Our monk's build contains various abilities and items that, in part, give him the same bonus, I am not sure if all of them would accumulate or not.

  1. Item: Monk's Belt (DMG 248)

This simple rope belt, when wrapped around a character’s waist, confers great ability in unarmed combat. The wearer’s AC and unarmed damage is treated as a monk of five levels higher. If donned by a character with the Stunning Fist feat, the belt lets her make one additional stunning attack per day. If the character is not a monk, she gains the AC and unarmed damage of a 5th-level monk. This AC bonus functions just like the monk’s AC bonus.

  1. Extraordinary Ability: Unarmed Damage (Fist of Forest -complete champion 81)

Your unarmed attacks deal more damage than usual. At 1st level, you deal 1d8 points of damage with each unarmed strike. When you attain 3rd level, this damage increases to 1d10 points. See the monk class feature (PH 41). If your unarmed attack already deals this amount of damage, increase the base damage to the next step indicated on the monk class table

  1. Supernatural ability: Morphic Weapons (Su) (warshaper - complete warrior pag 90)

As a move action, a warshaper can grow natural weapons such as claws or fangs, allowing a natural attack that deals the appropriate amount of damage according to the size of the new form (see Table 5–1 on page 296 of the Monster Manual). These morphic weapons need not be natural weapons that the creature already possesses. For example, a warshaper polymorphed into an ettin (Large giant) could grow a claw that deals 1d6 points of damage, or horns for a gore attack that deals 1d8 points of damage. If the warshaper’s form already has a natural weapon of that type, the weapon deals damage as if it were one category larger. For example, a warshaper who used wild shape to become a dire wolf (Large animal) could grow its jaw and snout, enabling a bite attack that deals 2d6 points of damage (as a for Huge animal), not the normal 1d8. A warshaper can change morphic weapons as often as it likes, even if it is using a shapechanging technique such as the polymorph spell or the wild shape class feature that doesn’t allow subsequent changes after the initial transformation.

  1. ITEM: gauntlet of the Talon (complete divine 97)

A character wearing gauntlets of the talon effectively has natural weapons that deal 1d8 points of slashing damage and count as magic for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. If a monk dons the gauntlets of the talon, she is treated as if she were five levels higher for purposes of AC, unarmed damage (which now counts as slashing), and the monk’s ki strike ability (this function stacks with the similar functions of a monk’s belt). Gauntlets of the talon function as ghost touch weapons for the purpose of attacking incorporeal creatures. Finally, the wearer gains a +4 bonus on all grapple checks. To use this relic, you must worship Bahamut and either sacrifice a 4th-level divine spell slot or have the True Believer feat and at least 7 HD.

  1. Spell: Animal Growth a member of the party casts this on him when the monk uses his bear form (the monk has also the Prestige Class of "bear warrior")

3 Answers 3



In this comment, the asker mentions that the characters in question are level 30. The rules for the Epic Monk, on Unarmed Strike say, "The damage for a monk’s unarmed strike does not increase after [20]th level" (Dungeon Master's Guide 208).1

In other words, a Medium creature that's effectively Mnk20+ insofar as unarmed strike is concerned sees that unarmed strike damage because of monk levels reach its peak at 2d10 points of damage. Another 5 levels from a monk's belt (DMG 248) (13,000 gp; 1 lb.) or 5 levels from gauntlets of the talon (Magic Item Compendium 103–4) (4,000 gp; 2 lbs.) or 10 levels from both doesn't allow exceeding that Medium Mnk20+'s 2d10 barrier.


The fist of the forest prestige class's unarmed damage class feature, in part, says, "If your unarmed attack already deals this amount of damage [i.e. 1d10 or, presumably, more], increase the base damage to the next step indicated on the monk class table" (Complete Champion 81), and the monk class table's unarmed strike damage doesn't extend past 20.

Nonetheless, a GM could extrapolate that table to accommodate the fist's damage. Table 2–2: Increasing Weapon Damage by Size (DMG 28) shows one way of advancing damage, saying that a weapon that normally deals 2d10 points of damage deals instead 4d8 points of damage if it's bigger—conveniently the same as a Large Mnk20's unarmed damage—, but be aware that the monk class table doesn't rigorously obey Table 2–2 (also see Bearing, below).2


If a Medium creature's unarmed strike damage is already the maximum it can be from the monk table, and the DM has not to extend the table (see Foresting, above), then becoming—via the bear warrior prestige class's bear form supernatural ability (Complete Warrior 16—17)—a brown bear or dire bear (both Large) will increase the creature's unarmed strike damage to that of a Large monk (see here) therefore from a former peak of 2d10 to a new peak of 4d8.

If, while using the bear form ability to assume the form of a Large bear, the once-Medium creature is subsequently the subject of the 5th-level Drd spell animal growth [trans] (Player's Handbook 198), then the creature is a Huge bear… with a Mnk20's unarmed strike. While no rules were published for a 3.5 Huge or bigger monk's unarmed strike, a reader can use Table 2–2 to determine that that going from a Medium Mnk20 to a Large Mnk20 yielded an unarmed strike that deals 4d8 points of damage, therefore going from a Medium Mnk20 to a Huge Mnk20 yields an unarmed strike that deals 6d8 points of damage.

…Then Morphing

"A monk’s unarmed strike is treated… as a manufactured weapon… for the purpose of spells and effects that enhance or improve… natural weapons," says the monk's unarmed strike class feature (PH 41). Thus the warshaper prestige class can use its morphic weapons supernatural ability on its unarmed strikes so that "the weapon deals damage as if it were one category larger" (Complete Warrior 90), therefore following the the rules for increasing damage as per Table 2—2: Increasing Weapon Damage by Size (see Foresting, above). Exercise caution with the morphic weapons ability, though, as it lends itself to controversy.3

Putting it all together

  • The unarmed strike of a Medium Mnk20+ (who is possibly black bear) deals 2d10 points of damage.
  • The unarmed strike of a Large Mnk20+ (whether a black bear with an animal growth spell or a brown or dire bear) deals 4d8 points of damage.
  • The unarmed strike of a Huge Mnk20+ (who is possibly a brown or dire bear with an animal growth spell) deals 6d8 points of damage.
  • The morphic weapons ability can increase each of previous by a total of just 1 step on Table 2–2 to from 2d10 to 4d8 or from 4d8 to 6d8 or, finally, from 6d8 to 8d8, respectively.

1 The DMG says 16th level; the SRD says 20th level. That's probably stealth errata on the SRD's part for a failure to update the DMG to match changes wrought by the 3.5 revision. (C.f. The DMG on Spell Resistance still using the spell power word stun as an example of a conjuration spells when the 3.5 revision made it an enchantment spell.)
2 Medium Monk unarmed strike damage goes from 1d6 at levels 1–3, 1d8 at 4–7, 1d10 at 8–11, 2d6 at 12–15, 2d8 at 16–19, and 2d10 at 20. Table 2–2 has a 1d6 weapon go to 1d8 at Large, 2d6 at Huge, 3d6 at Gargantuan, and 4d6 at Colossal.
3 For examples, see this 2005 EN World thread, this 2010 Giant in the Playground thread, and this 2012 Min/Max Boards thread.

Note: All that said, monks tend to need all the help they can get. And, technically, this isn't stacking but just a combination of abilities that may synergize.

  • \$\begingroup\$ thank you for your answer and the time, I am the DM of the group but I simply did not understant this type of stacking as it is also going out of the chart. \$\endgroup\$
    – Digius
    Mar 3, 2022 at 22:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Digius Yeah, I got the impression that the player was probably trying to go literally off the charts and into unexplored monk land. That easily overlooked 20th level cap extinguishes that idea. I also suspect that the player wanted to count his unarmed strikes as increasingly bigger from changing size rather than the character being treated as an increasingly bigger monk. This might bring the player's numbers back to earth. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 4, 2022 at 16:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ God, so Monk keeps sucking even at Epic levels? And here I thought that all were made equal under the tyranny of Epic Spellcasting. \$\endgroup\$
    – J. Mini
    Mar 4, 2022 at 18:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @J.Mini O, the epic monk is fine because the epic monk can take the feat Improved Ki Strike. I mean, 2d10? That's already more than a greatsword! :-) \$\endgroup\$ Mar 4, 2022 at 18:39
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Isn't the Large monk table just the Medium monk table with a size increase by table 2-2 applied? \$\endgroup\$
    – Zachiel
    Mar 5, 2022 at 12:54

This is called Size Stacking.

It works via RAW, although, I haven't looked at the errata for any of these abilities in many years. There's some oddities - to use the gauntlets of the talon in Bear form, your monk/warshaper/fist of the forest/bear warrior would need to take off the gauntlets, wildshape into a bear, and then put them back on (or have a wildling clasp (think that's what they're called)).

None of those abilities or items provide the same bonus type, and the ones that say '5 levels higher', aka the same text that could be read as '5 levels higher than your current level, full stop', one of them explicitly says it stacks with the other. The others are various kinds of (stacking) size increases, base damage increases, differently worded abilities etc. So RAW, it all works.

Effectively this is optimization that in more extreme cases uses the fact that the size-changing table (in the MM, and the PHB) grows by doubling the number of dice after a certain point to end up doing 48d8 damage or whatever via extrapolating the existing table. It works by increasing the base damage of an attack or transforming into a form with a high number of dice on a base attack(s), and then consulting the table for further size increases (or effective size increases).

The extrapolated table is not RAW, but in this case your player looks to be only gaining a few size increases - Large Bear -> Animal Growth to Huge Bear -> Morphic Weapons to have unarmed bear strike count as 'Gargantuan', so it's still on the table (which covers Fine to Colossal). Unless he has dire bear form from bear warrior, in which case he'd go to Colossal effective weapon size, which is still on the table, but only barely.

However keep in mind, in DnD 3.5e (and indeed, most editions of DnD) 'disable' effects like Solid Fog are usually vastly more powerful than damage - even immense, ludicrous damage like that of a Leap Attacking Shock Trooper (I do.. 1d12 + 783 damage, 18 times) - as that damage relies on being in melee, being a target, can only be done at arms reach instead of from 400' + 40'/lvl away inside an extradimensional space using a cloned body that is only conditionally real. The Fist of the Bear Forest monk can sure do a bunch of damage but his utility to the party may be minimal if there are even semi-optimized high level casters around, so consider that before asking them to tone things down. If he's in a party with sword and board paladin, whip master fighter, healing-only cleric, and 'scorching ray is the best spell!' sorcerer then yeah, he might be a bit OP.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Not all of these involve size: in fact, most don’t. Monks, including things that increase one’s monk level like monk’s belt or gauntlets of the talon, don’t do more damage because their weapons count as larger damage, they just do more damage, while still counting as the same size. Fist of the forest, likewise, just ups the base damage of unarmed strike, no question of size involved. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Mar 3, 2022 at 5:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @user2754 thank you very much for your reply, I am struggling to find the sxtrapolated table for the dice. The party is at lv 30. The monk with full attack does 400 dmg avg. while the warrior does 156, the first rogue/skillmonkey 250 and the second rogue 560 +360. Any advice on where I should read more on semi optimised casters? \$\endgroup\$
    – Digius
    Mar 3, 2022 at 5:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Digius the extrapolated table is not official rules text. It works by mathematically extrapolating the progression of the normal 'size change damage increase' table found in the player's handbook. I don't think your monk is going past Colossal in any case, so no extrapolation is required. I should reword that paragraph. If you want to know more about optimization in 3.5e and specifically resources for caster optimization in 3.5e, you should write another question on this site (or search for existing questions that have that information), as comments aren't good for it. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2754
    Mar 3, 2022 at 6:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ The monk goes out of the chart with the the hit dice, even before considering the size increment (so looking at the chart, vertically). In regards to the casters, thank you for the advice. \$\endgroup\$
    – Digius
    Mar 3, 2022 at 6:57

Monk and bonuses to monk level

If you are a monk, a monk’s belt explicitly makes you count as a monk five levels higher. There is no question as to whether these “accumulate” (usually called “stacking” in 3.5e parlance), since the monk’s belt explicitly accounts for what happens if you are already a monk.

And gauntlets of the talon also explicitly note what happens if you are a monk, and/or have a monk’s belt—they also definitely stack.

For example, a Medium 2nd-level monk with monk’s belt and gauntlets of the talon counts as a 12th-level monk, and so has a 2d6-damage unarmed strike. It’s still a Medium weapon, it’s just a Medium weapon that deals 2d6 damage, like a Medium greatsword would.

Note that a monk’s unarmed strike damage explicitly does not increase past 20th level’s 2d10 damage. Neither of these items, nor more monk levels or other levels that stack with monk levels, can increase this.

Fist of the forest

On to fist of the forest. Fist of the forest is weird. It refers to whether you “already” have the unarmed strike damage listed, which is one of those words that often gets us in trouble in D&D 3.5e. The general consensus is that “already,” like “normally,” means “without this effect we’re talking about now.” This result surprises many people, but generally speaking, ordering shouldn’t matter to a character, and when it does, the recommended rule of thumb is that things can be ordered any way you like. Thus, you can adjudicate the fist of the forest’s unarmed strike damage increases after adjudicating the monk’s changes, including monk’s belt and gauntlets of the talon, even if you didn’t “already” have those at the time you took the fist of the forest level. This doesn’t sit well with some people, but all I can say in the space of this answer is, trying to do it any other way is near impossible to keep consistent without causing far weirder effects.

Our monk from the previous example had unarmed strikes that dealt 2d6 damage. If they now take a level of fist of the forest, it says that if you “already” had unarmed strikes that deal the damage listed, you instead increase the damage one step, per the monk unarmed strike table. That’s equivalent to 4 monk levels, by the way. It’s unclear if fist of the forest means one step ever, for taking the class, or one step each time fist of the forest would have improved one’s damage. One step would be 2d8; two would be 2d10. Anyway, we’ll assume a 1st-level fist of the forest here, just to keep things clear—so 2d8 damage. Again, still a Medium weapon.

Again, since we are supposed to increase a monk’s unarmed strike damage by one step on the monk’s table of unarmed strike damage, this ability probably cannot increase the damage beyond 2d10.

Morphic weapons

So if that monk also applied morphic weapons to their unarmed strike,¹ you would look up 2d8 in the Medium column of the Smaller and Larger Weapon Damage Table, and then find the next value to the right for Large. Problem is, there is no entry of 2d8 in the Medium column, because no weapon normally deals that much damage at Medium size. The usual extrapolation here is to shift everything over by a column: from the 2d8 entry in the Large column, look up the damage for Huge. So 3d8. Of course, the monk/fist of the forest/warshaper has also devoted at least 4 class levels (and that ignores how they actually qualified for fist of the forest and warshaper), as well as 32,000 gp and either a 4th-level spell slot or a feat.

Bear warrior and animal growth

Now for bear warrior and animal growth. First, natural weapons and unarmed strikes are separate. None of the benefits of monk apply to the bear form’s claws or bite—those are claws and a bite, not an unarmed strike. A bear can (probably, nothing says it can’t) also perform an unarmed strike à la a humanoid, but it sees no benefits related to claws or bites or other natural weapons. As a black bear (per the single level of bear warrior indicated in the question), the monk/bear warrior/warshaper is still a Medium creature, all of the above applies. Then we add animal growth, so that we are now a Large bear. Since we are in the “form” of a Large bear, between bear form and animal growth, morphic weapons says² we can make our unarmed strike deal damage as if one size larger still—Huge. So we go back and look up our 2d8 damage in Huge (because Medium doesn’t have any), and go to the right two columns for Gargantuan (because we want Huge relative to Medium but we have to start from Large)—4d8.

Finally, imagine we had 5 levels of bear warrior, and took the form of a brown bear—a Large bear. Animal growth brings us to Huge, and morphic weapons increases our damage from that of a Huge creature to that of a Gargantuan creature: 6d8. Pretty hefty weapon, really, averages 27 damage. But consider that this required 9 levels, 32,000 gp, a 4th-level spell slot or a feat, another 4th-or-5th-level spell, and can only be done a few times per day. We’re a minimum of 13th level (since bear warrior requires BAB +7 and we have at least 3 levels of ¾ BAB)—a rogue at that level gets +7d6 damage on a sneak attack (average 24.5), and that’s on top of whatever the weapon itself is doing. And a rogue isn’t really a stellar damage-dealer. And we haven’t given the rogue any feats or any kind of magic gear or spells.

Which isn’t to say it’s a bad idea: fist of the forest, bear warrior, and warshaper have plenty of other things also going for them. Far fewer targets will be immune to your damage. You’ll likely be a lot more accurate, and definitely a lot more durable, than a rogue. It’s just that you’re not setting any damage records.

  1. We’re ignoring the poor wording on morphic weapons that suggests you might be able to keep applying it over and over on the same natural weapon, because then the damage just becomes arbitrarily large, or we get into arguments about whether or not the rules support extrapolating larger damage sizes past Colossal.

  2. Morphic weapons explicitly says that it increases our natural weapon’s damage relative to the weapon that “form” would have otherwise. This is unusual—often the rules will refer to what “you” would “normally” have. The general consensus is that “normally” means “ignoring this thing we are talking about right now,” but it’s not super clear, and there are those who disagree. Morphic weapons just happens to be one of the few cases where we don’t have to rely on that, so it’s a lot clearer that this works.

  • \$\begingroup\$ There are plenty of good reasons not to comment with a downvote, but I admit that I’m pretty mystified by this one. As far as I can tell, it contains largely the same content as other (un-downvoted) answers, just stated differently. If the downvoter would care to provide constructive feedback, I’d be happy to fix any errors that might have crept in. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Mar 3, 2022 at 20:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ My updated answer will include the fact that a "monk’s unarmed strike is treated both as a manufactured weapon and a natural weapon for the purpose of spells and effects that enhance or improve either manufactured weapons or natural weapons" (PH 41). I'm curious: With this in mind, why would morphic weapons not apply to the monk's unarmed strike? (By the way, not my downvote, and I assume my answer will get one, too.) \$\endgroup\$ Mar 3, 2022 at 21:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Honestly I only put that in when I saw it in your answer and was like “oh yeah, that is a mess.” Kinda surprised they offered such an explicit answer on the question. Anyway, removed; kinda doubt that’s the cause. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Mar 3, 2022 at 21:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ …And, as predicted, there's the downvote on my answer, too. No surprises. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 4, 2022 at 15:58

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