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Let's say an Eldritch Knight (lvl 8) casts Alter Self and gains claws as natural weapons, could he then create a Weapon Bond with his claws?

Alternatively, could you be a Minotaur race then Weapon Bond with your horns?

Relevant Rules

Melee and Ranged Attacks

The most common actions that a monster will take in combat are melee and ranged attacks. These can be spell attacks or weapon attacks where "weapon" might be a manufactured item or a natural weapon such as a claw or tail spike. (MM p10)

Weapon Bond

At 3rd level, you learn a ritual that creates a magical bond between yourself and one weapon... Once you have bonded a weapon to yourself, you can't be disarmed of that weapon unless you are incapacitated. If it is on the same plane of existence, you can summon that weapon as a bonus action on your turn, causing it to teleport instantly to your hand. (PHB p75)

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. (PHB 211)

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    \$\begingroup\$ What's the point of this? If the natural weapon is part of your natural body, then it's already permanently bonded to you. If you created it with Alter Self, then it will cease to exist once the spell ends and you can't summon it back. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Feb 3 at 14:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ Indeed... What is the goal here? What is the problem you are trying to solve? \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Feb 3 at 16:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ Surely the solution to that is to find a manticore, cut off its tailspike, and use it as a spear? You can weapon bond to that, no problem. \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Feb 3 at 17:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AmethystWizard It's a bit late now there are answers, but it's always best to ask your actual use question. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Feb 3 at 17:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AmethystWizard "If it is on the same plane of existence" - the non-existent tentacles (or stinger) are not on the same plane of existence. That is why it is a good idea to ask the question you want answered, not some sub-question that you think could lead to the question you want answered... \$\endgroup\$ – Yakk Feb 3 at 20:40
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Yes, but why?

A weapon in 5e is defined in the basic rules under the monsters section as

A manufactured item or a natural weapon such as a claw or tail spike used to make attacks.

The Weapon Bond ritual has the following requirements:

  • Requires 1 hour

  • Target must be a weapon

    • A weapon that is a part of your body is still a weapon
  • The weapon must be within your reach for the entire ritual

    • A body part would have to be in a pretty awkward place for you to not be able to reach it
  • You must be able to touch the weapon at the end of the ritual

    • See previous

So you certainly could bond a natural weapon... but why? You already can't be disarmed of natural weapons, and since they're part of your body, they won't ever be far enough away from you to summon.

As for temporary natural weapons gained from Alter Self, they would disappear as soon as (or just before, depending on interpretation) you finished the ritual, rendering the ritual pointless. The ritual definitely wouldn't allow you to regain the natural weapons as a bonus action; They no longer exist when the spell ends.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, Welcome to RPG.SE! Good first answer. Take the tour if you haven't already and see the help center or ask us here in the comments (use @ to ping someone) if you need more guidance. Good Luck and Happy Gaming! \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Feb 3 at 23:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ Well written answer addressing the true problems with this idea. \$\endgroup\$ – gszavae Feb 4 at 0:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a quality answer which is why I chose it, but I have one point of contention. The Weapon Bond states that you magically "can't be disarmed". If your bonded weapon is allowed to disappear when the spell ends, how would you still be armed? You would be disarmed, no? \$\endgroup\$ – Amethyst Wizard Feb 5 at 1:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Well, disarming is a specific effect that causes you to drop the affected item at your feet after failing a contested attack roll/Athletics or Acrobatics check. Having the spell end is more like having your weapon be destroyed than being disarmed of it. I guess the end result would is that you would become disarmed in the lexical sense either way, but you would not have experienced the game mechanic "disarm" that they're referring to. \$\endgroup\$ – Craig Allen Feb 5 at 5:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ How can you be sure they mean the game mechanic and not the lexical sense which encompasses the effects of the game mechanic? \$\endgroup\$ – Amethyst Wizard Mar 6 at 15:05
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No.

First, as with everything, pushing the limits of wording or definitions in the rules to gain some kind of advantage is subject to the approval of your DM. It's a fundamental part of D&D as a game that the rules are incomplete and in some places ambiguous or unspecified, and the DM's job includes navigating those ambiguities when they arise in order to create a fun experience for all of the players (including themselves). If your DM wants to let your Eldritch Knight attune to an ephemeral body part, great. But it's safe to expect that they won't.

Second, "weapon" is used in at least two senses in the 5e rules.

  • "weapon" in its usual English meaning of "a tool for fighting"; it's a category of equipment, with several sub-categories (martial weapons, ranged weapons, etc). One key feature of weapons in this sense is that characters can become proficient with them. As with many English words, it is also used in many semi-metaphorical senses, where it may via modification or context refer to things that are not literally weapons under this definition.

  • "weapon" as a category of attacks, to differentiate from "spell". A "melee weapon attack" may not involve weapons (a punch is such an attack), but it's distinct from a "melee spell attack".

So, what's a "natural weapon"? My reading is that a "natural weapon" is a weapon (in the first sense) insofar as it can be used to make weapon (in the second sense) attacks that do damage beyond what a regular unarmed attack would do. However, "natural weapon" is not a weapon in the sense that it constitutes a piece of equipment. The descriptions of the traits for player character races which provide natural weapons support this:

Minotaur:

Your horns are natural melee weapons, which you can use to make unarmed strikes.

Centaur:

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

Tabaxi:

your claws are natural weapons, which you can use to make unarmed strikes.

Lizardfolk:

Your fanged maw is a natural weapon, which you can use to make unarmed strikes.

And, of course, the wording of alter self uses the same pattern:

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 strike.

In all cases, attacking with a natural weapon is an unarmed strike — the weapon is not a piece of equipment that the character wields. Alter self makes this even more explicit: the spell gives you proficiency with your unarmed strike, not with the natural weapons it creates. If natural weapons were fully "weapons" in the general sense, you would need to be proficient with them (not just your unarmed strike) to use your proficiency bonus on attacks.

Compare to the language of the Weapon Bond feature:

The weapon must be within your reach throughout the ritual, at the conclusion of which you touch the weapon and forge the bond.

While a natural weapon would meet these criteria, the rule reads as if it assumes that the weapon is a piece of equipment separate from you. My inference is that the intent of the Weapon Bond feature is to bond to a piece of equipment, and not a body part.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Minotaur horns are within your reach, not seeing the logical reasoning on that point \$\endgroup\$ – Amethyst Wizard Feb 3 at 16:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AmethystWizard The reasoning is that that sentence is phrased as if talking about an object apart from your own body. It wouldn't have been written that way if it was intended to include body parts. \$\endgroup\$ – Marq Feb 3 at 16:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ Agree with AM here, the language clearly assumes that the weapon has to be in reach and touchable, not a piece of equipment - where do you get that from? In the same line, the whole reasoning hinges on being armed - the carrying of weapons, not any weapons, again, from where do you get that? \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu Feb 3 at 17:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AmethystWizard Hm, it would almost certainly be an improvised weapon in such a case and no longer a natural weapon (for this purpose)-- summoning a tentacle would be more akin to summoning a whip than gaining a prehensile, unattached appendage, summoning a horn would not be like summoning a dagger, etc. Are you hoping to get special weapon effects, or just to have the natural weapon in hand and severed from its natural context? \$\endgroup\$ – Upper_Case Feb 3 at 19:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this answer has a lot of problems. For example claiming that weapons which can be used to make unarmed strikes are somehow different from normal weapons, the reading that "melee weapon attack" means "a melee attack of weapon type" not "a melee attack made with a weapon", the idea that since natural weapons are always within reach they are disqualified from being within reach, the claim that since you are automatically proficient with natural weapons they aren't true weapons. It looks like you have an intuitive sense of what your ruling would be, but I don't think it's well supported. \$\endgroup\$ – gszavae Feb 4 at 0:20
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Not the way you're thinking.

If you're a minotaur, you don't need to bond with your horns. They're already permanently bound to you. You can't be disarmed of them except by major trauma, which would render them useless as weapons anyway (what are you going to do, glue them back on?).

If you're using Alter Self or something to grow temporary natural claws, they're anatomically bound to you for as long as the spell lasts, and then they cease to exist. Weapon Bond can't summon them back because they have to be on the same plane of existence, and they're not anywhere.

If you're trying to acquire a monster part as a bound weapon, do that.

Since the real goal here is to get a manticore's stinger and use it as your Eldritch Knight weapon, the direct solution is to be an adventurer, hunt down a manticore, chop off its stinger, and use it as a spear. You can definitely Weapon Bond with that. This is the time-honored way to get unique, iconic hero gear (look at Hercules and his lion skin) and serves the important function of advertising what a bad dude you are.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that the question doesn't mention a manticore's sting; it mentions the natural weapons provided by alter self. So it's not clear to me why your answer states that the manticore's stinger is the "real goal". \$\endgroup\$ – Marq Feb 4 at 11:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Marq The OP stated their actual goal in the comments on the question: "I’d like my moon druid eldritch knight to be weapon bonded to a manticore tailspike." This really feels like an XY problem; they want to do X, have decided Y might be a way to do that, and have asked whether Y is possible rather than asking how to achieve X. \$\endgroup\$ – Anthony Grist Feb 4 at 11:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AnthonyGrist I agree, but we still should only answer Y, which was the actual question. Comments aren't part of the context in which we answer questions; they're a tool to improve questions and answers. \$\endgroup\$ – Marq Feb 4 at 13:25
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Yes, but no

A natural weapon is a weapon. So in theory anything that "targets" a weapon can target a natural weapon unless it says otherwise.

The problem is that Alter Self only lasts for 1 hour. And the bonding ritual requires an hour.

Even if you had a way to extend the duration of Alter Self or the DM allowed the ritual to complete a split second before Alter Self expired...once the Alter Self ends, your natural weapon simply doesn't exist any more.

Now, the weapon bond feature doesn't exactly say what happens if the weapon you are bonded to ceases to exist somehow, but its reasonable to assume that the bond would also be broken. So no "teleporting a non-existing natural weapon" I'm afraid (which doesn't make much physical sense either).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What about this aspect? "Once you have bonded a weapon to yourself, you can't be disarmed of that weapon unless you are incapacitated." \$\endgroup\$ – Amethyst Wizard Feb 3 at 10:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ Disarming means you can't have a weapon knocked out of your hand. Which isn't possible with a natural weapon anyway. But this is clearly not the same as a weapon ceasing to exist (in the same way that, if you used an ability that prevented disarming and used a natural weapon gained from a spell, and the spell expires, the "anti-disarming" feature would not prevent that spell from ending). \$\endgroup\$ – PJRZ Feb 3 at 10:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would argue that if you are wielding a weapon and it disappears, you are literally disarmed. You are no-longer armed with a weapon, you are dis-armed. However it appears, my interpretation is not intuitive to most people. \$\endgroup\$ – Amethyst Wizard Feb 5 at 0:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Weapon not existing == disarmed. Disarmed != Weapon not existing. A non-commutative relationship. :) \$\endgroup\$ – PJRZ Feb 5 at 8:34
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No, but for different reasons than stated in other answers.

I agree with Marq's answer, but there's another angle that he's missing, and that's bonding with part of an object.

Natural weapons are part of a larger whole. If you were to break off a horn or claw and bond with that, then yes, I don't see why that wouldn't work. (If you break it off your own body which was created using Alter Self, it will eventually cease to exist, but that's besides the point.)

But the idea of bonding to part of a larger object sets a very dangerous precedent. For the sake of argument, let's say you find a sleeping Minotaur and manage to weapon bond with his horn. Then, once that's done, you summon the horn to your hand. You've just broken off a Minotaur's horn. That may not seem so unreasonable, but if this is possible, why can't this be applied to anything? Improvised weapons are weapons, and improvised weapons can be anything! Stuck in a prison cell? Just weapon bond with a couple of the bars! When the guards aren't looking, summon those bad boys to your hands, slip through the gap you've created, and beat that guard to death with them! Trying to destroy the One Ring? It's been described as "The Weapon Of The Enemy"! Why not just bond with half of it and summon it to you? Boom: One Ring cut in two, roll credits!

These examples are sort of ridiculous, but I think they illustrate my point in terms of bonding with parts of an object, but also just with how 'weapon' is defined in general. The horn may be more accurately described as 'being used as a weapon', but is not itself a 'Weapon' in game terms. In game terms, that horn is part of a 'Minotaur' until such time as it is severed from said Minotaur.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Creatures are not objects in game terms. "For the purpose of these rules, an object is a discrete, inanimate item like a window, door, sword, book, table, chair, or stone, not a building or a vehicle that is composed of many other objects." The idea that creatures are at least partially composed of objects (eg their horns) has a lot of bearing in the rules. As you note, if you break a horn off then it's definitely an object. \$\endgroup\$ – gszavae Feb 4 at 0:09
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