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I can't find anything in the PHB that actually says that Monks are proficient with unarmed strikes by default. Their Proficiencies list just says simple weapons and shortswords. Their Martial Arts ability says it gives them "mastery of combat styles that use unarmed strike..." but not actually proficiency. Am I missing something, or is it actually correct that Monks don't have their proficiency bonus with unarmed strike unless they get the proficiency from a feat or something?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 28 down vote accepted

Everyone is proficient with their own unarmed strikes.

In the errata for the Player's Handbook, the Unarmed Strike entry was removed from the weapon table. However, the rules on Unarmed Strikes in the combat section now say that every character is proficient with unarmed strikes:

“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.

Emphasis added.

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2  
Modified, now with a quote from the current errata. –  DuckTapeAl Jul 31 at 20:58

Unarmed Strike is a Simple Weapon.

See the Simple Weapons table on (p45, Basic D&D. p17, Starter Set Rulebook)

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All characters of all classes are proficient with unarmed strikes. "You are proficient with your unarmed strikes." This is stated on the last line of the Melee Attacks section on page 195 of the 5th edition Player's Handbook, second printing. For clarification, in the 5th edition it does not say this under simple weapons, nevertheless all characters are proficient with unarmed attacks.

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There was an errata update for the 5th Edition Player's Handbook that includes the change to Unarmed Strikes removing it from the weapon list. The original prints of the Player's Handbook do place Unarmed Strike on the weapons table as a simple weapon. –  Josh Clark Jul 31 at 14:40
    
So my PHB5e does not have the line @Nick quoted from p.195, but rather says "you can fight in melee by making an unarmed strike, as shown in the weapon table in chapter 5." Would it be correct (and, then, best) to say that the PHB indicates unarmed strike-proficiency in the weapon table (p.149) XOR in Melee Attacks (p.195)? If so, should the accepted answer be edited to reflect that? (I'm pretty new and don't know what the ethos is like regarding editing others' answers. Thanks.) –  nitsua60 Jul 31 at 14:50
    
The errata states that new versions of the printed book will have that errata added. Might be worth checking the basic rules pdf. –  GMNoob Jul 31 at 17:07
    
Yup, it's in page 73 of the basic rules pdf, v3.4 –  GMNoob Jul 31 at 17:10
    
The newest printed version of the book states the line below. "You are proficient with your unarmed strikes," pg. 195. Whether or not your book has this line it is true, it is cannon, and it is in the current official players handbook (as of this post) for 5e. –  Nick Aug 5 at 13:24

In addition to being listed as a weapon in the starter guide, in the PHB, the monk description and level table explicitly mentions it as well as the base damage a monk does unarmed.

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