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I've noticed that in the monster block of Monster Vault creatures with a special grab ability/attack the escape DC for their grab is explicitly stated (example: Mind Flayer Thrall Master).

Tentacles - At-Will
Requirement: The mind flayer must not have a creature grabbed.
Attack: Melee 1 (one creature); +17 vs. Reflex. This attack automatically hits a dazed or stunned target.
Hit: 3d6 + 5 damage, and the mind flayer grabs the target (escape DC 21) if it does not have a creature grabbed.

But, as far that I know, escaping a grab is either a [grabbed's] Athletics vs. [grabber's] Fortitude check or an Acrobatics vs. Reflex check.

You attempt to escape from an enemy who has grabbed you (see “Grab”). Other immobilizing effects might let you make escape attempts.

ESCAPE: MOVE ACTION

Acrobatics or Athletics: Make an Acrobatics check vs. Reflex or an Athletics check vs. Fortitude against the creature or effect that immobilized you.

Check: Resolve your check.
Success: You end the grab and can shift as part of this move action.
Failure: You’re still grabbed.

In the example above, the escape DC 21 doesn't match neither the Fortitude (23) nor the Reflex (27) defense of the monster.

Is this intended as an alternate (and easier) DC for both the Athletics and Acrobatics checks to escape? (Because, of course, specific beats general?)

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Yes

In general, Grab DCs have appeared using the new skill DCs because defenses scale differently than skills. All grab DCs should use skill DCs rather than defenses.

Here's a discussion of how the math is broken. While DDI doesn't have an updated reference, the escape rules haven't changed since PH1. Amusingly, the discussion suggests that skills are overpowered compared to defenses. As it was written in 2008, almost certainly looking at lower-level math, the assertion was not wrong.

Skills advance by half-level (and, if lucky, correspond to primary stats.) Monster defenses advance by level. In Low Heroic, skills should generally beat defenses due to the +5 static modifier, but are quickly left in the dust in paragon and beyond.

I encourage you to make escaping grabs a moderate check for the monster's level.

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Good! Even if it steals away most of the beauty 4E was used to provide in this field (skills vs. defenses was awesome). –  Erik Burigo Apr 18 '11 at 9:30
    
Uhm... minor side-quest(ion): Do monsters follow the same rule? Are they supposed to beat a moderate DC for the grabber's level? –  Erik Burigo Apr 18 '11 at 13:04
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Officially: Damnfino. Unofficially, monster skills are... "special." And because 635/4315 mobs are trained in athletics, and only 249/4315 are trained in acrobatics for a total of (635+249-105)/4315 18% of mobs officially trained in modes of escape, not counting teleporters. Brawling fighters have fort equal or higher than AC, With a level 20 fighter having fort around 39 or so, and an elder blue dragon having athletics +22 the right build should auto-lockdown anything. Moderate DC at level 20 is 25 so just using that won't work. Deserves a real question. –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Apr 18 '11 at 13:53
    
It looks like auto-lockdown in paragon has been experienced in play: community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/24841577/… But the numbers are so screwy that actual math would be required to figure out a good patch for a high-level brawling fighter. –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Apr 18 '11 at 14:03
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