Does the bonus from an Amulet of Mighty Fists apply to touch attacks made with spells, such as Shocking Grasp?



Unarmed strikes and natural weapons are specific, particular weapon attacks, not a catch-all term for all attacks made without weapons. Magic touch attacks are neither unarmed strikes nor natural weapons.

On the other hand, unarmed strikes and natural weapons do have the property of being capable of delivering touch effects when you are holding the charge; see touch spells in combat:

Alternatively, you may make a normal unarmed attack (or an attack with a natural weapon) while holding a charge. In this case, you aren’t considered armed and you provoke attacks of opportunity as normal for the attack. If your unarmed attack or natural weapon attack normally doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity, neither does this attack. If the attack hits, you deal normal damage for your unarmed attack or natural weapon and the spell discharges. If the attack misses, you are still holding the charge.

Note that this implies that you cannot do this for the original touch attack made as a free action as part of casting the spell: you have to cast the spell, miss or not use the free touch attack, and hold the charge so that you can use an unarmed strike or natural weapon next round. This is... horribly inefficient.

The other issue is that everything about holding charges is awkwardly part of the “touch spells in combat” section of the rules, which means it says nothing about non-spell touch attacks. It is unclear, then, whether or not you can hold non-spell charges at all, and it is unclear whether or not you can deliver them through unarmed strikes.

This is all... very silly, and basically worthless. Spending twice as long to deliver a spell is not even remotely worth the opportunity to add on unarmed strike or natural weapon damage. The only time these rules ever come into play is with multi-touch spells like chill touch.

In D&D 3.5, which Pathfinder is based on, the Complete Arcane supplement improved and expanded on these rules. In particular, it added notes to the Improved Unarmed Strike feat saying that, with Improved Unarmed Strike, you could simply replace any touch attack with an unarmed strike.

So you could replace any touch attack, including the free one from shocking grasp, with an unarmed strike. That meant you have to hit regular AC, instead of touch AC, but you then dealt unarmed strike or natural weapon damage (including bonuses from amulet of mighty fists) as well as delivered the spell effect. This rule worked fine; in fact, it generally wasn’t considered powerful enough to be worth it (the addition of unarmed strike damage wasn’t worth the massive loss of accuracy, since regular ACs are so much higher than touch ACs).

So I strongly suggest that you import this 3.5 rule to Pathfinder. Paizo didn’t because Complete Arcane isn’t open content, but you can. And there’s no good reason not to extend it to natural weapons, too. Waiting a turn to deliver a spell is just never a good idea.

  • \$\begingroup\$ You may want to clarify that you don't get a free unarmed/natural attack, but instead can deliver the spell with a future attack \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Jul 6 '17 at 11:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not to be confused with spells that grant a touch attack \$\endgroup\$
    – WeirdFrog
    Jul 6 '17 at 12:24

Yes it does.

Amulet of Mighty Fists States:

This amulet grants an enhancement bonus of +1 to +5 on attack and damage rolls with unarmed attacks and natural weapons.

The rules on Unarmed Attacks state:

“Armed” Unarmed Attacks: Sometimes a character’s or creature’s unarmed attack counts as an armed attack. A monk, a character with the Improved Unarmed Strike feat, a spellcaster delivering a touch attack spell, and a creature with natural physical weapons all count as being armed (see natural attacks).

Since a touch spell is an Unarmed Attack, it would benefit from an Amulet of Mighty Fists.

Note that while touch attacks and Unarmed Strikes are both types of Unarmed Attacks, a touch attack is not an Unarmed Strike.


Any magic item that increases your Strength sufficient to warrant an attack bonus from strength increases your touch attack, while anything that increases your Dexterity sufficiently to increase your ranged attack bonus, also increases your ranged touch attack bonus.

The amulet of attacks specifies an enhancement bonus to damage and attack rolls for unarmed attacks, which may be applied to natural weapons like claws, and may grant melee weapon special abilities instead of enhancement bonuses to attack. This does not sound like a strength based attack bonus, or an insight bonus to your melee attack rolls, and the amulet cannot be used to enhance your melee attacks, or your attacks in general. Thus, unless your DM house rules unarmed attacks and natural weapons as the same category as touch attacks (which can also be delivered via familiars and certain items & spells) then the answer would be no.

However, again, any magic item that grants a vague bonus to attack, or even a vague bonus to melee attacks, armed and otherwise, would apply. Anything that increases your strength or dexterity, also stands a good chance of increasing touch attacks.


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