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From my understanding a grab-based power involves the following:

  1. The user spends a standard action to make a grab attack on the target.
  2. The target can resist the grab as per the normal grab action rules, using Strength or Dodge.
  3. If the target fails to resist the grab he then needs to resist the normal effects of the power (for example toughness for a damage power)

My question is whether this grab attack that is made as part of using the power is supposed to be an actual grab attempt that remains in effect if the target fails the grab resistance check or merely an additional resistance check that must be overcome that is based on grabbing rules.

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The rules for this are not entirely clear. The Flaw Grab-Based reads:

An attack effect with this flaw requires you to successfully grab a target before using the effect (see Grab). This generally applies to an effect that is close range, since you have to be in close combat to grab anyway. If the effect’s default range is not close, apply the Close modifier as well. If you do not succeed on the grab, you cannot use the effect. If your grab attempt succeeds, the effect occurs automatically as a reaction.

Example: Leech has a draining touch that is a Grab-Based Weaken Strength effect. So the monstrous villain has to take a standard action and make a grab first in order to use it. If his close attack check hits, the target makes a Dodge or Fortitude resistance check against Leech’s Strength. If it fails, the target then makes the Fortitude resistance check against the villain’s Weaken effect to see how much Strength Leech drains away.

This flaw is essentially a form of Resistible, with a grab check rather than a regular resistance check (see the Resistible flaw for more).

(per the Grab-Based flaw on the D20 HeroSRD Modifiers page.

From that, we can take away two things:

  1. This follows the normal grapple rules.
  2. This is partially based on the Resistable flaw

If a power is Resistable, it is resisted separately each time you use it. That said, your target gets a chance to Escape (a move action) each round they are grappled, so it pretty much covers that aspect of Resistable.

In the end, as with most questions where there is no 'official' answer, I'd talk to your GM. For a game I was running, I would consider it sensible for the Grab to remain after the power fires (as long as it makes sense for it to do so - a Grab-Based Affects Others Only Teleport obviously wouldn't leave you grappling your target after a successful attack!) and permit you to continue using the Grab-Based attack each round without having to re-grab each time. If your target was successful in an Escape, of course, you would have to re-grab.

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