# Melee Touch Attack + Natural Weapons

So, I have a character that will be making many, many melee touch attacks. The melee touch attacks come from the dread class (Unleashed Psionics). This is the ability:

Devastating Touch (Su): A dread is able to channel psionic energy from fear and nightmares into a touch that causes pain. To use this ability, a dread must make a melee touch attack on a living target. If the attack hits, it deals 1d6 points of damage plus 1 point per class level.

Damage is actually 1d6/level due to playing Mythic in this campaign (endbringer's touch ability).

Now, my question is how this correlates with natural attacks? The weapon in question is a fleshwarped scorpion's tail that has been grafted on (thereby becoming a natural sting attack). Specific questions:

1. What damage will be dealt? Just the damage from the devastating touch (plus relevant class abilities like channel terror, endbringer's touch, etc.)?

2. If an ability/feature/feat/etc. states that it gives a "bonus to damage rolls," would those apply?

3. Would this allow me to apply the poison with this attack?

4. Would elemental damage that merely applies to any attack using the weapon itself apply here? Note: this is from the graveknight's "channel destruction"

5. For the purpose of maneuvers or other actions/features that merely require "an attack" or "a successful attack," could this attack count?

• Edited my answer. – Ifusaso Jan 22 '18 at 19:10

First of all, you need to discuss with your GM whether and how this works in the first place: RAW, you can only deliver a touch attack through a natural weapon if you are holding the charge, that is, you decline (or fail) to discharge the touch attack during its own action, and are left with the charge. Moreover, again, RAW, the rules for holding the charge all specify spells, and so would not apply to a supernatural touch attack like devastating touch. So RAW, you cannot do it at all, and even if we ignore that, having to waste a round holding the charge is simply not viable: don’t bother.

Many (myself included) consider this situation a mere accident of how they decided to organize the rules, not an intentional limitation. The rules come from D&D 3.5e, and in that game the Complete Arcane supplement updated them to cover more situations (though still not all of them—unarmed strikes can replace the original touch attacks without first holding the charge, but natural weapons go unmentioned and so RAW would not be eligible until the charge is held). When Pathfinder was based on the core rules of 3.5e, it copied the original rules but not the update in the (non-open content) Complete Arcane supplement. I am not aware of any direct commentary on the matter by Paizo.

So discuss with your GM whether or not you will be allowed to do this at all. In my opinion, non-spell touch attacks should be hold-able, and both unarmed strikes and natural attacks should be able to deliver touch attack effects regardless of whether or not you’ve held the charge first. But I am not your GM and I cannot make that call in your game.

If your GM does nix it, you can get around that with a conductive fleshwarped scorpion’s tail, since the conductive property explicitly allows this kind of thing.

Assuming the GM allows it or you use conductive,

1. What damage will be dealt? Just the damage from the devastating touch (plus relevant class abilities like channel terror, endbringer's touch, etc.)?

Assuming you are Medium, the fleshwarped scorpion’s tail deals damage as a scorpion whip, i.e. $1\mathrm{d}4+Str$ slashing damage. To that base you would add:

• $1\mathrm{d}6 \times level$ damage due to endbringer’s touch.

• If you have used a terror that is channeled through the devastating touch, it would apply.

• If you choose to use the poison effect of the fleshwarped scorpion’s tail, $1\mathrm{d}3$ Constitution damage per round for 6 rounds or until ended with a Fortitude save.

1. If an ability/feature/feat/etc. states that it gives a "bonus to damage rolls," would those apply?

Yes, it would. You could even make the case that it would apply several times, for instance once to the damage roll for the fleshwarped scorpion’s whip itself, once to the damage roll for devastating touch, once for the damage roll of the terror you used, if it has one, and once again for the poison effect’s damage roll. My guess is most GMs would nix that, though, unless it’s a particularly small or particularly expensive bonus. Many bonuses will prevent themselves from working, either by limiting how many rolls they apply to or specifying something about the roll that rules out one or more of the above (for instance, only the base damage of the fleshwarped scorpion’s tail is “weapon damage” here).

1. Would this allow me to apply the poison with this attack?

As already mentioned, yes.

1. Would elemental damage that merely applies to any attack using the weapon itself apply here? Note: this is from the graveknight's "channel destruction"

If you had a flaming fleshwarped scorpion’s whip (I see nothing immediately that suggests you could not, though I am not very familiar with the fleshwarping rules and that may be blocked), that would certainly apply. The graveknight’s channel destruction ability would also apply.

1. For the purpose of maneuvers or other actions/features that merely require "an attack" or "a successful attack," could this attack count?

Yes, this is an attack, and it’s successful as long as you hit and deal damage.

## You may either attack with your Sting or touch attack. Even if you deliver the touch attack through your Sting, you are not performing a Sting attack.

Unfortunately, the Dread Devastating Touch ability does not list an action type in the ability; fortunately we know any Supernatural Ability that does not specify ("when you hit with a melee attack", "as a Standard Action", "as a Swift Action", etc.) defaults to a Standard Action.

In order to 'prepare' and deliver your Devastating Touch, you have to take a couple seconds... perhaps you're congealing the fear and nightmares into something that would cause damage. Unlike Touch Spells, Devastating Touch does not indicate that you can hold the charge to use later.

A touch attack does not indicate that you're puncturing skin or other soft places... so your Sting would not do its normal damage, nor apply its poison. Even attempting a touch attack indicates that you're not seeking to deliver a martial attack, but simply make contact with the target. Even if you beat their armored AC (barring GM homerule), you do not deal (natural) weapon damage. Therefore, unfortunately, you cannot deliver your Devastating Touch with your natural attack; you much choose one or the other.

• Specifically:

What damage will be dealt? Just the damage from the devastating touch (plus relevant class abilities like channel terror, endbringer's touch, etc.)?

• Just Devastating Touch damage (1d6 + 1/level + 1d6/level Endbringer's Touch) or Sting (1d4 + 1.5xSTR if you're Medium and its your only natural attack)

If an ability/feature/feat/etc. states that it gives a "bonus to damage rolls," would those apply?

• If the damage applies to your Devastating Touch, then yes. If it's bonus Sting damage then it only applies to your natural attack.

Would this allow me to apply the poison with this attack?

• No, as discussed, your Devastating Touch would not apply Sting Poison RAW.

Would elemental damage that merely applies to any attack using the weapon itself apply here? Note: this is from the graveknight's "channel destruction"

• The Graveknight ability seems to indicate wielded weapons (not natural weapons). It is likely also supposed to apply to Natural weapons, but consult your GM to make sure how they'll rule it. It would not apply to Devastating Touch (which is not a weapon attack).

For the purpose of maneuvers or other actions/features that merely require "an attack" or "a successful attack," could this attack count?

• Without knowing what you feat/ability you're talking about, yes a touch attack would be a successful attack action.

## But! You can get a Conductive Amulet of Mighty Fists to do what you want!

Conductive weapons allow you to deliver melee or ranged touch (Su)'s though them. It's a valid choice to place on an Amulet of Might Fists (which applies to Naturally Attacks). It specifies that it costs two uses of the ability, but if there's no limit on the ability, you can use it once every round.

The drawback is that, like a Magus, you must hit full AC to deal any of this. You could freely switch between Touch and Sting (plus Devastating damage) attacks between rounds, depending on how hard your opponent is to hit.

• With Conductive:

What damage will be dealt? Just the damage from the devastating touch (plus relevant class abilities like channel terror, endbringer's touch, etc.)?

• You will deal Sting damage plus Devastating Touch (and all its modifiers). Even with more than one Conductive (or natural) weapon, you will only activate Devastating Touch once per round.

If an ability/feature/feat/etc. states that it gives a "bonus to damage rolls," would those apply?

• Generally speaking, all of these benefits will apply once.

Would this allow me to apply the poison with this attack?

• Yes, poison would apply.

Would elemental damage that merely applies to any attack using the weapon itself apply here? Note: this is from the graveknight's "channel destruction"

• Probably. Make sure your GM is OK with natural weapons counting for the Graveknight's feature which describes 'any weapon wielded'.

For the purpose of maneuvers or other actions/features that merely require "an attack" or "a successful attack," could this attack count?

• Yes, this is a type of attack and would work with feats like Vital Strike, etc.

• I think just accepting the strict-RAW here without commentary is, quite simply, wrong. That said, conductive is an excellent point, but I think you ought to go into more detail about what happens when you have it (i.e. the numbered list of questions). – KRyan Jan 22 '18 at 19:42
• I'm confused what you mean by strict RAW without commentary (I frequently point to places a GM might disagree) and RAW is generally how you pay the game. Regardless, I'll add the numbered section using a Conductive weapon shortly. – Ifusaso Jan 22 '18 at 20:05
• “Unlike Touch Spells, Devastating Touch does not indicate that you can hold the charge to use later,” “Therefore, unfortunately, you cannot deliver your Devastating Touch with your natural attack;” are both true, strict-RAW, but only because of the awkward organization of the rules and the choice to put discussions of those things in the section on spells and in the section on holding the charge. I do not believe either is really a considered and intended restriction here. – KRyan Jan 22 '18 at 20:07
• I disagree with your sentiment and that interpretation is already covered in your own answer. If readers want to propose homerules about holding SU charges they can – Ifusaso Jan 22 '18 at 20:12

(Su) abilities, when it is not specified (like it is the case for Devastating Touch), take by default a standard action to activate. In the case of Devastating Touch you can as a part of this action touch your target to deliver the touch.

This attack can't be at the same time a "natural attack": it is simply an act of touching your target, like playing tag, so you can't apply the specificities of your natural weapon for this attack. It is still considered an attack though as your target will probably try to avoid being touched.

1. The damage would be the one of Devastating Touch, boosted by Endbringer's touch. Channel Terror is not useful here but Terrors you apply to your Devastating Touch would trigger too. No bonus from the tail.

2. Bonus to damage rolls would apply (unless they specifically don't, like "bonus to damage rolls with manufactured weapons" or "bonus to damage roll with natural attacks" (as this is not considered a natural attack)).

3. No poison, because you are not doing your natural attack.

4. No. This is not a weapon you wield so this ability don't trigger.

5. This is an attack, so if your opponent has an ability with a line like "when you are hit by a melee attack, ..." it will trigger. You can't use the same attack to perform other things that are supposed to have their own attack (like an Antipaladin touch of corruption). RAW it seems like it would be possible to forgo the attack to replace it by a maneuver but I don't see why you would do that (as you would just loose the benefits of Devastating Touch).