Need help figuring out these mechanics. The Constructed Pugilist Brawler archetype gets a prosthesis he can upgrade with Grapnel Arm class feature, which gives him an inbuilt Grappling Hook. The issue is that there is no rule on how to detach it from wherever it hooks.

  • The core grappling hook has no such info
  • Experimental Gunslinger needs to roll Strength check vs his attack roll used to attach his grappling hook.
  • Grappling hook from Inner sea pirates needs 1 minute.

There's no consistency. What rules govern how the Brawler detaches their arm?

For reference, the Constructed Pugilist ability in question:

Grapnel Arm: The constructed pugilist can fire a grappling hook built into her prosthesis. The grappling hook is attached to a 40-foot-long fine chain affixed to the limb. The constructed pugilist can attack with the grappling hook as a standard action, making a ranged touch attack against the target. The grappling hook can’t be used as part of a full attack. On a successful hit, the grappling hook deals no damage, but it functions as though it had the grapple weapon special feature, except it requires only a hit (not a critical hit) and the grapple ends if the constructed pugilist moves more than 40 feet away from the grappled creature. The constructed limb can’t be used to make melee attacks until the grappling hook has been reloaded (a standard action).


2 Answers 2


The description of the limb modification (grapnel arm) of the brawler archetype constructed pugilist, in part, says

On a successful hit, the grappling hook deals no damage, but it functions as though it had the grapple weapon special feature, except it requires only a hit (not a critical hit) and the grapple ends if the constructed pugilist moves more than 40 feet away from the grappled creature. The constructed limb can’t be used to make melee attacks until the grappling hook has been reloaded (a standard action).

(Emphasis mine. Similarly, the weapon property grapple says, "If you move far enough away to be out of the weapon’s reach, you end the grapple with that action"—also see Weapons) Thus a constructed pugilist need only move 45 ft. away from her foe to end the grapple, freeing the grappling hook from the foe (or, generously, a protrusion, wall, or whatever). Alternatively, because the constructed pugilist started the grapple, she "can… release the grapple as a free action, removing the [grappled] condition from both [her] and the target." Either way, afterward, the constructed pugilist can take a standard action to reload the grappling hook so that the limb can be once more used to make melee attacks.

(By the way, after freeing the grappling hook yet before reloading the it, the constructed pugilist seems to be able to still make ranged touch attacks with the grappling hook. After all, ranged touch attacks are not melee attacks. This reader assumes that if this is allowed that the grappling hook and its chain are simply hurled rather than somehow launched as the grappling hook normally is after it's been reloaded.)

On grappling hooks and similar items

This reader agrees that the traditional and not-attached-by-a-chain-to-the-user's-arm grappling hook in its description offers no means of acquiring it again once it's been used, instead saying only

Throwing a grappling hook requires a ranged attack roll, treating the hook as a thrown weapon with a range increment of 10 feet. Objects with ample places to catch the hook have an AC of 5.

However, this GM would rule that it's unnecessary for the game to provide information on how to retrieve a grappling hook for the same reason it's unnecessary to provide information on retrieving any other item that excludes specific mechanics for retrieving it: absent specific rules to the contrary, anything reasonable—like the typical grappling hook—can usually be picked up by the typical creature if the creature takes a move action that provokes attacks of opportunity to pick up an item (see Combat).

(This GM would only use the grappling hook rule that says that It takes 1 minute to pry a grappling hook free (Pirates of the Inner Sea 18) during boarding actions. In the same vein, this GM would ignore the extraordinary ability innovation (grapple launcher) of the gunslinger archetype experimental gunslinger, those rules being unique to that archetype rather than appearing to be applicable generally.)

In my campaign…

With all this in mind, this GM would run things as follows:

  • A constructed pugilist can either take a free action or use her speed to move more than 40 ft. from whatever she's secured with the grappling hook of her limb modification (grapnel arm) to free the grappling hook from whatever it is she had secured it to, including, for example, creatures and structures. Thereafter she can take a standard action to reload the grappling hook. (I'd typically have nothing interesting occur between freeing and reloading, but others might—see below.)
  • Any creature that succeeds on a ranged attack roll to use a grappling hook for climbing and holds the line to which the grappling hook is attached can take a move action that provokes attacks of opportunity to dislodge the grappling hook and recover it and and the attached line.

Although I suspect it wouldn't often see much use, I'd also allow a constructed pugilist to take the pick up an item action to recover her line and grappling hook the same way she would any other typical object, imagining the constructed pugilist quickly gathering up both the 40 ft. of chain and the grappling hook as a lone attack of opportunity-provoking move action.

In such a case, merely scooping up the grappling hook without reloading the grapnel arm doesn't have any significant game-mechanical benefit: reloading the grapnel arm still takes a standard action. However, if she's out of standard actions, picking up the hook and chain may provide a narrative justification for, for example, why the guards don't take hold of the chain to restrain her when she's running away, why the lava-filled abyss didn't destroy her dangling chain and grappling hook, or why she's not limited in her ability to flee after the portcullis slams behind her.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Informative but still somewhat short of what I was looking for. The combat grappling isn't a concern as it's covered pretty well. What I'm struggling with is any form of wording for: You have two players. 1# is a constructed brawler and shoots his grappling hook onto a fence, anchoring it against the AC 5. #2 is any class and throws a normal grappling hook onto the same fence and hits as well, now both hooks are anchored. The noise attracted the guards and they need to run. They don't have time to climb up 10ft to 'pick it up', what action would it be to detach the hooks from below? \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 18:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jack In either case, both creatures remain adjacent to the length that's connected to the grappling hook. Retrieving that length takes a move action that provokes to pick up an item. Unless the GM rules otherwise, this should also pick up the grappling hook because it's attached. (To be clear, I imagine the grapple launcher of the experimental gunsmith as like the Bat-man's grappling gun; the more traditional hook relies on proper placement rather than brute force. Ending that proper placement shouldn't be more complicated than a move action.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 19:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not sure I understood, but you're saying it's a move action to dislodge the hook and then a standard action to reload it back into the arm as the grapnel arm says needs to be done before the arm is useful for melee? \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 20:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jack Were my campaign to include a constructed pugilist with the limb modification (grapnel arm), I'd let her take a free action to end the grapple with whatever she'd grappled—from a building ledge to Cthulhu—then take a standard action to reload her grappling hook. Were another dude to hurl a grappling hook with a line attached at a building, I'd obey the core rules so far as hitting… then allow the dude who had hold of the line to take a move action that provokes to retrieve line and attached hook. Sorry, man. That's the closest I can come to almost making a meal out of these leftovers. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 20:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ this is probably as close as we'll get in regards the rules. I've been scouring books left and right and this does indeed feel best, using the two actions mentioned in the arm. Free to release, standard to reload. Thank you and sorry if I seemed mean or stubborn! \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 21:04

In Combat

Grappling Weapons all follow the same rules. Grapnel arm only ignores the first sentence, about require a critical hit.

Grapple: On a successful critical hit with a weapon of this type, you can grapple the target of the attack. The wielder can then attempt a combat maneuver check to grapple his opponent as a free action. This grapple attempt does not provoke an attack of opportunity from the creature you are attempting to grapple if that creature is not threatening you. While you grapple the target with a grappling weapon, you can only move or damage the creature on your turn. You are still considered grappled, though you do not have to be adjacent to the creature to continue the grapple. If you move far enough away to be out of the weapon’s reach, you end the grapple with that action.

The target of Grapnel Arm Grappling can escape in any method as normal per the Grapple Combat Maneuver. Typically this means Grapple Combat Maneuver or Escape Artist checks to escape, but also includes any spells and items which would affect Grappling.

As the wielder of such a weapon,

you can, as the creature that initiated the grapple, release the grapple as a free action...

Additionally, you can end it with a Move action that moves you 40 feet or more from the target. In either case, it takes a Standard Action to then reattach the weapon to your arm.

Out of Combat

Barring rules that dictate use of a Grappling Hook, GM's have reign to decide how actually using various devices works. The Inner Sea Pirates rules don't apply because they are specifically speaking toward Boarding Gaffs, which are designed to attach and bite into the wood that other ships are made out of, specifically so they can't be removed easily.

Generally speaking, a Grappling hook would most often be used as a Standard Action, and as such would probably take a Standard or Move action to remove it. More than likely, rules weren't made for this so GM's would be able to vary by the situation; a hook caught in wood will be more difficult to extract than one that is simply gripping the side of a boulder. Most times you use the hook, to do other than grapple, you will be out of combat and action economy won't matter.

It's worth noting that the ability doesn't reference the ability to be used as (or even, really, the item) a Grappling Hook, and a GM could rule that such a specialized combat object would be incapable of being used as a regular Grappling Hook.

  • \$\begingroup\$ While that's helpful, the grappling itself isn't an issue as the feature covers it pretty well. The issue for our game is how many different rules there is for detaching a grappling hook from a surface. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 18:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jack I don't understand how you think it varies from the stated use for the device. A Standard or Move action detaches it from a creature; how would a surface be different? That being said, the ability doesn't say it attaches to surfaces, so you'll need to pass even the ability to use your Grapnel Arm in that way by your GM. The ability says you attach a Grappling Hook to your device then says you may use it to make Grapple ranged attacks, not that you have the full functionality of the Grappling Hook. Most GM's I imagine would allow it, in which case it would be part of the Climb check. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 19:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ The grappling hook doesn't cease being a grappling hook, so it can be used as the base item grappling hook. The inner sea pirates add rules on making it a grappling weapon and it can do that or help climbing as well. The limb itself simply removes the need for proficiency or feat to use the grappling hook as a weapon as it becomes a class feature. Sadly can't refer to the GM as I'll be the one in this case and want to solve it before sending npc's with this ability against the players. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 20:16

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