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Would the Dragonslayer Claws (Dragon Magic page 93) be a valid target for weapon enchantments?

DRAGONSLAYER CLAWS

Perhaps the most dangerous foe a dragon can face is another dragon. With that in mind, the great creatures designed these magic claws to help them fight off dragons that try to seize their hoards. More aggressive dragons use these claws to claim the hoards of those they view as weak.

Description: These heavy, dark metal blades fit smoothly over the wearer’s claws like comfortable gloves. Dragonslayerclaws occupy the same space on the body as gloves.

Prerequisite: Although dragonslayer claws are made for dragons, any creature that has a claw attack can wear them, and they resize to fit the wearer. However, dragonslayer claws bestow a negative level when worn by any creature that is not of the dragon type or the dragonblood subtype. The negative level remains as long as the claws are worn and disappear when the creature removes the dragonslayer claws. This negative level never results in actual level loss, but it cannot be overcome by any means (not even restoration or wish) while the dragonslayer claws are worn.

A wearer that does not have claw attacks gains no benefit from dragonslayer claws.

Activation: Activating dragonslayer claws is a free action. The wearer can use the claws once per round, up to a maximum of three times per day. Before making an attack roll, the wearer must declare to which attack the extra damage will be applied.

Effect: When the wearer makes a claw attack, dragonslayer claws deal an extra 1d6 points of damage. Against a creature of the dragon type or the dragonblood subtype, the claws instead deal an extra 3d6 points of damage and are treated as magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.

Aura/Caster Level: Moderate transmutation; CL 8th.

Construction: Craft Wondrous Item, creator must be of the dragonblood subtype, magic weapon, 1,250 gp, 100 XP, 3 days.

Weight: 6 lb.

Price: 2,500 gp.

They use Craft Wondrous Item rather than Craft Magic Arms and Armor, but they also use the magic weapon spell which is intended to enhance weapons. They don't add damage or alter your attack with claws unless activated, but they're claw blades, if you attack with your claws you attack with them. I would think that they are much like gauntlets, which can have both wondrous item enchantments and weapon enchantments. With the understanding that you would have to enchant each hand separately. There are definitely gauntlets in the Magic Item Compendium that use Craft Wondrous Item but they are definitely listed as weapons in the Player's Handbook. What say you?

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2 Answers 2

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As both Mr Tumnus and you yourself note, the dragonslayer claws are a wondrous item, not a weapon. This is evident from their crafting requirements (Craft Wondrous Item creates wondrous items, natch; weapons are created with Craft Magic Arms and Armor. The spells required have no bearing on what sort of item it is). The gauntlet argument is somewhat problematic: gauntlets themselves are deeply unclear in a whole lot of ways, and the dragonslayer claws don’t have any specific wording that makes them like gauntlets in the first place.

But that, to me, is not the greatest problem, for all it is the official rule on the matter. Normally I would heartily recommend allowing such a wondrous item to be enhanced as a weapon, since it is so weapon-like; that would in many cases improve the game. I do not recommend that for the dragonslayer claws, because the dragonslayer claws can only be used 3/day. Magic weapons are priced to be used dozens of times each day; paying the price for one that can only be used three times is inappropriate. You can argue that you attack with them without activating them, as you have, but now we are deep into houserule territory; the official rules definitely do not consider any such option.

I would allow it, but the official rules don’t. And frankly I’d probably sooner suggest that you enhance your claws directly themselves, as if they were masterwork weapons. But that is houserule.

Instead, the official rules allow you to enhance your claws through still other wondrous items. An amulet of mighty fists can get enhancement bonuses, and per Arms & Equipment Guide, also potentially special weapon properties (flaming etc.)—check with your DM as to the legality of that A&EG rule in a 3.5e game (technically it is a 3.0e book and the 3.5e description of the amulet, with no mention of special weapon properties, is officially the “update” and so RAW would overrule A&EG rule; YMMV). Failing that, Savage Species has the necklace of natural attacks, which definitely can get special weapon properties (and is cheaper, too, if you have fewer than 3 natural weapons).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Gauntlets occupy the hands body slot (DMG 214). \$\endgroup\$ Jul 14, 2023 at 14:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Gauntlets are super-weird, but you’re right there, and OP explicitly made that comparison, so I’ll update some more. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jul 14, 2023 at 14:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ I accepted your answer. But for the record, Magic Item Compendium has the Dragonfang Gauntlets, which explicitly state "function as masterwork spiked gauntlets" and yet only use Craft Wondrous Item. So that doesn't seem to be a defining factor regarding whether something is a weapon or not. Dragonfang Gauntlets are only masterwork weapons (no weapon enchantments). Contrasted with Claw Gloves which require both Craft Wondrous Item and Craft Magic Arms and Armor because they have both wondrous and weapon enchantments. This leads me to believe the latter is only required for weapon enchantments. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kuro_Neko
    Jul 15, 2023 at 2:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kuro_Neko Sure, but that explicitly states that it is a (type of) weapon. Nothing says that about dragonslayer claws. That really is the most determinant factor. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jul 15, 2023 at 12:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kuro_Neko The rules support doing both (though they do not explicitly cover this case so the support is “nothing says you can’t, or that these things interfere with one another, so you can do both”) To me, the real difficulty is determining what that should cost. My opinion is that it should just cost the price of one + the price of the other, at no premium, but that is harder to demonstrate. I believe I have written up my thoughts somewhere on the similar situation of a magical shield that is also a magical weapon, if you want to search for that. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jul 16, 2023 at 14:12
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You've actually touched on it in your question and you're spot on. You can't add weapon enhancements to wondrous magic items. Despite their description sounding weapon-like they occupy the gloves slot which clearly marks them as a magic item.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Gauntlets are explicitly weapons, and there are many examples of Gauntlets in the Magic Item Compendium that are wondrous magic items and occupy the hand slot. Some of them even explicitly have weapon enchantments. Dragonfang Gauntlets as one example. Claw Gloves are an example of gloves --not even explicitly a weapon-- that are a wondrous magic item and have weapon enchantments on them. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kuro_Neko
    Jul 14, 2023 at 1:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ They have specific rule exceptions in their descriptions. "Dragonfang gauntlets function as master­work spiked gauntlets" and "Claw gloves are treated as a pair of +1 punching dag­gers " Is there an example of a magic item with weapon properties that doesn't have that carve out? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mr Tumnus
    Jul 15, 2023 at 2:20

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