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Player A has improved grapple and polymorphs into a 7 HD hydra. If he takes a full attack action, can he grapple 7 enemies simultaneously? Things to consider:

  1. Once grappling, a player threatens no squares, but are all actions are happening at once and/or does a player need to threaten squares to actively attack them?
  2. Only up to four creatures can join a grapple on a single creature, but does that stop a single creature from initiating a grapple on over four creatures?

To clarify: the player is not looking to bite for damage and then grapple. He simply wants to use standard grapple rules and initiate 7 grapples via touch attacks.

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No, not without Improved Grab, which the 3.5e hydra does not have.

The creature has the option to conduct the grapple normally, or simply use the part of its body it used in the improved grab to hold the opponent. If it chooses to do the latter, it takes a –20 penalty on grapple checks, but is not considered grappled itself; the creature does not lose its Dexterity bonus to AC, still threatens an area, and can use its remaining attacks against other opponents.

Without Improved Grab, the hydra still has to use its limbs to maintain a grapple - it can initiate a grapple with a converted bite attack, but the grappling itself is more than just the bite (unless it has Improved Grab). Once the hydra begins a grapple, it can no longer use its remaining attacks against other opponents.

To put it another way, without Improved Grab, the attacker will lose all remaining attacks except those permissible under the "If You Are Grappling" section of the Grappling Rules after the first grapple hits and cease to threaten squares due to being in a grapple. The "If You Are Grappling" options limit you to attacks only against a target you are grappling.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Why exactly can't the Hydra's head be considered it's grappling limb? I think this answer would be improved by citing the grappling rules on what qualifies as the grappling instrument, especially when referencing monsters. \$\endgroup\$ – Lino Frank Ciaralli Mar 13 '18 at 19:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ The grappling rules do not specify such a thing as a grappling instrument. Grappling is done with the entire body, against the target's entire body, with the exact implementation left to the imagination of the DM. The Improved Grab Special Attack referenced in the answer provides an exception, "The creature has the option to conduct the grapple normally, or simply use the part of its body it used in the improved grab to hold the opponent." \$\endgroup\$ – Bedro Mar 13 '18 at 20:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ The player is not looking to bite to initiate grapple. He just wants to get 7 touch attacks via converting his available attacks. I'll clarify the question. \$\endgroup\$ – Wannabe Warlock Mar 13 '18 at 20:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ That doesn't change the answer though. Without Improved Grab, he will lose all remaining attacks after the first grapple hits and cease to threaten squares. This is the Special Attack that does what he wants - and the Hydra does not have it. \$\endgroup\$ – Bedro Mar 13 '18 at 21:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ I could have explained that part better. The loss of threatened squares and the loss of remaining attacks(against other opponents) are two separate penalties. The Grappling rules put significant limitations on attack actions while grappling. One of these limitations is that you can only attack creatures you are grappling with, and only with a natural attack, single light weapon, or unarmed strike. See "If You Are Grappling" section of the Grapple Rules \$\endgroup\$ – Bedro Mar 13 '18 at 21:55

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