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Natural Weapons: Melee weapons or not?


Rules Questions

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2 people marked this as FAQ candidate.

Simple enough question really, FAQ it if you please, answer if you like.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The answer is yes for just about any question you have. There are very few cases where it is not the case.


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I'm gonna say no. Natural weapons are not melee weapons.

You can make a melee attack with a natural weapon. I suppose you can make a ranged attack with a natural weapon (manticore spikes come to mind). But all in all, they are still natural weapons and not melee weapons.


GM Jeff wrote:

I'm gonna say no. Natural weapons are not melee weapons.

You can make a melee attack with a natural weapon. I suppose you can make a ranged attack with a natural weapon (manticore spikes come to mind). But all in all, they are still natural weapons and not melee weapons.

Manticore spikes are an extraordinary ability, not a natural attack (edit: I mean 'natural weapon').


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If any game ever requires a distinction between "melee weapons" and "weapons that are melee", something has gone horribly wrong.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I see no difference between "Natural Weapons used to make melee attacks" and "Melee weapons".


Is there a reason for the question? Perhaps more detail on whatever scenario in which this has become something that needs to be answered could help.


Natural attacks are weapons:

Quote:
Natural Attacks: Attacks made with natural weapons, such as claws and bites, are melee attacks that can be made against any creature within your reach (usually 5 feet).

Weapon that is used to make a melee attack is thus melee weapon.

The question is complicated by following quote, which implies there is distinction between natural weapons and melee weapons:

Quote:
You can make attacks with natural weapons in combination with attacks made with a melee weapon and unarmed strikes, so long as a different limb is used for each attack.

I think, however, it is erroneous and the correct term used in the second quote should be "manufactured melee weapons", not merely "melee weapons" because:

blackbloodtroll wrote:
I see no difference between "Natural Weapons used to make melee attacks" and "Melee weapons".

As it would be ridiculous to make such distinction when it is already covered by "natural weapon" versus "manufactured weapon".


If this is even a question our schools have failed.

There are two distinctions among weapons.

Every weapon is either natural or manufactured. By definition these encompass all weapons. Indeed this distinction encompasses **everything**. That which is not natural is manufactured and that which is not manufactured must be natural provided it exists.

Every weapon is melee or ranged. By definition these encompass all literal weapons. Metaphorical weapons like information may fall outside both categories, but there's nothing metaphorical about a tiger's jaws.

These distinctions should have absolutely nothing to do with each other but for some reason ranged natural weapons are usually written as Ex or Su abilities.


Atarlost wrote:

If this is even a question our schools have failed.

There are two distinctions among weapons.

Every weapon is either natural or manufactured. By definition these encompass all weapons. Indeed this distinction encompasses **everything**. That which is not natural is manufactured and that which is not manufactured must be natural provided it exists.

Every weapon is melee or ranged. By definition these encompass all literal weapons. Metaphorical weapons like information may fall outside both categories, but there's nothing metaphorical about a tiger's jaws.

These distinctions should have absolutely nothing to do with each other but for some reason ranged natural weapons are usually written as Ex or Su abilities.

That's what I thought too but I don't spend as much time finding technical rule exceptions as some people do.


I could be wrong, but to me, it looks like they go out of their way to make sure "melee weapon" is never mentioned when talking about "natural weapons". It's always melee attacks with a natural weapon, or melee attacks with a melee weapon.

And, there is the Magic Weapon spell and the Magic Fang spell. One is used on weapons (but not natural weapons), the other on natural weapons.

If melee weapons and natural weapons were one in the same, you'd think there'd be one spell for both.


Atarlost wrote:

Every weapon is either natural or manufactured. By definition these encompass all weapons. Indeed this distinction encompasses **everything**. That which is not natural is manufactured and that which is not manufactured must be natural provided it exists.

Every weapon is melee or ranged. By definition these encompass all literal weapons. Metaphorical weapons like information may fall outside both categories, but there's nothing metaphorical about a tiger's jaws.

I agree with this. The second paragraph I quoted implies otherwise (by putting natural weapon as different than melee weapon)

Quote:
These distinctions should have absolutely nothing to do with each other but for some reason ranged natural weapons are usually written as Ex or Su abilities.

Because ranged natural attacks are almost always of extraordinary or supernatural origins. This is yet another separate distinction in addition to the two you mentioned and changes nothing in this discussion. One can have an extraordinary natural melee weapon (eidolon's natural attacks are all extraordinary).


GM Jeff wrote:

I could be wrong, but to me, it looks like they go out of their way to make sure "melee weapon" is never mentioned when talking about "natural weapons". It's always melee attacks with a natural weapon, or melee attacks with a melee weapon.

And, there is the Magic Weapon spell and the Magic Fang spell. One is used on weapons (but not natural weapons), the other on natural weapons.

If melee weapons and natural weapons were one in the same, you'd think there'd be one spell for both.

Isn't that what Lead Blades does?


GM Jeff wrote:

I could be wrong, but to me, it looks like they go out of their way to make sure "melee weapon" is never mentioned when talking about "natural weapons". It's always melee attacks with a natural weapon, or melee attacks with a melee weapon.

And, there is the Magic Weapon spell and the Magic Fang spell. One is used on weapons (but not natural weapons), the other on natural weapons.

Note that magic weapon spell states that it targets weapon touched and then specifies that it does not affect natural weapons. If they were intended to be different concepts then such specification would not be necessary.

Quote:
If melee weapons and natural weapons were one in the same, you'd think there'd be one spell for both.

No because one is intended to work with manufactured weapons and is clerical/wizardly/other civilized folk buff while the other is intended to work with natural weapons and be tool of druids and rangers.


I believe all natural weapons are delineated in a table in the bestiary (on phone or I would link).. The manticore's spikes are an extraordinary ability and not a weapon. Spikes is not on the natural weapon list. Thus, as a consequence, I don't think you can magic fang a manticores spike attack. If this interpretation is wrong I would like to be corrected.

Edit: that being said, I would probably house rule the opposite.


Drejk wrote:
Note that magic weapon spell states that it targets weapon touched and then specifies that it does not affect natural weapons. If they were intended to be different concepts then such specification would not be necessary.

"Weapon touched" affects both melee weapons and natural weapons. They could've put "melee weapon touched", but then it wouldn't affect ranged weapons.

Drejk wrote:
No because one is intended to work with manufactured weapons and is clerical/wizardly/other civilized folk buff while the other is intended to work with natural weapons and be tool of druids and rangers.

I use this same reason as to why melee weapons and natural weapons are not the same.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Cheapy wrote:
The answer is yes for just about any question you have. There are very few cases where it is not the case.

The question is in another thread (here):

a) Crane wing say: Once per round while using Crane Style, when you have at least one hand free and are either fighting defensively or using the total defense action, you can deflect one melee weapon attack that would normally hit you.

b) The Black Bard think that it would be too powerful against monsters with a single natural attack and the power, as written, work only against weapons, not natural attacks.

c) Ryinjin think that natural attacks are meele weapon attacks.

A bit of background help comprehending the question.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Rynjin wrote:
GM Jeff wrote:

I could be wrong, but to me, it looks like they go out of their way to make sure "melee weapon" is never mentioned when talking about "natural weapons". It's always melee attacks with a natural weapon, or melee attacks with a melee weapon.

And, there is the Magic Weapon spell and the Magic Fang spell. One is used on weapons (but not natural weapons), the other on natural weapons.

If melee weapons and natural weapons were one in the same, you'd think there'd be one spell for both.

Isn't that what Lead Blades does?
PRD wrote:


Lead Blades
School transmutation; Level ranger 1
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S
Range personal
Target touch
Duration 1 minute/level (D)

Lead blades increases the momentum and density of your melee weapons just as they strike a foe. All melee weapons you are carrying when the spell is cast deal damage as if one size category larger than they actually are. For instance, a Medium longsword normally deals 1d8 points of damage, but it would instead deal 2d6 points of damage if benefiting from lead blades. Only you can benefit from this spell. If anyone else uses one of your weapons to make an attack it deals damage as normal for its size.

I don't see anything here referring to natural weapons.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Crane Wing works on natural attacks. Note that the reason that it works is because it says "melee weapon", not "manufactured weapon".


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

That feat is just Deflect Arrows, but for melee attacks.

I have no idea why it causes such an uproar.

Unless a DM is consistently throwing the PCs up against only one enemy, who's capable of only one melee attack per round, then there is no problem.

Seriously, I believe those so against it need to unclench.


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Cheapy wrote:
Crane Wing works on natural attacks. Note that the reason that it works is because it says "melee weapon", not "manufactured weapon".

Have I told you lately that you're a swell guy?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

People need to understand the distinct differences between ranged and melee attacks, the different damage potentials of both, and how that relates to the complete and utter damage negation of whichever attack they desire.

Spoiler:
Deflect Arrows doesn't negate encounters.


Neither does Crane Wing unless it's one monster with a single attack as the whole encounter.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Rynjin wrote:
Neither does Crane Wing unless it's one monster with a single attack as the whole encounter.

That is what I just said!:)


Sowwy. =(

I did say that earlier in the Vital Strike thread though.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Which of course happens roughly a million times more often the corresponding deflect arrows scenario, even before you take into consideration the "many low damaging attacks" paradigm that ranged weapons are based on. Rogue Eidolon has some wonderful systematic play testing of the feat using as standard and environment as possible. Very insightful, although of course its defenders try to place the blame elsewhere.


Wait, I'm confused. I have literally NEVER been in a fight with a single opponent. There've always been at least two monsters on the field at the start of a fight.

Is that just Serpents Skull's schtick or...?


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

...clenching.

Dang, now I doing it.


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I have been in fights vs lone big monsters with few attacks. But even if that happens it's the time for crane style path to shine.
If you're not playing a game where most encounters are like that I don't see the problem.
PCs with scent can make encounters with invisible foes trivial, as can casters with glitterdust.
PCs with high DR can make encounters vs small, fast attacking foes trivial.
It really is a stone, paper, scissors thing.
If you have a stone PC in your game let him shine vs scissiors now and then. There will be enough paper enemies where he will not shine.


Yeah I don't get all the crying here ether. Even if you arw using one big monster (shouldn't be that often.) it is just a monk... its not doing much for damage and it shouldn't be the first target most of the time.

This is like complaining about blur or any other miss chance spell/ability. Sure it is not effect by random luck but its also just a monk. A Dex magus with a high AC and a miss chance is also hard to hit with a one big attack type monster but will also put out the damage to be a threat.

Or you know a full caster or witch will target its weak save and end the encounter in a snap.


Well of course not just monks can take it but for anyone else its a giant feat sink. So a fighter can afford it sure but... its still just a fighter. So...


I believe crane specifies 'melee weapon' as opposed to 'melee attack,' which would also encompass touch attacks for spells. Natural attacks clearly referred to as weapons multiple places in the rules. Common sense and RAW support the notion that a claw IS a weapon.


If the Crane Feats didn't apply to Natural Attacks/Weapons then it would be useless most of the time.

As Vestrial stated it doesn't shut down most Touch Spells. Well except for a Magus using their ability.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

DISCLAIMER: I've discussed melee weapons, unarmed attacks and natural attacks/weapons in another thread and got insulted for saying that natural attacks are not melee weapons, so this time I'll take a neutral stance as I'm tired of arguing. It's often impossible to know what the designers' intent was (and the designers don't always agree with each other anyway...). What really matters is that everyone at the table is having fun. I have no characters who use the Crane feats, nor do I have any players who've ruined my fun with the feat so there really is no personal agenda for me here.

In the RPG parlance, "melee" means hand-to-hand combat, so it's common sense that natural attacks are melee attacks. And yes, the SRD also says that they are: " Attacks made with natural weapons, such as claws and bites, are melee attacks that can be made against any creature within your reach (usually 5 feet)."

But I guess the real question is whether the designers intended the game term "melee weapons" to include natural attacks/weapons. As far as I've understood, "melee attacks" and "melee weapons" are separate game terms, so it can be argued that making a melee attack doesn't necessarily require a weapon that is considered a melee weapon. Indeed, it is possible to stab with an arrow (ammunition) or use a crossbow as a club (ranged weapon). Then again, one could argue that they become melee weapons for the purpose of the attack even if the rules text doesn't say so explicitly.

To find out how the designers wanted us to understand the game terms "natural attack/weapon" and "melee weapon", it's possible to search the d20pfsrd.com and find instances of rules text where it is said or implied that natural attacks are melee weapons or a category separate from melee weapons. Since this is a neutral study, I encourage everyone to try and use different search terms to gather more data.

I used the following search terms: "natural weapon", "melee weapon" and another time with "natural attack", "melee weapon". I ignored all hits that were 3rd-party or fan-made content. I also ignored hits where they are not discussed in the same context, for example, if they appear in unrelated cells of the same table.

Many hits where natural attacks/weapons are listed separately but have the same effect. It may be intentional redundancy for clarity's sake, or it may in fact hint at their being separate categories.

Spoiler:

"Anyone who strikes the target with a non-reach melee weapon, natural weapon, or unarmed attack takes 3d6 points of acid damage as the acidic blood sprays on the attacker. If the attack is from a piercing or slashing manufactured weapon, the weapon also takes this damage."

"Any creature attacking a pukwudgie with light or one-handed melee weapons, natural weapons, or an unarmed strike takes 1d3 points of piercing damage."

"A creature that strikes a hamatula with a melee weapon, an unarmed strike, or a natural weapon takes 1d8+6 points of piercing damage from the devil's barbs. Melee weapons with reach do not endanger a user in this way."

"Any creature that strikes a howler with a non-reach melee weapon, unarmed strike, or natural weapon takes 1d4+1 points of piercing damage from the howler’s quills and suffers from the howler’s pain attack."

"The target attacks its nearest ally on its next turn with a melee weapon or natural weapon."

"When an incubus confirms a critical hit with a melee weapon or a natural weapon, that attack deals an additional 2d6 points of nonlethal damage and the target must succeed at a DC 19 Fortitude save or be wracked by pain, becoming sickened for 1d6 rounds."

"A creature struck by a peluda’s tail slap or that strikes a peluda with a melee weapon, an unarmed attack, or a natural weapon takes 1d6 points of piercing damage from the peluda’s quills and risks being poisoned. Melee weapons with reach do not endanger a user in this way. Any creature that grapples a peluda takes 3d6 points of piercing damage and risks being poisoned each round the grapple persists."

" A creature struck by a vydrarch’s tail slap attack or that strikes a vydrarch with a melee weapon without reach, an unarmed strike, or a natural weapon takes 1d6 points of piercing damage and risks being poisoned. Any creature that grapples a vydrarch takes 2d6 points of piercing damage and risks being poisoned each round."

"A creature that attacks a spine dragon with a melee weapon, unarmed strike, or natural weapon must make a DC 20 Reflex save or take 2d8+11 points of piercing damage from the spines."

"Members of this race deal 1d6 points of energy damage of the selected type whenever they strike a foe with a natural attack, unarmed strike, or melee weapon."

"Anyone striking the barbarian with a melee weapon, an unarmed strike, or a natural weapon takes 1d6 points of piercing damage."

"Any creature striking you with a melee weapon, an unarmed strike, or a natural weapon takes 1d6 points of piercing damage +1 point per caster level (maximum +15). Creatures using melee weapons with reach are unaffected by this spell. Creatures that successfully grapple you take 2d6 points of piercing damage +1 point per caster level (maximum +15). In addition, your natural attacks and unarmed strikes deal an additional 1d6 points of piercing damage."

"Finally, creatures of the chosen alignment find it painful to touch the warded creature, taking 2d6 points of damage for each successful hit with a melee weapon or natural weapon."

"Any creature that strikes a lesser bandersnatch with a non-reach melee weapon, unarmed strike, or natural weapon takes 1d8+4* points of piercing damage from the lesser bandersnatch's quills and suffers from the lesser bandersnatch's pain attack."

"You can make attacks with natural weapons in combination with attacks made with a melee weapon and unarmed strikes, so long as a different limb is used for each attack."

"Once per round as an immediate action, the suli can shock a creature that touches or attacks her with a natural attack, unarmed strike, or metal melee weapon, dealing 1d6 points of electricity damage to the creature. This racial trait otherwise works like and replaces elemental assault."

"You cast this spell as you strike a creature with a melee weapon, unarmed strike, or natural attack to unleash a concussive blast of force."

"When a demodand’s natural attack or melee weapon damages a creature capable of casting divine spells, that creature must make a Will saving throw or be unable to cast any divine spells for 1 round."

"Typical restrictions include only using melee weapons, ranged weapons, unarmed (or natural) weapons, magic, or any combination of these."

"Furthermore, when the wearer makes a charge attack, her melee weapons and natural weapons deal damage as if they were one size category larger than they actually are."

"Any creature attacking a giant porcupine with light or one-handed melee weapons, natural weapons, or an unarmed strike takes 1d3 points of piercing damage."

"Any creature attacking a giant blowfish with light or one-handed melee weapons, natural weapons, or an unarmed strike takes 1d8 points of piercing damage. A creature that grapples a giant blowfish takes 2d6 points of piercing damage each round it does so."

2 hits that could be read as "natural melee weapons or non-reach melee weapons" due to omission.

Spoiler:

"Creatures attacking Nuruu’gal with natural or nonreach melee weapons take 2d10 points of fire damage with each successful hit. The save DC is Constitution-based."

"A creature that attacks her with natural or non-reach melee weapons takes 1d6 points of fire damage (no save) with each successful hit."

0 hits where natural attacks/weapons are said to be melee weapons, that they are considered/treated as melee weapons, or that they are a sub-class of melee weapons. Help me find passages like of this kind?

3 hits where natural attacks and melee weapons are clearly treated as separate, mutually exclusive categories:

Spoiler:

"Any creature that strikes a babau with a natural attack or unarmed strike takes 1d8 points of acid damage from this slime if it fails a DC 18 Reflex save. A creature that strikes a babau with a melee weapon must make a DC 18 Reflex save or the weapon takes 1d8 points of acid damage; if this damage penetrates the weapon's hardness, the weapon gains the broken condition. Ammunition that strikes a babau is automatically destroyed after it inflicts its damage."

"An enraged remorhaz generates heat so intense that anything touching its body takes 8d6 points of fire damage. Creatures striking a remorhaz with natural attacks or unarmed strikes are subject to this damage, but creatures striking with melee weapons are not. The heat can melt or burn weapons; any weapon that strikes a remorhaz is allowed a DC 19 Fortitude save to avoid taking damage. The save DC is Constitution-based."

"Most elder things eschew melee weapons, opting instead for their natural weapons, magic, or strange technological items for combat, but they are capable of wielding any weapon a human could in their strong, agile tentacles."

If you can find more relevant hits that suggest natural attacks are/aren't melee weapons, please post them here. The current data suggests that at least some of the designers who wrote/edited the rules thought that natural attacks are not melee weapons.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Serpent, here is a member of the design team saying they are.

There are very few non-melee natural attacks and those ones are obviously not melee weapons.

If they show up in the melee portion of an NPC's statblock, they're melee weapons. Simple as that :)


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Well I'm glad we've settled the question of whether weapons of melee are melee weapons, it was pretty intense there.


So, natural "melee" weapons are then legal targets for any weapon enchantment?

So I could enchant my tiger's bite attack with the "flaming" enchantment?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

If you used a flaming amulet of mighty fists, you could have a flaming tiger, yes.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Adamantine Dragon wrote:

So, natural "melee" weapons are then legal targets for any weapon enchantment?

So I could enchant my tiger's bite attack with the "flaming" enchantment?

It is called the Amulet of Mighty Fists.

They are still not manufactured weapons.


blackbloodtroll wrote:
Adamantine Dragon wrote:

So, natural "melee" weapons are then legal targets for any weapon enchantment?

So I could enchant my tiger's bite attack with the "flaming" enchantment?

It is called the Amulet of Mighty Fists.

They are still not manufactured weapons.

Where does it say that enchantments can only be placed on "manufactured weapons?" I just did a search on the entire section of weapon enchantments and the word "manufactured" never appears. Not once.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

You can't have masterwork natural weapons, so you can't enhance them with enhancement bonuses or abilities. See here for the same logic for why you can't just enhance unarmed strikes either.


Cheapy, "Masterwork transformation" has no restriction on what type of "weapon" you can make masterwork. It just says "weapon."

So unless there is some ruling from a FAQ somewhere, I can use "Masterwork Transformation" to make my tiger's teeth "masterwork" and then enchant them.

After all, as it has been made clear above, natural melee weapons ARE melee weapons.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Please stop being ridiculous. It's helping no one.

Masterwork Transformation wrote:
If the target object has no masterwork equivalent, the spell has no effect.

That clearly shows the intent.


Cheapy wrote:

Please stop being ridiculous. It's helping no one.

Masterwork Transformation wrote:
If the target object has no masterwork equivalent, the spell has no effect.
That clearly shows the intent.

Cheapy, you are aware, I assume, that cockfighting trainers "improve" their rooster's talons with metal blades. I would argue that doing so with the appropriate degree of skill is turning a "natural weapon" into a "masterwork" weapon.

My point here is to show that pushing the rules so that there is no distinction between "melee weapon" and "natural melee weapon" has consequences.

Besides, I think it would be friggin awesome for my tiger to have +2 adamantium flaming teeth.

And isn't the game all about the awesomeness?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I think Animal Archive actually has that, come to think of it. I haven't browsed it, but one of the devs hinted at it.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:
Cheapy, you are aware, I assume, that cockfighting trainers "improve" their rooster's talons with metal blades. I would argue that doing so with the appropriate degree of skill is turning a "natural weapon" into a "masterwork" weapon.

Which page would I find that on? Is that in the CRB or the Bestiary?


Heh, I actually did start this just as a snarky way to show how the desire to equate "melee weapon" with "natural weapon" had consequences...

But now I've actually almost convinced myself. Why not? Why can't I have masterwork adamantine fangs replace my tiger's natural teeth and then enchant them?

I'm totally going to ask my GM about this.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

There is no Masterwork version of unarmed strikes or natural weapons.

This means Masterwork Transformation fails, as there it cannot be used to create something that does not exist.

To be enchanted, a weapon must be masterwork.

So, now we can be happy that it does not work, and there is no reason to declare Natural Weapons as not being melee weapons to stop it.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:

Heh, I actually did start this just as a snarky way to show how the desire to equate "melee weapon" with "natural weapon" had consequences...

But now I've actually almost convinced myself. Why not? Why can't I have masterwork adamantine fangs replace my tiger's natural teeth and then enchant them?

I'm totally going to ask my GM about this.

I remember in the 3.5 Draconomicon there was a set of mechanical jaws and teeth that dragons could fit over their own to increase their bite damage 1 size and I think gave them 19-20 threat range on top of it.


blackbloodtroll wrote:

There is no Masterwork version of unarmed strikes or natural weapons.

This means Masterwork Transformation fails, as there it cannot be used to create something that does not exist.

To be enchanted, a weapon must be masterwork.

So, now we can be happy that it does not work, and there is no reason to declare Natural Weapons as not being melee weapons to stop it.

I'm not quite buying this BBT. I don't see why natural claws or fangs could not be replaced by artificial ones. That happens in the real world, why can't it happen in a fantasy world?

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