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Old 06-10-2019, 02:37 PM   #1
Dalin
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Saint Paul, MN
Default Grave of the Pirate Queen - Grappling question

I'm going to mention an early encounter from "Grave of the Pirate Queen" (Pyramid 3/98) as a prelude to some questions about when monsters use grappling attacks with unusual appendages. If you're likely to be a player in this adventure at some point, you may want to skip this thread, though it's not a particularly consequential encounter.




The Giant Crab in David Pulver's adventure tries to grapple foes with its claws. Here's the pertinent text from its description: "It enjoys grabbing prey and pulling them apart. . . . Any hit counts as a grapple, regardless of whether it penetrates DR." Bizarrely, after multiple decades of playing GURPS, I have almost never used the grappling rules, and I haven't used them in DFRPG yet. (I've read Douglas Cole's Fantastic Dungeon Grappling, but haven't used them yet either. For shame, I know.) As I've considered the crab battle, I've been mulling over the following questions (assume the standard grappling rules (Exploits, p. 40-41):
  1. As it says above, if the crab hits, it grapples automatically. That's pretty simple. Grappling is usually a close range maneuver, but the crab's claws have range 1. So, in terms of the battle map, if it grapples, should I move the character onto one of the crab's hexes, or would this be an exception to the close-range rule?
  2. Normally, a grappled character can only Attack or All-Out Attack with a reach "C" weapon or their fists. In this case, I'm thinking I would waive that and allow reach 1 weapons since the claws have reach 1. Thoughts?
  3. Once the crab has a character grappled in one claw, that claw can't attack again without letting go, right? Without Constriction or something like that, the claw can't slowly squeeze the character to death. (Though I suppose the crab could grapple someone's neck and then use the Strangle option.)
  4. The effect of "grabbing prey and pulling them apart" would be represented by grappling with one claw and then repeatedly attacking with the second claw, counting on the defense penalties (no retreat, -2 block/parry, -1 dodge) to provide better odds than simply attacking twice. (I haven't run the math to see if this is true.)
  5. A cunning crab versus an armed biped might strike once to the torso to get an initial grapple (without taking any hit location penalties). Then attack the weapon arm with the other claw. If successful, their weapon is neutralized and the other claw can let go and start attacking. Yeah?
  6. From the crab's perspective, does a Takedown or Pin make tactical sense?
The reality is that there will be a full party of delvers here, so the crab will likely become sushi pretty quickly, but I'm enjoying thinking this through.

Last edited by Dalin; 06-10-2019 at 11:00 PM. Reason: Adjusted framing of the question since my players don't have to avoid it anymore.
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Old 06-10-2019, 10:59 PM   #2
Dalin
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Saint Paul, MN
Default Re: Grave of the Pirate Queen - Grappling question

Well, we played through the encounter first thing. As expected, the party mopped the floor with it, but it did knock a PC unconscious in its first surprise attack. The party made enough noise that the crab came out of its lair, catching one of the characters from behind. It attacked with both claws, hitting twice, and immediately knocking him unconscious. I described it as grappling him with the first claw, so the player (and the rest of the group) worried that he would be torn to shreds in short order. The crab dodged the scout's shot to the eye. Then the holy warrior took a move and attack. She was lucky, hitting twice (she has Extra Attack), once on each "arm." The crab failed to defend, had both claws crippled, and failed its unconsciousness roll. Down!


I am still curious about the questions I raised on the OP, just from a rules perspective. The opening attack was exciting enough that I'm inclined to have other clawed grapplers in the future, perhaps hunting in packs...
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Old 06-13-2019, 07:57 AM   #3
martinl
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Default Re: Grave of the Pirate Queen - Grappling question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dalin View Post
Once the crab has a character grappled in one claw, that claw can't attack again without letting go, right? Without Constriction or something like that, the claw can't slowly squeeze the character to death. ...Though I suppose the crab could grapple someone's neck and then use the Strangle option.
I often to allow strong things to crush weak things with the strangling rules even without a neck grapple. Griz hugs, barbarians crushing skulls, and giant crabs getting you by the torso all count.
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