I've been trying to wrap my head around the Order of the Lycan for Matt Mercer's Blood Hunter class. It looks to me like its designed around fighting unarmed in hybrid form, with a large number of its features centered around making unarmed attacks work better.

However, a character that intends to embrace this playstyle is faced with an odd decision at level 2: None of the available fighting style options to chose from work at all with unarmed attacks. Its just the old standard options of Archery, Dueling, Two-weapon fighting, and great weapon fighting, all of which require actual weapons (of a specific type). Its going to be a tough decision, not because of interesting trade-offs, but rather because none of the available choices will really help at all.

Does this class really revolve around the use of unarmed strikes as a primary attack method? If so, does this make the fighting style choice as concerning as I think it does?

Update: Interestingly, about a week after I posted this, Mercer released a new revision of Blood Hunter on DM's Guild. Some of the first comments there were very similar to my question in its original form. From Anna G:

One comment though: unless I'm missing something it appears the available fighting styles are useless for a lycan using unarmed strikes, as they are all offensive and weapon-based. Any chance of adding Defense or Protection?

So it looks like this question was not made obsolete by the recent revision.

(Oh, and Mercer answered a lot of comments there, but as near as I can tell none about fighting styles with Lycan)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Let us continue this discussion in chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Jan 17, 2020 at 18:15
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I’ve removed the [critical-role-show] tag since this question is not about the show or how blood hunters are depicted on the show. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 12, 2022 at 2:06

3 Answers 3


Yes, the Order of the Lycan is focused on melee, not unarmed strikes

The primary class features for this Order focus on melee combat, but not necessarily unarmed strikes.

Feral Might is for melee attacks - whether melee weapon, unarmed, or melee spell.

The other features aren't attack-related except for Predatory Strikes, which is for unarmed strikes. Depending on your primary weapon choice, this feature may not be as effective as using your primary weapon. The 1d6 (which increases to 1d8 at 11th and 1d10 at 18th level) really isn't much better than normal weapon damage dice.

The 7th level improvement allowing your unarmed strikes to bypass magical resistance/immunity is nice-to-have, but many tables will have magic weapons available by that level. If not, then using your unarmed strike against those creatures will remain optimal.


The ability to use Dex over Strength as your attack stat may come in handy, but with a rapier dealing 1d8 damage and using Dex, that's going to be equivalent for you until 18th level.

Because of that, the class really isn't focused on unarmed strikes like the Monk. Nearly all features work with melee weapon attacks and you can run this optimally based on that type of build.

Fighting Styles work well with this in mind

Really, the only one that doesn't is Archery. But even then, many of the Lycan features will still work, just not Feral Might.

If you are at level 7 and don't yet have a magic weapon, then the fighting styles could still work. Keep in mind that an unarmed strike isn't necessarily from an arm/hand, but could be a kick, head-butt, elbow, etc. You can retain the benefits of Dueling.

The other fighting styles do require a certain weapon decision (either TWF or Two-Handed) and you won't get bonuses for your unarmed strikes, but again, this is likely limited until you get a magic weapon.

  • \$\begingroup\$ You're right that the half-again proficiency bonus of Feral Might you get at lvl 3 works for any melee weapon. But that aside, the damage enhancing features of this class are Predatory Strikes, Enhanced Predatory Strikes, and Beastly Precision. All three require unarmed strikes. So if you aren't using those, you're giving up all the remaining core damage features of the class. What you're left with is an extra half a proficiency bonus, and no extra attacks (each of which should be applying the rite damage upon hit). \$\endgroup\$
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jan 17, 2020 at 21:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ you're not really giving them up, those features are unfortunately no better than using a weapon normally (if magical) \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Jan 17, 2020 at 23:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @T.E.D. The subclass is very defensively focused and weak offensively. That's just the trade off you make when taking it. You get, essentially, half damage from almost all sources for longer than barbarians do, and you get all sorts of other defensive bonuses as well. The "offensive features" are mostly to help with the "I'm a werewolf" theme-- you end up able to fight about as well unarmed as with weapons-- they definitely don't make up the difference but if they did the class wouldn't be balanced. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 17:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ OK. I guess I can wrap my mind around what you all are saying. So essentially what we have here isn't one wasted class feature (an unusable fighting style) but rather 3 of them (all the unarmed-only features). And I probably shouldn't be shocked at that, because this is after all only playtest material. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jan 21, 2020 at 20:09
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @T.E.D. And thanks for being open to this answer! I was hinting to this in our chat but knew it would be a bit of an uphill battle to change your expectations of the class. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 19:26

First of all, you are correct. None of the Fighting Styles work directly with the werewolf form, however you can't be in the werewolf form at all times. If you're going melee, keep a rapier and go with Dueling. As a detail later on, you'll have a shield anyway so it works out. Now, on to an explanation as to why the werewolf form is strong without a Fighting Style added on. From what I've read, it seems that everyone on here is missing something about how this class works: multiple unarmed strikes without using both hands. This could be a new trait and wasn't around when this thread was active, I'm not sure. However, this is important:

  • Unarmed strikes can use Dexterity for the attack and damage rolls in place of Strength.

  • Unarmed strikes also deal 1d6 slashing damage, increasing to 1d8 at 11th level.

  • An additional unarmed strike can be made as a bonus action after attacking with unarmed strikes as an action.

Now that third point is key. This doesn't state that you need to use your second hand as the additional unarmed strike. So, this subclass allows you to use a Dex build, starting with studded leather armor, and apply that to your unarmed strikes and AC while getting an additional +1 AC from the subclass. Also, since it does not say you need to use both hands for the bonus action attack, you can wield a shield. At level 3, that gives you 17 AC with studded leather armor assuming you started with 16 Dex. So 17 AC, and two unarmed attacks with crimson rite added on, at level 3. That's much better than using an actual melee weapon, which if you're using a rapier would be 1d8+4 +1d4 crimson rite (+4 damage mod from +3 Dex mod and +1 from Hybrid Form). Another +2 damage if you use the Dueling Fighting Style. Compared to 1d6+4 +1d4 +1d6+4 +1d4, AND you can choose for the damage to be bludgeoning instead of slashing, and bludgeoning is the less resisted damage type, and that's all while using a shield.

You can apply your Crimson Rite feature to your unarmed strikes, which you treat as one weapon. You can use Dexterity instead of Strength for the attack and damage rolls of your unarmed strikes, which deal 1d6 bludgeoning or slashing damage (your choice).

  • \$\begingroup\$ Given that one of the players' in Matt's new campaign is in fact using this exact order, its possible Matt tweaked it some to make it work more sensibly since I last looked at it. I'll try to make some time to look into it... \$\endgroup\$
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Jul 12, 2022 at 20:38

Even though Order of the Lycan's kit works fine with weapons, unarmed strikes are still your strongest fighting pattern, yet Fighting Styles are important because of something called availability. At every rest, you'll get access to only one transformation. This means that, very frequently, you'll be unable to keep your hybrid form, and thus be unable to fight unarmed. You also have to remember that you're a lycan, and that implies that showing your hybrid form without reserve may not be the wisest play, unless you're sure you'll be able to safely get away with it.


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