Without Grappler, grapplers use grapple + shove to prone. (Possibly prone → grapple with Shield Master). The enemy now has disadvantage, and melee users have advantage.

By applying restrained instead of prone, ranged attackers can attack with advantage (good). However, Grappler also applies restrained to the user, so the user's damage drops significantly - neutral on the target, disadvantage on everything else vs advantage on target, neutral on others.

In my experience, however, ranged attackers attack from as far away as possible (>100'), and so they aren't terribly vulnerable to the type of melee attackers that I grapple. (good not as good)

On the other hand, the grappler is crowd control - they aren't dealing a ton of damage anyway. (bad not as bad)

Is there a way to use this feat that makes it better than Shield Master?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm finding this pretty hard to understand. What do you mean by "better"? And "good not as good"? The title is about the grappler feat, but the first line described what happens "without" it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tim Grant
    Jun 11, 2016 at 11:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ It should read something along the lines of "reduces positive benefits" & "mitigates negative effects". I'm looking for any uses that can create additional utility, damage or other effects that would benefit my party more than the effects of shield master, which can prone and grapple with one attack without costing my mobility. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jon Takagi
    Jun 11, 2016 at 15:47
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ If it should read that way, please edit the question so it does so. Looks like some folks thought this is clear enough, but it's always best to take time to write as clearly as possible, especially when many people will be reading your text. BTW, that vote to close vote is not me. Ref: webaim.org/techniques/writing \$\endgroup\$
    – Tim Grant
    Jun 11, 2016 at 17:14

2 Answers 2



Grappler is a trap for grapplers, see this lengthy forum post.

As you have noted, the first feature it grants is something you can do anyway, albeit with an additional action (or shield master feat).

The second feature destroys one of the major advantages of grappling, your mobility.

The third feature is situationally useful, how often depends on how often you fight things bigger than you (or better, an enlarged you).

  • 8
    \$\begingroup\$ the third feature never made any sense, was removed by errata. \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Jun 9, 2016 at 13:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ I wouldn't say it's so cut and dry, ranged attackers get disadvantage against prone targets and being prone doesn't give disadvantage against DEX saves. There's also a small handful of monsters that can't be knocked prone but can be restrained. It depends on why you're grappling the monster and whether you expect the party to cooperate with you. The Grappler can make sense if the whole party is organized around it and your goal is to kill faster rather than crowd control or moving targets against their will. \$\endgroup\$
    – Doval
    Jun 12, 2016 at 16:17

Yes. Using the feat for its utility purpose far surpasses Shield Mastery.

This is incredibly useful for a melee fighter. You see, the biggest plus to this feat is that as soon as you grapple a target, you have advantage on attack rolls against the creature you are grappling, while simultaneously restricting their movement.

For a fighter your ability to hit the target just increased. For a monk, you're in for a flurry of well placed blows that are virtually guaranteed to land. For a Barbarian you've pretty much guaranteed it's not moving away from you. And if you're a rogue, you are getting your sneak attack every turn because you have a teammate within 5' of your target.

Bottom line: This isn't meant for ranged characters.

Grappling with this feat is meant to lock down a problematic target and keep it from going anywhere. This feat gives you the option of restraining a target for whatever purpose you like. For example: You might want to pin a vampire instead of just reducing it to zero hit points in order to bind it and place it in running water or sunlight. Otherwise you won't defeat it. Alternately, you may need to restrain a mind controlled guard or fellow party member so you can subdue them without lethal intent.

Shield Master is a good feat, but has it's drawbacks as well. For instance, you have to have a shield to use it, and you don't grapple the target but instead knock it prone or shove it 5'.

All in all it comes down to your play style and game objectives. If you're running a campaign where there is no clear black and white lines of good and evil, where your characters need to capture and restrain enemies rather than unleashing the murder hobo within, then pinning is going to come in very useful.

I tend to see Shield Mastery as an offensive feat, and Grappler as a Utility feat. There are very different purposes for both.

A question came up in comments with a statement I believe to be incorrect. I'll address that here, emphasis mine.


Prerequisite: Strength 13 or higher You've developed the skills necessary to hold your own in close-quarters grappling. You gain the following benefits:

You have advantage on attack rolls against a creature you are grappling. You can use your action to try to pin a creature grappled by you. To do so, make another grapple check. If you succeed, you and the creature are both restrained until the grapple ends.

The wording here, to me, clearly alters your options available under the attack action. It states that you can use your action to pin a creature grappled by you. As grappling is a special melee attack, it can replace any of your attacks made by attacks and extra attacks. Because of this, the second part means that you can:

1) Grapple a target with your first attack. 2) Pin your grappled target on the second attack. 3) If you had other attacks, you could use them in between number 1 and 2, or before or after, really it's your call.

This does not take two turns, and nowhere in the feat does it say it requires an attack action to exhibit the pin. In fact, it explicitly states that you make another grapple to do this. The first portion of the second benefit clearly exhibits the additional ability your grapple has gained.

So why is this important? For a fighter, the ability to grapple two targets and pin them is invaluable when dealing with things that are immune to prone. Why is this important? Because unlike Shield Mastery, you don't impose disadvantage against all of your ranged characters with restrained. Like a good tank, you've given everybody advantage instead of just melee characters.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Very nice! And as a bonus, clearer in meaning too. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 11, 2016 at 3:44
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The point of Shield Master is that you can use your Attack action to grapple, then use your bonus action to shove them prone with your shield. Because the grapple reduced their speed to 0, they can't stand back up. Everyone within 5' of the victim has advantage and the victim has disadvantage. This achieves very similar results to the Grappler feat without restraining the grappler too, and it does so in 1 turn instead of 2. The main advantages of the Grappler's restrain is that ranged attackers don't have disadvantage and the vicim has disadvantage on Reflex saves. \$\endgroup\$
    – Doval
    Jun 12, 2016 at 16:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Arguably Grappler has more offensive uses but requires the rest of the party to be on-board with your strategy of blasting away at the restrained victim with ranged attacks and DEX save spells. Grappler might also be relevant to melee Rogues that want to gain advantage against a single target for the purposes of Sneak Attack. That can't be done with Shield Master since their other hand has a shield. Tavern Brawler doesn't help much there since Rogue can't Sneak Attack with unarmed strikes or improvised weapons. \$\endgroup\$
    – Doval
    Jun 12, 2016 at 16:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ All great points. What does that have to do with my answer? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 12, 2016 at 20:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry if I wasn't clear. You wrote Using the feat for it's utility purpose far surpasses Shield Mastery but that's clearly not true, since Shield Mastery provides similar benefits. \$\endgroup\$
    – Doval
    Jun 15, 2016 at 23:01

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .