As a Master of Many Forms, I recently started to use the Harpoon Spider as a form.

Full attack is :

Bite +11 melee and 2 fangs +2 ranged

The ex attack harpooning works like this

Harpooning (Ex): A dread harpoon spider can fire its harpoonlike fangs up to 20 feet (no range increment). A successful hit deals 1d6+1 points of damage as the harpoon hooks the flesh of the target and immediately exudes a thick, sticky glue. The spider can reel in a harpoon as a free action; treat this as a trip attack (+19 bonus) against any creature attached to the fang. Failure indicates that the harpoon rips free (and deals another 1d6+1 points of damage to the victim). This ability is otherwise like the ordinary harpoon spider's harpooning ability.

Now, the question is, would it be possible to use the harpoon first, reel the target in and then bite, all in a full attack? Or do I have to wait until the next turn to bite?


2 Answers 2


Yes, you can

First off, harpooning already comes with a free bite attack, so you would not even need to make a full attack. But by the rules as written, a full attack would give you a second bite attack (possibly against a lower AC from the poison of the first bite).

The question comes down to two things. Whether or not you can change the order of your attacks, as well as whether or not you can reel in the target in between the attacks.

For the first, while I cannot find any source material that says so I do believe that you can change the order. The reason why the source material does not need to say so is because it also never specified there is an order at all. A creature simply has certain attacks, they have to be listed in an order in the creatures short description in the books but when gaining natural attacks they do no inherently have an order.

Take for example a creature created by applying a few templates that each give natural attacks. The template does not specify where in the order the attacks come because there is no order. And in some cases you can even change the order the templates are applied in.

For the second, I found this:

Free Action
Free actions consume a very small amount of time and effort. You can perform one or more free actions while taking another action normally. However, there are reasonable limits on what you can really do for free.

So yes, you can take a free action in between your attacks to reel in your target.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Why do you say that harpooning comes with a free bite attack? \$\endgroup\$
    – Duralumin
    Oct 17, 2019 at 19:02
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @Duralumin The ability says, "This ability is otherwise like the ordinary harpoon spider's harpooning ability," and the ordinary version includes this: "Success indicates that the victim is pulled off its feet and dragged back to the spider, who can immediately make a free bite attack against the victim." \$\endgroup\$ Oct 17, 2019 at 21:17

The only rule we have enforcing an order of attacks is from the full attack rules:

If you get multiple attacks because your base attack bonus is high enough, you must make the attacks in order from highest bonus to lowest. If you are using two weapons, you can strike with either weapon first. If you are using a double weapon, you can strike with either part of the weapon first.

The harpoon spider does not get multiple attacks because its base attack bonus is high—it gets multiple attacks because it has multiple natural weapons. The rules for natural weapons explictly state “Creatures do not receive additional attacks from a high base attack bonus when using natural weapons,” and those rules furthermore make no mention of any enforced order. As such, this rule does not apply, and so there is no rule specifying any order of attacks. That suggests, therefore, that they may be performed in any order.


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