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    Default What's the deal with elephants?

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    So, the humble elephant has a full-attack entry that reads "Slam +16 melee (2d6+10) and 2 stamps +11 melee (2d6+5); or gore +16 melee (2d8+15)" which seems to imply that this gore attack of theirs is completely incompatible with full attacks, without the stat block containing any good explanation of why that is. Anyone got any bright ideas?

    I am also curious as to what the "slam" in attack represents. It's not the legs, because those are the stamp attacks. As far as I know, elephants usually don't slap people with their trunks, and I don't imagine that dealing more damage than being stomped by an animal the size of a freight transport. I also don't think an elephant is nimble enough to do a hip check or body slam ala "one slam good, two slam bad".
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    ...so as we can see, no internal consistency from WotC (unsurprising).

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    Default Re: What's the deal with elephants?

    Slam is probably just "bodyslam"-type of thing of the elephant rushing at things while the stamps are the actual act of it kicking/stepping on things. As for why they can't be combined with the Gore, I'd say it's just the assumption that if it's Goring you, it can't also be stepping on you. It's not the only creature with multiple different natural weapon full attack entries (though I can't think of the other ones off the top of my head).
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    Default Re: What's the deal with elephants?

    also one more monster which attacks you with its stamp collection.

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    Default Re: What's the deal with elephants?

    Quote Originally Posted by OgresAreCute View Post
    Seinfeld bassline plays

    So, the humble elephant has a full-attack entry that reads "Slam +16 melee (2d6+10) and 2 stamps +11 melee (2d6+5); or gore +16 melee (2d8+15)" which seems to imply that this gore attack of theirs is completely incompatible with full attacks, without the stat block containing any good explanation of why that is. Anyone got any bright ideas?

    I am also curious as to what the "slam" in attack represents. It's not the legs, because those are the stamp attacks. As far as I know, elephants usually don't slap people with their trunks, and I don't imagine that dealing more damage than being stomped by an animal the size of a freight transport. I also don't think an elephant is nimble enough to do a hip check or body slam ala "one slam good, two slam bad".
    I think this is a situation where they tried to go for 'realism', thinking:

    "Okay, we made it so slams are usable by 'arm-like limbs', and elephants have a trunk... but when you think of elephants attacking, you think of the tusks! So tusks will be primary. Then, I don't know, trunk and foot stuff... Hmm, but then wouldn't the trunk get in the way of the tusks if you used both? Not realistic enough! No, the trunk will be primary, but goring with the tusks will be special, yessss... and there are two of them, so it'll be like a two handed attack!"

    "If we're going to separate them out, shouldn't we just make gore a special attack like how we made 'crush' an extraordinary attack for dragons?"

    "... Get out. Now, about trample..."


    So yeah, I do think the slam doesn't need to be but could also be a trunk attack. It counts as an 'arm-like limb', which is called out in the natural weapons section, and the elephant would only get one despite being huge sized (when large creatures can make one slam for each limb) because it only has one trunk.
    Last edited by Bronk; 2019-03-12 at 06:10 AM.

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    Default Re: What's the deal with elephants?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bronk View Post
    I think this is a situation where they tried to go for 'realism', thinking:

    "Okay, we made it so slams are usable by 'arm-like limbs', and elephants have a trunk... but when you think of elephants attacking, you think of the tusks! So tusks will be primary. Then, I don't know, trunk and foot stuff... Hmm, but then wouldn't the trunk get in the way of the tusks if you used both? Not realistic enough! No, the trunk will be primary, but goring with the tusks will be special, yessss... and there are two of them, so it'll be like a two handed attack!"

    "If we're going to separate them out, shouldn't we just make gore a special attack like how we made 'crush' an extraordinary attack for dragons?"

    "... Get out. Now, about trample..."


    So yeah, I do think the slam doesn't need to be but could also be a trunk attack. It counts as an 'arm-like limb', which is called out in the natural weapons section, and the elephant would only get one despite being huge sized (when large creatures can make one slam for each limb) because it only has one trunk.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    ...so as we can see, no internal consistency from WotC (unsurprising).

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    Default Re: What's the deal with elephants?

    Quote Originally Posted by OgresAreCute View Post
    Realism, the natural predator of D&D mechanics.
    Indeed. "Muh realisms!!1!one!", in one form or another, remain one of the most severe obstacles in designing games that testably do what they claim to do and deliver a desired experience. (That and "DMs *always* know better than designers what their tables need, so there's no point in making rules with any consistency or balance 'cause DMs will *always* fix that themselves anyway.")

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    Default Re: What's the deal with elephants?

    If I were to guess, maybe it reserves the gore for charging?
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    Default Re: What's the deal with elephants?

    Maybe the slam is a headbutt. That would explain why it's incompatible with goring.

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    Default Re: What's the deal with elephants?

    Wait, maybe the slam is for elephants who don't have tusks? I'm pretty sure that not all elephants have tusks (depending on the species).
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    Default Re: What's the deal with elephants?

    Asian elephant females tend to have short, or absent, tusks, at least.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asian_elephant

    Female Asian elephants usually lack tusks; if tusks—in that case called "tushes"—are present, they are barely visible, and only seen when the mouth is open.
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    Default Re: What's the deal with elephants?

    Quote Originally Posted by KillianHawkeye View Post
    If I were to guess, maybe it reserves the gore for charging?
    Now, I'm no game designer but if I added an entire attack to a creature that already had 3 just for charging, I think I'd also add the powerful charge ability and not just a +0.5 STR mod.

    Anyway, I had a look around and there's an elephant sub-creature in Pathfinder made by Frog God Games that has no slam attack and the text "its trunk is too short to be used as an effective weapon." Now, a third party producing content for a third party isn't exactly authoritative on WotC's intent, but they might have sent an email to some D&D guy to confirm it... or they just assumed it was the trunk and went with that.

    Wikipedia makes no mention of elephants using their trunk to attack as far as I can see, though it does say the following about the tusks:
    Quote Originally Posted by Wikipedia, on elephant tusks
    When fighting, they are used to attack and defend, and to protect the trunk.
    Not only do they not fight with the trunk, the trunk requires active protection in combat. There's no guarantee that the D&D lads did their homework on elephant schnozzles, though, so the slam might very well be intended to be the trunk.

    Quote Originally Posted by InvisibleBison View Post
    Maybe the slam is a headbutt. That would explain why it's incompatible with goring.
    It would explain why the gore and the slam are not compatible, but not why the gore and stamps are incompatible. Presumably, if you can swing your head to headbutt you could also swing your head to gore with your tusks.

    One possible other explanation is that the slam also uses the tusks, but is a downward slam with the blunt side instead of an forwards/upwards goring thrust. That would make sense why they can't be used together, since they're the same attack. In that case, though, the question of the hour is "why?" They might have figured a primary attack with +1.5x STR Mod would be too powerful on a full attack and therefore replaced it, it's also easier to imagine the elephant rearing up and slamming with its feet and tusks at the same time rather than stomping with its feet either preceded or followed by a goring thrust.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    ...so as we can see, no internal consistency from WotC (unsurprising).

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    Default Re: What's the deal with elephants?

    If I remember right, elephants are even more weird than even that slam/gore weirdness, because, thanks to how D&D stats things, they're actually really good climbers since that's a Strength skill. So, your siege of elephants probably could just climb over battlements if you wanted to Hannibal it up a notch.

    In fact it is 100% plausble that your Strength 30 (+10) african elephant can without effort climb up a surface with ledges. That's fine. But they can also without too much trouble on the roll (DC20. So you need 10 or greater with the existing +10) to climb across a pit trap in a dungeon by clinging to the brickwork in a dungeon's wall.

    Because, you know, that's a sane thing elephants can totally do. (if they can make 15 on their climb roll, perhaps with some training to give them some ranks in climb rather than raw natural talent, they can climb upside down on a celing, presumably using their trunk to swing from handhold to handhold.)
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    Default Re: What's the deal with elephants?

    Quote Originally Posted by Malphegor View Post
    If I remember right, elephants are even more weird than even that slam/gore weirdness, because, thanks to how D&D stats things, they're actually really good climbers since that's a Strength skill. So, your siege of elephants probably could just climb over battlements if you wanted to Hannibal it up a notch.

    In fact it is 100% plausble that your Strength 30 (+10) african elephant can without effort climb up a surface with ledges. That's fine. But they can also without too much trouble on the roll (DC20. So you need 10 or greater with the existing +10) to climb across a pit trap in a dungeon by clinging to the brickwork in a dungeon's wall.

    Because, you know, that's a sane thing elephants can totally do. (if they can make 15 on their climb roll, perhaps with some training to give them some ranks in climb rather than raw natural talent, they can climb upside down on a celing, presumably using their trunk to swing from handhold to handhold.)
    I'm pretty sure there's a quote somewhere in the PHB about this exact kinda thing where they say something to the effect of "a wolf can't climb after a human up a tree just because it has a decent strength score". Basically animals can't do anything they couldn't conceivably do in the real world.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    ...so as we can see, no internal consistency from WotC (unsurprising).

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    Default Re: What's the deal with elephants?

    Quote Originally Posted by OgresAreCute View Post
    Wikipedia makes no mention of elephants using their trunk to attack as far as I can see
    It does say the trunk is used to wrestle with other elephants. And in fiction, elephants clubbing with their trunks comes up a lot.
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    Default Re: What's the deal with elephants?

    Quote Originally Posted by OgresAreCute View Post
    I'm pretty sure there's a quote somewhere in the PHB about this exact kinda thing where they say something to the effect of "a wolf can't climb after a human up a tree just because it has a decent strength score". Basically animals can't do anything they couldn't conceivably do in the real world.
    You're right, that quote is in there somewhere (either PHB or MM, AFB and I can't seem to find it on D20SRD right now...)

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    Default Re: What's the deal with elephants?

    The slam is probably them swinging their tusks sideways at enemies, whereas the gore is them piercing enemies with them. If so, that explains why gore is not compatible with full attack and why it gains the 1.5 str bonus; it's meant to be used with a charge by itself.

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    Default Re: What's the deal with elephants?

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    It does say the trunk is used to wrestle with other elephants. And in fiction, elephants clubbing with their trunks comes up a lot.
    I just came across a anecdote where an elephant trainer recounted how a newer, less respectful elephant trainer used a mean training technique on an elephant, and the elephant whacked her across the room with it's trunk. It appears to be highly effective vs. humans!

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    Default Re: What's the deal with elephants?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eladrinblade View Post
    The slam is probably them swinging their tusks sideways at enemies, whereas the gore is them piercing enemies with them. If so, that explains why gore is not compatible with full attack and why it gains the 1.5 str bonus; it's meant to be used with a charge by itself.
    This is exactly what I was thinking. An opponent directly in front of it or the target of a charge would be hit by a gore. An opponent to its side would be knocked about by its tusks as it turns toward them to go stampy-stampy.

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    Default Re: What's the deal with elephants?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rijan_Sai View Post
    You're right, that quote is in there somewhere (either PHB or MM, AFB and I can't seem to find it on D20SRD right now...)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    ...so as we can see, no internal consistency from WotC (unsurprising).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eldariel View Post
    ... It's not the only creature with multiple different natural weapon full attack entries (though I can't think of the other ones off the top of my head).
    It's hard to find a real rhyme or reason for these things.

    From MMI:

    • The rast's full attack is bite or 4 claws.
    • The avoral guardinal's full attack is 2 claws or 2 wings
    • The manticore's full attack is 2 claws or 6 spikes.
    • Both types of crocodile get bite or tail slap.
    • The grey render has bite; 2 claws (I'm not sure if the semicolon is supposed to be an "or")
    • The grick has 4 tentacles; bite (again, I'm not sure about the semicolon).


    For some of these, there are easy rationalizations: the avoral can't use its foot claws while standing on them, or its wing attacks while flying; the manticore can't mix melee and ranged attacks; and the crocodiles' tails and heads are on opposite sides of a relatively inflexible body.

    But, there are often counter-examples: true dragons can use their wing attacks while flying; the gibbering mouther can use all of its bites and a ranged spittle attack in the same full attack; and dragons and wyverns can use their bites and tails in the same full attack.

    And the gargoyle has 2 claws and bite and gore, so at least some creatures are able to use their head twice in one full attack. I'm not sure why an elephant couldn't do it if a gargoyle can: maybe swinging an enormous elephant head around is more cumbersome than swinging a gargoyle's head around? Or maybe it's because the jaws don't use that kind of whole-body motion, while the elephant's slam does?

    But I doubt there's a real consistent reason for these things: perhaps the designers thought an elephant with 4 attacks in one full attack was inappropriate for its CR? That seems like the most likely explanation for why the rast has that limitation, so maybe it fits the elephant too? I don't know: it's hard to say.

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    Default Re: What's the deal with elephants?

    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Jay View Post
    But, there are often counter-examples: true dragons can use their wing attacks while flying; the gibbering mouther can use all of its bites and a ranged spittle attack in the same full attack; and dragons and wyverns can use their bites and tails in the same full attack.
    I wouldn't take what a dragon can do as representative of any kind of normalcy for monsters' abilities. They're literally the most iconic monster of D&D (they're even in the name!), so you expect them to have some special stuff to make them better than other monsters.
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    Quote Originally Posted by OgresAreCute View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by PoeticallyPsyco View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    ...so as we can see, no internal consistency from WotC (unsurprising).

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    Sweet, thanks!
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