Okay, I need some clarification. The Pathfinder Core Rules state this about natural attacks:

You do not receive additional natural attacks for a high base attack bonus. Instead, you receive additional attack rolls for multiple limb and body parts capable of making the attack (as noted by the race or ability that grants the attacks).

Let's say that I can shape into an Oliphant. My BAB is +8/+3 and STR 5. An Oliphant has two natural attacks: Gore and Stomp (x2).

Reading the rules, it seems that I can't do two Gore attacks, like:

  • 1st attack: AB +13. DAM 2d8 + 5
  • 2nd attack: AB +8. DAM 2d8 + 5

because I don't get additional attacks for a high BAB. Does that mean I need to combine attacks instead? Example:

  • (Gore) 1st attack, AB +13. DAM 2d8 + 5
  • (2 Stomps) 2nd attack, AB +6*. DAM 2d6 + 5
    * With the Multiattack feat, reduces secondary weapon penalty to −2.

Also, does the damage from the two stomps equal 2d6 + 5, or should I roll damage for each stomp? (1st foot = 2d6 + 5, 2nd foot = 2d6 + 5).


5 Answers 5


You get one attack roll for each natural attack you possess, and you do not get any extra natural attack for high BAB (you still gain extra weapon attacks for high BAB if you are using a weapon)

In the case of the Oliphant exposed, because both the Gore and Stamp attacks are primary, you get all the three attacks at your full BAB, and no extra attack because of a high BAB. Assuming your size is Huge:

Melee gore +11 (2d8+5), 2 stamps +11 (2d6+5)

Bonus break down: +8 BAB +5 Str -2 size (because all the three attacks are of primary type, the -5 penalty to secondary attacks does not apply)

The confusion happens because the no BAB extra natural attacks is not clearly stated in the monster rules natural attacks entry, but it is specified in the combat chapter in the natural attacks entry under the Attack section as referenced in the question.

For a full explanation about BAB and natural attacks, first of all, the rule which states you get extra attacks as your Base Bonus Attack (BAB) rises is under common terms definition:

Base Attack Bonus (BAB): Each creature has a base attack bonus and it represents its skill in combat. As a character gains levels or Hit Dice, his base attack bonus improves. When a creature's base attack bonus reaches +6, +11, or +16, he receives an additional attack in combat when he takes a full-attack action (which is one type of full-round action—see Combat).

So by the BAB rule you get additional attacks when you reach certain BAB levels.

Let's check what the natural attacks rules say:

Natural Attacks: Most creatures possess one or more natural attacks (attacks made without a weapon). These attacks fall into one of two categories, primary and secondary attacks. Primary attacks are made using the creature's full base attack bonus and add the creature's full Strength bonus on damage rolls. Secondary attacks are made using the creature's base attack bonus –5 and add only 1/2 the creature's Strength bonus on damage rolls. [...]

Creatures with natural attacks and attacks made with weapons can use both as part of a full attack action (although often a creature must forgo one natural attack for each weapon clutched in that limb, be it a claw, tentacle, or slam). Such creatures attack with their weapons normally but treat all of their natural attacks as secondary attacks during that attack, regardless of the attack's original type.

So nowhere says natural attacks do not get extra attacks for high BAB, but it neither says they do, and it makes a clear difference between natural attacks and attacks made with weapons. So the intention seems clear that natural and weapon attacks are different things and work differently.

The confusion is cleared when you check the natural attacks entry of the Combat section:

You do not receive additional natural attacks for a high base attack bonus.

We can also infer this works like that from examples. In this case take a look to the Bear in Paizo Bestiary. At one side we have the Grizzly Bear (BAB +3) at the other the Dire Bear (BAB +7):

Bear, Grizzly: Melee 2 claws +7 (1d6+5 plus grab), bite +7 (1d6+5) Base Atk +3; CMB +9 (+13 grapple); CMD 20 (24 vs. trip)

Bear, Dire: Melee 2 claws +13 (1d6+7 plus grab), bite +13 (1d8+7) Base Atk +7; CMB +15 (+19 grapple); CMD 26 (30 vs. trip)

As you can see the Dire Bear has +7 BAB, which corresponds to an attack iteration of +7/+2, but if you look at the Dire Bear attacks, he has exactly the same number and type of attacks than Grizzly bears. Thus, it seems that Pathfinder developers intention is high BAB does not give you access to additional natural attacks, and that is something reserved to weapon attacks, unnarmed strikes and combat maneveurs.

Remember you need to take a full-attack action in order to perform all your natural attacks, and you still benefit from additional attacks if you are holding at least one weapon.

Addendum about natural attack bonuses

When performing multiple natural attacks, you have also to take into account the difference between primary and secondary attacks. So let's see when a natural attack is considered primary or secundary based on the universal monster rules:

Primary: You attack with full BAB and full Strength damage bonus. Are considered primary:

  • Typical primary natural attacks: Bite, Claw, Gore, Slam, Sting, Talons
  • Whatever attack if it is the only type of natural attack the creature has (be it single attack as a Tile Slap, or multiple as 2 Pincers)

Secondary: You attack with BAB -5 and half Strengh damage bonus. The multiattack feat reduces this penalty from -5 to -2. Are considered secondary:

  • Typical secondary natural attacks: Hoof, Tentacle, Wing, Pincers, Tail Slap, Others...
  • Whatever attack if it is used in combination with weapon attacks (including unarmed strikes).

Natural Attacks are weird. The pathfinder rules break down what happens.

Instead of using the iterative attacks from your base attack bonus, you get a full attack made up of all the natural attacks. The particular bonus depends on whether those attacks are considered primary or secondary (see the table at the link above).

In the Oliphaunt's case when you make a full attack, you get one Gore at your normal attack bonus and two Stomps at your normal attack bonus - 5.

Things get weirder when you mix natural and weapon attacks (a Marilith for instance). When you full attack, you use all of your iterative attacks, then the natural attacks from limbs that are not holding any weapons. Those natural attacks are made as secondary attacks, no matter what they are normally.


In general, natural attacks do not get iteratives with BAB, you get to use each once, but can combo them up with no penalty.

The Oliphant entry reads:

Melee gore +13 (2d8+13), 2 stamps +13 (2d6+9)

Which means it treats the "stamps" as primary attacks (though perhaps erroneously, as the gore is listed as STR*1.5 damage, which it should only get if it's the creature's only attack), so they'd all be at the full attack bonus. I suspect the right stat block would be

Melee gore +13 (2d8+9), 2 stamps +8 (2d6+9)

Assuming you like the published stat block then assuming your native PC's strength is 5 and when you say "shape" you mean that you are an 8+th level druid wild shaping or otherwise Beast Shape III+'ing into a Huge oliphant, you get a +6 size bonus to your STR so it becomes an 11 (+0).

So your stat block would be

Melee gore +6 (2d8), 2 stamps +6 (2d6).

If you consider the stat block in error and the stamps secondary, then it's

Melee gore +6 (2d8), 2 stamps +1 (2d6).

And yes, you roll to hit and damage for each stamp (and all attacks) separately.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Wouldn't the stomp still be at +13 if you chose that as a single attack? For example, not a full round but simply stepping on something running by? \$\endgroup\$
    – user11839
    Sep 19, 2014 at 15:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kelvin I'm almost certain the stamp's always a secondary attack, always taking the -5 penalty to attack rolls and getting half the creature's Str bonus to damage. Were I DMing a game wherein the oliphant were confronted with the mouse that needed stepping on--and the incident wasn't mechanically important--I'd just refluff the 'phant's gore attack 'cause otherwise that'd look ridiculous. (Also, I'd tell the players I refluffed it to avoid future shenanigans.) \$\endgroup\$ Sep 19, 2014 at 17:06
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ No. The natural attack rules say clearly "If a creature has only one natural attack, it is always made using the creature’s full base attack bonus and adds 1-1/2 times the creature’s Strength bonus on damage rolls. This increase does not apply if the creature has multiple attacks but only takes one." So choosing to just take the one attack doesn't promote from secondary to primary, RAW. Should it? Yes, and that's how I rule in my game. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Sep 19, 2014 at 17:16


If you look at the table Natural Attacks by Size, the right-most column indicates if the type of natural attack is a primary or a secondary. In the case of bite and claws, these are both primary and during a full attack you would attack once with each primary natural attack at your highest BAB (assuming you also had a tail attack - it would be a secondary and thus be BAB-5). If you also want to attack with a weapon or unarmed strike you use your BAB & additional attacks (ex: +6/+1) but give up any natural attacks with the hands/claws holding the weapon and consider all natural attacks as being secondary (BAB-5).

So, a 6th level fighter with 2x Claws (primary), 1x Bite (primary) & 1x Tail (Secondary) would make a full attack: Claw +6, Claw +6, Bite +6, Tail +1

Same fighter draws a dagger & makes a full attack: Dagger +6/+1, Claw +1, Bite +1, Tail +1

  • two-weapon fighting doesn't apply to natural attacks.
  • "An unarmed strike is always considered a light weapon. Therefore, you can use the Weapon Finesse feat to apply your Dexterity modifier instead of your Strength modifier to attack rolls with an unarmed strike. Unarmed strikes do not count as natural weapons (see Combat). The damage from an unarmed strike is considered weapon damage for the purposes of effects that give you a bonus on weapon damage rolls."
  • "Armed" Unarmed Attacks: Sometimes a character's or creature's unarmed attack counts as an armed attack. A monk, a character with the Improved Unarmed Strike feat, a spellcaster delivering a touch attack spell, and a creature with natural physical weapons all count as being armed (see natural attacks). Note that being armed counts for both offense and defense (the character can make attacks of opportunity).

You have bite as a primary attack, and claws x2 as primary attacks.

Primary attacks (type): bite, slam, gore, claws, sting, talons, stomp

They receive full bab and add full strength bonus to damage.

Secondary attacks (type): Hoof, Tentacle, Wing, Pincers, Tail Slap

They take -5 to attack rolls and only add 1/2 strength bonus.

Notice talons, claws, and pincers all have an s. They include both talons or both claws as one attack.

A bite and a claw are both primary attacks, but they are 2 different weapons. If you attack, here's how it works:

Standard action

  • option 1: a single bite attack is d20 +5 to hit

  • option two: 2 claw attacks d20 +5, d20+5 to hit

both claws are rolled separate and do separate damage but count as one attack.

Full round action

Bite + 2x claw

You choose each round whether your bite is your first attack or your claws. You can change this every round.

Rolls: bite(1st) d20+5, 2x claws(2nd) d20+0 d20+0

You can also roll: 2 x claws(1st) d20+5 d20+5, bite(2nd) d20+0

Your second attack action has a -5 penalty to hit, just like dual wielding. (The part I'm not sure on is if this precludes you from multiattack as you only have 2 types of attacks. If so two weapon fighting is best.)

Charge allows you to perform one primary attack at the end. You can choose either bite or 2 claws but not both, that would be two standard attack actions at the end of a charge.


I believe the question about higher attack bonus is referring to this.

This is the animal companion's base attack bonus. An animal companion's base attack bonus is the same as that of a druid of a level equal to the animal's HD. Animal companions do not gain additional attacks using their natural weapons for a high base attack bonus.

Eidolons have the same rule.

This is the eidolon’s base attack bonus. An eidolon’s base attack bonus is equal to its Hit Dice. Eidolons do not gain additional attacks using their natural weapons for a high base attack bonus.

This only applies to animal companions and eidolons, and not to animals or wildshaped druids. It is not included in the rules for natural attacks.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi, welcome to rpg.SE. I edited your answer to make it a bit easier to read. Please check that I did not change the content by accident. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tommi
    Aug 31, 2015 at 6:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Claws are considered 2 attacks, you roll twice, you damage twice, but you can only attack with one claw during a standard action, because combat rules only allow you to attack once if you are not taking a full-round attack action. \$\endgroup\$
    – Balacertar
    Aug 12, 2016 at 0:47

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