Grappling Attack in Tales of Justice | World Anvil

Grappling Attack

When one person grabs another person in combat with intent to restrict the second person's movements, that's a Grappling Attack. Mostly this is a close melee-range war of Strength and Dexterity, though certain powers such as Paralysis, Telekinesis*, and Stretching allow for a bit of range. (Snare actually has rules that favor the power user a bit better, so go with those instead.)

Grapples via mental Restrictive Powers are sometimes a separate game mechanic, and should have rules available on their own articles. If no separate ruleset is available, assume the source of the restriction is a character's psyche but the effects are all physical, mostly following this framework.

Let's say it is sparring time at the Gironde School, and somebody called "No Powers". Alan (Skyburner) is trying to pin Tom (Silverwing) down long enough to take away the remote control for the Rec Room. They've both got (figure THIS one out!) the exact same Dex and Strength in APs, so the GM refills her coffee and gets a sandwich for this fight.


The initial attempt to Grapple is resolved as a normal Physical Attack: Alan's Dex/Str as the AV/EV, Tom's Dex/Body as the OV/RV. If Alan gets one or more RAPS, the two of them are Grappled, plus Tom takes damage as usual.


Until the Grapple is broken or ended, both Alan and Tom can Physically Attack only each other. Mental and Mystical Attacks could still be made upon any target in range, but that would mostly require the use of Powers, and we did establish the "No Powers" clause earlier, right? So that mostly leaves mental skills as attacks on other targets, and frankly, the rest of Wyldfire is too busy breaking out the popcorn to be persuaded into helping either side.


The rulebook says that neither the attacker nor the defender can use any Power that does Physical damage to attack his opponent unless the Power has a range of Touch. This is kind of nonsensical; it makes more sense to say that only a Physical Power that must be used at long range is forbidden from use during the Grapple. So, maybe Vibe? Otherwise, powers that require the hands be free are possibly prevented, depending on the situation. Powers that do physical damage in an Area of Effect have as much chance of damaging the user as the other person in the grapple.


By default, Grappled Characters use their Str as their AV and OV, as well as their EV, while engaging in hand-to-hand combat against each other. Since the Grapple began, their effective Dexterity with respect to each other is 0. If a Grappled Character has APs of non-Dexterity type of movement (such as a Travel Power, or a vehicle currently under operation) that is less than the Str of the Character with whom he is Grappled, he cannot move. If the APs of movement are greater, he can move a distance equal to the difference: his movement APs minus the Str of the opponent. Moving doesn't break the Grapple; anyone who moves while Grappled takes his opponent with him.


Attacks against a target with whom one is Grappled are not capable of causing Knockback. Sorry, just, no. You could've caused Knockback when starting the Grapple, by tackling your target, but that's the end of it.


Two combat activities are most of what happens during a Grapple: smacking each other or attempting to break free. Attempting to break a Grapple is a Dice Action. One of the combatants uses his Str/Str as the AV/EV of his attempt, and the opponent's Str/Str as the OV/RV. In their particular case, if Tom or Alan wants to break the Grapple and the other one's not feeling cooperative, the person trying to get free might want to strain his Strength by spending HP to increase his AV and EV.


If the attempt to break free earns one or more RAPs, the Grapple is broken and both characters may begin to move and fight normally. Attempts to break a grapple never cause damage to the opponent.


A Grapple is also broken at the end of any phase when all of the involved parties agree to stop Grappling, or if either of the Grapplers falls unconscious.


Powers That May Help

This is not an exhaustive list. Give us a good story and we'll make it work!  

Restrictive Powers

Can be used to do the Grappling.

  • Cling
  • Extra Limb
  • Glue
  • Ice Production
  • Mental Freeze, being a Mental Attack rather than Physical, slightly modifies how it functions in the Grappling Attack rules
  • Paralysis
  • Snare
  • Telekinesis

Physical Abilities

Can be used during Grappling to fight or defend.

  • Acid
  • Bomb is a particularly villainous idea, and will seldom appear in our Genre in a way that it could be used this way.
  • Claws
  • Cling
  • Disintegration by Arch-Nemesis only
  • Energy Absorption depending on the nature of the attacks and the grapple
  • Energy Blast
  • Extra Limb
  • Flame Being
  • Force Shield
  • Growth
  • Ice Production
  • Icing will help if the opponent is trying to use Ice Production and/or Ice Control to create the restriction.
  • Lightning
  • Mimic on a nervewrackingly zany day
  • Poison Touch
  • Self Manipulation
  • Skin Armor helps against physical attacks that do their damage via momentum, so it will contribute to defense in the opponent vs opponent attacks, but is unlikely to help in rolls against the grapple itself
  • Sonic Beam can be used, but at this range is likely to miss a lot since it does not have much air volume to compress. Or possibly to harm the Power User as much as the opponent.
  • Telekinesis

Travel Powers

Might be useful to escape a Grapple.

  • Digging
  • Flight
  • Gliding will take some convincing story!
  • Jumping
  • Running is going to be tough to make fit the story, but it is theoretically possible
  • Swimming could certainly move the grapple to places that the opponent does not want to be!
  • Teleportation
  • Water Freedom

Powers That Do Not Help

This is also not an exhaustive list.  
  • all Mental Powers
  • Physical Powers that are not attacks, not the right sort of defense either
  • Cold Immunity
  • Darkness
  • Flame Immunity seems unlikely in almost all cases
  • Fog
  • Force Field by this time, the opponent is already inside the bubble!
  • Hypersensitive Touch, despite being a Dex-based Power, is not going to help here.
  • Invisibility
  • Invulnerability won't help until someone receives enough lethal damage to drop below the threshold of unconsciousness.
  • Projectile Weapons need enough room to project.
  • Sealed Systems
  • Shade because physical grapples cannot be formed of distressing, even damaging, luminosity.
  • Solar Sustenance
  • Split Just. No.
  • Systemic Antidote
  • Vibe, which must be used at a distance from the Power User
This is inspired by the Combat Maneuver of the same name in the DC Heroes 3rd Edition "White Book", on pages 101 and 102.

Start a Grapple

This is a Physical Attack.
If a Power will be used to grab, see the article for that Power. Make an Action Check to attack the target Character.
Otherwise, this is a contest of Physical Attributes:
grabber's Dex
grabbee's Dex
grabber's Str
grabbee's Body
Win at least 1 RAP.

Escape a Grapple

Always describe the story to the GM, then wait. A good enough story might not need a roll!
  1. When the Grappling Attack begins,
    make sure the one starting the Grapple does not earn RAPs on the Action Check. Either the die roll of the initial Physical Attack is unable to overcome the grabbee's inherent Dex/Body, or (before the roll happened!) the person about to be grabbed bids enough Hero/Villain Points that the grabber could not keep up.
  2. That didn't work?
    The Grapple happens!
  3. Attempt to break the Grapple without causing damage!

    Describe the technique to be used to the GM. Twist limb against the joint? Unexpected Ice Production in the contiguous areas? Paralysis headbutt?

    Remember that comparative Dexterity is 0 APs, which is not the same as "completely immobile" but may rule out complex activation of Gadgets in one's utility belt pouches.

    Roll (Physical Power/Physical Power) or (Str/Str) versus the opponent's Str/Str or (Physical Power/Physical Power) and earn at least one RAP. Neither party harmed, all parties may once again move and fight normally.

  4. That didn't work?
    Time to get violent!
  5. Attack back
    with Strength-based attacks or Physical Powers.

    All opponents effectively have Dexterity 0 to one another. This is now a contest of physical determination!

    Each participant in the Grapple can use their Strength, or a Physical Power that is capable of functioning at a range of 0 APs.

    Earn enough RAPs to bring the opponent's Current Body Attribute down to 0 before the grabber can cause the grabbee's Current Body to drop to 0.
  6. That didn't work?
    Wrong nap coming?
  7. Substitute a Travel Power
    for the grabbed character's Strength in an opposed roll. This will cause damage to both parties if it is successful! Modeled after a Take Away where the Character doing the "taking" and the item being "taken" are both the Character who wants to escape this Grapple.

    Use the would-be escaping party's {Travel Power APs minus the opponents' Strength or APs of Restrictive Power} as AV and EV. Use the grabbing party's {Strength or APs of Restrictive Power} as OV and their {Body or APs of Restrictive Power} as RV.

    At the same time, the grabbing party has the option of rerolling their Grappling Attack in order to hold on tighter!

    If the escaping party's Travel Power earns more RAPs than the Grappling Party's restrictive RAPs, the traveler escapes the hold! In the process of this brute-force escape, the traveler takes half those same escaping RAPs as Current Condition damage to their Travel Power. They will need Resting Recovery before the Travel Power can return to full APs.

    The first party to unconsciousness loses this contest!

      Unless a travel-based attempt to break the Grapple succeeds, the involved parties remain Grappled together -- even if they move!
    They will move a distance in APs equal to the traveler's Travel Power minus the opponents Strength. They take no damage from this attempt to move, they accumulate no RAPs toward one side or the other, and they continue to have Dexterities of 0 relative to one another. They can Physically Attack only each other. They can Mentally Attack any target in range, if they can spare the focus to do so.
  8. That didn't work?
    Not enough Travel Power available,
    or not willing to take on the injuries?
  9. Give the grabber a personal reason to choose to let go.


    {Travel Power APs minus Opponent's Strength APs}
    as a Move Action to haul all parties involved in the Grapple to someplace that the opponent absolutely does not wish to be.

    Sometimes, the opponent does not want to be anywhere except at the place where the Grappling Attack began.

    Other times, "Street smarts!" applies.

  10. That didn't work?
    Would-be escaper has less Travel Power than opponent's Strength?
    Cannot move.
  11. Don't escape; fight!

    Or at least, buy time for your Supergroup to get involved!



* In the original rules by the book, Telekinesis cannot be used this way at all because it is a Mental Power. That's silly. TK is hereby declared a Physical Power in the context of Grappling Attacks; if the grappled Character breaks free by physical force from a TK grapple, the TK user takes temporary mental damage from any RAPS over and above the APs of Telekinesis in use.


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