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I am co-DM'ing a campaign, and in our party we have a monk. Everybody has magical weapons that work with their class, but I feel the monk is a bit left out since he doesn't get any magic weapons since he is at the point where unarmed strikes do as much damage as a two-handed quarterstaff strike.

I asked the other DM if we could give him magical +1 or +2 fistwraps or knuckledusters, but he is hesitant since he worries about balance.

Our party is around level 13.

Are there any magic "weapons" that a monk could use and still be considered 'unarmed'?

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In Hoard of the Dragon Queen, there's a magic item that gives +1 to unarmed attack and damage rolls called the "Insignia of Claws". It's not in the free downloadable supplement PDF for Rise of Tiamat, so you'd only be able to see it by buying the Hoard of the Dragon Queen adventure (or the D&D Beyond pack for that adventure).

But even without seeing it, it's at least evidence that there is something official out there that increases attack and damage rolls for unarmed strikes in the same way that a +1 magic weapon does, so you should be good to homebrew something similar (or just use that exact magic item).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 1 '18 at 16:58
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Any magic weapon will work fine, as long as it's a monk weapon.

You can use a d4 in place of the normal damage of your unarmed strike or monk weapon. This die changes as you gain monk levels, as shown in the Martial Arts column of the Monk table.
-- Player's Handbook, page 78 (emphasis mine)

That means any simple melee weapon that's not two-handed nor heavy, and also shorstswords.

As for your question on party balance, you and your co-DM will have to observe how much damage and accuracy the monk has in comparison to other characters in the party that are sharing the same role in combat.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This doesn't fully answer the question since monks must use unarmed strikes for the bonus action unarmed strike and for flurry of blows. \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Mar 1 '18 at 13:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ You may find some of the monk info in this answer to be helpful \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Mar 1 '18 at 13:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ Fair, I forgot the bonus action has to be unarmed. Although that does help mitigate the imbalance problem the other DM is worried about, since it's not a bonus to all attacks, just the attack action. \$\endgroup\$ – MLaRF Mar 1 '18 at 18:14
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Is your concern that they cannot overcome monsters with resistance to magical attacks or that you want to give items to everyone?

If it is the former, don't worry, Monk's unarmed strikes count as magical weapons for overcoming resistance at Level 6 due to Ki Empowered Strikes.

As for the latter, a boost to their dexterity value would accomplish more or less the same thing as a +1 or +2 weapon. If their concern is not counting as unarmed strikes, you could provide an item that boosts their dex value, either temporarily or permanently. A Manual of Quickness of Action in the DMG will give them a permanent +2 boost to their Dexterity score after they spend several hours studying it, and raises their max dex score to 22 so they can still use future ability score improvements.

This may be somewhat overpowered though, it is a legendary item after all. But as long as you aren't in Adventurer's League, you can easily make an item that accomplishes the same thing, but only on attacks.

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I know this seems overly simple, but you, the DMs, are in charge. What the DMs define as canon... is canon.

As a player who plays a 9th level monk who has been granted a treasure of enchanted hand wraps (attack +1 / damage dice up one tier [i.e. d6 becomes d8]), I can tell you that, without them, he cannot keep up with the other players in his party when it comes to battle. Given the paltry archery options a monk has, giving him +1/+1 enchanted silk gloves hardly seems overpowered.

Perhaps this doesn't translate to your campaign, however. Our DM's campaign assumes that our party eventually will be a legendary team that will save the kingdom. He buffs us because he likes to attack us with tough monsters.

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In 3.5, there were two amulets, the Amulet of Mighty Fists and the Necklace of Natural Weapons, which enchanted unarmed attacks. In particular, the NoNW works by allowing you to enchant it with weapon enchantments which would then apply to your natural weapons, in the monk's case their unarmed attack. If your DM is open to porting items from previous editions, you could ask him about getting an amulet like that.

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There's a multitude in the MIC and Draconomicon. The Amulet of Mighty Fists as someone said above, or: the fanged ring, the ring of adamant touch, the bracers of the arcane, jaws of the dragon, wyrmfang amulet, bands of blood rage, and the ghost shroud all boost natural weapons in some way or another.

If you wanted any help for translation: The ring of adamant touch pretty much turns natural attacks into a sort of adamantine, which ignores some of the enemies' DR X/adamantine (Which could turn into ignoring a small amount of AC or ignoring bludgeoning resistance in 5e), the wyrmfang amulet ignores DR X/magic as if they were magic weapons. (pretty much the same thing as the ring of adamant touch, just ignoring different damage reductions in 3.5e)

If you wanted references: The ring of adamantine touch is MIC pg. 121 and the wyrmfang amulet is MIC pg. 148.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, you could just make bracers and have them be magic weapons, or add a special effect to them, such as a bracer that enhances a monk's unarmed strikes by 1d4 damage of an element at low levels, or 1d8 at higher. \$\endgroup\$ – Cakl Apr 29 '19 at 18:10

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