Grappling means wrestling and struggling hand-to-hand.

There are three stages to grappling: grabbing, holding, and pinning.


Normally, a grab is just the first step to starting a grapple. If the character grabs an opponent, but fails to go on to hold him, the character doesn’t actually start a grapple. However, sometimes all a character wants to do is grab the target.


Once a character has established a hold, she is involved in a grapple. From a hold, a character can attempt a number of actions, including damaging the opponent or pinning the opponent.


Getting the opponent in a pin is often the goal of a grapple. A pinned character is held immobile.

Grapple Checks

When a character is involved in a grapple, she will need to make opposed grapple checks against an opponent, often repeatedly. A grapple check is something like a melee attack roll. A character’s attack bonus on a grapple check is:

Dexterity modifier + grapple modifier

Starting a Grapple

To start a grapple, a character first needs to grab and hold her target. Attempting to start a grapple is the equivalent of making a melee attack. If the character gets multiple attacks in a round, she can attempt to start a grapple multiple times. Follow these steps.

  1. Grab: The character makes a melee touch attack to grab the target. If the character fails to hit the target, the character fails to start the grapple. If the character succeeds, proceed to step 2.
  2. Hold: Combatants make opposed grapple checks. If the character succeeds, the character has started the grapple. If the character loses, she fails to start the grapple.

Defensive Grapple

Alternatively, a character can start a grapple as a form of defense. In this case, the character makes a defense roll with her Combat Maneuver bonus against the opponent’s attack roll. If the character is successful, her attacker is grabbed, as above, and the rules for grappling proceed as normal.

Grappling Consequences

While a character is grappling, her ability to attack others and defend herself is limited.

No Attacks: A character can’t attack while grappling.

No Defense: A character loses her ability to make defense rolls and Reflex saves while grappling.

No Movement: A character cannot move while held in a grapple.

If the Character is Grappling

When a character is grappling (regardless of who started the grapple), she can attempt any of several actions on her turn. Unless otherwise noted, each of these options is equivalent to an attack. (If the character normally gets more than one attack action, she can attempt as many of these options as she has attacks available.) The character is limited to these options only; he or she cannot take any other actions.

Pin: Make an opposed grapple check; if the character succeeds, she holds the opponent immobile for 1 round. The opponent is flat-footed against all attacks from other people (but not from the character); however, the opponent is not considered helpless.

A pinned character can’t take any action except to attempt to escape from the pin.

Escape from Grapple: Make an opposed grapple check. If the character succeeds, she can escape the grapple. If more than one opponent is grappling the character, the grapple check result has to beat all their check results to escape. (Opponents don’t have to try to hold a character if they don’t want to.)

Escape from Pin: Make an opposed grapple check. If the character succeeds, she can escape from being pinned. (Opponents don’t have to try to keep the character pinned if they don’t want to.) The character is still being grappled, however.

If the Character is Pinned

When an opponent has pinned the character, she is held immobile (but not helpless) for 1 round. (the character can’t attempt any other action.) On the character’s turn, she can attempt to escape from the pin. If the character succeeds, she is still grappling.

Joining a Grapple

If the target is already grappling someone else, a character can use an attack to start a grapple, as above, except that the character’s grab automatically succeeds. The character still has to make a successful opposed grapple check to be part of the grapple.

If multiple enemies are already involved in the grapple, the character picks one against whom to make the opposed grapple check.

Multiple Grapplers

Several combatants can be in a single grapple. Up to four combatants can grapple a single opponent in a given round.

When involved in a grapple with multiple opponents, the character chooses one opponent to make an opposed check against. The exception is an attempt to escape from the grapple; to escape, a character’s grapple check must beat the check results of all opponents.

Prerequisites: Improved Grapple or Combat Martial Arts and character level 5 or Improved Combat Martial Arts and character level 4 or Advanced Combat Martial Arts and character level 3