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Under the Unarmed Strike subsection of the Monk class it states:

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.

The Epic level feat Holy Strike states:

Any weapon you wield is treated as a holy weapon (is good-aligned and deals an extra 2d6 points of damage against creatures of evil alignment).If the weapon already has an alignment, this feat has no effect on the weapon.

Is the descriptive term 'wielding' applicable to a monk's unarmed strike and therefore qualified for the application of this feat. Or does it solely extend to a weapon that must be held in hand to benefit from this feat?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I hope it counts because then, if you do end up wanting the feat, try to talk the DM into letting you take it from the original source. The feat Holy Strike (Epic Level Handbook 57) is supposed to also make your weapons count as blessed (pesky incomplete SRD). Then you get to say, "I give you my blessing," and sock dudes in the face. Good times. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 19, 2023 at 5:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ If the monk is level 10 or higher, the monk's unarmed strikes are lawfully-aligned, so this may have no effect. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 19, 2023 at 17:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Spitemaster Oh, that's right. I edited my answer accordingly. Thank you! \$\endgroup\$
    – Peregrin
    Sep 19, 2023 at 18:59

3 Answers 3

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The use of the term "wielding" in connection with weapons does not exclude unarmed strikes.

Of course, from a "language-logic-point-of-view" something that you wield should be something you hold in your hand. But if it comes to unarmed strikes the rules do not take that too literally. For instance, if we read the part about "Light, One-Handed, and Two-Handed Melee Weapons" in the Player's Handbook (173), we find the words "wield/wielder" several times in a text that explicitly includes a reference to unarmed strikes.

Light, One-Handed, and Two-Handed Melee Weapons: This designation is a measure of how much effort it takes to wield a weapon in combat. It indicates whether a melee weapon, when wielded by a character of the weapon’s size category, is considered a light weapon, a one-handed weapon, or a two-handed weapon. Light: A light weapon is easier to use in one’s off hand than a onehanded weapon is, and it can be used while grappling. A light weapon is used in one hand. Add the wielder’s Strength bonus (if any) to damage rolls for melee attacks with a light weapon if it’s used in the primary hand, or one-half the wielder’s Strength bonus if it’s used in the off hand. Using two hands to wield a light weapon gives no advantage on damage; the Strength bonus applies as though the weapon were held in the wielder’s primary hand only. An unarmed strike is always considered a light weapon.

(emphasis mine)

If the rules don’t care about using the word "wielding" in reference with unarmed strikes in this core part of the core rules, it can be concluded that "wielding" and unarmed strike generally do not contradict.

Thus, an epic monk could make use of the feat Epic Holy Strike on their unarmed strikes... — ... if there weren’t another problem (hat tip to @Spitemaster for pointing to it in the comment above): From 10th level onward a monk's unarmed attacks are treated as lawful weapons. Unfortunately, the feat Epic Holy Strike has no effect on a weapon that already has an alignment...

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'...both as a **

manufactured weapon and a natural weapon

** for the

purpose of spells and effects

' indicate that the character's hands are now weapons and Holy Strike modifiers applied as such.

That's how it reads to me.

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Up to the DM

There is no explicit defintion in the rules what counts as "wiedling" a weapon. I can see two different lines or reasoning, one for, and one against unarmed strikes counting as wielded (the one for it somewhat indirect). Since the rules do not resolve this -- at least to my knowledge -- the DM must resolve it.

Definition of wield

The English language defintion of "wield" is

hold and use (a weapon or tool). (Oxford dictionary)

to hold a weapon or tool and look as if you are going to use it (Cambridge Dictionary)

so the defintion means you need to be able to hold the weapon. By this logic, as you cannot "hold" an unarmed strike, it cannot be a weapon you wield.

Usage of wield in the rules

The vast majority of cases the term wield is used in the rules, it clearly refers to a weapon that is an actual object.

However, the Weapons section of the SRD contains a table of weapons that lists unarmed strike as its second entry and that is prefaced with the following introduction (emphasis mine):

Weapons found on Table: Weapons that have special options for the wielder ("you") are described below.

If unarmed strike is a weapon and has a wielder, than it is a weapon that is wielded. Now, it may be that they used this language because it applies to the majority of weapons in that table, and not to define that an unarmed strike counts as a wielded weapon, but they could just as easily have said "the user" to avoid this issue.

Manufactured weapons

A manufactured weapon is defined as

in essence, any weapon that is not intrinsic to the creature.

The monks attacks count as a manufactured weapon for spells and effects that enhance or improve either manufactured weapons or natural weapons. However Holy Strike does not improve manufactured weapons, it improves weapons that are wielded. So I think wether the the Unarmed Strike counts as manufactured or not is a bit of a red herring in this context: a manufactured weapon is not affected by Holy Stike, unless it is also wielded.

In any case, while I think the intent is probably that a wielded weapon is an actual physical object that you hold in your hand(s), there is enough room for doubt to defer the decision to the DM.

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