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Grapple official ruling?

The grapple quality has several problems that aren’t adressed or clarified:
-How do you handle Grapple and hit locations (Example: I grapple and roll a leg location, what is the effect / I grapple a target holding his weapon in his right arm and I roll left arm location, can the the opponent still use his weapon on me, if so at what disadvantage)?
-Can a grappling and grappled character still take the Defend reactions?
-How is a weapons reach affected by a grapple? (Examples: someone grapples a character holding a spear, if I attack him with my knife do I still have to compare reach. If so how much reach / I grapple a character with my whip and another character attacks me, what is my reach).
-Is there a way for moving a grappled character because the rules say it can’t (like a police hold)?
-Do I have cover when I have grappled a character, and what effect does it have (Example: I grapple character and get attacked, does the character I grapple suffer damage?)

  1. The rules FAQ that one of the moderators put together states that your opponent could still use a weapon if it were reasonable that he do so, so if you grab a leg and he has a sword, he can stab you.
  2. The same FAQ stated that reactions may be possible if circumstances permit.
  3. Good question about Reach. My opinion is that if they are grappled in a way that does not permit Reactions, they don’t get the advantage of Reach, but I didn’t find a reference for it.
  4. Rules say the grappler can’t move away from the target without releasing the target; don’t actually address your question – maybe the FAQ does, because it has a section on grappling.
  5. I would strongly say no.

FAQ link: Unofficial Rules FAQ, Sorcery Cheat Sheet, and big list of links!

My personal interpretation:

The rules say a grappled creature can take no action other than to free themselves (Core p152), which should be a minor action as per the rules on 113. This would logically include Reactions. Since a grappled character is unable to react to an incoming attack, their reach is effectively 1. They can’t use a weapon to block an attack, so it doesn’t matter what reach they have.

Concurrently, it doesn’t actually matter what part of the body is grappled. They can’t take any actions until they free themselves. In narrative terms, this could mean the grappled creature is impaled on a boar spear, keeping both hands on the shaft to relieve the pressure; or struggling with the opponent, moving around and slipping from position to position, hold to hold–maybe his hand is free for a second here and there, but never long enough to do anything with it. If you’ve ever heard self-defense artists talk about defending against a knife, you might know that when grappling you would always try to control the enemy’s weapon hand before anything else.

I find it helpful to craft the narrative around the rules. The rules say you can’t use your weapon, and you can’t move. Try to think of why? Remember even though pieces don’t “move” on the board, they are assumed to be practically anywhere in a zone they want to be. This means a couple engaged in a grapple could be rolling all over the floor, knocking over all the furniture in a single room. The rules say you can’t “move,” but that doesn’t prevent you from narrating any details.

As GM, if my players wanted to grapple an opponent and then move the victim to another zone, I’d allow them to spend their minor and standard to do so, increasing any hindrance difficulty by 1 step (which would also require a second standard, meaning a Fortune spend or 2 Momentum for a Swift Action).

As for using a grappled character as a meat shield, I think it’s a great idea! The rules don’t cover it, but GMs should reward that kind of creativity. Maybe you could spend Momentum for something like that? I’d definitely give it for a Fortune point.

When in doubt, if playing try to narrate the details and let the GM decide what rules apply and how; if GMing pick whatever seems the most fun and reward good narration. The rules exist for this purpose.

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I like that interpretation. As a rule of thumb, I always try to find a narrative that fits the rules as stated, before trying to adjust the rules to fit the narrative.

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Using the FAQ and my own interpretation I came up with these 2 versions tell me which one you like:

Grappling: In addition to dealing damage, if one or more Effects are rolled the weapon may ensnare the target.
-An ensnared target is unable to move or take any actions (including Reactions) except trying to escape. Escaping a grapple can be done by taking the Clear Minor action, using an Acrobatics or Athletics test with a Difficulty equal to the number of Effects rolled. If the test fails the target is still ensnared.
-An ensnared character’s has still guard but has a reach of 1.
-The grappler can use the grappling weapon to attack the grappled target. When rolling no Effects, the target is still ensnared. If this attack cause a complication the target is released.
-The Difficulty of Exploit Action is reduced by one step against an ensnared target.
-If the Grappling weapon is a melee weapon, the weapon’s wielder may not attack with the grappling weapon against anyone else while the target is ensnared.
-The grappler may not move away from the target without releasing that target. He can spend 1 momentum allowing him to take the Adjust free action as a minor action without releasing the target, the target must move along. If doing so no other movement actions may be taken.
-Releasing a grappled character is as a Free Action.
-The grappler cannot use the grappling weapon for parrying or keeping opponents at bay, the reach of the grappling weapon is considered 1. Alternatively he can make Reactions as long as he has a hand free or could reasonably do so, possibly with a +1 Difficulty depending on GM interpretation.
-The grappler can spend momentum (2 momentum for light cover, and 3 for Heavy cover) to use the ensnared target as cover. Roll the challenge dices as normal for cover, but the amount of soak rolled is also applied as damage to the grappled target. If the attacking weapon has the piercing quality then it doesn’t reduce the damage only the amount of soak ignored.
-When you roll a leg or head location the grappler can spend 1 momentum to add the Knockdown quality.
-Once the target is ensnared he can spend 1 momentum to add the Knockdown quality to the next attack with the grappling weapon.

Grappling: In addition to dealing damage, if one or more Effects are rolled the weapon may ensnare the target.
-An ensnared target mobility is hampered and is unable to move, in addition all difficulties of physical tests except escaping the hold increase by 1 per effect rolled. The grappler can spend 1 momentum to pin down the ensnared target who is then unable to move and take any actions (including Reactions) apart from trying to escape the grapple. When pinned down the ensnared target has still guard but his reach is considered 1.
-An ensnared character’s has still guard but his reach is 1.
-Escaping a grapple can be done by taking the Clear Minor action, using an Acrobatics or Athletics test with a Difficulty equal to the number of Effects rolled. If the test fails the target is still ensnared.
-The grappler can use the grappling weapon to attack the grappled target. When rolling no Effects, the target is still ensnared. If this attack cause a complication the target is released.
-The Difficulty of Exploit Action is reduced by one step against an ensnared target.
-If the Grappling weapon is a melee weapon, the weapon’s wielder may not attack with the grappling weapon against anyone else while the target is ensnared.
-The grappler may not move away from the target without releasing that target. When the ensnared target is pinned the grappling character can spend 1 momentum allowing him to take the Adjust free action as a minor action without releasing the target, the target must move along. If doing so no other movement actions may be taken.
-Releasing a grappled character is as a Free Action.
-The grappler cannot use the grappling weapon for parrying or keeping opponents at bay, the reach of the grappling weapon is considered 1. Alternatively he can make Reactions as long as he has a hand free or could reasonably do so, possibly with a +1 Difficulty depending on GM interpretation.
-The grappler can spend momentum (1 momentum for light cover, and 2 for Heavy cover) to use a pinned target as cover. Roll the challenge dices as normal for cover, but the amount of soak rolled is also applied as damage to the grappled target. If the attacking weapon has the piercing quality then it doesn’t reduce the damage only the amount of soak ignored.
-Once the target is ensnared he can spend 1 momentum to add the Knockdown quality to the next attack with the grappling weapon.

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Thanks for this addition. Parrying with the grappling weapon is something that’s come up for me, as my character uses a boar spear often. We came to the same conclusion. Thumbs up for both of these.

Personally, I’d prefer not to have a codified ruling for using a grappled foe for cover, letting GMs make impromptu rulings based on creative player narration. Also, would a grappled man provide the same cover as, say, a grappled rhinoceros?