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I was watching a YouTube channel that does P2E builds this morning. This one was for a grappler-type character, and it mentioned taking Assurance to avoid the Multiple Attack Penalty.

That seems like a total hack, so my first instinct is that it can't possibly be Rules as Intended, and probably a misreading of RAW as well.

But going and checking the current wording of Assurance, I see this (emphasis mine):

Choose a skill you’re trained in. You can forgo rolling a skill check for that skill to instead receive a result of 10 + your proficiency bonus (do not apply any other bonuses, penalties, or modifiers).

So assuming Multiple Attack Penalty is a penalty like it says, then it looks like Assurance means you have the option of ignoring it for athletic skill checks that count as attacks.

Am I missing something here?

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is one of those classic (lowercase t) trap rules interactions, where, yes, it really does work like that, and it sounds OP as all get out at first... until you think through the math and realize that it's very rarely actually a good option. (Assurance + Athletics is a great combo... but usually not for grappling.) \$\endgroup\$ Nov 17, 2023 at 19:21

3 Answers 3

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Assurance does bypass the MAP

You are missing that anyone worth grappling is out of reach for Assurance

Assurance on Grapple (or any other skill action) does ignore MAP, but it also ignores your attribute modifier.

On 5th level for example, your Athletics with Assurance will be 19 (10 + 5 + 4).

  • A moderate Fort DC for a monster is 22 on this level
  • DC 19 is enough only for a 3rd level monster (that has moderate saves)

So you can only grapple things with your third attack that would die anyway before your next round, if your party is even moderately good at tactics, and focuses the fire.

This does not mean you should attack a 3rd time

Unless you are a Flurry Ranger or a Fighter with Agile Grace, your third attack is almost guaranteed to miss.

However, anyone can Raise a shield, or cast Guidance (with a 3rd level item), and generally do many more useful things.

Is Assurance completely useless then?

No, but it should be used for things with a fixed DC, like Treat Wounds, Long Jump or Trick Magic Item on the Wand of Tailwind (aka. Longstrider).
I would only use it against enemies if I know for certain (from previous rolls) that Assurance is enough.

Here is a very good and thorough analysis.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree that this is generally accurate, but it is worth noting that a lot of spellcaster-type creatures have the lower end of the Fort DC range, and it is (basically) always better to grapple a creature than completely miss a third attack, if you have no reason to suspect your third attack will hit. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Nov 12, 2023 at 23:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ Further proof, my Wit Swashbuckler definitely has Assurance (Diplomacy) and Bon Mot, and has definitely wrecked the Will Saves of many martial-focused mooks to get panache. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Nov 13, 2023 at 0:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ifusaso, it is a property of Panache, not Assurance. You can gain Panache on the mooks to spend it on the Big Bad. I have several casters with Bon Mot, but it would never occur to me to use it on mooks. They are not even worth the action, even if it is guaranteed to work. \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Nov 13, 2023 at 10:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sorry about the edit, I forgot I do not just give recommendations any more \$\endgroup\$ Nov 13, 2023 at 10:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's a playstyle difference, then, not a comment on viability. Assurance skills can hit mooks (far more often than bosses) and I would choose to use that against them. A mook with -2 Will Saves (or -3 if I bothered to roll it and crit) is now even more likely to be destroyed by Will-based spells, Demoralize attempts to reduce the rest of their stats, and such. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Nov 13, 2023 at 22:05
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Assurance does indeed work like that

As you quoted, you don't apply penalties, so no MAP.

As András said, it won't be enough to grapple most opponents, so it isn't broken or anything. Also take note that if you start your turn with a grapple and Assurance you still will increase your MAP for your further actions.

I run a campaign where one of the PCs is a Monk with Assurance of Athletics and I'd say this trick comes up once every other game session. It creates a subgame of guessing how weak are each foe's different DCs and incentivizes the use of Recall Knowledge, but I can see it becoming way less interesting once the player gets used to every monster they encounter and always know when it will work or not.

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Yes

You've highlighted the relevant rules; Assurance completely negates the up to -10 Multiple Attack Penalty, along with any other penalties that might be applied to the roll.

As a downside, this automatic result also doesn't incorporate any bonuses like Strength or items, so an assured attack is typically only successful against lower-level enemies or those with low saves. Against targets of the same level, a low save will be overcome by the assured roll at about half of levels:

Level Assured Roll (Max Proficiency) Low Save Overcomes
1 13 +4 No
2 16 +5 Yes
3 17 +6 Yes
4 18 +8 Yes
5 19 +9 Yes
6 20 +11 No
7 23 +12 Yes
8 24 +13 Yes
9 25 +15 Yes
10 26 +16 Yes
11 27 +18 No
12 28 +19 No
13 29 +20 No
14 30 +22 No
15 33 +23 Yes
16+ 34 +25 No

At most other levels the assured attack will usually still work with some -1 penalty to their save, such as from the frightened, clumsy, or drained conditions.

This is useful if you know the specific low saves of a target: either Tripping vs low Reflex or Grappling vs low Fortitude. Even just attempting the assured attack will reveal whether the targeted save is low enough, which might be more valuable than some other action with substantial MAP.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ is there any way to highlight the No (or the Yes) in the table? Coloring, bold, something? \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Nov 13, 2023 at 10:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @András - Seemed like a good idea, so I went through and highlited/bolded the "no"s (the slightly less common table entry). \$\endgroup\$
    – T.E.D.
    Nov 13, 2023 at 13:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the suggestion but I've inverted the highlighting, as the point of this answer is that assured attacks are successful against low saves ~50% of the time, or with some penalty to the target's DC. \$\endgroup\$
    – brandon
    Nov 13, 2023 at 16:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ So I guess the takeaway for the grappler here is that its probably useful if you want to do things like grab mooks and throw them at the boss (something a Barbarian or Wrestler with the right feat investment can do). If you want to use your athlectic skills to lock down the boss every fight, not so much. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.E.D.
    Nov 13, 2023 at 19:39

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