One of my players is playing a white haired witch/manoeuvre master monk at level 9 witch level 2 monk.

  1. She uses her hair to make an attack and then grapples as a free action.

  2. The maneuver monk is then used to flurry of maneuvers to do an attack + manoeuvre.

  3. That manoeuvre is then used as a grapple check to pin.

She's also enlarged, so basically in one round she grabs something from 30' away, pulls it close to her and pins it.

Does that really work? What's the weakness of this, considering she has over +40 on her grapple checks? At the moment she just seems able to eliminate any target instantly.


1 Answer 1


Yes, it is legal. The +40 CMB is surprising, though probably not impossible.

Ultimately, 11th-level characters that can full-attack an opponent usually kill that opponent. That’s just how the math of the game works out. This particular approach isn’t really special in that regard, and has many weaknesses:

  • It relies on a full-attack, so the witch has to be able to reach the target without moving more than 5 feet in the turn. The hair’s extensive reach certainly helps here, but it’s still a significant limitation.

  • It relies on hitting with the hair, which is a primary natural weapon. Despite using a full-attack, it can only be used once, so the witch only gets one shot to attempt this. And on top of that, the witch’s base attack bonus is miserably low, as low as +5 if you’re using the stupid (default) rules, or +6 if you’re using sane (round after adding) rules (4½ + 1½ = 5 if you round first, 6 if you round after).

    • On top of that, using the hair as a primary attack greatly limits what else the witch can do in the full-attack. Using any manufactured weapons or unarmed strikes at all in the full-attack, or using some other natural weapon as a primary attack, relegates the hair to secondary status—forcing it to eat a gigantic −5 penalty to the attack roll. The witch already gets just the one chance at this, and already is hurting for accuracy due to poor BAB; that penalty would likely be the final nail in the coffin. So despite using a full-attack, the witch only gets one attack with the hair—and quite likely no other attacks at all. This is so severe a limitation that I wouldn’t recommend this approach at all, unless the witch can get some other natural weapons to use as secondaries.
  • It relies on grappling, which many targets are or can become immune to (e.g. being too large, casting freedom of movement), and requires a grapple check. Even at +40, the witch only gets one shot at it, so that’s double jeopardy: the witch has to succeed on two checks in a row to do much of anything.

  • It then requires yet another grapple check, or else the target is merely grappled and not pinned. Grappling a target is, itself, still ok, but pinning is vastly superior.

  • The damage is low. A full-attack usually kills, not just pins.

  • Grappling leaves the witch herself somewhat restricted. Sure, she’s much better off than her target, but she isn’t as free to defend herself from other threats as she might like to be.

  • It does absolutely nothing about other threats.

Compare this against any given save-or-lose the witch might have just cast, as a spell: those are usually a standard-action, so she can move freely, enemies only get one opportunity for it to fail, rather than three, it leaves the witch unencumbered, and it can hit an entire party, rather than just one target.

The only concern I really have is that CMB. It may be worth checking the player’s math on that; even if the witch has 29 Int, about as high as would be expected at this level (18 base + 2 racial + 6 enhancement + 3 from levels), that’s +14, with maybe +6 in BAB, and another +6 from feats (Improved Grapple, Greater Grapple). That’s only +26; I’m sure there are definitely other bonuses I’m ignoring, but +14 is a lot to make up with the basic bonuses already accounted for. On the other hand, using combat maneuvers requires that level of dedication, because CMD scales much better than CMB. So I’m not saying that the player shouldn’t have +40, I’m just saying that it’s worth ensuring that the player is paying for that +40.

  • \$\begingroup\$ My bet is that the less reliable of all these rolls will be the hair attack, which will be secondary (-5 to hit) since it is part of a full-round. With these class level the PC's BAB is 5, so unless her stats are completely insane (that would explain the +40 CMB) she will have a hard time reaching the median AC of 26 you are supposed to see at this level. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 7, 2017 at 9:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AnneAunyme A primary weapon only becomes secondary in a full attack if you are mixing manufactured attacks with natural attacks, or have more than one primary natural attack. If the witch spends her full attack using only the hair (or the hair and other natural attacks as secondaries), the hair remains primary and takes no such penalty. (The attack may still be the least reliable step, considering the +40, though.) \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Apr 7, 2017 at 12:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AnneAunyme Not the prehensile hair hex, but the white-haired witch archetype, here. Which says, in part, “At 1st level, a white-haired witch gains the ability to use her hair as a weapon. This functions as a primary natural attack with a reach of 5 feet.” You would be correct about the prehensile hair, yes. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Apr 7, 2017 at 14:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AnneAunyme Yes, I am. The flurry of maneuvers doesn’t even have the obnoxious restrictions that flurry of blows does, it’s literally just “full-attack, and once you’re done with that, make one more maneuver on top of that.” For this witch, a full-attack may very well be just the single attack with the hair as primary (though it’s possible she has other natural attacks to use as secondaries), but that’s allowed, and the manever afterwards wouldn’t interfere with that. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Apr 7, 2017 at 14:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AnneAunyme Added a bullet point to address that explicitly, because that’s a good point and a major weakness of this approach. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Apr 10, 2017 at 17:22

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