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I am wondering if the first round of grappling ends the attackers turn:

1st example: A creature with a bite attack that has the grab ability, but also has 2 claws without grab. During a full attack, it bites and starts a grapple. Can it still do 2 claw attacks or has the grapple ended down its turn?

2nd example: Something with the Greater Grapple feat. It grapples successfully with 1 standard action. Can it use its move action to maintain and start damaging immediately or not until its next turn?

3rd example: A creature with the Greater Grapple feat and the rake ability. It maintains a grapple as a move action and makes another grapple check as a standard action. Does it trigger the rake ability twice?

4th example: A creature with an attack with the grab ability, and an ability that triggers on successful grapple, such as spikes or constrict. Can it, as a full round attack: attack, grab, trigger spike/constrict, release, and repeat for all the attacks that have grab? (thinking more about barbed devil)

I am asking due to the grappling flowcharts on the internet that explain the flow, and these things got me confused with the flowcharts. Link to the flowcharts, they are on the left sidebar: Grapple

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No, your turn does not end

Part 1: Full Attacks & Grab

A perfect example for this is the Dire Tiger, which has 3 attacks, all of which have the Grab ability.

So you're a dire tiger, and you make a full attack. You hit with your bite, choose to grab, and succeed on your check. You now have the Grappled condition, which states:

A grappled creature takes a –2 penalty on all attack rolls and combat maneuver checks, except those made to grapple or escape a grapple.

It does not say anywhere in the Grab special ability that your turn immediately ends. Additionally, in the Grapple section it says:

You can take any action that doesn’t require two hands to perform, such as cast a spell or make an attack or full attack with a light or one-handed weapon against any creature within your reach

Specifically, this is referring to the creature being grappled, because the grappler is unable to take a full attack having used their standard action to maintain the grapple. However, in the case of Grab no standard action was used, and the grappler has the same Grappled condition that the grapplee has.

Because there is nothing in Grapple or Grab that specifically prevents a grappler from making a full attack (aside from a standard action that Grab ignores), and it is specifically stated that someone with the Grappled condition can take a full attack, you as a Dire Tiger may continue to take attacks after your Grab at a -2 penalty.

Part 2: Greater Grapple

Yes, if you have not used your move action for the turn, you can immediately roll to damage the grappled creature as a move action.

Once you have grappled a creature, maintaining the grapple is a move action. This feat allows you to make two grapple checks each round (to move, harm, or pin your opponent)

Part 3: Rake

You're still a dire tiger, and you've remembered you have the Rake ability.

A monster with the rake ability gains two free claw attacks that it can use only against a grappled foe

It does not say you rake based on a maintain check, it only says you get the claw attacks to use against the grappled foe. No, you do not get to rake twice in the same round (you can only use the two claw attacks once).

Edit: Additionally, with Greater Grapple and Rake you still cannot use Rake on the first turn, because Rake states:

A monster with the rake ability must begin its turn already grappling to use its rake—it can’t begin a grapple and rake in the same turn.

Part 4: Constrict

If you were instead an Octopus with 8 grab attacks and constrict, you could take advantage of this line:

You can, as the creature that initiated the grapple, release the grapple as a free action

This would allow you to Grab, Constrict, release, and repeat for each grab attack you possess. However, keep in mind:

Free actions don’t take any time at all, though there may be limits to the number of free actions you can perform in a turn.

Your GM could still limit how many times you can release the grapple.

Edit: Again with Greater Grapple, Constrict states:

A creature with this special attack can crush an opponent, dealing bludgeoning damage, when it makes a successful grapple check

If you chose to hold the grapple until the next round (and possessed Greater Grapple) you could make two grapple checks and do extra constrict damage with both.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Mar 7 '17 at 14:03
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Your turn does not end, but your actions may still be restricted

TL;DR Summary:

  • You can continue Full attacks that cause you to become Grappled (via Grab or similar) but with -2 to hit (reduced further if you use Dex to hit)
  • Greater Grapple doesn't affect your first turn grappling
  • Rake is not used your first turn grappling, and only once per 'Rake' source thereafter (this is assuming you don't trigger it some other way, such as Pounce)
  • Constrict applies with every successful Grapple check; the Grapple action, Grab ability, and any extra rolls provided by Greater Grapple, Rapid Grappler, etc.

Abridged, from WeirdFrog's post:

Part 1: Full Attacks & Grab

A grappled creature takes a –2 penalty on all attack rolls and combat maneuver checks, except those made to grapple or escape a grapple.

It does not say anywhere in the Grab special ability that your turn immediately ends. Additionally, in the Grapple section it says:

You can take any action that doesn’t require two hands to perform, such as cast a spell or make an attack or full attack with a light or one-handed weapon against any creature within your reach

Because there is nothing in Grapple or Grab that specifically prevents a grappler from making a full attack (aside from a standard action that Grab ignores), and it is specifically stated that someone with the Grappled condition can take a full attack, you as a Dire Tiger may continue to take attacks after your Grab at a -2 penalty.


Part 2: Greater Grapple

No, Greater Grapple does not take affect until you are in your second turn of Grappling, when you are able to 'maintain' the grapple


Abridged, from WeirdFrog (emphasis, non quote text added):

Part 3: Rake

A monster with the rake ability gains two free claw attacks that it can use only against a grappled foe

It does not say you rake based on a maintain check, it only says you get the claw attacks to use against the grappled foe. No, you do not get to rake twice in the same round

You can only use the two claw attacks once (each) per round. Furthermore, you cannot use Rake when you initiate Grapple, even with Greater, because of this line in Rake:

A monster with the rake ability must begin its turn already grappling to use its rake—it can’t begin a grapple and rake in the same turn.


Abridged, from WeirdFrog(emphasis, non quote text added):

Part 4: Constrict

For the purpose of Constrict, you may be able to use this line from Grapple:

You can, as the creature that initiated the grapple, release the grapple as a free action

This would allow you to Grab, Constrict, release, and repeat for each grab attack you possess. However, keep in mind:

Free actions don’t take any time at all, though there may be limits to the number of free actions you can perform in a turn.

Your GM could still limit how many times you can release the grapple.

Using Constrict with Grapple is somewhat more straightforward:

A creature with this special attack can crush an opponent, dealing bludgeoning damage, when it makes a successful grapple check

If you chose to hold the grapple until the next round (and possessed Greater Grapple) you could make two grapple checks and do (constrict damage) with both.

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No, a successful grapple check or attack with the Grab ability does not end your turn.

To address your examples:

#1: A creature with a bite attack that has the grab ability, but also has 2 claws without grab.

If the bite hits and the CMB check is successful, both the creature and its target gain the grappled condition. That condition states, in part:

A grappled creature takes a –2 penalty on all attack rolls and combat maneuver checks, except those made to grapple or escape a grapple. In addition, grappled creatures can take no action that requires two hands to perform.

Claw attacks don't require two hands, so you're good there. They also don't grapple or escape a grapple, so the creature will take a -2 penalty on its claw attacks, but it still gets to make them. It's worth noting that this penalty roughly offsets the -4 penalty a grappled creature takes to its Dexterity.

#2: Something with the Greater Grapple feat.

The Greater Grapple feat is a source of much confusion. It does partially allow you to make (up to) two grapple checks in a round, but only after the grapple has been established. To understand why, let's look at the overall flow of grappling, omitting grab attacks for now.

A summarized grapple flow looks something like this:


Round 1

Attacker: As a standard action, makes a successful CMB check to grapple. Attacker and Defender both gain the grappled condition. No damage or other effects happen at this point because the grapple was only just established.

Defender: Tries to escape in some manner but fails. They're really having a bad day.

Round 2

Attacker: Must decide to either release the grapple (free action) or attempt to maintain it. As a standard action, makes a successful CMB check to maintain the grapple. This deals damage, results in a pin, or whatever other relevant nastiness the Attacker wants to do to the poor Defender. Attacker still has a move action to do something.


A few things change with Greater Grapple. As the feat states, the check to maintain the grapple becomes a move action instead of a standard action. This gives you two attempts per round to continue grappling your victim. The general flow now looks like this:


Round 1

Attacker: As a standard action, makes a successful CMB check to grapple. Attacker and Defender both gain the grappled condition. No damage or other effects happen at this point because the grapple was only just established. Because the Attacker isn't maintaining a grapple, no further checks are possible at this time.

Defender: Tries to escape in some manner but fails. Still can't catch a break.

Round 2

Attacker: Must decide to either release the grapple (free action) or attempt to maintain it. As a move action, makes a successful CMB check to maintain the grapple. This deals damage, results in a pin, or whatever other relevant nastiness the Attacker wants to do to the poor Defender. Attacker still has a standard action to make another CMB check to grapple and deal more damage. This second check is not to maintain the grapple, as that has already happened this round, and does not trigger any "on a successful check to maintain" effects.

Alternately: Attacker: Attempts, as a move action, to maintain the grapple but fails. They then use their standard action to attempt to maintain the grapple.


The crux of the problem is that you're not maintaining a grapple until your foe starts the turn grappled. From the grapple rules:

Once you are grappling an opponent, a successful check allows you to continue grappling the foe, and also allows you to perform one of the following actions (as part of the standard action spent to maintain the grapple).

#3: A creature with the Greater Grapple feat and the rake ability.

This is a combination of the first two examples, with a little added complexity. The Rake ability says, in part:

In addition to the options available to all grapplers, a monster with the rake ability gains two free claw attacks that it can use only against a grappled foe. ... A monster with the rake ability must begin its turn already grappling to use its rake—it can't begin a grapple and rake in the same turn.

First round the creature successfully grapples its target, generally as a result of an attack with the grab ability. It cannot rake this round, nor can it make additional grapple checks for the reasons outlined above.

At the start of the second round, the creature decides to attempt to maintain the grapple and succeeds on its check(s) and does terrible things to its victim. In addition, it gains its rake attack(s), albeit at a -2 due to the grappled condition, as a free action.

NB: You cannot make rake attacks without maintaining the grapple as rake requires your victim to be grappled and the grapple rules state "If you do not release the grapple, you must continue to make a check each round...". You could maintain, rake, and then drop the grapple, however.

#4: A creature with an attack with the grab ability, and an ability that triggers on successful grapple, such as constrict.

Abilities that trigger on a successful grapple check, such as constrict, don't change how the grapple flow works. Instead, they do things (generally damage) when a grapple check succeeds. This does include the initial check made when an attack with the grab ability hits.

As an extreme example, consider the humble giant octopus:

Melee bite +13 (1d8+5 plus poison), 8 tentacles +11 (1d4+2 plus grab)

Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft. (20 ft. with tentacle)

Special Attack constrict (tentacle, 1d4+2)

A typical full attack routine might look like this:

Tentacle attack against an opponent 20 feet away. The attack hits, allowing a CMB check to establish a grapple. This check succeeds and the food, er, victim take 2d4+4 damage (attack + constrict), and is moved to a space adjacent to the octopus. It can then take its remaining bite attack and 7 tentacle attacks at a -2 without constrict or decide to drop the grapple after each tentacle attack in order to potentially deal extra damage via constrict.

NB: The GM may limit the number of free actions you can take, especially with regard to repeatedly dropping grapples. You're best off consulting with them beforehand.

If it begins its turn still grappling its victim, it has a choice to make: either drop the grapple in order to repeat the above attacks or use a move action to make a CMB check to maintain the grapple. Without some ability like swallow whole, the octopus would deal far more damage doing the former than the latter. In the case of a creature with only one natural attack, such as a constrictor snake, maintaining the grapple, especially if it had the Greater Grapple feat, would be far more beneficial.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Why the downvote? \$\endgroup\$ – Thanuir Mar 7 '17 at 5:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, the grappling-rape-octopus is something the devs have recognized, but are afraid of how strong that combination of abilities has become, as that tactic greatly increases the monster's CR, and we might see an errata in the future about it. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Mar 22 '17 at 20:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ It should also be noted that the amount of free actions available in a single turn is entirely GM Fiat. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Mar 22 '17 at 20:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras Good point. I've added that as a clarification. \$\endgroup\$ – Karelzarath Mar 22 '17 at 20:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your flow there seems to ignore grab, which is in play and kind of the crux of the question? \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Mar 22 '17 at 20:53

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