Hs anyone else noticed this shifter wrinkle?

Sure, but it's still once per short rest and requires you to be an otherwise unimpressive race and to be a Barbarian or two level dip in one (which is a big deal, in practice). Its a cute trick rather than a game breaker.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
I will never understand that thinking. The players will literally spend hundreds of dollars to get access to all the books to find every loophole to exploit it to the Nth degree, with entire forums dedicated to character and strategic optimisation...and that’s a perfectly valid and reasonable and good way to play. But the DM avoids a melee powerhouse and attacks from range and he’s a snip profanity DM?
I think the truth is in the middle. The DM is supposed to be an impartial referee, not against the players (that's why the DM was originally called the referee back in the day). So to your point, a DM actively using meta knowledge to screw with the players isn't exactly kosher.

However, if the monsters could reasonably use tactics and react to what's working and not working, then that's fair game.

The smite spells require a weapon. The smite ability requires a melee weapon attack, and unarmed strikes count as a melee weapon attacks (as opposed to "an attack with a melee weapon"). So RAW you can smite (or use battlemaster abilities etc) with the bite.
I'll look for it to see if I can find it, but that's specifically what the sage advice was talking about, and how unarmed attacks are NOT considered weapon attacks in regards to the paladin's divine smite ability. I could be wrong, but I'm almost sure that's how it was worded.

edit

Here it is:
Also, the PHB seems to back that up:
Instead of using a weapon to make a melee weapon attack, you can use an unarmed strike: a punch, kick, head-butt, or similar forceful blow (none of which count as weapons). (PHB 195)
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
yeah, and see Jeremy's tweet above, that is the most recent. It also clarifies that just because it's a melee weapon attack, it's not a melee weapon, which is what is required for divine smite (according to Jeremy)

Look, do what you want in your game, but when the designer says it should be working a certain way, we can be sure the intent was that it worked a certain way.
 
yeah, and see Jeremy's tweet above, that is the most recent. It also clarifies that just because it's a melee weapon attack, it's not a melee weapon, which is what is required for divine smite.

Look, do what you want in your game, but when the designer says it should be working a certain way, we can be sure the intent was that it worked a certain way.
The designer is contradicting himself - AKA he doesn't know.

In fact, the quote from the compendium is in the context of monks' stunning strike ability, which uses the exact same wording as paladin's Divine Smite ability. Ergo, if you rule that you can't use divine smite with an unarmed attack, it follows that a monk cannot use stunning strike with an unarmed attack, which I think most people would agree makes a nonsense of the ability.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
The designer is contradicting himself - AKA he doesn't know.

In fact, the quote from the compendium is in the context of monks' stunning strike ability, which uses the exact same wording as paladin's Divine Smite ability. Ergo, if you rule that you can't use divine smite with an unarmed attack, it follows that a monk cannot use stunning strike with an unarmed attack, which I think most people would agree makes a nonsense of the ability.
No, he's not contradicting himself. There is a difference between what counts as a "melee weapon attack", and and a melee weapon. Is the wording ambiguous? Yes, thus all the questions. But what Jeremy is saying is that while it counts as a melee weapon attack (which encompasses a broad umbrella for various other things that are triggered by it), the divine smite is meant to require an actual melee weapon, which unarmed strikes are not actual weapons. You can disagree with his intention, and many do. But disagreeing with how you want it to work doesn't change how it was meant to work. Ergo, using unarmed strikes (and bites) to apply divine smites would be a house rule. Which again, is perfectly fine. But it's not how the designer intended it to work.
 
No, he's not contradicting himself. There is a difference between what counts as a "melee weapon attack", and and a melee weapon.
True. However the PHB entry for Divine Smite uses the wording "melee weapon attack", not "attack with a melee weapon".

It's not ambiguous, I imagine I imagine JC has forgotten how the PHB entry is worded.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
True. However the PHB entry for Divine Smite uses the wording "melee weapon attack", not "attack with a melee weapon".

It's not ambiguous, I imagine I imagine JC has forgotten how the PHB entry is worded.
It also says, "In addition to the weapon's damage..", which infers you need an actual weapon since the smite damage in in addition to that. So yes, it is ambiguous. Maybe you should stop taking digs at Jeremy and just admit you're tying to act like your interpretation is the one true way to interpret it, when clearly it's not. There's enough questions going either way we can reference, so many that Jeremy felt the need to clarify. We have that clarification. From the designer. End of story.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Player: "Check it out! I've carefully optimized my character so that I can take maximum advantage of my class features in combat and always gain advantage, while carefully minimizing or removing any key weaknesses which will allow me to prevail over the monsters that this entire campaign is based around! I win!"

DM: "Check it out! I've carefully optimized my monsters so that I can take maximum advantage of their abilities and powers in combat and always gain advantage, while carefully minimizing or removing any key weaknesses which will allow this monster to prevail over the heroes that this entire campaign is based around! I win!"

Both are terrible, in the same way.
 
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It also says, "In addition to the weapon's damage..", which infers you need an actual weapon since the smite damage in in addition to that.
You can infer that the intent is that a weapon be used, but an inference is not a fact. What is a fact is that Divine Smite uses the same wording as stunning strike - you cannot rule one way for one ability and the other way for the other.

It would probably be more accurate to say that the wording in the PHB is in error rather than JC, but it would be rather unfair to penalise a player for that.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
It was ambiguous enough that lots of players had questions. That’s a fact.
we also have Jeremys explanation of how it should work. That’s a fact too
No one is penalizing players because those players can play however they want and use it to apply to unarmed strikes if that’s how they want.

The entire point of me bringing it up in the first place was just to point out how it’s not intended to apply divine smite to bite attacks.
 
It was ambiguous enough that lots of players had questions. That’s a fact.
The whole "unarmed attack is a melee weapon attack but not an attack with a melee weapon" is clearly difficult, it's not surprising people have questions.

we also have Jeremys explanation of how it should work.
An explanation that is inconsistent with RAW and makes a nonsense of his ruling with regards to stunning strike. If the PHB is wrong it should be in the PHB errata.

No one is penalizing players because those players can play however they want and use it to apply to unarmed strikes if that’s how they want.
It is penalising a player if they build a longtooth shifter paladin based on the PHB, then the DM says "you can't do that because JC says so on Twitter".

I should also point out that it raises questions with regards to a lot of other abilities that use similar wording, particularly battlemaster manoeuvres. Should they be treated like stunning strike or divine smite?
 
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Sacrosanct

Legend
It is penalising a player if they build a longtooth shifter paladin based on the PHB, then the DM says "you can't do that because JC says so on Twitter".
I usually have discussions with my players about their character ideas before we actually start the game. And not allowing every option, even those technically available via one of the books let alone one that was unclear and later clarified, is punishing the player. It's called session zero. Many DMs don't allow every option out there. I don't allow evil PCs (unless I know the player very well), or weird races like tortles as a general rule. That doesn't mean I'm punishing the players. They can go find another table if they want and more power to them.

Also, I wouldn't say "because Jeremy said so on twitter". I'd say, "because the designer clarified the intent behind that rule."
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
I LIKE situational modifiers. It means there is opportunity for variety in combats. If every combat is the same, then it's boring!

Sure, situational modifiers makes it harder to optimize a character, but again, imo, that's a GOOD thing.
 
I usually have discussions with my players about their character ideas before we actually start the game. And
It's nice to have the luxury of discussing every single rule with every single player, but unless session zero lasts six months there is unlikely to be time to do so. And, given the unambiguity of the wording in the PHB, there is no reason why a player should raise the issue before they try it in the game. At which point it is to late. Rip up you character sheet and go home.

Really, JC needs to rule RAW, no matter what his original intent was. It has to be assumed that players only have access to the PHB, not every single Twitter post.
 
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Sacrosanct

Legend
It's nice to have the luxury of discussing every single rule with every single player, but unless session zero lasts six months there is unlikely to be time to do so. And, given the unambiguity of the wording in the PHB, there is no reason why a player should raise the issue before they try it in the game. At which point it is to late. Rip up you character sheet and go home.

Really, JC needs to rule RAW, no matter what his original intent was. It has to be assumed that players only have access to the PHB, not every single Twitter post.
if you have to resort to ridiculous hyperbole, then you might want to re-evaluate your argument. It takes all of about 5 minutes for a player to tell me what they want, and/or if there are any blanket limitations in my campaign I tell all players.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Jeremy Crawford said:
Unarmed strikes are melee weapon attacks. And they don't work with Divine Smite, which requires a weapon.
Yeah, that's not exactly clear. I don't know what the official ruling would be, but here's the way I understand it. Grain of salt, all that.

When you make an unarmed strike, you are making a melee attack. Though you are not holding a physical weapon, you are slamming part of your body into your target, so in essence your fist/knee/teeth becomes the virtual "weapon." But some special abilities require an actual--not virtual--weapon, one that is separate from your body, which will be imbued with arcane/divine/cheese power in ways that your body cannot, because Reasons. Weird, but okay.

Now, understanding it and agreeing with it are two different things. The way I would rule it at my table: if an ability specifically says "melee weapon attack," I require the player to use the Attack action, and use it with one of the specific Melee weapons listed in the Player's Handbook, pg. 149.

And guess what? "Unarmed Strike" is on that list. So at my table, you can certainly roundhouse smite someone in the face if you want. Jeremy Crawford is entitled to his opinion, but I'm going to respectfully disagree.
 
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