D&D 5E New Errata & Advice For D&D Issued

WotC has issued an update to the 'Sage Advice' compilation, including new errata documents and amendments to racial attributes.

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"The PDF contains answers to a collection of new questions. To find the latest answers, search for “[New]” in the PDF.

The compendium includes links to new errata documents for Curse of Strahd, Ghosts of Saltmarsh, Storm King’s Thunder, Tomb of Annihilation, and Volo’s Guide to Monsters."


Racial attributes have been altered (thanks to @dave2008 for pointing that out).

errata.png
 
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And wait... they got this one wrong:

''Can a paladin use Divine Smite when they hit using an unarmed strike? No. Divine Smite requires a melee attack using a weapon. The rules don’t consider unarmed strikes to be weapons. ''

Divine Smite does NOT require 'a melee attack with a weapon'. It's delivered via a 'melee weapon attack', which an unarmed strike, is.
 

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Khelon Testudo

Cleric of Stronmaus
And wait... they got this one wrong:

''Can a paladin use Divine Smite when they hit using an unarmed strike? No. Divine Smite requires a melee attack using a weapon. The rules don’t consider unarmed strikes to be weapons. ''

Divine Smite does NOT require 'a melee attack with a weapon'. It's delivered via a 'melee weapon attack', which an unarmed strike, is.
Well, the ruling is the ruling. The explanation of the ruling is wrong, though. I guess they find it hard to say "we stuffed up". Doesn't everyone?
 


Well, the ruling is the ruling. The explanation of the ruling is wrong, though. I guess they find it hard to say "we stuffed up". Doesn't everyone?

Th Rule (Divine Smite) needs an errata though because that ruling contradicts Sage advice elsewhere which distinguishes between 'melee or ranged weapon attacks' and 'attacks with a melee or ranged weapon'.

Divine Smite needs to read: 'When you make an attack with a melee weapon', and not 'When you make a melee weapon attack...'

Otherwise the Sage advice ruling is wrong.
 

Really? I have never allowed that unless there is a specific exception that makes the hands count as a natural weapon, in any version of D&D.

Why?

Sure, I'll grant you that we didn't always allow it previously, but that's mainly because nobody ever did it because nobody was proficient with unarmed strikes in previous editions and that was a significant penalty by itself through 3e.

However, let's look at it from a game design perspective and not a "read the book back to me" perspective. Why might we want to make unarmed strikes not count as weapons?

From a narrative sense, does it make sense to smite a punch? Oh yeah. Media is full of super dramatic punches and martial arts backed by extraordinary powers. Is it cool to imagine a Paladin PC smite-punching a vampire or demon and killing it? Oh yeah. Magic to enchant someone's fists and make them capable of mighty deeds? Oh yeah, that's cool. Narratively, treating a fist like it's a weapon has some cool benefits.

Also, since all you need to arm yourself is a knife or a club and suddenly everything is a go, you're not really restricting that many situations in actual play. Like it just doesn't come up in every campaign that you're an unarmed character and you need to fight to defeat your opponents.


From a game balance sense, what's broken about it? An unarmed strike is a 1 damage weapon for most characters. Do we care if people can optimize them? Are we concerned about Monk/Paladins burning Ki and spell slots to get one extra attack and one extra smite over TWF or Polearm Master? Burning the candle at both ends on resources you have half as many of in classes that require, what, four good stats to pull off really well? Martial Arts doesn't work while wearing armor, so you need Dex and Wis. You'll be in melee, so you need Con. Paladin abilities key off Cha. And both Paladin and Monk scale well single class, Paladin gaining more spells and Extra Attack plus unique defensive abilities powered by Cha, while Monk gains more Ki to fuel Martial Arts, scaling Unarmed Strike weapon die, and abilities powered by Ki, Dex, and Wis. You're giving up a ton of potency in order to burn through your nova faster, but you're worse at nova because you've got fewer resources, too.

So is it single class Monk? We're worried at 11th level the Monk can get 4 attacks at 1d8+Dex+2d4 (14.5) with Elemental Weapon instead of... 2 attacks at 1d8+Dex+2d4 (14.5) and 2 attacks at 1d8+Dex (9.5)? That's what we're upset by? The fact that Elemental Weapon as a 5th level spell affects all 4 attacks and not just 2? The extra 4d4 is the breaking point? Well, why does an 11th level Fighter get 4 attacks with one weapon with Polearm Master or Crossbow Expert then (and then with only two good stats)? Or are we worried about 17th level Paladins casting holy weapon or whatever it is on their hands (which I still say is pretty freaking cool)?

Are we worried that a Paladin player is going to think his 1 damage fist is a better choice than a 1d3 club, 1d4 dagger, 1d6 short sword, 1d8 longsword, etc.? Do we think players are that bad at math? They want an off-hand fist instead of a dagger because... what, their DM won't let them drop their off-hand weapon to cast a spell?

If we're worried about all that, why aren't we worried about Tabaxi, which have a bonus to Dex and Cha and natural weapons? Aarakocra? Leonin? Lizardfolk? Tortles? Boy they do like giving races natural weapons, don't they?

So we're not really stopping an exploit.

So:
a) It tells a good story
b) It's cool
c) It doesn't come up that often
d) If you try to optimize for it, you kind of can't
e) Even if you ban it, you can still do the optimization for it with some player races, and it's still not that great
f) And even if there is something that is overpowered, maybe the real problem is that we shouldn't let Paladins have smite more than once or twice a round, or the same target more than once a round? Or use a different kind of situational limitation like Sneak Attack has?

So... why ban it? The game benefits by having less restrictive rules. That was one of the foundations of 5e. The fewer the rules that restrict options, the less rigid and more flexible the game is. The fewer the rules that restrict options, the broader the range of possible characters and possible play opportunities that arise. The fewer the rules that restrict options, the more freedom the DM and players have to play the game the way they want.

So what's the point in restricting it? What's the goal?
 


I mean, at least it's consistent with the dumbness of this distinction, but at least it closes the terrifying loophole of a Paladin with magic weapon cast on fists, which has dominated play since 2014.

Except its NOT consistent with the rules re the distinction between 'melee weapon attacks' and 'attacks with a melee weapon'.

From Sage Advice re 'melee weapon attacks':

What does “melee weapon attack” mean: a melee attack with a weapon or an attack with a melee weapon? It means a melee attack with a weapon. Similarly, “ranged weapon attack” means a ranged attack with a weapon. Some attacks count as a melee or ranged weapon attack even if a weapon isn’t involved, as specified in the text of those attacks. For example, an unarmed strike counts as a melee weapon attack, even though the attacker’s body isn’t considered a weapon. Here’s a bit of wording minutia: we would write “meleeweapon attack” (with a hyphen) if we meant an attack with a melee weapon

Check the wording of Divine Smite:

Starting at 2nd Level, when you hit a creature with a melee weapon Attack, you can expend one spell slot to deal radiant damage to the target, in addition to the weapon's damage. The extra damage is 2d8 for a 1st-level spell slot, plus 1d8 for each Spell Level higher than 1st, to a maximum of 5d8. The damage increases by 1d8 if the target is an Undead or a fiend.


It says when you hit a creature with 'a melee weapon attack' (which an unarmed strike is) and not when you hit a creature with 'an attack with a melee weapon' (which rules out unarmed strikes, as they're not weapons).

By the wording of the ability, you can smite with unarmed strikes.

They messed up here.
 
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cbwjm

Legend
I wonder if it was different in earlier printings of the PHB and, for some reason, that's what was referenced. I could have sworn it needed a melee weapon but looking it up on dndbeyond it just needed a melee weapon attack.
 

I wonder if it was different in earlier printings of the PHB and, for some reason, that's what was referenced. I could have sworn it needed a melee weapon but looking it up on dndbeyond it just needed a melee weapon attack.

It's 'melee weapon attack' in my PHB and in all online sources I can find. That allows Divine Smite with unarmed strikes, because they're melee weapon attacks.

If they reworded it to 'an attack with a melee weapon' then that would rule out Divine Smite with unarmed strikes, because an unarmed strike is not a melee weapon.

Has there been an errata of Divine Smite I'm unaware of that changes it to 'attack with a melee weapon'?
 

Jeff Carpenter

Adventurer
Eh, no, I disagree. Firstly, because AL and OP have their own documents already for covering the rulings they have had to make affecting play. One of which at one point literally said, "You as the DM are empowered to make decisions." Secondly, this is the exact same game where the stealth and hiding rules are actually, "Eh, it works when your DM says it works? ¯\(ツ)/¯ " The same game can't care so much about familiar sequestering of objects and then turn around and be lax about the specifics of hiding from someone looking for you.

Honestly i dont know anything about Organized Play because I have always run home games. I have my own houserules document that i use to set my version of the rules that i give up front before play. Some of it disagrees with sage advice or the PHB. For example I dont allow familiar to aid another in combat

I agree that fixing the stealth rules would probably be a better use of thier time, but i don't see the harm in clarifying silly familiar rules as we are all free to ignore what we dont like. Maybe they just needed to pad the document with some low hanging fruit.
 

cbwjm

Legend
It's 'melee weapon attack' in my PHB and in all online sources I can find. That allows Divine Smite with unarmed strikes, because they're melee weapon attacks.

If they reworded it to 'an attack with a melee weapon' then that would rule out Divine Smite with unarmed strikes, because an unarmed strike is not a melee weapon.

Has there been an errata of Divine Smite I'm unaware of that changes it to 'attack with a melee weapon'?
Thats what I'm not sure about, could have sworn it required a melee weapon but until I check my PHB which was an early printing I won't know for sure if it was the old version or simply me not remembering correctly.
 

We're worried at 11th level the Monk can get 4 attacks at 1d8+Dex+2d4 (14.5) with Elemental Weapon i

Elemental weapon requites a 'weapon', Which an unarmed Strike is not.

Divine Smite requires a 'melee weapon attack' which an unarmed strike is.

There is a difference between a 'melee weapon attack' (which does not need a weapon) and 'an attack with a melee weapon' (which does require a weapon).
 


Thats what I'm not sure about, could have sworn it required a melee weapon but until I check my PHB which was an early printing I won't know for sure if it was the old version or simply me not remembering correctly.

The guys on reddit are saying that the ruling is possibly due to the text of Divine Smite later referring to 'adding the smite damage to the weapon damage'.

So even though it triggers on a 'melee weapon attack' (and thus an unarmed strike), because it only adds to the damage of a 'weapon' then it doesnt do any actual extra damage (because you're not using a weapon).

Hilariously natural weapons are still 'weapons', so Lizardfolk smiting with bites seems to still be legal.

I mean that's insane. All they needed to do is reword Smite to say 'When you hit a creature with a melee weapon...' - although that would allow thrown melee weapons to trigger Smites at range.

Maybe if they reworded it to: 'When you make a melee weapon attack with a melee weapon''.

As stupid as that sentence sounds, it looks like it reflects their intent.
 

Well this is an errata so I guess Smite does require a weapon now. Arguing about the pre-errata rule to say the errata is wrong is kinda pointless.

This isnt errata, it's sage advice.

And in the exact same sage advice, unarmed strikes are expressly noted as being 'melee weapon attacks' and thus (by the wording of Divine Smite), legal delivery platforms for Smites.

Sage advice seems to contradict itself here.
 

eayres33

Explorer
Well this is an errata so I guess Smite does require a weapon now. Arguing about the pre-errata rule to say the errata is wrong is kinda pointless.
You can look at it two ways.
1. Are you playing AL? If not you can ignore this because the DM of you game makes the final decision.
2. If you are the DM do you agree with this change if not you get to kick this to the curb.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I kind of expected Grovel, Cower, and Beg to be changed too.
Yeah I have a bigger problem with that feaure
Knew it.

As I've been saying for months, Orc of Eberron and Orc of Wildemount exist only in the minds of Wikia over at D&DB thinking that an errata should be considered a separate ancestry entry.

This is just solidifying evidence that nope, Orc, Triton, and Kobold were errata'd since Volo's. And that's fine.
Well, no. They were a different take.

And then feedback convinced them that no one liked the Volos version and they’d make people happier making all orcs like the later Orc writeups.
Nope.

Kobolds stay weak. Orcs stay stupid.

Sorry, folks. 🤷‍♂️
Nah.
 

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