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I was wondering whether brass knuckle can be combined with the brawler and martial artist edges from the Savage Worlds Deluxe Edition.

Both edges imply in their description, that they are meant to be used without any weapon. However the item description of the brass knuckles states, that someone using them counts as an "unarmed attacker". So the RAW is not clear here and seems somewhat contradictory.

Firstly, would using brass knuckles with these edges be against RAW?

Secondly, if unclear or prohibited by RAW, how would allowing their use in our game affect game balance?

Note that I am using a setting where a unarmed fighter can get an additional +2 damage to unarmed attacks via cyberware. So someone could get the following damage calculation if they fully commit to unarmed combat:

Str + d4 (knuckles) + 4 (cyberware and brawler edge) + extra dice from raise and martial artist.

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No, they can't be combined

No, brass knuckles cannot be combined with either the Brawler or Martial Artist Edges. Even though the wielder counts as an Unarmed Defender, the attack itself is still 'armed'.

This is confirmed by Clint Black, the official Savage Worlds guru on the Savage Worlds forms here:

Brass knuckles are a weapon, and it doesn't matter that the user is considered an Unarmed Defender, the attack itself is not "unarmed," so the damage bonus from the Martial Artist Edge would not apply.

It is difficult to comment on balance issues for allowing it without knowing more about the setting you are running. It unquestionably makes the Brawler and Martial Artist Edges much more powerful because of the extra damage (average +3.33) it allows.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd like to add that in Savage Worlds Deluxe edition that "Unarmed Attacker" the OP cited is a typo. The correct Brass Knucles note should be: "A hero wearing brass knuckles is considered to be an Unarmed Defender". \$\endgroup\$ – Andrea Parducci Nov 7 '18 at 23:05

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