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Question

When the grappler attempts to maintain the grapple (PH 156), how much movement can the grappler take to move into the target's space?

Comments say this issue apparently goes unaddressed in D&D 3.5's various discussions about grappling. (Seriously, I couldn't find anything either; that's why I asked.) If a by-the-book answer doesn't exist, here's an alternative.

If the rules are silent on this, what is a good house rule for movement the grappler can take to move into the target's space when the grappler attempts to maintain the grapple (PH 156)?


Background

Last night the thief ("A rogue is just a pretentious thief") was attacked by an advanced giant cockroach (Und 87-8), whose space is 10 ft. x 10 ft. and whose reach is 5 ft. Adjacent to the giant cockroach is an unfriendly advanced ripper (Ci 131-2). The map looked like this:

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----CC----     All 4 Cs = 1 giant cockroach
----CCR---     R is the unfriendly ripper
------T---     T is the thief
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The giant cockroach started a grapple versus the thief. She'd exhausted her attacks of opportunity. The giant cockroach succeeded with its touch attack to grab her. The giant cockroach won the opposed grapple check, inflicting its unarmed strike damage (which was a small die as the giant cockroach lacked monk levels but a large bonus as giant cockroaches have impressive Strength scores--who knew?). Then it was time for the giant cockroach to maintain the grapple.

Starting a Grapple under the heading Step 4: Maintain Grapple (PH 156) reads

To maintain the grapple for later rounds, you must move into the target’s space. (This movement is free and doesn’t count as part of your movement in the round.) Moving, as normal, provokes attacks of opportunity from threatening opponents, but not from your target.

If you can’t move into your target’s space, you can’t maintain the grapple and must immediately let go of the target. To grapple again, you must begin at Step 1.

The Special Movement Rules under the heading Accidentally Ending Movement in an Illegal Space (PH 148-9) reads

Sometimes a character ends its movement while moving through a space where it’s not allowed to stop. When that happens, put your miniature in the last legal position you occupied, or the closest legal position, if there’s a legal position that’s closer.

The Moving through a Square rules under the heading Ending Your Movement reads, "You can't end your movement in the same square as another creature unless its helpless" (PH 148)"

I know that the movement from Maintain a Grapple is an exception to the Ending Your Movement rule. That's not a thing. What is a thing is the giant cockroach's shortest route to maintain the grapple meant occupying the same square as the ripper, and that isn't legal.

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----------     Both Cs = 1 giant cockroach
-----CR---     R is the unfriendly ripper AND part of the giant cockroach
-----CT---     T is the thief AND part of the the giant cockroach
----------

Movement is movement, even if it's free, and while square occupation is largely waived for the grappler and the target, it isn't waived for any other creatures. At the table, I ruled that the giant cockroach was forced back to its last legal position, but I want to make sure. Could the cockroach have taken a different route--perhaps even all the way around the battlefield or even the world (perhaps provoking attacks of opportunity along the way)--to get in a position to maintain the grapple instead of taking the shortest route?

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First of all, passing near to the ripper shouldn't be an issue, even if the ripper was adversary to the cockroach and there was no space to otherwise walk around the ripper. The cockroach can use the rules for squeezing and maybe it can even squeeze while grappling (with the usual penalties for squeezing).

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----------     C = 1 giant squeezed cockroach
------R---     R is the unfriendly ripper
-----CT---     T is the thief AND part of the the giant squeezed cockroach
----------

Since your second graph shows a character ending a movement in a square where it can't stop, I'd choose the closest legal position (nobody said it must be a position the cockroach passed through while moving):

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----------     All 3 Cs = 1 giant cockroach
------R---     R is the unfriendly ripper
-----CT---     T is the thief AND part of the the giant cockroach
-----CC---
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Yes, Take a Different Route

Nothing in the grapple rules says it has to move by the shortest route. It says:

To maintain the grapple for later rounds, you must move into the target’s space. (This movement is free and doesn’t count as part of your movement in the round.) Moving, as normal, provokes attacks of opportunity from threatening opponents, but not from your target.

If you can’t move into your target’s space, you can’t maintain the grapple and must immediately let go of the target. To grapple again, you must begin at Step 1.

If the Roach has 10 feet of movement (see the note below), there's no reason why it can't move two squares, go around the Ripper, and do entirely legal movement to end up in the Rogue's square. It will provoke an op from the Ripper by doing that, of course. It'd look like this:

----------
----------     All 4 Cs = 1 giant cockroach
----CCR---     R is the unfriendly ripper
----CCT---     T is the thief
----------

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----------     All 3 Cs = 1 giant cockroach
------R---     R is the unfriendly ripper
-----CT---     T is the thief and the Cockroach's 4th square
-----CC---

*Note: If you interpret the grapple rules "move" option to also apply in this situation, it would require 20 feet of movement as the Cockroach can only move at half speed. However since the maintaining rules say that this movement is free and doesn't count as part of your movement for the round (whereas that move option is a standard action and also moves your opponent in the grapple), I'm not sure if it does or not. As you're not moving your opponent with you, I wouldn't apply it in my own game. I don't know of any ruling on how that should work, however.

You can move half your speed (bringing all others engaged in the grapple with you) by winning an opposed grapple check. This requires a standard action, and you must beat all the other individual check results to move the grapple.

What About Crossing The World?

No. The Grapple rules say that movement doesn't count as the creatures movement for the round. They don't say anything about it being different than the creature's normal movement speed. If the Roach didn't have enough movement to get there, then it can't make the move and (as per the rule we both quoted) ends the grapple.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ All of the movement cost (whether hampered, squeezing, going around opponent space) is free and does not count against the giant roach movement. you just use the route that fits best so the roach lands his space in the opponent space. all of the movement of that maneuver is not applied against thje roach movement. and it cannot do anything else during that maneuver. it cannot 'move' the oppoenent with itself. \$\endgroup\$ – KilrathiSly Dec 14 '18 at 14:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ So as per RAW ruling, the roach could cross the world and back to the thief in the same turn to maintain the grapple for future rounds. RAW ruling does not mention anything about a creature speed requirement to that free movement. \$\endgroup\$ – KilrathiSly Dec 14 '18 at 15:05
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RAW: Yes, you can take whatever route is available

Nothing in the rules says it must be by the shortest route, RAW rules even stipulates that all of that movement does not count toward the movement of the roach.

RAI: I would probably use the wording 'maintain' to force the grabber to stay within melee range in order to 'maintain' hold while moving...even if RAW ruling does not states this is mandatory, it would be reasonable in a RAI game.

So the Roach could actually move around the room, or the whole dungeon completely and move into the Thief's space from behind. There is no limit on that movement Nothing in that movement costs anything, the roach can squeeze, walk into difficult terrain, hop over an obstacle..and thus is allowed even if the roach has 0 movement left.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ RE: "[A]s long as the roach is able to stay close enough to maintain the grab to the thief (in that case 5ft away max), else the grapple fails as it releases the thief." This is kind of central to the question. Where is this stated, or is it just a common sense ruling? (Not that there's anything wrong with that!) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Dec 13 '18 at 22:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ itis not stated per se, but in order to grab an opponent you need to be within melee range, then it states that 'to maintain hold' you need to move into the opponent square. Which likely conveys that you need either to close in the opponent or at least stay at teh same distance, but hardly see this as moving away from the opponent... \$\endgroup\$ – KilrathiSly Dec 14 '18 at 3:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's a perfectly reasonable reading—and one that I'd argue for were I DMing—, but I can imagine a more gamist argument going something like My PC has already succeeded in the other steps to grapple, so all that remains is the ill-defined get-into-the-space part, therefore, so as long as my PC can somehow in any way move into the creature's space (because the amount of movement that can be used to gain entry isn't specified), my PC should be able to continue the grapple or whatever. That's a fairly strong argument, and one I'm not sure I can win without just dropping a No bomb. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Dec 14 '18 at 3:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with you and to be honest this is the RAW ruling. So I tend to agree with you, in a full RAW game, you are right. nothing states in the rule that you can't go around the block to move into your opponent space to maintain de the grapple for future rounds as long as where yoiu move is legal movement. Fair statement. tks \$\endgroup\$ – KilrathiSly Dec 14 '18 at 15:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ (You can preface lines with one or more #s to make headers of various sizes; those are preferred for accessibility over fake headers using boldface and paragraph breaks. Also, rules as intended is a little loaded 'round these parts—unless there's actual proof of intent, a different phrase is advised.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Dec 14 '18 at 15:05

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