[RPG] the most optimal grappling character build in DnD 5e?


After reading this question on creating a grappling fighter in Pathfinder, I got to thinking about how something similar could be created in DnD 5e. As with the linked question, I am hoping to play some sort of Luchador character who wears a mask, and exclusively wrestles its opponents to death. I found this Homebrew class, and while ideal, I am unsure if my DM will allow it.

This answer seems to be a great start, but unfortunately I am unfamiliar with the differences in game content and mechanics between Pathfinder, DnD 3.5 and DnD 5e. I was reading here about the differences in content, but am still having trouble understanding how grappling specifically has changed.

As such, I have the following question:

How can I create a character that is superb at grappling in DnD 5e?

Ideally, I am looking for the combination of classes, races, and/or feats which would improve grappling the most, and preserves some of the appealing aspects of the Homebrew class above (eg. being able to grapple larger enemies, having an extra attack, being able to jump high and slam the enemy down, etc). I have taken a look at this guide which is a start, but due to my inexperience in character creation I am finding it extremely overwhelming.

Best Answer

At the risk of downvotes, I'm not going to do a specific build, but present some options for you to consider.

Before beginning, I want to restate that a Grappler build is more of a support style because of the existing rules around the Grappled Condition. Adding feats to help support it can give you Advantage on attacks (Grappler Feat), but unless you want to make yourself Restrained along with your target (which takes you out of the combat as well), the most you can do is set a creature's speed to 0.


STRENGTH and CONSTITUTION will be your friends here. Grappling is a Strength-based check, so having the highest modifier is going to go a long way. When grappling, you are just as likely as to get hit as hitting the target, so a having HP to absorb that damage and keep the creature grappled is very important.


There are some races that will vastly improve your ability to Grapple and possibly even reposition enemies on the battlefield by increasing your ability to move them.

Goliath - +2 STR, +1 CON And you count as one size larger for determining carrying capacity and when you push/drag/lift. This can be a big deal for moving bigger creatures. *Talk with your DM if this means if you (a medium creature) can now grapple a Huge creature (normally you are limited to one size larger, PHB 195.)

Aarakocra - +2 DEX, +1 WIS. The scores aren't the big improvement here for you with this race. IF your DM allows for it, what you get from this race is natural Flight. Being able to take a creature up in the air with you and dropping them is pretty amazing.


There are a lot of options, each of which have different effects on how you can play your character.

Barbarian - Unarmored Defense could be big here (and would pair nicely with a MAD build of STR/DEX/CON on an Aarakocra.) When Raging you also get advantage on STR checks and saving throws which will help with your grapple. The danger with Rage is that if you don't take damage, you can lose it. Taking the Totem Warrior-Bear path gives you some additional capabilities - namely at 6th level you can double your carry capacity again.

Bard - Your main focus on this is to become a Lore Bard for their 3rd level ability Cutting Words. Unfortunately, the amount of times you can do this is limited by your Charisma modifier, which introduces another stat for you to have at a decent level. Cutting Words allows for you to reduce the ability check roll of a creature trying to break your grapple - a very big deal! By going Bard, you also get access to spells that can further bolster your grappling such as Enhance Ability as well as a multitude of other fun stuff. With bard, you also gain expertise in multiple skills which could give you additional utility outside of combat.

Fighter - Additional Actions! Battlemaster maneuvers to give you additional things to do when grappling! This is your most traditional that will net you a lot of capabilities with Medium/Large creature. The Action Surge gives you another chance to either attack for damage or make an another attempt to Grapple. Battle Master gives you some maneuvers, but most are based on weapon attacks, which you probably aren't doing with your Luchador concept. The Champion Fighter may be a better choice to improve your criticals (although your unarmed damage die isn't big.)


When looking here, finding something that might give you Athletics proficiency is what you're going for (if your class doesn't.)

Outlander - Athletics and survival skill proficiencies.

Sailor - Athletics and Perception skill proficiencies.

Soldier - Athletics and Intimidation skill proficiencies.


Getting your Strength score high is your top priority, but there are feats that can also increase your grappling:

Grappler - as has been said, this feat is problematic. Getting advantage on attacks is good, but if you can force the opponent prone while grappled, that is going to do more for you and your team. The other ability of giving the Restrained condition is powerful, but it also takes you out of the fight.

Tavern Brawler - Proficiency with unarmed strikes works well with a Luchador concept. You also can still attack and have an opportunity to use a bonus action to grapple. The biggets downside is that your unarmed strikes are just d4+STR modifier. Not a big damage die.

Sentinel - Since grappled targets can still attack, having a feat that gives you an opportunity to use your reaction to hit them again is a nice

Lucky - Focusing on Grappling relationship to Lucky, this let's you reroll a bad ability check roll you have made.


If your DM allows pulling feats from this list, then you've got some new possibilities.

Quick Grappler - Bonus action to restrain rather than full action (can sideline the two of you in one round)

Brawler - d6 unarmed damage die

Expert Grappler - Can get cover from the grappled creature and deal STR modifier in damage 1/round.


I would like to reference the answer andras gave on this one. I think it's an excellent suggestion if you want to multiclass rather than stick with a single class.


Another thing to consider is if other party members can help support you. Anyone with Enlarge/Reduce can help you grapple the really big things.

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