Black Tentacles


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion


Surprised that Black Tentacles area doesn't result in difficult terrain. Was this intended? One would think this would certainly qualify for difficult terrain no?


The spell produces an unspecified number of long, grabby appendages. It doesn't blanket the area with stuff that's weird to walk on.


I guess it's the image I have from PF1 art and the spell in PF1 gave it difficult terrain. Maybe it's just another spell that got nerfed at the end of the day.


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While it may be a nerf compared to PF1, it's actually a return to form as the spell didn't create difficult terrain back before the D&D 3rd edition team thought "let's boost a bunch of spells for no reason while also making saving throws harder to succeed at in general"


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The more relevant nerf is that you have to end your turn in the tentacles for them to grab you. Currently you can run into the tentacles, punch someone in the face, and then run out with no risk of being grabbed, which is a little odd. I've waffled a little bit on whether or not this is a good thing. I've run the spell more generously when PCs were casting it, but they recently found themselves in a two encounters at once that threatened a TPK, and when the caster used it on them I ran it more by RAW to give them a fighting chance.

The other weird thing is that the damage drops if you just remain grappled by the things, as I'd intuitively expect the opposite. 1d6 isn't much at level 9+, and certain enemies may just be content to stay and take that.

It is definitely way less powerful than it used to be, though I've still seen it shut down most of an encounter. It also scales fairly well-- well, not the damage, but the control does. You could try running it as difficult terrain, or perhaps that it grabs at you when you, or perhaps if you end a move action in it. I'd be hesitant to try more than one of those buffs at once, though.


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I like your GMing style Captain, very reasonable.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
Captain Morgan wrote:
It is definitely way less powerful than it used to be, though I've still seen it shut down most of an encounter. It also scales fairly well-- well, not the damage, but the control does. You could try running it as difficult terrain, or perhaps that it grabs at you when you, or perhaps if you end a move action in it. I'd be hesitant to try more than one of those buffs at once, though.

I didn't realize that they removed the difficult terrain aspect, so I ran it as difficult terrain in addition to its ability to grab things that end their turn inside. It seemed eminently fair. As you point out, its the fact that it doesn't get to grab you if you run through it that ends up being the bigger nerf.


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I actually wonder if it's intended that the Tentacles make Grab attack immediately VS anybody who enters it. The spells's first line is "attempt to Grapple creatures in the area", and I don't see why that isn't ongoing area effect. Then it also has effect of further grab at the end of creature's turn who remain in area. That actually makes for a stronger effect, with 2 chances to Grab somebody who moves into the area on their own turn AND stays there (and if they were Grabbed on entry and couldn't escape, that would total for 3d6 damage), or just 1 chance if they move in and exit before end of their turn. Although I would have structured that as Grab on entry to area (or upon initial casting) and additional Grab/1d6 damage is dealt on Caster's turn...

If that isn't the case, I think the alternative interpretation would still be somewhat stronger than some might be thinking, since the end-of-turn 1d6 is only VS those ALREADY Grabbed... anybody NOT currently Grabbed (whether because they Escaped but still ended turn in area, or were never Grabbed by spell previously) should suffer the 3d6 damage. I really think the "potential 2 chances to Grab per turn" is better reading, but the alternative would at least have this going for it.

While I can see why combining Difficult Terrain with proposal for Grab after every Action in AoE could be too much, I don't actually think adding Difficult Terrain onto the above interpretation (potentially 2 Grabs per round) would be too much, especially since they are only subject to 1d6 ongoing damage/round if they don't leave area (or don't Escape in case of "always only 1 chance to Grab per turn" interpretation). Currently it just seems too easy to leave area, very likely with just 1 action. If it were Difficult Terrain, it is much more likely to require 2 Strides to leave area, even possibly unable to leave in 1 round if also spending action to Escape Grab and only viable route is on far side of AoE (i.e. it was used against wall etc).

It also feels like there should be Critical Success effect for Tentacles Grabbing you, maybe restrained and slow 1?


Also, do Tentacle attacks ignore Concealment/Hidden flat checks?
They don't have eyes or any Perception pe se, so that seems reasonable inference, but should be spelled out if intended.


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I also played it wrong based on an assumption; in my case, I assumed the trigger for grab attempts was the usual "creature enters or begins their turn in the area."


It definitely feels wonky. It's good battlefield control even as it is, but it not grappling when things move around inside it and only at the end does significantly limit it. It's crushing damage also isn't that great.

I have used it to great effect in any campaign I have casted it because being grappled isn't as mundane as people think. Spells like Wall of Fire pair well with it, but that's me dropping a lvl 5 and 4 spell in hopes I get some amazing crowd control against many lesser targets.


Ya with some minor tweaks to the spell it could turn out nice and balanced.


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Quandary wrote:
I actually wonder if it's intended that the Tentacles make Grab attack immediately VS anybody who enters it. The spells's first line is "attempt to Grapple creatures in the area", and I don't see why that isn't ongoing area effect. Then it also has effect of further grab at the end of creature's turn who remain in area. That actually makes for a stronger effect, with 2 chances to Grab somebody who moves into the area on their own turn AND stays there (and if they were Grabbed on entry and couldn't escape, that would total for 3d6 damage), or just 1 chance if they move in and exit before end of their turn.

Upon re-reading the spell, I think this is correct. This seems like an appropriate reading for a 5th level spell.


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The first line describes what happens immediately as you cast the spell, it makes those grapples when the spell is cast. Then it describes the ongoing effect, stating an enemy ending in the area may be grappled. I don't see any reading that would allow for grapples to be made when a creature enters the area on their turn, and if that was the case it would likely be a reaction or something, as you typically don't get to interrupt enemy turns for free.


Yeah, I mean considering by that level (and after) there are alot more out-of-box ways to get out of it, like Blink or whatever, it feels like within it's frame of reference it should be solidly powerful with decent chance of more than 1 round of impediment...

Remember many spells can cause minor debuff even on a Successful Save, right now this does nothing on a Failed Attack and the Success isn't too hard to deal with: if they fail 1st Escape they can try again and still have action to move away (assuming 3 actions), never mind chance of CritSuccess Escape that includes 5' movement.

Really, since the ongoing damage isn't big, the most significant effect is immobilization, but the characters that is most impactful for are melee martials, who are likelier to have better AC in first place and are most likely to succeed on Escape check (or even CritSucceed for free 5' move). If they have enemy in melee range from their position they don't even care that much.

Ranged martials have the same AC and chance to Escape, but don't have to worry about enemies in melee range, so they can just sit there and do their thing while eating minor damage. At first I thought bows would be subject to flat check to lose action, but after check it seems reload 0 means there is no manipulate action to trigger that (although IMHO the bow attack itself should have manipulate trait in that case, which I am starting new thread on).

Casters with poor attack/acrobatics/athletics are really the strongest case for it, lower AC and chance to escape and maybe more impacted by the damage, but like archers they can actually just site there and do their thing casting spells... although they do suffer flat check to lose spells that aren't purely verbal, it isn't that hard a check.

This highlights the spell strangely enough has no way to impose Restrained, the stronger version of Grabbed even though that is normal progression if Grapple keeps succeeding. With that, nobody could continue to attack or cast spells or do anything but try to escape. I mentioned this could be CritSuccess effect, but it could also be possible via simply progressing Grapple sequence normally on 2nd round if they didn't escape...?


BellyBeard wrote:
The first line describes what happens immediately as you cast the spell, it makes those grapples when the spell is cast. Then it describes the ongoing effect, stating an enemy ending in the area may be grappled.

I would disagree, as it doesn't actually specify that for the first effect, right? And the overall spell is an area effect with duration. That means by default the effect is ongoing, not instantaneous. That the 2nd effect at end of creature's turn is also ongoing effect in no way negates that 1st effect is also ongoing by default.

I fully understand why you thought that, as perhaps the normal implication of natural English. I myself thought that at first, but there isn't really anything explicitly changing 1st effect to instantaneous from the normal implications of area/duration spell. I do think it's not ideally phrased to convey this without confusion, and could be improved by Errata.


Quandary wrote:
BellyBeard wrote:
The first line describes what happens immediately as you cast the spell, it makes those grapples when the spell is cast. Then it describes the ongoing effect, stating an enemy ending in the area may be grappled.

I would disagree, as it doesn't actually specify that for the first effect, right? And the overall spell is an area effect with duration. That means by default the effect is ongoing, not instantaneous. That the 2nd effect at end of creature's turn is also ongoing effect in no way negates that 1st effect is also ongoing by default.

I fully understand why you thought that, as perhaps the normal implication of natural English. I myself thought that at first, but there isn't really anything explicitly changing 1st effect to instantaneous from the normal implications of area/duration spell. I do think it's not ideally phrased to convey this without confusion, and could be improved by Errata.

All it says for the first part is "make spell attack rolls". Normally you only do that on your turn, when you cast a spell (though this isn't a rule, just generally how spells work). It tells you when you might do that on someone else's turn, specifically if they end their turn in the AoE.

For your reading, is it when they end their move in the area? As soon as they move into the area? If the latter, do you get to make an attack against someone who started in the area and is moving out of it? This is all ambiguous IMO because if it could attack in the middle of their turn the spell would say that, likely through one of the phrases above, in addition to or rather than say it happens at the end of the turn.


I think it would apply whenever an area effect with duration that says "deals 10 damage to everybody in area" would apply. That is to say it it lasts X rounds, it deals that every round. It wouldn't care about starting or ending actions, it would do that to anybody within spell area for any momentary instance. I agree this is all suboptimal wording, but unless it was specified as instantaneous it has a duration, and it doesn't even have indirect support for that e.g. "when you cast" isn't there.

EDIT: I mentioned something about Bows and Manipulate... I believe I was overlooking an effective modification to attack action to also count as Interact/Manipulate, which is obtuse phrasing that I suggested improvement to in Errata thread... But I am reasonably sure bow attacks count as Manipulate (despite 0 Reload removing all Interact/Manipulate actions).


Quandary wrote:
I think it would apply whenever an area effect with duration that says "deals 10 damage to everybody in area" would apply. That is to say it it lasts X rounds, it deals that every round. It wouldn't care about starting or ending actions, it would do that to anybody within spell area for any momentary instance. I agree this is all suboptimal wording, but unless it was specified as instantaneous it has a duration, and it doesn't even have indirect support for that e.g. "when you cast" isn't there.

If talking about spells like cloudkill and wall of fire, they both specify they damage each creature that starts its turn in the area. This one says it makes a spell attack roll against each creature that ends its turn in the area.

So maybe my reading was wrong in that you don't get any initial attacks (I still think you do though), but I still don't see any continuous effect happening except if a creature end their turn in the area.


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As one of my favorite spells, at the very least it should count as difficult terrain to further make it possible to trigger the secondary effect more often due to the movement restriction.

I will take Quandry s reading over yours bellybeard, not because I don’t think it’s raw, I’m really not sure either way, but because the spells is pretty unrealistic for a fifth level spell if you can just run through it at literally no cost.

Do you have examples that operate similar quandry? I admittedly want to believe your reading, but idk that it’s raw.

Edit: originally I thought the spell was awful with bellybeards reading but on further thought, in a small space, it’s still extremely good. It is fifth level though.


A 20-foot burst is quite large, and this doesn't need to be sustained. If you are in a situation where you can force enemies to fight in it (close quarters) it can quickly add up to a lot of lost actions freeing themselves from the tentacles. As with many things in PF2, it isn't something you should just throw out at any opportunity, and playing into it will make it better.


I agree with BellyBeard, nothing in the description supports Quandary's reading.

I think it's a nice spell like it is. Flat-Footed + Immobilized in a 20ft. burst + small damages + need to use an attack action to remove the condition, attack action against a tough DC. In my opinion, it's in line with all the spells in PF2. Against spellcasters it must be a chore.


SuperBidi wrote:

I agree with BellyBeard, nothing in the description supports Quandary's reading.

I think it's a nice spell like it is. Flat-Footed + Immobilized in a 20ft. burst + small damages + need to use an attack action to remove the condition, attack action against a tough DC. In my opinion, it's in line with all the spells in PF2. Against spellcasters it must be a chore.

Yes, Escape having the attack trait does at least mean you cost them their best attack in a round on success.

If it did anything else, it would probably be the best AoE spell at 5th level by a large margin.

It would be nice if you could heighten it to gain Difficult Terrain at say 7th level though.


Like the Captain stated earlier the problem is you can walk through it on your turn and exit it without any ill effects.


It's not a problem per se. It's just not much logical. But it doesn't make the spell unusable or anything.


Atalius wrote:
Like the Captain stated earlier the problem is you can walk through it on your turn and exit it without any ill effects.

And while that is true, and somewhat illogical, it doesn't mean the spell is bad, it just means you have to pick enclosed spaces, block retreat paths, or provide other means of containing your enemies.

With that said, I do think a "or upon first entering the area" added to the end of the first line would still be fine.

But, as others have mentioned, other AoE spells (like Cloud Kill) do not do that, so it sort of makes it the best AoE spell if it gets anything else.


Atalius wrote:
Like the Captain stated earlier the problem is you can walk through it on your turn and exit it without any ill effects.

This is severely restricting their turn, to making a single Strike action and spending two actions a round to avoid the effects of your spell, which is a win in my book.


BellyBeard wrote:
Atalius wrote:
Like the Captain stated earlier the problem is you can walk through it on your turn and exit it without any ill effects.
This is severely restricting their turn, to making a single Strike action and spending two actions a round to avoid the effects of your spell, which is a win in my book.

It doesn't cost two actions unless the caster is also staying inside the area, and they would be subject to their own Black Tentacles (as would any of their allies).

Most of the time, at best it would cost them a single Stride a turn unless they attempted to walk along the diameter.


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Midnightoker wrote:
BellyBeard wrote:
Atalius wrote:
Like the Captain stated earlier the problem is you can walk through it on your turn and exit it without any ill effects.
This is severely restricting their turn, to making a single Strike action and spending two actions a round to avoid the effects of your spell, which is a win in my book.

It doesn't cost two actions unless the caster is also staying inside the area, and they would be subject to their own Black Tentacles (as would any of their allies).

Most of the time, at best it would cost them a single Stride a turn unless they attempted to walk along the diameter.

I agree, but picture stacking Grease and tentacles in a narrow corridor.


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Once you start stacking multiple control spells, stuff tends to get pretty crazy. But that's true of any edition. PF2 makes it easier than 5e since concentration mechanics aren't as much of a thing, but even in 5e Black Tentacles + Hunger of Hadar is nasty if you can work with a teammate.

I saw some hilarious things done recently with a Wall of Fire, Blade Barrier, and a Whirling Throw monk. This was in the same fight the enemy caster used black tentacles on the party, and I let them run in and out of the tentacles to attack folks.


What is this Hunger of Hadar you speak of? This intrigues me


mrspaghetti wrote:
Quandary wrote:
I actually wonder if it's intended that the Tentacles make Grab attack immediately VS anybody who enters it. The spells's first line is "attempt to Grapple creatures in the area", and I don't see why that isn't ongoing area effect. Then it also has effect of further grab at the end of creature's turn who remain in area. That actually makes for a stronger effect, with 2 chances to Grab somebody who moves into the area on their own turn AND stays there (and if they were Grabbed on entry and couldn't escape, that would total for 3d6 damage), or just 1 chance if they move in and exit before end of their turn.
Upon re-reading the spell, I think this is correct. This seems like an appropriate reading for a 5th level spell.

I agree, I reread the spell 5 times over and I think this is the correct way and makes the most sense for a 5th level spell, and is quite balanced. Paizo you've done it again, good work.


Atalius wrote:
What is this Hunger of Hadar you speak of? This intrigues me

You basically open a portal to Cthulhu...I mean Hadar. Anyone close to the portal automatically takes cold damage and has to make a dex save or acid-covered tentacles will reach out and smack them.

It is also really dark around the portal, and there is nothing you can do to make it less dark.


Vallarthis wrote:
I also played it wrong based on an assumption; in my case, I assumed the trigger for grab attempts was the usual "creature enters or begins their turn in the area."

I think you played it right my friend. Well played sir. Well played.


BellyBeard wrote:
Midnightoker wrote:
BellyBeard wrote:
Atalius wrote:
Like the Captain stated earlier the problem is you can walk through it on your turn and exit it without any ill effects.
This is severely restricting their turn, to making a single Strike action and spending two actions a round to avoid the effects of your spell, which is a win in my book.

It doesn't cost two actions unless the caster is also staying inside the area, and they would be subject to their own Black Tentacles (as would any of their allies).

Most of the time, at best it would cost them a single Stride a turn unless they attempted to walk along the diameter.

I agree, but picture stacking Grease and tentacles in a narrow corridor.

I did a narrow 2x passage with tentacles and then wall of flamed the entire thing with several enemies stuck in the tentacles.

Since the tentacles are not creatures, they don't get burned off by the wall of fire.

However, we didn't make the tentacles try to grapple new people, so they just ran through the tentacles unless they ended their turn in them and that was kinda lame.

On the upside, those caught suffered, a lot.

Wall of Fire produced concealment, while the grappling produced issues with manipulates which was causing double 20% chance of fails or fun watching the GM fail to roll an attack roll to wack the tentacles or escape out of them.


BlessedHeretic wrote:

I did a narrow 2x passage with tentacles and then wall of flamed the entire thing with several enemies stuck in the tentacles.

Since the tentacles are not creatures, they don't get burned off by the wall of fire.

However, we didn't make the tentacles try to grapple new people, so they just ran through the tentacles unless they ended their turn in them and that was kinda lame.

On the upside, those caught suffered, a lot.

Wall of Fire produced concealment, while the grappling produced issues with manipulates which was causing double 20% chance of fails or fun watching the GM fail to roll an attack roll to wack the tentacles or escape out of them.

That combat really highlighted tentacles' rulings pros and cons.

In my defense, I cannot roll a 5+ to save my BBEG's life. As you well proved.

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