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First, a reason this might matter would be a multiclassed Druid/Monk using Wild Shape and hoping to use Flurry of Blows, the latter of which states:

Immediately after you take the Attack action on your turn, you can spend 1 ki point to make two unarmed strikes as a bonus action.

So say we are transformed, via Wild Shape, into an Owl and we use our "Talons" action. Can we then use Flurry of Blows?


I'm unsure what the case is given that the Monster Manual states (page 10):

When a monster takes its action, it can choose from the options in the Actions section of its stat block or use one of the actions available to all creatures, such as the Dash or Hide action, as described in the Player's Handbook.

"Talons" is not one of the actions available to all creatures, but the Attack action is so I'm unsure whether Talons also counts as the Attack action and if so, why/how?

In addition the Essentials Kit describes the "Use a Special Ability" action as follows (page 36):

Many class features give you special ways to use your action. Monsters also have their own special actions, as described in their stat blocks.

Are these "special actions" things like "Talons" or is "Talons" a use of the Attack action?

Can a Monk use Flurry of Blows while under the effects of Wild Shape; are actions such as the Owl's "Talons" considered the Attack action?

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The "Talons" action is the Talons action, not the Attack action.

However, the owl can take the Attack action and use its talons to make an attack

Note that all capitalization in the preceding sentences is significant.

The Monster Manual (p. 10) is clear that the actions listed in the stat block of a creature are additional to and different from the actions available to all creatures in the Player's Handbook. So the Talons action is the Talons action.

As such, if they take the Talons action they cannot:

  1. Use Flurry of Blows because it isn't the Attack action,
  2. Use Extra Attack (if they have one) because it isn't the Attack action,
  3. Use the Monk's unarmed strike damage because Talons is a "melee weapon" and, as such, is neither an unarmed strike nor or a monk weapon.

The owl can, of course, take the Attack action and use its talons to make attacks. This would allow Extra Attack and Flurry of Blows but not the monk damage. It can use its talons to make an attack because talons are a weapon available to owls in the way that a sword or spear is available to creatures with hands if they have a sword of spear.

The wildshaped druid/monk is better off ignoring the Talons and simply using the Attack action to make unarmed strike(s) - these get all of the above benefits with the only downside being that on very, very rare occasions you might prefer to do slashing rather than bludgeoning damage although, offhand, I can't recall when this would ever come up.

So, since there appears to be no difference between the Talons action and an Attack action using talons to attack, why make the distinction? Well, for the owl there isn't a difference but for other creatures (e.g. those with the Multiattack action see Can you benefit from Bladesong while Shapechanged into a Marilith?, or multi-part actions like the Giant Toad's bite - if you take the Attack action you can't start the grapple that is part of the Bite action) it does make a difference. I venture to suggest that this was a deliberate design decision to stop the sorts of exploits that high-level characters can do with things like wildshape - a giant toad that has one opportunity per turn to start a grapple is one thing, one that has three or four?

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Yes by taking the Attack Action.

The Attack Action in the PHB (p. 192) states:

With this action, you make one melee or ranged attack.

As discussed in this answer a beast's attacks as listed in their stat block qualify as using natural weapons. If the character has access to a weapon they can take the Attack Action to make an attack with it. The Talons action in the stat block tells the DM what the damage, reach, and hit bonus for that weapon should be. So the character could take the Attack Action to attack with the Owl's talons and then use Flurry of Blows

It should be noted, however, that since the Owl can take the Attack Action and Druids retain features in Wild Shape so long as the form can support those features, the Monk/Druid/Owl could likely make an unarmed strike as granted by the Monk class and deal at least 1d4 +[DEX] rather than the 1d1 slashing damage of Talons

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    \$\begingroup\$ Haha, I guess Owls weren't exactly the best example creature. If I'm reading this correct, you're saying that "Talons" is considered the Attack action because it is an action and is either a melee or ranged attack but also not a spell? \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 May 18 at 1:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think that "using an action to make an attack that is not a spell" would be an excellent definition for using the "Attack Action" and one I would use in my own games but my precise point is that the Owl can use the Attack Action to attack with lowecase-t talons to produce the same effect as the Talons action \$\endgroup\$ – Odo May 18 at 1:27

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