Should Dragon's Claws have the Agile Trait?


Rules Discussion

Liberty's Edge

CRB, 403 wrote:

Dragon Claws

Vicious claws grow from your fingers. They are finesse unarmed attacks that deal 1d4 slashing damage and 1d6 extra damage of a type determined by the dragon in your bloodline (see the table in dragon breath). Your scales from blood magic glow with faint energy, giving you resistance 5 to the same damage type.

Clearly as written, the claws do not have the Agile trait. However, Barbarians and Monks both have claw options, and both claws explicitly note the Agile trait (e.g. for the Monk's Tiger stance: "[these claws] are in the brawling group; and have the agile, finesse, nonlethal, and unarmed traits.")

Is it intentional that the sorcerer's claws do not get the Agile trait like other claw attacks that PCs can create, or is it an oversight? (I feel like this must have been asked before, but my search-fu on Paizo forums is weak.)

Also, this ability has Agile in the playtest.


Doug Hahn wrote:
CRB, 403 wrote:

Dragon Claws

Vicious claws grow from your fingers. They are finesse unarmed attacks that deal 1d4 slashing damage and 1d6 extra damage of a type determined by the dragon in your bloodline (see the table in dragon breath). Your scales from blood magic glow with faint energy, giving you resistance 5 to the same damage type.

Clearly as written, the claws do not have the Agile trait. However, Barbarians and Monks both have claw options, and both claws explicitly note the Agile trait (e.g. for the Monk's Tiger stance: "[these claws] are in the brawling group; and have the agile, finesse, nonlethal, and unarmed traits.")

Is it intentional that the sorcerer's claws do not get the Agile trait like other claw attacks that PCs can create, or is it an oversight? (I feel like this must have been asked before, but my search-fu on Paizo forums is weak.)

Monk one actually aren't claws. You just pretend to be a tiger in tiger stance, hence the name of the attacks which are supposed to IMITATE "Tiger claws".

As for other abilities having different traits, I see no issue. There are myriad different shapes and sizes of claws, with different usage.

Some are finesse, others are agile, others are both finesse and agile. Some do a tiny bit of damage (d4) others do lots of it. Etc.

Liberty's Edge

Sure. But animal instinct barbarian actually grows claws like the sorcerer; those all have the Agile trait.

I think it's certainly worth noting as a potential oversight on the sorcerer focus power, although I agree that different claws also have some different traits.


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Doug Hahn wrote:

Sure. But animal instinct barbarian actually grows claws like the sorcerer; those all have the Agile trait.

I think it's certainly worth noting as a potential oversight on the sorcerer focus power.

Again, apples and oranges.

As an example, barbarian one isn't finesse.

What you're telling is basically:

"Why isn't my longsword Agile? Shortsword is a sword and is agile. "

Because dragon claws and barbarian claws are both claws, it doesn't mean they are the same claws.

Liberty's Edge

Looking through the Bestiary, it seems like 95%+ of claws are agile — but not all of them. Probably intentional after all, as there are other objective examples of some claws not having a universal Agile trait even though the overwhelming majority do. (This is the kind of evidence I prefer, as opposed to subjective flavor arguments of what a claw is or isn't, by the way.)

Ahh well.… my player will be disappointed but I know I made a the correct ruling. Thanks.


Doug Hahn wrote:

Looking through the Bestiary, it seems like 95%+ of claws are agile — but not all of them. Probably intentional after all, as there are other objective examples of some claws not having a universal Agile trait. (This is the kind of evidence I prefer, as opposed to subjective flavor arguments of what a claw is or isn't, by the way.)

Ahh well.… my player will be disappointed but I know I made a the correct ruling. Thanks.

My answer was 100% objective, it had nothing subjective to it.

To ask you simply:

Did you instinctively thought that the Finesse part of the dragon claws was wrong too?

I mean... Barbarian claws Aren't finesse, why should sorcerer ones be?

To put it simply:
Different kind of claws are different weapons. They have different dices and traits. There is no reason to assume that because one kind has traits X everything else also has trait X.

Liberty's Edge

You do know that Dragon Claws had the Agile trait in the playtest, right?

I'm not sure you understood the concern here — that at a glance all claws seem have the Agile trait except the sorcerer's focus power. It has nothing to do with Finesse or other weapon traits, which are not shared as commonly as Agile. The primary concern was that perhaps Agile is a particular trait shared universally by all claw attacks. If you look in the Bestiary you see that isn't the case, as there are a couple rare exceptions like the Lemure.

When you see a trait dropped from the playtest material without note, coupled with the fact that seemingly every other claw attack in the game has Agile… it's worth checking on.

We're all learning the new system; there's lots of unofficial and official errata out there.


The playtest version having agile and the final version not is actually evidence that the change is deliberate.

"we accidentally copied and pasted something's old version" is a common mistake, but "we accidentally changed the text by removing a specific section" isn't - especially not when the resulting passage of text still parses as a complete and correct sentence.


"Barbarians and monks are more accustomed (and more likely to be) to fighting in melee and making multiple attacks, so are better at using their claws to do so"

Is a pretty solid explanation for the difference between them and the clearly not traditionally a melee combatant sorcerer.


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Sorcerer isn’t that likely - or shouldn’t be - to be attacking multiple times in melee, not only because of their lower attack bonus, but also their low numbers of hit points.

If they only got one of finesse or agile, I would definitely choose for them to have finesse.


I guess that when claws are paired with another type of attack, usually with a bigger die, they are always agile to make them worthwhile using.
When they are the main form of attack, they could either be agile or not.

Liberty's Edge

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Ramanujan wrote:

Sorcerer isn’t that likely - or shouldn’t be - to be attacking multiple times in melee, not only because of their lower attack bonus, but also their low numbers of hit points.

If they only got one of finesse or agile, I would definitely choose for them to have finesse.

I agree. I think there's a design viewpoint that assumes one Strike and then movement or spell casting. Most likely that's the case, but I'm sure at some point someone will want to build a melee sorcerer. Well, they have magical self-buffs too, unlike the Barbarian for example.


Ramanujan wrote:

Sorcerer isn’t that likely - or shouldn’t be - to be attacking multiple times in melee, not only because of their lower attack bonus, but also their low numbers of hit points.

If they only got one of finesse or agile, I would definitely choose for them to have finesse.

My thought, too. They aren't agile because they should encourage a 1-strike-only round combined with casting.

Barbarians claws are their secondary attack after a non-agile one and encourage multiple strikes.

...different classes, different playstyles


shroudb wrote:
Monk one actually aren't claws. You just pretend to be a tiger in tiger stance, hence the name of the attacks which are supposed to IMITATE "Tiger claws".

The actual Tiger style is a fighting style that focuses heavily on finger strength, and from what I've seen it has a mix of batting, grappling moves and...well... ripping people's throat's out. Joints and ligaments too.

It is one of those more militaristic styles that focuses on practical application. If you attack the soft tissue areas like that, you can end a fight pretty quick.

Of course, the question then turns into 'is that a claw attack?'- since many humanoid claw attacks rely less on he nails, and more on using the fingers to rip people to pieces. But that also gets into the good old 'slam vs. unarmed strike' territory.


It's worth pointing out that that the dragon claws also do energy damage, which is easily worth the extra trait. There's a point at which if they were agile, finesse, and did energy damage on top of their usual slashing that they would be inherently superior to a barbarian's claws.

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