics and they all hated undead (except for the evil ones which were in league with them). But the greater variety of clerics today weakens the case for giving them all anti-undead powers. For example, the clerics of a war god might regard undead as just another type of soldier. Dangerous perhaps, but essentially no different from any other dangerous monster.

Also, where's the fun in making undead run away when you could be beating them up? Sure, destroying them by presenting your symbol is pretty cool, but that only tends to work against undead of much lower level than your party should be facing.

I think that if Turn Undead is in 4e, it should be a signature ability of clerics who worship life or death gods. Other types of clerics should have abilities that better fit them. Finally, the name 'Turn Undead' itself needs to change, possibly to Undead Bane. I can only wonder how many novice players have asked "What does it do, make the undead turn around and round on the spot?"
If you want to simplify Turn Undead...treat it as an Intimidate check against the undead. After all you're scaring them with holy power. Beat their check by say 10 and they explode. And maybe let clerics spend Turnings to instead light up their holy symbol for awhile instead of emitting the single blast of "positive energy".
Of course then you need to fix the Intimidate rules, but at least thats one less table.
Come to think of it, this fits in with their "Power Sources" idea too...the fighter calls on their martial power to make goblins run away, the cleric calls on their divine power source to do the same to skeletons.

Sandulax

Turn Undead is, indeed, a goofy legacy mechanic that may merit more attention. But grappling does still have strange quirks about it. I'm reminded of this thread from the Giant in the Playground Forums which began with "Seriously, grappling isn't that hard!" and not long after devolved into a somewhat-lengthy argument spanning across the PHB, monster manual, and FAQ.
Agreed. I feel that another mechanism requires attention: two-weapon fighting. There are so many feats and calculating what combination of feats does what, and how much damage your off-hand weapon does and how many attacks you get with it, can be hard in the heat of battle.
Actually I hope Turn/Rebuke Undead will be moved into some talent tree so you can play a cleric entirely without it. I can see that some gods are interested in undead, like Wee Jas (pro) Pelor (contra), but what does Odilamarra or Fharlagn (sp?) care about skeletons and vampires? It never fit the character role.

Actually Wee Jas is mostly con IIRC.

but I'd not be surprised to see it reduced to a damage mechanic. That seems to be where they've been heading prior.
Turn undead may have several mechanics associated with it, but at least its not entirely modal.

Grapple rules change based on:
  • In a grapple mode (with associated consequences) - 11 rules, 3 conditions
  • You're pinning an enemy mode - 5 rules
  • You're pinned mode - with 5-6 rules that overlap the previous mode, including a dubious rule only found in a table
  • Joining a grapple mode - 3 rules
  • Multiple grappler mode - 4-5 rules


In comparison, turn undead rules are really only modal on turning versus rebuking, and that's only a small percentage of the overall turning rules.
Turn undead may have several mechanics associated with it, but at least its not entirely modal.

Grapple rules change based on:
  • In a grapple mode (with associated consequences) - 11 rules, 3 conditions
  • You're pinning an enemy mode - 5 rules
  • You're pinned mode - with 5-6 rules that overlap the previous mode, including a dubious rule only found in a table
  • Joining a grapple mode - 3 rules
  • Multiple grappler mode - 4-5 rules


In comparison, turn undead rules are really only modal on turning versus rebuking, and that's only a small percentage of the overall turning rules.

Yes indeed. Grapple is a subcombat in 3e. Much like psionic combat before 3e. Subcombat sucks.
Yes indeed. Grapple is a subcombat in 3e. Much like psionic combat before 3e. Subcombat sucks.

QFT

This reminds of playing a hacker in old shadowrun.. as soon as the hacker jacked in.. it was a game within a game..

Grapple should fit in combat... not become a combat in it self.
I think that if Turn Undead is in 4e, it should be a signature ability of clerics who worship life or death gods. Other types of clerics should have abilities that better fit them. Finally, the name 'Turn Undead' itself needs to change, possibly to Undead Bane. I can only wonder how many novice players have asked "What does it do, make the undead turn around and round on the spot?"

this is something that perhaps should have been made a thread of its own as its pretty brilliant.
turn undead/rebuke undead doesn't always mean something in a game, and giving a cleric the ability to affect other things in the game but undeads would make this ability alot more fancy and attractive.

it would perhaps be silly with turn humans as it would be boring if you just poofed people to dust like undeads. a bard-like ability that gives bonuses to team-mates and handicaps to enemies would be more likely though. that is perhaps a nice way of "assimilating" the bard into a more useful class. though i'm just guessing here.
I find memorizing the Turn Undead table pretty easy. That isn't an issue with Turn Undead. The issue with Turn Undead is that it's useless. Once you start hitting CR 8+'s of undead, they have too many hit dice to be affected by undead because there is a constant bumping of their hit dice to make them effective fighters.

Now, this could be fixxed by giving an appropriate turn penalty to the HD level, but so far no one has bothered with this. However, the grapple rules have WAY more many steps then turn undead, which is a two step process, outside of the 4-5 steps you need with a grapple.

I would like to see them try to remember that Undead are suppose to be turned.
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Grappling (compared to grappling rules in the original AD&D edition) is easy! :P

Which only goes to prove why we hated those 1E rules and never ever used them in our games! :D
As to the "obsession" with grapple: It is one of the absolutely iconic combat techniques that is going to be used in a given situation.
Mêlée types will always want to know how to do certain things.
-Disarm an opponent.
-Destroy their weapons.
-Trip or push people over/around.
-Hold or otherwise subdue a foe.

Most of those are fairly simple. Disarm/Sunder/Trip/Bull Rush/Non-Lethal Damage. Grappling stands out as the one with the most complexity.
I would love to see a streamlined system for handling all of the secondary combat rules (anything that isn't whacking someone and dealing lethal damage) in a fast and easy fashion.

Please note, I do not feel that making things easier to adjudicate makes them "dumbed down" or less effective.
I think grappling should be considered an unarmed strike with no special rules. To keep an opponent immobilized is an attack which needn't be unarmed -- this ranges from implied threats to endangering mobility.

To endanger mobility would be to position a weapon so that to move would damage the target. Even a typical "bear hug" with the intent to keep an opponent still would be eventually broken if there was no fear of breaking ones own body through the effort or the threat of the grip tightening.

So in end result we have grappling being superceded by combat range consideration, manuevers, with a feats that might assist certain manoevers in grappling unarmed. However, grappling methods could be condensed so that one tested and modified success roll might achieve a number of goals, these goals predetermined by the grappling method.

One must remember that grappling range is also called "contact range". At this range unarmed combat or small weapons combat is best with other weapons being less effective. A contact range specialist would be better at removing obstacles to contact range battle and performing manoevers in that battle too. Example: disarm enemy, close to contact range, trip enemy, endanger enemy's mobility, strike enemy repeatedly with improved unarmed combat.

This works unless the enemy is of damaging substance, a magic user that is prepared, or another contact range specialist (such as a monk).
I would love to see 4E simplify and unify all special combat maneuvers into one simple mechanic.

I handle grappling and most other special combat maneuvers with a simple mechanic taken from Iron Heroes. And since that's Mike Mearls' offspring, there is reason to hope for something similar. Now, this mechanic is not actually used in Iron Heroes for grappling, but it seemed like a great fit to me.

The mechanic in question? The Opposed Base Attack Roll.
Each side rolls d20 +BAB +(choice of either STR mod or DEX mod).

Here's how I have adapted it for most special combat actions:

Grapple: You make an opposed base attack roll, applying any special modifiers normally assigned to your grapple check, against your target. If you win, he's held. The only thing he can do on his turn is try a similar check to escape the hold. On your turn you can automatically deal unarmed damage*, reinforce your hold, or let go. If you lose, he can use an AoO to try to grapple you. No, if he fails you don't get to try it back again. If you chose to reinforce your hold one round, you get a +4 on your opposed roll until the beginning of your next round. That's it. The whole grapple system I currently use.

Trip: You make an opposed base attack roll, applying any modifiers normally applied to a trip check. If you win, the target is prone. If you lose, he can use an AoO to try to trip you. No, if he fails you don't get to try it back again.

Sunder: You make an opposed base attack roll. If you win, you roll weapon damage and apply it to the item you were trying to sunder.

I apply the same simple idea to Bull Rush and Overrun as well.

*A note about unarmed damage: Unarmed damage should be real damage, and based off your hit die type since classes with larger hit dice generally have more combat prowess. Probably about half the size of your hit die. If two schoolgirls slap at each other with their eyes closed, that probably isn't real damage. Any time two serious adults strike each other with their fists, it is real damage with a real possibility of fatality. Besides, keeping track of two sets of hp is needlessly cumbersome. Its not hard to do, just unnecessary. Dealing nonlethal damage should require special training represented by a feat. Boxers and skilled martial artists would have that feat. Such a feat should work like this: If you deal enough damage to drop your opponent with a melee attack, you can make some sort of a check. If successful they are reduced to 0hp and are unconscious instead of dead or dying. If the average hero (or villain) wants to bring somebody back alive, they should use something with a saving throw.
I for one totally agree that turn undead is weak. I play a cleric in Living Greyhawk and one of the DMs gave me a card that breaks down the rule. He showed us the grapple card and it was twice as long as the turn undead card.
I would love to see 4E simplify and unify all special combat maneuvers into one simple mechanic.

I
The mechanic in question? The Opposed Base Attack Roll.
Each side rolls d20 +BAB +(choice of either STR mod or DEX mod).

Here's how I have adapted it for most special combat actions:

Grapple: You make an opposed base attack roll, applying any special modifiers normally assigned to your grapple check, against your target. If you win, he's held. The only thing he can do on his turn is try a similar check to escape the hold. On your turn you can automatically deal unarmed damage*, reinforce your hold, or let go. If you lose, he can use an AoO to try to grapple you. No, if he fails you don't get to try it back again. If you chose to reinforce your hold one round, you get a +4 on your opposed roll until the beginning of your next round. That's it. The whole grapple system I currently use.

So basically all mages get shut down round one when big beefy dude shouts out I grapple the mage. That sounds like a lot of fun. And which is where we get to the problem 3e has had with grapple. If they make it a simple check and bang you are grappled and while grappled you can only try to break the grapple. With one simple combat maneuver you have removed an entire class type from combat. The problem is not only the simplicity of the rules but the simplicity of the rules while maintaining some semblance of balance.
So basically all mages get shut down round one when big beefy dude shouts out I grapple the mage. That sounds like a lot of fun. And which is where we get to the problem 3e has had with grapple. If they make it a simple check and bang you are grappled and while grappled you can only try to break the grapple. With one simple combat maneuver you have removed an entire class type from combat. The problem is not only the simplicity of the rules but the simplicity of the rules while maintaining some semblance of balance.

Wizard can still Dimension door away (verbal only).
"If you can't believe in yourself, believe in me who believes in you." and "Go beyond the impossible, and kick reason to the curb" Kamina, from Gurren Lagann
Wizard can still Dimension door away (verbal only).

What about all the wizards who aren't 7th level??? DD is a 4th level spell. The only thin a lower level wizard could hope to cast is Blindness/Deafness or Suggestion.
I use grapple in my games all the time; we don't have a problem with it. More of a problem IS turn undead. Were it not for the chart on the back of the cleric's character sheet, we'd have to look that up all the time.
So basically all mages get shut down round one when big beefy dude shouts out I grapple the mage. That sounds like a lot of fun. And which is where we get to the problem 3e has had with grapple. If they make it a simple check and bang you are grappled and while grappled you can only try to break the grapple. With one simple combat maneuver you have removed an entire class type from combat. The problem is not only the simplicity of the rules but the simplicity of the rules while maintaining some semblance of balance.

Well, don't allow the big beefy fighter to get close...

Seriously though, that's like complaining that the low will save class need a boost to avoid all sort's of compulsion spells and the like. A wizard doesn't have to break a grapple/pin, you can use concentration...

I'd like the various secondary combat skills on the same level, having Trip, Grapple, Bull Rush, etc. etc. using the same mechanic per se would be nice. I just don't want it to devolve into overly specific feats to do any of them like in Saga. That's my one of two real beefs with Saga.
Well, don't allow the big beefy fighter to get close...

Seriously though, that's like complaining that the low will save class need a boost to avoid all sort's of compulsion spells and the like. A wizard doesn't have to break a grapple/pin, you can use concentration...

I'd like the various secondary combat skills on the same level, having Trip, Grapple, Bull Rush, etc. etc. using the same mechanic per se would be nice. I just don't want it to devolve into overly specific feats to do any of them like in Saga. That's my one of two real beefs with Saga.

Maybe I was misinterpreting the grappled person can't do anything but try to escape the grapple. And yes plenty of people already complain about low will save people getting easily taken out by a compulsion. And my response is the same save or die effects which this grapple basically ends up being are fine as long as the odds of success are low. When success is commonplace these effects are a bad design choice.

Also on the don't let him get close angle I keep seeing in multiple threads. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? Do you all constantly fight in 5' wide corridors or something. How does a fighter on your side effectively keep everyone away form the dude in robes hiding in the back. Your in a big room, cavern, open field exactly how do you stop people from getting close. Open field I guess you can cast fly and assuming they don't win initiative on you that sems reaosnable for maybe your first encounter but how may fly spells do you have prepared. And exactly how amny rounds do people wate while casting all these defensive/mobility spells so the big beefy fighter can't get close.

What did you do in this fight James?
While I cleaved my foes in twain with my trust axe of course

How about you Francis?
I totally cast all these spells that made it so I avoided getting hit, it was cool.
Maybe I was misinterpreting the grappled person can't do anything but try to escape the grapple. And yes plenty of people already complain about low will save people getting easily taken out by a compulsion. And my response is the same save or die effects which this grapple basically ends up being are fine as long as the odds of success are low. When success is commonplace these effects are a bad design choice.

Well, let's break it down a bit...

If the fighter has great odds of success in grappling the wizard, then he'll generally have an easy time hitting the wizard with sword as well. The one thing that will make it more difficult to grapple in 4e is if Saga's dumping touch attacks carry over. If they are gone, it will be more difficult to initiate a grapple. If they port in the Saga grapple rules, it's going to get worse for the wizard if someone takes one of the 4 grapple based feats...
I don't know why wizards is obsessed with grapple. I found the rules easyish. Yes, turn undead is a weird mechanic. It should be removed.
It's not that complicated. Besides, it's nothing compared to the horror that is .... Turn Undead

First you must make a charisma check. Then you have to flip through the PHB where you can never find that stupid section that deals with Turn Undead (why isn't it just in the cleric section?) and look at a table that treats 6 points of charisma as equivalent to 1 level. You have to compare that with HD to see if you turn or destroy them, then roll 2d6+level+Cha, a totally arbitrary formula that is way too much at low levels (9 HD against a 1st level adventuring party? Yeah right) and way too little at high levels (A big 40 HD zombie would be easy for a 20th level party, but unturnable).

And besides, the problem with grapple isn't that it's complicated. The problem is that you tell one player or NPC "Hey, you have all these really awesome abilities, but you can't use any of them!" It really sucks when you have a grappler player. In any encounter, either the player is useless or the NPC is useless.

I agree, turn undead is a bigger headache than grapple (I think the point of emphasising grapple over it is that they do not want to acknowledge they messed up such a central part of the game).

But grapple is more complicated than it needs to be. Too many steps and too many rolls.
The one that always shut down my brain was negative levels.

e: Although looking at it again, it doesn't seem so bad. Crazy!
Negative levels aren't that bad.

The fact that negative levels can turn into *actually losing a level* (and having to deconstruct everything you did last time you levelled up and do it backwards) is awful, though.
My group never had much trouble with *starting* a grapple. It was what you do once you get there that we always had to break out the books to remind ourselves about. As I recall:

Initiating: Touch attack, provokes AoO. Opposed grapple check. If you succeed, you move into the opponent’s square.

Okay. You’re in the square. What can you do now? Well, you can make a grapple check to try to pin. If pinned, you can make a grapple check to try to get unpinned. You can try to break out of the grapple. You can try to deal damage (but only with a light weapon.)

How many grapple checks can you do per round? Do you get iterative grapple checks based on your BAB? What about feats that give extra attacks? What about magic items? If a monster is grappling, and it has extra natural attacks above what its BAB would give it, how many grapple checks does it get?

If I recall correctly, you do get multiple grapple actions, based on your BAB, but no other benefits. I believe there was a Sage bit about it at some point.

In any case, it’s certainly not as simple as some people have suggested.
There's a couple of things to remember about grapple.

Grapple is something that characters and monsters will always want to do. The giant snake that coils around the fighter to then crush him to death is using a grapple attack. It's just really cool when the ancient dragon picks up the thief in his claw, a grapple attack. Grappling is part of the mythos. You can simplify the rules, but you need them.

The guy that is grappling the wizard is not just taking the wizard out of the fight, he is also taking himself out of the fight. There are also feats that would allow casters to have spells to use when grappled. If my DM liked to have the casters grappled, then I as a caster would learn to prepare for it.

"Hey, Bob, what did you do while we were getting overrun by the goblin horde?"

"I was grappling their sorcerer."

"Why didn't you just cut his head off and come help us?"
The thing about grapple is that it's an out-of-place complexity and specificity in a combat system of streamlined generalities. To some people, the rules for grapple might seem important because they're "realistic", but why is it that grapple needs to be realistic when the rest of combat is so completely unrealistic? If we can abstract an epic duel between swordsmen, shooting with a bow, and a wolf biting you to "roll one die, if you get over this number, roll another die for damage", and we can abstract mass combat by saying "everyone is standing on a grid of 5x5 squares taking turns", then we can certainly abstract other common actions like grapple.
The rules for grappling can be simplified by taking out the make a touch attack and make opposed grapple check steps and put in one make a grapple check vs his touch ac. A grapple check is basically a size modified melee touch attack.

Now this just means you have grabbed him, you dont have him in a hold yet. On your target's turn, he makes a grapple check against your original grapple check result and if he beats it, he manages to squirm out of your hands. Otherwise you get a chance on your next round to move into his square and get ahold of him with an opposed grapple check.

As for wizards, well at this point it is a reality issue. A wizard SHOULD be easy to grapple. Thats why he has fighters guarding him. If your group is set up right and doing everything like it should, there should never be an opportunity for the wizard to get grabbed.
I think that Grapple is indeed more complicated than it needs to be... It should be at most as complicated as any other special attack (but I would like even the other special attacks like sundering, disarming, tripping to be even more simple). Instead 3 rolls just to start a Grapple is boring.

However I would also like Grapple to be less good against spellcasters. In 3rd edition Grapple and the Silence spell were the 2 best tactics against spellcasting enemies, and normally they were just too easy to succeed... Perhaps a general revision of how critical the somatic/verbal components are would be interesting.
Man i played a grappleing Deep Dwarf, Gebb Deepmug, though he was almost 100% ineffective, he did in fact get full of win when he took the PrC from the complete warrior (i forget.. brawler? that doesn't sound right) But he got some cool abblities and feats from that book, like the "bear hug" feat(don;t remeber the real name, but it causes 1d12 extra damage when you pin an opponent for a full round. every round)

This one time he actually got flung at a Elder Green Dragon (with help of the party mage), and with a little luck (actually a few nat 20's in a row) he succesfully pinned it, causeing the rouge to sneak attack every turn... i don't even think that dragon got a chance to use its breath weapon...

And yes i know That elder dragon was huge, and he was medium... but so many nat 20's in a row... the DM said that it was a go! Can you picture that?

A dwarf grappling a Huge green dragon? Thats insane!