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Premise

Can a Devil variant of the Fiendish Spirit summoned by the Summon Fiend spell perform a Grapple as one of its attacks on its turn, and also use its Hurl Fire ranged spell attack?

Per the actions in this creature's stat block, quote:

Multiattack. The fiend makes a number of attacks equal to half this spell’s level (rounded down).

Bite (Demon Only). Melee Weapon Attack: your spell attack modifier to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 1d12 + 3 + the spell’s level necrotic damage.

Claws (Yugoloth Only). Melee Weapon Attack: your spell attack modifier to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 1d8 + 3 + the spell’s level slashing damage. Immediately after the attack hits or misses, the fiend can magically teleport up to 30 feet to an unoccupied space it can see.

Hurl Flame (Devil Only). Ranged Spell Attack: your spell attack modifier to hit, range 150 ft., one target. Hit: 2d6 + 3 + the spell’s level fire damage. If the target is a flammable object that isn’t being worn or carried, it also catches fire.

The language of the Fiendish Spirit's multiattack specifies that it can make multiple attacks on its turn, but does not distinguish between Melee Weapon Attacks or Ranged Spell Attacks.

If I am to assume that a Ranged Spell Attack is inherently not considered to be an attack for a monster when it is used, I was unable to find that specifically mentioned anywhere, but would appreciate clarity on where I could find this if it is the case.

What I found was the distinction that players who often ask this question for the purposes of using spells that call for a spell attack roll are actually using the Cast a Spell Action, rather than an attack action, which does not meet the criteria of the Extra Attack feature specifying one can make multiple Attacks when they take the Attack action. Meanwhile, the Hurl Fire action is only classified as a Ranged Spell Attack, which to me, reads as a type of attack specifically and thereby fits within the criteria of the Multiattack feature; that being the Fiendish Spirit may make a number of attacks equal to half this spell's level.

Let us assume for this question the spell has not been cast using a higher level slot and has 3 attacks, as the spell is naturally 6th level.

Per the rules on grappling, quote:

When you want to grab a creature or wrestle with it, you can use the Attack action to make a special melee attack, a grapple. If you’re able to make multiple attacks with the Attack action, this attack replaces one of them.

This leads me to believe that the Devil Variant may both Hurl Fire twice and attempt a grapple on a given target on its turn, using its Multiattack feature. Is that the case, or am I missing something?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour and visit the help center if you need any guidance in posting Q&A here! You should post one question per post, so I suggest to remove the second one and maybe post it as a separate question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Oct 12, 2023 at 7:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ah okay, duly noted; I shall do so. I was under the impression that a question which is tangentially dependent on the first could be included, but now I have learned..! \$\endgroup\$ Oct 12, 2023 at 7:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ I would also caution you against accepting quick answers, the longer you leave a question open for the more likely you are to get additional answers and accepting something dissuades people from potentially giving conflicting answers. Usually a few days is best to let this play out. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Oct 12, 2023 at 8:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for the suggestion; I'll leave this unaccepted for a while longer to potentially see some other interesting answers then! Aaaand probably do the same for future questions \$\endgroup\$ Oct 12, 2023 at 8:33

1 Answer 1

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Monsters usually must take their Attack Action for the Grapple Attack.

As clearly stated in this answer, for the Grapple (or Shove) attack a monster must take its Attack Action. This is confirmed by the Sage Advice Compendium:

Is the grappling rule in the Player’s Handbook usable by a handless creature?

[...]

Keep in mind that the grappling rule in the Player’s Handbook requires the Attack action, so a creature must take that action—rather than Multiattack or another action in the creature’s stat block—when it uses that rule. A monster, such as a roper, that has a special grappling attack doesn’t follow that rule when using its special attack.

The Multiattack action usually lists the attacks that the monster can make: for example, the Balor stat block says:

Multiattack. The balor makes two attacks: one with its longsword and one with its whip.

So, if the Balor takes the Multiattack Action, then he can make 2 attacks, one with its longsword (described below in the stat block) and one with its whip (described below in the stat block). Grapple or Shove are not listed here, hence the Balor must use its Action for taking the Attack Action for Grapple.

The description of the Fiendish Spirit leaves some room for interpretation.

The Multiattack action reports:

Multiattack. The fiend makes a number of attacks equal to half this spell’s level (rounded down).

without specifying which kind of attacks they can take.

A strict interpretation is that they can make only the attacks listed in their stat block, as usual for other monsters, depending on the type of summoned fiend. It seems that the intention of the authors was to mimic the text of previous monsters with the Multiattack action, but since the attack options depend on the type of summoned fiend, they did not explicitly list them as for the monsters in the MM.

Since generic attacks are mentioned in this action, a more loose interpretation may suggest that one of these attacks can be a grapple or shove attack, since they are special melee attacks.


As a DM, I would rule as for the classical monsters: for Grapple or Shove attack the monster must spend their entire action, since I find at my games that these kind of summoning spell are already quite powerful.

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