Natural attacks and strength bonus


Rules Questions

Scarab Sages

Normally I like to think there's no rule I cannot find an answer for, but there are a few select times I find myself stumped or at least on the fence. This is one of those times.

Here is the setup:

A level 10 ranger has a constrictor snake animal companion. Because of an allowed feat that grants him +2 to his effective druid level, this animal companion is statted as if it were owned by a 9th level druid. Which gives it multiattack.

Now multiattack, unique to the animal companions, give the animal an extra attack at a -5 penalty if they only had one attack to begin with. The snake only has a bite, so it would get a second bite attack at -5.

And now the question:

The snake got x1.5 str bonus to its bite attack when it only had the one attack. Now that it has two attacks, does it drop back to x1 str damage or stay at x1.5?

Here are the facts as I know them:

  • A creature only gets x1.5 str on its attack if it is the *only* natural attack.
  • This applies to creatures with multiple attacks of the same type. As an example, a number of creatures in the Bestiary with 2 slam attacks only get x1 str, not x1.5.
  • The snake has two bites, which makes it seem like it should follow the same lines and drop the damage bonus to x1 str.
  • However, the natural attack examples with 2 slams and other multiple attacks of the same type are always at the same bonus. The snake's bite is more like an iterative attack, with a -5 to the second bite.
  • Then again, natural attacks don't get iterative attacks.
  • Multiattack is special.

That's about when my brain exploded.

So which should it be? In all honesty, I'm leaning towards it getting the x1.5 str bonus, since it still only has one natural attack, it just gets to attack twice with it.

It seems like the x1.5 str should stay so long as the creature only has one source of the natural attack, like with this snake. All the examples I could see in the Bestiary could be seen as having different sources (some constructs with 2 slams = 2 different fists, hydras with multiple bites = multiple heads, etc.) so it would make sense that as long as the creature was using the same 'attack' it would count as one and do 1.5.

Anyhow, that's all my info. Thoughts?


Excellent question KK !

I really look forward to the next 50 or so replies to this ...


Core RB (p.53) Multiattack: An animal companion gains Multiattack as
a bonus feat if it has three or more natural attacks and does
not already have that feat. If it does not have the requisite
three or more natural attacks, the animal companion
instead gains a second attack with one of its natural
weapons, albeit at a –5 penalty.

So it can either attack once with 1 bite & *1.5 Str bns to dmg OR twice (2nd attack at -5) with normal Str bns to dmg.

And no iterative attacks as it's using natural weapons.

Scarab Sages

Tanis wrote:

Core RB (p.53) Multiattack: An animal companion gains Multiattack as

a bonus feat if it has three or more natural attacks and does
not already have that feat. If it does not have the requisite
three or more natural attacks, the animal companion
instead gains a second attack with one of its natural
weapons, albeit at a –5 penalty.

So it can either attack once with 1 bite & *1.5 Str bns to dmg OR twice (2nd attack at -5) with normal Str bns to dmg.

And no iterative attacks as it's using natural weapons.

Unfortunately, the natural attack rules kind of cover this. It's always one (x1.5str) or the other (x1str). I probably should have quoted them, so here we are:

Natural Attacks wrote:


Most creatures possess one or more natural attacks (attacks made without a weapon). These attacks fall into one of two categories, primary and secondary attacks. Primary attacks are made using the creature's full base attack bonus and add the creature's full Strength bonus on damage rolls. Secondary attacks are made using the creature's base attack bonus –5 and add only 1/2 the creature's Strength bonus on damage rolls. 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 attack 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. Table: Natural Attacks by Size lists some of the most common types of natural attacks and their classifications.

Some creatures treat one or more of their attacks differently, such as dragons, which always receive 1-1/2 times their Strength bonus on damage rolls with their bite attack. These exceptions are noted in the creature's description.

Creatures with natural attacks and attacks made with weapons can use both as part of a full attack action (although often a creature must forgo one natural attack for each weapon clutched in that limb, be it a claw, tentacle, or slam). Such creatures attack with their weapons normally but treat all of their natural attacks as secondary attacks during that attack, regardless of the attack's original type.

So there's only two real resolutions to this. Either:

A. The snake's bite attack counts as one natural attack despite it being able to attack twice per round, so it gets x1.5 Str to all damage (regardless of whether it takes one or both in a round)

OR

B. The snake's bite attack counts as multiple natural attacks since it gets to attack twice, and all attacks with it only get x1 str bonus to damage, even if it only takes one attack in a round.

In either case, the str bonus never changes depending on how many times the creature attacks, it's always one or the other.

The creatures with multiple natural attacks of the same type (like a hydra's bites) cover this, it's x1 str damage no matter if it makes one bite attack or five. Similarly, creatures with a single bite attack that have been buffed with Haste in some Pathfinder APs are shown with still getting their x1.5 str damage, since the number of natural attacks hasn't changed.

Actually, based on the Haste logic, I am definitely closer to thinking A is the correct way to go. We'll say 85/15. The snake still just has one natural attack, the unique multiattack rules with animal companions just allow it to strike twice, mimicking the otherwise impossible for natural weapons iterative attack.

If the snake had two heads which each had its own bite, that'd be easy. As it is, it's one natural attack, just two times per round it can strike. Only possible with this Multiattack variation, woo!


The bite attack is its only LISTED attack therefore it gets 1.5 str to damage. If it gets an extra attack because of multiattack or, say, haste, you don't get less str to dmg because of it.

Scarab Sages

meatrace wrote:
The bite attack is its only LISTED attack therefore it gets 1.5 str to damage. If it gets an extra attack because of multiattack or, say, haste, you don't get less str to dmg because of it.

That's my current thought. I think I just needed to think it out loud. Or in my case, make a thread and a few large posts to come to a similar conclusion.

I'm still open if someone can cite anything that might suggest otherwise, but I think 1.5 is the way to go.


The second line that you've got in bold "This increase does not apply if the creature has multiple attacks but only takes one" says it all.

Once they get multiattack, they no longer apply 1.5 * Str dmg bns

What monsters specifically have been buffed with haste?

Under Natural Attacks it says that in the desc. if it specifically says that they apply 1.5 * Str dmg then that's the exception, ie. dragon's bite attack.

Scarab Sages

Tanis wrote:

The second line that you've got in bold "This increase does not apply if the creature has multiple attacks but only takes one" says it all.

Once they get multiattack, they no longer apply 1.5 * Str dmg bns

What monsters specifically have been buffed with haste?

Under Natural Attacks it says that in the desc. if it specifically says that they apply 1.5 * Str dmg then that's the exception, ie. dragon's bite attack.

It does say that, but I think it's missing some context. It's directly following the bit about multiple natural attacks so I think the line really implies "This increase does not apply if the creature has multiple (natural) attacks but only takes one". As it is, Multiattack doesn't give the creature any more natural attacks, just multiple attacks with a single natural weapon (which is different than multiple natural attacks, despite the wordplay).

As for an example monster, I've seen a few in Pathfinder APs get buffed this way, including

Spoiler:
The Golden Ram from Legacy of Fire


Karui Kage wrote:
Tanis wrote:

The second line that you've got in bold "This increase does not apply if the creature has multiple attacks but only takes one" says it all.

Once they get multiattack, they no longer apply 1.5 * Str dmg bns

What monsters specifically have been buffed with haste?

Under Natural Attacks it says that in the desc. if it specifically says that they apply 1.5 * Str dmg then that's the exception, ie. dragon's bite attack.

It does say that, but I think it's missing some context. It's directly following the bit about multiple natural attacks so I think the line really implies "This increase does not apply if the creature has multiple (natural) attacks but only takes one". As it is, Multiattack doesn't give the creature any more natural attacks, just multiple attacks with a single natural weapon (which is different than multiple natural attacks, despite the wordplay).

agreed. but i don't think it's intended to make creatures too powerful.

as it stands it's getting a free attack with no penalties. Still, if you're DM, whatever you're comfortable with.

can't comment on the Golden Ram or anything from AP's, haven't DM'd PF yet, so purposely stay away from adventures, if you've got anything from Bonus or normal Beastiary tho, i could comment.


It seems to me that if you took multiattack and it didn't let you keep the 1.5str then that would be a really bad feat to take. A lot of the time you may only get 1 attack anyway and now you do less damage because of a feat taken. That makes no sence.

Scarab Sages

Dragorine wrote:
It seems to me that if you took multiattack and it didn't let you keep the 1.5str then that would be a really bad feat to take. A lot of the time you may only get 1 attack anyway and now you do less damage because of a feat taken. That makes no sence.

It's not really an option either, it's just something that is automatically granted at animal companion 9.


Karui Kage wrote:
Dragorine wrote:
It seems to me that if you took multiattack and it didn't let you keep the 1.5str then that would be a really bad feat to take. A lot of the time you may only get 1 attack anyway and now you do less damage because of a feat taken. That makes no sence.
It's not really an option either, it's just something that is automatically granted at animal companion 9.

Precisely. This is supposed to represent your animal companion advancing in abilities alongside you. As a matter of fact it represents getting an additional attack at an increment that mirrors that of higher BAB attack iterations.

Unless fighters only add their strength bonus to 2H weapons on the second attack in a round this interpretation of the ability is pretty unfounded. I'll admit that the language surrounding this ability is pretty foggy but that's because of how they changed monsters in PF but didn't change the language for druid animal companions. Basically in 3.5 you used to have primary and secondary natural weapons, secondary natural weapons getting a -5 to attacks and the Multiattack feat reduced that penalty to -2. Now you have a number of "primary" attacks and the multiattack feat does pretty much nothing for the animal companion except give an extra attack where they normally would because of HD/BAB advancement if the monster was advanced properly.

In conclusion: I'm fairly certain it's meant to be 1.5*Str all the time. like 99.993% sure.

Scarab Sages

Yeah, I think that's what I'm going to go with. The text says that a natural attack adds x1.5 str so long as its the only natural attack the creature has. And in the case of multiattack for animal companions with only one natural attack, the number of natural attacks doesn't change. It still just has one, it just gets an extraordinary ability to attack with it a second time at a -5 penalty in one round.

1.5 str it is.

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