6
\$\begingroup\$

I play an Eldritch Knight Longtooth Shifter who's about to get 2nd level spells. I was looking at Alter Self (which I realize I can't get until a level later anyway because of its school) and I was curious about how it interacted with my Shifting feature.

[Longtooth] Shifting Feature. While shifted, you can use your elongated fangs to make an unarmed strike as a bonus action. If you hit with your fangs, you deal piercing damage equal to 1d6 + your Strength modifier, instead of the bludgeoning damage normal for an unarmed strike.

So my shifting feature grants me an unarmed strike attack as a bonus action using elongated fangs. Looking at Alter Self:

Natural Weapons. You grow claws, fangs, spines, horns, or a different natural weapon of your choice. Your unarmed strikes deal 1d6 bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage, as appropriate to the natural weapon you chose, and you are proficient with your unarmed strikes. Finally, the natural weapon is magic and you have a +1 bonus to the attack and damage rolls you make using it.

If I cast this spell using this option and choose to "grow fangs" while shifted, does the bonus unarmed strike have a +1 bonus because of Alter Self?

\$\endgroup\$
6
\$\begingroup\$

Technically, they don't interact at all

While shifted you may make an unarmed strike as a bonus action (and only a bonus action) specifically with your fangs.

The Alter Self spell allows you to grow fangs etc with which you may make an unarmed strike, though not as a bonus action (unless you have some general ability that allows you to make any unarmed strikes as a bonus action). You would need to use your standard action to attack and these fangs are magic and have a +1 bonus.

Probably easiest to imagine - just to get the picture - that you created a different natural weapon with Alter Self, such as claws:

You would be able to use your standard action to make one (or more with Extra Attacks) unarmed strike with your claws. This attack is magic and has a +1 bonus.

Then you could use your bonus action to make an attack with your fangs. This attack would not be magic or have a bonus, as its just your standard shifted ability.

So...going back to the situation where you used Alter Self to grow fangs: You basically now have two sets of fangs. One magical with which you can use your action to attack and one non-magical with which you use your bonus action to attack!

However

Narratively, this is all very odd. As a DM, I would probably just rule that Alter Self allows you to 'grow' your standard fangs and they become magical (and gain a +1 bonus). This seems to make sense and probably wouldn't unbalance anything.

(I might possibly rule that you could use them only as part of your action OR your bonus action but not both, but even then I doubt it would be too unbalancing since you would have to give up your standard weapon attack if you used your action to make a fang attack).

|improve this answer|||||
\$\endgroup\$
2
\$\begingroup\$

Separately Created Weapons Don't Interact, and That's What These Are

Were these written as bonuses to unarmed strikes or to a PCs existing natural weapons then they would stack. Instead they seem to both be written as individual natural weapons, which would not stack. This is not as crazy as it sounds. Alter Self just says "you grow fangs" it doesn't say that they have anything to do with other fangs, teeth, etc. you may have. Your freaky Alter Self-ed form is free to have two sets of fangs. In fact, it seems, as a matter of straightforward English that fangs could not grow into fangs since they are already fangs, so the two sets of fangs are entirely separate.

Even if they are the same weapon there are precedents for making multiple types of attack with the same weapon, a Polearm Master's d4 bonus attack for example, so that still would not establish interaction.

They Do Otherwise Have Simultaneous Effects.

Remember that, like the Polearm Master's two types of attack, this has one (the Shifter one) as a Bonus Action attack. The Shifter effect only applies to this special bonus action attack. The other (the Alter Self one) applies to any attack, be it Attack Action, Attack of Opportunity, etc, you choose to make with that natural weapon. You would, however, once again be using the separate Longtooth weapon for the special bonus action attack, not the Alter Self weapon.

Furthermore Alter Self reads:

Your unarmed strikes deal 1d6 bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage, as appropriate to the natural weapon you chose, and you are proficient with your unarmed strikes.

This particular line mentions an effect on how the caster's unarmed strikes work without, by a literal reading, strictly limiting it to those made with the natural weapon created. Thus an Alter Self-ed character could make d6 unarmed attacks with hands or such even if it was the teeth that they changed into fangs, and this would apply in shifted form as well. This is not as illogical as it seems since there is nothing saying one is not more generally altered by the spell, but still probably not the intention of the spell. Thus were one to choose to make normal unarmed strikes for some reason despite having these swell natural weapon alternatives, one would still have proficiency and a d6 damage dice.

Note that it was errata-ed that everyone is proficient with unarmed strikes, which makes the mention of that in the Alter Self spell have no operative effect. Were this not the case it would give you proficiency you would not otherwise have on the Shifter fang attack.

There is An Arguable Reading Under Which These do Partially Stack, But it Doesn't Matter

The shifter passage reads:

If you hit with your fangs, you deal piercing damage equal to 1d6 + your Strength modifier, instead of the bludgeoning damage normal for an unarmed strike.

A very literal reading would say this applies to all attacks with fangs that belong to you, hence including Alter Self fangs. However this has no operative effect since your Alter Self fangs would already work this way, in addition to their +1-ness and Magic-ness.

To address a side note in the question, you can actually get Alter Self now if you give up an existing any school spell. Since it doesn't get you what I think you hoped for I'm guessing this is a lower priority, but Alter Self is a lot of fun outside of combat, and even in combat if you want to be a tooth-and-claw fighter it would be the way.

|improve this answer|||||
\$\endgroup\$
  • \$\begingroup\$ In your multiple types of attack with the same weapon, a +1 halberd will benefit from the +1 on the 1d4 bonus action attack as well, which is similar to what I'm trying to do. \$\endgroup\$ – RallozarX Jan 26 at 13:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.