The amusing spell Black Tentacles can be a great spell for harassing enemies in a area while your characters get some popcorn and place bets on which monster can escape the swarm of grappling.

The tentacles do 1d6+4 damage when they successfully grapple something, horah... but does this ignore DR?

Normally magical based damage (such as magic missile) ignore DR: "Spells, spell-like abilities, and energy attacks (even nonmagical fire) ignore damage reduction." but the tentacles are a conjure/creation (much like a monster?) so do they ignore DR?


While Black Tentacles is Conjuration (Creation) it does not actually create a creature. As such, by a strict reading of the rules, Black Tentacles behaves just like any other spell that deals damage on its own. There is nothing in either the Grappling Rules, the DR rules or the Magic rules to change this.

Which would mean it bypasses DR.


I think @DareDemon is partially wrong here.

The spell clearly creates a physical object (rubbery black tentacles) and uses that to attack. Magic Missile is simply not comparable as it is a [force] effect that is instantaneous.

If I conjure a metal ball and then throw it at it you, it doesn't magically bypass DR simply because it was conjured instead of forged.

Likewise the damage is clearly the result of the grapple. Grappling has a specific set of options of what you can do to a grappled opponent: damage, pin, move. The spell explicitly excludes pin and move, providing only the damage option. The spell even requires ongoing grapple checks (with the normal +5) to continue to deal damage.

You are not being damaged by "the spell", you are clearly being damaged by the grappling of these physical rubbery tentacles. They're even making a CMB roll.

This indicates that the tentacles are performing some type of physical attack. They're not necromantically sucking your life force, they're not burning you, the tentacles are causing you physical damage (and not "environmental damage") so you should be protected from that damage with DR.

That stated, there is a technicality here. The spell does not state what "type" of damage it causes and is therefore untyped and will therefore bypass DR.

This is weird.

If I polymorph into a giant rubbery tentacle and then I grapple you, that's considered bludgeoning damage. But apparently if someone conjured the giant rubbery tentacle it is considered "untyped damage".

Given how silly that sounds, I would probably override the RAW here and just call it bludgeoning damage.


Paizo staff have somewhat answered this:


Paizo Employee James Jacobs Creative Director Mar 27, 2010, 12:25 PM 7 people marked this as FAQ candidate. Staff response: no reply required. 7 people marked this as a favorite. James Jacobs

When a spell mentions that a specific type of damage caused is bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing, that DOES have to overcome a creature's DR. Some spells create magic effects, while others use magic to create physical effects; that's a major theme of conjuration magic (and creation magic in particular).

If you hit an ooze with the Split ability with the appropriate type of damage, be that from a spell or weapon, it will split.

And if you drop a spell that, say, does piercing damage on something with damage reduction like 5/bludgeoning, that piercing damage will get offset by the damage reduction.

Casting ice storm on a mix of zombies and skeletons would indeed be complex. The zombies would reduce the damage taken from the bludgeoning portion of the spell but take full damage from the cold, while the skeletons would just ignore the cold damage entirely and take full damage from the bludgeoning.

MOST spells don't inflict bludgeoning/piercing/slashing damage at all. And most spells don't inflict multiple types of damage either. Lightning bolt, for example, just causes electricity damage. It bypasses DR entirely but not electricity resistance or electricity immunity. And unless the spell description says so specifically, bludgeoning/piercing/slashing damage it inflicts is not automatically also treated as bypassing magic. Again; the damaging object is CREATED by magic and PROPELLED by magic, but is not in and of itself magic.

A spell that conjures a flight of arrows that deals piercing damage should be reduced by DR/bludgeoning or slashing. If it doesn't, then that spell's damage type shouldn't be listed as piercing at all, but untyped damage. Spells and effects that do untyped damage are pretty rare in Pathfinder, since these spells are quite powerful since their damage can't be stopped by any form of immunity, resistance, or damage reduction.


Sean K Reynolds Contributor Aug 21, 2012, 11:51 AM 18 people marked this as a favorite. Sean K Reynolds

There's no point in a magical ability calling out whether it's B, P, or S damage unless the intent is that DR/B, DR/P, or DR/S resists it.

If the magical ability wasn't affected by any kind of DR, the ability would just say it deals damage, and not list a type of damage at all.

Because the magical ability lists a damage type, effects that block that damage type apply. If it doesn't list a damage type, then the "creature takes normal damage from spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural abilities" rule applies.

But Pathfinder writers removed the word "Bludgeoning" from the 3.5 spell description of Black Tentacles. NOTE that while they removed the B-word from the spell they added it to the Unarmed Damage rule (it wasn't there in 3.5). So an argument could be made that Grappling is typed damage:

Damage: You can inflict damage to your target equal to your unarmed strike, a natural attack, or an attack made with armor spikes or a light or one-handed weapon. This damage can be either lethal or nonlethal.

All those attacks have typed damage, even Unarmed:

Unarmed Strike Damage: An unarmed strike from a Medium character deals 1d3 points of bludgeoning damage (plus your Strength modifier, as normal). A Small character's unarmed strike deals 1d2 points of bludgeoning damage, while a Large character's unarmed strike deals 1d4 points of bludgeoning damage. All damage from unarmed strikes is nonlethal damage. Unarmed strikes count as light weapons (for purposes of two-weapon attack penalties and so on).

Dealing Lethal Damage: You can specify that your unarmed strike will deal lethal damage before you make your attack roll, but you take a –4 penalty on your attack roll. If you have the Improved Unarmed Strike feat, you can deal lethal damage with an unarmed strike without taking a penalty on the attack roll.

And the constrict ability supports this:

Constrict (Ex) A creature with this special attack can crush an opponent, dealing bludgeoning damage, when it makes a successful grapple check (in addition to any other effects caused by a successful check, including additional damage). The amount of damage is given in the creature's entry and is typically equal to the amount of damage caused by the creature's melee attack.

I would say the tentacles constrict for sure. I'm not sure whether you can choose nonlethal damage though.


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