The Phoenix Sorcerer from Unearthed Arcana: Sorcerer has the feature Mantle of Flame, which allows you to "wreathe yourself in swirling fire" for one minute. One of its effects is described as follows:

Any creature takes fire damage equal to your Charisma modifier if it hits you with a melee attack from within 5 feet of you or if it touches you.

What does "touches you" entail? Do unarmed strikes count as touching?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I could swear that there's been at least one question before about the difference between unarmed strikes and touch-range spells... \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast May 28 '18 at 2:40

Touch means touch.

There is no rules definition for what it means to touch something, so it is meant to be interpreted based on the normal meaning of the word. Note that if there were a spell or other feature which is defined to require touching a creature (like the paladin's Lay on Hands) then that would explicitly be a feature which would trigger the phoenix effect as part of its normal use.

Regarding unarmed strikes, they are already melee attacks, so if they hit then they trigger the effect anyway. It doesn't matter whether they would count as touching or not, because the conclusion is foregone.

  • \$\begingroup\$ What if you strike them with an unarmed strike? They are touching you still, no? \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 May 28 '18 at 14:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Please read the second paragraph of my answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder May 28 '18 at 14:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ That is if it hits you, not if you hit it. \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 May 28 '18 at 21:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's pretty clear in context that the other creature is the one doing the touching. Otherwise, the rule would not say if they hit you or they touch you-- it would say if either of you hits each other or touches each other. \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder May 29 '18 at 1:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ To me it just seems impossible for me to be touching them without also having them being touching me \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 May 29 '18 at 6:14

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