'Hands', Two Weapon Fighting and Unarmed Strikes


Rules Questions


Simply, do 'hands' limitation come into play when someone is using unarmed strikes and two weapon fighting if their actual 2 hands are full?

Since unarmed strikes can be done with more than just the actual fists is there any reason they cannot use their hands to hold other things?

Relevant Example:

In a game I am running a Level 1 Human Brawler uses their Martial Flexibility to get Two Weapon Fighting. His hands are holding a torch and a potion.

Can he two weapon fight with the rest of their striking surfaces or are their 'hands' full for the purposes of combat?

I am inclined to say that they are able to fight and use TWF.


From this FAQ, I'd say your case of someone holding an object in each hand is allowed.

FAQ wrote:

Armor Spikes: Can I use two-weapon fighting to make an "off-hand" attack with my armor spikes in the same round I use a two-handed weapon?

No.
Likewise, you couldn't use an armored gauntlet to do so, as you are using both of your hands to wield your two-handed weapon, therefore your off-hand is unavailable to make any attacks.

As long as you don't try doing a two-handed attack (for 1.5 x Str damage) with one attack and trying to do an off-hand attack in the same round.


yes, anyone can do 2 kicks for their Unarmed strikes while holding whatever they want in either hand, or using both hands to hold something.


Ok, here's the breakdown:

Normally, you get a pool of potential attacks. For example, if your BAB is 11-15, you get three attacks. These attacks can be made with any selection of weapons you have available for use and each sequential attack takes an additional -5 penalty. Any one of these attacks could be with a 2-h weapon, a non-handed weapon, you could drop a weapon and switch to another, whatever you want so long as you stick to that pool of three attacks. To illustrate, it is perfectly valid with BAB+11 to attack with your Longspear two-handed (BAB+11), drop it, quickdraw a Longsword, attack with it either one or two-handed (BAB+6) then make your last attack with armor spikes, unarmed strike, or any other non-handed weapon (BAB+1). This is perfectly valid, it is not considered TWF, and none of your attacks are considered off-hand so you get full Str to damage (or 1.5x in the case of the 2-h attack(s)) and suffer no TWF attack penalty.

When TWF rules enter, you are declaring an off-hand weapon and taking a penalty to all attacks in order to gain a second pool of attacks. Your normal pool of attacks are your main-hand attacks and follow all applicable rules for a normal attack routine save that you cannot make main-hand attacks with your designated off-hand weapon. This pool is separate and distinct from your off-hand pool. Your off-hand pool, by default, has just a single attack. It takes ITWF and GTWF to gain additional attacks. Additionally, each main-hand attack you make two-handed "eats" the next available off-hand attack. Conversely, each off-hand attack you make incurs a "debt" on your main-hand attack that it must be made one-handed. It doesn't matter if your main or off-hand weapon is wielded by hand or is a non-hand-associated weapon (ie. armor spikes, unarmed strikes using parts other than your arms, etc). This is what prevents you from meaningfully meshing 2-h weapons with TWF rules; it is the attack pool being occupied, not the hands themselves. Even if you drop the 2-h weapon, it doesn't "free up" your attack pool. Conversely, items that occupy your hands but do not occupy your attack pool have no bearing on how many attacks you can make. You could very well have a potion in one hand and a Longsword in the other, make one attack with your Longsword one-handed, use an ability or feat to chug your potion as a swift or free action, then continue swinging the Longsword with two hands. Or you could hold a Longspear in two hands and TWF with kicks but still threaten at reach with the spear. Think about it in terms of "attack economy" being separate and distinct from "occupied hands" and it should never be confusing.


I have wondered since that whole thread. If I have a fighter at level 16 with all the TWF feat chain. Is it possible to declare TWF and take the penalties and use a greatsword on attack one(using both "hands") and then use a headbutt and kick as the next set of attacks.


Improved unarmed strike doesn't let you attack with your head or knees or feet.

Unarmed Strike (Monk/Brawler) does.

Thanks for proving me wrong.


PRD 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 unarmed provokes an attack of opportunity from the character you attack, provided she is armed. The attack of opportunity comes before your attack. An unarmed 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 unarmed 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: An unarmed strike from a Medium character deals 1d3 points of bludgeoning damage (plus your Strength modifier, as normal). A Small character's unarmed strike deals 1d2 points of bludgeoning damage, while a Large character's unarmed strike deals 1d4 points of bludgeoning damage. All damage from unarmed strikes is nonlethal damage. Unarmed strikes count as light weapons (for purposes of two-weapon attack penalties and so on).

Dealing Lethal Damage: You can specify that your unarmed strike 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 an unarmed strike without taking a penalty on the attack roll.

Bolding mine basic unarmed strikes include kicks and headbutts.


Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Talonhawke wrote:
I have wondered since that whole thread. If I have a fighter at level 16 with all the TWF feat chain. Is it possible to declare TWF and take the penalties and use a greatsword on attack one(using both "hands") and then use a headbutt and kick as the next set of attacks.

This would be a no, since you have already taken one attack with a Two-Handed Weapon, you have now narrowed your options to A) declare that attack was a single attack action (standard) and then use your remaining move action or B) continuing with your full attack action using your normal 16/11/6/1 progression.

The FAQ cited above specifically denies this action. You can't two weapon fight (in any capacity) with a two handed weapon. The FAQ specifically says "as you are using both of your hands to wield your two-handed weapon, therefore your off-hand is unavailable to make any attacks."

Now if you have a longsword in one hand and make a one-handed attack with that longsword, you can then kick and headbutt your way through the rest of your progression.

Scarab Sages

You could also have a Tower Shield in one hand, a torch or a wand in another, and then use two weapon fighting to kick/kick or heandbutt/kick or whatever version of TWF you like that doesn't use those hands. If you are not making an attack with a two-handed weapon, no "hands" have been used for attacking.

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