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Unearthed Arcana: Barbarian and Monk includes a new monk subclass: the Way of the Astral Self.

The Arms of the Astral Self feature says your astral arms are monk weapons:

The arms are monk weapons and have a reach of 10 feet.

However, creating such a character with D&D Beyond shows them as unarmed strikes:

Arms of the Astral Self on D&D Beyond

All bonuses are calculated as if the arms were unarmed strikes (such as the benefit of the insignia of claws).

This would make a big difference, as skills like the Flurry of Blows would work with Arms of the Astral Self.

Who is right here? Can monk weapons do unarmed attacks?

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  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Sep 4 at 6:02
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It is unclear

As you've noted, the class description states that they are monk weapons, which are inherently different from unarmed strikes. But when you put the build together, the attack information does state they are unarmed strikes.

Because of that, Wizards have contradicted themselves a bit, but I'd lean towards the class description vs what fields they put in for the build. But you and your DM may decide otherwise.

It's still playtest

Try it out! If you or your DM wants to use them as unarmed strikes in addition to being monk weapons and either of you feel it is overpowered, then you can decide not to count them as such.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Note: D&D Beyond is not run by Wizards of the Coast, so WotC isn't "contradicting themselves" at all. It's more likely just an error in terms of how D&D Beyond has programmed it in. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Sep 4 at 6:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast While not run by them, they are an official source. Whether Curse embedded incorrect table information or WoTC provided them with incorrect is unknown, but as an official source we should treat it as such. Should Curse/DNDbeyond update their site and resolve the situation, then we'd know. But assuming it's a mistake by them is just an assumption until/if it's resolved. But good on ya for submitting a potential bug report :) \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Sep 4 at 13:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sure, my point is that "Wizards have contradicted themselves a bit" is wrong. It's Curse/D&D Beyond that is contradicting WotC. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Sep 4 at 18:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's a big maybe @V2Blast. We don't know what WoTC gave to them and they are an official source. It's like (kinda sorta) blaming Hasbro for anything wrong in the text of a printed sourcebook. WoTC gives them information, they use it. If there is a mistake, it's unclear where it came from. If Curse says "AH yes, our bad", then we know it's their error. Until then, I think the better assumtion is that Wizards gave them the content they wanted (assuming that there is any sort of approval process.) \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Sep 5 at 14:55
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No, they're not (at least as of the current UA).

The UA Way of the Astral Self monk's Arms of the Astral Self feature says, in full:

At 3rd level, your mastery of your ki allows you to summon a portion of your astral self. On your turn, you can spend 2 ki points as a bonus action to summon the arms of your astral self for 10 minutes. These spectral arms hover near your shoulders. You determine the arms’ appearance based on the qualities of your character.

While your astral arms are summoned, you gain the following benefits:

  • You can use your Wisdom modifier in place of your Strength modifier when making Strength checks and Strength saving throws.
  • The arms are monk weapons and have a reach of 10 feet. The arms deal radiant or necrotic damage (your choice). When you attack with the arms, you can use your Wisdom modifier instead of your Strength or Dexterity modifier for the attack and damage rolls.
  • Immediately after you use the Attack action with your astral arms on your turn, you can make one extra attack with your astral arms as a bonus action. The number of extra attacks increases when you reach certain levels in this class, increasing to two at 11th level and three at 17th level.

No part of the description of that feature (or any other feature of the subclass) says that attacks with your astral arms count as unarmed strikes. In fact, unarmed strikes aren't even mentioned in the UA. Furthermore, it says they are monk weapons; if they counted as unarmed strikes, this would not make much sense, as the Martial Arts feature describes unarmed strikes and monk weapons separately and distinguishes the two.


This is just an error in D&D Beyond's implementation of this UA. I reported the error in the feedback channel of their official Discord server, and a mod on the DDB Discord (Stormknight#9773) replied to my report with the following explanation:

With regards the Astral Monk - the attacks are modelled as unarmed strikes on D&D Beyond, as it would take additional development time to introduce a modifier for innate attacks that count as monk weapons.

With Unearthed Arcana, we generally don't feel it is worth diverting people from feature development to work on implementing playtest content, where we already have a close functional fit.

As always, the rules stated under the actual ability supercede the meta-data attached to the ability.

If/when the subclass is included in a published sourcebook, we will absolutely take the time to ensure it is 100% correct.

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Yes

While the text is poorly written and never actually specifies how the arms work, the arms don't have some of the rules for attacking with them that one would expect weapons to have (i.e. a damage die). Furthermore, the ordinary method one uses to attack with one's body (which the Astral Arms are a part of) is by making an unarmed attack. Since the arms literally do not function as written if they aren't unarmed attacks (I mean, you can substitute your martial arts die for the damage die if you want, but you don't have to), it makes a lot more sense to treat attacks with them like attacks with your regular arms-- as unarmed strikes. Furthermore, this fits well with description of the arms as part of the monk's astral self, their "true form".

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