Can a swarm be entangled?


Rules Questions

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Can a swarm gain the entangled condition? Specifically, can it be entangled per the entangle spell? It can't be grappled, so it wouldn't seem to make sense that it could be stopped with an entangle spell. (We all know what happens when you start trying to figure these things out with common sense!)

Secondly, with the engtangle spell does the swarm treat the ground as rough terrain? Thousands of creatures, er, swarming, all over the place, do they care about wiggly weeds? (I would still argue yes)


Let's see what Swarm Traits are.

Preview Bestiary wrote:

Swarm Traits: A swarm has no clear front or back and no

discernable anatomy, so it is not subject to critical hits or flanking. A swarm made up of Tiny creatures takes half damage from slashing and piercing weapons. A swarm composed of Fine or Diminutive creatures is immune to all weapon damage. Reducing a swarm to 0 hit points or less causes it to break up, though damage taken until that point does not degrade its ability to attack or resist attack. Swarms are never staggered or reduced to a dying state by damage. Also, they cannot be tripped, grappled, or bull rushed, and they cannot grapple an opponent.

A swarm is immune to any spell or effect that targets a specific number of creatures (including single-target spells such as disintegrate), with the exception of mindaffecting effects (charms, compulsions, morale effects, patterns, and phantasms) if the swarm has an Intelligence score and a hive mind. A swarm takes half again as much damage (+50%) from spells or effects that affect an area, such as splash weapons and many evocation spells.

Swarms made up of Diminutive or Fine creatures are susceptible to high winds, such as those created by a gust of wind spell. For purposes of determining the effects of wind on a swarm, treat the swarm as a creature of the same size as its constituent creatures. A swarm rendered unconscious by means of nonlethal damage becomes disorganized and dispersed, and does not reform until its hit points exceed its nonlethal damage.

There's nothing here about entangle, so they can be entangled.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

As written, it would seem possible - but it's worth noting that swarms take fewer penalties than other creatures, simply because they don't have to make attack rolls.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Is entangling an effect?


Matthew Morris wrote:
Is entangling an effect?

Entangled is a condition.

The Entangle spell produces an area, and doesn't have a target or effect.


Follow-up. So the way that I understand swarms' movement, the 4 "squares" (god i hate that term...), can move independently, but are usually contiguous. So if it can be entangled, does each square need to break free if entangled, or does it make a save as one entity? (I lean toward the latter...)


Kyle Baird wrote:
Matthew Morris wrote:
Is entangling an effect?

Entangled is a condition.

The Entangle spell produces an area, and doesn't have a target or effect.

I think that a swarm can definitively be entangled. They could conceivably be entangled by a Web spell for exampled, or on a gooey/sticky surface (assuming the swarm isn't flying).

The real question is whether or not the Entangle spell should work against a swarm. I think that the lack of description, if any, is missing from the spell description, not from the swarm template itself.

'findel


If swarms were immune to entangled condition or speed reduction fro difficult terrain, that subtype would say so, like elemental subtype says that elementals are immune to stunning.

No mention of immunity to entangling or difficult terrain.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

My only concern is this line: "A swarm is immune to any spell or effect that targets a specific number of creatures." So you couldn't entagle them with a tanglefoot bag, for example.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

This is one of the things that is perhaps part of the problem with the 3.x ruleset, the abandonment of common sense and the dependence on a rule for everything.

It should be up to the DM to rule on these things. If the entanglement comes from something really sticky that covers a large area then sure, they are entangled. If its a net or some twisty vines and roots and the swarm is insects, no way.

Trying to have one ruling for all types of swarms is silly. Let the DM make the call and move on.

<said the frustrated dm>

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
jreyst wrote:

This is one of the things that is perhaps part of the problem with the 3.x ruleset, the abandonment of common sense and the dependence on a rule for everything.

It should be up to the DM to rule on these things. If the entanglement comes from something really sticky that covers a large area then sure, they are entangled. If its a net or some twisty vines and roots and the swarm is insects, no way.

Trying to have one ruling for all types of swarms is silly. Let the DM make the call and move on.

<said the frustrated dm>

I agree 100%...okay more like 90%.

The thing with rules is that by having them physically written in the actual rules it makes it so I can move group to group as a player and not be bogged down by different interpretations (I think we've all been here before).

What you've said though is in the rules in a very round-about way. Swarms are immune to spells/abilities that target a single creature (a tanglefoot bag for example which may only hit one of the swarmees). Swarms are not immune to area effect abilities and would be effected by abilities like entangle (which can be imagined by hundreds of roots and grasses grasping at the wee little legs of the swarmees).

In the end though make a good call as a DM and move on, it's not worth trying to figure out if it slows things down that much. If you're a player, make a case to your DM and live with his/her call. Not much more to it than that.


jreyst wrote:

This is one of the things that is perhaps part of the problem with the 3.x ruleset, the abandonment of common sense and the dependence on a rule for everything.

It should be up to the DM to rule on these things. If the entanglement comes from something really sticky that covers a large area then sure, they are entangled. If its a net or some twisty vines and roots and the swarm is insects, no way.

Trying to have one ruling for all types of swarms is silly. Let the DM make the call and move on.

<said the frustrated dm>

If this were a home game, I wouldn't even ask the question. No the entangle spell can't entangle a spider swarm. Yes the movement of the vines and grass slows down the swarm (maybe not 1/2 per common sense but would use 1/2 for simplicity). For a PFS game, I am far more careful about erring on the player's side of rules questions.


I would say there is a rule that (sadly) is sometimes underestimated in RPGs.

It's called common sense.

Let's put it this way: the Elemental subtype shows the different immunities an elemental has, and Entangled or Grappled are not among them. Fine. But, as a GM, would you allow somebody to entangle a Fire Elemental with an Entangle spell (grass and vines against fire) ? Hold in place a Water Elemental with a Web spell (sticky strands against water) ? Physically grapple an Air Elemental (arms and legs against... a cloud)?

If your answers to the questions above are 'yes' to all three, perhaps you and I have a different idea of what 'Rules As Written' really means. A rule is a general guideline - general being the keyword. Delegating the Game-Mastering job to a strict reading of the rules without effectively applying their condition in a specific situation leads to absurdities (such as a Barbarian who tries to grapple an Air Elemental... what does he do, he sucks it into his lungs !?!...)

Just my 2c.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
The Wraith wrote:

I would say there is a rule that (sadly) is sometimes underestimated in RPGs.

It's called common sense.

Let's put it this way: the Elemental subtype shows the different immunities an elemental has, and Entangled or Grappled are not among them. Fine. But, as a GM, would you allow somebody to entangle a Fire Elemental with an Entangle spell (grass and vines against fire) ? Hold in place a Water Elemental with a Web spell (sticky strands against water) ? Physically grapple an Air Elemental (arms and legs against... a cloud)?

If your answers to the questions above are 'yes' to all three, perhaps you and I have a different idea of what 'Rules As Written' really means. A rule is a general guideline - general being the keyword. Delegating the Game-Mastering job to a strict reading of the rules without effectively applying their condition in a specific situation leads to absurdities (such as a Barbarian who tries to grapple an Air Elemental... what does he do, he sucks it into his lungs !?!...)

Just my 2c.

^

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What he said. This is a fantasy game of imagination. If you want hard, firm rules for everything, play a crpg. In a pnp rpg the dm gets to be creative and make decisions. That's a *feature* of pnp rpgs, not a flaw.


Thanks for you input everyone. To be clear, I wasn't looking for a RAW vs. Common Sense thread. I was simply looking for something written that would state (or imply) that a swarm doesn't have to make a reflex save vs. the entangle spell.

Thanks again.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

The Wraith wrote:
(such as a Barbarian who tries to grapple an Air Elemental... what does he do, he sucks it into his lungs !?!...)

Given a strong enough barbarian of high enough level, frankly, I think that's an amazing idea. I'd approve it!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mattrex wrote:
Given a strong enough barbarian of high enough level, frankly, I think that's an amazing idea. I'd approve it!

Meh. Not me. While I am all for heroic things happening, at some point you have to have some sort of limits. What about the strong enough barbarian grappling a ghost? Well you'd probably say "of course not, that's just plain silly" well then why is it any less silly to say that grappling air is basically impossible? Just because it doesn't say it in the rules?

Maybe its the grognard showing through but I guess I don't feel I have to adhere to every rule "because it says/doesn't say so".

To the original poster, yes, I know, your question is resolved. I'm now threadjacking this thread into a more philosophical debate about playstyle :)

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

jreyst wrote:

Meh. Not me. While I am all for heroic things happening, at some point you have to have some sort of limits. What about the strong enough barbarian grappling a ghost? Well you'd probably say "of course not, that's just plain silly" well then why is it any less silly to say that grappling air is basically impossible? Just because it doesn't say it in the rules?

Maybe its the grognard showing through but I guess I don't feel I have to adhere to every rule "because it says/doesn't say so".

To the original poster, yes, I know, your question is resolved. I'm now threadjacking this thread into a more philosophical debate about playstyle :)

Everyone's a critic.

Given that a 20th level barbarian can lift a ton or two over his head, and given that at high-to-epic levels you can (for instance) walk on clouds with an appropriate Acrobatics check, to suggest that with sufficient suction one could hoover up the air molecules wherein an air elemental is manifest does not seem beyond the pale.

For that matter, the reason you can't grapple a ghost is because they're incorporeal, literally not existing as physical matter on the material plane. Air elementals, on the other hand, are made up of tangible air molecules.

That's not to say it wouldn't be incredibly dangerous and probably stupid, but you try telling the mouth-frothing berserker that he might want to reconsider his course of action.


Air elementals are solidified air. They aren't gaseous. There's no problem grappling them.

Same with water elementals. They aren't liquid. They have a definite form.

EDIT: Besides which, there are myths of, for example, riding a tornado like a bronco. I see no reason to disallow it in a fantasy game.


Zurai wrote:

Air elementals are solidified air. They aren't gaseous. There's no problem grappling them.

Same with water elementals. They aren't liquid. They have a definite form.

??? Nothing in the description of these creatures shows this. An Elemental is basically an aggregation of one of the primary elements, but it is NOT specified that is solid (well, except the Earth Elemental). A Fire Elemental is not a 'crystal' flame, it's a real flame animated by an alien life energy (and in fact, it cannot cross bodies of water); a Water Elemental cannot leave the pool of water from which it has been conjured (and have not a 'definite' form, they are basically sentient waves of water - in fact, they can even change into whirlpools); and Air Elementals... well, they can become whilrwinds, and I have yet to see somebody 'grappling a whirlwind' (the opposite is true, however).

Just my 2c.


The Wraith wrote:

??? Nothing in the description of these creatures shows this. An Elemental is basically an aggregation of one of the primary elements, but it is NOT specified that is solid (well, except the Earth Elemental). A Fire Elemental is not a 'crystal' flame, it's a real flame animated by an alien life energy (and in fact, it cannot cross bodies of water); a Water Elemental cannot leave the pool of water from which it has been conjured (and have not a 'definite' form, they are basically sentient waves of water - in fact, they can even change into whirlpools); and Air Elementals... well, they can become whilrwinds, and I have yet to see somebody 'grappling a whirlwind' (the opposite is true, however).

Just my 2c.

The proof is in the pudding. They are able to be grappled. They cannot squeeze through small spaces. They are not subject to the ethereal or incorporeal rules.

As for grappling a whirlwind, I refer you to various Pecos Bill/Paul Bunyan/Calamity Jane myths.


Zurai wrote:

The proof is in the pudding. They are able to be grappled. They cannot squeeze through small spaces. They are not subject to the ethereal or incorporeal rules.

As for grappling a whirlwind, I refer you to various Pecos Bill/Paul Bunyan/Calamity Jane myths.

You see, I'm not totally against this kind of interpretation, by RAW. But nothing can convince me that an amorphous mass of fire/water/air can be grappled by conventional means, or that it cannot be squeeze through tight spaces.

An Elemental is not incorporeal - it has a definite mass, and as such it cannot pass though congruous matter (as a block of iron). But not to allow an Air elemental to pass though a barred cage, or a Water Elemental to squeeze though a keyhole... well, call these my house-rules, but I think of them as a perfectly 'reasonable' (I don't use the term 'realistic' because it would be silly - after all, to think of a cloud of gas as a creature with reason and feelings is not realistic at all) way to deal with them. And same with a swarm of insects, too.

An Earth Elemental can pass through rock and dirt because it is composed of the same matter - basically, if you want to think of it in another way, it is not technically 'passing through' the ground, it is recomposing its structure with those of the ground itself, and so basically it is only its life-force (an incorporeal thing) which is passing through the ground, reforming again in a rocky body when it rises again above ground level.

Want to 'grapple' an Air Elemental? You would need something to suck all the air of which it is composed with, and to hold it in a place with no fissures - a vacuum cleaner and its dust bag is the only thing I can think of 'in real life' (again, if only an Air Elemental could exist in real life at all...), but obviously with magic you could create something akin to it. As a last resort, a Forcecage (windowless cell) would hold it in place.

But no way I would think as 'reasonable' of a human being who can wrestle with his arms and legs such a thing. (And no, some Epic rules scream 'silly' to me, too... no mortal being can 'Escape Artist' though the quantum field of a Forcefield, or walk on clouds though an 'Acrobatics' check, or whatsoever... it's funny to think, and cool to do, but a 20+ level character, if still mortal, has still mortal limits that cannot be bounded, no matter what).

But YMMV, of course.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

In any world I run, air elementals are insubstantial clouds of air, water elementals are water, and fire elementals are constructed of living fire. You can not grapple any of the above, except maybe, kind of, water.

Air, fire, and water elementals, can pass through any but air-tight barriers.

Yes, I know, this is not supported by "the rules" but luckily, in my campaigns, I get to make up whatever crazy rules I want. Crazy, I know.


I hope you grant more experience for defeating those elementals than you do for defeating earth elementals, then, and move them higher on the summon monster and summon nature's ally charts. Those are significant rules advantages that those creatures are not designed to have.

Liberty's Edge

I think i'm 100% with Wraith on this one.
A G.M.'s number one rule should always be common sense.
Don't know if any of you are comic fans but if you liken elementals to Marvel villains such as Sandman and Hydroman it might help visualize the point. Difficult to grapple a being made up of water as it free flows and at any second can change from a humanoid form to a puddle at will. How do you grapple a puddle?


voorhees wrote:


How do you grapple a puddle?

Freeze it!

Come on we've all seen the Abyss?

Liberty's Edge

Lol. Yeah freezing it could work but then your changing its condition. I'm talking about in its natural form a fighter etc cannot grapple that which he cannot hold.
Thats just one example. All i'm saying is that a good degree of common sense is essential to good G.M.ing and i think some people lose sight of that when they read written rules. No rules set can ever cover every eventuality so a G.M. needs to be able to make reasonable judgement calls.
Fortunately in my group i never usually have these problems as they are a sensible lot. When i make a decision i am happy to explain my reasoning and we quickly move on. No problems.

Sovereign Court

Zurai wrote:
I hope you grant more experience for defeating those elementals than you do for defeating earth elementals, then, and move them higher on the summon monster and summon nature's ally charts. Those are significant rules advantages that those creatures are not designed to have.

Not Necessarily, the fighter may be able to grab the earth elemental, but then all it has to do is earth glide into the ground and there's nothing the fighter can do. So while not 100% immune to grapple as the other elementals, all a grapple can really do is cause it to loose a full round action for a move/standard action. Granted then it gets those lovely AoOs, but still it's not completely hosed.


jreyst wrote:

This is one of the things that is perhaps part of the problem with the 3.x ruleset, the abandonment of common sense and the dependence on a rule for everything.

It should be up to the DM to rule on these things. If the entanglement comes from something really sticky that covers a large area then sure, they are entangled. If its a net or some twisty vines and roots and the swarm is insects, no way.

Trying to have one ruling for all types of swarms is silly. Let the DM make the call and move on.

<said the frustrated dm>

I don't think any reasonable person would disagree with you, since in fact there is a rule to cover this (:

PRD wrote:

The Most Important Rule

The rules in this book are here to help you breathe life into your characters and the world they explore. While they are designed to make your game easy and exciting, you might find that some of them do not suit the style of play that your gaming group enjoys. Remember that these rules are yours. You can change them to fit your needs. Most Game Masters have a number of “house rules” that they use in their games. The Game Master and players should always discuss any rules changes to make sure that everyone understands how the game will be played. Although the Game Master is the final arbiter of the rules, the Pathfinder RPG is a shared experience, and all of the players should contribute their thoughts when the rules are in doubt.

Also, there's no way the book can cover all cases of all combination of things. Of course a swarm of bees can't be entangled by vines. A swarm of rats definitely can be entangled since a single rat can be entangled.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

People often forget..

1) The Most Important Rule supersedes all others.
2) This is make believe.
3) Its a story.
4) Common sense should come in somewhere and may sometimes over-rule words printed on paper.
5) If you don't like any of the above, do it different in your campaign.

In short, I'm fully with meabolex on this one.

Each DM is not only FREE to make his own rulings, he is encouraged. Any player that wants to argue and be a d1ck about things can find a different campaign. I am not trying to be a jerk but it *my world* things need to make sense to me. Everyone always gets to vote with their feet. If you don't like it, walk. I've been DMing for 30 years and have never had anyone leave my table for anything other than scheduling conflicts and even then they try to work around them or if not able to they get back in as soon as their schedule opens back up.

If you like fire elementals to be partially solid, go to town in your campaign. If you are a player and your DM tells you that in his campaign fire elementals, while not incorporeal, are not able to be grappled, you should accept it and move on. If you like his game you'll get over it. If you can't get over it vote with your feet (walk away).

Its pretty simple really.

Dark Archive

I don't know... I might let 'Entangle' work against all types of swarms (especially if it's the last spell the PC has left). I mean, this is not as bad as putting undead to sleep (which is what the rules allow in the certain edition); rather, I don't see it being any different from ignoring "common sense" when a water elemental gets hit with a cold-based effect (which should, IMO, at least slow it, and highter level effects might even turn it into a solid ice elemental -- come to think of it, PCs should be 'slowed', too).


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Asgetrion wrote:
I don't know... I might let 'Entangle' work against all types of swarms (especially if it's the last spell the PC has left). I mean, this is not as bad as putting undead to sleep (which is what the rules allow in the certain edition); rather, I don't see it being any different from ignoring "common sense" when a water elemental gets hit with a cold-based effect (which should, IMO, at least slow it, and highter level effects might even turn it into a solid ice elemental -- come to think of it, PCs should be 'slowed', too).

I agree. If you are the DM and you think cold should slow water elementals, let the pc's get a gift when they cast ice storm on the water elemental. Tell them, "You notice the creature becoming markedly slower as crystals grow on its surface, spreading like frost on a window, until it assumes an almost slushy consistency." and then play it as if it were slowed. Personally, if I were playing in your game and you did that I'd be pleased. It means there's a thinking, creative DM behind the screen, and not just someone who is reading what is in the book. I prefer creativity over strict adherence to the letter of the rules every day.

For that matter, yes, I also agree that cold (and other elements) should have other effects besides just damage. I'm not DMing now (taking a break and enjoying being a player for a while) but when I pick it up again (if I'm not playing Castles & Crusades, which I heartily endorse for whatever its worth) I will be making several house rules. This is one of them, that elemental spells have secondary effects. I'll work out the details later.


lastknightleft wrote:
Zurai wrote:
I hope you grant more experience for defeating those elementals than you do for defeating earth elementals, then, and move them higher on the summon monster and summon nature's ally charts. Those are significant rules advantages that those creatures are not designed to have.
Not Necessarily, the fighter may be able to grab the earth elemental, but then all it has to do is earth glide into the ground and there's nothing the fighter can do. So while not 100% immune to grapple as the other elementals, all a grapple can really do is cause it to loose a full round action for a move/standard action. Granted then it gets those lovely AoOs, but still it's not completely hosed.

Except, of course, that you cannot move while you're grappled. So no, actually, the elemental cannot just earth glide out of the grapple. It's also not immune to normal weapons, as a creature with no solid body would be.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I wish there was another way to describe something that isn't solid but isn't incorporeal or ethereal.

:)

Now all you need is a DM willing to be creative and you're on your way.


jreyst wrote:

I wish there was another way to describe something that isn't solid but isn't incorporeal or ethereal.

:)

Now all you need is a DM willing to be creative and you're on your way.

Sweet! So air, water, and fire elementals can't attack?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Zurai wrote:
Sweet! So air, water, and fire elementals can't attack?

Well, it would (as I stated) also require a little DM creativity. There are people out there who, every now and then, do something that is not in the book. Here is what I am thinking (at this moment). This would certainly go through several testing iterations before entering play and is just off the top of my head.

A new condition, "formless":

Formless
Many creatures have the formless condition, including many swarms, most oozes, and most elementals. A creature with the formless condition does not have a standard physical body.

Unless stated otherwise, formless creatures are immune to all non-magical attacks and take only half (50%) damage from magical weapons.

Formless creatures are immune to poison, sneak attacks, and critical hits. Unless stated otherwise, a formless creature can not grapple or be grappled.

Formless creatures can pass through small holes or narrow openings, even mere cracks. A formless creature may enter, move through, or even occupy, an otherwise already occupied square (provokes as normal).

Formless creatures are not prohibited from attacking with whatever attack form they are listed with. A fire elemental would burn its foes. An air elemental would hit its foes with blasts of wind (instead of pummeling them), an ooze could still slam a pc, etc.


You just re-wrote the incorporeal condition. Almost word-for-word.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Zurai wrote:
You just re-wrote the incorporeal condition. Almost word-for-word.

Yeah, almost.


Secondary effects for elemental spells would be cool.
Like fire spells burn you afterwards (if you got stuff on you that burns) until you stop, drop and roll (using standard rules for being on flame for this).
Cold spells slow you for one round per level of the spell that did damage.
Electricity stagger you for the same duration as above.
Sonic deafen you for one round per caster lvl or stun you for one round (those that stun already also deafen you).
I am not sure what to give acid :D


jreyst wrote:

I wish there was another way to describe something that isn't solid but isn't incorporeal or ethereal.

:)

Now all you need is a DM willing to be creative and you're on your way.

COLLOIDAL

Sovereign Court

Zurai wrote:
lastknightleft wrote:
Zurai wrote:
I hope you grant more experience for defeating those elementals than you do for defeating earth elementals, then, and move them higher on the summon monster and summon nature's ally charts. Those are significant rules advantages that those creatures are not designed to have.
Not Necessarily, the fighter may be able to grab the earth elemental, but then all it has to do is earth glide into the ground and there's nothing the fighter can do. So while not 100% immune to grapple as the other elementals, all a grapple can really do is cause it to loose a full round action for a move/standard action. Granted then it gets those lovely AoOs, but still it's not completely hosed.
Except, of course, that you cannot move while you're grappled. So no, actually, the elemental cannot just earth glide out of the grapple. It's also not immune to normal weapons, as a creature with no solid body would be.

Um, no offense that's the densest response I've ever heard, we're talking about exceptions to the rules with elementals you said "you'll have to give more XP for those" and I said, not necessarily, you can use this method instead of granting extra xp. So your argument in response to you have to me saying you don't this differently because you're using different rules, is "not by the rules" isn't it established we're already working outside the rules.

As far as the rules go you can obviously grapple a fire elemental. But if he's changing it to you can't grapple living flame, how is it any more sensible to say "that creature that can normally merge into the earth can't do so because you're holding it's hand."


It's not just immunity to grappling. And, also, it's not just the relative strength of the four elementals, it's also their strength relative to the other creatures in their tier of the summon monster spells and other creatures of their CR. If you boost their power, by making them immune to various things that the designers of the game didn't intend them to be immune to and thus didn't figure into all the various elements of the game, then you need to take up the burden of that task and re-assign their relative worth in all of those elements. The most obvious are CR (and thus xp) and the summon monster charts, but there are others as well, all the way up to re-figuring balances of power in planar settings.


On the subject of swarms, it is subjective to the swarm type and the type of entangling material in my opinion.

i.e Swarm of flies vs web, okay I as DM would rule it would lessen the size of swarms a bit. After all thats what web was designed in nature for right? Vs roots, flies just fly through.

Swarm of spiders vs more or less anything..imo no chance.

So make a decision based upon what it is and what the players are trying to use.

In terms of grappling, an Elemental is the raw element incarnate. Does the description of the fire elemental through the editions not state it is like living, free moving flame?

Whilst RAW states you cannot move when grappled and you then apply to elementals just because they have no exclusion, it also doesnt state any exclusion for light sensitivity in any solar eclipse of the year, we all know it goes darker when the moons in front right, doesnt say it though..(Forgotten Realms has full calendar of events ;) )

Common sense is greater than RAW in my opinion so for instance

Grapple a fire elemental. Is your character mental? Grappling living flame thats going to burn you and set you alight? Think thats a will save to even attempt it (unless fireproof). Grappling a cloud? Pretty sure you cant, thats why those bottles were great in earlier editions, suck air elemental into bottle job done. Grappling water? Come on, whilst it has form it is the pure element given living form...its going to be able to change its form as needed.

Now perhaps if you freeze the water..hell then as a DM I would probably allow the grapple but you have changed its condition. I would even say its been slowed etc.

Which leads to the most important requirement for good games, a creative DM and creative players with a dose of common sense.


I'm all for creative DMs and gamers -- just realize that you're changing a whole lot more than you think you're changing with every little "common sense" "you can't grapple a cloud" houserule.

I didn't say "I hope you change their CR and monster chart" to be snarky. I was genuine. If you make a monster harder than the rules state it should be, it should give a greater reward. If you make a monster a better combatant than the rules state it should be, you need to make sure all the other rules reflect that.


Zurai wrote:

I'm all for creative DMs and gamers -- just realize that you're changing a whole lot more than you think you're changing with every little "common sense" "you can't grapple a cloud" houserule.

I didn't say "I hope you change their CR and monster chart" to be snarky. I was genuine. If you make a monster harder than the rules state it should be, it should give a greater reward. If you make a monster a better combatant than the rules state it should be, you need to make sure all the other rules reflect that.

Not saying your being snarky etc as its your opinion. I have now asked multiple players of our group. None would even think of grappling pure flame or water. I honestly dont think the CR needs altering but if you do, then do so. I realise the effect of many changes to the rules, simply because I run for a group with very experience players, some of whom are well establish and well known convention GMs as well as home GMs, I dont give across rule viewpoints lightly :). In fact having all these wierd and wonderful encounters that require different tactics is what makes D&D/pathfinder what it is.

I dont see it as a house rule either, just because the rules dont state every nuance does not mean everything common sense is automatically a house rule. There is not a rulebook in existence that covers every eventuality. There is a presumption that the DM will use the rules as a framework only, in situations where it cannot be predicted what is going to happen. The insistance of some to use RAW only, in the face of creative problem solving in my opinion makes peoples lives harder.

Its whatever you want for your game after all.

I am thankful we never have issues of RAW vs anything else, its makes our gaming lives so much easier.

Liberty's Edge

I'm interested in just how Zurai would go about grappling a cloud seeing as a cloud has no solid form lol. You call it a house rule but to be honest i agree with Dracon it's just common sense. See my earlier post about grappling a puddle of water. If you can change it's condition to frozen fair enough as you have something solid to grip but most of the elements are free flowing. That includes earth elementals (remember Sandman?).

Dark Archive

I think this is once again a good example of Rules As Written vs. individual interpretations/adjudications of Rules As Intended (i.e. semi-solid forms vs. incorporeality vs. swarms). Whatever everyone rules in his/her own games is fine by me; just make sure your players know that, too, at least before they try 'Entangle' or 'Web' on swarms or grappling water elementals.


voorhees wrote:
I'm interested in just how Zurai would go about grappling a cloud seeing as a cloud has no solid form lol. You call it a house rule but to be honest i agree with Dracon it's just common sense. See my earlier post about grappling a puddle of water. If you can change it's condition to frozen fair enough as you have something solid to grip but most of the elements are free flowing. That includes earth elementals (remember Sandman?).

The thing is, according to the rules air elementals are not clouds. They're beings of compressed air, compressed enough that you can touch them, grab them, and hit them with nonmagical weapons.

Let me turn that around on you. I'm interested in just how voorhees would go about hitting a cloud with a sword as a cloud has no solid form lol. You call it a house rule but to be honest I think it's just common sense. If you can change its condition to frozen fair enough as you have something solid to hit but most of the elements are free flowing.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

Kyle Baird wrote:
Can a swarm gain the entangled condition?

If granted by an area effect? Yes.

If granted by a targeted area effect? No.

Kyle Baird wrote:
swarms' movement, the 4 "squares" can move independently, but are usually contiguous. So if it can be entangled, does each square need to break free if entangled, or does it make a save as one entity? (I lean toward the latter...)

They don't need to be contiguous, but I would have them roll once for the swarm.

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