Dog-Piling the Undead

So my players just tested the wrestle mechanic against 3 Wights. After watching the Mechanist’s Automaton lose a hit die the players decided to use wrestle mechanic to bring them down so the two people with silver weapons could do damage. During this I had no reason to disallow more than one person from making a wrestle attack even once a monster was pinned. This lead me to ask a few questions.

Can multiple people grapple an opponent from “neutral position?”

Can multiple people grappled an already grappled opponent?

If a creature has an attack progression, i.e. claw/claw/bite, may it instead choose to make three wrestle attacks?

The answer to the third question is yes - see the first paragraph under Special Maneuvers on page 109 of the core book. It probably wouldn’t want to, since that would involve releasing any holds on the first two attacks. However, in my campaign, a critter with a claw/claw/bite routine could (as an example) wrestle a target, then do a knock down maneuver to force the wrestled target prone (note: this isn’t strictly RAW, which states that a maneuver can be performed on a grappled target once per round; I modify the rule to a maneuver can be performed on a grappled target once per attack), then wrestle another character, allowing its compatriots to attack the prone target at +2 or the grappled target at +4.

I allow multiple people to try to grapple, but once one succeeds, that’s it, since rules for multiple people establishing holds would be a pain. To simulate dog-piling, I’d use a wrestle with everybody else doing either brawl or incapacitate actions, while positioning themselves so that the target has no easy escape path (in case the wrestler loses his grip, so everyone else can try to re-establish it).

Given that wights inflict level drain on touch, grappling them seems like a terrible idea.

In ACKS (and many other D&D variants), energy drain is a type of attack, not a damage aura. In other words, the wight has to spend an action to make an attack roll and actively use its energy drain on you, you don’t just lose a level every time your skin makes contact with it. When a wight is grappled, it can’t attack (it needs to break free first) and, if it can’t attack, it can’t use its energy drain attack.

If you don’t have magic or silver weapons, grappling a wight is probably the most effective way to fight it. Even if you do have magic/silver, it may still be the safest way to fight it, depending on how good you are at grappling. (Of course, either way, running may still be the best option!)

I instinctively agree with this interpretation, even if it is not to the letter of the rules.

Additionally does the paralysis save that comes every following action occur:

  1. On the pinned creatures initiative;
  2. On the attackers initiative; or
  3. Before or after initiative.

And if defending creature is successful at escaping, do they then get an action or have they used their action to escape?

I had decided that a successful save would permit an action as normal but am willing to accept the wasted turn interpretation.

I disagree. I can’t find any rule that restricts the wight from attacking. The rules say it “may make a saving throw to escape”. The rules list some bonuses for non-grabbed characters, but no restrictions for grabbed characters.

Perhaps my reading is unduly colored by the effects of grappling in other games, but I interpret that as meaning that making another saving throw to escape each round is the only action that a grappled character may take, not that they can act in every way normally and without restriction (including walking away from the person grappling them, since that’s not explicitly ruled out either), but attempting another save is also added to their list of options.

I would argue for a middle ground- a Wight’s energy drain is an attack that it has to expend time and effort to use, but it can perform while grappled. Sort of like an electric eel- It’s not just permanently rolling around in undeath, but it can choose to do that during its turn.