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Inspired by the Stack o' Mounts question.

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The above situation actually happens more than you'd expect in Belgian comics: a really strong man grabs one of his enemies by the legs and uses him as an improvised club to beat up his foes. In some comics, the strong man uses a friend of his, who surprisingly nearly always gets off without any injuries, or a few bruises at the most.

How would one go about implementing a brawl like this in D&D 4th edition? On my first thoughts, I'd assume this would involve the grappling rules and the improvised weapons rule. Can this work?

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+1 for referring Franco-Belgian comics. But are the people in question of the same size, or is the clubber of a different size than the clubbee? –  Thomas Jacobs Aug 5 at 14:34
Usually the clubber is the same height as the clubbee. However, as you can see from the image, the clubber usually is far stronger and more muscular than the clubbee. There are also cases where the clubbee and the targets are sizeably smaller than the clubber (about equal in size to a 12 year old child). If the enemies are larger than the hero, they're usually fought in a classic cloud of dust and stars, or in such small numbers that clubbing is useless (1 or 2 at once). Examples of clubbers (for googling) are Jerom (from Spike and Suzy), Nero and Jan Spier (from the image, which shows Nero). –  Nate Kerkhofs Aug 5 at 14:39
4e's mechanics are geared for a more epic/heroic experience and don't really support slapstick "toon" violence; if that's the playstyle you're looking for, you could put together a new game-recommendation question. Describe what your group likes about 4e, and the slapstick play experience you're hoping for, and any other relevant info like group size, session length, and setting. We might be able to help you find a system designed to more gracefully support your desired experience. –  BESW Aug 5 at 23:31

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

If the creature were willing, you might be able to use him as an improvised two handed weapon (there is no weight max on two handed improvised weapons, if you can lift it, you can hit with it). Presumably a character attempting this would have enough strength to do so. Even so, no matter what, this should require an athletics check to life the creature into a position that you could strike with it.

This would provide 1d8 damage, but you wouldn't get a proficiency bonus, and there are no magic item properties (meaning that your odds of hitting past L1 or so would be abysmally low). The Arena Fighter can get this up to 1d10 and gains a +2 proficiency bonus. Assuming he manages to pick up a Ki Focus via an MC, background or other feat, he would get a magic item bonus on attacks (maybe, it's a touch unclear to me whether getting a proficiency bonus counts as being proficient).

We'll assume you get proficiency via arena fighter and that you're using a Ki Focus, making this a viable strategy. What is the sequence of moves required to get this into place? Well that's completely up to house rules. Here's what I'd do if I was prompted in a game.

  • Willing Creature:

    • make an athletics check to lift an adjacent target, moderate DC for level
    • make attack using improvised weapon rules (+2/1d10 damage).
    • can be broken at any time by willing party. weapon creature is prone when the grab is finished.
  • Unwilling Creature:

    • make a grab attack on the creature
    • if the grab succeeds, make the athletics check, hard DC for level
    • make attack using improvised weapon rules (+2/1d10 damage)
    • can be broken by grab rules, the creature who wants to move must use standard grabbed creature moving rules (standard action with the creature getting a check I think).

This is a cool trick if a player wanted to do it once or twice. But I would issue a warning in my game prior to an attempt that this would then become a viable strategy for future monsters who are likely to be much, much stronger than their strongest character.

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Also, the Fighter Brawler is specifically about using a free hand to do things to opponents, Since those are class path powers they probably shouldnt be diluted into an action anyone can take. –  Joshua Aslan Smith Aug 5 at 17:48
@JoshuaAslanSmith yeah, this should be a PITA to do without a power that lets you. –  wax eagle Aug 5 at 17:53
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. If the improvised club is alive, it seems to me that when he collides with another enemy, he should take damage too (perhaps influenced by his armour class). –  JasonSmith Oct 24 at 9:05
@JasonSmith probably. It's debatable, and generally I'd rather not punish creative behavior like this. –  wax eagle Oct 24 at 9:57

Represent this thematically. Make your multi-target attacks represent this sort of thing without changing the rules. Assume that the enemy is picked up and put down as part of the same attack, and put down in their original spot unless a power allows for it.

This would work best for a monk. Some quick ideas for Level 1 powers:

Centered Flurry of Blows: Add to any attack; the flurried enemy is the one you picked up.

Five Storms (attack): Pick up an enemy, swing them over your head to knock other adjacent enemies, and slam them down again.

Drunken Monkey (attack): Pick up an enemy and throw them at another enemy.

Whirling Mantis Step: Charge around with both arms out, sweeping enemies together, then smash them against each other.

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No, almost certainly not. In almost all cases involving two creatures of nominally equal size, trying to do this would simply overbalance the assailant.


By the RAW, not the way you described I shouldn't think. Mostly for the same reason that you can use a bar stool as improvised weapon, but not the bar. It's just too big to make an effective weapon. Assuming you could somehow paralyze the creature, it might be possible for a character that could use a weapon of that size.

On the other hand, this is essentially what a grapple-as-throw represents.

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Mechanically, the only way to 'hold' a creature is a grab. Grabbing just immobilises the target, and you can take an action to 'try' (making a strength attack) to drag the target. That's the only legal interaction. (short of utility powers, the Fighter power Forceful Drag for example lets you.... drag the creature without having to make the Str attack)

So as far as rules go, without going into powers since the latter are allowed to override the rules, no.

The only time I have seen a creature being used as a weapon is by the Cave Troll (DMG 157) who can grab and then make a special attack harming both a target and the grabbee, and even then a Troll is at least one size category larger than a PC. (Large versus Medium/small).

So, houserules. I have a player taking the role of a (relatively large) Gnoll Fighter-Brawler. We have agreed that he can use a standard action while grabbing a creature of a lower size category to fling it at a target, using athletics checks and nebulous math.

Picking up and wielding/hurling a creature of your size wouldn't be believable until the players hit Epic where one almost expects one to beat someone over the head with their comrade, though by then it would be unlikely to be more effective than using magical weaponry. (if not, then the magical weaponry is clearly lacking)

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