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I usually have a solid grip on grappling rules but a recent battle caught me flat footed. Word play aside, a creature with multiple tentacles grappled me from 10' away, and chose to maintain the distance instead of pulling me in.

This brings up several questions in regard to the normal grapple rules, and I'm curious if it's been addressed or if any of you have had similar issues.

  1. Does the enemy maintain his dex vs other creatures, since he has multiple tentacles & is keeping 10' away? If yes then if all tentacles were grappling (single or several targets) would he then be denied dex?

  2. Do my allies still have a 50% chance to hit me if his body is 10' away?

  3. If I have contact abilities and his body remains out of reach (on the ceiling), can I trigger them against his tentacles?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted
  1. Yes, but read on. If a monster can grapple and not be considered grappled itself, there should be a penalty and/or a limitation involved (for example, see Improved Grab: -20 grapple check penalty and -1 size category limitation); this might vary per creature, with details explained in its description.

  2. No. In fact, your allies can choose which square of a multi-square opponent target, and no chance to hit you when targeting a square not adjacent to you, even if some other opponent's squares are adjacent to you. This rule is from page 140 of the Player's Handbook and explained by Wizards here.

  3. It depends. I would refer to creature's description and/or DM. Probably yes, possibly with limitations.

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The Rule

Pretty simple elegant answer here. When you grapple, you share an opponent's space. This Rules of the Game article spells it out for you.

You share your foe's space when you're grappling. If you and your foe are different sizes, use the larger of the two space entries. Any attack that can reach the shared space can hit you. You don't get cover from a foe you're grappling, but any ranged attack aimed into your shared space has an equal chance to strike you or the creature you're grappling. Roll randomly to determine which creature a ranged attack strikes (see note 3 on Table 8-6 in the Player's Handbook). If you use a weapon against a foe you're grappling (see Part Two), you don't have to roll to determine the target you actually attack.

So, with this information in mind, the answers to your questions are;

1) No - You are grappling, and so lose your dexterity bonus.

2) Yes - You are grappling, so when someone tries to hit you or the creature you are in a grapple with, you roll randomly to see who is the target of the attack. This is only for ranged attacks.

3) Yes - If you are able to cast a spell or trigger an ability that requires contact, you can do so. You are "sharing a space" and so are in range.

When your opponent is Large

Also from Rules of the Game

You share your foe's space when you're grappling. If you and your foe are different sizes, use the larger of the two space entries.

Exceptions to the Rule

The Roper is the classic monster that grabs an opponent with a tentacle. It has special rules that differentiate it from a grapple.

From the Roper's stat-block

If a roper hits with a strand attack, the strand latches onto the opponent’s body. This deals no damage but drags the stuck opponent 10 feet closer each subsequent round (provoking no attack of opportunity) unless that creature breaks free, which requires a DC 23 Escape Artist check or a DC 19 Strength check. The check DCs are Strength-based, and the Escape Artist DC includes a +4 racial bonus. A roper can draw in a creature within 10 feet of itself and bite with a +4 attack bonus in the same round. A strand has 10 hit points and can be attacked by making a successful sunder attempt. However, attacking a roper’s strand does not provoke an attack of opportunity. If the strand is currently attached to a target, the roper takes a -4 penalty on its opposed attack roll to resist the sunder attempt. Severing a strand deals no damage to a roper.

In this situation, neither the creature or the target are in a grapple, nobody loses their bonus to dexterity, ranged attacks do not have a chance of striking an ally, and you can not target the roper with a touch attack if you outside of his range (but you can target the roper's strands, which have hit points of their own).

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3  
But (also from SRD): To maintain the grapple for later rounds, you must move into the target’s space. ... If you can’t move into your target’s space, you can’t maintain the grapple and must immediately let go of the target. I think the "sharing space" clause you cite has this in mind, and clearly the tentacle monster has an exception to all of that moving-into-space stuff (if a poorly worded one). I think many of the points are still valid, but maybe re-visit them in light of that? –  BESW Dec 10 '12 at 4:28
    
@BESW Can you elaborate. I do not understand what you mean. :P –  Robobot Dec 10 '12 at 7:57
1  
Your original answer was based on the rule that you have to share a space with your opponent. Normally (as I quoted) this is a prerequisite of a grapple and failure to do so ends the grapple. A creature capable of grappling from 10' away probably has an implied exception (though it should be explicit, this is Wizards so I don't expect it) to that "share a space" rule or else the grappled target (or the monster) would be moved 10' to share a space as soon as the grapple was successful. If that were the case, your citations would be accurate unmodified. –  BESW Dec 10 '12 at 11:34
    
Ah, I see. I am not comfortable inferring things like that from the rules, but I can definitely see how that inference can be made. Thanks for explaining it. –  Robobot Dec 11 '12 at 22:55

This... Shouldn't Happen

The situation is that "a creature with multiple tentacles grappled me from 10' away, and [it] chose to maintain the distance instead of pulling me in." This must be a unique ability which you should detail to get more accurate answers. A creature that starts a grapple in D&D 3.5 just doesn't pull the grappled creature in. (Nor does this happen in Pathfinder: "If you successfully grapple a creature that is not adjacent to you, move that creature to an adjacent open space (if no space is available, your grapple fails).")

Unless an ability allows the creature pull in the target of the creature's grapple--that is, grapple and not move into the target's square--, if the grappler doesn't enter the foe's square, the grappler must end the grapple during Step 4: Maintain Grapple, which reads

Maintain Grapple. To maintain the grapple for later rounds, you must move into the target’s space. (This movement is free and doesn’t count as part of your movement in the round.) Moving, as normal, provokes attacks of opportunity from threatening opponents, but not from your target.

If you can’t move into your target’s space, you can’t maintain the grapple and must immediately let go of the target. To grapple again, you must begin at Step 1. (PH 156)

Sometimes that movement into the target's space is difficult to adjudicate, but the special ability improved grab (MM 310) doesn't change the fact that a creature who wishes to maintain the grapple must enter his opponent's square, nor is that changed by being a tentacled monstrosity (e.g. darkmantle (MM 38), giant squid (MM 281), kraken (MM 162-3), otyugh (MM 204-5)).

Questions and Answers

  • Question: Does the keep his Dexterity bonus to Armor Class against foes the creature's not grappling?
    Answer: Unless the creature's ability changes this, normally the grappling creature loses his Dexterity bonus to Armor Class against foes the creature's not grappling. One of the Grappling Consequences is that a grappling creature has

    No Dexterity Bonus
    [Creatures] lose [their] Dexterity bonus to AC (if [they] have one) against opponents [they] aren’t grappling. ([They] can still use [their Dexterity bonus to Armor Class] against opponents [they] are grappling.) (PH 156)

  • Q: Do allies have a 50% chance to hit their ally and 50% chance to hit the foe if the foe's grappling an ally from 10 ft. away?
    A: Unless the creature's ability changes this, only with ranged attacks. Table 8-6: Armor Class Modifiers says that when an attacker who's not in a grapple makes a ranged attack versus a creature who's grappling

    Roll randomly to see which grappling combatant you strike. That defender loses any Dexterity bonus to AC. (PH 151)

    There's no chance for allies to strike the wrong target with melee attacks.

  • Q: Can an attacker make a non-reach melee attack versus a creature with reach when the creature with reach makes a melee attack against him (e.g. by taking the action Ready)?
    A: This is beyond the scope of this question and is best asked as its own.
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