Wednesday, 26 October 2016

How to GM better?

Hello readers, it's been a while! (A year, in fact.) I've been very busy with uni, and life, and work, so do excuse the glacial speed of this blog. I'm hoping to write more often, so pin me at "one a month", as an optimistic pace.

Today I am talking about GMs, in particular how to be a better one through watching as many others as you can. I know that my own GMing skills originated with a GM who was great at telling the game, involving the players, and portraying the characters. I thought they were the standard, but I've been in games, now, with quite a few bad poor and terrible GMs. And I know this will sound cocky, but I want to play in a game where I'm the GM. That's not a bad thing though! It shows I have confidence in my self, and it is based on player feedback as well. Each and every GM I've played under has shown me how NOT to do things, or has done something so well, I've adopted it myself. And that's the key to better GMing.

For starters, you need to know your position in relation to your players. Much like you're told to find out the pace/style of game the players want, you need to know the kind of games you're likely to put on. In my main game, the End of Ecrathon, we had a Cleric, a Sorceror, and 2 Barbarians. The Cleric died, bravely giving their life in order to save a Sverfneblin under-mountain town, and that player is now a Druid.

1 player I know loves the combat, and face smashing, while the other three seem content to wonder around town and talk/act things out, figure out puzzles, etc. Now, this game has been going for two years. How do I keep the action player interested when it gets too much role play?

Part of the answer is "I don't" and the other part of the answer is "I give them a really sweet weapon to make the waiting worth it." They began with a great sword (2d6+STR 1.5), but wanted to give them the first magical weapon. So while the group were underground, saving the Sverfneblin, there was one encounter where a Sverfneblin Wizard has a rod of Earth Moving, but 6 Rust Monsters appear to ruin the day. The players had to battle the bugs for several rounds, until enough earth was cleared to allow safe passage back where they had come from.

Our Barbarian lost his great sword to the Rush Monsters, and the fight itself took 2 hours. That was a lesson for me -- when the creatures deal damage as a condition/effect, add something with real teeth to the fight too. The Barbarians didn't want to use their rage on these little bugs, and the Bugs only ever hit for 1d3 (no str bonus!) damage. Having a real threat amongst the bugs makes sense. They need to rage to deal with them, and may as well keep it up to kill the surprisingly high AC (18) Rust Monsters.

After the session I had the Barbarian roll a memory check, at which point I basically needed to see any roll above a 1 for them to 'remember' that dinky little knife we found down in the faerie section of the underground, with a message "happy birthday" but written in undercommon. The barbarian got the message, and several sessions after finding the dagger (the Gnome Sorceror had taken it) they grabbed the weapon and it immediately transformed into a +1 Vicious Long sword. 1d10+Str 1.5, as well as counting as a +3 weapon so long as the wielder is raging. Well, that worked!

More about GMs, please.

Right, so! I'm not going to use names, but I've known 2 GMs I really like and enjoy and would play in their games any day, and the others I'm not sure, depends on the day.

One GM ran a very arcade style game, where the players Pathfinder but they use older editions of books, 3.0 and 3.5. This was a good play style for ease of access, seeing it was run on a friday night, and it allowed players the most freedom to "taste" the range allowed by Pathfinder. The problem? The GM was is so lenient with the story, any time a character would be close to death there would be a magical healing process some how, and so the monsters lost a lot of their danger appeal. Players were still in fear of the flavour of a monster, but in-game the question was simply 'how do you kill it?', rather than 'are you going to survive this?'

While I like the approach to Pathfinder, for newer players (show up and play), there isn't long over arching storyline, and some sessions nothing has really happened, or the GM seems to be buffering too long, as they figure out something fresh/new to do. Weekly sessions need prep, or they're no fun because there's no real thing occurring.

Another GM, we'll call them Marilyn, ran a very sloppy game. They didn't know the rules, ran swarms incorrectly, and basically wanted to kill off characters. In more than one session the action became totally focused on one character and what they were doing, as they ran off into a side room on their own. That's fine to follow a lone character, but not to permanently paralyse everyone else while you do it. The character, a Cleric and my sister, encountered a room of Zombies that they were actually doing well against. The rest of us just weren't given any priority of chance to do anything. Sure, fine -- we didn't know about the fight so we couldn't just run into it, but it REALLY called for a Perception check to see if we couldn't here the fight occurring, allowing us to follow the sounds of battle and help. This irritated me as a player, because we were deliberately being held back from the game and it's contents. Who wants to play Tetris without the 4x1 block, hey?

Another instance is when we've all piled into a room, and there's a Troll cooking at the far end. Barbarian Extreme is with us (this character plays in as many games as they can, and are very often but not always a great front-line fighter) and charges the Troll. The GM didn't tell us about the miles of chairs between us and Troll, so the fight begins, THEN we suddenly all have to roll Acrobatics checks to get there, so again, it's a 1 v 1 fight between a character and a really bad situation. Then I helped kill Barbarian Extreme.

I didn't mean to, but I've read and studied the rules so much that if a question comes up I have a very good chance of answering it. The GM asked me how Rend worked, and I told him, and that turn our Barbarian died to Rend damage. The Troll hit with both claws, 1d6+5 each, then Rended for another 1d6+7. At that point the Barbarian was at negative hit points, and the GM could easily have had the Troll drop the character, in favour of dealing with the rest of us, but they chose to Rend and kill a character. I'm sorry it happened, but not sorry I played to the rules as-is.

While we were all back at the start of the room, running over to help the Barbarian, while some silly chairs were still in the way. Great story, can't wait to tell the kids "avoid churches. They have so many pews."

This style of play is heavily advised against -- the purposeful killing of characters is okay if the dice truly roll that way, but not when the players don't have warning about it earlier. We were never told "You're going to face very lethal threats here" and previously we'd fought a billion bloody rat swarms (true story), but this was the second time we'd seen a player singled out and picked on, while the rest of us weren't able to do anything, despite, you know, even being in the same room.

This GM doesn't run games so much any more, but even if they did I think I'd be sick that day.

How about some Good GMs?

Oh right, Good GM stories? Don't worry, I've had plenty of good GMs too, not just mediocre.terrible ones. I've also got a story about a GM who is so good (for the play group) that they helped out when they weren't even running the campaign, but more on that at the end of this article.

I had one GM who was very brave. And I mean seriously, they took two challenges of GMing as their first ventures into GMing. First off, they wrote a 1 player campaign, to get to terms with things, and that was one I played. This was really great, as a player and GM mentor, because I was able to see what they'd learned, as well as trying my own hand at being a player. I know that players will always come up with a different idea to what the GM had in mind as a solution, so I was purposely breaking into houses and shops of a mostly abandoned town, in an effort to force the GM to improvise. Instead, I found the magic weapon and a very key item in my first shop. Not bad! I felt great for having done some thieving (if you ask, my default character is always Halfling Rogue) and also good that I believed the find, too. It didn't 'stick out' as obvious that the GM had planted the items right in front of my PCs eyes. Second, it was also good to see if I could spot the areas of the campaign where the GM had asked for my advice on situation X, what mods to use, what kind of roll it would take, whether Intelligence of Wisdom was the key here, etc.

And their second campaign was a 7 player Underwater adventure. This is their first proper campaign with fortnightly sessions, and they worked on everything, picking the right water monsters, and townsfolk (Merfolk, hiya!) and even working on the "where are you underwater" system, which is a slight of paper with a clip, so you know you've gotta charge down 2 squares and 3 across to get to the bad guy. Noice! In this instance, the water has become paramount over everything else. Every player really engaged with the water theme, and had to find a way to give their creature underwater movement and breathing, so we had 3 Undines (I'm an Undine Druid, while another is a fighter and the last a Sorceror) along with a Gillmen, and a Grippli (I forget what race the other two are). With the Advanced Players Guide and Race Guide, etc, everyone was able to swap out racial traits for amphibious. And the most fun for me was being a level 8 Druid - having to find forms that would work underwater, or finding spells that'd let me be a swimming, breathing Bear underwater, was great fun.

This GMs play style reminds me most of my own, I think, and I can see aspects of my own GMing appear in their running of the game. Which is good! I can remember the GM I got the habits off, and it seems to work well because a lot of GMs who come across it adopt it to some extent. Basically when the group is asked What do you want to do, and one player replies, that's taken in, and then the rest of the PCs are asked what are they doing during that time. Do they go along with the player, sort of making a small "buddy system", or are they curious and want to explore the nicnac shop the PCs have just discovered, with magical fishbowls that show you the ocean while you're still stood on dry land?

This allows the splitting of the group safely, because typically the group won't wonder too far away that a simple Perception check won't bring them all together if real trouble occurs, but allows twice as much of your world to be interacted with. Maybe the first player will get the story line NPC discovered and on board, while the other half find a sweet magical item to purchase next session, after the loot is gathered from this current adventure.

I really support this kind of play style as a GM, because it's what I use and what I want to see more of. I even watched this GM run a game (I'd written the adventure and run it already for the GM I'm going to talk about NEXT, but I thought it'd be a great chance to see this GM run it. They'd get rules knowledge, in-game experience, and I'd get to see if I wrote an adventure that made sense to others reading it!) and they did wonderful, there was never a moment when a PC was left out, or wasn't asked directly "What is your character doing?" It's very inclusive, and listens to the PCs, which should always be your first port of call for what to do put in a game.

The next GM surprised me incredibly. As in, I'd never played a session like this before, and I don't think I ever will again, unless I specifically ask "Can I continue that story line?" This GM lives in another state, and we would often talk about campaigns, or discuss rulings or different rolls that would be called for in certain situations. So when I visited them out of state, we both ran a game for one another. Their partner played in both games as well, and it a shock in general I think, because of the kind of story this GM runs.

I normally run an actioned game, but action comes after a lot of investigation, running about, unlocking the dungeon, etc. I'll try and make an interesting Monster actually the key to the session, and everything hangs around them. For example one entire session was baby sitting a Treant, who'd gotten up from it's grounding and went to Look around. The PCs were shown the Treant and told to take it back to it's place, because a load of nasty breeding Goblins had taken it's old place, and were threatening to over run the town within very few generations. So the dungeon was out doors, in the sunshine, birds singing and flowers blooming, and the Treant itself was so big it was the danger. They came across a stream where he wouldn't budge, so they had to use social interaction skills to get him out. Then another river was too large for them, so they had to convince the Treant to ferry them across, only an over zealous Intimidation check had the Treant throw them all across (for Rock throwing damage each). That's the kind of game I'll try and set up, because it's fun to play out, and it's fun for the PCs to play through.

This GM I'm talking about had a sandbox approach, moreso, and I didn't roll initiative once. At first, I admit, I was annoyed at the session, but then I realised I wasn't playing action Pathfinder. This was ROLE PLAYING, true and proper, where your sheet informs you of your PCs characters, first and foremost.

I was a Sorceror with an Ice Dragon heritage, and Mighty Fist bracelets to match, but the world the GM built up was huge. Snow, everywhere. And an artifact that made the snow, well that was here but kinda broken. Who broke it? Can we fix it? Don't we need the snow?

Second, my group. It was myself and two Dwarves, genders unknown. In fact, it was regarded as rude to ask. To HAVE a gender was rude, so neither knew. AND they were twins. They didn't know and didn't want to, thank you very much. One was a druid with a super randy panda, and the other... I think was a cleric. Of Healing and X.

Once we'd had the main load of information about the town and it's history, we were given free choice of where to investigate. I wanted to hit the springs, because having cold resist 5 I thought I could actually bluff some unsuspecting idiot into giving me some of their money, with a bet about staying in the freezing cold water - in this icy region - the longest, however I didn't expect a live birth.

Yep, through sheer chance I managed to pick the one location that focused on the Cleric, and my hopes of duping people for money were soon out the window. Once we got into the area, a Dwarf went straight into labour, and the trouble was that the dwarf didn't want anyone else to see the birth. Not for modesty, but because that baby weren' gonna come out reg'lar!

The Cleric flies into nurse mode, ushering everyone away with successful Cha checks, including the other 2 PCs. While we're outside, being ignored by the action, the Nurse finds out that the dwarf is going to be half human, dammit, so that's why the secrecy. Thereafter, the role playing and nonsense about it was entirely and utterly devoted to this dwarf who just wasn't having their baby.

So, sandbox game. At this point it became an opportunity to bugger around as much as possible, so I convinced the other ejected PC that we should help out, and we hop on their Bear mount. The problem? There's people everywhere, it'll take ages. The answer? "I cast Fly on the Bear." That was actually a really cool moment, in 1) the game 2) my playing history and 3) solutions to problems.

The bear then soured high into the air, we found the birthing scene, and started to descend. The nurse, seeing us with her Perception check, tried to say "Go away, not here!" but my own failed Perception check meant I was free to ignore that, so I whispered to the Druid "They said to hurry up."

We land, and I'm thinking about more spells I could use. I had Enlarge person, and the dwarf's hips weren't designed to birth a human/dwarf hybrid, so I reasoned that I could Enlarge Person just the mother. That was okay, but the GM had me roll an Intelligence checks, and basically if I did that, any magic around a baby can be dangerous, mangling it in the process. OR I could bugger up the casting, and enlarge mother and baby (same problem) or just the baby (and in this case, so close to the magical artifact that made it snow, damage and lots of it).

So the baby is delivered and the session ends. I wanted to con someone of their lunch money, and wind up flying a bear to hopefully explode a baby and it's mother.

Wowwee. It was an entirely new gaming experience for me, and one that I'm always going to remember. Suddenly my sheet would have been better laid out as a bunch of 'options' I had, rather than in the order of the character sheet, because it was about how I thought, certainly not how I fought.

As a GM style, I really like it, but again players need to be aware beforehand what kind of session they're getting in to. I'd say it's HEAVY ROLE PLAYING, and it has the same benefits/hazards as the arcade style, where one character is deliberately focused on for quite a while, but I don't mind because the overall story is quite interesting and engaging. That was because it was Dwarves hiding a hybrid birth, and the intrigue of possible cheating (it was a dwarf couple...), so if it had been 2 humans having a human child I would've been wonderfully bored. I CAN walk into a hospital and see that on my own (and then be told to "leave, sir. Now." Assuming the PCs are up to it, they'll love it. And if they aren't, it'll take one session for them to get to 'know' what a typical session is like, and then it's up to them whether they keep on.

And that's the most of it for today, I will write more tomorrow. I did say I'd tell you about a GM who helped when they weren't even GMing, but that's for later. I've got to get ready for work.

Charlatan Fox.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Grappling with Pathfinder!

G'day, I'm not gonna be long with the introduction. I started DnD in my high school days, 3.0 then 3.5, then Pathfinder came out when 4.0 arrived and shot DnD in the face. I took a few years off, then in 2014 began my own campaign that has been running for a year now.

This blogger is all about giving you the simplest way to understand the obviously complex and supremely far reaching rules in Pathfinder, hopefully making it easy enough to "just run with" during a session, so you aren't bogged down reading rules mid-fight when the Dwarf Fighter decides it wants to start wrestling the T-rex, hoping to hog-tie it.

This blog starts with Combat Maneuvers, and it's up to you to let me know how straight forward and simple the answer was -- if it's too lax then I need to add more, but the idea IS to present the bottom line on How To in Pathfinder. If you want something specific looked at just email me.

Now, roll for initiative!

Combat Maneuver Bonus (CMB or "combat bonus")

The bonus represents your ability to throw someone, strangle them, etc. It's a characters Base Attack Bonus and Strength score. If you're a Halfing or Gnome (any small race) you get -1 to this check. Ever thought you could escape your parents grasp as a kid, but they scooped you up anyway? Yep, -1 for size.

Strength (+2) & BAB (+1) & size mod (-1) =   +2 in total.

Combat Manuever Defense (CMD of "Combat defense")

Your Combat Manuever Defense starts at 10. Just like your AC does. Next add your Base attack bonus, Strength and Dexterity, seeing you're trying to wiggle away from your opponent, the T-rex, etc, AND your size mod again. Getting Dex to defense is like adding Armor to your normal AC, only you can't wear "+2 CMD Full plate Armor" because that's lame.

Base (10) & BAB (+1) & Strength (+2) & Dexterity (+3) and size mod (-1) = 15.

That's the basics of the numbers you want. CMB is alway smaller than CMD because you don't add your Dex score. Unless you've taken Dex damage, but that's a niche situation. Next we look at HOW the fighting actually works.

Combat Maneuvers

For starters, a 20 is always a success, and a 1 is always a fail. Much like Skills. Every Combat Maneuver is a STANDARD ACTION which replaces an Attack

Bull rush

You do this when you want to push someone off a cliff, into fire, into a position to be flanked by the Rogue, etc. Roll your CMB and see if you beat their CMD -- if you did, you move them 5 foot minimum, plus an extra 5 foot for every 5 points by which you beat their CMD. Examples:
Roll 14, +2 from CMB: 16. Your opponent's CMD is 14. Your Bull rush is a success, and you move them five feet! Now the Rogue takes our their kidneys. Another:

Roll of 19, +2 from CMB: 21. The same opponent has CMD 14. You beat them, and easily got 5 points beyond their CMD (19 was all your needed, so you passed with 2 points to spare) so we move them back 5+5 squares, or 10 foot total.

That's the simple part of it. To get rulesy
+You provoke an attack of opportunity when you don't have Improved Bull rush as a feat. You ran 30 ft, screaming at them -- of course they're going to chop at your arms, or legs, or whatever you're using to Bull rush them.
+Moving them doesn't give your allies an Attack of Opportunity, you're too clumsy for them to not hit you instead with all your biting and kicking.
+You can Bull rush at the end of a charge, with +2 from charging. This is relevant seeing you can push someone back depending on the number you roll, it's not just "success" or "fail" like with many other rolls in Pathfinder.
+If you can move someone 15 foot, and hit someone else at 10 foot, you need to make ANOTHER roll against the second opponent, at full bonus -5 (so in the above case at -3). If you win, keep moving BOTH opponent's. If not, you stop in the square you're in.
+You can have your Bull rush provoke attacks of opportunity for your allies if you take the GREATER Bull Rush [pg 125] feat (different from Improved Bull Rush [pg 126]). Taking either feat will add +2 to the check, and stack with one another (+4 if you have both).
+You can only Bull Rush someone your size +1, so a Halfling could Bull Rush a Human or Elf easily, but not a Horse. The Horse itself could Bull Rush a Huge or smaller creature.


James Bond loves this one, how many times does Connery kick the gun from random bad guys hands? Disarm makes your opponent drop whatever they're holding, your choice. Don't like that shield? Disarm. Want that Orc-Double Axe? Try and grab it.

As usual you roll your CMB against their CMD. If the numbers match, they drop an item of your choice, even a two-handed weapon (lance, great sword, staff). If you beat their score by 10 they drop what's in both hands (sword and shield, mace and dagger, etc). Do note a two handed weapon will be dropped if neither hand can hold it, so Disarming a Bastard sword only needs you to beat their CMD, not beat it by 10.

Again you will provoke an attack of opportunity (unless you have the Improved Disarm feat) because you need to get close and personal with your opponent, who knows you're not after dealing damage when they see your eyes enlarge like Gollum as you stare at their held objects.

If you try and Disarm an opponent while unarmed yourself you get -4 on the roll, seeing you have to get that much closer. This doesn't apply to Monks, whose Fists always count as a manufactured weapons. If you fail to beat the opponent's CMD by 10 or more you DROP YOUR WEAPON, you clumsy nit. However if you do go for the unarmed attempt, AND succeed, you can immediately pick up the dropped weapon.

+If a weapon has the Disarm quality that adds +2 to your Disarm check, like a Dire Flail. It's heavy, it's chain, it's easier to wrap around your opponent's sword/shield and simply YANK outta their grip.

So it's fully possible to throw your weapon at your opponent, then close in and steal their weapon the next turn. Who said a Fighter couldn't be a ranged close combat Rogue?


Now this one makes the most headaches. It's a lot of book keeping, and who's winning, who's not, so I'm going to make a chart that hopefully expresses it perfectly. I suggest running with what you think works during a session, but otherwise reading the rules on page 199 when you have downtime/in between sessions.

For starters, you will provoke an attack of opportunity against a foe if you don't have Improved Grapple. You may have noticed a theme here, and yes ALL COMBAT MANEUVERS have this basic "provokes an attack if you don't take the Improved Whatever" feat. Grapple is a little different, in that having the "Grab" special ability (monsters everywhere have this) don't provoke attacks of opportunity either. A Snake that bites your opponent and gets a free Grapple attempt obviously Has Made Contact, and you get no chance to "see them coming" and take a free swing.

Second, you want two free hands. If someone wants to chop, then Grapple (as part of a full round action, say) they'd need to drop their weapon first. If you don't, you get -4 to the Grapple. Two hands, 10 fingers, means you've got the best grip, where you need it, to Grapple someone successfully.

Assume success, your CMB beats their CMD. You both gain the grappled condition (see the box below) and you have to spend a Standard Action (replaces a normal attack) every round to maintain the grapple. If you grappled them at a distance pull their piece/model/representation base to base with you. This is mostly used when a big opponent grapples you successfully, like a Dragon grappling a Medium Human Ranger, or a T-rex grappling our Dwarf Fighter from before. In both cases you can "see" the monster reaching out, biting a part of our hero and bringing them closer to body, to keep chewing on, deciding how to eat them, etc. (IF there is no free space around the entire base of the grappling monster, the grapple FAILS!)

Now we'll split your options in to two. Did you start the grapple, or were you the one being grappled?


Congratulations, you get +5 to maintain the grapple on top of everything you normally get. You still roll your CMB against their CMD every turn, but check out those Grappled condition mods -- you both lose your Dex which makes it easier to maintain the grapple! (Remember, their Combat Manuever Defense relies on their Dex mod too!)
Also, as the person winning the grapple, you can release the grapple as a free action. You get to hold them, have an easier time of maintaining the grapple, and when time comes to run outta there (the Rogue stole the jewel, the Ranger's down and your team needs to fall back, Pa'bio, the most beautiful Halfling in Ecrathon is after your partner) you'll still have a Standard and Move action to get outta there. All your stats:

To START the grapple

CMB = BAB (+2) & Strength (+3) & Size (+0) +5 total; vs CMD = Base (10) & Strength (+1) & Dexterity (+2) & Size (+0) = 13.

To MAINTAIN the grapple (you're both embraced against one another, and have the Grappled condition)

CMB = BAB (+2) & Strength (+3) & Size (+0) & I-Won-The-Grapple (+5) +10 total; vs CMD = Base (10) & Strength (+1) & (grappled) Dexterity (+0) & Size (+0) = 11.

Notice the changes there! D20+5 to beat a CMD of 13, compared to D20+10 to beat a lowered CMD of only 11! The person starting the Grapple now only loses if they roll a natural 1!

Once you manage to maintain the grapple, you can do one of the following:

MOVE. Up to half your speed, so a Halfling can move 10ft, a Human 15ft. This means you're dragging your Grappled captive with you, and you can place them in any space adjacent to you when you stop moving, like over a pit or into a pool of acid. IF you DO, however, they get an immediate free attempt to break the grapple with a +4 to their CMB against you! Who would go calmly into that sticky green death?

DAMAGE. You can hit with your unarmed strike (Monks, Clerics or Irori), a natural attack (Raging Barbarians can get a Bite attack, or Orcs can take the Razortusk feat (bite attack), attack with Armor Spikes (what a hug!) or a light/one-handed weapon. This can be lethal or nonlethal, as normal, and still attacks their AC like normal, so don't forget to minus their Dexterity to AC. This is not LOSE of Dex bonus, so Rogue's can't go around Grappling everyone just to get more sneaky Sneak Attack damage with super-close range Rapier attacks.

PIN. Your opponent becomes pinned, while you remain only grappled. This will cost you your Dex score in total though (not just the -4 that being Grappled normally implies) as you're using your Dexterity to maintain your pin, not to avoid incoming attacks. Being Pinned is awful, you can't do, like, anything!

TIE UP. If you've got the opponent grappled, then pinned, you can tie them up. Why not? It lets you go hug someone else into submission. This works the same way that pinned does, but the DC to get out of the tie-up is huge, 20 + your CMB. This is because you're basically "leaving" your CMB to hold your opponent in place via the rope tieing, so it's Bonus rather than Defense: the opponent can't do anything to you now, you've just left them permanently tied up with your superior wrasslin' skills.

Okay now, all THAT is if you're winning the Grapple.


Sorry if you're grappled, but lets get you outta this! You can make a Grapple check against your opponent's CMD as a Standard action (replacing an Attack) or by making an Escape Artist check against your opponent's CMD. Eitherway their CMD is the same, so use your Combat Maneuver Bonus or Escape Artist check, whichever is higher. You know how you grabbed that kid once, but they threw their arms straight up and just slid outta your grip? That's how Halfling Rogues and Gnome Sorcerors do it.

If you succeed with that grapple check/Escape Artist check you've got two options.

+You can break the grapple and act normally. Do remember that it was a Standard action to do break the grapple, so at this point you've got a move action/free actions left. Move behind a fellow Paladin, perhaps?

+BECOME the Grappler. This swaps your from the I LOST THE GRAPPLE to the I WON THE GRAPPLE range of options, but the best bit is that your opponent now can't just "break the grapple" as a free action, they have to beat you! That costs a Standard action, gaurenteed, next turn, leaving them with a Move action at best, even if they break free of your grapple. The rest of your allies can get ready to beat them up, while you're keeping them distracted. Well done!

Say you don't want to win or reverse the grapple? Then take any action that doesn't take 2 hands. Cast a spell, attack (with a light or one-handed weapon) someone in range, make a full-attack action? You've seen plenty of movies where someone being grappled can full a knife and poke their opponent to make their escape easier, right? Same thing here, you're grappled by that just means you're REALLY CLOSE.

That's it for grappled, beyond Multiple Creature Grapples.

If there's two creatures grappling an opponent ONLY ONE MAINTAINS the grapple, while the other helps via the Aid Another action. This means they roll a check against 10, and if they make it, they add another +2 to the actual Grapplers check. Likewise you can have creatures help their ally break free from a Grapple in the same manner - by being adjacent to the grapplee, and using Aid Another. If they beat 10 then the grapplee gets a further +2 on their CMD. (I'm not sure if that would apply to someone breaking from a grapple with an Escape Artist check. Can you aid another who's simply trying to squeeze outta some hulking idiots arms?)

I won the grapple!

You're Grappled! -4 Dex, -2 on all attack rolls, and Combat Maneuvers that aren't Grapple!
You can break the Grapple as a free action!
You get +5 to maintain the Grapple every round. You must spend a Standard action to maintain it.

If you win:

  • You can drag the opponent half your speed. 10ft for Small, 15ft for Medium.
  • Damage your opponent with an Unarmed Strike, Natural Weapon or light or one-handed weapon.
  • Pin your opponent. They gain the Pinned condition, but you stay Grappled.
  • Tie up a pinned opponent.
  • With a tied up opponent you've tied them up with rope or similar. They have a worse condition of Grappled, and must make a Grapple attempt against your ropes, DC = 20 + your Combat Maneuver Bonus. This leaves you free to go harass someone else.

    I lost the grapple...

    You're Grappled! -4 Dex, -2 on all attack rolls, and Combat Maneuvers that aren't Grapple!
    You MUST break the Grapple to get out of it.
    Standard action to Grapple against the opponent's CMD.

    If you win:

  • You can break the Grapple and you're free! With a move action left.
  • You can reverse the grapple so you get the +5, and your opponent cannot simply break the Grapple as a free action.
  • Alternately ignore trying to break the Grapple at all.

  • Cast a spell. (Concentration check, DC = 10 + Spell level + opp's CMBonus).
  • Do anything that doesn't require two hands (go on, take a selfie).
  • Attack with a light or one-handed weapon as a full attack action if you like! (Don't forget your grappled condition when doing so, -2 to all attacks, -4 Dexterity as well).

  • Overrun

    As a Standard action you can run through an enemies square. You must be moving to Overrun, so you use this during a Move action, or with a Charge (this just gives +2 to your CMB, you don't get an Attack at the end of the Charge). You can only Overrun someone your size +1, so Halflings can Overrun Humans, but not Horses. Horses can Overrun both Humans and Horses, but not Clockwork Dragons. Likewise, if you don't have the Improved Overrun feat then whoever you're running into gets an attack of opportunity against you.

    If your CMB doesn't beat their CMD then you stop in the square just before them. If there's creatures in the way then you stop in the closest free square towards them. This may happen if your allies let you pass to get to the opponent, but you still fail your check.
    +When you make the Overrun your opponent can choose to avoid you. Easy! Don't make a check, you scared them silly and can continue your movement. If they do resist you make your check now, and beat their CMD! If you do, you pass through their square, sweet! If you beat their CMD by 5 or more you actually knock them prone, too. That's very good for Rogues.
    Do note: basilisks, spiders, Grindylows, etc, all get a +2 to avoid Overruns because they have EXTRA LEGS. This is +2 per extra leg, so a Centaur (four legs) gets +4 to resist, while a Spider (eight legs!!) gets +12.

    When is Overrun useful? When there's a henchmen blocking your charge at the big bad Necromancer, and your think your Barbarian Strength will overcome them easily! Or when you're a Halfing, cornered, but NEED to get outta this corner of the room.


    As a Standard action (this replaces an Attack) you can break anything your opponent is wearing, a weapon, armour, a pretty tunic they wouldn't give you, their fancy hat, etc. If you don't have Improved Sunder (see, I told you!) they get an attack of opportunity against you first.
    Otherwise roll your CMB against their CMD and win! Nothing special here, you either hit the weapon/item worn or you don't. Then roll for damage normally. An items hardness and health can be found on page 175, while "broken" is described in Appendix 2 on pg 565 (in short: broken weapons deal -2 to hit and -2 damage [while only Crit on 20s and only x2], Armor provides half the Armor bonus (round down!) but doubles it's Armor check penalty and Staves use 2 charges (!) per use. Stave is the plural of staff.


    You can trip someone your size +1, so a Halfling can't trip a Horse but can trip a Human, while a Horse can trip an Ogre but not a Colossal Goblin (who cast THAT spell?). You need Improved Trip to not suffer an attack of Opportunity, or to be wielding a Trip weapon.
    You roll your CMB against their CMD, and if you succeed, they're knocked prone. On the floor, +4 to melee hit them, +4 AC for them against ranged attacks, Sneak Attack active for Rogues. HOWEVER if you miss their CMD by 10 or more YOU are knocked prone. You were so eager to knock them over you threw your own balance off and fell on your arse! If you have a trip weapon however (Sickle, Flail, Trident, Heavy Flail, Guisarme, Halberd, Scythe, Kama, Whip, Spiked Chain, Dire Flail and gnome hooked Hammer) you can choose to drop the weapon instead, leaving you unarmed but upright.
    Again, any monster with more than 2 legs gets +2 for each extra leg, so an Octopus gets +12 to resist, while a Dog gets +4. Some monsters, like blobs and Oozes and flying monsters, creatures without legs, can't be tripped, but it will say that in the Bestiary entry anyway. Just make sure your PCs aren't tieing down and sneak attacking Gray Oozes, okay?


    Feinting is the most different from the other combat maneuvers, but probably my favourite. Make a Bluff skill check. This is you pretending to attack left, before you strike right and take off an arm. The number your skill check has to beat is 10 + your opponent's base attack bonus + plus their Wisdom modifier. UNLESS your opponent is trained in Sense Motive, in which case you must beat the opponent's Sense Motive bonus + 10. If your opponent has both, you must beat whichever is HIGHER, you can't choose which one to roll your CMB against.
    If you're Feinting against a nonhumanoid (Kobolds and Goblins, fine. Dire Wolves and Rat Kings, no!) then you get -4 to the check, because you're not Rat or Wolf shaped, so your intent is less clear to them. If you're Feinting against a creature of animal Intelligence (1 or 2 only) you get -8 (you can't bluff an idiot, you know?). If they don't have an Intelligence score (Zombies?) then you simply can't fool them, they haven't got any brains to trick.

    Assuming all that is good, and you succeed on your roll, your target loses their Dexterity bonus (against you only) until the END of your next turn, so you can hit them easier, and apply Sneak Attack if you're a Rogue.
    And in this case your opponent won't get an attack of opportunity against you at all -- you look like you're constantly attacking and aware -- but taking Improved Feint will reduce the Feint to a MOVE action only, allowing you to Feint and ATTACK in the same turn. It's thrilling, I do suggest it!

    And that's it for Combat Maneuver Bonuses and tricks! There are more maneuvers in the Advanced Players Guide and other PF books, but I'm not addressing anything from them, this is for new GMs, or players who want something simply explained better.

    Let me know whether this helped or not, I'm passionate about the game, any role playing, and nerds in general, so all the help I can provide I will. Also you can find me on FaceBook, but I only use it to refer back to this blog.

    Cheers for reading,
    Charlatan Fox.