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So, the Book of Vile Darkness have got some awesome, but a little bit evil, spells that do all kind of awesome stuff. One of those have caught my attention by being potentially wicked awesome AND first level. I'm talking about Tongue Tendrils.

The spell gives the caster 1+ tendril that he can shoot at stuff from his mouth at 30' to grapple stuff with it. It has decent STR score, 10 HP and 14 AC, which is good. But I'm curious about using it for other stuff.

As far as I see, those tendrils are considered as limbs of the caster for the spell duration. He can't attack with them, but can grapple. Now, here's the interesting question:

Can the caster use them to grab objects from distance? And if he grabs a sword, can he hit somebody with it with the tendril? Oh, and to be safe - those have their own HP points, so if someone hurts them, the caster won't take any damage, right? Oh, right - and can caster use it to lift himself up, let's say, on a tree?

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2 Answers

up vote 13 down vote accepted

RAW spells only do what the spell description says. So, you can only use it to grapple other creatures. That's not to say your DM won't allow other more creative uses, but I personally wouldn't allow them to wield a weapon. For me, that's a little strong for a 1st level spell.

Also, with my reading of it, yes when the creature attacks or breaks the tendrils, the mage doesn't take any damage.

To me, this really just seems like a reflavoring of the spell Entangle and since both are 1st level, they should remain roughly the same strength. Its a minor control spell where you can keep someone where you want them.

Nowhere does it say the tongue is "prehensile" just that it can wrap around a limb. You could wrap it around a tree (it would automatically succeed the grapple check) and if you wanted to use it as a rope to climb or swing, the tongue has the same break DC as silk rope, so I can easily see that working.

For using the tongue to lift you up, the rope would have to make a Strength check, and the spell description only mentions it has an effective 20 strength for grappling and doesn't mention its strength for anything else.

Again look at the spell Animate Rope for ideas. It's another level 1 spell that is even more similar (except Tongue Tendrils supplies the rope automatically). Which doesn't mention anything about using the animated rope to lift just:

“coil” (form a neat, coiled stack), “coil and knot,” “loop,” “loop and knot,” “tie and knot,” and the opposites of all of the above

In my opinion, when looking to maximize the utility of a single spell, I think it makes sense to look at (or at least think about) what other spells of the same level can do. If a spell of the same level can do it explicitly but has limitations (needs pre-existing plant material or a rope) that your new use of a spell would overcome, it's important that you understand those limitations.

Also it's important to note, that all of the suggestions for rules here are not RAW as far as I'm aware, just how I would rule it if I were the DM.

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As far as rules go the tongue is a form of small sized grapple at range, as for its other uses:

You could deliver a touch attack with it at range.

You could pull a lever at range.

You could use it to snatch an un-attended item at range if the item is light enough to move.

You could possibly lift yourself up with it if a small creature with 20 strength could lift you and all your gear and you had first used it to grab an appropriate item to support your weight.

(without going into too much more thought that`s about all I can think of atm.)

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