A party member of my campaign wants to get both Iron Palm Technique and Dragon Style.

However, it is unclear for us if it is possible to combine these two feats and what the result will be.

Iron Palm Technique makes it possible to use your constitution modifier instead of your Strength modifier for unarmed strikes. However, the Dragon Style will convert 1-1/2 times the strength modifier on the damage roll for your first unarmed strike on a given round.

Can they actually be used together, and how do they combine?


The Facts

Iron Palm Technique: You use your Constitution modifier instead of your Strength modifier for determining damage with unarmed strikes.

Dragon Style: While using this style, you gain a +2 bonus on saving throws against sleep effects, paralysis effects, and stunning effects. You ignore difficult terrain when you charge, run, or withdraw. You can also charge through squares that contain allies. Further, you can add 1-1/2 times your Strength bonus on the damage roll for your first unarmed strike on a given round.

There are two ways to interpret this: Munchkin RAW and Simplified RAW, since nothing says you cannot take both and use them at the same time.

Munchkin RAW

Due to Iron Palm technique, you no longer have the option to use your Strength for damage. The wording is "You use", not "You may use". Thus, a monk with 14 Strength and 16 Constitution will deal +3 damage on all unarmed strikes.

By strict RAW, the same monk would then add 1-1/2 his Strength to his first unarmed attack. It specifies "add" not "use", so the monk would deal +6 damage with his first unarmed strike in the round, in addition to the other benefits of Dragon Style.

Since this enables stacking abilities for damage, I do not recommend this interpretation for munchkins. That said, it may be fine for new players new to playing Monk who need a slight boost.

Simplified RAW (Recommended)

One GM ruling: Iron Palm Technique replaces Strength with Constitution as your damage stat for all wording that identifies Strength as your damage stat.

With Dragon Style under this ruling, instead of 1-1/2 times your Strength on your first attack, you get 1-1/2 times your Constitution on your first attack. That same monk thus gets +4 damage on their first attack, just as if they had 16 Strength instead of Constitution.

I recommend this interpretation since it's a lot simpler than the Munchkin RAW interpretation and less open to abuse, though I am aware that the level of "abuse" possible or even required for Monk is up for debate.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Note that the 'munchkin' (drop the needless and meaningless pejorative) RAW option should be compared to taking the poorly worded Dragon Style feat literally, rather than only taking it literally when this weird interaction occurs. Normally the feat, if read strictly, lets you add 1 and 1/2 times your strength mod to your damage. That would combine with the Strength you normally add to 2 and 1/2 times strength mod, except that FAQ errata says the 1.5 and 1 no longer stack because your strength modifier is somehow a typed bonus or something. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Sep 9 '19 at 8:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am skeptical about the wording with "add" and "use" in the Dragon style feat. If you look at its description in the "normal" paragraph : "With an unarmed strike, you usually add your Strength bonus on damage rolls." It seems the wording "add" is more the result of a consistency with this paragraph than a suggestion about the fact you can or cannot use the Strength bonus as you want. \$\endgroup\$ – Rophe Sep 9 '19 at 8:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Basically my point is changing the ability score isn't adding something new, it's just dodging a poorly written and poorly conceived errata at the cost of becoming MAD. You get that 1.5 times modifier as an addition anyways, you just can't use it and the other feat makes it so you can. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Sep 9 '19 at 8:45

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