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The feat Ranged Pin has as its benefit the following:

You can perform a ranged grapple attempt against an opponent by pinning a bit of its clothing to a nearby surface. The target must be within 5 feet of a wall, tree, or other surface in which a thrown weapon or projectile can be stuck and must be wearing some sort of clothing, armor, or other accoutrement. You must succeed on a ranged attack (not a ranged touch attack) and then win an opposed grapple check (your size modifier and the target’s size modifiers still apply). To break free, the victim must make a DC 15 Strength check or a DC 15 Escape Artist check as a standard action. (Complete Warrior 104)

The only other thing of interest is that the benefits of the feat Improved Grapple (PH 95-6) don't apply when using this feat. Neither errata nor FAQ nor online or Web Sage Advice column (that I've found, anyway) mentions the feat Ranged Pin. Opinions on the feat are mixed (see these threads from 2005 and 2012). I, however, just want to figure out how the feat works according to what it actually says.

That is, I am aware that—instead of having the feat use the grapple rules—the feat should probably simply render the opponent immobilized (Rules Compendium 35) until the opponent succeeds on the DC 15 Strength check or Escape Artist skill check, but that's not what the feat's benefit says it does.

Because I'd like to know how to (or if to) obey this feat's letter (not its spirit) before I house rule the feat for my campaign, a good answer walks through the steps of how this feat functions according to the rules as written.

As I can't determine how it couldn't be, it's okay if this walkthrough is a little silly (the attacker dealing its unarmed strike damage to the grappled opponent by shooting the opponent's cloak, the attacker able to move a thousand feet or more as a free action to enter the opponent's space to maintain the grapple, etc.).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Similar craziness exists with the bola flail (Gh 42). \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jul 27 '16 at 16:30
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Reading the rules in a strictly literal sense, I don't think it actually counts anything as a true grapple.

  1. Make a ranged attack against a foe that has something you can pin (clothes, armour, bags) and something to pin it to (nearby perpendicular surface).
  2. If you hit, you roll an opposed grapple check. Yes, while this uses the rules from grappling, it does not specify anywhere that you or the target are considered to be in a grapple.
  3. There is no required opposed grapple roll for the opponent to escape, they simply DC15 Strength or Escape to break free.

I think the only reason you make a 'grapple' check at all is to include all relevant size/skill factors. A Huge creature's arrows would basically be the size of a javelin to a small creature, so it stands to reason that bigger projectiles pin more successfully than smaller projectiles.

It doesn't specify that you or your opponent are considered to be in a grapple, nor does it specify that normal grapple damage applies (or constrict damage for that matter). It simply requires you to make a roll that uses all relevant bonuses for grappling in terms of size and strength.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site. Take the tour. I really like the idea of ranged grapple attempt being a specific name for only this event, therefore making it so there's no need to reference the actual, for-reals grapple rules at all. That's an angle I honestly hadn't considered. Enjoy your stay and thank you for helping strangers. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jul 13 '16 at 14:22
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The spirit of the feat Ranged Pin is, "My ranged attack sticks your cloak to to a tree! To move, you must tear yourself free!" but the letter is, "My ranged attack sticks your cloak to to a tree! Let's go play video games!" Here's what the feat changes about a grapple:

  1. The attacker can make the attempt at range using a ranged weapon.
  2. The opponent must be near an appropriate surface and must be wearing appropriate gear.
  3. The attacker, instead of making a melee touch attack, makes a ranged attack with a ranged weapon.
  4. To escape a grapple begun this way, the opponent must take a standard action and succeed on either a Strength check (DC 15) or an Escape Artist skill check (DC 15).

Everything else about a grapple remains unchanged when using the benefit of the fear Ranged Pin. Using the rules as written, here's how the feat works:

  • The attacker makes a ranged attack to start the grapple. If within the opponent's threatened area, the opponent can make one attack of opportunity against the attacker because the attacker's making a grapple attempt (see Step 1), and if the opponent's attack of opportunity deals damage, the grapple attempt fails. Further, if within the opponent's threatened area, the opponent can make a second attack of opportunity against the attacker because the attacker's making a ranged attack, but if the opponent's second attack of opportunity succeeds, the attacker is only dealt damage.
  • The attacker takes a free action to start the hold, the attacker and opponent making an opposed grapple check. A ranged pin against an opponent two or more size categories larger than the attacker automatically fails. If the opponent wins, the hold isn't established. Other players at the table may, optionally, let out an heartfelt cheer. If the attacker wins, the hold is established and the opponent's dealt the attacker's unarmed strike damage—for some reason.
  • The attacker moves into the opponent's space (possibly provoking attacks of opportunity along the way) to maintain the grapple. Remember, "If you can't move into your target's space, you can’t maintain the grapple and must immediately let go of the target." The feat's benefit doesn't obviate this. However, the limit as to how far a creature can move to maintain the grapple is something of an open question as the game assumes a melee grapple.

    I've asked obliquely about this seeming rules void before here, and consensus seems to be that the attacker can move up to its speed to enter the opponent's space but not more than the attacker could've moved during the round. However, a lack of consensus puts the feat Ranged Pin among the fastest methods of (semi-)conventional Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 travel, with the average warrior using the feat to attack an opponent at his composite longbow's maximum range of 1,100 ft. then move into the opponent's space, like, I dunno, (invisible, weightless) zipline-style. (Even 1,100 ft. of silk rope weighs 110 lbs.).

    Unfortunately, the attacker's limited in the times this can be done each round because, after the attacker enters the foe's space, the attacker must extricate itself from the grapple by taking the Escape from Grapple option as an attack before making another ranged attack (see below).

  • The grapple then proceeds as normal, with the attacker and opponent sharing the opponent's space. The attacker, if of sufficient base attack bonus and possessing remaining attacks, could take another grapple option, such as Damage Your Opponent, or, unusually, Escape from Grapple.

    That is, under some readings, in one turn a warrior with a base attack bonus of at least +11 and the feat Rapid Shot (PH 99) could make a ranged pin that starts the grapple (and move up to 1,100 ft.), escape from grapple, and make another ranged pin that starts a second grapple (moving another 1,100 ft.), and escape from that grapple. That's about 250 MPH (calculations exclude 5-ft. steps). The cost, however, is prohibitive: each mile costing about 2 sp worth of arrows.

    Nonetheless, this may be efficient enough for an evil overlord to have a mail service consisting of at least level 6 warrior/postal workers and, serving as mailboxes, chained, blind commoners (or skeletons commanded to Stay put! wearing traveler's outfits) every 1,000 feet or so. (Overhead is so high on such a service because ammunition is usually destroyed when it hits its target; creatures that can hurl to these distances a javelin (normally a maximum range of 150 ft.) would be especially valuable to GrappleXpress, likewise epic creatures under a DM that reads generously the feat Distant Shot (EL 53), but what is such a character doing delivering mail?)

    The opponent, by the way,—assuming the attacker continues the grapple and doesn't escape the grapple it started and rocket away,— in addition to everything else the opponent may do in the grapple, must take a standard action and succeed on a Strength check (DC 15) or an Escape Artist skill check (DC 15) to escape the grapple. This, presumably, replaces the If You're Grappling option Escape from Grapple.

This is, obviously, extremely silly.

Consider a house rule

If you must use this feat, here are some alternatives. I've not playtested these, but I don't think they top the original for goofiness.

House Rule #1

Benefit: Before making a ranged attack with a ranged weapon, declare you're using this feat against an opponent that's near a surface your ranged weapon or ammunition can penetrate and that's wearing clothing or carrying gear. Then make a ranged attack. If successful, the opponent is dealt no damage but can't use its speed to move from its current position. To end this effect, the opponent must take a standard action and succeed on either a Strength check (DC 15) or an Escape Artist skill check (DC 15). Each additional declared ranged attack (by you or another attacker with this feat) increases the Strength check DC and Escape Artist skill check DC by +1 (maximum DC 20). Opponents two or more size categories bigger than you are immune to this feat's effect.

But even that's probably too complicated. How about this:

House Rule #2

Benefit: Before making a ranged attack with a ranged weapon, declare you're using this feat against an opponent that's near a surface your ranged weapon or ammunition can penetrate and that's wearing clothing or carrying gear. Then make a ranged attack. If successful, treat the attack as though you'd made a successful touch attack with your choice of either bolas or a net. Opponents two or more size categories bigger than you ignore this feat's effect.

Either way, no matter what house rule you use, it shouldn't even use the word grapple.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I like your house rule #2, though it probably makes sense to include a size modifier (like sundering a carried or worn object), since the target would be relatively smaller than the creature. \$\endgroup\$ – Wyrmwood Dec 16 '15 at 22:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Wouldn't the arrow itself be considered as the grappling agent in this case? It moves into the opponents square, after all. And the arrow would be the focus of the STR / escape artist check, after all, not the bow or the one who launched the arrow. \$\endgroup\$ – nijineko Dec 21 '17 at 13:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nijineko Unfortunately, it's a rules-as-written question. According to the feat's benefit, you (yeah, you!) appear to be doing all the grappling. Also, I'd be curious at how much damage an arrow's unarmed strike deals. ;-) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Dec 21 '17 at 13:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Since the feat doesn't mention it doing unarmed strike damage, it doesn't. That also applies to the "attacker moving into space", by the way. It only does what it says it does. \$\endgroup\$ – nijineko Dec 21 '17 at 13:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nijineko That's the reading of this answer that I've already upvoted. The conflict comes from reading ranged grapple as a brand new thing the feat made up (like that answer) or from reading grapple as a thing the game's defined with ranged added and the extra rules explained by the feat's description (like this answer). Both are fine, but I don't think a reader should be expected to rely generally on feats providing all the info needed to use them—Combat Reflexes, frex, doesn't explain all the things that provoke attacks of opportunity. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Dec 21 '17 at 14:06
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Hmm... This is a tricky one. Let's see how it correlates with a normal grapple:

Step 1. Attack of Opportunity.
Usually, you need an Improved Grapple feat so that you don't provoke AOO - but since you are actually firing your bow at your enemy, Improved Grapple won't help you - but any effect that allows you to ignore AOO while firing a bow (such as Arrow Mind spell from Complete Adveturer) WILL prevent any AOO against you.

Step 2. Grab.
Usually, all you need is a melee touch attack. In our case, we need a NORMAL ranged attack, as per the description of the feat - so it's kinda harder to land, unless your DEX is really high

Step 3. Hold
Ah, and here is the trickiest part. Usually, when you make an opposed Grapple check, you use your Size and STR modifiers opposed by your opponent's Size and STR modifiers. I say "usually" because, for example, Tome of Battle grapple maneuvers from Setting Sun school allow you to use STR or DEX for this purpose (whichever is higher). In our case, it's either STR (as normal), or DEX (since it's ranged)

If we use STR - then our STR modifier will be either our own, or our bow's (whichever is lower). That is, if you've got a Composite Longbow +2 and STR 14, you'll have +2 STR bonus to your grapple check. If it's just a normal Longbow, our STR will be +0, regardless of our actual STR.

If we use our DEX modifier, things actually get pretty murky since if WE make a DEX roll, we need to determine whenever the opponent must use DEX or STR roll. The best way to deal with this situation is so that WE use a DEX roll and the opponent uses STR as per basic grapple rules.

I'd say, since the feat doesn't mention using DEX, we still use the STR, through it IS modified by what weapon we are using, so if an elf with a normal longbow is trying to pin an orc to a tree, he is stuck with a great Grapple modifier of +0.

Step 4. Maintain a Grapple.
The last roll we needed for our ranged pin was during Step 3. Here, in Step 4, the opponent must just beat DC 15 STR/Escape Artist check to break free. That's it.

Note:
The second main problem of this feat (after its problematic reading) is, it's not that strong. Not just in this reading, mind you. Even if we are using our DEX (while being an elf with +5 DEX modifier) to make that pin attempt, even if we dominate the opposing grapple check, the next round our opponent just needs to beat a fixed DC 15 check, and unless he's a d4 HP spellcaster who's out of his spells (so he's basically a commoner. Or a HIGH level commoner), he WILL break out of this pin in 1-2 rounds, and then he's most likely to move enough to not be pinned again (remember, you need a surface to pin him to)... So if you are a DM, you might as well throw your players a bone and allow them to use DEX modifier for this feat (DEX 15 and several ranged combat feats are its prereq, so their DEX is most likely higher than their STR). It's not likely that they'll be able to use it more than 1-2 times per encounter (unless a friendly spellcaster supports them with walls of Ice/Stone/Iron), so it's not even really that abuseable...

Unless you allow to pin the same character several times simultaneously. Then, regardless of our modifier, several lucky pinning shots will at least significantly slow the opponent down, if not render him helpless (which will allow the shooter's group to take the opponent as a prisoner, for example). The feat doesn't say anything about maintaining several pin grapples through, so it's up to DM to ALLOW them (the plus side is, it would be awesome to be able to take a prisoner with 2-4 lucky shots and, maybe, a Wall of Stone. On the con side, it might ruin your big boss fight against that really powerful lich, unless he can teleport without somatic components, or fights naked)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm having trouble figuring out why you assert in Step 3 that the bow's maximum Str bonus to damage can somehow limit the character's Str bonus to grapple checks, which are attack rolls in most respects. That's deeply counter-intuitive, and I don't believe it's RAW. \$\endgroup\$ – user17995 May 21 '16 at 7:30
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I think this can be resolved without houserules if we consider the ARROW to be the grappler / grappling agent of the attacker.

You can perform a ranged grapple attempt against an opponent by pinning a bit of its clothing to a nearby surface. The target must be within 5 feet of a wall, tree, or other surface in which a thrown weapon or projectile can be stuck and must be wearing some sort of clothing, armor, or other accoutrement. You must succeed on a ranged attack (not a ranged touch attack) and then win an opposed grapple check (your size modifier and the target’s size modifiers still apply). To break free, the victim must make a DC 15 Strength check or a DC 15 Escape Artist check as a standard action. (Complete Warrior 104)

  1. The attacker makes a ranged attack to start the grapple.

    This replaces the standard method to start the grapple.

  2. The attacker takes a free action to start the hold, the attacker and opponent making an opposed grapple check.

    The arrow is the actual grappling agent, not the character, so they make a special mention of using the attacker's stats for the grapple (instead of the arrow's stats, and it would have been nice if they had specifically called that out) - otherwise the grapple would almost always fail due to the arrow's size.

  3. The attacker moves into the opponent's space (possibly provoking attacks of opportunity along the way) to maintain the grapple.

    Consider the arrow to be the attacker / attacker's agent in this case, therefore it is what is moving into the space, not the actual attacker. In fact, it has already moved into the target's space in order to start the grappel, so there are no AoOs to consider along the way.

  4. The grapple then proceeds as normal, with the attacker and opponent sharing the opponent's space.

    Again, if the attacker is the arrow, then there is no conceptual issues with this feat.

Furthermore, if the arrow is the attacker's grappling agent, this makes sense of the static DCs for STR and/or Escape Artist.

If using this conceptual model, the Ranged pin feat makes a lot more sense, and is much easier to resolve in the case of questions.

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Neither are grappling. And in Step 3 of the grapple attempt, the grapple automatically fails since you cannot hold your opponent, even if you win the opposed grapple check. The opponent still requires to break free in order to move though.

Let me explain: The Step 3 in the grapple action is called hold. You cannot hold someone you are not touching with some physical appendage. Therefore you can never complete Step 3 successfully, even if you win the opposed grapple check. Therefore you cannot go further in the action to maintain hold since you are not even holding the opponent in the first place.

This results in you and the opponent not grappling. But the description of the feat Ranged Pin clearly states that your opponent, in order to break free needs a DC15 str or escape artist, else your opponent is immobilized. (Take note of the DC15 and not an opposed grapple check... because you and the opponents are not grappling.)

In Conclusion: Ranged pin allows you to do a ranged grapple attack, if you win the opposed grapple check, the Step 3 (hold) fails nonetheless and neither opponents are grappling. The grapple action is over. And now your opponent needs a DC15 str or escape artist check in order to break free or will be unable to move.

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