Improved Unarmed Strike and Natural Attacks


Rules Questions


When I make a full attack (not flurry of blows) with unarmed strikes, can I also make claw attacks, assuming I did not use my fists/hands to deliver my unarmed strikes?

For example, let's say I'm a 6th level Tengu fighter and I have bite, 2 claws.

Could I make a TWF full attack with unarmed strikes (Kicks, headbuts, elbows, knees, booty bumps, etc etc...) 4+STR/4+STR/STR-1 and also my natural attacks at 1+STR/1+STR/1+STR?

Also in this regard, since I know I could bite regardless, do your natural attacks take any penalty from TWF? TWF penalty states that "your regular attack or attacks with your primary hand and... the attack with your off hand."

I'm just making sure there's no other official word/FAQ that states that *any* additional attacks you make on your turn take the -2 penalty.


Yes, but you should not. In most cases, anyways, unless the enemy has really, really terrible AC and you have a very high BAB.

Because if you use natural attacks with iteratives, they become secondary attacks with a large penalty (-5). So while you may get more attacks, all of them are way less likely to hit.

I crunched the numbers with my lvl 10 bloodrager lizardfolk. With low AC, my average damage using improved unarmed attack was about the same as when just using my natural attacks. And against more normal AC, I was losing a lot of DPR.


Yes, you can combine natural weapons with unarmed strikes. As long as the limbs used to perform the unarmed strikes are not the same as the ones used to perform the natural attacks you're good to go. Unarmed strikes are treated as manufactured weapons in this regard.

However, as per the rules of mixing manufactured weapons with natural attacks, all of your natural weapons are treated as secondary natural attacks meaning they will suffer a -5 to hit and only get 1/2 your strength modifier to damage. Your DM may allow you to pick up the feat multi-attack which would reduce the penalty to hit from a -5 to a -2.

Regardless, TWF penalties would not apply to your natural weapons.


Goblin_Priest wrote:
Yes, but you should not. In most cases, anyways, unless the enemy has really, really terrible AC and you have a very high BAB.

Mostly, I agree.

Goblin_Priest wrote:
Because if you use natural attacks with iteratives, they become secondary attacks with a large penalty (-5). So while you may get more attacks, all of them are way less likely to hit.

If his Natural Attacks are Secondary anyway: Tentacle Cloak, Nails and Prehensile Hair hexes, Fleshwarped Whip (Tail), etc, then there is no further penalty, so you might as well throw in the Unarmed Strikes. There is no such thing as a Tertiary Natural Attack.

If he takes Multiattack, then the Secondary Natural Attack Penalty is only -2. That might make it advantageous to throw in 2 Unarmed Strikes depending on the build.

Even if it isn't better to add the 2 Unarmed Strikes to the Full Attack, if might be worthwhile to take Unarmed Strike Feats anyway, again, depending upon the build.

Goblin_Priest wrote:
I crunched the numbers with my lvl 10 bloodrager lizardfolk. With low AC, my average damage using improved unarmed attack was about the same as when just using my natural attacks. And against more normal AC, I was losing a lot of DPR.

But yeah, I think Goblin Priest's results are typical.


If his natural attacks were already secondary, that probably changes everything. My guy attacks with a +10 str modifier, on 3 primary natural attacks, so turning those into secondary attacks greatly lowered the output per attack and made it really bad vs. DR enemies.


BAB penalties or no, having more attacks does up your chances to hit if for no other reason than you're rolling more dice. But that's assuming you can hit the opponent by rolling a 10. If you have to roll a 16 or higher to hit at full BAB, then you might not want to lower your attack bonuses on the majority of your attacks.


In my case I was turning 3 natural attacks at full BAB and full str (+10) and power attack for 1 attack at full BAB and 4 at -5 and all at half strength and half power attack. The amulet of mighty fist bonus benefits from more attacks but overall each attack did almost half as much on a hit with a 25% lower chance of hitting.

Taking all of the feats like multiattack only made it average out to "about the same". So why take a bunch of feats to do about the same in the best of cases and do worse in the rest? In my case the goal was to fish for more natural attacks, not manufactured weapons or unarmed strikes.

But the key element here is that lizardfolk get 3 primary natural weapons. If all you have are secondary natural weapons, then you may as well stack 'em with manufactured or unarmed attacks. But in those cases you should be going for monk or brawler, I don't recall which is best.


Goblin_Priest wrote:
So why take a bunch of feats to do about the same in the best of cases and do worse in the rest?

I was thinking in terms of a Druidzilla character getting Attacks through Wildshape and increasing the Damage/Attack by taking levels in Warpriest. Warpriests inflict Sacred Weapon Damage instead of regular NA Damage for weapons they have Weapon Focus in. If you have a Human, Half Elven, or Half Orc Warpriest, you can take Martial Versatility and apply feats like Weapon Focus to all the Attacks in any single weapon Group. Unarmed Strikes are in both the Close and Natural fighter weapon group. So that might not be a reason to actually combine Unarmed Strikes in a Natural Full Attack, but there is a reason for some Natural Attacking characters to invest Feats into Unarmed Strikes. Another thing to consider is that sometimes a Druid like that will be in Human form, and then it would be nice if she had some decent melee capability.

Goblin_Priest wrote:
In my case the goal was to fish for more natural attacks, not manufactured weapons or unarmed strikes.

How many did you get, and how did you get them?


Heather 540 wrote:
BAB penalties or no, having more attacks does up your chances to hit if for no other reason than you're rolling more dice. But that's assuming you can hit the opponent by rolling a 10. If you have to roll a 16 or higher to hit at full BAB, then you might not want to lower your attack bonuses on the majority of your attacks.

True, but if your character has a whole lot of Natural Attacks, maybe you perform better by forgoing 2 extra ones if that means not suffering a -2 (or a -5!) on all the rest. Plus, you only take 1/2 your ST Mod to Damage when your Primary Natural Attacks become Secondary. And if you have a lot of Primary Natural Attacks, that can really add up (subtract up?).

I think it is a complicated calculation, and I am not surprised at all that Goblin Priest did not find any advantage in adding Unarmed Strikes to his attack routine.


Scott Wilhelm wrote:
Goblin_Priest wrote:
So why take a bunch of feats to do about the same in the best of cases and do worse in the rest?

I was thinking in terms of a Druidzilla character getting Attacks through Wildshape and increasing the Damage/Attack by taking levels in Warpriest. Warpriests inflict Sacred Weapon Damage instead of regular NA Damage for weapons they have Weapon Focus in. If you have a Human, Half Elven, or Half Orc Warpriest, you can take Martial Versatility and apply feats like Weapon Focus to all the Attacks in any single weapon Group. Unarmed Strikes are in both the Close and Natural fighter weapon group. So that might not be a reason to actually combine Unarmed Strikes in a Natural Full Attack, but there is a reason for some Natural Attacking characters to invest Feats into Unarmed Strikes. Another thing to consider is that sometimes a Druid like that will be in Human form, and then it would be nice if she had some decent melee capability.

Goblin_Priest wrote:
In my case the goal was to fish for more natural attacks, not manufactured weapons or unarmed strikes.
How many did you get, and how did you get them?

Every build will require its own calculations.

Right now with my 3 natural attacks I think I have the highest DPR of the party, and I also grapple and coup de grace like a total beast. But my defenses are bad so that's the next priority. But the most obvious way to increase my DPR will be with casting Monstrous Extremities twice every morning to gain 2 hoof attacks. There are probably ways to get wing attacks or tail attacks as well but I am not sure.


Goblin_Priest wrote:
There are probably ways to get wing attacks or tail attacks as well but I am not sure.

There is a magic weapon called the Fleshwarped Whip that can be attached to you and give you a Tail Attack.

Goblin_Priest wrote:
But the most obvious way to increase my DPR will be with casting Monstrous Extremities twice every morning to gain 2 hoof attacks.

I was thinking the obvious next way would be to get a Gore Attack: acquire an Animal Mask or a Helm of the Mammoth Lord or dip 2 levels in Barbarian and Lesser Fiend Totem. You are a Bloodrager, so there should probably be a way to get a Gore Rage Power as a Bloodrager.

Or maybe a Hair Attack. Dip a level in White Haired Witch, and you get a Hair Primary Natural Attack.

Goblin_Priest wrote:
I also grapple and coup de grace like a total beast.

The thing that's super cool about White Hair is that you get a free Grapple with every hit, and when someone is Grappled in your White Hair, they are Grappled, but you are not! You could take Great Cleave and Grapple multiple opponents all at once!

Goblin_Priest wrote:
But my defenses are bad so that's the next priority.

Flare Burst and Mudball are Bloodrager Spells: They impose attack penalties on opponents.

There is the Ice Armor Spell.

If you dipped levels in Alchemist, you could take Mutagens. All Mutagens give you a Natural Armor Bonus, and the Strength Mutagen gives you a +4 ST bonus that will stack with your Rage. In addition, there are 2 Discoveries that no Grappler should do without: Tentacle and Tumor Familiar. The Tentacle gives you Grab and so a +4 to your GMB, and a King Crab Familiar gives you a +2. Also even a 1 level dip in Alchemist lets you use Wands that mimic Alchemal Extracts such as Shield, Blur, and Displacement.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Yes you can use Two-Weapon Fighting with unarmed strikes and also use natural weapons. However, there are a few drawbacks:

1) As mentioned, at best you are going to at -2 on all attacks (-2 on TWF unarmed strikes and -2 with secondary natural attacks using Multiattack).

2) Unless a brawler, monk, or similar class/archetype, or taking the Double Slice feat, the "off-hand" unarmed strikes will only be able to add half Str bonus to damage. I don't recall a way to get full Str bonus on secondary natural attacks.

3) Unarmed strikes and natural weapons generally have poor critical ranges/multipliers, which become very important factors for DPR starting around 7th-8th character level.

4) Attacking some foes with unarmed strikes and/or natural weapons is... not a good idea (oozes, certain undead, etc.).

On the other hand (pun intended), there is one benefit to this type of character: They only need to invest in an amulet of mighty fists for all their melee attacks.

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