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If a character is attacking a creature that is corporeal, but only vulnerable to special weapons, say a wight or werewolf, are they able to grapple or overbear effectively? If so, is the creature able to respond with natural attacks?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that creatures with sufficient Hit Dice enable them to attack immune creatures as if they were fighting with magical weapons (e.g. 4+1 HD or better can hit creatures requiring +1 or better weapons). Also note that these Hit Dice equivalents apply only to monsters. Player characters and NPCs cannot benefit from this. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erics
    Jul 1 '19 at 10:33
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If a character is attacking a creature that is corporeal, but only vulnerable to special weapons, say a wight or werewolf, are they able to grapple or overbear effectively?

I don't know.

However, I suspect that the answer is no for pummeling and overbearing and yes for grappling.

In the Monster Manual, this is dealt with on a case-by-case basis in the SPECIAL DEFENSES section of which it says (p. 5) "SPECIAL DEFENSES are simply what the term implies and are detailed in the same manner as are special attacks." For Wights it says "Silver or magic weapons to hit" and for Lycanthropes it says "All are hit only by silver or + 1 or better magic weapons".

The restriction is specifically about being "hit" and "NON-LETHAL AND WEAPONLESS COMBAT PROCEDURES" (DMG p.72) both pummeling and overbearing are described as "Base Score to Hit" but grappling is described as "Base Score to Grapple".

Now, this should be taken advisedly as Advanced Dungeons and Dragons material is not known for the quality of its editing or integration of game mechanics. That is, I have told you what it says - whether that is what it means is up to you.

If so, is the creature able to respond with natural attacks?

Yes

Opponents With Weapons Used Normally: If the opponent of a grappling, pummeling or overbearing attack has a weapon, the opponent will always strike first unless the attacker has surprise. Any weapon hit does NO damage, but it does indicate that the attacker trying to grapple, pummel or overbear hos been fended or driven off, and the attack is unsuccessful. The weapon-wielder then has the opportunity to strike at the weaponless one "for real", if he or she so chooses. Surprised opponents with weapons have no chance for a fending-off strike, unless the attacker must use all surprise segments to close to grapple, pummel, or overbear.

DMG p.73

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Generally No, with some exceptions.

Monsters that can only be hit with magic weapons are important for game balance. It forces a party to prepare for these encounters.

Undead cannot be attacked by weaponless combat.

Unearthed Arcana (UA) pg 107

"The target of a pummeling attack must be a non-undead, non-vegetable, organic native of the Prime Material Plane."

The Dungeon Master's Guide (DMG) 1E page 71 states,

"Monk's stunning/killing ability can only apply to living things. Undead cannot be affected (and an open hand hit on an undead creature could be very undesirable from the monk's standpoint in any event - especially if the creature causes damage by touch, for the monk touching the undead creature then is the same as the reverse.)"

And even if they could, a successful hit would cause a reverse touch, a level drain for example.

Regular unarmed combat requires a "To-hit" roll.

Pummeling, Grappling and Overbearing in DMG 1e p72-73 cause non-magical damage. Hands and feet are not magical, so unarmed combat cannot affect Lycanthropes either.

UA 1e page 106 Weaponless Combat system I,

"This system has three steps:

  1. attacker chooses action to be attempted, either pummeling, grappling, overbearing.
  2. Attacker makes roll "to hit".
  3. If attack hit, DM administers result of chosen action. "

Combat system II Pummeling, Grappling, and Overbearing all require a "To Hit" roll.

Magic armor counts as a magic weapon for grappling.

DMG 1e page 72 Base score to grapple shows magic armor does count as a magic weapon for grappling.

"Multiply attacker's armor class by 10, ignoring magical devices (bracers, cloaks, rings), but adding 1 for each +1 of armor. to find a percentage chance from 100% to 0%."

Monsters can attack as a magical attack

DMG 1E page 75 states,

"Despite special defenses which protect certain creatures from attacks by non-magical weapons, these monsters can be effectively hit by attackers... This does not apply to characters of any sort. Thus massive hill giants can effectively attack most creatures. "

High level monsters need a way to attack creatures with a magic weapon-only special defense. Most monsters do not use weapons. But characters can use weapons and must use magic weapons to defeat magic weapon-only special defense. Except for the character types that are opposed to magic use.

Barbarians can attack as a magical attack

From UA 1e pg 19,

"A barbarian's natural attack abilities allow him or her to strike creatures that would normally be immune to non-magical attacks as the barbarian rises in level. At 4th level the barbarian can affect creatures which require a +1 or better weapon to hit., ... At 12th level, a barbarian can affect creatures harmed normally only by weapons of +5 or better. The barbarian, despite the ability to hit such creatures, does not gain a bonus "to hit" or inflict additional damage because of this ability. Only barbarians have this ability among all the player character classes."

Kensai can attack as a magical attack

Oriental Adventures (OA) 1e p 17

"Kensai, at 3rd level he gets a +1 bonus on his dice rolls to hit. This also allows him to hit creatures that normally can be hit by only magical +1 weapons. ... 12th levels for a total of +5 to hit and the equivalence of a magical +5 weapon."

Kensai, or sword masters, take it as a matter of honor and skill to fight with only non-magic weapons that they specialize in.

Monsters can return the attack

DMG 1e p73, "Opponents with Weapons used normally" Yes, the creature is able to attack the character.

Summary

To summarize, a non-magic grappling or overbear cannot hit with exceptions.

  1. Undead cannot be attacked by weaponless combat. And even if they could, a successful hit would cause a reverse touch, a level drain for example.
  2. Hands and feet are non-magical.
  3. Magic armor counts as a magic weapon for grappling.
  4. Monsters can attack as a magical attack, as per their level.
  5. Barbarians can attack as a magical attack, as per their level.
  6. Kensai can attack as a magical attack, as per their level.
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    \$\begingroup\$ Consider using the summarized points as headers (the # character is useful here) for each of the answer's relevant sections instead of saving the points for the end. Also, while the quotations are useful, presumably the asker has the material, so using boldface in the quotations to call attention to specific important parts can help readers comprehend the quotation's purpose… as can paraphrasing that important part after quoting it. As-is, this answer is exceptionally thorough yet takes some work to grok; making things easier on the reader could improve its reception. \$\endgroup\$ May 24 '20 at 20:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Thanks. Your comment is incredibly helpful. \$\endgroup\$ May 25 '20 at 1:26

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