For years, we gamers have mocked RPGs for complex and inane grappling rules. And thanks to a recent gag on Darths and Droids, I find myself ready to mock them as well.
Only, I don't have to. Because Skip Williams shows us exactly why even the BASICS don't work — in what can only be described as the biggest dose of irony the internet has ever seen — I really don't need a punchline to this level of mockery!
To put my money where my mouth is, here is my attempt to make an alternative to the horror that is D&D Grappling.
First. Let's start with the fact that D&D's combat rules are based on miniature play and have never changed. Monks "punching" their opponents is stupid enough, but alright. Trying to bear hug during a skirmish is beyond stupid.
So. To get back to where grappling was when Gygax wrote that annoying little paragraph back in 1st Edition, let's pretend that it's not about "hurting" an opponent, but about "holding" an opponent.
Also note, these are short-hand notes. They could be expanded a little, but this is certainly only about 300 words of text (max) in any rulebook.
Roll your touch attack to grapple. However, the opponent's STR should also come into play, so add that to his AC as well. Unless he's subdued, he's not going to sit there and let you put your hands on him. There's no AOO. While it makes sense, it also slows play. 3.x is already a slugfest to play through. Let's keep it moving.
If you fail, then nothing happens. Move on.
If you succeed, you now have a HOLD on your opponent.
Whlie HELD, the opponent suffers a penalty to AC and BAB equal to the STR bonus + Size modifer (a small creature is less likely to HOLD you and a large one MORE likely) of the person holding him (minimum 1). Since this is a standard rule of the game (now). Everyone should just have a GRAPPLE stat on their character sheet. If this reduces the target's AC below 10, he is considered flat-footed. If this reduces the target's AC below 1, he is considered prone (pulled to the ground).
To extend the hold, the attacker must succeed at a contested Strength check. Failure does not lose the hold, but success adds 1 to the penalty for being Held.
At anytime, the target may use a Standard action or Move action (at -4) to break the hold, by making a contested Strength check. The attacker gets a bonus to the check for an extended hold (equal to the bonus accumulated so far). Watch wrestling. The longer you're held, the more tired you get.
Small creatures need to work en masse to pull a large creature down. Every creature beyond the first adds to the HOLD penalty. The increase is equal to the STR bonus + Size modifer of the person holding him, minimum 1. Get enough small creatures together and you can pull someone large down.
That's it. Done.
Grappling doesn't do damage. It holds people in place.