This Trait allows anyone to bite as secondary attack for 1d2 damage. The Universal Monster Rules say "most creatures possess one or more natural attacks". Toothy half-orcs have tusks like orcs and can bite with them as primary attack for 1d4 damage. Orcs racial description includes them having tusks but a bite attack isn't mentioned. Still as half-orcs wouldn't get that from their human side I assume orcs can bite despite it not being mentioned anywhere? What about other humanoids?

Do humanoids without any traits or alternate racial features or other source of additional natural attacks have any natural attacks? And if so does the following apply?

"[...]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. If a creature has only one type of attack, but has multiple attacks per round, that attack is treated as a primary attack, regardless of its type."

How would you treat a strong elven fighter in a grapple saying he want to bite the opponent's nose?

  • \$\begingroup\$ It's worth mentioning that human jaws are actually pretty decent at biting with an average 120 lbs of pressure, more than our simian cousins can manage. Far dwarfed by animals such as dogs (320 lbs) or sharks (600 lbs), but still not shabby. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 26, 2014 at 2:22

5 Answers 5


Humanoids don't necessarily have natural attacks.

Bestiary, page 302

Some fey, humanoids, monstrous humanoids, and outsiders do not possess natural attacks. These creatures can make unarmed strikes, but treat them as weapons for the purpose of determining attack bonuses, and they must use the two-weapon fighting rules when making attacks with both hands.


Ignoring most of your question text, and focusing just on the last line about the specific example...when grappling, one of the options is to

Damage: You can inflict damage to your target equal to your unarmed strike, a natural attack, or an attack made with armor spikes or a light or one-handed weapon. This damage can be either lethal or nonlethal.

So, he could have dealt lethal damage equal to his normal unarmed strike of 1d3+Str.

Also note that the unarmed strike rules are just above a section called 'Natural Attacks', which further reinforces that unarmed strikes are not natural weapons.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ This. Since maintaining a grapple requires a standard action, you don't get to use both a normal strike natural weapon and a bite attack. If a grapler had a bite attack, that could have replaced the strike damage as part of the grapple action (and probably should if it's the larger value). But even then, biting an opponent's nose is basically fluff stapled on to the action. If you want to fluff your damaging grapple as a nosebite or a headbut or anything else within the realm of physical possibility, there's nothing stopping it. \$\endgroup\$
    – tarkisflux
    Feb 26, 2014 at 5:54
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ re: unarmed - It's also worth noting that attacks with natural weapons are considered armed attacks and do not provoke AoOs, while unarmed strikes do provoke AoOs (unless feat or similar extension). They really go to great lengths to keep unarmed from being a natural weapon, presumably because they want untrained brawlers to get cut down by swordsmen. \$\endgroup\$
    – tarkisflux
    Feb 26, 2014 at 5:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ ...whilst allowing critters with claws and teeth to have a chance of tearing apart the swordsmen. \$\endgroup\$
    – YogoZuno
    Feb 26, 2014 at 21:43

Humanoids are not normally treated as having natural attacks unless specified. Using unarmed attacks, instead.

Clearly the glut of expansion material that exists complicates this matter, so on to your details!

Mother’s Teeth: Your teeth are more jagged and pointed than normal.

Benefit: You can make a bite attack for 1d2 points of damage as a secondary attack.

So, assuming that 1d2 is MORE than a "normal" bite attack, you could rule a normal bite from an elf does only 1 lethal damage, 1 nonlethal damage or something similarly reduced from 1d2 lethal damage.

A normal bite attack is not explicitly canon in the game, so you'd have to be working backward from the rules in the trait. Meaning any bite ruling is a house rule.

Parsing the Universal Monster rules

Mother's Teeth specifically states the upgraded bite is a secondary attack. So...

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.

Based off of Mother's Teeth I would continue to treat a "normal" bite as a secondary attack because Mother's Teeth is meant to be an upgrade, and changing from a primary to a secondary attack would primarily be a downgrade.

Further down the Natural Attack entry is this...

Some creatures do not have natural attacks. These creatures can make unarmed strikes just like humans do. See Table: Natural Attacks by Size for typical damage values for natural attacks by creature size.

This would indicate that humans (and by extension core humanoid races without explicit natural attacks) would use their unarmed attacks in place of a primary natural attack. Meaning, that other natural attacks, unless explicitly stated like Toothy would be considered secondary attacks and therefore subject to the penalties associated with secondary natural attacks.

On orcs biting

Toothy was released in the APG (Advanced Player's Guide) and not part of the core book releases. So if you are playing with the Toothy racial trait then it would be a logical house rule to allow orcs access to a similar bite attack.

The rules do not specify it's existence, so you'd have to work backward from the trait. Just like with Mother's Teeth. If you are playing with the Toothy trait, then orcs should have access to bite as a house rule.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Just to be sure the fluff of Orcs having tusks or big teeth is core though, right? Edit: looked it up. Orc description was from the advanced race guide. \$\endgroup\$
    – Julix
    Feb 26, 2014 at 16:51

Whenever there isnt a rule that exists for how much weapon damage some action would do, our group uses our standard attack or weakest available attack (unarmed in your case as it would be the most similar) for how much damage it could do and modify it upwards, if warranted at the GM's discretion.

The reasoning is that, yes you are doing damage, if you are doing it a creative or interesting way then the GM may reward you with higher than normal damage for moving the fiction along. But for the most part, being descriptive adds to the roleplaying and making it more fun for everyone around the table, but it shouldn't be used as a means to cheat the rules and get bonuses unfairly.

The rules as a whole exist for a reason. If you can bring something new in without upsetting the delicate balance of power therein, good job. But don't try to use roleplay as a means to shoehorn unfair advantages in. It should add flavor, not concrete modifiers otherwise it ceases to be roleplay and becomes "just some other generic thing you can do on your turn"


According to @DocSnuggles's answer here when you have a natural weapon you're not considered unarmed. Thus since humanoids have unarmed attacks they don't have natural weapons.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Surely there's got to be more direct answer (rather than just logical deducing) than this... \$\endgroup\$
    – Julix
    Feb 25, 2014 at 21:03

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