In the current arc of my homebrew campaign, I--as the GM--am planning on having my party go against a giant sea dragon/kraken, somewhat akin to the sea dragon leviathan from Subnautica (using the kraken stat block, mostly). The way I have it in my head currently, it will wrap some tentacles around their ship, and its body will rise out of the water 30 or 40 ft. away. That way, ranged attackers can go for the body and head while melee attackers still have an opportunity to strike.

However, this made me realize that I have to figure out the mechanics for my rogue's Sneak Attack bonus. I know the PHB says having another ally adjacent to the rogue's target can allow Sneak Attack damage to occur, but I'm unsure if this would still work logistically within the context of the scenario above. If one character is fighting one tentacle while the rogue is facing off against another, would it still count as being adjacent since the tentacles belong to the same gargantuan monster?

  • \$\begingroup\$ If the creature is homebrew, are you asking for an answer mostly based on homebrew rulings or something that's as by-the-book as possible? \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder May 18 '18 at 14:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think I want to go for something by-the-book. That way I can see about using similar rulings in the future, especially if the party faces off against more gargantuan-sized creatures. \$\endgroup\$ – Stopheles May 18 '18 at 14:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Will your monster have separate stat blocks for each tentacle, or will you treat it like the MM as a single stat block? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 18 '18 at 15:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm treating it as a single monster. I said I was "mostly" using the kraken stat block, but the only differences are that I changed its Strength stat and gave it a couple different lair actions since the battle will be in open water and not in a cave or anything. \$\endgroup\$ – Stopheles May 18 '18 at 19:34

RAW: It's a bit weird, because tentacles aren't technically in the creature's "square(s)"

By the strictest, "D&D is not a reality simulator" interpretation, the melee characters cannot even hit the Kraken, because it's body (read: its occupied space) is too far away.

But, you have a lot of power (and encouragement) as DM to change creatures as you see fit.

So, given that you've established that PCs can attack the tentacles, the counter question is:
Are you counting the tentacles as individual creatures, or just an in-range part of the whole creature?

If tentacles are a part of the whole creature...

In that case, the rogue gets sneak attack against any tentacle if any enemy of the Kraken is within 5 feet of any part of the Kraken (as well as normal sneak attack circumstances). This includes being adjacent to the same tentacle, other tentacles, the body of the Kraken, etc. You would just treat it as a giant, weirdly shaped, creature.

If the tentacles are separate entities...

In that case, a rogue would only get sneak attack against tentacles which meet the criteria for sneak attack (enemies, advantage against it, etc).

Unfortunately, I don't think there's a lot of RAI advice I can offer here, other than the general Rule-zero type "The DM is the arbiter of the rules and blah blah".

Personal advice

I can, however, offer up how I would handle this based on similar monsters I've used (hydra heads, weird plant creatures with multiple "bodies", etc).

I would treat the entire thing as one creature, but with a caveat: The Tentacles have resistance to most forms of damage. Definitely Piercing, Bludgeoning, and Slashing (from even magical weapons). But probably also Acid, Cold, Fire, Lightning, and Force... MAYBE Radiant and Necrotic. Specifically not Psychic and Poison.

Then give each Tentacle a certain amount of "hp", which is still a part of the Kraken's HP. After a certain amount of damage, that tentacle falls off/disintegrates/whatever. This allows the rogue (fighter/barb/etc) to feel engaged, without feeling neutered and it serves as a visual representation of progress to the party.

This is going to be a tough fight, because of how legendary (heh) the Kraken is. And since "attacking a ship on the surface of the water" probably isn't the Kraken's lair, it's going to retreat before it dies. That was probably your plan all along, but it's worth being a reminder. The ship is saved-ish, the ship crew is alive-ish, and the party can continue along their journey... ish. Now armed with the information as to the general location of a new Kraken Lair that was previously unmarked for some reason.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, this is very helpful! I especially like the idea of cutting off the tentacles-- though they'd probably have to saw through those suckers for a while to make progress. I guess I should also mention that the ship they're on will have some explosive cannon rounds they can fire at the monster's body, so they aren't completely "dead in the water", as it were (pun somewhat intended). \$\endgroup\$ – Stopheles May 18 '18 at 19:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm really confused on your advice for resistances. Maybe it's mechanically a good advice (I might need to try it), but it's incredibly counter intuitive (and damage resistances/vulnerabilities in 5e are supposed to be intuitive). How is a tentacle not immune to Psychic damage, which is usually focused in mental durability, i.e. the damage is done by screaming, mocking or w/e the tentacle. And I'd think slashing or smashing a tentacle should be a good idea, not a bad one, unless the tentacle is incredibly hard. \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint May 19 '18 at 4:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @hellsaint because delivering psychic damage to the tentacle would deal psychic damage to the creature. Same for poison. \$\endgroup\$ – goodguy5 May 19 '18 at 20:59

How I always handled this is that if a part of a creature has a separate stat block and is capable of moving and/or acting independently of its parent monster, it counts as a separate creature for almost all purposes even if it's technically part of the same monster. The reasoning behind this is that any creature with body parts that can act as separate creatures should logically be treated as multiple separate creatures.


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