Grappler, Variant (5e Class)

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What is a Grappler?[edit]

The Cyclopes are somewhat bemused, blinking in tandem; this lithe elf is giving them some trouble. Without their longbows, the Cyclopes are used to seeing the little elves either running away or cowering in fear, but this gauntlet-wielding wood elf is doing neither. As one lunges with a wooden club twice the size of the elf's head, just as it was about to connect, she slips past, up close to the orc. A quick punch to the stomach sends the Cyclops bending forwards in pain - the gauntlets hiding a blade! The Cyclops realizes too late, dropping its club and swinging wildly, but this elf is used to fighting up close. Ducking under blows and weaving around the lumbering beast, her next punch is followed by a brutal throw, using its weight against it. The rest of the Cyclopes understand; this nimble elf is a grappler. Well versed in close range combat but hopelessly surrounded, She hopes her fellow kin will return in time, and with some high-mages too.

A half-orc stands poised, the vanguard protecting a diplomatic vessel from an Owl-bear. Such a brutal beast is not for the fragile, but this guard seems to catch its swings. Staring at into its round eyes, the orc prepares a mighty punch, its brass knuckles digging just into where the Owl-bears neck connects to its chest. It staggers backwards, and the guard sees their chance. They dive forward, grabbing the Owlbear tight. Distant from the diplomats, the guard can attempt to pin this beast down as the archers begin to ready their bows.

I've made this character as a more (who'd've guessed?) grappling and generally close quarters variant of a monk, but it seemed to separate into its own thing in the end. Personally, I found grappling, while a fun and cool mechanic in dnd, to be interesting enough to base a character around. The idea of a tank who can absorb lots of damage, but rather than be able to deal with lots of discreet or surrounding enemies, is able to pick out a particularly dangerous enemy and make the most out of focusing on one interaction.

If something seems overpowered, feel free to write an edit here or something discussing that. Also, there currently are only 2 subclasses for this, so feel free to try and think up your own. Lastly, if you have anything better for the level 20 feature, please, please tell me.

Quick Build

There are two types of Grapplers, more lithe and nimble ones, and heftier, protective ones.

You can make a Hefty Grappler quickly by following these suggestions. First, Constitution should be your highest ability score, followed by Strength. Second, choose the half-orc race, and the folk hero background. Third, choose brass knuckles, 4 javelins, the net, and an explorer's pack. Pick athletics and perception as your proficiencies, as well as survival and animal handling from your background.

You can make a Nimble Grappler quickly by following these suggestions. First, Dexterity should be your highest ability score, followed by Constitution. Second, choose the wood-elf race, and the outlander background. Third, choose the bladed gauntlet, the shortbow, the whip, and an dungeoneer's pack. Pick stealth and acrobatics as your proficiencies, as well as survival and athletics from your background.

Class Features

As a Grappler you gain the following class features.

Hit Points

Hit Dice: 1d8 per Grappler level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 8 + Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8 (or 5) + Constitution modifier per Grappler level after 1st

Proficiencies

Armor: None
Weapons: Simple weapons,net,whip.
Tools: None
Saving Throws: Constitution, Strength
Skills: Chose two from the following: Athletics, Acrobatics, Stealth, Survival, Animal Handling, Perception.

Equipment

You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:

  • (a) Bladed gauntlet or (b) brass knuckles or (c) any simple melee weapon with the glove property
  • (a) Shortbow, and 20 arrows or (b) javelins (4) or (c) any simple ranged weapon
  • (a) Net or (b) whip
  • (a) Explorer's pack or (b) dungeoneer's pack

Table: The Grappler

Level Proficiency
Bonus
Striking Damage Fitness Points Features
1st +2 1d6 0 Ground and Pound, Grappling Technique, Unarmoured Defense.
2nd +2 1d6 2 Fitness, Fighting Style
3rd +2 1d6 3 Applied form, Special Blows
4th +2 1d6 4 Ability Score Improvement
5th +3 1d8 5 Improved Grapple,
6th +3 1d8 6 Greater Strength, Applied Form Feature
7th +3 1d8 7 Evasion
8th +3 1d8 8 Ability Score Improvement
9th +4 1d8 9 Improved Grapple, Fighting Style Improvement
10th +4 1d8 10 Peak Fitness
11th +4 1d10 11 Applied Form Feature
12th +4 1d10 12 Ability Score Improvement
13th +5 1d10 13 Improved Grapple
14th +5 1d10 14 Wrestling Expert, Fitness Saves
15th +5 1d10 15 Ageless Musculature, Peak Fitness
16th +5 1d10 16 Ability Score Improvement
17th +6 2d6 17 Applied Form Feature
18th +6 2d6 18 Extra Attack
19th +6 2d6 19 Ability Score Improvement
20th +6 2d6 20 Refreshing Perfection

Grappler Features[edit]

Unarmored Defense[edit]

Beginning at 1st level, while you are wearing no armor and not wielding a shield, your AC equals 10 + your Constitution modifier + your Dexterity or Strength modifier (whichever is higher). This represents the different ways your character will go about dealing with threats - a strong grappler may brace itself from the impact of weakly-placed attacks with their tough muscles, while a nimble attacker will duck underneath and sway away from obviously predictable attacks.

Ground and Pound[edit]

At 1st level, you have trained in making attacks using unarmed strikes and attacks with weapons that don't need to be held in order to be effectively used while grappling. Due to your training, you gain the following benefits:

  • You can roll a d6 in place of the normal damage of your unarmed strike or grappler weapon. This die changes as you gain grappler levels, as shown in the Striking Damage column of the Grappler table.
  • Your unarmed strikes and grappler weapons are considered melee weapons with the light property.
  • While grappling an creature, you can use both hands to perform attacks with unarmed strikes or grappler weapons.
  • When you make an unarmed strike or an attack with a grappler weapon, you can use your bonus action to attempt to grapple a creature.

As a grappler, you don't use traditional weapons but rather weapons like gauntlets, brass knuckles, or other such items that bring out the force (strength) or technique (dexterity) behind your blow. Don't let this be restrictive, any weapon that leaves your hands able to grab is a good tool for the grappler, and all do the same damage based on your level.

Grappling Technique[edit]

At 1st level, as a grappler, you excel in hold and lock creatures with your body, using your technique rather than your strength. You can chose to make a Dexterity (Acrobatics) check, instead of a Strength (Athletics) when trying to grapple a creature.

In addition, you become better at immobilizing creatures taller and smaller than you. When you try to grapple a creature to sizes bellow yours, you gain advantage on your grapple checks. Also, you can try to grapple creatures two sizes larger than you, making the grapple check with disadvantage.

Finally, when you take the attack action, you can perform a attempt to grapple a creature on your turn, with no action required, a number of times equal to your Constitution modifier. Once you spend all your uses of this feature, you can't do it again until you complete a long rest.

Fitness[edit]

Starting at 2nd level, you have developed your physical fitness, to accomplish feats beyond normal people. In order to do so, you have a bank of fitness points, that represent not only your endurance, but your ability to use bursts of energy. When you choose to use a feature that require fitness points expenditure, this cost represents the fatigue building up as you exert yourself. Your recover all your fitness points at the end of a long rest.

Some of your grappler features, called techniques, require your target to make a saving throw to resist the feature's effects. The saving throw DC is calculated as follows:

Fitness Save DC. 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength or Dexterity modifier (your choice).

You may use your fitness points in the following techniques:

Reactive Grapple

When a creature misses you with a melee attack, you can use your reaction and spend 1 fitness point to attempt to grapple that creature.

Countering

When you are hit by a melee weapon attack, you can spend 1 fitness point to reduce the damage to half. You can make a Constitution saving throw that must reach either 10, or half the damage taken, whichever number is higher. In a success, you can use your reaction to attempt to grapple the attacker.

Sprawl

If you are targeted by an attack, grapple or shove attempt, you can use your reaction and spend 1 fitness point to give disadvantage to that roll.

Line of Defense

When a creature move within 5 feet of you, you can spend 1 fitness point to shove that creature, as a reaction.

Takedown

When you hit a creature with an opportunity attack with your unarmed strike or grappler weapon, you can spend 1 fitness point force the target to make a Constitution saving throw against your fitness save. On a failed save, the creature is knocked prone. On a success, you and the creature swap positions.

Fighting Style[edit]

At 2nd level, you may select one style of fighting that suits how your character approach combat. Chose one of the following:

Aggressive: If you roll a 1 on a damage die with your unarmed strikes or grappler weapons, you may re-roll the die. At 9th level, when attacking with unarmed strikes or grappler weapons, you score a critical hit on a roll of 19 or 20 on the d20.

Defensive: You gain a +1 bonus to AC when not wearing armor or shield. At 9th level, this bonus increase to +2.

Applied Form[edit]

When you reach 3rd level, you learn an applied form, which is an incredibly important step for a grappler, representing the path they intend to tread, between the following options: Assassin or Brute.

Your applied form grants you features at 3rd level and again at 6th, 11th, and 17th level.

Special Blows[edit]

At 3rd level, you learn the following techniques:

Stepping Blow: As part of your attack action, you may choose to expend 2 fitness points to make one unarmed strike with a bonus of 1d4 to the attack and damage roll. You can move up to 10 feet towards the target, as part of the same action. You must be able to move 10 feet to use this feature. Until the end of the turn, the creature is unable to perform opportunity attacks against you.

Enduring Blow: When a creature hits you with an attack, you can use your reaction and spend 2 fitness point to make a Constitution saving throw against a DC of 10 or half the damage taken, whichever is higher. On a success, you take half damage from the attack, and you deal damage to that creature equal to your unarmed strike + half of the damage taken by you.

Furious Blow: As an action, you can expend 2 fitness points to make a melee weapon attack against creature. If you hit, you treat this attack as a critical hit. If your attack would miss, you may treat that attack as a hit, unless you rolled a 5 or lower on the d20, in which case there is no effect.

Ability Score Improvement[edit]

When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can't increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.

Improved Grapple[edit]

At 5th level, your practice in close quarters has resulted in improved fighting. You have advantage on making unarmed strikes or attacks with grappler weapons against creatures you have grappled. When you use your action to attempt to grapple a creature, roll a second grappling check. If you succeed, the target becomes restrained.

At 9th level, your mastery in grappling allows you to grapple creatures two size larger than you without disadvantage on the ability checks, and they no longer have advantage in trying to escape the grapple. In addition, If you roll a 20 while attempting to grapple the enemy, they become restrained automatically.

At 13th level, you automatically succeed in attempts to grapple targets with one size larger and lower than yours.

Greater Strength[edit]

Starting at 6th level, your unarmed strikes count as magical for the purpose of overcoming resistance and immunity to nonmagical attacks and damage.

Evasion[edit]

At 7th level, your agility has made you lithe in response to danger. When you are subjected to an effect that allows you to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, you instead take no damage if you succeed on the saving throw, and only half damage if you fail.

Peak Fitness[edit]

At 10th level, your harsh fitness lets you endure harsh strain. Your movement speed increases in 10 feet and you may navigate difficult terrain is if it were normal. Your long jump and high jump cover double distance, and you have a swimming speed equal to your ground speed.

In addition, you can remove 1 level of exhaustion. You can use this feature once, being unable to do it again until you finish a long rest, in which you must be properly fed and hydrated (DM discretion).

You can use this feature twice when you reach the 15th level.

Wrestling Expert[edit]

At 14th level, your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make that uses Acrobatics or Athletics skills.

In addition, whenever you make an ability check with any of these skills, you can treat a d20 roll of 7 or lower as a 8.

Fitness Saves[edit]

At 14th level, when you fail a saving throw, you can spend 1 fitness point to re-roll it. You must take the second result.

Ageless Musculature[edit]

At 15th level, your fitness is just so nuts, you don't suffer frailty from old age, and cannot be aged magically.

Extra Attack[edit]

Beginning at 18th level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.

Refreshing Perfection[edit]

When you reach the 20th level, If, when rolling for initiative, you have no fitness points remaining, you gain 4 fitness points. You also have advantage on initiative rolls.

Applied Form[edit]

Grapplers can choose different styles to approach their fighting matches. The applied form chosen by the grappler will define how he uses his learned techniques.

Assassin[edit]

Well versed in close-quarters fighting, the assassin uses hidden blades and sneaky tactics to deal massive damage to unsuspecting or deceived targets.

Assassin Lore

At 3rd Level, you learn secret assassin techniques. You can spend 2 fitness points to cast pass without a trace and spider climb. Constitution is your spellcasting ability to cast this spells.

In addition, you gain proficiency in Deception and Performance skills and with the disguise kit. This represents a more social aspect of sneaking, no longer only hiding in the shadows, a skilled assassin hides in plain sight.

Sneak Grapple

Starting at 3rd level, you can deceive your enemies by feinting or sneaking on them. You can use your action make a Dexterity (Stealth) check, contested by the target's Wisdom (Perception) check or a Charisma (Performance) or (Deception) check, contested by the target's Wisdom (Insight) check.

If you win the contest, you automatically succeed in your grapple attempt, and you can perform attacks as if you have taken the Attack action.

Assassination

At 6th level, once in each of your turns, when you catch an enemy by surprise: either by making successful attack while hidden or by using your Sneak Grapple feature, you deal an additional damage equal to 3d6 on that attack.

This additional damage increases by 2d6 when you reach the 11th level (5d6) and 17th level (7d6).

Assassin’s Poison

At 11th level, you learn how to infuse poison onto your attacks. Your attacks with unarmed strikes and bow attacks deal additional damage equal to 1d4 poison damage, and the target must make a Constitution saving throw against your fitness save DC. On a failed save, the target takes an additional 2d4 poison damage. The additional damage increases from 1d4 to 3d4 poison, when you reach the 17th level.

Alternatively, you may forgo the additional 2d4 poison damage to inflict either blindness or deafness to the target for 1 minute, on a failed save. The target can make a Constitution saving throw at the end of each of its turns to end this effect. You can use this feature twice, and after spend all your uses, can't do it again until you finish a long rest.

Expert Assassin

At 11th level, choose one of the following skill proficiencies: Acrobatics, Stealth, or Deception. Your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make that uses the chosen proficiency. You can chose a second skill when you reach the 17th level.

In addition, whenever you make an ability check using this skill, you can treat a d20 roll of 7 or lower as an 8.

Debilitating Venom

When you reach the 17th level, when using the Assassin's Poison feature, the target must make a Constitution saving throw against your fitness save DC. On a failed save, the target takes additional 2d4 poison damage and suffer the effects of contagion for 2d4 hours.

You can use this feature twice, and after spend all your uses, can't do it again until you finish a long rest.

Brute[edit]

Using their overpowering strength, the brute forces targets into submission, protecting the front-line and soaking up damage.

Imposing Physique

When you chose this archetype at 3rd level, your hit point maximum increases by 2, and it increases by 2 again whenever you gain a level in this class.

In addition, you gain proficiency in the Intimidation.

Binding Grip

At 3rd level, your training makes your grip massive and your body stronger. Whenever a creature fail a grapple contest against you, end his turn grappled by you, the creature takes binding damage equal to 1d6 + your Strength. The damage is bludgeoning.

This damage increases to 2d8 at 6th level and 3d10 at 11th level.

Protective Fighter

At 3rd level, when a creature you can see attacks a target other than you, within 5 feet of you, you can use your reaction to impose disadvantage on their roll. You may use this feature a number of times equal to your Constitution modifier.

After spend all uses of this feature, must finish a long rest or spend 1 fitness point to use it again.

Stunning Force

At 6th level, your fists are so powerful that you stun enemies by swinging at them. As an action, you can spend 1 fitness point to make an unarmed strike. On a hit, the target must make a Constitution saving throw against your fitness save DC, becoming stunned on a failed save.

Protective Grappler

At 11th level, when you use your Protective Fighter feature to impose disadvantage to a creature of your size or lower, after they attempt their attack, you can make grapple attempt as part of the same reaction. The size of the creature affected by this feature increase to large or lower at 11th level, and to huge or lower at 17th level.

Raw force

At 11th level, when you use your Stunning Force feature on a medium or smaller target, you automatically impose the stunned (no saving throw required).

Legendary Grappler

At 17th level, your skill have become unmatched, and you gain the following benefits:

  • Murderous Slam: When you make an attack roll against a grappled creature, you score a critical hit on a roll of 19-20 on the d20.
  • Legendary Resistance: You have now advantage on your Constitution saving throws, and become resistant to slashing, piercing and bludgeoning damage from nonmagical attacks.

Multiclassing[edit]

Prerequisites. To qualify for multiclassing into the Grappler class, you must meet these prerequisites: 13 Constitution and either 13 Strength or 13 Dexterity.

Proficiencies. When you multiclass into the Grappler class, you gain the following proficiencies: Athletics, acrobatics, fist-weapon proficiencies, all bow proficiencies.

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