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View Full Version : Magic Weapon applied to Unarmed Strike



Tokiko Mima
2008-03-31, 02:43 PM
I was reading the PHB section on spells when I noticed something oddly contradictory in the magic weapon (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/magicWeapon.htm) text.


You canít cast this spell on a natural weapon, such as an unarmed strike (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/equipment/weapons.htm#unarmedStrike) (instead, see magic fang). A monkís unarmed strike is considered a weapon, and thus it can be enhanced by this spell.

This seems like a bit of a paradox, then I thought "Oh! I guess it means that you have to be a monk to apply magic weapon to your unarmed strike. If you just have Improved Unarmed Strike it doesn't count." Except the text for Unarmed Strike in the Weapons section reads:


Unarmed Strike

A Medium character deals 1d3 points of nonlethal damage with an unarmed strike. A Small character deals 1d2 points of nonlethal damage. A monk or any character with the Improved Unarmed Strike feat can deal lethal or nonlethal damage with unarmed strikes, at her option. The damage from an unarmed strike is considered weapon damage for the purposes of effects that give you a bonus on weapon damage rolls.

An unarmed strike is always considered a light weapon. Therefore, you can use the Weapon Finesse feat to apply your Dexterity modifier instead of your Strength modifier to attack rolls with an unarmed strike.

So it's a light weapon and it inflicts damage as a weapon for everyone, non-monks included. So how is it not a weapon for non-monks again? Personally, I suspect the magic weapon description has to be wrong. Unarmed Strike is not a natural weapon at all, and is subject to all the iterative mechanisms that manufactured weapons use.

The advantage monks have over non-monks is that their unarmed strike is treated as if it was a natural *and* manufactured weapon for the purposes of buff spells like magic weapon. Of course, this interpretation means that magic fang would be useful only for monks and creatures with natural attacks.

What do you think?

Ryusacerdos
2008-03-31, 02:54 PM
Magic fang works on both Monk and non-Monk unarmed strikes.

Magic Weapon works on Monk unarmed strikes.


So how is it not a weapon for non-monks again?

It doesn't say that anywhere - its a natural weapon for everyone, and considered light. So no, it doesn't contradict itself.

Edit: Oh, now I see - it makes a distinction between natural "weapon" and weapon.


Weapon Finesse [General]
Prerequisite

Base attack bonus +1.
Benefit

With a light weapon, rapier, whip, or spiked chain made for a creature of your size category, you may use your Dexterity modifier instead of your Strength modifier on attack rolls. If you carry a shield, its armor check penalty applies to your attack rolls.
Special

A fighter may select Weapon Finesse as one of his fighter bonus feats.

Natural weapons are always considered light weapons.

From the SRD - so there are no contradictions.

dman11235
2008-03-31, 03:02 PM
I think that Mg Wp was over specific. Note how it does not say that other USs are not a legal target. All it does is re-iterate that monks can benefit. No contradiction there.

Chronos
2008-03-31, 04:11 PM
Note how it does not say that other USs are not a legal target.Except for this:
You canít cast this spell on a natural weapon, such as an unarmed strike

The answer is that Unarmed Strike counts as a weapon for anything that doesn't specifically exclude it. So a bard's Inspire Courage, for instance, will help out anyone in a boxing match, not just a monk, and Damage Reduction applies to unarmed strikes just like any other weapon. But Magic Weapon specifically works on manufactured weapons, which a non-monk's unarmed strike is not, so it won't work.

Tokiko Mima
2008-03-31, 04:51 PM
Note how it does not say that other USs are not a legal target.

It does actually say that though.


You canít cast this spell on a natural weapon, such as an unarmed strike (instead, see magic fang). A monkís unarmed strike is considered a weapon, and thus it can be enhanced by this spell.

This implies that unarmed strike is a natural weapon, and declares the spell can't be cast it on an unarmed strike. The next sentence exempts Monk unarmed strikes since they are weapons.

My point is that if you have Improved Unarmed Strike, then unarmed strike should be a weapon for you, too. It's incorrect for this spell text to refer to an unarmed strike as a natural weapon because doing would allow a PC to add it to their list of natural weapons which could be abused to allow the monk an attack with every single extremity they had.

Edit: Ninja-ed!

Indon
2008-03-31, 04:54 PM
The next sentence exempts Monk unarmed strikes since they are weapons.

The text for Monk strikes specifies that they count as both natural and non-natural (manufactured) weapons - basically whichever is most advantageous.

Improved Unarmed Strike does not do this. However, gauntlets (which count as unarmed strikes but are still weapons) are manufactured.

Chronos
2008-03-31, 04:58 PM
It's incorrect for this spell text to refer to an unarmed strike as a natural weapon because doing would allow a PC to add it to their list of natural weapons which could be abused to allow the monk an attack with every single extremity they had.I don't see this at all. The list of natural weapons for most humanoids consists, in its entirety, of

1: Unarmed strike

A monk can't make a separate attack with each of his elbows, knees, feet, forehead, etc., because those aren't natural weapons for a humanoid. An unarmed strike could be any of those, but "unarmed strike" is still only one weapon.

MorkaisChosen
2008-03-31, 05:02 PM
Unarmed Strike is a wepon, but for anyone other than a Monk it's not a manufactured weapon. From the SRD:


A monkís unarmed strike is treated both as a manufactured weapon and a natural weapon for the purpose of spells and effects that enhance or improve either manufactured weapons or natural weapons.

It is a specific Monk class feature that Unarmed Strike becomes a manufactured weapon. If you look at the Magic Weapon description:


You canít cast this spell on a natural weapon, such as an unarmed strike (instead, see magic fang). A monkís unarmed strike is considered a weapon, and thus it can be enhanced by this spell.

Quite clearly states that US is a natural weapon (although it does benefit from iterative attacks, etc.).

No contradictions I can see...

Tokiko Mima
2008-03-31, 05:35 PM
Hmmm.. I was under the impression that humans actually had no natural weapons whatsoever. Unarmed strikes are an iterative, weapon style of attack: they're not based off specific location like natural attack routine's claw/claw/bite/tail is.

You can already split unarmed strikes into two attacks with Two Weapon Fighting style (e.g. A monk holds a dagger in his secondary hand, and uses US with his primary hand, then is disarmed of the dagger resulting in the Monk making two US with the TWF penalty.) If unarmed strike was a natural weapon, a Monk could seperate their attack routine into fist/fist/kick/kick/knee/knee/elbow/elbow since per the SRD "A monkís attacks may be with either fist interchangeably or even from elbows, knees, and feet" which would be rather silly.

Unarmed strike is literally a manufactured weapon, albeit one that's part of a characters body. The biggest clue to that is you gain additional attacks with unarmed strike when your BAB reaches certain levels. If US was a natural attack, this wouldn't happen.

For a monk, unarmed strike is "treated both as a manufactured weapon and a natural weapon for the purpose of spells and effects that enhance or improve either manufactured weapons or natural weapons." However, that does not make it a natural attack, and you cannot directly add it to your list of natural weapons.

Tokiko Mima
2008-03-31, 05:51 PM
Ah! Found it: Rules of the Game: Unarmed Attacks (Part Two) (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/rg/20070403a)


Unarmed Strikes and Natural Weaponry

Before we move on, it's worth pointing out that a character making an unarmed attack, even with the Improved Unarmed Strike feat, does not have natural weapons. Nor is a natural weapon a substitute for the Improved Unarmed Strike feat.

As we saw in Part One, unarmed strikes allow iterative attacks and natural weapons do not.

A feat that requires natural weaponry as a prerequisite, such as Multiattack, doesn't work with unarmed strikes. Likewise, having a natural weapon is not a substitute for the Improved Unarmed Strike feat. For example, you don't meet the Improved Unarmed Strike prerequisite for the Deflect Arrows feat if you just have a natural weapon.

Chronos
2008-03-31, 06:00 PM
If unarmed strike was a natural weapon, a Monk could seperate their attack routine into fist/fist/kick/kick/knee/knee/elbow/elbow since per the SRD "A monkís attacks may be with either fist interchangeably or even from elbows, knees, and feet" which would be rather silly.Sure, you can do that, if you have some means of making 8 attacks with your unarmed strike. But that's 8 attacks with the same weapon. Just because multiple parts of the body can be used for an unarmed strike does not mean that you have multiple weapons, any more than you can make extra attacks by using both the blade and the hook of your halberd. A halberd is one weapon with multiple parts, and you treat it as one weapon for purposes of how many attacks you can make with it. An unarmed strike is also one weapon with multiple parts, and you also treat it as one weapon for purposes of how many attacks you can make with it.

KillianHawkeye
2008-03-31, 10:08 PM
The confusion is arising from differences in the usage of the word "natural," as magic weapon only affects manufactured weapons (and the Monk's US).

An unarmed strike is natural in the sense that it is not a manufactured piece of equipment. However, it is not a "natural weapon" in the sense that it does not follow the rules for natural weapon attack routines (i.e. you attack using the normal rules for making attacks).

The Monk's Unarmed Strike class feature specifically allows it to be affected by effects that would normally only be used on manufactured weapons (such as the magic weapon spell), despite being a naturally occuring (non-manufactured) part of the character's anatomy.

So we have iterative attacks vs. natural attack routines, and manufactured weapons vs. natural (non-manufactured) weapons.

Does that clear it up? :smallwink: