Secondary natural attacks and attacks of opportunity


Rules Questions


Hey guys, I've done quite a bit of digging on natural attacks and while many questions of mine have been answered, one still lingers. Wondering if there's a legitimate rule on this specific thing before I go to my GM for a house ruling.

I'm playing a character With 2 claws and a tail slap. I know that on a full attack, the tail is secondary and takes a -5 penalty, while the claws are full BAB/primary.

My question is, if I move and then make a standard attack with the tail rather than claws or weapons, do I still take the -5 penalty if that's the only attack I can make that round?

Second, I guess this might be the same situation--but if an enemy provokes an attack of opportunity, and I choose to use the tail for the attack rather than a weapon or claw, do I take the -5 penalty to my attack? Is it treated as primary since it's the only attack I'm taking at that time?

Thanks for your help. I've read the rules which kind of dance around my situation a tad, since I couldn't find a monster with multiple attacks that favours a tail slap over a bite when they have the option of one or the other.


Quote:
If a creature has only one natural attack, it is always made using the creature’s full base attack bonus and adds 1-1/2 times the creature’s Strength bonus on damage rolls. This increase does not apply if the creature has multiple attacks but only takes one. If a creature has only one type of attack, but has multiple attacks per round, that attack is treated as a primary attack, regardless of its type.

This seems to be the relevant portion. And it is a bit back-and-forth about the topic. So, breaking it down; if you have only a single natural attack, and it is secondary, then it is treated as primary (and kind of like a 2-handed weapon). If you have multiple attacks (ie claws and a tail) then any that are secondary are secondary, even if you choose to only attack with that one. And the last bit; if you have multiple attacks per round (multiple natural attacks, or BAB +6 or higher, though if the former doesn't apply, the latter is redundant) but only have 1 type of attack, that type of attack is always treated as a primary attack (so if you had 2 tails, each with a tail slap, but no other natural weapons, those tail slaps get to be primary).

So, applying all that to your situation (2 claws, primary, 1 tail slap, secondry); the tail slap is always secondary (for AoO or even if you only attack with it) since you have more than 1 type of natural attack.


If you take an AoO you don't take the -5 penalty.


Where is the exception for AoO in the rules?


As far as I know, you do indeed treat the attack as secondary, meaning -5 on the attack roll and half the base Strength bonus.


Well it seems that is a -5 does apply. I always thought it only applied during full attacks, but I can't find anything to support that.


Thanks for your replies! I'm not sure how I feel about it now - I agreed with the judgement.

However - I was looking around at different creatures with natural attacks, and I found a couple monsters which could help: the Marilith, Grodair, and the giant whiptail centipede.

Now, normally the marilith wields 6 weapons and has grab on their tail slap. Their other option, if the weapons aren't present, is 6 slams (primary) and the tail slap (secondary). It takes the -5 on the tail slap, buuuut...

The grapple with the tail doesn't take a penalty. It's listed as +24 (+28 grapple), which makes for: 16 (base) + 1 (size) + 7 (strength), +4 (grab, tail ability).

Another monster, a giant whiptail centipede, takes the -5 penalty on the attack roll with their tail (since they have a bite) but don't show any signs of a change of roll on their trip with the tail.

Same thing with the grodair and their bite vs tentacle trip. It just seems as though since the trip isn't affected (despite it being a different attempt) they could make an individual trip on a standard attack.

Does the secondary penalty not apply to combat maneuver rolls? To be fair this grab is during a full attack, but would the same happen if you attempted to trip a foe with the tail? Does it change if they have the trip ability on the tail where they get the automatic attempt after?

The Concordance

The secondary attack penalty applies to CMB checks (all bonuses and panelties applied to a weapon you’re using for a CMB are applied as well). They list the blanket CMB and expect you to calculate using those bonuses and penalties yourself.

I think a lot of people may conflate the off-weapon rules and the secondary natural attack rules, as they are pretty similar. If you use multiple manufactured weapons to fight, let’s say a rapier as your primary, a dagger as your off hand, and an improved unarmed strike as your iterative, you could use any of those with no penalties as your AoO. As soon as your full attack ends, the two weapon fighting penalties and iterative makes end as well.

This is not true for secondary natural attacks, which remain secondary whether they are used in a full attack, attack action, or as an attack of opportunity.

The Concordance

And perhaps the third scenario is worth mentioning too... Rapier-dagger-unarmed strike-and then bite at a -5 (because you’re mixing the bite with manufactured weapons). The bite goes back to being primary after the full attack and you could do a normal bite as an AoO.


Ziggawatt wrote:

Thanks for your replies! I'm not sure how I feel about it now - I agreed with the judgement.

However - I was looking around at different creatures with natural attacks, and I found a couple monsters which could help: the Marilith, Grodair, and the giant whiptail centipede.

Now, normally the marilith wields 6 weapons and has grab on their tail slap. Their other option, if the weapons aren't present, is 6 slams (primary) and the tail slap (secondary). It takes the -5 on the tail slap, buuuut...

The grapple with the tail doesn't take a penalty. It's listed as +24 (+28 grapple), which makes for: 16 (base) + 1 (size) + 7 (strength), +4 (grab, tail ability).

Another monster, a giant whiptail centipede, takes the -5 penalty on the attack roll with their tail (since they have a bite) but don't show any signs of a change of roll on their trip with the tail.

Same thing with the grodair and their bite vs tentacle trip. It just seems as though since the trip isn't affected (despite it being a different attempt) they could make an individual trip on a standard attack.

Does the secondary penalty not apply to combat maneuver rolls? To be fair this grab is during a full attack, but would the same happen if you attempted to trip a foe with the tail? Does it change if they have the trip ability on the tail where they get the automatic attempt after?

I'm glad you found that. It could help backup my previous thought.

Before I go into that I will tell you that combat maneuver checks are attack rolls so they should get the -5 penalty also for single attacks using secondary natural weapons if that penalty is to be applied for AoO attacks..

That lines up with me thinking that the -5 should not apply on attack rolls. The game is written assuming the secondary attack will be used with a full attack action, which will of course apply the -5 penalty. In most cases the primary attack is going to be the better weapon, and the game assumes you'll use the best option so they never wrote a rule clarifying that on single attacks the -5 doesn't apply. That is also the only way to get a combat maneuver check without -5 penalty. Otherwise the monster statblock is wrong, and it would need a rules exception to not apply the -5.


That's part of my thinking. Like why use a tail on a standard when you could bite? usually it's more damage.

Shieldlawrence mentioned that they expect you to do the math yourself, though that just seems strange for a creature like the marilith. It doesn't have any grapple feats, yet the CMB goes +24 (28 grapple) - when it would make more sense or simplify it to say +24 (+23 grab), or grapple with tail, since any other grapple they attempt would be +24 as they don't have grapple feats. (Though I can't find a ruling saying more arms means better grapple, usually +2 in 3.5?) yet it just says +28 grapple (the +4 from grab).

The wording of natural attacks does make sense for it to always apply, I'm just seeing some exceptions that aren't specifically stated (such as, some monsters I've seen specifically say their tail is a primary attack) so it kind of makes it a bit up in the air.

The Concordance

It may seem wonky not to do the math for players and GMs in the stat blocks, but we must also remember that the +4 from Grab also applies to all grapple checks made to start or maintain grapples, and will be the full bonus when doing a maintain check, or when the creature does a Grapple maneuver as a standard action.

The stat blocks are meant to be consistent and somewhat easy to use. By factoring in all the math for a multitude of special abilities, they would get quite confusing. So as GMs we calculate the feats, special abilities, spells, and so on when we need to apply bonuses or penalties to the monster’s statistics.


A marilith doesn't usually grapple with just the tail--like most creatures, it grapples with its entire body (unless it takes the usual -20 for grappling with only one limb.) The tail simply facilitates the start of the grapple, and the secondary penalty for that is already handled in the attack that triggered the grab in the first place. Hence, the secondary weapon penalty doesn't typically apply.


WRT the maralith: it has the grab ability, which gives it a flat +4 on grapple. Thus the listed +24/+28; the grab ability doesn't limit this bonus based on limb. So, if they were to grapple with a couple of their arms, they would have a +28 on the attempt. If they, however, use the other part of the grab ability (the actual grabbing) with their tail, they would have a +23; this may, perhaps, be actually at +28, since it has to use its whole body to not take a -20; thus it isn't just the secondary attack part of the body that is doing this. It also has the option to attempt to grab with just its tail (and thus still have its arms free), which would be at a +3.

The Concordance

I see the two interpretations now. Looking at the Grab rules, it isn’t super explicit that you are “using that weapon” for the attack unless you take the -20.

So either you:
-say the Grab uses the bonuses/penalties of the weapon (like weapon finesse, weapon focus, secondary attack, etc)
-say the Grab is a normal CMB check (no extra bonuses/penalties applied for the associated natural attack)

Interesting.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I would like to clarify something here.

When doing a single attack, that attack counts as a primary attack, no matter what it would be when using it in a full attack.


As I understood it, that only applies when a creature has only one kind of natural attack. A marilith has two types. I frequently get natural attack stuff wrong, though.


this seems to be correct. It would still count as a secondary attack and so it would suffer the penalty.

Natural attacks wrote:
If a creature has only one natural attack, it is always made using the creature’s full base attack bonus and adds 1-1/2 times the creature’s Strength bonus on damage rolls. This increase does not apply if the creature has multiple attacks but only takes one.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

That is the increase of the str bonus there, not the bonus or penalty to hit. Bite Attacks have the additional str bonus anyways.


thaX wrote:

I would like to clarify something here.

When doing a single attack, that attack counts as a primary attack, no matter what it would be when using it in a full attack.

Quote a rule for this.

thaX wrote:
Bite Attacks have the additional str bonus anyways.

No they don't. Only dragon's bites have that special rule, plus monsters with special abilities explicitly stating so.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Ah, so Eidolons.

Looking at it from the Bestiary and the Core book, it seems I misspoke. I don't see Natural Attacks being Primary just from being a single attack, unlike weapon attacks. This is a parallel that works differently between the two ways of attacking.


Sorry to disagree with so many good folks here, but no, natural secondary attacks never get treated as primary attacks. The ur-example here is the light horse, not trained for war.

Light Horse

Note that the light horse has two hoof attacks at -2/-2. That's +1 BAB +3 str -1 large -5 secondary = -2.

And please do not tell me that this is because the horse is making two attacks as a full round action, but as a standard attack it would lose the -5 penalty. As evidence, check out the wolliped, which has only one attack, and it is also always secondary.

Secondary natural attacks ALWAYS take the -5 penalty, unless the creature has the multiattack feat. For PCs, this most often matters for Summoners' eidolons, who can take a range of secondary natural attacks (tentacles, hooves, etc.) All of those always attack at -5


Cayzle wrote:

Sorry to disagree with so many good folks here, but no, natural secondary attacks never get treated as primary attacks. The ur-example here is the light horse, not trained for war.

Light Horse

Note that the light horse has two hoof attacks at -2/-2. That's +1 BAB +3 str -1 large -5 secondary = -2.

And please do not tell me that this is because the horse is making two attacks as a full round action, but as a standard attack it would lose the -5 penalty. As evidence, check out the wolliped, which has only one attack, and it is also always secondary.

Secondary natural attacks ALWAYS take the -5 penalty, unless the creature has the multiattack feat. For PCs, this most often matters for Summoners' eidolons, who can take a range of secondary natural attacks (tentacles, hooves, etc.) All of those always attack at -5

Nice post, but there's also opposing evidence as presented earlier with combat maneuvers which are attack rolls.

So with that being the case we have 3 possibilities.

1. Creatures such as horses have the wrong stats.

2. Creatures getting their full BAB on combat maneuvers with secondary natural attacks are incorrect.

3. Both are correct, but Paizo forgot to put in a rule saying that should happen.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but I'd like to know. I'll probably ask Mark and also open an FAQ. Since it's fairly simple they "should" be able to answer it.

Liberty's Edge

PRD wrote:
If a creature has only one natural attack, it is always made using the creature's full base attack bonus and adds 1-1/2 the creature's Strength bonus on damage rolls. This increase does not apply if the creature has multiple attacks but only takes one. If a creature has only one type of attack, but has multiple attacks per round, that attack is treated as a primary attack, regardless of its type.

But creatures like the horse specific rules:

PRD wrote:
Docile (Ex) Unless specifically trained for combat (see the Handle Animal skill, a horse's hooves are treated as secondary attacks.

I should go to work, so I don't have the time to search where it say that, but from what I recall, if you make a single attack you don't apply the secondary attack penalty unless there is a specific rule for that creature.


Diego Rossi wrote:
PRD wrote:
If a creature has only one natural attack, it is always made using the creature's full base attack bonus and adds 1-1/2 the creature's Strength bonus on damage rolls. This increase does not apply if the creature has multiple attacks but only takes one. If a creature has only one type of attack, but has multiple attacks per round, that attack is treated as a primary attack, regardless of its type.

But creatures like the horse specific rules:

PRD wrote:
Docile (Ex) Unless specifically trained for combat (see the Handle Animal skill, a horse's hooves are treated as secondary attacks.
I should go to work, so I don't have the time to search where it say that, but from what I recall, if you make a single attack you don't apply the secondary attack penalty unless there is a specific rule for that creature.

I thought the rule existed, but I can't find it either.


wraithstrike wrote:
Cayzle wrote:

Sorry to disagree with so many good folks here, but no, natural secondary attacks never get treated as primary attacks. The ur-example here is the light horse, not trained for war.

Light Horse

Note that the light horse has two hoof attacks at -2/-2. That's +1 BAB +3 str -1 large -5 secondary = -2.

And please do not tell me that this is because the horse is making two attacks as a full round action, but as a standard attack it would lose the -5 penalty. As evidence, check out the wolliped, which has only one attack, and it is also always secondary.

Secondary natural attacks ALWAYS take the -5 penalty, unless the creature has the multiattack feat. For PCs, this most often matters for Summoners' eidolons, who can take a range of secondary natural attacks (tentacles, hooves, etc.) All of those always attack at -5

Nice post, but there's also opposing evidence as presented earlier with combat maneuvers which are attack rolls.

So with that being the case we have 3 possibilities.

1. Creatures such as horses have the wrong stats.

2. Creatures getting their full BAB on combat maneuvers with secondary natural attacks are incorrect.

3. Both are correct, but Paizo forgot to put in a rule saying that should happen.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but I'd like to know. I'll probably ask Mark and also open an FAQ. Since it's fairly simple they "should" be able to answer it.

Yes, I'm replying to my own post. After looking at the post again that talk about the secondary attack not taking a penalty.

However the giant Octopus can only get a +19 on the grapple check as listed in the stat block by getting the full BAB to it's tentacle grapple check.

giant octopus
BAB +9
STR +5
CMB Size Bonus +1
Grab +4

The total bonus is a +19(which is what the book has).

The wolliped and the horse both have the docile trait. If trained for combat, which removes the docile train the secondary attack gets the full BAB for both animals.

The death head jelly fish is a monster with 2 tentacles as it's only natural attack.

BAB +1
STR +1
Size Bonus +1

The total bonus is a 3(which matches what is in the book)

The Sapphire Jellyfish also has numbers that match up.

The Bisha ga tsuku also matches up with the idea that secondary attacks can get a full BAB.

Another one is the Giant Shrimp Mantis


I think it's because of the following rule

Natural Attacks wrote:
If a creature has only one type of attack, but has multiple attacks per round, that attack is treated as a primary attack, regardless of its type.

I imagine the docile trait overrules this, turning the horse's attacks back into secondary attacks.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

So, if the creature has two claws, both are primary attacks. The examples for secondary natural attacks in the Core Rulebook is Taleslaps and wing buffets.


Also worth noting, WRT Octopus; unless a creature is using the grab ability to grab only with a single limb, it is considered to be the whole body that is grappling, thus individual weapon bonus/penalty does not apply. Also, as has already been stated, the CMB listed is the total calculated CMB, ignoring the individual weapon stats; for example, a Solar lists +32 (+22 BAB, +9 Str bonus, +1 Size bonus), which ignores the +5 it would get from its ever present +5 Greatsword on manuevers that use a weapon. The same applies for natural weapons. Generally the reason the CMB lists a different value for some particular manuever (commonly grapple, because of the grab ability) is because the creature has some ability or feat that adds to that particular manuever; it still doesn't take into account the particular weapon being used, if any.


Exactly. Most grapple checks do not get a penalty for using a secondary natural attack because they don't use particular weapons at all--usually, only disarm, trip, sunder, and (with trip weapons) drag and reposition get any modifiers related to a weapon. (This goes back to the old argument about whether an amulet of mighty fists improves grapple checks--it doesn't.) The lack of penalty to such checks in a monster's stat block is poor evidence for anything related to whether the penalty applies to regular attacks.

More on when weapons are/aren't involved with combat maneuvers


I listed example that only add up if you use grab, and grab only applies to certain limbs. There is no other way to make the math work.

The rules do account for you making a grapple check with a certain limb. That grab ability is not applied if you use a limb that does not have the grab ability applied to it.

Quote:
Grab (Ex) If a creature with this special attack hits with the indicated attack (usually a claw or bite attack),...

That is a specific attack(weapon).

It then goes on to say this.

Quote:
The creature has the option to conduct the grapple normally, or simply use the part of its body it used in the grab to hold the opponent.

So the grab is attack specific.

That shows that you only get the +4 with that limb

If you have another way to make the math work on a grab while ignoring the specific attack as mentioned in the rules then feel free to show the math.
------------------------
On the topic of secondary attacks always taking the -5

In addition I listed examples of monsters that only have secondary natural attacks that still benefit from the full BAB with no penalty.

If secondary attacks always had the -5 penalty, no matter what those who could only use secondary attacks would have the -5 penalty applied.

That post showing the math from me is only about 3 post up, and for some of the other monsters that I linked to I didn't show the math, but I did do the math, and it checks out.

edit:clarification


PART of the grab ability is limb specific; namely the automatic grapple check and the option to grapple with only a single limb. But part of it is not limb specific; namely the bonus to grapple and the fact that, shoudl you choose not to grapple with that specific limb, you are grappling with your entire body (much as any other creature would).

As for secondary attacks always having -5; even excluding feats, that is not always the case; if a creature only has one attack mode or one type of attack modes (ex. an octopus with 8 tenticles but no other methods of attack), then that attack or those attacks are treated as primary.


just for the sake of completness I'm going to quote the entirety of the grab ability, rather than just a single phrase here and there;

Quote:

If a creature with this special attack hits with the indicated attack (usually a claw or bite attack), it deals normal damage and attempts to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. Unless otherwise noted, grab can only be used against targets of a size equal to or smaller than the creature with this ability. If the creature can use grab on creatures of other sizes, it is noted in the creature’s Special Attacks line. The creature has the option to conduct the grapple normally, or simply use the part of its body it used in the grab to hold the opponent. If it chooses to do the latter, it takes a –20 penalty on its CMB check to make and maintain the grapple, but does not gain the grappled condition itself. A successful hold does not deal any extra damage unless the creature also has the constrict special attack. If the creature does not constrict, each successful grapple check it makes during successive rounds automatically deals the damage indicated for the attack that established the hold. Otherwise, it deals constriction damage as well (the amount is given in the creature’s descriptive text).

Creatures with the grab special attack receive a +4 bonus on combat maneuver checks made to start and maintain a grapple.

Format: grab; Location: individual attacks and special attacks.


Now, reading that, I'm prepared to accept that the grappling with a single limb either does or does not get the weapon bonus/penalty (-5 for normal secondary weapons); it could easily be read either way.

However the general bonus to grappling is in a seperate paragraph that makes no indication whatsoever that it is not general, or that it requires that the grapple be initiated with or performed with, or whatever, the natural weapon associated with the grab ability; it is a general bonus to grappling that that creature gets. Thus it gets included in the general CMB calculation, that NEVER includes weapon bonuses/penalties.


merpius wrote:

PART of the grab ability is limb specific; namely the automatic grapple check and the option to grapple with only a single limb. But part of it is not limb specific; namely the bonus to grapple and the fact that, shoudl you choose not to grapple with that specific limb, you are grappling with your entire body (much as any other creature would).

As for secondary attacks always having -5; even excluding feats, that is not always the case; if a creature only has one attack mode or one type of attack modes (ex. an octopus with 8 tenticles but no other methods of attack), then that attack or those attacks are treated as primary.

Just to be clear, I am using grab when I talk about limb specific grapples. I understand that +1 bonus to a bite attack does not apply to a grapple check because grapple as a whole does not care about bonuses to any attack. That is why weapon focus(grapple) exist because it shows generally speaking no bonus to a weapon will apply to grapple. So we agree when we say limb/attack specific bonuses don't apply to a grapple check.

I am using grab because it calls out limbs that specifically get the +4 to a grapple check, and it makes it easier to show the math to others that the -5 penalty for secondary attacks is not always on.


But it doesn't call out that the limbs, specifically, get the +4; it says the creature gets +4 to all graplle checks to start and maintain a grapple. Not just the single limb.

And it doesn't show anything about natural attacks at all; the monster listings do not show a grapple CMB for that particular limb, but rather for the whole creature.

Here's the "melee" line for the giant octopus:

Quote:
Melee bite +13 (1d8+5 plus poison), 8 tentacles +11 (1d4+2 plus grab)

The octopus has Multiattack, so it only suffers a -2 instead of -5 on those secondary attacks. Only the tentacles have the ability to make limb-specific grapples, and those would do 1d4+2 damage each successive round (after the first) that it maintains the grapple with that limb.

Here's the line that lists the BAB, CMB, and CMD:

Quote:
Base Atk +9; CMB +15 (+19 grapple); CMD 27 (can’t be tripped)

Note that this is not associated with a particular attack mode or limb or anything; if an octopus decides to attempt a grapple without using the grab ability, it would use this calculated CMB to do so. Note also that the grapple CMB doesn't specify that it is specific to a limb or anythign like that; there's no "grapple with tentacle" vs "general grapple" or anything; the grab ability gives a bonus to grapple checks independant of the bonus it gives in the form of the ability to grapple with a single limb. That's why they are seperate paragraphs.


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As for secondary attacks always taking -5: I agree they don't always. If a creature has multiattack, they only take a -2 (see the Octopus, Giant listing). If they only have 1 form of attack, that form is treated as a primary form of attack, not secondary (see all the jellyfish and other listings in your post above).

But that has nothing to do with the calculated CMB, which will always be based on full BAB, since it doesn't take weapon modifiers into account.


Merpius it does call out specific body parts attacks.

I even bolded it.

"Grab (Ex) If a creature with this special attack hits with the indicated attack (usually a claw or bite attack),..."

and

"The creature has the option to conduct the grapple normally, or simply use the part of its body it used in the grab to hold the opponent."
----------------------------------------------------

If the body part doesn't matter why it saying that you have to hit with an indicated attack?

Also if it doesn't matter then why does it say to use the part of the body it used in the grab?

Are you saying that if a monster has grab on the tentacles, but not the bite that it can use the bite to start a grapple as a free action?

Are you saying that if a monster uses a tentacle with the grab ability, that it still gets benefit of grab, which is the +4 even if it does not use that tentacle to maintain the grab?

If so then why does it say "use the part of its body it used in the grab[/b] to hold the opponent." if you don't have to use that body part?

Yes I realize this is off topic from the secondary natural attacks topic, but I'm curious as to how you're reading things the way you are.


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Yes, specific body part for PART OF WHAT IT DOES. I agree. For the bonus, however, it does not tie it to the body part.

If you want the fluff explanation of why this is; when you do a "whole body" grapple (ie, a normal grapple) you are using all of your limbs, including any that happen to have the grab ability attached to them, so you get the grab bonus. There are possibly other fluff explanations. But fluff has nothign to do with RAW. RAW is that the bonus goes to all grapple checks made to initiate or maintain a grapple by that create, regardless of the specifics of those grapple checks.

So, to answer your specific questions:

Quote:
If the body part doesn't matter why it saying that you have to hit with an indicated attack?

Because you get to make a free grapple check if you hit with that attack. Furthermore, you may use just that limb (as opposed to the whole body method) to grapple, albeit at a -20 penalty.

This has nothing to do with (and is in an entirely seperate paragraph from) the general +4 bonus to grappling that the grab ability gives the creature.

Quote:
Also if it doesn't matter then why does it say to use the part of the body it used in the grab?

Because that sentence is specifically referring to when you choose to use the option to grapple just with a single limb, as opposed to the other option (which you also quoted) to conduct the grapple in the normal manner (ie full body grapple).

Quote:
Are you saying that if a monster has grab on the tentacles, but not the bite that it can use the bite to start a grapple as a free action?

No; they only get the free grapple attempt when attacking with the limbs that have the grab associated. If they, somehow, were able to grapple with just the bite attack (without having the grab ability on the bite attack) then they would still get the +4 bonus to grapple checks on that attempt, since that bonus applies to all grapple checks to initiate and maintain a grapple.

Note that the ability to grapple with a single limb is uncommon outside the grab ability, and the grab ability is tied to a limb (or limbs) for the purpose of determining which natural attacks get the free attempt as well as which ones are able to do the limb-specific grapple.

Quote:
Are you saying that if a monster uses a tentacle with the grab ability, that it still gets benefit of grab, which is the +4 even if it does not use that tentacle to maintain the grab?

Yes; if they have the grab ability, it gives specific benefits to the limb/natural attack it is tied to, but also gives a general +4 bonus to grappling (for initiating and maintaining a grapple, specifically) to the creature, regardless of what/how they are grappling.

Quote:
If so then why does it say "use the part of its body it used in the grab to hold the opponent." if you don't have to use that body part?
Because that is an option, but not a requirement. Note, just before your bolded portion it says:
Quote:
The creature has the option to conduct the grapple normally

. The normal way of conducting a grapple is a "whole body" grapple, wherin the initator also gains the grapple condition if it is successful.

So, a creature with the grab ability on one or more of its attacks gets the following benefits:


  • A general bonus of +4 to all attempts ot iniate and maintain grapples.
  • A free attempt to grapple if they successfully hit with an attack associated with the grab ability (with caveats about size).
  • The option, when conducting the free attempt to grapple, to restrict that grapple to using only the limb that granted the free attempt; in this case they take a -20 penalty, BUT only that limb gains the grappled codnition, rather than their whole body.


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As merpius points out, the +4 is not limited to specific limbs nor the triggering of the grab ability. It applies to all grapple checks made by the creature, period.


Good points. I assumed that the +4 required the limb, but it's true that nowhere is that specifically stated.

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