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From the Player's Handbook:

Gauntlet: This metal glove protects your hands and lets you deal lethal damage rather than nonlethal damage with unarmed strikes. A strike with a gauntlet is otherwise considered an unarmed attack.

So, my questions are, do you need the Improved Unarmed Strike feat to not provoke an attack of opportunity while attacking with a gauntlet? Since it is considered an unarmed attack, is it modified by the feat Superior Unarmed Damage? Is the gauntlet's damage (1d3) being added to the unarmed damage of the attacker or modified by it?

In a forum one quotes Wizards of the Coast's 3.5 DnD faq, where the following question is answered:

Can a monk use a +5 gauntlet in an unarmed attack, gaining all of her class benefits as well as the +5 bonus on attack rolls and damage rolls from the gauntlet? Gauntlets are indeed a weapon. If a monk uses any weapon not listed as a special monk weapon, she does not gain her better attack rate. She would, however, gain the increased damage for unarmed attacks

I am not sure if it is relevant or not, so i posted it here, and maybe some one can give me solid answers.

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Also, what are the spiked gauntlet's rules on the same questions? – Khaal Mar 5 '12 at 23:01
up vote 4 down vote accepted

As the RAW you quoted yourself indicates, the gauntlet should be considered exactly as an unarmed attack except that it deals lethal damage. The 1d3 damage is just the normal unarmed attack damage, and it is provided as a base value, thus Superior Unarmed Damage would apply so long as you meet the prerequisites. About the +5 gauntlet, I wouldn't bother... it's much easier and better to get a +5 Necklace of Natural Weapons.

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So, it basically is a Lesser Improved Unarmed Strike (lethal damage) that pretty much sucks. I am dissapoint. – Khaal Mar 5 '12 at 23:51
Pretty much, yeah. But you shouldn't really expect more of a basic weapon that many armors actually include by default. You could just opt for Bracers of Striking (Magic of Faerun) that actually give you the effect of Improved Unarmed Strike and cost only 1310gp, more than the gauntlets but still not much at all. I think it lets you add special weapon abilities to your unarmed strikes too. EDIT: checked it, it allows you to add the abilities but at double normal cost, since it treats your unarmed attacks as a doble weapon. – Yandros Mar 5 '12 at 23:59
Okey, thanks. I dislike magic items (long conversation) and i thereby wished that i could have a serious unarmed strike before improved/superior feats (somehow high on my build), but that is not the case. – Khaal Mar 6 '12 at 0:53
Not without dipping into Monk, Battle Dancer, or any class that grants you the feat, no – Yandros Mar 6 '12 at 0:57

I would say absolutely, As the rules says, in all other ways it is considered an unarmed attack and should be treated as such. The monk situation is not based on it being unarmed vs non-unarmed. It is about using a weapon, which a gauntlet is. However it is an "unarmed strike" and thus would provoke.

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