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Some of the animal instinct unarmed attacks have the "Grapple" or "Trip" traits (Ape/Deer/Shark/Snake have "grapple", the Wolf has "Trip").

Do these Traits work the same as the weapon traits in the CRB or as the Creature Abilities from the Bestiary?

If they work in the same way as weapon traits then this seems entirely redundant, since the animal instinct barbarian must be unarmed and so will have a free hand and so could do any of these athletics skill actions anyway.

It seems more likely (useful) if it is the same as the Creature abilities form the bestiary (i.e. an automatic grapple or trip without an athletics check). This seems on a par with the fighter feats "snagging Strike" (Feat 1), "Combat Grab" (Feat 2) and "Knockdown" (Feat 4).

For the wolf's animal instinct "trip" trait I have assumed that this would be the "knockdown" creature ability (as per the wolf entry in the Bestiary) and "Grapple" would be the "Grab" creature ability.

Any thoughts?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi Peter, and welcome to RPG.SE! Does this answer your question? How does Wolf Stance help with Trip? (I'm looking specifically at what is currently the second answer there). If so, great! We'll mark this question as duplicating that one - nothing wrong with that, it'll just help us keep to one unified answer across the site. \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Jun 21, 2022 at 19:09
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    – V2Blast
    Jun 22, 2022 at 17:35

2 Answers 2

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Weapon Traits are Traits

The traits on unarmed attacks are the exact traits mentioned under the weapon traits in the CRB, as there is only one definition for each under the list of Traits.

You are correct that many of them are somewhat redundant on an unarmed attack, but the barbarian would get benefits such as the Trip trait's:

This uses the weapon's reach (if different from your own) and adds the weapon's item bonus to attack rolls as an item bonus to the Athletics check.

So an animal instinct barbarian with a trip unarmed attack could apply the attack bonus from handwraps of mighty blows and potentially Trip enemies at reach depending on the attack's other traits.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The bonus from handwraps of mighty blows is the key point here - an animal barbarian doesn't need to do doubly invest in a plus athletics item AND their weapon. Additionally, in the case of the Deer antlers, they can grapple with Reach at 7th level. \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Jun 21, 2022 at 16:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @brandon, you are correct, that is a benefit that I hadn't considered, so thank you for your answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – peter
    Jun 24, 2022 at 20:22
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Trip ≠ Knockdown

The last column of Table 3-3: Animal Instincts is explicitly for traits, which are explained in the Core Rulebook. Simply put, there is no rule that states or implies that traits like Trip grant creature abilities like Knockdown.

Unlike traits, Creature Abilities are explained in the Bestiary and the relevant ones are Grab, Knockdown, and Push. For example, Knockdown requires that:

The monster’s last action was a success with a Strike that lists Knockdown in its damage entry.

But the only things listed in the Table 3-3's damage column are weapon die sizes and damage types. Grab and Push have similar unmet requirements too.

Traits Aren't Redundant

Traits such as Grapple, Shove, and Trip offer four benefits, and the Animal Instinct Barbarian can take advantage of two or three of them. For example, Trip states:

You can use this weapon to Trip with the Athletics skill even if you don't have a free hand.

Many animal attacks do not require a hand at all, for example, the wolf's Jaw can be used to Strike or Trip even when both of the Barbarian's hands are occupied. While Animal Instinct Barbarians cannot use weapons, there are plenty of reasons their hands might be occupied, such as shields, potions, climbing, and much more.

This uses the weapon's reach (if different from your own)

The Tongue and Antler attacks gain Reach at level 7, allowing the relevant maneuvers to be executed with that Reach.

and adds the weapon's item bonus to attack rolls as an item bonus to the Athletics check.

The Animal Instinct Barbarians will eventually have item bonuses to their attacks rolls via Handwraps of Mighty Blows. In particular, item bonuses to attack rolls are usually acquired sooner than item bonuses to skill checks like Athletics.

If you critically fail a check to Trip using the weapon, you can drop the weapon to take the effects of a failure instead of a critical failure.

The animal attacks cannot be dropped to avoid critical failures, so this is the only benefit that Animal Instinct Barbarians can never use.

Feats Like Creature Abilities

Barbarians have several feats that are similar to creature abilities and you can select these feats at the appropriate level, namely Knockback imitates Push and Furious Grab imitates Grab.

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