I am trying to find a feat to protect my character against grapple attempts from creatures with a reach of 10ft or more.

We're playing a low magic campaign and after a fight with a mooncalf (in which another player found out the hard way that Close Quarters Fighting doesn't work), I am wondering if there is a feat that would help in some way. Best would be one that helps to not be grappeled at all, but helping to escape would be fine too (though I already know about Clever Wrestling).

Are there any?

I am playing a level 10 Human Scout (3.5e - Complete Adventurer) with Point Blank Shot, Far Shot, Dodge, Mobility, Shot on the Run

(We're playing a mixed rules game, so any material from 3e, 3.5e, Pathfinder, Dungeon and Dragon Magazine are allowed.)


3 Answers 3


Slippery Skin, from Exemplars of Evil, allows you to give up an attack of opportunity for the round as an immediate action in response to someone attempting to initiate a grapple against you to substitute the result of an Escape Artist check for your touch AC to resist their attempt. (The caveats being that you need to decide to do this before they make their attack roll and you are stuck with the result of your Escape Artist check even if it is lower than your normal touch AC.)

The Gentle Way Mastery martial arts style feat, from Oriental Adventures also shows promise for your purposes, as it would negate the advantage reach opponents have for grappling and force them to move to you like anyone else, but it requires several prereq feats and would seem to be antithetical to your character design, since you are unable to move at all, not even 5-foot steps, while the feat is in effect.

Benefits: Once per day, you can make yourself unmovable. You automatically win an opposed Strength check when an opponent attempts to bull rush you. A creature with the improved grab ability must move into your space to grapple you, since it cannot pull you into its space. No spell or other effect can force you to move. If you become frightened or panicked, you suffer the full effect of the fear but do not run away. You cannot move, even to make a 5-foot step, while this ability is in effect. This ability lasts for 1 round per level, but you can end it at any time.

Combat Stability, from Player's Handbook II, offers a +4 bonus to rolls to resist grapple--along with several other combat maneuvers--or a +8 bonus if a 3rd combat form feat is taken. (You would already have two, Combat Stability and the prereq Combat Focus.)

If your goal is to avoid triggering attacks of opportunity that are (or lead to through improved grab) grapples, there are a few options that shouldn't be hard to make use of, since Tumble is a scout class skill.

Swift Tumbler, from Cityscape, is useful in using Tumble to avoid AoO, since clearly the last thing your scout wants to do is suffer a reduction in movement speed in such a situation.

The Duck Underneath tactical maneuver of the Giantbane feat, from Complete Warrior, may or may not be of interest to you as the requirement to pause a round and take a total defense action seems potentially a dealbreaker, but it is on pg. 111 of that book if you wish to examine its potential. (I would quote an excerpt, but I figure this is one you'll need to evaluate the entire feat to be sure if it is of use to you.)

Personally, I'm not entirely certain why Close-Quarters Fighting doesn't help. Yes, I get that you do not currently threaten the creature before it attacks to initiate grapple, but the whole reason initiating a grapple sets off an attack of opportunity is that the attacker is putting their limbs into the target's square in order to accomplish their attack. The example given in that very feat is a dwarf being grappled by an ogre, which is a size large creature with reach. (Yes, I realize it doesn't say that the attack is being made using the ogre's reach. I'm just saying it doesn't say the feat wouldn't work if the orge were using its reach.)

Prefaced by the preceding paragraph, if your DM is also of the mind that a reach creature puts at least part of its body into threatened territory in order to grapple--setting aside any rare circumstance of grappling via a weapon while attacking with reach--then Sidestep, from the Miniatures Handbook, becomes a great option. Since it allows you to once per round make a 5-foot step after making attack of opportunity, the additional five feet may take you out of the reach of the grappling creature and waste its grapple attempt.

You can even do this during movement as the 5-foot step doesn't count as your one allowed 5-foot step per round nor does it count against movement, so if the AoO is set off by an insufficiently high Tumble check to move passed the foe, and they don't have Combat Reflexes, this may allow you to make them waste their only AoO. (In fact, you might intentionally skip Tumbling while running at the extreme edge of their reach if you know you can Sidestep out of their reach and then race through their threatened area without fear with the rest of you movement now that they've used up their AoO for the round.) If you've got at least a 15 Dex and 8 or more ranks in Tumble, you already qualify for this one.

I Hope these help.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ (Martial arts styles like Gentle Way Mastery aren't feats; instead, the martial arts style benefit is gained automatically upon meeting the prerequisites: "A character who masters the feats within a style gains a mastery ability related to the techniques of that style.… Mastery abilities are a bit like the synergy bonuses a character gains if she has several ranks in certain skills: characters who learn certain combinations of feats gain an extra edge for doing so" (OA 80).) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 15:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd certainly like to use Close-Quarters-Fighting the way you described it, although RAW I don't think it would apply, because that would mean that you would get an AoO even without the feat when a creature with reach and no Improved Grab / Grapple would attempt to grapple you. Right? \$\endgroup\$
    – TheQ
    Commented Aug 10, 2018 at 21:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TheQ I agree. A creature can't make an attack of opportunity against a foe that the creature does not threaten. Seriously, that's a full stop. I mean, were the situation the answer describes true, a foe with reach would provoke for both moving its limbs within the creature's threatened area and again for also sticking those limbs into the creature's space. (For what it's worth, the Sage addresses this situation specifically—even taking into consideration the feat Close-quarters Fighting—and also suggests a house rule addressing this issue in the FAQ on 66-7.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 11, 2018 at 16:56

No feat makes a creature grapple-proof

The best feats available are those that let a grappled creature more easily—or even completely—escape grapples. Seriously, the best defense against being grappled is not to be there to be grappled. (This makes a scout with the feat Shot on the Run already a prime candidate for grapple avoidance.) If the scout can get to cover or concealment and hide during the second span of movement after making the attack using the feat Shot on the Run, that's my strongest recommendation. (While I'd not normally recommend it, the first level of the prestige class shadowdancer (Dungeon Master's Guide 194-6) facilitates this, and the scout in question already meets a few of the class's excessively onerous requirements.)

What's really desirable here, though, is an effect like the 4th-level Clr spell freedom of movement [abjur] (Player's Handbook 233), be it through spell, magic item, or other means. Although a scout gets this effect naturally eventually, by level 18 all the extraordinary ability free movement does is get the scout back 20,000 of the 40,000 gp he spent on a magic ring, like, four levels ago. So, that said, absent a freedom of movement effect, teleportation is probably the best and most convenient escape. (Also, would that magic items were available! I'd heartily recommend the anklet of translocation and third eye freedom—as per this answer—rather than trying to use a feat for this purpose!)

But if the only resource available is feats, then there are a few—one creating a possible impediment to grapples and two for escaping grapples—that are described below. (All three feats have prerequisites this scout likely already meets.)

  • The feat Close-quarters Fighting (CW 97) may see the scout needing to wield a reach weapon so that he also threatens back typical foes with reach, but, if he does threaten such foes and if he succeeds on the attack of opportunity against a foe with the special ability improved grab, he gains a bonus on his grapple check equal to the damage dealt. (Keep in mind that a scout deals skirmish damage during any round in which the scout has moved 10 ft. or more, so that includes on attacks of opportunity made within that 1-round frame!)

    However, this is a lousy defense against, for example, a mooncalf (Monster Manual II 150-1) that with its tentacle rake—to which is tied its improved grab special ability—has a reach of a whopping 30-ft.! For that, a scout just needs to escape after the 'calf grabs him.

  • The feat Martial Study (the 1st-level Shadow Hand maneuver shadow jaunt [special] (Tome of Battle 79)) (ToB 31-2) permits a level 6 creature—even one with no levels in a martial adept class—to take a standard action once per encounter to teleport up to 50 ft. The DM may restrict this martial maneuver's use based on the the creature's inability to move while grappled ("To initiate a maneuver or a stance, you must be able to move," says Initiating Stances and Maneuvers (ToB 38)), but even the Sage thinks it's okay to initiate maneuvers while in a grapple.

  • The feat Shape Soulmeld (blink shirt (Magic of Incarnum 60-1)) (MoI 40-1) allows the creature to take a standard action to use an effect like the 4th-level Sor/Wiz spell dimension door [conj] (Player's Handbook 221) except that the creature can take only himself and his gear and that the range is only 10 ft. However, like the spell, this ends the creature's turn, so until the blink shirt effect can be used to, for instance, get behind a wall, next round the foe can come at the scout and go for another grapple.

The feats Close-quarters Fighting and Martial Study, by the way, have the advantage of being fighter bonus feats therefore available to any creature meeting either's prerequisites by consuming a potion of heroics [trans] (Spell Compendium 113) (2nd-level spell at caster level 3) (300 gp; 0.1 lbs.). (Although the potion brewer must be told beforehand which feat is desired because "[w]hen [a brewer] create[s] a potion, [he] make[s] any choices that [he] would normally make when casting the spell" (PH 89). So, y'know, don't instead accidentally drink your Weapon Focus feat-granting potion of heroics in the middle of the mooncalf battle!)

Note: This answer focuses on D&D 3.5 exclusively. I leave a more expert Pathfinder player to an answer examining that game's most economical feats for this purpose.


Clever Wrestling (from Complete Warrior) protects from creatures large or larger. Those creatures generally have a reach of 10+ ft.


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