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

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Yeah, here I agree with you.

Because these weapons must be ‘held’ ‘in your hand’, they cannot be unarmed attacks.

On the other hand, heh, two-weapon fighting sucks, and needs rethinking anyway.

Mainly, spending a bonus is too expensive.
Right. So, since all of the rules that refer to weapons being written as if a weapon is an external object you hold and manipulate in your hands, treating unarmed strikes as weapons creates some weird, unintended interactions. The easy solution to these oddities is to just say that unarmed strikes are attacks and not weapons. Unfortunately, by the time WotC realized this, the book had already been published and the only two kinds of attacks that existed in the system were “weapon attacks” and “spell attacks.” Rather than leave these odd interactions in place or re-write all of the language surrounding weapons and attacks, they made the call to treat unarmed strikes as an exception to the general rule that “weapon attacks” must be made with weapons. Is the wording unintuitive? Yes. Does it function as intended? Also yes. I’m sure if they could do the whole thing over again, the opposite of spell attacks would be something like “physical attacks” or “martial attacks” to eliminate the unintuitive wording. But that ship sailed about five years ago.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
Right. So, since all of the rules that refer to weapons being written as if a weapon is an external object you hold and manipulate in your hands, treating unarmed strikes as weapons creates some weird, unintended interactions. The easy solution to these oddities is to just say that unarmed strikes are attacks and not weapons. Unfortunately, by the time WotC realized this, the book had already been published and the only two kinds of attacks that existed in the system were “weapon attacks” and “spell attacks.” Rather than leave these odd interactions in place or re-write all of the language surrounding weapons and attacks, they made the call to treat unarmed strikes as an exception to the general rule that “weapon attacks” must be made with weapons. Is the wording unintuitive? Yes. Does it function as intended? Also yes. I’m sure if they could do the whole thing over again, the opposite of spell attacks would be something like “physical attacks” or “martial attacks” to eliminate the unintuitive wording. But that ship sailed about five years ago.
When it specifically says ‘in your hand’, to me it means, not the hand itself. In other words an implement.

When it says any kind of weapon, then it includes hands, feet, teeth, etcetera.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
When it specifically says ‘in your hand’, to me it means, not the hand itself. In other words an implement.

When it says any kind of weapon, then it includes hands, feet, teeth, etcetera.
That’s a fine baseline assumption from which to write rules surrounding weapon attacks. But it’s not the one 5e’s rules were written with.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Assuming one wanted them treated as weapons for puposes of things like magic weapon, et al., that would be a poor choice to fix the situation.
Which means it’s a pretty safe assumption that WotC didn’t want them treated as weapons for those purposes.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
If you punch someone with it it's a weapon, and one that is actually quite effective. Knights actually trained in punching with gauntleted fists, and knuckle dusters/knuckle spikes are just gauntlets with the defensive bits removed.


If those gloves are made of metal or otherwise make your attack effective then yes it does.
Patently absurd.

It’s an unarmed attack. Full stop.
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
An important fighting style is a sword in the mainhand and grappling with the offhand. This would normally allow various unarmed attacks as well.
Once you have Extra attack at level 5 there is no reason you couldn’t wield a sword in one hand and grapple with the other if it is free.

Grapple can replace any attack in the Attack action, it just requires a free hand.

Once you have them grappled you can still attack with your weapon OR and unarmed strike.

If you’re not a monk or Tavern Brawler, your Unarmed Strike is just dealing way less damage than your weapon.

Sure, you can’t do this until level 5 RAW with errata, but why should someone be capable of everything at levels 1-4. It’s why we level up. To learn to do more things.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Which is irrelevent to the desires of some of the people in this thread.
And if the thread was presented as “Brainstorming house rules to improve unarmed fighting” or “What if we made unarmed strikes back into weapons” or something, I would have been happy to leave those folks to discuss those matters. But instead, it was presented as a question, “why did WotC nerf unarmed strikes in the errata?” and that’s what I’ve been attempting to answer.
 

Arnwolf666

Adventurer
There’s just different camps of people. I actually want stricter rules on unarmed attacks. I don’t want them being able to damage a lion, elephant, gorilla, or even a chimpanzee.

I actually enjoy reading what different people want in the game out of unarmed fighting.
 

Azzy

Cyclone Ranger
And if the thread was presented as “Brainstorming house rules to improve unarmed fighting” or “What if we made unarmed strikes back into weapons” or something, I would have been happy to leave those folks to discuss those matters. But instead, it was presented as a question, “why did WotC nerf unarmed strikes in the errata?” and that’s what I’ve been attempting to answer.
True, but I think the thread has evolved beyond that point and now has become two sides are just talking past each other. :/
 

coolAlias

Explorer
There’s just different camps of people. I actually want stricter rules on unarmed attacks. I don’t want them being able to damage a lion, elephant, gorilla, or even a chimpanzee.

I actually enjoy reading what different people want in the game out of unarmed fighting.
In the DMG they provide a few ideas on how to tweak the game to fit a specific theme such as Wu Xia, Epic Heroism, etc.

It would have been cool if they had also introduced different levels of unarmed combat prowess for different themes - from one that would suit your table (perhaps disallow the Monk class?) to one that goes all the way to Dragon Ball Z.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
Several people have responded why WotC changed their initial stance on unarmed strikes several years ago, so I am quite content with the reasoning for the change (even if, personally, I don't agree with it).

I think the revision is very limiting in the spirit of the game, imagination, flavor, and fun. While certain issues would arise from having unarmed strikes "weapons" again, I don't think any of those would be insurmountable. All that being said, I also agree unarmed strikes should be limited when facing a foe with a weapon unless the character has more advanced training (monk, tavern brawler, or grappling come to mind).

One of the major advantages the designed gave unarmed strikes in 5E was the fact that no OA is allowed by the target if they wield a weapon (or have natural weaponry in the sense of fangs, claws, etc.). Oddly enough, this is one change I don't like in some respects. It does go against realism. Like Jackie Chan (and my own teacher) said, "if you are facing a person with a knife, run if you can, fight if you must."

In the spirit of more advanced training, I think unarmed strikes by more "normal" people should either be with disadvantage (you are being cautious) or allow the defender an OA if they have a weapon in hand or natural weapon (other than their own unarmed strike). A simple trade-off would be if someone has advanced training, their unarmed strikes are considered weapons in all respects, and therefore can attack normally and do not provoke an OA. If you think in terms of getting advanced training, it will likely cost you a feat or maybe add a fighting style (as suggested by Salthorae) or taking levels in monk.

Personally, I think the cost would be worth the benefits and allow the flexibility to make a better brawler character. Also, as I think I mentioned once our table has a LOT of humanoid opponents, with only an occasional "monster". So, I am not as worried about punching a lion or kicking an elephant and hurting them much. I wouldn't expect it.

Then again, the more I play D&D, the less I like characters who are "heroes." For the most part, a 1st level fighter has better than a 50/50 chance to kill a lion... Granted, I am assuming the fighter would have a good AC (say 18 from armor, shield, and a bit of DEX) and is a sword and board type. Still, it seems sort of... oh, wrong?
 

coolAlias

Explorer
Then again, the more I play D&D, the less I like characters who are "heroes." For the most part, a 1st level fighter has better than a 50/50 chance to kill a lion... Granted, I am assuming the fighter would have a good AC (say 18 from armor, shield, and a bit of DEX) and is a sword and board type. Still, it seems sort of... oh, wrong?
While I agree with you that it is fun to at least start out a little less on the heroic end of the spectrum, 50/50 odds are pretty terrible when it's your life on the line - rare is the person that would even consider it let alone actually go out and attempt it.

So in that sense, I'd say D&D modeled armored dude with spear (or sword) and shield vs. lion pretty well, wouldn't you? :p
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I dunno, caestūs, knuckledusters, push daggers, I’d call those all weapons, so I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to call a gauntlet a weapon. I would not call body parts weapons though.
Daggers are a weapon. The others are a grey area.

A gauntlet is clothing.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Daggers are a weapon. The others are a grey area.

A gauntlet is clothing.
Knuckledusters are unquestionably weapons. If you don’t agree, try taking one on an airplane and see what happens. A gauntlet is definitely not clothing, at minimum it’s armor. But, when used to punch someone? It’s as much of a weapon as a cestus is. It’s basically a metal cestus. If you want to argue that neither is a weapon, that’d be a stronger argument, but given that the point of a cestus is to increase the harm done by a punch, same as a knuckleduster or a push dagger, I would still disagree.
 

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