I have the following scenario planned: The PCs are traversing an overgrown swamp that's home to a pair of Gryphs and loads of creepy-crawleys. The specific vermin the PCs are to encounter first will be Giant Ticks.

Now flavour-wise Gryphs have a history of consorting with vermin. And in this case, since the Gryphs' MO is to implant their eggs into helpless targets or targets they're grappling and the ticks have the grab ability as well, I thought the pairing to be only fitting. You know: humanoids get sprung upon and grappled by icky ticks, gryphs swoop in to take advantage and Implant their eggs.

But how to do that in combat terms? Usually the rules for multiple creatures grappling state:

Multiple creatures can attempt to grapple one target. The creature that first initiates the grapple is the only one that makes a check, with a +2 bonus for each creature that assists in the grapple (using the Aid Another action). Multiple creatures can also assist another creature in breaking free from a grapple, with each creature that assists (using the Aid Another action) granting a +2 bonus on the grappled creature’s combat maneuver check.

So I guess when a giant tentacle of unknown origin grapples my party member and starts to pull him towards the edge, I can run up as soon as I find time, wrap my arms around that friend and try to aid him (read: roll d20+CMB against DC10 to give him +2 on his CMB) in wrestling free from the beast.

But can the Gryph swoop in on a PC grappled by a tick and become the grappler (like reversing a grapple) even though it's late to the party? Assuming the tick knows him to be somewhat of an ally, does it give him the +2 through Aid Another and the PC the DEX-malus to CMD through the grappled condition?

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1 Answer 1


No, they cannot.

That is probably among the most Frequently Asked Questions that actually never got an official answer. As such, the community has two views on it:

  • You may assist one of the two sides, using the Aid Another action, without being able to grapple a creature that is already grappled, but granting them the aid another bonus (+2); or
  • Create a new grapple, not assisting either creature and not granting them any bonuses. So, to escape, they would need to succeed on two grapple checks, and a reposition maneuver, for example, could break the grapple on the other side.

I accept both as options with advantages and drawbacks, because one of them simply has no proper answer in the rules and is GM Fiat, leaving us with situations where we have to make up a new ruling on the fly to solve a problem. Such as PCs grappling each other to prevent grapples from an enemy, or two creatures fighting for the same prey.

Regardless of the method you decide to use, a third grappler does not affect the conditions of the first two. The creature who won the grapple check is still the grappler and both creatures have the grappled condition.

A third participant would also gain the grappled condition, but that doesn't remove or change the fact that his target is already grappling someone, as grapple doesn't really limit the actions you can take, the condition causes some penalties (-2 to a bunch of things), prevent you from moving (but not from taking move actions), and prevents you from using one of your limbs (usually an arm or leg). So, in essence, you could have two grapples happening at the same time, or only one grapple with additional creatures simply aiding one of the two sides.

But you may pin the target

You would need to pin the creature you want to prevent from taking grapple actions against others, as the condition prevents them from taking most actions (see what can a pinned creature do?), which includes maintaining a grapple.

A pinned creature is limited in the actions that it can take. A pinned creature can always attempt to free itself, usually through a combat maneuver check or Escape Artist check. A pinned creature can take verbal and mental actions, but cannot cast any spells that require a somatic or material component. A pinned character who attempts to cast a spell or use a spell-like ability must make a concentration check (DC 10 + grappler’s CMB + spell level) or lose the spell. Pinned is a more severe version of grappled, and their effects do not stack.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ O, that's so weird! So a creature can grapple an ally to prevent an opponent from grappling either of them? (I mean, I imagine sailors know this and that's why they hug each other fearfully when the kraken surfaces, but still…!) \$\endgroup\$ Nov 12, 2018 at 13:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Actually thats the opposite of what I said. If two sailors are grappling each other (YMCA citation needed), the kraken may join the fun without interrupting whatever they are doing to each other. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Nov 12, 2018 at 15:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ O, I know, but in the case of already ongoing sailor-on-sailor action, when the kraken intrudes, the best the kraken can do is assist the lead grappler. Or do I continue to misread this? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 12, 2018 at 17:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ You are still misreading. There would be two grapples going on. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Nov 12, 2018 at 17:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Multiple Grapplers says, "Multiple creatures can attempt to grapple one target. The creature that first initiates the grapple is the only one that makes a check, with a +2 bonus for each creature that assists in the grapple (using the Aid Another action)." So in our sailor scenario, the kraken would have to ascertain that A initiated the grapple and grapple A because if the kraken grappled B it would only be able to help A keep B grappled. Right? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 12, 2018 at 18:00

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