Unarmed Strikes: One Weapon or Multiple Weapons?


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Okay, this also comes out of the furor over the change in flurry of blows, but I'm not going to touch that issue in this thread. This thread is for one thing and one thing only: resolving the question on whether or not unarmed strike is a single weapon or multiple weapons.

SKR states, very plainly, that he views unarmed strikes as multiple weapons, as shown here:

Sean K Reynolds said wrote:

I just double-checked with Jason, and my statement is correct. Flurry works like TWF. You can't pick your best weapon and use it for all of your flurry attacks.

We're really talking about two different situations. Say we have a monk15 doing a flurry of blows. His attack sequence is +13/+13/+8/+8/+3/+3.

1) If all of his potential attacks are identical (for example, all he's doing are unarmed strikes and none of his unarmed strikes are enhanced by magic fang or any other effect that would give it a different attack bonus or damage value, it doesn't matter if you justify all six of those as punches, all six as headbutts, all six as kicks, or three as kicks and three as punches, or punch kick knee elbow elbow headbutt, because those attacks are identical in terms of attack and damage. That's what the "any combination" text in the flurry rule means--the difference between the attacks is just flavor and has no game effect, so you can use them in any combination because what you call it has no effect on the dice.
(Just like if you have a TWF fighter using two identical +1 short swords with identical attack and damage bonuses, it doesn't really matter for each individual attack if he's using the left shortsword or the right shortsword, declaring it doesn't affect the dice, he can roll all his attack dice at the same time and doesn't have to call them out separately.)

2) If even one of the monk's potential attack forms is not identical to the others, such as using a special monk weapon with an attack bonus or damage different than his unarmed strike, or having magic fang on one hand but not any other body part, now the order and identity of each attack matters, and you have to specify what you're attacking with and you have to abide by the TWF rules because your decisions affect the die rolls. In other words that monk15 is actually making attacks with two weapons, one with a main attack bonus of +13 and iteratives at +8/+3, and another with a main attack bonus of +13 and iteratives at +8/+3. So if you have a +5 sai in your left hand and a normal sai in your right hand, you can't say you're using the +5 sai for all six of your attacks, you're doing +13/+8/+3 with the left hand (adding the sai's +5 enhancement bonus, of course) and +13/+8/+3 with the right hand.
Jason says that in this situation, the "any combination" text means you can swap in a regular unarmed strike in place of any of those attacks (though that's not clear in the text). (Doing so affects the attack and damage rolls for that attack, of course.) So you could swap out your left-hand +8 attack for an unarmed strike such as a kick or elbow (losing the +5 enhancement bonus to that attack because you're not actually using the +5 sai to make that attack), swap out all of the right-hand sai attacks for unarmed strikes, and so on, but you're still abiding by the TWF setup in that you have a series of attacks with one weapon and a series of attacks with your other weapon.

TLDR: (1) Flurry is based on TWF. (2) If all your attacks are identical, declaring which weapon is which is pure flavor and doesn't affect the dice, so go ahead an call them whatever you want. (3) If even one of your attacks is different than the others, you have to follow the TWF rules when flurrying; you can't just declare all of your flurry of blows attacks to be your best weapon because you can't do that with TWF.

Here is the link: SKR and unarmed strike/magic fang

I thought this issue was resolved in the change from 3.0 to 3.5? Now is Pathfinder going back to the original 3.0 version? Gentlemen, this is a can of worms that doesn't need to be opened. So can we have a final, clear, and concise answer to this simple question:

Does an unarmed strike count as a single weapon, or are the various limbs and points-of-contact of a character using unarmed strike each considered to be a seperate weapon?

If the former, then the spells magic fang and greater magic fang need errata. If the latter, then can we get an official ruling on just how many magic fang or magic weapon spells a monk requires for his entire body to receive an enhancement bonus?

Four? Five? Seven? Eleven? We need to know so that we can determine if all of our unarmed strikes have an equal enhancement, so that our monks aren't forced to split attacks between a +1 right fist and a +0 left buttock.

Master Arminas


MA, that's always been a mixed bag per hard reading of the rules. With the feat and monk unarmed its written that it one thing. Per the spell magic fang etc its per fist/foot etc. Which was setup to keep the druids and other beasts in line.

I think it would be best if the spell simply stated one natural attack, then clarify a claw/bite/tail/etc. And then state that unarmed attacks are one natural attack regardless of what limb is used as its described in the feat/ability.

Just my thoughts, and that's looking at my 3.5 players guide.


Ype, Netherek. Which is why I want the developers to address the issue and rule.

Master Arminas


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I think it's pretty straight forward.

An unarmed strike can be made with any the hands, feet, knees, or elbows. Each of those is a weapon that you can choose to use. This does not mean that you get extra attacks for all of those "weapons." It just means that as you make a single attack or full-attack, you can choose which one to use and change them out as you wish.

Now, flurry of blows specifically states that it works like two-weapon fighting. That stands no matter what weapon you use. Even when using an unarmed strike, you are alternating between two "weapons" (hands, feet, etc). Two-weapon fighting dictates this and you can not get out of it.

On to magic fang and its greater - if you drank a potion of magic fang, one of your unarmed strikes ( a hand, foot, elbow, or knee) and only one is considered to have a +1 enhancement bonus. Thus if you flurried, you would have to treat it just like a two-weapon fighter would. One hand has a +1 and the other does not. You may get another magic fang cast to enchant your other hand for the flurry (I am just using hands as an example). Greater magic fang works the same way. If you go for the higher enhancement bonus you will need 2 castings. If you go for the +1 enhancement bonus, you only need 1 casting and it will apply to all unarmed strikes.

There is no reason to need more than 2 castings as you will never, mechanically, be using a combination of all your hands, feet, elbows, and knees. Mechanically you are just like a two-weapon fighter. You may think of your self otherwise for the cinematography of it, but mechanically there is no need for it. If you absolutely must have an enchantment bonus on all options (again - no game reason for the need), then you will need magic fang for each hand, foot, elbow, and knee.


Lab_Rat wrote:

I think it's pretty straight forward.

An unarmed strike can be made with any the hands, feet knees, or elbows. Each of those is a weapon that you can choose to use. This does not mean that you get extra attacks for all of those "weapons." It just means that as you make a single attack or full-attack, you can choose which one to use.

Now, flurry of blows specifically states that it works like two-weapon fighting. That stands no matter what weapon you use. Even when using an unarmed strike, you are alternating between two "weapons" (hands, feet, etc). Two-weapon fighting dictates this and you can not get out of it.

On to magic fang and its greater - if you drank a potion of magic fang, one of your unarmed strikes ( a hand, foot, elbow, or knee) and only one is considered to have a +1 enhancement bonus. Thus if you flurried, you would have to treat it just like a two-weapon fighter would. One hand has a +1 and the other does not. You may get another magic fang cast to enchant your other hand for the flurry (I am just using hands as an example). Greater magic fang works the same way. If you go for the higher enhancement bonus you will need 2 castings. If you go for the +1 enhancement bonus, you only need 1 casting and it will apply to all unarmed strikes.

Not exactly straight-forward, Lab Rat. If unarmed strike is multiple 'weapons' (i.e., your right fist, left fist, right elbow, left elbow, right foot, left foot, right knee, left knee, and head), then you would need NINE (9) castings of magic fang for a +1 bonus to all, NINE (9) castings of greater magic fang for a +x bonus to all, or ONE (1) casting of greater magic fang for a +1 bonus to all.

SKR states that if even a single one of your weapons has a different enhancement bonus, then you must divide your attacks in a flurry of blows between a primary hand and an off-hand, leaving a monk with (probably) at least one unarmed strike without an enhancement bonus. The amulet of mighty fists gets around this by enhancing all of a monk's unarmed strikes and all natural weapons equally.

So we need to know how many different weapons unarmed strikes actually are so that we can determine how many castings of magic fang an unarmed fighter (be it a monk or other class) needs to have to make his attacks with his enhancement bonuses to unarmed strikes.

I believe, that unarmed strike is a single weapon, and that descriptions of punchs, kicks, knee strikes, elbow bashes, head-butting, etc. is merely descriptive fluff text. And that means, that a single casting of magic fang should provide all of a character's unarmed strikes with a +1 bonus and a single casting of greater magic fang should provide all of a character's unarmed strikes with a +x bonus.

Master Arminas

Master Arminas

Shadow Lodge

With regards to GMF:

"Alternatively, you may imbue all of the creature's natural weapons with a +1 enhancement bonus (regardless of your caster level)."

I would assume you could similarly imbue all a creatures IUSs as well. Technically it seems like you just get one though which would be odd.


Ok I have been reading a lot of this (FoB, Magic, Etc). Combat in 3.5/Pathfinder (in the history D&D in general) is a abstract concept, not realism (see 6 second round, hit points, armor class). If you want more realism (or as close as you can get to what you seem to want) play GURPS. I am 99% Paizo does not want to go the way of GRUPS and break down rounds to 1 second and each individual attack etc, etc.

The idea behind flurry of blows is the old King Fu multiple fast shots. Yes kicks, hits, elbows, knees etc. For the purposes of abstracting combat for the 6 second combat round, Flurry has been determined to be "like Two Weapons Fighting".

So look at it this way, your monks two weapons when fighting are his left side and right side. It does not matter what he is hitting with, they all do the same damage, but he is alternating in his attacks (again remember combat abstraction). If the magic fang is cast, it is cast on one attacking side. That one side gets the bonus.

It does not matter what you attack with on the side, hands, feet, hips, knees, headbutt, whatever, that is all RPing flavor. The mechanic (again it is combat abstraction) is akin to two weapon fighting and works basically the same way.

If you do one unarmed strike, does it really matter what part of your body you hit with?

If Paizo decides to change or tweak it fine. Maybe they should just change the description of Magic Fang.


I see what you saying. This is the way I play and have always played a monk. Considering the SKR posting, I am glad to see that I have played it correctly from the get go.

As such, I would say that you need 8 castings of magic fang to get all of your unarmed strikes up to the same enhancement (As much as head butt is a cool move, it is not a sanctioned unarmed strike by RAW) However, you do not need that many, as there is no mechanic the game to support the need for each body part to have it (unless you can not attack with the enchanted pieces of your body and have to resort to alternatives). The only time that a monk would need more than 1 casting of magic fang is when they are using flurry of blows. Even then, flurry of blows, by RAW (works exactly like two-weapon fighting), only uses 2 alternating strikes so you would only need 2 castings of magic fang.


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Lab_Rat wrote:
(As much as head butt is a cool move, it is not a sanctioned unarmed strike by RAW)

Check the combat section: "Unarmed Attacks: Striking for damage with punches, kicks, and head butts is much like attacking with a melee weapon"

I don't understand why unarmed strike is treated as multiple weapons. It is listed as a singular entry multiple times.

Natural attacks don't get iterative attacks, instead, they get to all be made at BAB (or bab-5 for secondary) with a full-round attack.

Unarmed strikes get iterative attacks, much like attacking with a single weapon. The weapon in this case is "your body" not "your right knuckle".

Someone with BAB +6 can get magic fang on their unarmed strike, and make 2 unarmed attacks in a round, one at BAB one at BAB-5 and get the bonus to hit and damage on both.

Someone with BAB +6 and natural weapons can get a magic fang cast on one natural weapon, they can make their full attack with all their natural weapons at full BAB (or bab-5 for secondary) but only the one with the magic cast on it gets the bonus.

Lastly, if this character was the same person (say a toothy orc unarmed fighter) they could apply the magic fang to their unarmed, and get 3 attacks, 2 unarmed (bab and bab-5) and 1 natural (bab-5) but both unarmed would benefit from the magic fang.

I think that because unarmed attacks get iterative attacks, they are treated as a singular weapon, and so you should only need one magic fang applied to "unarmed strike".


Ok...so there are apparently two sections of the core that conflict regarding unarmed strikes and which body parts can be used.

From PRD:
Unarmed Strike: At 1st level, a monk gains Improved Unarmed Strike as a bonus feat. A monk's attacks may be with fist, elbows, knees, and feet.

By RAW, I would say that the monk specific text overrides anything else. Thus no headbutts for monks only. I know it's silly...but I try to stay as to RAW as I can when discussing things in the rules forum.

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Master Arminas:

You mention that if each "point of contact" is a separate weapon, then you need nine (excuse me, "NINE") castings of Magic Fang to get a "whole body" enhancement bonus.

But why is that a goal? What's wrong with just two, since that's enough to flurry with?

Why is it important that every possible unarmed strike be enchanted at the same time? And why is the cost of doing so relevant?


If, if we start getting into the entire can of worms that is a fist is a different weapon from a knee, then there will arise situations where someone or something makes it impossible to use one or more of your limbs.

You arms are manacled to the wall. Your feet are stuck in mud. He's grapplying you so you can't use right fist or right elbow.

We went through this in 3.0, which is why they GOT RID OF IT in 3.5, along with Ambidexterity.

And the only reason I can see for it, is because SKR appears to think that TWF has to apply to a monk's unarmed strikes to make flurry legal. 'It's two-weapon fighting, m'kay? So if a monk can flurry with only his unarmed attacks, it has to be at least two weapons, m'kay.'

Master Arminas


master arminas wrote:
SKR states that if even a single one of your weapons has a different enhancement bonus, then you must divide your attacks in a flurry of blows between a primary hand and an off-hand, leaving a monk with (probably) at least one unarmed strike without an enhancement bonus.

He did say that... but it's also still using the TWF rules. So say, by some weird set of circumstances, I have +3 on my left fist, +2 on my right fist, +1 on my left foot, and nothing on my right foot. If I flurry, there's nothing that says I MUST use my right foot, I can just use my higher enhancement fists to do everything.

Additional thoughts on the subject in the other thread, which I assume Arminas saw but others might not have.
TLDR: Kills monk flavor, and some situations will require THREE magic fangs.

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master arminas wrote:

If, if we start getting into the entire can of worms that is a fist is a different weapon from a knee, then there will arise situations where someone or something makes it impossible to use one or more of your limbs.

You arms are manacled to the wall. Your feet are stuck in mud. He's grapplying you so you can't use right fist or right elbow.

We went through this in 3.0, which is why they GOT RID OF IT in 3.5, along with Ambidexterity.

And the only reason I can see for it, is because SKR appears to think that TWF has to apply to a monk's unarmed strikes to make flurry legal. 'It's two-weapon fighting, m'kay? So if a monk can flurry with only his unarmed attacks, it has to be at least two weapons, m'kay.'

Master Arminas

Fair point. I think you might be over-exaggerating its importance though.

If you're manacled, who's casting spells on you but not releasing you? And Magic Fang, of all things?

If you're stuck in mud (and only your feet were enchanted) or grappled (and only your fists were enchanted), then okay, you lose access to +1 on one or two attacks... that doesn't seem like an unreasonable consequence for those types of situations.

I guess I just don't understand why being able to miss out on the chance to use your buff is such a huge deal. Why is this worse than the enemy quaffing a potion of fly and getting out of reach of your enchanted unarmed strikes? Why is this worse than the enemy going invisible and waiting for your bless to wear off?

I grant you your point that the issue exists - you just haven't (yet) sold me on why it's worth caring about.


So then you need an unarmed attack to be called something: unarmed strike. Every human has two unarmed strikes. Magic Fang gives one unarmed strike a buff.

A monk cannot flurry if he is COMPLETELY immobilized. Solves that issue about going after limbs and such (which destroys the combat abstraction), give monks an slight advantage over two weapon fighting (they can still use their head, hips, etc. if only "half immobilized").

Problem solved.


master arminas wrote:

If, if we start getting into the entire can of worms that is a fist is a different weapon from a knee, then there will arise situations where someone or something makes it impossible to use one or more of your limbs.

You arms are manacled to the wall. Your feet are stuck in mud. He's grapplying you so you can't use right fist or right elbow.

Why should the monk be immune to this thinking while every other character is not?

Lets take grapple as an example - spell casters can't cast when grappled, two handed fighters can attack when grappled, natural attack characters can't use all there attacks when grappling. Why should the monk be any different?

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Lab_Rat wrote:
master arminas wrote:

If, if we start getting into the entire can of worms that is a fist is a different weapon from a knee, then there will arise situations where someone or something makes it impossible to use one or more of your limbs.

You arms are manacled to the wall. Your feet are stuck in mud. He's grapplying you so you can't use right fist or right elbow.

Why should the monk be immune to this thinking while every other character is not?

Lets take grapple as an example - spell casters can't cast when grappled, two handed fighters can attack when grappled, natural attack characters can't use all there attacks when grappling. Why should the monk be any different?

Quick point: you can cast while grappled, if you can pass a Concentration check.


Only if there are no Somatic components.

EDIT: This is incorrect. Ignore my statement.


Lab_Rat wrote:
Lets take grapple as an example - spell casters can't cast when grappled, two handed fighters can attack when grappled, natural attack characters can't use all there attacks when grappling. Why should the monk be any different?

Quick point: Depending on what attacks the natural attacks are, they can use them while grappled. Single attacks? Yes. Other attacks which don't require both arms? Yes.

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Malfus wrote:
Only if there are no Somatic components.

According to what? Either I'm missing where it says that, or you're remembering something from a previous edition that's not in Pathfinder.


Malfus wrote:
Only if there are no Somatic components.

Grappled: "In addition, grappled creatures can take no action that requires two hands to perform. A grappled character who attempts to cast a spell or use a spell-like ability must make a concentration check (DC 10 + grappler's CMB + spell level), or lose the spell."

Grappling or Pinned: "The only spells you can cast while grappling or pinned are those without somatic components and whose material components (if any) you have in hand. Even so, you must make a concentration check (DC 10 + the grappler's CMB + the level of the spell you're casting) or lose the spell."
Note: This is while YOU are grapplING someone, not while you are being grapplED.

Somatic (S): "A somatic component is a measured and precise movement of the hand. You must have at least one hand free to provide a somatic component."
Since when you are grapplED you can perform one handed actions, you can try to cast a somatic spell by making a concentration check.


Crazy new grappling rules. -1 on my comment about somatic components.


Malach the Merciless wrote:

So then you need an unarmed attack to be called something: unarmed strike. Every human has two unarmed strikes. Magic Fang gives one unarmed strike a buff.

A monk cannot flurry if he is COMPLETELY immobilized. Solves that issue about going after limbs and such (which destroys the combat abstraction), give monks an slight advantage over two weapon fighting (they can still use their head, hips, etc. if only "half immobilized").

Problem solved.

How are you coming to the conclusion that a humanoid creature only has two unarmed strikes? You can apply magic fang to each foot, each fist, each knee, each elbow, and perhaps even the head. How is that simpler than saying that regardless of which limb is used to make an unarmed strike, each individual character has only a single unarmed strike?

Master Arminas


Sorry about that. I didn't mean to derail the thread because of my rushed post. Please ignore the finer details of the post but understand the take home message - why should a monk avoid the negatives inherent in forms of restraint when other classes do not?

Which leads me to this question: Why should a monk need to have an enhancement bonus on all forms of unarmed strike? The only reason I can come up with is to avoid the negatives of restraint. Mechanically, the monk works just like any other two-weapon melee class. There would be absolutely no change in the monk if unarmed combat was restricted to just fists.


Not only that MA, but what about feats? How does magic fang work in a grapple? Generally speaking you use more that a single limb, i am an mma practioner so I really know what its like.

Liberty's Edge

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Unarmed strikes should be treated like a double weapon.

Consider an Orc Double Axe. It has 'front and back' blades on the 'left and right' sides... yet you don't need to enchant each of the four blades separately. You enchant the two blades on the left side with one set of effects and the two blades on the right side with another (possibly identical) set.

Unarmed strikes should work the same way. Left side attacks (whether fist, kick, knee, elbow, or whatever) should be enchanted separately from right side attacks. Not each individual body part separately. Then, under the 'flurry is TWF' rule you use your right side attacks as your primary weapon and your left side attacks as secondary (or vice versa) with the separate spell effects / enchantments applying to each regardless of what specific body part you make the attack with... just as it doesn't matter whether you use the 'front' or 'back' blade on the double axe.


CBDunkerson wrote:
Unarmed strikes should be treated like a double weapon.

I agree that this makes the most sense for the recent ruling that has been made. If this was the case from the beginning, they should have listed unarmed strike as a double weapon. If this is how they want unarmed strikes to act, they should errata the equipment entry.


However, doesn't Pathfinder state that unless specified, the 3.5 rules didn't change? In 3.5 an unarmed strike was a single light weapon.

Master Arminas


CBDunkerson wrote:

Unarmed strikes should be treated like a double weapon.

Consider an Orc Double Axe. It has 'front and back' blades on the 'left and right' sides... yet you don't need to enchant each of the four blades separately. You enchant the two blades on the left side with one set of effects and the two blades on the right side with another (possibly identical) set.

Unarmed strikes should work the same way. Left side attacks (whether fist, kick, knee, elbow, or whatever) should be enchanted separately from right side attacks. Not each individual body part separately. Then, under the 'flurry is TWF' rule you use your right side attacks as your primary weapon and your left side attacks as secondary (or vice versa) with the separate spell effects / enchantments applying to each regardless of what specific body part you make the attack with... just as it doesn't matter whether you use the 'front' or 'back' blade on the double axe.

So it's a double-weapon. How do you wield an unarmed strike in two hands? You get full Strength bonus on one-end and half on the other, right? Can you wield unarmed strikes in two hands to get 1.5 times your Strength bonus to damage? I'll wait.

In the interest of streamlining and cleaning up things, this whole damned flurry ruling is going to snowball into chaos and confusion and it will have unforeseen consequences in PFS play. Let's apply the KISS principle, gentlemen: Keep It Simple Stupid.

If an unarmed strike was a single light weapon in 3.5, then it is a single light weapon in Pathfinder. And if that means that Seak K. Reynold's clarification of flurry of blows as two-weapon fighting doesn't work, then go with how flurry was generally understood to function by the people of the these very boards. By PFS game-masters running official Pathfinder games. By Paizo's our authors who wrote their adventure paths. By third-party publishers. By editors who went for THREE YEARS and didn't issue this clarification.

Not until Sean declared that flurry isn't fair to other classes using actual TWF since you can flurry with a single weapon and he can't.

Master Arminas

Liberty's Edge

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Tarantula wrote:
Lab_Rat wrote:
(As much as head butt is a cool move, it is not a sanctioned unarmed strike by RAW)
Check the combat section: "Unarmed Attacks: Striking for damage with punches, kicks, and head butts is much like attacking with a melee weapon"

It depends on how literal we want to be. The monk writeup says;

"Unarmed Strike: At 1st level, a monk gains Improved Unarmed Strike as a bonus feat. A monk's attacks may be with fist, elbows, knees, and feet."

Thus, it could be argued that while a head butt is a type of unarmed attack it is NOT amongst the unarmed attack types which benefit from monk abilities. Theoretically, that would mean that a Monk making a head butt would be doing so without the normal Monk unarmed damage dice, couldn't do so as part of a flurry, et cetera. That said, it really doesn't matter in most cases.


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So, is it weapon focus unarmed strike or weapon focus fist? That answer should answer this question also.

Liberty's Edge

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master arminas wrote:
So it's a double-weapon. How do you wield an unarmed strike in two hands?

The same way you wield it in one hand... by realizing that the question itself is incorrect. You don't 'wield' an unarmed strike at all.

Quote:
You get full Strength bonus on one-end and half on the other, right?

You would if the Monk didn't specifically have a class feature which changed that (basically, 'Double Slice' for all unarmed and flurry attacks).

Quote:
Can you wield unarmed strikes in two hands to get 1.5 times your Strength bonus to damage?

Again, Monk class feature says no.

Quote:
In the interest of streamlining and cleaning up things, this whole damned flurry ruling is going to snowball into chaos and confusion and it will have unforeseen consequences in PFS play.

Note that the OP is not about the flurry ruling. It is about using spells / enchantments on unarmed strikes. The options presented there were 'all unarmed strikes may be enchanted as one' or 'each unarmed strike must be enchanted separately'. I just think the most equitable solution is in between those two extremes... unarmed strikes are enchanted as per a double weapon.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

OK, here's my take on this:

If you cast Magic Fang on a creature with claw and bite attacks, you have to specify which gets it. I completely get that. But do you specify by the specific attack, or by the type of attack? I have always played it as the latter: You choose claws (plural) or bite, specifying the type of attack.

If you would have to specify which claw gets the magic fang, then you have to specify which part of the body gets it for the monk. That's a choice of (from my martial arts training memories): left foot, right foot, left knee, right knee, left hip slam, right hip slam, left hand, right hand, left elbow, right elbow, head butt. I make that eleven.

if you specify by type, it's one casting, because it's all unarmed strike.


So you were saying that unarmed strike should be treated as if it were a double weapon?

Very similar to how flurry states that the additional attack is gained as if the monk were using two-weapon fighting.

Of course, unarmed strikes are NOT an actual double weapon. You were making the point that they should treated--in some instances--as if they were a double-weapon.

But isn't that another exception to the rules? If that interpretation works for unarmed strike, why didn't it work for flurry of blows being trated as if two weapon fighting? Including the ability to make multiple attacks with a single weapon?

It is my own belief, and I use this belief in my games, that in the case of unarmed strike, it is a single weapon. A single casting of magic fang provides a +1 enhancement bonus to a character's unarmed strike. Whether or not that strike is made with fists, elbows, feet, or knees. Or even the head.

Greater magic fang gives unarmed strike a +x bonus, rather than the +1 bonus it would bestow on the multiple different natural weapons of a critter.

The one weapon viewpoint is far simpler, cleaner, and prevents any misunderstandings, especially since it was one weapon in 3.5.

Master Arminas


Tarantula wrote:
Malfus wrote:
Only if there are no Somatic components.

Grappled: "In addition, grappled creatures can take no action that requires two hands to perform. A grappled character who attempts to cast a spell or use a spell-like ability must make a concentration check (DC 10 + grappler's CMB + spell level), or lose the spell."

Grappling or Pinned: "The only spells you can cast while grappling or pinned are those without somatic components and whose material components (if any) you have in hand. Even so, you must make a concentration check (DC 10 + the grappler's CMB + the level of the spell you're casting) or lose the spell."
Note: This is while YOU are grapplING someone, not while you are being grapplED.

Somatic (S): "A somatic component is a measured and precise movement of the hand. You must have at least one hand free to provide a somatic component."
Since when you are grapplED you can perform one handed actions, you can try to cast a somatic spell by making a concentration check.

Except the grappler also has the grappled condition, also has a hand free, so he can try to cast a somatic spell by making a concentration check, right?


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Dabbler wrote:
If you cast Magic Fang on a creature with claw and bite attacks, you have to specify which gets it. I completely get that. But do you specify by the specific attack, or by the type of attack? I have always played it as the latter: You choose claws (plural) or bite, specifying the type of attack.

Magic Fang: "Magic fang gives one natural weapon or unarmed strike of the subject a +1 enhancement bonus on attack and damage rolls."

Monk: "A monk's unarmed strike is treated as both a manufactured weapon and a natural weapon for the purpose of spells and effects that enhance or improve either manufactured weapons or natural weapons."

So a monk's unarmed strike is a natural weapon. Magic fang affects single natural weapon. It follows that a monk can choose to have magic fang affect his natural weapon (unarmed strike) rather than say his natural weapon (bite).


Nicely done, Tarantula. And I note that the monk text is singular, not plural.

Master Arminas


Quantum Steve wrote:
Except the grappler also has the grappled condition, also has a hand free, so he can try to cast a somatic spell by making a concentration check, right?

The magic section specifically says you cannot cast a spell with somatic components when you are grapplING (initiating the grapple). However, the grapple maneuver states: "Humanoid creatures without two free hands attempting to grapple a foe take a –4 penalty on the combat maneuver roll."

So if you take a -4 penalty on your grapple check to ensure you have a free hand, then I would say that you can cast somatic spells while initiating a grapple. If you fail to specify it however, then both your hands are being used in the grapple.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
master arminas wrote:

So you were saying that unarmed strike should be treated as if it were a double weapon?

...
But isn't that another exception to the rules?

Yes and yes. This clearly isn't the way it is currently written up OR how anyone seems to have interpreted it. Rather it is a suggestion I am making as a 'middle path' between the 'primary options' presented.

Quote:
If that interpretation works for unarmed strike, why didn't it work for flurry of blows being trated as if two weapon fighting? Including the ability to make multiple attacks with a single weapon?

Actually, I think it COULD work for that as well... flurry of blows then becomes 'like' TWF with a double weapon (the unarmed strikes). You can only use your 'left side' for half the attacks in the flurry and have to use the 'right side' for the other half. This applies whether you are using weapons, unarmed, or some mix of the two... though obviously the damage, bonuses, and enchantments would vary for weapons vs unarmed attacks in the flurry. Again, it clearly wasn't written up this way originally, just a possible framework for sorting some of this mess out.

Davick wrote:
So, is it weapon focus unarmed strike or weapon focus fist? That answer should answer this question also.

Normally yes... though my 'double weapon' suggestion shows an exception. You don't have to take 'Weapon focus Orc Double Axe Left' and 'Weapon focus Orc Double Axe Right'... any more than you do 'Weapon focus Short Sword in left hand' and 'Weapon focus Short Sword in right hand'.

The rules for how double weapons are used in TWF and for enchanting were obviously designed to exactly mimic fighting with two light weapons. Monk unarmed strikes CAN also be fit into the same paradigm fairly easily... and for similar 'game balance' reasons. This SEEMS to be where the devs are headed, but does not appear to have ever been 'thought through' before now - and thus there are alot of inconsistencies and imbalances.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Tarantula wrote:
Dabbler wrote:
If you cast Magic Fang on a creature with claw and bite attacks, you have to specify which gets it. I completely get that. But do you specify by the specific attack, or by the type of attack? I have always played it as the latter: You choose claws (plural) or bite, specifying the type of attack.

Magic Fang: "Magic fang gives one natural weapon or unarmed strike of the subject a +1 enhancement bonus on attack and damage rolls."

Monk: "A monk's unarmed strike is treated as both a manufactured weapon and a natural weapon for the purpose of spells and effects that enhance or improve either manufactured weapons or natural weapons."

So a monk's unarmed strike is a natural weapon. Magic fang affects single natural weapon. It follows that a monk can choose to have magic fang affect his natural weapon (unarmed strike) rather than say his natural weapon (bite).

I think you have the right of it as everyone has interpreted it up until now, and it hasn't been broken.

The only other area I can think of where this was addressed was the 3.5 kensei prestige class, where a monk could make his unarmed strikes 'enchanted' by paying as if they were a double weapon. You could use that prestige class to make a monk almost the equal of another combat class.


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master arminas wrote:
Okay, ... this thread is for one thing and one thing only: resolving the question on whether or not unarmed strike is a single weapon or multiple weapons.

Have you considered "none of the above"? A third possibility is that unarmed strike might be no weapon at all.

The phrase "unarmed strike" literally means attack without a weapon. And I see many places in the rulebook where it says "When you make an unarmed strike." You are not making a weapon. You are making an attack.

The no-weapon theory is that unarmed strike means an attack without a weapon. Other game mechanics ask whether the weapon used in the attack is light or manufactured or natural, so the unarmed strike rules provide default answers to those questions rather than writing up no weapon as a special case in all those other mechanics. These default values seem to say that unarmed strike is a light weapon, but really it only counts as a light weapon better than counting as a one-handed or two-handed weapon. The theory explains why unarmed strike seems to have no numerical value: most people don't start counting at zero.

Some grammar in the rulebook works especially well with the theory and other grammar does not. Let me copy some important paragraphs out of the rulebook and substitute "weaponless attack" for "unarmed strike" (except where the phrase is part of a name) to demonstrate.

CRB Combat chapter wrote:

Unarmed Attacks: Striking for damage with punches, kicks, and head butts is much like attacking with a melee weapon, except for the following:

Attacks of Opportunity: Attacking without a weapon provokes an attack of opportunity from the character you attack, provided she is armed. The attack of opportunity comes before your attack. A weaponless attack does not provoke attacks of opportunity from other foes, nor does it provoke an attack of opportunity from an unarmed foe.

An unarmed character can't take attacks of opportunity (but see “Armed” Unarmed Attacks, below).

“Armed” Unarmed Attacks: Sometimes a character's or creature's weaponless attack counts as an armed attack. A monk, a character with the Improved Unarmed Strike feat, a spellcaster delivering a touch attack spell, and a creature with natural physical weapons all count as being armed (see natural attacks).

Note that being armed counts for both offense and defense (the character can make attacks of opportunity).

Unarmed Strike Damage: A weaponless attack from a Medium character deals 1d3 points of bludgeoning damage (plus your Strength modifier, as normal). A Small character's weaponless attack deals 1d2 points of bludgeoning damage, while a Large character's weaponless attack deals 1d4 points of bludgeoning damage. All damage from weaponless attacks is nonlethal damage. Weaponless attacks count as light weapons (for purposes of two-weapon attack penalties and so on).

Dealing Lethal Damage: You can specify that your weaponless attack will deal lethal damage before you make your attack roll, but you take a –4 penalty on your attack roll. If you have the Improved Unarmed Strike feat, you can deal lethal damage with a weaponless attack without taking a penalty on the attack roll.

That one makes perfect sense. Even saying that a weaponless attack counts as a light weapon is understandable in the context.

CRB Monk class wrote:

Unarmed Strike: At 1st level, a monk gains Improved Unarmed Strike as a bonus feat. A monk's attacks may be with fist, elbows, knees, and feet. This means that a monk may make weaponless attacks with his hands full. There is no such thing as an off-hand attack for a monk attacking without a weapon. A monk may thus apply his full Strength bonus on damage rolls for all his weaponless attacks.

Usually a monk's weaponless attacks deal lethal damage, but he can choose to deal nonlethal damage instead with no penalty on his attack roll. He has the same choice to deal lethal or nonlethal damage while grappling.

A monk's weaponless attack is treated as both a manufactured weapon and a natural weapon for the purpose of spells and effects that enhance or improve either manufactured weapons or natural weapons.

A monk also deals more damage with his weaponless attacks than a normal person would, as shown above on Table: Monk. The unarmed damage values listed on Table: Monk is for Medium monks. A Small monk deals less damage than the amount given there with his unarmed attacks, while a Large monk deals more damage; see Small or Large Monk Unarmed Damage on the table given below.

That line about no off-hand attack makes more sense this way (I replaced the phrase "striking unarmed" there). A weaponless attack being treated as a manufactured weapon and a natural weapon is wrong. It should have been treated as attacking with a manufactured weapon or a natural weapon.

CRB Feats chapter wrote:

Improved Unarmed Strike (Combat)

You are skilled at fighting while unarmed.
Benefit: You are considered to be armed even when weaponless—you do not provoke attacks of opportunity when you attack foes without weapons. Your weaponless attacks can deal lethal or nonlethal damage, at your choice.
Normal: Without this feat, you are considered unarmed when attacking with a weaponless attack, and you can deal only nonlethal damage with such an attack.

The substitution works fine here.

CRB Feats chapter wrote:

Weapon Focus (Combat)

Choose one type of weapon. You can also choose weaponless attack or grapple (or ray, if you are a spellcaster) as your weapon for the purposes of this feat.
Prerequisites: Proficiency with selected weapon, base attack bonus +1.
Benefit: You gain a +1 bonus on all attack rolls you make using the selected weapon.
Special: You can gain this feat multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time you take the feat, it applies to a new type of weapon.

The grammar is not perfect here, but this feat calls a grapple a weapon, too.

CRB Spells chapter wrote:
Magic fang gives one natural weapon or weaponless attack of the subject a +1 enhancement bonus on attack and damage rolls. The spell can affect a slam attack, fist, bite, or other natural weapon. The spell does not change a weaponless attack's damage from nonlethal damage to lethal damage.

Saying "one weaponless attack" would mean a single attack rather than the spell lasting 1 min./level. Also, a fist is not a natural attack, so it must be the weaponless attack. Calling out a specific part of the body as the weapon in the weaponless attack does not make sense. The Magic Fang spell description does not work with the no-weapon theory.

CRB Combat chapter wrote:

Two-Weapon Fighting

If you wield a second weapon in your off hand, you can get one extra attack per round with that weapon. You suffer a –6 penalty with your regular attack or attacks with your primary hand and a –10 penalty to the attack with your off hand when you fight this way. You can reduce these penalties in two ways. First, if your off-hand weapon is light, the penalties are reduced by 2 each. A weaponless attack is always considered light. Second, the Two-Weapon Fighting feat lessens the primary hand penalty by 2, and the off-hand penalty by 6.

Two-Weapon Fighting is the strongest argument against the no-weapon theory. A fist as a weapon can be viewed as wielding a second weapon in a hand, but an attack with no weapon cannot be viewed that way. Nevertheless, the section mentions unarmed strike, implying that unarmed strike as the off-hand weapon is possible.


Mathmuse, I think you are my new hero. Well done, sir. Well done indeed. I got so tied up in the entire uarmed strike as a weapon thing, I didn't even consider it from that point of view.

One question, though. On Weapon Focus, it would make sense just to roll grapple into weaponless attack, wouldn't it? I can't think of many armed grapplers.

Master Arminas


master arminas wrote:
One question, though. On Weapon Focus, it would make sense just to roll grapple into weaponless attack, wouldn't it? I can't think of many armed grapplers.

The developers will design the feat their way, even if it makes sense the other way. I suspect that they wanted another feat alongside Improved Grapple and Greater Grapple to aid grappling, and rolled it into Weapon Focus despite weapon focus on a non-weapon sounding silly. Or perhaps it is a legacy feat and an earlier edition of D&D considered grapple to be a weapon.

The few grappling weapons I remember are the Trick Shot from the Fighter(Archer) archetype and a polearm called a mancatcher. A lasso is described as an entangling weapon rather than a grappling weapon.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I still prefer to think an unarmed strike as one weapon, and I'll tell you why. Now, if you choose to have an unarmed strike as multiple weapons, you get some real weird rules conundrums. What happens to unarmed strikes performed by creatures with more or less than the named body parts? A naga can make an unarmed strike, but does he get less unarmed strikes? A Vanara, Kitsune, and some Tieflings have tails, do they get more? Is an amorphous creature unable to make an unarmed strike? You know, back in 3.5, they had a Fiendish Gelatinous Cube Monk in the Elite Opponents section on the WotC website. How did it flurry? What happens when an Ettin makes unarmed strikes, using multiweapon fighting, possibly attacking 11 times? You keep unarmed strikes as one weapon, you avoid all this mess. Accepting that the monk's class feature is an exception to the rules makes it even easier.

Silver Crusade

Up until this recent blowup, I have always understood unarmed strike to be a single abstract weapon. It was a monk's special thing.

It's quicker. It's simpler. It keeps a wide range of flavor and aesthetics possible without charging through the nose to let people attack with their hands, feet, knees, elbows, head, etc.

I prefer it that way. Splitting it up is needless complexity that mostly affects and undermines an already complex class.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Damn straight.


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blackbloodtroll wrote:
I still prefer to think an unarmed strike as one weapon, and I'll tell you why. Now, if you choose to have an unarmed strike as multiple weapons, you get some real weird rules conundrums. What happens to unarmed strikes performed by creatures with more or less than the named body parts? A naga can make an unarmed strike, but does he get less unarmed strikes? A Vanara, Kitsune, and some Tieflings have tails, do they get more? Is an amorphous creature unable to make an unarmed strike? You know, back in 3.5, they had a Fiendish Gelatinous Cube Monk in the Elite Opponents section on the WotC website. How did it flurry? What happens when an Ettin makes unarmed strikes, using multiweapon fighting, possibly attacking 11 times? You keep unarmed strikes as one weapon, you avoid all this mess. Accepting that the monk's class feature is an exception to the rules makes it even easier.

What???? Please don't make up rules to reach some made up argument. The number of limbs that you have play no bearing on the number of attacks you get as a monk. Classes are not monsters.

A monk follows the same BAB progression as any other 3/4 BAB character. The only time you need more than one limb to make an unarmed attack is when you flurry of blows, and even then you only need two. The fighter doesn't need 6 swords to take a full attack, so why does the monk need all his limbs. The number of limbs have NO bearing on the number of attacks a monk gets.

This is why this whole post is just semantics. Both Jiggy and I have brought up the fact that you will NEVER need more than two castings of magic fang. There is not mechanic for a monk that uses more than two types of unarmed strike.

Standard attack - 1 punch, etc.
Full Attack - BAB progression of attacks but can use the SAME one over and over again.
Flurry of blows - Works like two-weapon fighting, so you are alternating between two different strikes.

Give me an attack that utilizes more than two different strikes.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

The note about the monk was an afterthought. I was only saying that the monk works a bit different. I agree the unarmed strike is one weapon. I believe you misunderstood me a bit.


master arminas wrote:
Malach the Merciless wrote:

So then you need an unarmed attack to be called something: unarmed strike. Every human has two unarmed strikes. Magic Fang gives one unarmed strike a buff.

A monk cannot flurry if he is COMPLETELY immobilized. Solves that issue about going after limbs and such (which destroys the combat abstraction), give monks an slight advantage over two weapon fighting (they can still use their head, hips, etc. if only "half immobilized").

Problem solved.

How are you coming to the conclusion that a humanoid creature only has two unarmed strikes? You can apply magic fang to each foot, each fist, each knee, each elbow, and perhaps even the head. How is that simpler than saying that regardless of which limb is used to make an unarmed strike, each individual character has only a single unarmed strike?

Master Arminas

The issue? You are trying to apply logic and realism to a combat system that is not logical or realistic. Pathfinder is a 6 second round based tactical combat abstraction. In those 6 seconds things are happening (6 seconds is long time)at about the same time between combatants (IE the person with the higher initiative is reacting quicker, but in general the action is happening about the same time between all characters in iniative). There are abstraction like AC, HP, movement, AoO, etc., none of which are realistic or logical. It is a simulation, and again an abstraction of actual combat.

A flurry of blows is multiple unarmed strikes that work as two weapon fighting. That is the mechanic which is an abstraction of old kung fu action. Whether said unarmed striker attacks with a fist, elbow, kick, head, shoulder, whatever does not make any difference to the mechanic. That is just RP Fluff. If my character punches you, it has the same effect as my character kicking you. Hence an unarmed strike.

Magic Fang buffs an unarmed strike. All humanoids have two unarmed strikes (lets say left side and right side just for ease, again an abstraction). Again it does not matter what they they strike with as it is just two unarmed from the left and right side of the body.

If Flurry works as two weapon fighting, and humanoids have two unarmed strikes, a monk then attacks with his two unarmed strikes when he flurry. Say we apply Magic Fang to one of your unarmed strikes. One of those two unarmed strikes(which again is works as two weapon fighting) now has a buff.

Again, if you hit with fist-elbow-kick-knee-elbow-fist that is rp. The mechanic and combat abstraction would be unarmed strike left-right-left-right-left-right.

I would also rule, that because Flurry is special to take away a monks ability to do it you need to completely immobilize him (he is after all potentially rping use of multiple parts of his body).

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

So, if an unarmed strike is multiple weapons, what happens to creatures with the mutiweapon fighting feat?

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