[RPG] Grappling and reach/reach weapons


One of my players is a large creature with a 10 ft reach who is also using a lucerne hammer (10ft reach).

He mentioned grappling with it and I was hoping for verification.

How would grappling with a reach weapon on a reach character work?

Would he have to drop the weapon, is he unable to initiate grapples at adjacent squares?

Edit: I wanted to clarify, it isn't that he wishes to pull an enemy to him, I k ow during a grapple you move into your opponents square.

My concern is whether or not he can initiate a grapple while holding a reach weapon and being a large creature as well as what ranges he would be able to do so at and whether he can do so while still holding it or does he have to drop the weapon.

For reference: reach weapons state you cannot attack someone adjacent to you while using it.

Initiating a grapple is considered a melee attack action that deals no damage.

The players has a feat called shortened grip that allows the adjacent attacks with reach weapons.

Best Answer

Complete Warrior includes a mancatcher, an exotic weapon that can automatically grapple targets and has special rules for grappling at a distance (since it has reach).

It has always been my impression that, the mancatcher aside as a special exception, grappling required an unarmed strike, and could not be performed without a free hand. The definition of handedness notes that

A light weapon [...] can be used while grappling,

which strongly suggests that other weapons, like a lucerne hammer, cannot be. This is referring to the rule under grappling for attacking an opponent, which says

You can make an attack with an unarmed strike, natural weapon, or light weapon against another character you are grappling.

It also says

You can’t attack with two weapons while grappling, even if both are light weapons,

which again suggests what I was saying earlier about unarmed strikes, as does the simple fact that successfully grappling deals damage as if you had performed an unarmed strike.

Nonetheless, I cannot find any explicit mentions of a free hand being required for grappling, despite being fairly confident they existed. I will continue searching for that, but in the meantime, I only have this circumstantial evidence. After all, the mancatcher does more than just allow you to grapple with it, since it has automatic grappling and a fancy trip-like grapple option, and the “can be used in grappling” might just refer to attacking with the weapon, rather than just starting the grapple. So all this evidence is circumstantial, and could be explained a different way.

But if you are convinced, please note (as @HeyICanChan reminds me) that a character can perform an unarmed strike without necessarily using their arms or hands, so they can do it despite having weapons in hand. As @WannabeWarlock points out, this isn’t at all unusual in real life, either—leg-based takedowns while pummeling with arms and fists is a pretty typical move in mixed martial arts, for example. Doing it with armor and a big weapon in hand, okay, that’s harder, but these are fantasy heroes, so whatever. But the big, important thing here is, even if you do this, you are still using an unarmed strike. That means none of your weapon’s properties—like reach—apply.

If you are unconvinced, then the rules basically don’t really cover grappling-at-a-distance, so you’ll still have to houserule something. I suppose you could use the mancatcher rules, if you want, but that would seriously dilute the mancatcher’s value in my mind. Or you could just use the rules as-is, and ignore the weirdness where, for example, your character just instantly moves into the target’s space regardless of the distance between them.

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