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The Enormous Tentacle Has the following attack:

Constrict. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 35 ft., one creature. Hit: 13 (2d8 + 4) bludgeoning damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 16). Until this grapple ends, the creature is restrained, and the tentacle can't constrict another target.

If a player has a readied action to hit the creature when it comes into range, and is subsequently attacked by the Constrict attack. Can it hit and damage the Enormous Tentacle?


Context behind the question:

This is different situation to if someone is being attacked by a reach weapon i.e. a pole-arm, at that point they would need to be close to the meaty part of the creature to damage. This question is focused around creatures with reach that attack with themselves. This Enormous Tentacle, Dragons with long reach etc.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: "Does a froghemoth's grapple attack prevent characters attacking it?" \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 11:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'll just add a comment saying this question is, to me, meaningfully different from the one above for two reasons: First, it asks about the general case (at least the title does) so answers should address how this applies to various monsters like the Froghemoth, Roper, and Enormous Tentacle. Second, the Enormous Tentacle itself is a rather unique case as the creature literally is the tentacle that is making the reach attack so special considerations may need to be made and table-experience specifically with this monster (and others) would improve answers \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 12:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just to share a thought: A similar question would be whether a readied Disarm action could be used to disarm an attacker who attacks with a reach weapon (and is 10ft away and you don't have a reach weapon) \$\endgroup\$
    – RHS
    Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 14:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RHS That's a completely different question than this. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 14:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Yeah, it is. I wasn't trying to propose it as a duplicate or anything. I was thinking along the lines that both questions (OP's and mine) can be derived from a more generalized question like "Can you use a readied action to strike the part that reaches you with a reach attack?" where I say "strike" to mean an attack in OP's case and a disarm in my case, and "the part that reaches you" is the tentacle on OP's case and the weapon in my case. Sorry if it's not appropriate to point out such observations in comments - still a bit new to SE rules. \$\endgroup\$
    – RHS
    Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 15:00

2 Answers 2

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By the RAW, no, but it's a DM call

There is nothing specific in the rules about readying an action to strike a creature with reach when it comes in to attack with a body part, and the rule is that you can only make melee attacks against creatures that are within your reach. Despite the attacker having a long reach, its body is way over there, so by default, you can't do this. However, a DM could certainly to decide to allow it based on the situation at hand.

It's reasonable to say that you can chop at a limb as it comes towards you; but it's equally reasonable to say that a dragon's claw is too heavily scaled and moving too fast during an attack to present a target for a melee attack.

Now, if you're being grappled by an Enormous Tentacle, it's pretty hard to argue against being able to attack it, since it's literally wrapped around your body; but again, this is down to the DM and the exact scenario at the table. There's no official rule that says this is possible, but that's why we have human DMs at the table.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ If it's RAW no, why is it DM's call? Just because you may not like the RAW...but isn't that always the case? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 15:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch, because D&D's rules are deliberately simpler. This means a) you don't need to reference Rule 1.5.3 Subsection B Paragraph iii, and b) the DM is required to be a bit more active in their rulings to keep nonsensical things from happening. This example is one where RAW is clear enough, but there's plenty of wiggle room for a ruling. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 15:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ Basically what Potato said. I almost always say something like "by the RAW no, but the DM might let you" because I think giving a hard-line "no" can give the wrong impression about how the game's rules work. In this case I headlined the 'maybe' because this is a place where I think the rules probably should be overruled but it'll probably be a somewhat complicated ruling (like the DM could rule you can ready a melee attack but you'll only get one swing because after that the limb is out of range). And even quasi-official sources like Crawford have spoken in favor of attacking a grappler. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 18:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ FWIW, an arguable counterexample: the roper, which explicitly calls out that its tentacles can be directly and independently attacked. To the extent the roper attacks with a tentacle, I see no reason why the target could not have an attack readied to respond. \$\endgroup\$
    – screamline
    Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 21:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Im pretty sure NauthArch has his answer. But I think another way to explain the "no, but GM call..." stance is : that it's No by RAW, but the action looks like something the character could try and succeed. A case where the rules and the fiction do not say the same thing, if we borrow the PbtA slang. \$\endgroup\$
    – 3C273
    Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 23:52
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You can hit a creature that is using itself to hit you

Creature Size: Space (PHB 191)

A creature's space is the area in feet that it effectively controls in combat, not an expression of its physical dimensions.

It goes on to give an example of how hobgoblins are not literally 5 feet wide, but rather that this is the space it controls in combat.

While this rule is generally taken in that sense, that creatures are smaller than the space they control, it doesn't say a creature is fully contained within its space. Parts of their body can extend outside their space without giving them control of additional space, and still be fully consistent with that rule.

Melee Attacks (PHB 195)

a melee attack allows you to attack a foe within your reach.

You attack a foe, not the foe's space.

It is easily within RAW, using the rules above, that a creature can extend part of its body outside of the space it controls and to within the reach of something it intends to attack, thereby allowing a melee attack on it. (This assumes the premise of the question is true, in that the targeted creature has readied an attack, or has been grappled. The foe must still be within reach when the targeted creature makes its attack.)

Saying that an appendage hitting or grappling a creature is not a part of a "foe" is inviting a worse "I'm not touching you!" argument than parents with small children in the car have to deal with.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ so an enemy with 5 ft reach can hit a bugbear that is at 10 feet as long as the bugbear is attacking with let's say an unarmed attack? \$\endgroup\$
    – Tiger Guy
    Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 17:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TigerGuy If the bugbear has a 10 foot reach with its unarmed attack, and the bugbear's target has a readied action to attack when it comes within range (as stated in the question), then yes. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 9, 2021 at 18:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ On the other hand, you'll still run into weird arguments when fighting some monsters. Like a Manticore with detaching tail-spikes. That's probably why there's no official rule. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Commented Sep 10, 2021 at 9:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Erik It comes down to what the DM and players consider to be part of the "foe". Personally, I don't find detached pieces to still be included, but there can potentially be gray area for other things. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 10, 2021 at 12:16

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