Magus and unarmed strike question


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So I'm playing as a magus in my friend's campaign and I end up in a gladiatorial arena without any weapons or armor. I don't have spell recall yet, so I when my turn starts in combat I used my arcana pool ability to enhance my fists and my GM said that my arcane pool ability only affects one fist (I had the two weapon fighting feat, so I thought I could punch enemies for full round actions). I'm relatively new to Pathfinder, so I just went with what my GM said. I just want to confirm it, so does the arcane pool ability apply to only one fist, or would it apply to both fists.


I'm not 100% on where it might be written out in the rules but I'm with the GM on this one. Unarmed strikes tend to be a little on the tricky side because they aren't a descreet item, but a catch all term for multiple possible "weapons." If you look at spells like Magic Fang, it calls out having to choose a natural weapon, which means you would need multiple castings for multiple natural attacks. This makes the intent obvious, one attack per effect use. If the arcane pool ability had wording to the effect of all weapons of the selected type gained the bonus, I might see an argument, but it doesn't.


Short answer, your GM is wrong. Unarmed strike is unarmed strike, doesn't matter that you're Two Weapon Fighting.

Shorter Answer. Rule Zero and deal with it, but know in your heart that your objections are correct.


Skylancer4, I'm not sure your example of magic fang is very convincing. I'm quite certain that magic fang allows you to two-weapon fight with your fists. It certainly works with flurry of blows, which acts as two-weapon fighting, and it even worked back when flurry of blows disallowed using a single manufactured weapon.

To the original poster: Exactly what PrinceDogWaterIII said.


No, the spell states one natural weapon OR unarmed strike. As in one of multiple unarmed strikes. Magic fang would need to be cast twice to ge the effect on two fists, the spell states one fist is the target of the effect.

Your certainty is unfortunately completely incorrect, actually read the spell instead of going off what you think it does.

Magic Fang wrote:
Magic fang gives one natural weapon or unarmed strike 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 an unarmed strike's damage from nonlethal damage to lethal damage.

Notice the singular, not plural, usage.

Unless there is some hidden verbage in the magus ability that I'm not seeing, it's effect is a singular weapon. A fist is a weapon that you can make an unarmed strike with. One of your two fists gets the effect barring special rules or stated exceptions.

Obviously if there is errata or a FAQ that states otherwise I will concede the point. I haven't seen anything in my searches.


blahpers wrote:

Skylancer4, I'm not sure your example of magic fang is very convincing. I'm quite certain that magic fang allows you to two-weapon fight with your fists. It certainly works with flurry of blows, which acts as two-weapon fighting, and it even worked back when flurry of blows disallowed using a single manufactured weapon.

To the original poster: Exactly what PrinceDogWaterIII said.

The only reason it work that way is if it were from a Greater Magic Fang used on all natural attacks or an Amulet of Mighty Fists which a monk or unarmed strike specialized character would make heavy use of.

@ Original poster, please actually read the pertinent rules and what similar abilities do to come to a decision instead of taking the short cut of what people think it should do without any backing besides "it works this way" and nothing else in the forums. Your GM will thank you. As I mentioned before, unarmed strikes are a tough issue and there are several FAQs regarding them in various forms. It is a headache but unarmed strikes are not all equal, which you will see once you do some digging on the subject.


Natural weapons and unarmed attacks aren't equivalent; the rules governing them are different in many cases.

An unarmed attack can be made with any part of your body. That doesn't make every part of your body a discrete and individual weapon; a monk who kicks in one round and punches in another is using an unarmed attack in both instances - there isn't a 'kick' weapon and a 'fist' weapon, it's all 'unarmed attack'.

That said, I don't believe the intention was for the arcane pool bonuses to be applied to unarmed attacks; it refers to "holding" a weapon (you don't "hold" a fist to attack), and lets you grant magical enhancements that cannot normally be applied directly to a natural weapon (such as flaming, etc.). So although I disagree with Skylancer4's argument, I do agree with the conclusion.


Hmm, good point. It does mention "any weapon he is holding", and you can't hold an unarmed strike. At least, not in any way that makes sense in context.


from official arcane pool description wrote:


A magus can only enhance one weapon in this way at one time. If he uses this ability again, the first use immediately ends.

Unfortunately you can only arcane pool one fist. Yes you can dual wield your fists with two weapon fighting but only one would get the bonus unless you are using a monk flurry which specifically says you can use any combination of unarmed strikes (meaning you can choose to use the enchanted fist for every attack if you wish).

As for "any weapon he is holding" my opinion is that a reasonable DM would consider an unarmed strike a "weapon you are holding." The designers would never intentionally write a rule that would spawn an existential debate on the philosophy of "can you hold your own fist, how about if I hold it in the other hand and then punch you?" An unarmed strike is considered a weapon (stated many times by devs) and the "he is holding" part is specifying that you can't enchant someone else weapon. But that's just how I read it.


An unarmed strike is not a fist, as has been discussed here many, many times. Two-weapon fighting is not fighting with both fists versus one fist. It is fighting with the entire body either way; one simply allows you more attacks at a penalty to hit. There's only one weapon to enchant, and that's your whole body.

Now, if this is getting into "metaphorical hands" territory, I'm gonna need a citation. Even then, I don't like it when game design rules mix with end user (i.e., player) rules, so if the designers intended it that way, they'll have to be explicit about it.

The "weapon you are holding" argument is more convincing, and any "existential debates" are pretty silly. When the rules refer to a weapon, they are inclusive of non-manufactured weapons, but when the rules refer to holding something, they generally mean an item.


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To be honest, I think the more convincing argument is the one regarding the flaming, dancing, frost, etc.

Those enhancements cannot be applied directly to an unarmed strike normally; the only way to get those benefits in an unarmed strike is to get an amulet of mighty fists, and enchant it.

That and, well - a dancing unarmed strike? What, does your fist detach and fly around to guard you? Is a vorpal fist like from Fist of the North Star, where you punch them and their head flies off in a gout of blood? :P


Xaratherus wrote:
That said, I don't believe the intention was for the arcane pool bonuses to be applied to unarmed attacks; it refers to "holding" a weapon (you don't "hold" a fist to attack), and lets you grant magical enhancements that cannot normally be applied directly to a natural weapon (such as flaming, etc.).

You only need to hold the weapon while using the swift action to utilize Arcane Pool, you do not need to hold the weapon while you attack. So I see no reason why you should not hold your hand or tail when using Arcane Pool.

As for flaming etc, I know of no rules that forbid applying flaming or other enhancements to unarmed strike or natutal attack, please point me to those if you do.
It's just not done with Craft Magical Weapon, because it is not a masterwork item, but instead with e.g. the amulet. But the fact that the magus can enchant something on the fly that could not be enchanted before is no reason that he CAN'T actually enchant that. For example, the magus can use Arcane Pool on a non-masterwork weapon, which could not be enhanced by Craft Magic Arms & Armor. So why not an unarmed strike? Both are weapons.

Sure, some combinations are nonsensical (dancing unarmed strike), but I can find nonsensical combinatons with regular weapons, too, like a dancing shield spike or armor spike or gauntlet (or a flaming water pistol...). That should not invalidate the whole concept.

For those that say unarmed strike cannot be used with Arcane Pool, would you disallow that for a monks unarmed strike as well? That is pretty explicitely designed to be handled like a normal weapon, e.g. "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."


harzerkatze wrote:

As for flaming etc, I know of no rules that forbid applying flaming or other enhancements to unarmed strike or natutal attack, please point me to those if you do.

It's just not done with Craft Magical Weapon, because it is not a masterwork item, but instead with e.g. the amulet. But the fact that the magus can enchant something on the fly that could not be enchanted before is no reason that he CAN'T actually enchant that. For example, the magus can use Arcane Pool on a non-masterwork weapon, which could not be enhanced by Craft Magic Arms & Armor. So why not an unarmed strike? Both are weapons.

Thus why I said "directly". You never apply those properties to your unarmed strike. You apply them to the amulet, which grants the benefit of the enhancement to your unarmed strike.

harzerkatze wrote:
For those that say unarmed strike cannot be used with Arcane Pool, would you disallow that for a monks unarmed strike as well? That is pretty explicitely designed to be handled like a normal weapon, e.g. "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."

Yes, for the simple fact that despite that text, you can't normally directly enhance a monk's unarmed strike with the enhancements and\or special properties granted through Arcane Pool. You can't enchant 'flaming' on an unarmed strike; you can enchant it on an Amulet of Might Fists, which then bestows that effect on your unarmed strike.

[edit]
In my opinion, the flavor of the magus class includes utilizing a manufactured weapon. A magus relying on unarmed strikes might make an interesting archetype, or possibly even a prestige class combo for magus\monk, but I don't believe that was the intention for the base class, and so I don't believe the class's features (specifically Arcane Pool) were designed to be universally usable with unarmed strike.

I could be wrong - and if I am, then I'll be glad to do a cross-class monk\magus and save myself the money on an AoMF.


Just a though: a fist is an unarmed strike, but the fist itself is not listed in the weapons, and the unarmed strike can be delivered with any part of your body (like if for flavor you want to make Honda from Street Fighter and want to hit anybody with your big belly, well, you can stick to unarmed strike :)). So, AP enanchement work with "unarmed strike". And you

Xaratherus wrote:


[edit]
In my opinion, the flavor of the magus class includes utilizing a manufactured weapon. A magus relying on unarmed strikes might make an interesting archetype, or possibly even a prestige class combo for magus\monk, but I don't believe that was the intention for the base class, and so I don't believe the class's features (specifically Arcane Pool) were designed to be universally usable with unarmed strike.

I could be wrong - and if I am, then I'll be glad to do a cross-class monk\magus and save myself the money on an AoMF.

I think you're wrong. Let's take the magus spell combat:

Quote:
To use this ability, the magus must have one hand free (even if the spell being cast does not have somatic components), while wielding a light or one-handed melee weapon in the other hand.

Emphasys mine. Note the "wielding", so it must be used with a weapon you're holding, because if you don't hold a weapon you can't wield it, right? :)

Now, let's go to the FAQs, and exactly this (http://paizo.com/paizo/faq/v5748nruor1fz#v5748eaic9qhg):

Quote:

Magus: When using spell combat, can the weapon in my other hand be an unarmed strike or a natural weapon?

Yes, so long as the weapon is a light or one-handed melee weapon and is associated with that hand. For example, unarmed strikes, claws, and slams are light melee weapons associated with a hand, and therefore are valid for use with spell combat. A tail slap is not associated with a hand, and therefore is not valid for use with spell combat.

—Pathfinder Design Team, 04/05/13

So, you can "wield" your unarmed strike. So, to go back to the Arcane Pool, you can enanche any weapon you're holding (as wielding and holding are nearly the same thing :))

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

The fist is simply part of the weapon, known as the unarmed strike.

Also, you never enchant one fist, but the unarmed strike, which is the whole body, as noted here.


blackbloodtroll wrote:

The fist is simply part of the weapon, known as the unarmed strike.

Also, you never enchant one fist, but the unarmed strike, which is the whole body, as noted here.

Well then we have our FAQ and the spell does affect every unarmed strike made. RAW it would preclude Arcane strike (faq states spells) but RAI is fairly obvious and I would allow it if I were running.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Skylancer4 wrote:
blackbloodtroll wrote:

The fist is simply part of the weapon, known as the unarmed strike.

Also, you never enchant one fist, but the unarmed strike, which is the whole body, as noted here.

Well then we have our FAQ and the spell does affect every unarmed strike made. RAW it would preclude Arcane strike (faq states spells) but RAI is fairly obvious and I would allow it if I were running.

How does this make any difference to the effects of Arcane Strike?


Skylancer4 wrote:
blackbloodtroll wrote:

The fist is simply part of the weapon, known as the unarmed strike.

Also, you never enchant one fist, but the unarmed strike, which is the whole body, as noted here.

Well then we have our FAQ and the spell does affect every unarmed strike made. RAW it would preclude Arcane pool (faq states spells) but RAI is fairly obvious and I would allow it if I were running.

Edited: Arcane Pool (the ability the OP asked about).


Could a Magus/Monk flurry while using spell combat? Spell Combat says "As a full-round action, he can make all of his attacks with his melee weapon at a –2 penalty and can also cast any spell from the magus spell list with a casting time of 1 standard action (any attack roll made as part of this spell also takes this penalty)."

FoB gives another attack at highest BAB-2. Should it stack?

Tangentially related, Magus with 2 claws and spell combat+spellstrike, could he make 2 or 3 claw attacks?


No, you would have to choose between them. The wording would have to be something like "as part of a full round action" or "during" not as a full round action.


FoB is a full attack action, not a full round action. So if you can regularly take a full attack action as part of spell combat (and I'm pretty sure that's what "Make all his attacks" means) you should be able to flurry.

Not saying you CAN do it, but the action types do match up, so if you couldn't, this is not the reason why.


Making a full attack requires taking a full round action...

Combat wrote:
If you get more than one attack per round because your base attack bonus is high enough (see Base Attack Bonus in Classes), because you fight with two weapons or a double weapon, or for some special reason, you must use a full-round action to get your additional attacks. You do not need to specify the targets of your attacks ahead of time. You can see how the earlier attacks turn out before assigning the later ones.


LoneKnave wrote:

FoB is a full attack action, not a full round action. So if you can regularly take a full attack action as part of spell combat (and I'm pretty sure that's what "Make all his attacks" means) you should be able to flurry.

Not saying you CAN do it, but the action types do match up, so if you couldn't, this is not the reason why.

Try actually reading the rules, the important part is quoted in my last post.


We should not conflate a monk with this discussion as they have special rules regarding their unarmed strike. For the monk, unarmed strike counts as both manufactured and natural for spells and effects.

I had always thought that a magus arcane pool was meant to be applied to manufactured weapons otherwise there would be the increasing number of people using it to augment their touch attack with spells.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

An Unarmed Strike is a melee weapon.

Arcane Pool never specifies manufactured weapons.

So, a Magus can use his Arcane Pool power on a melee weapon, choosing his unarmed strike.

He need not be a Monk, and he need not select "fist".

I have seen no RAW evidence to disprove this.

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The GM has final say. However, he's wrong by the rules.

See these FAQs:
A creature's unarmed strike is its entire body.
You can use two-weapon fighting with unarmed strikes.

However, you still can't use arcane pool on your fists. Unarmed strike is not really considered a weapon you can enchant unless a spell or feature specifically targets it (such as magic fang).

blackbloodtroll wrote:

An Unarmed Strike is a melee weapon.

Arcane Pool never specifies manufactured weapons.

So, a Magus can use his Arcane Pool power on a melee weapon, choosing his unarmed strike.

He need not be a Monk, and he need not select "fist".

I have seen no RAW evidence to disprove this.

I can disprove that easily.

The arcane pool feature says the magus can use it on "any weapon he is holding."

If you aren't holding a weapon, you're considered unarmed unless you're a monk, a character with improved unarmed strike, or creature with natural attacks.

It follows that an unarmed strike is not considered a weapon you are holding. If it were considered a weapon you are holding, you would be considered armed.

Therefore, you cannot use arcane pool on an unarmed strike.

However, I do think this might be worth FAQing, but perhaps on a more clear topic.


Cyrad wrote:

I can disprove that easily.

The arcane pool feature says the magus can use it on "any weapon he is holding."

If you aren't holding a weapon, you're considered unarmed unless you're a monk, a character with improved unarmed strike, or creature with natural attacks.

It follows that an unarmed strike is not considered a weapon you are holding. If it were considered a weapon you are holding, you would be considered armed.

Therefore, you cannot use arcane pool on an unarmed strike.

"Holding" a weapon is not a common rules term, wielding is. Holding is only used in the combat chapter for holding spell charges and holding an opponent in a grapple. Your example is your personal wording, not how the rules are written.

You also do not take into account that the "holding" part only applies to the swift action of using Arcane Pool. It does not say that only weapons that are held in combat can be enhanced, I think instead it says you grab a hold of something and enhance it.

Look, I know that wordings can be read in different ways and that RAI is hard to fathom. But my impression is that they used "holding" without much thought behind it, because ther is no optimal wording:
- If they had used "touching", you would be able to enchant weapons you haven't drawn yet, which in combination with dancing probably lets you save an action.
- If they had used "wielding", you couldn't e.g. enchant an arrow and then shoot it, because you cannot wield an arrow.

So no matter how they phrase it, some circumstances are left out.
I can see no indication that they wanted to leave out natural attacks and unarmed strikes from the class, the FAQs consistently include those in Magus questions. So in my opinion, the "holding" part is describing the action: Grab a hold of the weapon and enhance it. Why not grab hold of your fist, which is part of your unarmed strike? As I said, I see no indication of design intent to preclude unarmed strikes.


LoneKnave wrote:

FoB is a full attack action, not a full round action. So if you can regularly take a full attack action as part of spell combat (and I'm pretty sure that's what "Make all his attacks" means) you should be able to flurry.

Not saying you CAN do it, but the action types do match up, so if you couldn't, this is not the reason why.

You cannot use FoB with Spell Combat for the same reason that you cannot use FoB with two-weapon fighting: FoB already counts as two-weapon fighting (FoB text: "...as if using the Two-Weapon Fighting feat"). And as you cannot use two-weapon fighting twice at once, e.g. to make two additional attacks at -4, neither can you FoB and two-weapon fight at once.

Since Spell Combat "functions much like two-weapon fighting", the same rules should apply to FoB and Spell Combat.

It should be possible for a Maneuver Master monk/Magus to use Flurry of Maneuvers with Spell combat, as FoM has no connection to Two-Weapon Fighting, provided:
- you make the maneuver with the weapon wielded in the hand, as those are the only allowed attacks in Spell combat
- that Spell Combat younts as a full-attack for other effects that change full-attacks, such as fighting defensively, Haste etc. That is still being discussed within the design team (Designer quote), we only have a partial answer allowing Haste. So that is still open.

But FoB and Spell Combat is out.


@Blackstorm: I'm aware of the FAQ. I didn't say that I unarmed strike failed to work for the magus in all situations; I said thematically, I believe the class was designed around primarily using a manufactured weapon. The fact that they can use an unarmed strike for Spell Combat doesn't indicate that's the intention behind the design for the class.

That said, in reading over the arguments, and taking that into account, I believe that RAW you could use Arcane Pool to enhance your unarmed strike (which would be your entire body); I don't think that's RAI but that can be left up to an FAQ.

The whole concept opens up at least one interesting (if not optimal) character build: a monk\magus cross-class would give you a cheap alternative to an AoMF - plus, imagine a rime-enhanced Elemental Touch (Cold) cast and held, then coupled with a FoB? Your normal flurry damage plus 1d6 of cold damage, a chance to fatigue them from the spell, and to entangle them for 2 rounds from the metamagic?


Xaratherus wrote:
The whole concept opens up at least one interesting (if not optimal) character build: a monk\magus cross-class would give you a cheap alternative to an AoMF - plus, imagine a rime-enhanced Elemental Touch (Cold) cast and held, then coupled with a FoB? Your normal flurry damage plus 1d6 of cold damage, a chance to fatigue them from the spell, and to entangle them for 2 rounds from the metamagic?

Problem with that build is that FoB needs a couple of monk levels to be more effective than plain Spell Combat, which gives a bonus attack, too. FoB and Spell Combat cannot be combined at once, so it's either/or, and both will be hurt by having lesser levels than a straight magus or monk.

I actually am playing a magus x/monk 1 multiclass, but primarily for the bonus feats the monk provides. If Spell Combat counts as full-attack (see above), at least flurry of maneuvers of the Maneuver Master meshes very well with the magus.


wild rager+spellcombat/strike+haste+ki+Maneuver master(trip)/Greater Trip+Vicious stomp

If I got this right, that's up to 6 extra attacks, assuming the Trip hits. Could also key all of it off of DEX. Sounds fun. Anybody can think of any other extra attacks that it could get?


harzerkatze wrote:
Xaratherus wrote:
The whole concept opens up at least one interesting (if not optimal) character build: a monk\magus cross-class would give you a cheap alternative to an AoMF - plus, imagine a rime-enhanced Elemental Touch (Cold) cast and held, then coupled with a FoB? Your normal flurry damage plus 1d6 of cold damage, a chance to fatigue them from the spell, and to entangle them for 2 rounds from the metamagic?

Problem with that build is that FoB needs a couple of monk levels to be more effective than plain Spell Combat, which gives a bonus attack, too. FoB and Spell Combat cannot be combined at once, so it's either/or, and both will be hurt by having lesser levels than a straight magus or monk.

I actually am playing a magus x/monk 1 multiclass, but primarily for the bonus feats the monk provides. If Spell Combat counts as full-attack (see above), at least flurry of maneuvers of the Maneuver Master meshes very well with the magus.

I wasn't really talking a dip, but a true, complete cross-class. You'd have the option to do Spell Combat if you wanted to do big burst damage (i.e., with Shocking Grasp), but in order to do that you must cast a spell; if you used Elemental Touch, then you don't have to cast every round, and could instead use FoB. You'd essentially have two different methods of doing the same thing, and could get an extra attack with either one.

The biggest 'downside' would be the fact that you wouldn't want to wear armor - so I'd suggest going with something like Spell Dancer, where you forego armor anyway.

[edit]
Derp. Spell Dancer loses the weapon enhancement ability. I should know that, I only have one at like 13th level...


I'm actually working on the character I described above as a 10th level; I'll post the stat block later if anyone is interested. My first draft had a pretty spectacular AC for 10th - 35 fully buffed - but I think I can get a more balanced build than that.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Think you are not holding your unarmed strike?

Give yourself a hug.


Tear off pieces of cloth, call them cloth Cesti. I do think they would be considered a single weapon. Now do unarmed strikes with them :D

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