# Can I make unarmed strikes without exceptional ability?

It seems to me like you're supposed to be able to try to attack people while unarmed in Pathfinder, but I'm not sure you actually can.

Threatened Squares

You threaten all squares into which you can make a melee attack, even when it is not your turn. Generally, that means everything in all squares adjacent to your space (including diagonally). An enemy that takes certain actions while in a threatened square provokes an attack of opportunity from you. If you're unarmed, you don't normally threaten any squares and thus can't make attacks of opportunity.

Let "you threaten the square" be A
Let "you can make a melee attack in the square" be B
Let "you are unarmed" be C
Let "you possess no exceptional unarmed abilities" be D

B->A
(C.D)->(-A)
C
D

∴ -B

What am I doing wrong?

The rules seem to say that you threaten squares if you can make melee attacks against them. The rules also say that you don't normally threaten squares if you're unarmed. Does this indicate that a character who is unarmed in that 'normal' sense is unable to make melee attacks, since they don't threaten squares?

As SSD pointed out, my error is in encoding the first sentence as B->A as opposed to (B.-C)->A, and, as he also pointed out, there are many, many, many more conditionals involved were we to represent it this way truthfully.

• I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because while the rules of Pathfinder are on-topic here, the rules of propositional calculus aren't. – GMJoe Feb 12 '15 at 3:35
• I also suspect that formatting your question in a language other than English is attracting "unclear or not useful" votes, as per meta.stackexchange.com/questions/13676/… – GMJoe Feb 12 '15 at 4:14

You encoded the logic wrong is all. You should have a statement in the premises:

(B^~C)->A

"But where does that come from?" Outside the text you quoted. This text does not tell you when B is true—when you are permitted to make a normal attack is established elsewhere.

You're also missing some conditionals to represent being on/off-turn, which is crucial to the logic of when normal attacks and opportunity attacks are permitted, but that's getting overly complicated and begins to demonstrate why propositional logic was long since found to be inadequate for encoding natural language and new logical systems were/are created to tackle it.

• "An enemy that takes certain actions while in a threatened square provokes an attack of opportunity from you. If you're unarmed, you don't normally threaten any squares and thus can't make attacks of opportunity." - This is the entire point of threatening - it defines where you can make an AoO. It has nothing to do with regular attacks. – Adeptus Feb 12 '15 at 3:52
• @thedarkwanderer Yeah, it's weird. Propositional logic is a neat formal language, but is not expressive enough to cover all possible natural language logical statements. For that you need to move up to predicate logic and other more complex formal systems. Mistaking the map for the territory does lead one astray. – SevenSidedDie Feb 12 '15 at 3:58

You are confusing "attack" for "attack of opportunity."

Without Improved Unarmed Strike, you do not count as armed with unarmed strikes. So you can attack with them, though you incur attacks of opportunity from those who are armed when you do. And you do not gain attacks of opportunity when foes provoke them. But you can certainly attack someone while unarmed.

• No, I'm aware of this. My issue, as outlined in the syntactic logic, is that threatening seems to be related to melee attack ability in such a manner as to prevent unarmed strikes, i.e. "If you don't threaten a square, then you can't attack it in melee". – the dark wanderer Feb 12 '15 at 2:04
• So this isn't a real question, just a logic puzzle. – mxyzplk Feb 12 '15 at 2:36
• No, I'm just using the syntactic description in an attempt to explain why I have drawn this conclusion in the first place. My question is as to if/why my reasoning is wrong, as not being able to attack in unarmed combat without a special ability seems unlikely to be a correct interpretation of the RAW and so I think it is much more likely that my reasoning is incorrect than that my conclusion is in fact the case. I can't find any information about this online (tbf, I only googled a couple things, hardly thorough research) and I didn't see anything wrong with it so I thought I'd ask. – the dark wanderer Feb 12 '15 at 2:43
• Or, rather, I certainly think it's a real question. But I have been told that I'm wrong about that before, and you are a mod. If it's not a real question, I'd certainly like to know why, though. – the dark wanderer Feb 12 '15 at 2:45

Forget all the math stuff. It is pointless.

"Can I make unarmed strikes without exceptional ability?" That is your question.