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As far as I can tell, there are three different ways that "natural weapons" are described:

  • Aarakocra:

    Talons: You are proficient with your unarmed strikes, which deal 1d4 slashing damage on a hit.

  • Tabaxi:

    Cat's Claws: In addition, your claws are natural weapons, which you can use to make unarmed strikes.

  • Centaur:

    Hooves: Your hooves are natural melee weapons, which you can use to make unarmed strikes.

There also already exist the following two questions which explain that these wording differences do matter:


How do these different classifications work with the booming blade spell, which states:

As part of the action used to cast this spell, you must make a melee attack with a weapon against one creature within the spell's range [...]

Which races, if any, could use their unarmed strikes with booming blade?

Please know I am fully aware of the technicalities and differences between melee weapon attacks, and attacks with weapons, and that regular unarmed strikes count as the former but not the latter.

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Weapons are weapons

Natural weapons are weapons

They work with booming blade.

Unarmed strikes are not weapons even though they make melee weapon attacks

They do not work with booming blade.

For completeness ...

Simple Weapons are weapons, Martial weapons are weapons and Improvised weapons are weapons.

For the quoted racial features ...

Cat's claws and Hooves are natural weapons that work with Booming Blade and can also make unarmed strikes. Talons are not weapons.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Does the bluntness means there is no offiicial word and the wording is litterally too vague for this to be anything but a GM call? \$\endgroup\$ – 3C273 Nov 4 '19 at 1:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ Oh wait no, You mean that "Natural weapons" work, but things that are conceptually natural weapons may or may not work with the spell depending on the exact words used by the guy who wrote the ability. Is that right? \$\endgroup\$ – 3C273 Nov 4 '19 at 1:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's blunt because it's super simple. You need to attack with a weapon. Natural weapons are weapons. The Aarakocra ability Talons doesn't give you natural weapons. \$\endgroup\$ – Joakim M. H. Nov 4 '19 at 10:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JoakimM.H. It may be "super simple" but it's also rather unintuitive that the different races have their modified unarmed strikes qualify for completely different things. Also please note it was far more blunt when I made that comment \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Nov 4 '19 at 13:40
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It's complicated

Technically, an aarakocra's talons are not considered a natural weapon. And, technically, spells such as booming blade and green-flame blade require a melee weapon as a material component. But unarmed strikes can count as weapon attacks. This is more a quirk of game terminology, however, than a reflection of what's actually being used by the character. All attacks (except shoves and grapples) are either weapon attacks or spell attacks. At least, this is how everything is presented in creature stat blocks. Perhaps the best example of this is the martial arts adept (p. 216) from Volo's Guide to Monsters.

(See, also, the monk's Stunning Strike feature, which stipulates a weapon attack and not specifically an unarmed strike; as well as Jeremy Crawford's tweet on PHB errata regarding weapon attacks and unarmed strikes.)

Having said that, the question remains whether or not a natural weapon or unarmed strike meets the material component cost of a spell. Rules designer Jeremy Crawford has said in an unofficial tweet from July 2016 that he'd allow a natural weapon to meet the cost, but not an unarmed strike. But that was three years ago. His opinions may have changed since then. And his answer implies a personal choice and not an official reading of the rules. The implication of this is that a manufactured weapon is needed to meet the material component cost.

As I said out the outset: it's complicated.

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None of them

An unarmed attack is not an attack with a weapon. You use a body part instead of using a weapon.

From the PHB:

Instead of using a weapon to make a melee weapon attack, you can use an unarmed strike: a punch, kick, head-butt, or similar forceful blow (none of which count as weapons)

What is a weapon then? It is something on one of the weapon tables in the rulebooks.

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    \$\begingroup\$ So you do disagree with the answers to the question "Do natural melee weapons (from racial traits) trigger Improved Divine Smite?" \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Nov 4 '19 at 1:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ An attack with a natural weapon is not an unarmed attack. \$\endgroup\$ – Joakim M. H. Nov 4 '19 at 10:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JoakimM.H. Both of the natural weapons have the quote "which you can use to make unarmed strikes.", they do count as unarmed strikes, they are just also weapons \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Nov 4 '19 at 13:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I missed that. But that's a special case for these (and many other) natural weapons. \$\endgroup\$ – Joakim M. H. Nov 4 '19 at 14:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 there is no contradiction between that question and this answer. Minotaur horns are called out as "natural weapons"; arakocra claws are not. Minotaur horn and centaur hoof attacks are not unarmed strikes; claw attacks are. This might be a deliberate rule, it might be bad phrasing, I don't know. \$\endgroup\$ – Greenstone Walker 18 hours ago

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