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Obviously just about any weapon would be better than fists for a character that's not trained in unarmed combat, but I'm curious as to what stats I should give PC's when forced to fight unarmed (perhaps their weapons were stolen or they were imprisoned). I'm looking for a little more than just numbers though to add a bit more flavor, like some bonuses against small creatures that might also let them push or pull them.

I've never created my own stats before, but here's my rough estimate:

Fists (weapon) <> at will
attack: Melee 1 (one creature); +5 vs. AC or Reflex, whichever is greater
Hit: 1d4 +2 damage against a small creature and push/pulls target 1 square.
1d4 damage otherwise.

Does this seem to meet the requirements for how unarmed melee should work? What stats have you successfully used for unarmed combat?

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One note, your fists count as a "Weapon", even if improvised. So any player with powers which require a weapon can use them as normal, the [W] will just equal a d4. –  Lunin Jun 15 '11 at 7:24
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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Just to coalesce things here:

  Unarmed Melee Basic Attack: 
       Str vs. AC
       Prof: 0 
       Damage: d4+Str


  Unarmed Ranged Basic Attack: 
       Dex vs. AC
       Prof: 0 
       Damage: d4+Dex

These are the stats provided by the Players handbook. However, if you want to go off script look at the Brawler fighter and the monk for unarmed/improvised weapon ideas. I would tone those powers down and give them to the players to simulate ingenuity. I would also encourage players to use their environments heavily and provide some things that could easily weaponized (tall braziers, forges etc.).

Before you put your characters into a situation like this remember that 4e is a system heavily reliant on things like proficiency and magic weapon bonuses. If you put higher level characters into a situation like this and face them with a challenge on their level it will go badly.

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Unarmed attack is listed as an Improvised Melee Weapon on page 219 of the Player's Handbook. It does d4 + Strength modifier damage and does not have a proficiency bonus.

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In 4e, an unarmed attack is a melee basic attack (Str v. AC), and unarmed has its damage die specified somewhere in the PHB (I think it's a d4, but I don't have the book with me so can't be sure). If you're using the character builder (either the new online one or the old offline one), you can easily add a line to your character sheet for an unarmed melee basic, in addition to the usual melee basic with whatever your equipped weapon is.

A melee basic attack deals direct damage and has no additional effects.

That said, though, if you want to create new attack powers for unarmed attacks, by all means go for it; I'm merely replying here with what the rules state. I think it would be pretty sweet to have some options for unarmed attacks, and your example here is a good start for one, although for a push/pull attack I would use Dex v. Reflex, and I would ditch the special version for a small creature (4e has pretty much done away with size modifiers, and while you can certainly hack them back in that's a story for another day...).

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