Grappler (5e Class)
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What is a Grappler?
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.
As a Grappler you gain the following class features.
- Hit Points
Armor: Light armor, medium armor
Weapons: Simple weapons, net, whip.
Saving Throws: Strength, Constitution
Skills: Chose two from the following: Athletics, Acrobatics, Stealth, Survival, Animal Handling, Perception.
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
|1st||+2||-||Falling Technique, Unarmed Combat|
|2nd||+2||2d6||Grapple Setup, Joint Lock|
|3rd||+2||3d6||Style, Grappling Techniques|
|4th||+2||3d6||Ability Score Improvement|
|5th||+3||4d6||Bone Crusher, Constricting Hug|
|7th||+3||5d6||Snake's Squeeze,Legendary Fighter|
|8th||+3||5d6||Ability Score Improvement|
|12th||+4||7d6||Ability Score Improvement|
|16th||+5||9d6||Ability Score Improvement|
|19th||+6||11d6||Ability Score Improvement|
Starting at 1st level, you have intimacy in fighting with your backs on the floor. You don't have disadvantage on attack rolls while prone, and all grappling checks made by you while prone are made at advantage. Also, getting up from the prone position only cost you 5 feet of movement, instead of half movement.
In addition, when you fall, you can use your reaction to give yourself resistance to the fall damage.
At 1st level, when you attack with your unarmed strikes, you roll a d4, instead of the usual damage. In addition, you treat your unarmed strikes as light and finesse weapons. This damage increases to 1d6 at 5th level, 1d8 at 11th level and 1d10 at 17th level.
Any creature that start its turn grappled by you take damage equal to your unarmed strike damage die in each turn it ends grappled by you.
At 2nd level, once in each of your turns when you hit a creature with a unarmed strike, you can try to grapple the target, as part of the same action.
In addition, when you try to grapple a creature, instead of a contested check against your Strength (Athletics), the target must succeed against your grapple save DC. the grapple save DC is calculated as follows:
- Grapple save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength or Dexterity modifier (your choice).
Starting at 2nd level, you can use your action to make a unarmed strike against a creature grappled or incapacitated. On a hit, you force that creature's joints, dealing additional damage equal to the shown on the joint lock column. If you reduce the target to 0 hit points with this ability, you either break one of the creature's limbs or kill it instantly.
You can only use your Joint Lock feature on humanoids or giants of medium size or lower. Creatures with humanoid anatomy (biped creatures with a pair of legs, a pair of arms, a torso and a head) could be also eligible for this feature, at discretion of the DM.
Starting at 3rd level, choose a style that define your approach to grappling. The styles are detailed in the end of this class description.
Also at 3rd level, you start to develop additional techniques that you can use while holding your targets. You have a number of uses of your grappling techniques equal to your proficiency bonus. You regain your uses of techniques after finishing a long rest.
You can use the following techniques:
The next time you grapple a creature, you can spend 1 use of your grappling technique to try to strangle the creature. The target must succeed on a saving throw against your Grappler save DC, or be Restrained for 1 minute. While restrained, the target take 1d6 bludgeoning damage at the start of each of its turns and it is considered to be Choking (as per Suffocating rules) for the duration of the chokehold. A creature restrained by you can use its action to make a Strength check against your grappler save DC to free himself. While choking, a creature is unable to speak.
When you hit a creature with a grapple or unarmed attack, you can try to throw that creature to the ground. The target must succeed on a Strength or Dexterity saving throw (its choice) against your Grapple save DC. On a failed save, the target takes 2d6 additional bludgeoning damage and it is knocked prone and is grappled by you (if you have used an attack roll) or restrained by you (if you use grapple).
At 5th level, you can embrace your target, twisting and spinning its limbs, crushing its body. When you grapple a creature, you can use your constricting hug as a bonus action, causing your unarmed strike damage. For 1 minute or until the grapple is released, you can use your bonus action to cause this damage again.
The grappled creature must make a Constitution saving throw at the start of each of its turns, or feel a a acute pain, giving disadvantage on Attack rolls and ability checks until the start of its next turn.
You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Constitution modifier (minimum once) and regain your uses after a long rest. At 11th level, you can cause your unarmed strike damage twice, instead of once with your bonus action.
Starting at 5th level, the bludgeoning damage caused by your grapple is considered magical for the purposes of overcoming resistances to nonmagical damage.
Starting at 7th level, whenever you hit a creature with a unarmed strike or successfully grapple it, you can force that creature to make another saving throw against your Grapple save DC. You choose if the creature use its Dexterity or Strength. On a failed save, the creature is grappled (if it wasn't already) and restrained for the duration of the grapple. You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Constitution modifier, and regain your uses after finishing a long rest.
At 9th level, you can grapple creatures with size huger or smaller. In addition, choose either the Chokehold or the Takedown technique. You can use the chosen technique at will.
At 9th level, as an action when grappling a creature, you can try to break one of its limbs. The creature must succeed on a Strength saving throw against your grapple save DC. On a failed save, the creature's limb is broken, only naturally recovering after a number of days depending on the creature's size: 1d6 days (huge), 1d10 (large), 1d12 (medium), 2d8 (small or smaller).
Once you successfully use this feature, you can't use it again until you finish a long rest.
The effects depend on the broken limb, as shown bellow:
The creature has disadvantage on Strength checks, Strength saving throws, and attack rolls that use Strength. The creature can't weapons that need two hands to be wielded, nor make attacks with the broken arm.
- Leg or wing
The creature has disadvantage on Dexterity checks, Dexterity saving throws, and attack rolls that use Dexterity. The movement speed of the creature is halved.
The creature has disadvantage on Constitution checks and Constitution saving throws. In addition, whenever the creature takes damage, it is stunned until the end of its next turn.
Starting at 11th level, once in each of your turns when you fail a unarmed attack or a grapple attempt, you can re-roll your die. After re-rolling, on a success, you deal additional damage equal to your unarmed combat die.
Starting at 13th level, you can grapple creatures regardless of their size. In addition, you have advantage on checks and saving throws to avoid being grappled, restrained or paralyzed conditions.
Starting at 15th level, when a creature succeed a saving throw from any of your grappler features, you can use your reaction to cause that creature to fail instead. In addition, using this feature on a creature with less than 150 hit points causes that creature to be paralyzed until the end of your next turn.
You can use this feature once, and regain its uses of it after a short or a long rest.
Starting at 17th level, whenever you can use your Constricting Hug feature at will. In addition, if you are grappling more than one creature, you can apply its damage to both creatures.
Starting at 18th level, whenever a creature roll above 10 on a saving throw against your grapple, you can cause the number to be 10 instead.
Starting at 20th level, your Strength or Dexterity score (choose one) increase in 6, up to a maximum of 26.
- Combat Superiority
When you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you gain a set of abilities that are fueled by special dice called superiority dice.
Superiority Dice. You have four superiority dice, which are d8s. A superiority die is expended when you use it. You regain all of your expended superiority dice when you finish a short or long rest.
You gain another superiority die at 6th level and one more at 14th level.
Using Superiority Dice. You can expend superiority dice to gain a number of different benefits:
- Sweep. When you are grappled by a creature, you can spend one superiority die as a reaction to retry the contest. On a success, you grapple that creature instead, and cause damage equal to the superiority die.
- Precision Attack. When you make a unarmed strike or grapple attempt against a creature, you can expend one superiority die to add it to the attack roll. You can use this ability before or after making the attack roll, but before any of the effects of the attack are applied.
- Joint Manipulation. When you damage a creature with a unarmed attack or with bludgeoning damage from your grappler features, you can expend one superiority die to add it to the damage roll. You can use this ability after rolling damage. If the attack causes the target to make a Constitution saving throw to maintain concentration, it has disadvantage on that save.
- Conditioning. When you make a Strength (Athletics), Dexterity (Acrobatics) or a Constitution check or saving throw, you can expend one superiority die to add it to the roll. You can use this feature after seeing the total but before learning if you succeeded or failed.
- Escape. When you make a saving throw to avoid being grappled, restrained or paralyzed, you can expend one superiority die to add it to the roll. You can use this feature only before you learn if the save succeeded or failed.
- Martial Tutoring
Also a 3rd level, you learn how to hone your abilities with solitary training, performing combat forms and training movement patterns. After 1 hour of training, you gather a number of training dice which are d10's, equal to your Constitution modifier. Your training dice pool limit is equal to your Constitution modifier. After 24 hours, any training dice unused is loss.
You can spend your training dice to enhance your combat abilities, or to train another creature in some ability. You must spend 1 minute to prepare either yourself or another creature within 30 feet with the technique. You can use the training dice in the following manners:
- Defensive Training. You can train a creature to hone its defensive instincts. When that creature suffers an attack, it can roll the dice and add to its AC. After using this die, the AC bonus remains active for a number of rounds equal to half your level in this class (rounded down).
- Countering Training. You can train a creature to counter a strike. When a creature is hit by a melee attack, it can spend the dice to reduce the damage taken, causing the same amount of bludgeoning damage. You multiply the number rolled on the die by half your level in this class (rounded down).
- Offensive Training. The next time the trained creature hit a target with a unarmed strike, it can add the training dice + your Dexterity modifier to the damage roll. You multiply the number rolled on the die by half your level in this class (rounded down).
- Control the Body
Starting at 6th level, a whenever you impose the restrained condition on a creature, that creature have disadvantage on saving throws against your grappler features.
- Martial Focus
Starting at 10th level, you have advantage on any Wisdom (Perception) checks you make while in combat, and can make these checks as a bonus action.
In addition, you can spend one of your training dice to block an attack made against you. As a reaction against an attack roll made towards you, you can spend one of your training dice to cause that attack to fail. If you have more hit die than the creature, the attack automatically fail. If the creature has less hit die than you, you must succeed on a Wisdom (Perception) check contested by the creature's attack. On a win, you cause the attack to fail.
After being subjected to this feature, any other attack that creature makes against you until the end of its turn is made at disadvantage.
At 14th level, if you use your reaction to nullify an attack, you also cause half your Joint Lock damage if the target is within 5 feet of you, as you stop the attack and twist one of its joints.
Starting at 14th level, you learn how to prepare an action outside combat. Choose one feature that require a bonus action or action to work, and define a trigger for that effect. When the triggering event happens, you can take that action, without taking an action.
You can use this feature once, and regain your use after finishing a long rest. Any action stored that is not triggered is lost after you complete your next long rest.
In addition, if you roll initiative and have no superiority dice, you regain 1.
- Pressure Points
Starting at 3rd level, you deepen your study of anatomy, increasing the possibilities in which you can use your breaks and twists. You can deal your Joint Lock damage even in any type of creature that doesn't have the amorphous trait.
You also learn the Stealth and Medicine skills, and you can reroll one check with each of this skills once, after failing a check, regaining the ability to do so after finishing a long rest. If you succeed on a Medicine check contested by the creature's AC, for the next minute, once in each of your turns you can add your Joint Lock damage to your damage rolls of your unarmed strikes.
- Boa's Rage
Starting at 10th level, whenever you reduce a creature to 0 hit points with a unarmed strike, grapple damage or joint lock damage, you can use your reaction to move up to your movement speed, without provoking opportunity attacks, and make a unarmed strike against a creature within reach. On a hit, the target suffer the attack's normal effects and you can try to grapple it.
- Methodical Snapping
At 14th level, you learn how to use your grappling technique to break each bone on your target's body with a surgical precision. As an action, you can force a target to make a Strength saving throw against your Grapple save DC. On a success, it takes damage equal to half your Joint Lock damage. On a failed save, it takes damage equal to your joint lock damage. In addition, each turn that creature remains grappled, it takes additional damage equal to half your Joint Lock damage. Your methodical snapping lasts for 1 minute or until the creature break's free from the grapple.
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.