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The UA Barbarian Path of the Beast has the following option when you rage:

Claws. Your hands transform into claws, which deal 1d6 slashing damage on a hit. When you take the Attack action on your turn and make an attack with your claws, you can make one additional attack using your claws as part of the same action.

Can a level 5 Barbarian attack with a Greataxe or other two-handed weapon then attack twice with their claws?

This would look like this:

---- Take Attack Action ----
attack with Greataxe (1d12+2+STR)
attack with Claw (1d6+2+STR)
attack with Claw (1d6+2+STR)

On one hand it seems that it is allowed by the rules considering nothing is mentioned about only attacking with the claws or that the claws cannot hold a weapon.

On the other hand it seems odd to make two attacks with claws while holding something.

On the third hand (which may or may not be required) the feature makes no mention of the claw attacks needing to be from different hands.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you certain that you get the strength bonus to damage? I agree that you should, but I'm not sure that the rules text supports that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Barden
    Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 14:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ben Barden you're thinking about the two weapon fighting rules, which this is not related to. \$\endgroup\$
    – RallozarX
    Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 14:23

3 Answers 3

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Yes, you can make 1 greataxe attack and 2 claw attacks

There are 2 parts to this question:

  1. Can you wield a weapon with clawed hands?
  2. Can you use your claws while wielding a two-handed weapon?

Fortunately, the answer to both of these is yes.

Having claws doesn't prevent wielding weapons

The main concern here is the first clause of the Form of the Beast's "Claws" option: "Your hands transform into claws," and whether this implicitly prevents you from doing anything that would normally require hands, such as wielding weapons or manipulating objects. However, there are a number of clawed creatures that can also wield weapons, such as a mezzoloth:

Multiattack. The mezzoloth makes two attacks: one with its claws and one with its trident.

As well as the dragonborn player race, which has no racial limitations on weapon use despite having clawed hands:

Their hands and feet are strong, talonlike claws with three fingers and a thumb on each hand.

Hence, there is no implicit mutual exclusion between clawed hands and weapon use. So, given that the Form of the Beast feature doesn't specify that your hands become unusable as normal hands while transformed, there is nothing preventing you from wielding weapons while your hands are transformed into claws.

You can attack with a two-handed weapon and then your claws

You might also think that a two-handed weapon would render your claws unusable, unless you attack with the weapon and then drop it. However, post-erratum, the two-handed weapon property says (emphasis added):

This weapon requires two hands when you attack with it.

This means you can attack once with your greataxe in both hands and then let go with one hand in order to make a claw attack, without dropping the weapon. This satisfies the requirements of the Form of the Beast feature in order to gain the additional attack: you have taken the Attack action on your turn and made an attack with your claws. Hence, you can make one attack with a weapon (even a two-handed one) and then 2 attacks with your claws in a single attack action.

You can even use two-weapon fighting and your claws together

With some creative object interaction, you can even make 4 attacks per turn: 2 attacks from your claws and 2 weapon attacks using two-weapon fighting. For instance, you can begin your turn wielding 2 shortswords. You take the attack action and make one attack with a sword, then use your bonus action to attack with the other sword. Then, you put away one sword and use the 2nd attack of your action to attack with your claws, allowing you to make one more attack with your claws, for a total of 2 shortsword attacks and 2 claw attacks. On your next turn, you start with 1 shortsword in hand and one free hand. You make your two claw attacks first, then you pull out your 2nd shortsword and make your 2 shortsword attacks using two-weapon fighting.

Note that, per the two-weapon fighting rules, you don't add your ability modifier to the 2nd shortsword attack, so I don't think this will improve your raw damage output over a greataxe. However, this might be useful for situations such as fighting a mage, where more attacks means more chances to break the mage's concentration.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The mezzoloth is even explicitly mentioned to possibly hold the trident with both claws: "or 8 (1d8 + 4) piercing damage when held with two claws and used to make a melee attack." \$\endgroup\$
    – Sdjz
    Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 12:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ An example of claws that do prevent using weapons are the Claws of the Umbral Hulk: "While wearing the claws, you can’t manipulate objects or cast spells with somatic components." \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 13:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can't you also do the two-shortswords thing with just your claws? Attack action: Claw + Claw + Extra Claw, then Bonus action for "off hand" Claw? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 15:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RevenantBacon No, becuase two-weapon fighting requires you to be holding 2 light weapons, and the Form of the Beast feature doesn't specify that the claws are considered light. If you also took the Dual Wielder feat, this restriction is removed, and you could indeed make 4 attacks with just your claws (and get +1 AC while your claws are out). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 18:40
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You can even use two-weapon fighting and your claws together

With some creative object interaction, you can even make 4 attacks per turn: 2 attacks from your claws and 2 weapon attacks using two-weapon fighting. For instance, you can begin your turn wielding 2 shortswords. You take the attack action and make one attack with a sword, then use your bonus action to attack with the other sword. Then, you put away one sword and use the 2nd attack of your action to attack with your claws, allowing you to make one more attack with your claws, for a total of 2 shortsword attacks and 2 claw attacks. On your next turn, you start with 1 shortsword in hand and one free hand. You make your two claw attacks first, then you pull out your 2nd shortsword and make your 2 shortsword attacks using two-weapon fighting.

Note that, per the two-weapon fighting rules, you don't add your ability modifier to the 2nd shortsword attack, so I don't think this will improve your raw damage output over a greataxe. However, this might be useful for situations such as fighting a mage, where more attacks means more chances to break the mage's concentration.

I agree with most of what you have written, with the exception of this excerpt. It is a little off topic, but must be addressed. Action Economy is very important when considering what you are going to do. You only get to make one attack action per turn for example. Below is the definition for Attack Action;

Attack Action:

Attack

The most co⁠mmon Action to take in Combat is the Attack Action, whether you are swinging a sword, firing an arrow from a bow, or brawling with your fists.

With this Action, you make one melee or ranged Attack. See the “Making an Attack” section for the rules that govern attacks. Certain features, such as the Extra Attack feature of the Fighter, allow you to make more than one at⁠tack with this Action.

Knowing the Attack Action and what it is limited to, we then consider the Claws, and Extra Attack features next.

Claws Each of your hands transforms into a claw, which you can use as a weapon if it's empty. It deals 1d6 slashing damage on a hit. Once on each of your turns when you Attack with a claw using the Attack Action, you can make one additional claw Attack as part of the same Action.

Extra Attack (Barbarian)

Beginning at 5th Level, you can Attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack Action on Your Turn.

Note that both features require the use of the Attack Action, and thus are not compatible to stack with each other. You can certainly take the attack action to make a claw attack, followed by another claw attack, then follow that up with a bonus action to make a weapon attack under the Two-Weapon fighting rules -so long as the weapon is eligible for two-weapon fighting- but you cannot creatively manipulate your object interaction in the way you have described as that would have you taking the attack action twice in one turn.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "Note that both features require the use of the Attack Action, and thus are not compatible to stack with each other." Why is this the case? The additional claw attack requires that you make a claw attack as part of your Attack action, that's it. If you make a claw attack while using the Extra Attack feature, you've met the requirements of making the extra claw attack from the Claws feature. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 12:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Once on each of your turns when you Attack with a claw using the Attack Action" This specifies that you need to be using the Attack Action to attack with your claws. Not that you only need to be making an attack with your claws as PART of your attack action. You only get 1 attack action per turn. \$\endgroup\$
    – DM-Sei
    Commented Jul 9, 2022 at 6:14
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It does not work, you need to make an attack with your claws, but that is not the case if you attack with your greataxe

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's a fifth level barbarian. The Extra Attack feature at this level allows them to make two attacks. One can be with the greataxe. The other can be with the claws, assuming they release the grip on the axe with one of them. \$\endgroup\$
    – shhalahr
    Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 12:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ that is... true, i did not think of that, my bad. \$\endgroup\$
    – Saurazim
    Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 16:11

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