I'm planning a character that has 2 claw attacks and a tail attack as natural weapons, but now I'm a little confused about the mechanics of using them all.

  1. Can both claws be used at once as a standard action, and if so does it count as multi-weapon fighting?

  2. Does using all natural weapons at once in a full-round action allow attacking with each one the number of times allowed by your BAB, or can you only use a total number attacks equal to your BAB?

In other words, do multiple natural weapons work more like two-weapon fighting or multi-attacking?


1 Answer 1


You almost always need a Full-round Action to take multiple attacks

Natural Weapons are not an exception

As a standard action, you can use any of your natural weapons to make a single attack. You cannot make attacks with multiple natural weapons, not even paired weapons like claws. If a weapon is “secondary” (it will say so in its description), it makes the attack at −5 even if it’s your only attack.

As a full-round action, you may attack once with each weapon. Only one weapon or pair of weapons can be “primary;” even if you have more than one weapon or pair of weapons that claim to be “primary” in their description, you must pick one or one pair to be primary, and all others are secondary. Secondary natural weapon attacks are taken at a −5 penalty.

This means your attack routine with two claws (primary pair) and a tail attack (secondary) is +0/+0/−5 at BAB +0.

There are some (rare) ways to attack more than once as a standard action, and some of them are compatible with natural weapons. These will explicitly state this exception to the usual, however.

Natural Weapons and Manufactured Weapons use totally separate rules

Natural weapons never receive iterative attacks, and there are no cumulative −5 penalties, only a single −5 penalty applied to all secondary natural attacks. If you have the Multiattack feat, all secondary natural weapons attack at a −2 penalty instead of a −5 penalty.

None of the rules about manufactured weapon attacks (iteratives, two-weapon fighting, Flurry of Blows, etc.) apply to natural weapons.

Thus at BAB +20, that same pair of primary claws and secondary tail slap attacks at +20/+20/+15, or +20/+20/+18 with Multiattack. If you added a pair of secondary Tentacle attacks, that would be +20/+20/+15/+15/+15 without Multiattack, or +20/+20/+18/+18/+18 with.

Unless otherwise specified by the natural weapon, primary natural weapons add your Strength modifier to damage, while secondary natural weapons add half your Strength modifier to damage.

You can mix manufactured weapons and natural weapons.

When you do so, you gain all your normal manufactured-weapon attacks (including iteratives), plus any natural weapons you have, each as a secondary weapon, with the caveat that you cannot use any natural weapons that are being use to hold a manufactured weapon. I.e. if you hold your sword in one hand and attack with it, you cannot use the Claw attack from that hand. If you instead two-hand a Great Axe, then you cannot use either Claw attack.

When you do this, you can mix natural weapons with full-attacks that use the two-weapon fighting combat option or Flurry of Blows class feature.

Example: Longsword, pair of claws, and tail slap

Thus if you had a Longsword, a pair of Claws, and a Tail Slap, your attack routine would be +0/−5/−5 (sword, claw, tail) for BAB +0. Multiattack improves this to +0/−2/−2. At BAB +20, it’s instead +20/+15/+10/+5/+15/+15 (sword, sword, sword, sword, claw, tail) or +20/+15/+10/+5/+18/+18 if you have Multiattack.

Same character with dual kukris and the Two-Weapon Fighting feat

If you instead have the Two-Weapon Fighting feat, and use that option with a pair of light weapons (call it a pair of Kukris), you attack at −2/−2/−7 (kukri, kukri, tail), since both hands with Claws are being used to attack with Kukris, and the Tail is always secondary when used with manufactured weapons (hence −5; note that Two-Weapon Fighting does not penalize it, however). The Multiattack feat would reduce the penalty, so the tail would be at −2 (+3 attack for one out of three attacks is not a great use of a feat, but just for completion’s sake).

At BAB +15 and with the Improved and Greater Two-Weapon Fighting feats, you get +13/+13/+8/+8/+3/+3/+10 (left kukri, right kukri, left kukri (2nd), right kukri (2nd), left kukri (3rd), right kukri (3rd), tail).

  • \$\begingroup\$ If I dropped my weapons after attacking with them, would I be allowed to use the now-empty claws? \$\endgroup\$
    – Cobalt
    Commented Feb 10, 2013 at 22:28
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @Cobalt Picking an item up off the floor is a Move action usually, unless you have some feature that says otherwise (which I've never heard of). Dropping an item from your hand is a free action, and yes you can do it in the middle of your full attack, it just... doesn't really give you any benefit to do so most of the time. It definitely doesn't allow you to use that claw that was previously holding the weapon in the same round you attacked with the weapon. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Feb 10, 2013 at 22:35
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Simanos Fixed. Looks like I did it originally at BAB +11 (the minimum to qualify for Greater Two-Weapon Fighting) then switched to +15 for some reason without updating the numbers. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Jan 25, 2014 at 22:38
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Simanos Ah, right you are. The tail would be at +8, because all natural weapons are secondary after you use manufactured attacks. The Multiattack feat would reduce the penalty, so the tail would be at +11 (+3 attack for one out of seven attacks is not a great use of a feat, but just for completion’s sake). Updating. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Jan 25, 2014 at 23:39
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ In the twf example, why does the tail suffer a -2 from twf? I know flurry mentions -2 to "each ... attack" but twf doesn't seem to call out anything except primary and off-hand. \$\endgroup\$
    – Wyrmwood
    Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 6:08

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