5E PHB Errata Nerf Unarmed Strikes!? WHY??? :(

dnd4vr

Adventurer
So, I've spent some of my leisure time this weekend exploring options for a grappler build and find that the PHB Errata really nerfs unarmed strikes:

Melee Attacks (p. 195). The third paragraph now reads, “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). On a hit, an unarmed strike deals bludgeoning damage equal to 1 + your Strength modifier. You are proficient with your unarmed strikes.”
Since the bolded part means unarmed strikes are not weapons, there are a LOT of things this limits:

Half-Orc Savage Attacks
Two-Weapon Fighting (even if you consider Unarmed Strikes "light)
Barbarian Frenzy (Path of the Berserker) and Divine Fury (Path of the Zealot)
Bard Blade Flourish (College of Swords)
Cleric War Priest (War Doman)
Fighter Dueling Fighting Style
Fighter Two-Weapon Fighting Style
Fighter Maneuvers (Battlemaster, affects several of them)
Paladin Divine Smite
Ranger Horde Breaker (Hunter)
Ranger Dread Ambusher (Gloom Stalker)

Of course there are several more... Considering how little damage unarmed strikes do under most circumstances, why the heck did WotC decide to make them even less appealing???

Obviously we can house-rule all this any way our table decides to, so I am more wondering why you might think this change to unarmed strikes was warranted?

Thoughts?
 

Immoralkickass

Explorer
Its a non-issue. How often does a non-monk use unarmed strikes anyway? Most of the things listed are not affected by the change, whether they are weapons or not.

Unarmed strikes might not count as weapons, but they still count as melee weapon attacks.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
So you’d use a weapon to two weapon fight?

Take either tavern brawler or a level of monk if you’re concerned about the change to damage.

Not being weapons... makes sense, you know since they’re not weapons?
I guess you're missing the point.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
Its a non-issue. How often does a non-monk use unarmed strikes anyway? Most of the things listed still dont work, whether they are weapons or not.

Unarmed strikes might not count as weapons, but they still count as melee weapon attacks.
How can they? If they don't count as weapons, they can't be melee "weapon" attacks...
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
Of course there are several more... Considering how little damage unarmed strikes do under most circumstances, why the heck did WotC decide to make them even less appealing???
It's a case of the dreaded sacred cow, niche protection, that somehow made it past the previous editions. They wanted it so Monks, and only Monks, had exclusive rights to effectively punch people. Any possible damage boosting loophole (such as Sneak Attack) was denied by making unarmed strikes not count as a weapon. Additionally, this arbitrary designation future-proofed any later printed material that might have circumvented this ban (such as Greenflame Blade).
 
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SanjMerchant

Explorer

What the errata means is that, instead of using a weapon in a melee weapon attack, you can replace it with an unarmed strike (which means it still is a melee weapon attack).

If an ability states 'an attack with a melee weapon', then it requires a weapon.

Its confusing and dumb, but there's the rules.
OK, my own assumption was the opposite of the OPs, in that I was already assuming that, since it doesn't say "weapon" anywhere with regards to unarmed strikes even within Martial Arts, that they weren't weapons. I naturally assumed this meant, for example, that combining Monk and Battle Master with an eye to using no weapons wouldn't work (your Battle Master shenanigans only work if you're using a WEAPON).

So, under this, does that mean it actually WOULD work? :unsure:
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer

What the errata means is that, instead of using a weapon in a melee weapon attack, you can replace it with an unarmed strike (which means it still is a melee weapon attack).

If an ability states 'an attack with a melee weapon', then it requires a weapon.

Its confusing and dumb, but there's the rules.
So, the idea was basically this (as an example):

Since an unarmed strike counts as a melee weapon attack, you could use Divine Smite on it. However, since it does not count as a weapon, you cannot use Sacred Weapon on it.

Wow, let's just make things needlessly confusing.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
Is this news to anyone? This errata came in 2015, and IIRC, even then it was a clarification, not a change.
Well, for myself I have been playing less than a year for 5E, and this is the first time I've explored unarmed strike options... so it is very much news to me. ;)
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
OK, my own assumption was the opposite of the OPs, in that I was already assuming that, since it doesn't say "weapon" anywhere with regards to unarmed strikes even within Martial Arts, that they weren't weapons. I naturally assumed this meant, for example, that combining Monk and Battle Master with an eye to using no weapons wouldn't work (your Battle Master shenanigans only work if you're using a WEAPON).

So, under this, does that mean it actually WOULD work? :unsure:
No. Melee weapon attack is just the category unarmed strikes fit into, as opposed to melee spell attack, or ranged weapon/spell attack. Note that monsters with attacks like bite, claw, stomp, etc. are also considered melee weapon attacks. Unarmed Strike is just another special melee weapon attack that characters can make without a weapon.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
OK, my own assumption was the opposite of the OPs, in that I was already assuming that, since it doesn't say "weapon" anywhere with regards to unarmed strikes even within Martial Arts, that they weren't weapons. I naturally assumed this meant, for example, that combining Monk and Battle Master with an eye to using no weapons wouldn't work (your Battle Master shenanigans only work if you're using a WEAPON).

So, under this, does that mean it actually WOULD work? :unsure:

Here is some Sage Advice:

Sage Advice said:
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 “melee-weapon attack” (with a hyphen) if we meant an attack with a melee weapon.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
So, the idea was basically this (as an example):

Since an unarmed strike counts as a melee weapon attack, you could use Divine Smite on it. However, since it does not count as a weapon, you cannot use Sacred Weapon on it.

Wow, let's just make things needlessly confusing.
It’s less confusing when you realize a giant rat’s Bite is also a melee weapon attack.

There are precisely four kinds of attack in 5e: melee weapon, ranged weapon, melee spell, and ranged spell. Certain creatures have the ability to make certain melee weapon attacks without actually having a weapon. Unarmed Strike is one such attack.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
No. Melee weapon attack is just the category unarmed strikes fit into, as opposed to melee spell attack, or ranged weapon/spell attack. Note that monsters with attacks like bird, claw, stomp, etc. are also considered melee weapon attacks. Unarmed Strike is just another special melee weapon attack that characters can make without a weapon.
And this was what started me down this dark and windy road... I checked on the stat block for monks as opponents:

1569815830667.png


and for Unarmed Strike is says it is a melee weapon attack, but then the PHB errata seemed to contradict it.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
And this was what started me down this dark and windy road... I checked on the stat block for monks as opponents:

View attachment 114428

and for Unarmed Strike is says it is a melee weapon attack, but then the PHB errata seemed to contradict it.
No contradiction. It is not a ranged weapon attack, nor a melee or ranged spell attack, so melee weapon attack is the only other option for what kind of attack it can be. But “fist” is not a weapon. So, it is a melee weapon attack made without a weapon, just like a bear’s claw attack is.
 

Immoralkickass

Explorer
It’s less confusing when you realize a giant rat’s Bite is also a melee weapon attack.

There are precisely four kinds of attack in 5e: melee weapon, ranged weapon, melee spell, and ranged spell. Certain creatures have the ability to make certain melee weapon attacks without actually having a weapon. Unarmed Strike is one such attack.
This should have been in the PHB/errata to make things clear, instead of having to read through all the rules and come up with a conclusion.
New players aren't going straight to the MM to see that difference, they go for the PHB.
Not the OP's fault, but because of how bad wotc is at writing rules, now we gotta have every returning player/new player/edition hopping player pop this question every now and then.
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
I checked on the stat block for monks as opponents:
Don't use NPC/monster stat blocks for determining what PCs can and can not do. NPCs do not use PC rules. NPCs can do what their stat blocks say, they do not have classes and are not PCs.

So, an NPC monk's attack could be anything the stat block says it is (a melee weapon attack or anything else). That means absolutely nothing as far as PC attacks are concerned.

To put it another way, the name of an NPC ability (action or anything else) does not mean it is the same as a PC ability of the same name. You could have 10 different NPCs all with an "unarmed strike" and each and every one of them can be different, and none of them mean that a PC ability of the same name works the same way.
 

SkidAce

Adventurer
I think they could have done it clearer, but I think the intent was to make sure you didn't enchant your fists (with weapon properties, or other things) , or add fire damage to them etc, etc.

Vicious Flaming Fists of Radiance!
 

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