Friday, 8 April 2022

G is for Grappling

Let's get to it! Another mechanic everyone loves to hate. Grappling, the action of close quarters wrestling to restrain, and injure, a foe. The rules for grappling have a reputation for being notoriously complex.

AD&D 1e

Wow. I don't think I've ever read the rules for grappling in AD&D this closely, and damn, the math alone is stupid. Assuming that the initiator of the grapple has initiative in the round a base score is calculated from the Armor Class (AC) of the attacker... which, wait. It's possible to have a negative AC in AD&D (lower is better) so... oh, to hell with this.

Grappling as I recall was heavily house-ruled. Every table likely adjudicated grappling differently. James Maliszewski of Grognardia wrote in 2011 about the vexing problem of 1e Grappling rules and alternatives.

Grappling really didn't get better until the fifth edition (5e) of D&D was released where it is a simple opposed ability check to attack and to escape. While I never played editions between 1e and 5e Grappling had reputation enough that, in the introduction of fourth edition (4e) it the subject a video teaser in 2007 at GenCon.


Grappling in WFRP 2e, released in 2005, is a simple opposed test of Strength. Unlike D&D 5e, the attacker can injure the opponent with an additional opposed Strength test.

Narratively, grappling is often a rule that adds to the story friction at the table, and how the rules favor or disfavor the character can lead to some exciting encounters.

Posted by caffeinated at 12:00 PM in d10