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In regards to casters needing concentration rolls for spells not to fizzle. Like damage from Wall of fire, Blistering Radiance, Black Tentacles, etc or even normal Grappling?
Is the grappling concentration check separate from continuous damage concentration check or the same one and add half damage to grapple DC?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you referring to the grapple damage for Black Tentacles? \$\endgroup\$ – GreedyRadish Sep 22 '16 at 22:27
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There's a definition for continuous damage; everything else is repeated damage

The Player's Handbook in the General Guidelines and Glossary describes continuous damage as "[d]amage from a single attack that continues to deal damage every round without the need for additional attack rolls" (306). The Rules Compendium on Continuous Damage adds a bit more:

If you’re taking continuous damage, such as from a Melf’s acid arrow spell, half the damage is considered to take place while you’re taking your actions. If the last damage dealt was the final damage that the effect could deal, then the damage is over and can’t distract you. Repeated damage isn’t the same as and doesn’t count as continuous damage. (33)

(This largely parrots the description offered in the main body of the Player's Handbook under the skill Concentration (69-70).)

The spell Melf's acid arrow (PH 253) is the go-to example for continuous damage, used as an example of a spell that deals continuous damage in Complete Arcane, the Expanded Psionics Handbook, the Player's Handbook, and, obviously, the Rules Compendium.

But, while Melf's acid arrow does deal continuous damage because everywhere else says so, the spell itself doesn't say that it deals continuous damage. In fact, only a handful things say they deal continuous damage: the spells bothersome babble (sort of) (Complete Mage 97-8), heartfire (Spell Compendium 112), and the original version of Tvash-Prull’s bonefiddle (Champions of Ruin 36) (but not the updated bonefiddle (Spell Compendium 37)); the psionic power burrowing bonds (Complete Psionic 79-80); and the specific magic weapon chain of entangling (Arms and Equipment Guide 103) (32,325 gp; 10 lbs.), to name a few. (Other sources likely exist; don't be sad if your favorite's skipped.)

The specificity of the definition of continuous damage means that the list of effects that can deal continuous damage could be much longer, but because they don't require an attack initially, standing in the effect created by the spell wall of fire (PH 298) shouldn't count, nor should staying in the area of an item on which has been cast the spell celestial brilliance (Book of Exalted Deeds 94). That's not to say a DM that despises casters can't rule either a source of continuous damage anyway, but a strict reading of the definition prohibits it.

Damage in a typical grapple is not usually continuous damage

A grapple's typically started by making a touch attack that deals no damage, so there's no damage present to be continuous. Thus a caster usually need only make the already difficult but standard Concentration skill check to, while grappled, cast a spell.

However, a creature possessing the extraordinary ability improved grab deals damage with the weapon that starts the grapple each round without the need for later attack rolls, fitting the continuous damage definition almost perfectly. This DM would have a grappled caster that's also being dealt continuous damage by a natural weapon from a creature with the ability improved grab only make the higher of the two Concentration skill checks (either for casting in a grapple or for the continuous damage): such a caster's already in a bad place, after all.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 28 '16 at 20:28

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