Yeah, we all know that the oWoD grappling rules… make the baby Cthulhu giggle. So I’m trying to give them a little help. I made an exhaustive review of the grappling rules for WtA, VtM, MtA and the nWoD (which has a better system for grappling than oWoD does though it’s still hardly perfect) in order to construct this, and I like to think that the results will be a touch more useful and cover a few more of the possibilities. These rules are not presently set in stone, and are open to discussion and adjustment. I am using these rules in my current Werewolf Chronicle: Awakening.
House Rules for Grappling
Grappling is the act of seizing and holding an opponent with the intent to immobilize or harm him. The attack begins with the attacker taking in a Strength + Brawl roll. Success indicates that the attacker has grappled his opponent. The target is held until his next action. In each subsequent turn, combatants act on their orders in the initiative. Once a grapple has been initiated, only actions related to the grapple are allowed until one combatant breaks free. Characters in Hispo or Lupus form cannot initiate grapples; they must perform Jaw Lock maneuvers instead (they are free to attempt to escape grapples, however, or to bite an opponent that has given them the opportunity – see below). A character that has grappled another (IE the aggressor) can perform one of the following maneuvers on their next action:
- Hold: This attack inflicts no damage, as the intent is to immobilize rather than injure the subject. The attacker holds the target until the subject’s next action. At that time, both combatants roll resisted Strength + Brawl actions; the subject remains immobilized (able to take no other action) until she rolls more successes than the attacker does. Traits: Strength + Brawl, Difficulty: 6 Actions: 1
- Clinch/Slam: A combatant can inflict Strength bashing damage automatically by squeezing on pressure points, bashing their head against a table and so on. Consider the character’s most recent grapple roll to be the attack roll for purposes of additional damage dice on this attack (IE if the grappling character scored three successes to grapple or overcame the victim’s most recent attempt to escape by three successes, then two additional damage dice are rolled for the clinch). Damage: Strength (Bashing) Actions: 1
- Release: The attacker can always let their victim go, of course.
- Render Opponent Prone: On a successful roll, Both combatants fall to the ground. Either party must break the hold in order to stand again in a subsequent turn. Rising is considered an action in a turn. A prone character that has not had the opportunity to rise is treated as partially immobilized. Traits: Strength + Brawl, Difficulty: 6, Actions: 1
- Throw: The character simultaneously releases his opponent from the grapple and propels him against the largest available blunt object: the planet itself (failing that, a wall, floor or handy table will suffice). The target must roll Dexterity + Athletics (difficulty 8) or suffer a knockdown (see “Maneuver Complications,” p. 213/p. 188). Traits: Strength + Brawl, Difficulty: 7, Damage: Strength (Bashing), Actions: 1
- Bite: (Vampires, humans and similar creatures lacking extended snouts like a Crinos Garou can only bite while grappling, and use the following rules) On the action following the successful grapple, the player may declare the bite attempt and make a roll as follows. Traits: Dexterity + Brawl, Difficulty: 6, Accuracy: +1, Damage: Strength +1 A (Vampires), Strength -1 L (humans or Glabro form Garou) Actions:1
- Rend: Certain supernatural creatures are endowed with dangerous claws and even multiple sets of them on multifarious limbs, and are inclined to leaping atop a victim and pinning or restraining it then rending and raking it with their talons. In concept it is pretty equivalent to a Vampire’s combat bite: the character must first grapple before executing this maneuver, which takes advantage of being in close quarters and equipped with multiple sets of claws to savage the target. A victim of this attack is not released from their grapple, however, just as if they had been subjected to a clinch or a vampire bite, and must still attempt to either reverse the hold or escape before they can retaliate. Traits: Dexterity + Brawl, Difficulty: 6, Accuracy: +1, Damage: As a Claw attack. Actions: 1
- Draw weapon: With one or more successes, your character reaches a weapon on his person, on his opponent or nearby. The weapon has to be small, such as a knife or small gun (a pistol), in order to be brought to bear in grappling combat. Traits: Dexterity + Brawl, Difficulty: 6, Actions: 1
- Attack with Drawn Weapon: An attack is made with a drawn weapon. The kind of damage is appropriate to the weapon used – bashing for brass knuckles or lethal for a knife or pistol. A Melee or Firearms roll is not made under these circumstances, because it’s your character’s ability to overpower his opponent in grappling combat that dictates how well the weapon is used. Traits: Strength + Brawl, Difficulty: 6. Damage: As weapon (+2 dice for pistols, or rubber bullets inflict lethal rather than bashing damage), Actions: 1
- Turn Drawn Weapon: If your character’s opponent has a weapon drawn in a grapple, your character may seek to turn the weapon on her enemy. Her action is dedicated to gaining control of the weapon and turning it, even while it’s still in her opponent’s hand. Success indicates control of the weapon, but actually attacking with the weapon requires a separate action. Thus, control of a weapon can be wrestled over from turn to turn in a grapple, with each combatant seeking to gain control and then make an attack. Traits: Strength + Brawl (opposed), Difficulty: 6, Actions: 1
- Disarm: If you get one or more successes on this action, your character manages to pry an object from his opponent’s hand. Taking possession of the item thereafter (in another turn) is the equivalent of drawing a weapon (see above). No damage is inflicted. Traits: Strength + Brawl (opposed), Difficulty: 6, Actions: 1
- Human Shield: – On a successful roll, the character uses his victim as improvised cover against incoming attacks. Each success increases the difficulty of attacks against the character by one (maximum 3). Attacks that miss due to this increased difficulty may be considered to have hit the held character instead. Traits: Strength + Brawl, Difficulty: 6 (perhaps we should just treat this as Immobilize because shooting into a grapple is already at a +2 difficulty by default)
A character that has been grappled (the defender) can also only take certain actions, as detailed below:
- Escape/Reverse: The defender can try to break free. Both combatants roll resisted Strength + Brawl actions. If the defender wins, then they have escaped the hold. If the attacker wins, then they have managed to keep the character immobilized for the course of this action. A character that has been grappled by multiple opponents rolls to escape the opponent with the highest Strength + Brawl pool, with a penalty of one die per additional opponent that has grappled him, and a success will free him of all adversaries. The defender can also try to not only break free, but to turn things around and take over as the attacker, which requires beating the attacker’s roll by two or more successes. Traits: Strength + Brawl, Difficulty: 6
- Clinch: If the attacker’s last action was a clinch, bite or rend, then the defender can return the favor, detailed as above, because the attacker is focusing more on hurting the character than just hanging on and keeping the defender pinned. Otherwise, they may only attempt to escape or reverse the hold. Damage: Strength (Bashing)
Complications: Characters not involved in the grapple may initiate Melee or Brawl attacks against either party. Ranged attacks suffer a +2 difficulty for each character involved in the grapple that the shooter does not want to hit. Burst fire from automatic weaponry is instead treated as having targeted all grappling combatants; a standard attack roll is made against each. Characters engaged in grappling may not dodge.