If you like the idea of special rules for tackling and holding on to creatures much bigger than you, or if you just want a couple ways to spice up your grappler character build, here are some treats and tricks for you to enjoy. (And yes, I am writing this as the Halloween season is upon us!)
Improved Cling (Combat) -- You are skilled at grabbing onto much bigger opponents.
Prerequisite: Dex 13, Improved Unarmed Strike.
Benefit: If you are playing D&D Third edition, you may now grapple creatures that are two or more size categories bigger than you are (that's called a "cling" special attack). For D&D and for Pathfinder, you do not provoke an attack of opportunity when performing a cling or grapple combat maneuver. In addition, you receive a +2 bonus on checks made to cling to a foe. You also receive a +2 bonus to your Combat Maneuver Defense whenever an opponent tries to dislodge your cling or to grapple you.
Greater Cling (Combat) -- Maintaining a cling is second nature to you.
Prerequisites: Improved Cling, Improved Unarmed Strike, base attack bonus +6, Dex 13.
Benefit: You receive a +4 bonus on checks made to continue clinging to a foe after a cling is established, and you receive a +4 bonus to your Combat Maneuver Defense whenever an opponent tries to dislodge your cling or to grapple you. The bonuses granted by this feat stack with the bonuses granted by Improved Cling. You also gain a +5 bonus on concentration checks made while you are hampered, entangled, grappled, or pinned. If you are using the hide option while clinging, all attacks from all foes on you lose line of sight and suffer a 50% miss chance.
Here are two new magic items and three great stock (but non-Core) Pathfinder items that are especially sweet for characters who want to pursue a grappling strategy. They are in order from least to most expensive. If an item below offers bonuses to grapple checks, allow those bonuses to also apply to cling checks.
Armbands of the Brawler
Price 500 gp; Aura faint transmutation; CL 3rd; Weight 1 lb.; Slot wrists
These scarred and worn armbands have clearly seen rough use, and are constructed out of coarse leather and fastened with thick leather straps. They grant their wearer a +1 competence bonus on grapple checks and checks to break a grapple.
Construction Requirements -- Cost 250 gp; Craft Wondrous Item, bull's strength
Price 5,000 gp; Aura faint transmutation; CL 1st; Weight 2 lbs.; Slot head.
This mask is fashioned from dark leather decorated with geometrical patterns that emphasize the wearer's fearsomeness. It covers the wearer's face, but leaves his mouth and eyes uncovered. The wearer may attempt to bull rush and grapple without provoking attacks of opportunity.
Construction Requirements -- Cost 2,500 gp; Craft Wondrous Item, bull's strength, cat's grace, expeditious retreat
Crown of Laurels
Price 6,000 gp; Aura faint transmutation; CL 10th; Weight 1 lb.; Slot head
This wreath of leaves, which always remain fresh and green, mark the wearer as a master wrestler. When wearing the crown, you ignore the standard penalties on Dexterity, attack rolls and combat maneuver checks usually imposed by the hampered, grappled, entangled, and pinned conditions.
Construction Requirements -- Cost 3,000 gp, Craft Wondrous Item, freedom of movement
Belt of the Champion
Price 12,000 gp; Aura moderate evocation; CL 16th; Weight 4 lb.; Slot belt
This wide, decorated, ornately buckled belt must be visible and worn over armor and clothing to function correctly. It gives the wearer a +4 morale bonus to resist demoralize and fear effects, as well as a +4 enhancement bonus to grapple and cling checks as well as to grapple and cling damage rolls. However, if your grapple or cling check fails, the belt falls off onto the floor.
Construction Requirements -- Cost 6,000 gp, Craft Wondrous Item, crushing hand
Price 18,500 gp; Aura moderate transmutation; CL 8th; Weight 1 lb.; Slot belt
This snakeskin belt's buckle is shaped like a serpent's head. The wearer gains a +2 enhancement bonus to Strength and a +2 competence bonus on grapple combat maneuver checks. Treat the enhancement bonus to Strength as temporary ability bonus for the first 24 hours the belt is worn. In addition, the belt grants the wearer the constrict ability for 1d6 points of damage plus the wearer's Strength modifier.
Construction Requirements -- Cost 9,250 gp, Craft Wondrous Item, beast shape I, bull's strength
Of course, first and foremost, use these rules when a creature wants to wrestle a target two or more size categories bigger than it is. As a game master, use it when you have a bunch of tiny creatures who have no other way to attack larger ones. As a player, use it against giants and dragons and all manner of big 'uns. Especially if you are a halfling or a gnome.
Note that the "hide" option in the cling rules may be a useful defense, against, say, a foe who is bigger and faster than you. The hide option is nifty -- mechanically and from a roleplay perspective -- in allowing you to simulate a little enemy hiding in your clothes or clinging to your back or otherwise out of sight.
Note that in Pathfinder, "Creatures that are size Tiny or smaller use their Dexterity modifier in place of their Strength modifier to determine their CMB." So tiny creatures with a high dexterity may have an advantage. In fact, it may pay for a halfling or gnome character to get a Permanent Reduce Person spell (which does not cost all that much, by the way -- about 3,000 gp) just to take advantage of this. Combined with other advantages to being Tiny -- being able to move through larger creature's spaces, sweet bonuses on stealth, permanent +2 size bonus to dexterity -- this may even compensate for the loss of your reach. Maybe.
If you are willing to risk your pets, an arcanist's familiar is a Tiny creature that can use these rules too. A Small Animal Companion with a druidic Reduce Animal spell (which lasts an hour per level) can be effective in the same way -- even more so seeing as the companion's stats are better for combat. A Tiny Wolverine, with rage and a climb speed, makes for a pretty scary clinger!
But there is a non-offensive use for these rules. You can use the cling opyion to grab on to an ally, who can then carry you around pretty freely. If your friend can fly, or has an especially fast move, or just is running, say, that could be a life saver. You just have to be two sizes smaller than your friend to grab on.
This is the third part of a three-part series on little guys grappling big guys. Please check out Part I: Rationale, Part II: Clinging Rules, and Part III: Extras.
I am indebted to my good friend Mark B for suggesting the idea of "Cling" as a new special attack, and for the clever "Hold Me Closer, Tiny Grappler" title for this series of posts. Thanks Mark!