Interaction between touch-attack spell, Sneak attack and Unarmed combat


Rules Questions


I'm a bit confused as to exactly what applies in the following case and could use someone checking my rule understanding:

I'll soon play an Unchained Rogue with Major Magic: Chilling touch. Chilling touch lets you attempt a number of touch attack per level equal to your caster level up to ten. Each attack does:
1d6 of negative energy damage.

A rogue inflicting damage while their target is denied their Dex bonus or flanked can add Sneak attack damage equal to:
(1 + 1/2(Rogue Level-1)d6 damages.

Therefore in the right conditions, I can attempt a contact touch attack for:
1d6 negative + (1+ 1/2(RL-1))d6 damages

(Unless I'm grossly mistaken, the part aboce is the one I'm relatively certain about)

To trigger Chilling Touch, it seems I need to attempt an unarmed touch attack (given the flavor text, I don't think this attack can be made using a weapon). To avoid triggering AoO, I picked Improved Unarmed Strike, which should work in this case?

If I attack with an unarmed strike, at level 3 (minimum level required to pick Major Magic), I benefit from Unchained Rogue's Finesse Training and can substitute my Dex modifier to my Strength for damages. So my Unarmed Strike now does:
1d3+ DEX damages (lethal or non lethal)

If I'm not mistaken, those unarmed damages only apply on regular contact attack roll, not touch. So they do not trigger if I only attempt a touch attack?

Furthermore, Chilling Touch does trigger on Unarmed Strike, right?

(Bonus cookie point if you can advise me: I'm considering Two Weapons Fighting and Piranha's Strike for added damages and not relying only on Chilling Touch. Thing is, I'm pretty much streched out for feats and could use Studious Rogue to swap spell-like ability on the fly. Unchained Rogue fishing for Sneack Attack damages, more attack per round sounds better than the equivalent of a Power attack?)


Looks like it all works.

Not sure what to add, but it looks good.


You can also do touch attacks without taking AoO if the Chilling Touch buff is active. But you won't to damage with your unarmed strike, only the Chilling Touch and (maybe, see next paragraph) Sneak Attack.

The fact that touch attacks can benefit from sneak attacks is... Debatable (DM ruling?) however, as sneak attacks deal "extra damage", and a touch attack deal no damage by itself except delivering a spell effect.

You can apply any touch spell effect with a simple "touch" or an unarmed strike.
The touch without AoO, the unarmed with if you don't have the feat


Okay, I didn't know that the touch attack from Chill touch (and not Chilling touch, my mistake) didn't trigger. Makes sense if you think about it, as it would mean touch attack spell would trigger AoOs twice, once from casting and once from touching otherwise.

I'm a bit perplexed regarding if by RAW, touch attack should apply sneak damages or not. A case is made here in favor, citing the FAQ. It seems it's legit. I will see with my GM.


Casting chill touch triggers an AoO unless you make a concentration check.

Attacking with chill touch as a touch attack doesn't trigger an AoO. That kind of attack doesn't add unarmed damage and is limited to one attack/round, always. You get a free attack of this kind the round you cast chill touch.

Attacking with chill touch vs. normal AC adds unarmed damage (and piranha strike if you have it and want to use it) and requires improved unarmed strike to avoid AoOs. You can make as many attacks/round with this as your BAB/TWF feats allow.

Be careful if you're stacking up attack penalties on 3/4 BAB, BTW.

@Cornebre: Adding sneak attack to spell damage delivered via attack rolls is not in fact debatable. It works. There's a FAQ or two about it if you're not sure.


Sir Stabalot wrote:
(Bonus cookie point if you can advise me: I'm considering Two Weapons Fighting and Piranha's Strike for added damages and not relying only on Chilling Touch. Thing is, I'm pretty much streched out for feats and could use Studious Rogue to swap spell-like ability on the fly. Unchained Rogue fishing for Sneack Attack damages, more attack per round sounds better than the equivalent of a Power attack?)

I would suggest a 1-2 level dip into monk. This nets you:


  • Improved Unarmed Strike (1 feat saved)
  • Bigger unarmed strike damage dice (D6 instead of D3 if you're medium, an increase of 1.5 average damage per hit)
  • Full ability score to damage on all your unarmed strikes, which goes well with your two-weapon fighting and dex to damage
  • +2 to your fortitude saves
  • 1-2 bonus feats from a limited list - Dodge is a nice freebie if nothing else

Take Accomplished Sneak Attacker instead of Improved Unarmed Strike to keep full sneak attack dice. If you go chained monk, you also get +2 to will saves, and can browse plenty of archetypes for potential swaps. If you go unchained monk, you get full BAB progression from those levels.


The "punching people with negative energy" is not the main shtick from this build, I'm playing a support-skill monkey-Face. I'm just trying to have a decent damage routine for when I have to fight, hence the hesitation between the two.

I'm playing an Unchained Rogue - Counterfeit Mage/Sanctified Rogue... Not *exactly* a battle optimized mix here, as you can see.

But thanks for the suggestion, might do that on another - more combat focused - build.

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