[RPG] Can you attack a Stirge that has attached itself to a creature


I was running my players through Wave Echo Cave in LMoP today and they happened upon a very large group of Stirge. They have low AC and even lower HP, so I didn't think this would pose much of a problem. When the Stirge surprised half of my players, however, and began hitting them with Blood Drain , I became concerned.

Blood Drain: ..the stirge attaches to the target. While attached, the stirge doesn't attack. Instead, at the start of each of the stirge's turns, the target loses hit points due to blood loss. …A creature, including the target, can use its action to detach the stirge.

I am wondering, if the description of this attack makes a point of saying a creature can use an action to remove the Stirge, as opposed to just using your action to attack a Stirge attached to your friend like any player would normally attempt, is this saying you can't attack the Stirge when it is attached to a creature and must, instead, use your action to remove it?

Keep in mind that all Player Characters are Medium, and at the smallest of them Small, sized creatures. A stirge is a Tiny creature, that has attached itself to a (in most cases) much larger creature to draw blood. I can't imagine the Paladin being able to swing on it with his Greatsword to desired effect.

Best Answer

YES, the creature can attack the stirge (nasty little creatures).

The system is written to do what the ability or effect says just as written (Rules As Written) and it does not state that you cannot attack in the description of the stirge's Blood Drain ability. There is also no general rule covering attacking the stirge using this ability.

However there is the general rule regarding situational advantage and disadvantage that could come into play should you, the DM, decide they it is warranted:

Advantage and disadvantage DMG p.239

Advantage and disadvantage are among the most useful tools in your DM's toolbox. They reflect temporary circumstances that might affect the chances of a character succeeding or failing at a task.

Consider imposing disadvantage when:

• Circumstances hinder success in some way.

• Some aspect of the environment makes success less likely (assuming that aspect doesn't already impose a penalty to the roll being made).

Given this, as a DM I myself would impose disadvantage for this situation, possibly unless the attacking character uses a finesse weapon and dex based attack. A character in this situation may be able to gain advantage on the attack to cancel the disadvantage. Not only is this an appropriate situational modifier, in my opinion, but perhaps more importantly it adds a bit of flavour and drama to the proceedings.

There is a closely related question: "Does a character have a penalty attacking an attached Stirge?