Discussion:Which class features can monks use with their natural weapons?

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Which class features can monks use with their natural weapons?[edit]

Mkill 07:11, 28 June 2007 (MDT)[edit]

Which class features can Monks use with their natural weapons (if they have them)? It seems obvious that their unarmed strike damage increases independent from natural weapon damage, which is strange since this means a lvl 10 Minotaur monk does more damage with a belly smash than with his horns. But what about Flurry of Blows and Ki Strike? Do they apply to natural weapons?

Flession 09:22, 28 June 2007 (MDT)[edit]

To quote the Raven:

"Unarmed Strike: At 1st level, a monk gains Improved Unarmed Strike as a bonus feat. A monk’s attacks may be with either fist interchangeably or even from elbows, knees, and feet. This means that a monk may even make unarmed strikes with her hands full."

as well as:

When using flurry of blows,idk how a monk may attack only with unarmed strikes or with special monk weapons (kama, nunchaku, quarterstaff, sai, shuriken, and siangham). She may attack with unarmed strikes and special monk weapons interchangeably as desired. When using weapons as part of a flurry of blows, a monk applies her Strength bonus (not Str bonus x 1-1/2 or x1/2) to her damage rolls for all successful attacks, whether she wields a weapon in one or both hands. The monk can’t use any weapon other than a special monk weapon as part of a flurry of blows.

in addition to:

At 4th level, a monk’s unarmed attacks are empowered with ki. Her unarmed attacks are treated as magic weapons for the purpose of dealing damage to creatures with damage reduction. Ki strike improves with the character’s monk level. At 10th level, her unarmed attacks are also treated as lawful weapons for the purpose of dealing damage to creatures with damage reduction. At 16th level, her unarmed attacks are treated as adamantine weapons for the purpose of dealing damage to creatures with damage reduction and bypassing hardness.

In other words it only works on those stated attacks. Might I suggest you take the Improved Natural Attack and increase it that way?

Mkill 11:02, 28 June 2007 (MDT)[edit]

My main problem with this RAW ruling is suspension of disbelief: If every appendage you have is a natural weapon (as with most monsters), then what do you use to make an unarmed strike with? Take Celeste (3.5e NPC), a unicorn monk. It has hooves and a horn, and an unarmed strike that does more damage than both!? But there is nothing a unicorn could do unarmed strikes with except its horn or hooves. It's just silly. Even funnier, the horn of the unicorn is considered a magic weapon because it is a "natural magic weapon", the body of the unicorn monk is considered a magical weapon because of ki strike, but the hooves are not.

The only explanation I have is that when the 3.0 monk was written, nobody really considered monstrous monks, and when 3.5 was written, still nobody thought this was an issue. I mean, you can kind of solve this with rules as written, it's just that it leads to weird results.

For me, logic would dictate the houserule that natural weapons of monstrous monks count unarmed for monk powers, and that you use either the normal damage rating or the increased monk unarmed damage for it, whichever is higher. The only problem with this ruling is that some Marilith or Thri-Keen builds with insane amounts of attacks per round might get out of hand.

Flession 06:10, 29 June 2007 (MDT)[edit]

Level adjustments are meant for that. Thri-Keen will do good damage do to their multiple appendages, but level adjustments show that they were meant to be like that to begin with. They are more powerful than your average humanoid. Also, as a interesting note, seeing as the Thri-Keen is always Chaotic Neutral, someone would have to pull some fast talking to get something like that in the game. We're talking a story close to the awesomeness of the Drittz experience.

Also, I kinda disagree with giving a animal, no matter how intelligent it is, class levels it would be pretty damn hard. Maybe I'd allow it but first it would have to finish its HD progression before it would have be possible for it to take character levels, as per the rules in the MM and Savage Species. It truly is hard to believe that a unicorn of legends would actually have the want, the need, or the interest to spend years of its life learning the art and discipline of monkhood. Nature is chaotic, as are some of the creatures in it.

It's obvious you're going for the nice AC increase and you're doing some min/maxing to achieve that. I'd more so believe a unicorn becoming a ninja (from the Complete Adventurer) than I would believe it would be a monk.

Getting back on topic, I believe that if a creature wishes to become a monk and actually has no hands or legs, I would assume the appendage that most simulates arms and legs would be the winner.

Mkill 10:47, 30 June 2007 (MDT)[edit]

It's not just animals that have natural weapons. Of you want a more "standard" example, take the Warforged monk. Same issue.


Sledged (talk)
2007 June 30 14:20 (MDT)

Thri-kreen aren't always chaotic neutral, they're usually chaotic neutral. So a thri-kreen monk build is legal.

Monk attacks and natural attacks: The 3.5 rules, unfortunately, do not address this issue, and are, as a result, very muddy. In 3.0, however, Savage Species directly addressed it:

[Creatures] with natural attacks can deal their natural weapon damage with the monk's higher unarmed attack rate, or they can deal the monk's unarmed combat damage, whichever is higher.

—page 106

This is, of course, when monks used a different means of determining number of attacks due to BAB—which has been replaced by flurry of blows—and natural attacks received multiple attacks due to BAB, so converting this rule to 3.5 can give various interpretations. What is clear is that the creature can choose to do monk damage with its existing natural attacks (and vice-versa). It only makes sense that ki strike be allowed with natural weapons, as well.

As far as flurry of blows is concerned, the FAQ (2007/06/21) has this to say:

Can a monk who has natural weapon attacks (such as a centaur monk) attack unarmed and still use his natural weapons? For example, let’s say he’s a 4th-level monk. Can he use a flurry of blows and attack at +5/+5/+0 unarmed (plus other bonuses) and then at +0/+0 for 2 hooves?

If the creature normally is allowed to make both weapon attacks and natural weapon attacks as part of the same full attack routine, the monk can do the same (making unarmed strikes in place of weapon attacks). Since a centaur can make two hoof attacks in addition to his longsword attack, a centaur monk can make two hoof attacks in addition to his unarmed strike attack (or attacks, depending on his base attack bonus). The monk can’t use his natural weapon attacks as part of a flurry of blows, but he can make natural weapon attacks in addition to his flurry. Such attacks suffer the same –2 penalty as the monk’s flurry attacks in addition to the normal –5 penalty for secondary natural attacks.

An 4th-level centaur monk has a base attack bonus of +7 (+4 from his 4 monstrous humanoid Hit Dice, and +3 from his 8 monk levels). If he performs a flurry of blows, he makes three unarmed strikes, at +5/+5/+0. He can add two hoof attacks at –2/–2 (–5 as secondary weapons, and –2 from the flurry).

—page 19

Which I think is a reasonable interpretation. The limitation, however, is the creature must be "allowed to make both weapon attacks and natural weapon attacks as part of the same full attack routine." Since your standard unicorn can't make manufactured weapon attacks at all, it would only be allowed to do it's natural attack routine (using monk damage if it so chooses), or unarmed strikes as though it were a manufactured weapon.

That being said, the FAQ's purpose is to clarify rules, and therefore can't change rules or create rules where none exist (that's why errata exists), but can only give suggestions, so if you disagree, feel free to rule in whatever way makes the most sense.

I personally would use a hybrid of the FAQ and Savage Species rulings.

There's no better laugh than the one that you're ashamed to share with your mother.
Stephen Notley, creator of Bob the Angry Flower

Pwsnafu 19:51, 1 July 2007 (MDT)[edit]

I emailed WotC, the rely I received was:

For purposes of the Monk class, unarmed strikes and natural weapons are different types of attacks and the player of the monstrous humanoid monk needs to decide whether he is making an unarmed strike or an attack with a natural weapon before rolling the attack.

Hope that helps.

Drgonlovr2 19:51, 1 July 2007 (MDT)[edit]

Also, imagine the speed a higher level centaur monk would be. And, with "Horseshoes of peerless speed", and certain feats, he could be unstoppable. Yes, the DM woul most likely not allow it, but, imagine!

S1Q3T3 07:53, 2 March 2009 (MST)[edit]

The Beast Strike feat from Dragon Magazine allows the monk to add claw or slam damage to his or her base unarmed combat damage. It's a bit unbalancing, perhaps, but it makes sense -- a martial artist ought to be better than anyone at making use of the physics of his or her body -- that is the sina quo non of martial arts (perhaps you could horsetrade for it by offering something else, like accepting a cap on damage from "effective size.") Combining natural weapons with monk strikes, you can have an eye out for things that increase both, such as the Warshaper and Initiate of the Draconic Mysteries class abilities, or size increases.

At higher levels, you will want the extra monk strike via flurry rather than the natural attacks, but by that time, you should be dealing so much damage with your unarmed strike that you won't miss them.

Also, imagine the speed a higher level centaur monk would be. And, with "Horseshoes of peerless speed", and certain feats, he could be unstoppable. Yes, the DM woul most likely not allow it, but, imagine!

Exactly. The speed of the monks is their most underrated feature. You can buff it to 200 feet per round without too much trouble -- and you don't have to start with a centaur (though obviously it helps). Pop in from nowhere, do a few hundred points of damage, and pop out without breaking stride. It's a beautiful thing.

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