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This question follows from this question: What Are The Minimum Stats To Cause Fall Damage When Grappling Plus Jumping?

In my answer to that question, I came up with the following minimum stats to pull off a jumping grapple:

Strength: 10 (standing long jump of 1.5')

Height: 5'8"

Movement Used: 6' (1.5' of jump height * 2 for jump * 2 for grapple)

With these stats, you can pull off the following series of moves:

  1. Grapple someone with your attack action

  2. Jump with your movement, burning 6' from your normal movement of 30'

  3. During the jump, you can lift the grappled opponent above your head, bringing them up to the height of the jump plus 1.5 times your height

  4. You and your opponent fall to the ground, you maintain the grapple

  5. If you have the minimum stats and you were successful up to this point, then:

    • You've brought your grappled opponent 10' in the air
    • You've jumped 1.5' yourself
    • Your opponent will have suffered 1d6 fall damage and landed prone, still grappled
    • You've landed still standing up

NOTE: The grapple is maintained after the landing! This seems to be a point of confusion. There are only four ways to break a grapple:

  • You end it willingly, ignoring the action economy
  • The grappled target uses an action to break from the grapple
  • The grappler becomes incapacitated
  • The grappler is forcefully separated from their target beyond the grappler's reach, as with Thunderwave

Falling prone from a suplex fulfills none of these conditions, and so the grapple is maintained. Below are the passages from RAW that support this.

PHB pg. 195

Grappling

If you succeed, you subject the target to the grappled condition (see appendix A). The condition specifies the things that end it, and you can release the target whenever you like (no action required).

Escaping a Grapple. A grappled creature can use its action to escape. To do so, it must succeed on a Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check contested by your Strength (Athletics) check.

PHB pg. 290

Grappled

  • The condition ends if the grappler is incapacitated
  • The condition also ends if an effect removes the grappled creature from the reach of the grappler or grappling effect, such as when a creature is hurled away by the thunderwave spell.

The fact you can jump and lift the grappled target with you is RAW, as in the following passage:

PHB pg. 195

Moving a Grappled Creature.

When you move, you can drag or carry the grappled creature with you, but your speed is halved, unless the creature is two or more sizes smaller than you.

And you will be able to lift a grappled creature according to the rules governing lifting.

PHB pg. 176

Push, Drag, or Lift.

You can push, drag, or lift a weight in pounds up to twice your carrying capacity (or 30 times your Strength score). While pushing or dragging weight in excess of your carrying capacity, your speed drops to 5 feet.

Assuming your Strength score actually meets the required carrying capacity (you can lift 300lbs at 10 Strength, but your carrying capacity is 150lbs), then your speed does not drop to 5' and you can perform a standing high jump.

If the target is heavier than your lifting capacity, then for argument's sake, let's say you had a higher Strength score that lets you pull off this move.

If you are successful up to this point, you can attempt to lift the grappled opponent above your head up to the jump height plus 1.5 times your height.

PHB pg. 182

High Jump

You can extend your arms half your height above yourself during the jump. Thus, you can reach above you a distance equal to the height of the jump plus 1 1/2 times your height.

The midjump lift may need a Strength (Athletics) check. This check can be done as part of your movement, as implied in the following passage:

PHB pg. 175

Athletics

Your Strength (Athletics) check covers difficult situations you encounter while climbing, jumping, or swimming. Examples include the following activities:

  • You try to jump an unusually long distance or pull off a stunt midjump.

The Spam Part

A midjump stunt is implied that it is done as part of your movement, not your action. If that is true, doing the sequence of steps I laid out above, you will have eaten up only 6' of your movement per suplex, out of presumably a 30' total. A character who can move 30' can repeat this five times, potentially inflicting 5d6 fall damage if they spam it.

Note this is possible at level 1. Damage doesn't scale, though.

The Question

  1. Can you do this process more than once until you run out of movement, on the same turn?

  2. A case can be made that the ability check midjump can be ruled as an action. But is that ruling RAW?

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For a bit of RL-context, I just spoke with an ex-olympic-lifter colleague of mine who said that (a) snatching one's body weight is totally-reasonable; (b) at 80% max-weight he'd sometimes speed-cycle through 5 snatches in ~10 sec.; (c) afterward "you're fighting exhaustion and need a five-minute break and then a warm-up again." (He introduced the word 'exhaustion' into the conversation unprompted.) So if you were looking for some rulings-guidance, there's some touchstoning. – nitsua60 Mar 19 at 14:59
up vote 14 down vote accepted

No.

When lifting the other character you are either taking an action, or you interacting with an object -- depending on your DM's rulings.

If the DM rules that the pile driver is an attack (which I'd argue it is), that would cost you an action, and you can only repeat it if you have movement and an action to spend on it. This assumes you've grappled them, and have an attack left.

If the DM rules you are use an object. If it wasn't an enemy, you'd only be allowed to pick it up once. Once you drop it (which is free), it is no longer a free action to pick it up again. Use An Object action:

You normally interact with an object while doing something else, such as when you draw a sword as part of an attack. When an object requires your action for its use, you take the Use an Object action. This action is also useful when you want to interact with more than one object on your turn. (PHB 193)

Since you can't lift someone and do something else, it might take a full action to lift someone above your head. Remember that a round is 6 seconds, dropping someone more than once (or twice if you have the actions for it) would take about that long. Moreover, really can't lift someone and jump while doing something else, so it could be argued it can't be an interaction and must be a "Use Object" action.

To rule otherwise would allow a free 5d6 damage without using any action, and that, while awesome the first time (and a DM may allow it once, by Rule of Cool), is game breaking.

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Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – wax eagle Mar 18 at 17:31
    
I'm accepting this answer because it addresses the issue in the question directly, produces rulings that deal with the issues presented, and supports those rulings with RAW. – markovchain Mar 19 at 2:48

There are some interesting interpretations of the rules that you have made, but ultimately a strict reading of the rules does not support the suplex train.

If you read the rules for pushing, dragging and lifting closely, you can see the actual mode of transportation is merely for descriptive purposes. The rule is an abstraction like many others in the 5e PHB. All it really states is the strength score you need to move an objects of particular weights and the costs of not meeting those requirements.

Once again, the rules for grappling have a similar issue. They are an abstraction. It doesn't matter if you are dragging or carrying the target. The rule only tells you that you are able to move them and the cost. At best you could use the rule to justify a shared course by the grappler and target.

There are no explicit rules for lifting an opponent over your head in the 5e PHB as far as I am aware. Such an action would be arbitrated by the DM with a ruling as many other things in 5e D&D.

Edit: Depending on your gaming philosophic, trying to circumvent existing mechanics by using reinterpreting other mechanics in an unintended way could be considered counter to RAW. Situations involving melee attacks made without a weapon (improvised, magical or otherwise) can be covered by the unarmed strike rule.

SRD p.95

"Instead of using a weapon to make a melee weapon attack, you can use an unarmed strike: a punch, kick, head-­‐‑butt, or similar forceful blow (none of which count as weapons)."

A pile driver is certainly a forceful blow, an attack, and does not use a weapon. It fits the criteria of the mechanic exactly.

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1  
I think that's better-worded, now. And I agree that interpreting some unusual combination in a way that runs rough-shod over simpler, clearer treatments might be considered RAW-violating. My canons of statutory construction agree that we should avoid reading clauses in a way that moot others when possible. But I'm not convinced this is one of those cases: "lift you up+slam you down=falling damage" seems like a better fit than "motivate you to hit the earth hard=unarmed strike". (Just one man's opinion.) – nitsua60 Mar 18 at 23:43
    
FWIW I would allow something much more interesting at my own table with appropriate rulings given the context. I was under the impression we were avoiding GM fiat for this situation though, thus why I was trying to stick with the strictest reading of what is defined as possible by the rules. – jack pribble Mar 19 at 2:47

Nope, they don't even take damage the first time

The grapple can not be maintained as you have laid out. I'm using the interpretation that a jumping creature does not take damage from the fall. This interpretation is further supported by the JC tweets stating a fall to be a drop the exceeds the distance of the jump. The creature you're grappling either moves with you or is carried. If it moves with you then it is jumping as well and so takes no damage on landing. If it's being carried it isn't falling and so takes no damage on landing. In either case this doesn't work as you have laid it out.

Nope, you'll only be able to do it once

Alternatively you could end the grapple at the height of your jump and drop them. Ignoring everything about jumping with your opponent, your opponent taking damage from the fall, lifting them above your head, etc this situation is simply, "Can I grapple an opponent multiple times on the same turn?". It takes an action to apply Grapple. After you've released them you would need to take another action to apply Grapple again. Unless you have many extra actions this will not work.

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You can't spam suplex (not sure if that is the right move, I don't know wrestling) on your opponent for 5d6 damage in one round. I would have personally let this happen at most once, and that would have been before I found this page. After that I would have used a ruling like Striech's "Use Object" Action, or if I couldn't find a suitable ruling, house ruling it.

But let us assume for a moment that your DM is happy to allow this for whatever reason. Let's stretch it farther, to the point that no reasonable DM could allow. The biggest limiting factor is that you have to jump, which uses movement. But consider this: high jump height is 3ft + Str mod + 1.5x height if you stretch your arms up. A character with a -3 Strength modifier would give us 3 - 3 + 1.5x height or just 1.5x height which comes purely from reaching hands above head, mathematically proving that a character can lift something to 1.5x their height into the air while standing still.

Now, if we know that we can lift things to one and a half our height without expending any movement, how tall do we need to be to lift someone up 10 feet without moving?

10' = 1.5 * height

height = 10' / 1.5

height = 6 and 2/3, or 6' 8"

This is not an unreasonable height for a half-orc, who you would potentially be choosing as a race already for the +2 Strength bonus. Maybe go 6' 9" or 6' 10" to give you a bit of leeway at the top so you don't have to balance your foe on your fingertips.

This means that if your DM doesn't want to rule out the Suplex Spam by making you spend an Action to lift and slam, then a 6' 8" character can perform the combo an infinite number of times per turn. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Infiniplex.

Also, the only reason I do the -3 Strength mod high jump is to show mathematically, there is no difference between a character reaching above their head during a high jump, and while standing still. Even though it could be inferred from the RAW, I wanted something a bit more founded than inference to work with.

You can extend your arms half your height above yourself during the jump. Thus, you can reach above you a distance equal to the height of the jump plus 1 and 1/2 times your height.

(Emphasis mine)

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You should be able to accomplish this.

Rules as written, you can lift and jump with a creature you have grappled. Realistic physics suggests you must lift before jumping, since you cannot jump high enough to lift 200+lbs above your head and maintain altitude. Equal and opposite reactions. Physics aside, the rules don't specify an order, but you really should take it into consideration.

Per your calculations, you can lift a creature up to 1.5x your height (at 5'8") 8.5 feet into the air. You can then use your movement to jump from standing 1.5 to 4 feet into the air (Strength modifier +0 to +5 respectively). This puts our friend at 10-14 feet, which does meet requirements for falling damage. He will take 1d6 damage and fall prone. You will remain where you are with half of your movement minus your jump height (moving a grappled creature, PHB 195), unless you choose to fall onto him (which might deal more damage, at your DM's discretion).

Are they still grappled?

If you slam your enemy into the ground, one could argue that you're making an improvised attack. Maintaining a proper grip and not injuring yourself fits pretty well with the rules as intended for improvised attacks, so I would say you need to use one of your attacks if you choose to maintain your grip. This might change your damage from a 1d6 to a 1d4 depending on your DM's interpretation (or it might add). This, i think, is walking the line of the rules as intended. Talk to your DM.

However, if you throw your target, he's moved beyond your reach and therefore your grapple is not maintained.

Can I do it more than once?

Grappling a creature is an attack action, so if you have mutli-attack, you can make multiple grapple attacks (Grappling, PHB 195). Each attempt requires a contest using your strength against their strength or dexterity (their choice). You do need to keep track of your movement, since it is halved when moving a grappled creature.

Is it overpowered?

Not at all. At best, you're dealing 1d6 per attack and making the creature prone. While this does potentially limit it's movement speed, you're trading damage for making your enemy prone. Depending on your strength and theirs, it might be harder to grapple and throw than it is to straight up attack. Things like this are what make melee fighters fun.

Is it realistic?

It's up to your DM. Each round is 6 seconds. You're really going to lift a guy above your head and throw him more than once in that time span? Not to mention, lifting, moving, and dragging weight is far different from lifting it above your head. Try and drag 300 lbs. Okay, now try to lift 300 lbs above your head. Good luck convincing your DM that you can do that. The rules as written, however, do not deny you at all. I think the rules as intended are being severely broken. Realistically speaking, your DM might make lifting the enemy another strength contest (I certainly would). It might be silly, but if that's the campaign you're running, go for it!

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