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In the 5e Player's Handbook the following about the Monk's Stunning Strike is written:

"When you hit another creature with a melee weapon attack, you can spend 1 ki point to attempt a stunning strike."

Is the rule to be interpreted as replacing the attack damage with the stunned condition, or does the stunned condition add to the damage inflicted by the attack?

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You deal damage

PHB page 194:

Resolve the attack. You make the attack roll. On a hit, you roll damage, unless the particular attack has rules that specify otherwise. Some attacks cause special effects in addition to or instead of damage.

Stunning strike does not say you do not do damage. PHB page 79:

Starting at 5th level, you can interfere with the flow of ki in an opponent's body. When you hit another creature with a melee weapon Attack, you can spend 1 ki point to attempt a stunning strike. The target must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or be Stunned until the end of your next turn.

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Stunning Strike is in addition any damage caused by the attack.

There's nothing in the wording of the effect that indicates that the other effects of the melee attack are changed by use of stunning strike:

When you hit another creature with a melee weapon attack, you can spend 1 ki point to attempt a stunning strike. The target must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or be stunned until the end of your next turn.

(PHB, p. 79, emphasis mine). Note the bolded text: stunning strike isn't itself a melee attack; it's an effect that can be applied when a melee attack hits.

Compare this to the language used to describe the Disarm combat option (DMG p. 271, emphasis mine):

The attacker makes an attack roll contested by the target's Strength (Athletics) check or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check. If the attacker wins the contest, the attack causes no damage or other ill effect, but the defender drops the item.

The rules for stunning strike don't have any such language to indicate that the attack's regular effects don't occur.

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"When you hit another creature with a melee weapon attack, you can spend 1 ki point to attempt a stunning strike."

The ki points are there to help, not hinder. You are making that constitution save happen with stunning strike and adding not changing the attack so long as you have the ki points to spend.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Stunning even without doing any damage would be helpful IMO (all allies get advantage, among other things), so I don't find the argument that Stunning Strike should be read as helpful clears it up: it'd be helpful either way. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 May 27 '17 at 13:03

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