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I see a lot of forums calling for Kensai and Amulet of Mighty Fists for a monk to enchant their unarmed strikes. I feel it is unnecessary since the SRD 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.

Greater Magic Fang states:

Alternatively, you may imbue all of the creature’s natural weapons with a +1 enhancement bonus (regardless of your caster level).

Greater magic fang can be made permanent with a permanency spell.

The magic weapons section of SRD states:

In addition to an enhancement bonus, weapons may have special abilities. Special abilities count as additional bonuses for determining the market value of the item, but do not modify attack or damage bonuses (except where specifically noted). A single weapon cannot have a modified bonus (enhancement bonus plus special ability bonus equivalents) higher than +10. A weapon with a special ability must have at least a +1 enhancement bonus.

So, if a monk's unarmed strikes are enhanced with Greater Magic Fang, couldn't character with Craft Magic Arms and Armor bestow a special ability upon them, since they also count as a manufactured weapon?

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No, they can't be enchanted, because they aren't masterwork and can never be, and all magic weapons must be crafted with a masterwork base.

Creating Magic Weapons

To create a magic weapon, a character needs a heat source and some iron, wood, or leatherworking tools. She also needs a supply of materials, the most obvious being the weapon or the pieces of the weapon to be assembled. Only a masterwork weapon can become a magic weapon, and the masterwork cost is added to the total cost to determine final market value.

It is quite plain that they are not masterwork by default, given the lack of +1 to attack rolls. So let's suppose we want to upgrade them. But it is impossible for an existing unarmed strike to be made masterwork, per this clause in Weapons:

You can’t add the masterwork quality to a weapon after it is created; it must be crafted as a masterwork weapon (see the Craft skill).

All right, let's try making a new one that's masterwork. This fails because unarmed strikes are not manufactured weapons, and you can't manufacture a weapon with the Craft skill if it's specifically not manufactured at all.

Glossary — manufactured weapons:

This category also includes […] in essence, any weapon that is not intrinsic to the creature.

Monk's class features do not help with this, since Craft is not an effect and neither enhances nor improves anything:

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.

How about buying one? You might actually be able to buy an ordinary unarmed strike, since they're listed in the Equipment section in the Weapons table, and you needn't pay anything for it*. Unfortunately, per the quote on MW weapons, a weapon must be crafted as masterwork to be MW, and per the preceding this is not possible even for NPCs. There might be an exception, as there seems to be for magic oils, which you can buy in shops but not craft, except that nowhere is "MW unarmed strike" listed for sale.

Magic fang and company do not make a weapon into a "magic weapon"; rather, they give a weapon a +1 enhancement bonus (and the ability to bypass DR /magic because of that), which is not technically the same thing. And while all magic weapons are masterwork by definition as well as by prerequisite, magic fang and friends do not have to be interpreted as giving a weapon retroactive masterwork status, for essentially the same reason, which is fortunate as otherwise the rules would create some bizarre and abusive situations†.

Magic Fang

Magic fang gives one natural weapon of the subject a +1 enhancement bonus on attack and damage rolls.

Magic Weapon

Magic weapon gives a weapon a +1 enhancement bonus on attack and damage rolls. (An enhancement bonus does not stack with a masterwork weapon’s +1 bonus on attack rolls.) You can’t cast this spell on a natural weapon, such as an unarmed strike (instead, see magic fang). A monk’s unarmed strike is considered a weapon, and thus it can be enhanced by this spell.

Magic Weapons

All magic weapons are also masterwork weapons, but their masterwork bonus on attack rolls does not stack with their enhancement bonus on attack rolls.

Special Abilities

Some monsters are vulnerable to magic weapons. Any weapon with at least a +1 magical enhancement bonus on attack and damage rolls overcomes the damage reduction of these monsters.

Note the phrasing of the last quote; they are described as vulnerable to magic weapons, but that's not the rules text, just the plain description, since vulnerability is not defined (except in the incompatible context of energy vulnerability; it should be clear that DR 5/magic does not mean that a +1 longsword does 50% extra damage as well as overcoming DR). The actual rules say that any weapon with a +1 magical enhancement bonus (whether or not the weapon is, per se, a "magic weapon" itself otherwise) overcomes that DR.

(emphasis added to quotes)

* This is, to my mind, patently absurd, but hey, RAW. Monks won't be proficient with those unarmed strikes, but hey, RAW.
† For example, casting magic weapon to increase the price of a club from 0gp to 300gp (permanently? who knows!) and selling it. Or casting magic weapon on any plain weapon to make it masterwork for future crafting. There is a Pathfinder spell for this purpose. It does nothing else‡, is a level higher, costs as much as crafting a MW weapon in the first place, and takes an hour to cast. Allowing magic weapon to do this for free in a standard action is ridiculous.
‡ It has this excellent provision: "If the target object has no masterwork equivalent, the spell has no effect." Doesn't work on unarmed strikes, as they appear to have no MW equivalent and are not objects.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I recall in my group this exact question came up. The monk character's player, when challenged on this, posed dramatically and said, "My entire body is a masterwork weapon!" In his own words, quoted with permission, he is a "chubby, balding, middle aged guy". The group choked on at laughter for at least three solid minutes. The player then gamely, red faced, defended his position by pulling the religion card (races are handiwork of gods, ergo masterwork), the exercise card (his monkly regimen of discipline qualified as masterwork, more laughter), etc. We think the DM allowed it for the laughs. \$\endgroup\$ – nijineko Sep 12 '16 at 15:23
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Yes

Reasoning line 1: experience
We allow this in our games, using the line you quoted as reasoning and houseruling monk's bodies to be 'masterwork' quality for free. It isn't particularly disruptive, though the +1 is fairly powerful for first level characters. Given that level 1 monks get 0 BAB, however, I think it's quite fair. If anything, this seems to make the monk closer to being balanced with the other melee classes in WBL games and certainly doesn't make the monk OP. Having +1 flaming hands is also super cool, and the whole system, crafting time and all, seems completely in-character for the monk's character archetype. I have never had any negative repercussions from allowing this in a game nor seen negative repercussions in games I played rather than GMed. It's just a positive change.

Reasoning line 2: RAW Technically, you can't do this right off the bat, since (unless your mother has a bunch of ranks in craft(babies) ) it is unlikely you were born with masterwork unarmed strikes. However, Unarmed Strike is, RAW, a simple light melee weapon costing the same amount as a quarterstaff or club: nothing. Nothing except common sense and a lack of availability prevents you from going to the store and picking up some new ones. Masterwork unarmed strikes cost 300 gp, like any other non-ammunition, non-double weapon. If you can't find some for sale, you could always try to make your own with a relevant crafting skill, such as craft(self), and 150 gp in raw materials. Once you get your masterwork unarmed strike, you can certainly upgrade it like any other simple light melee weapon dealing non-lethal bludgeoning damage, since your monk class features allow you to treat it as a manufactured weapon. cf PHB pages 111-116.


In response to those who would contest the veracity of my rules analysis:

Contrary to popular opinion, even if you house-rule Unarmed Strike to be a natural weapon, nowhere are natural weapons expressly forbidden from purchase. Unarmed strikes are, I believe, the only natural weapon with an explicitly given price-- certainly the only natural weapon in a table of purchasable equipment with supporting text in a primary source document-- and thus probably the only such weapon which can be purchased according to the RAW, but most natural weapons not having prices does not mean that all natural weapons are necessarily unpurchasable. Furthermore, Unarmed Strike is unusual as a weapon in a lot of ways that differentiate it from other natural weapons, even if you choose to house-rule it as a natural weapon.

Additionally, since most objections to my interpretation of the rules seem to stem from confusion about this, please see:

Are Unarmed Strikes Natural Weapons?

and this rules article

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "The rules don't say I can't" is always the wrong way to analyze the problem. What you need is some indication that you can, however general, combined with a complete lack of any more specific prohibition. All you have here is the latter. It should also be noted that using someone else's natural weapon/unarmed strike is nowhere expressly prohibited. That's great! I can now cut off a dragon tail and use that, right? \$\endgroup\$ – user17995 Feb 22 '15 at 0:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TuggyNE The rules do say you can. Unarmed strikes, like I mentioned, are listed in the equipment section of the PHB listed as a simple melee weapon purchasable at no cost to the character. \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Feb 22 '15 at 2:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Wow. You may be right, although I am loathe to believe it, but if so that is the single worst dysfunction I have yet seen. And I've seen plenty. See my freshly-updated answer for the reason this still doesn't matter, but briefly, items for sale must still be crafted, and no one can craft an unarmed strike. \$\endgroup\$ – user17995 Feb 22 '15 at 3:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TuggyNE That TDW has gone on to explore the differences between natural weapons and unarmed strikes, employing a dragon's tail sweep is unlikely. In absurd RAW, though, it appears one could employ a dragon's unarmed strike... chances are it would be inappropriately sized, though. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 22 '15 at 8:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does this mean that a Warforged monk could craft an unarmed strike that is cold iron or adamantine? Normal monks cannot, since their unarmed strike is not normally made from metal, but the Warforged should by RAW and by logic, right? \$\endgroup\$ – Scrollreader Feb 24 '15 at 16:04
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Possibly, with DM approval.

This combination, albeit very pricey; requiring a maug grafter, and very min/max-ish, could be a work around; in the following order:

  1. Create Stone Hands.

Craft (Stone Working): Creating Masterwork Items

You can make a masterwork item—a weapon, suit of armor, shield, or tool that conveys a bonus on its use through its exceptional craftsmanship, not through being magical. To create a masterwork item, you create the masterwork component as if it were a separate item in addition to the standard item. The masterwork component has its own price (300 gp for a weapon or 150 gp for a suit of armor or a shield) and a Craft DC of 20. Once both the standard component and the masterwork component are completed, the masterwork item is finished. Note: The cost you pay for the masterwork component is one-third of the given amount, just as it is for the cost in raw materials.

  1. Apply the Stone Hand graft.

Maug Graft: Locking Hand

This stone hand is designed so that its fingers can clasp and lock together. It replaces a creature's normal hand. When used to make unarmed attacks, it deals normal damage unless the attacker chooses to take a -4 penalty to deal subdual damage. A locking hand does not change the amount of damage a creature deals with its unarmed or natural attacks.

  1. Turn the Masterwork Stone Hands into Fleshy Hands

Stone to Flesh

The spell also can convert a mass of stone into a fleshy substance. Such flesh is inert and lacking a vital life force unless a life force or magical energy is available. (For example, this spell would turn a stone golem into a flesh golem, but an ordinary statue would become a corpse.) You can affect an object that fits within a cylinder from 1 foot to 3 feet in diameter and up to 10 feet long or a cylinder of up to those dimensions in a larger mass of stone.

  1. Enchant Masterwork Hands

Greater Magic Fang

Alternatively, you may imbue all of the creature’s natural weapons with a +1 enhancement bonus (regardless of your caster level).

Greater magic fang can be made permanent with a permanency spell.

  1. Apply Special Ability

Magic Weapons

In addition to an enhancement bonus, weapons may have special abilities. Special abilities count as additional bonuses for determining the market value of the item, but do not modify attack or damage bonuses (except where specifically noted). A single weapon cannot have a modified bonus (enhancement bonus plus special ability bonus equivalents) higher than +10. A weapon with a special ability must have at least a +1 enhancement bonus.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Might this technically work with a golem graft, as well? \$\endgroup\$ – nijineko Sep 12 '16 at 15:29
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I would have to say yes that unarmed attacks themselves can be enchanted but that parts of a characters body (ex. a monks fists) cannot, as you can clearly buy a masterwork gauntlet and use the monks unarmed damage since in the equipment section of the PH they are both listed under unarmed attacks. easy workaround, however you would then have to judge if a monks future unarmed bonuses (their unarmed attacks being treated as adamantine for example) would be used in conjunction with the enchanted hand covering or be ignored since the bonus applies to the monk and not his weapon.

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cf. the Necklace of Natural Weapons from Savage Species. It applies enhancement bonuses to natural weapons and can be enchanted with any weapon special quality. (The example given is "+1 throwing returning so if you ever wanted to rip off your own limbs and throw them at enemies, I guess you can?)

Market price is cost of enhancement bonuses, multiplied by the number of natural weapons affected, plus 600 GP.

If it were possible to enchant natural weapons directly, there would be little reason for this item to exist; it does basically the same thing but costs 600 GP more, and you're giving up a neck slot.

Granted this is from late 3.0 rather than 3.5 proper, but IMHO this supports the answers above which interpret the rules as not allowing direct enchants on natural weapons (Magic Fang aside).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Adding magical enhancement bonuses to a monk's unarmed strike is this question's focus; applying enhancement bonuses and magic weapon special abilities to natural weapons generally isn't. This answer would be improved by focusing more on the question. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Nov 25 '17 at 0:48
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One could use the Wish spell, or a Ring of Three Wishes to enhance a monk's fist as they pleased. Although it would have to be at the DM's discretion I, myself a DM, don't see a reason to not allow it. It would be a way to make the monk a better fighter.

Another thing I would like to point is that if one did a gestalt with another class such as fighter, you could use all those bonus feats to greatly enhance the monk class, and forego any armor the fighter would use, allowing for a better BAB progression.

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No, a fist cannot be enchanted. Yes, the unarmed strike can be enchanted.

My groups always worked around this using gloves or hand-wraps. A glove is just a gauntlet that everyone is proficient with, and that does no more damage than the fist/claws within it.

A fist can't be made masterwork, and therefore can't be enchanted beyond the limits of Magic Fang + Permanancy. However, what is the point of a monk's unarmed strike increasing in damage if it is always way behind the +2 flaming, thundering greatsword?

But a monk can wear gloves, right? Gloves, as an item, can be made masterwork. A monk can also wear hand-wraps (more monk-ish) with the same idea.

So a +2 flaming, thundering handwrap (or glove) allows a player to "enchant" their unarmed strikes. It also remains balanced because the player itself isn't enchanted - so they can be disarmed or the item confiscated if they go to jail.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site. Take the tour. This linked question may also interest you. Thank you for participating and have fun. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Oct 16 '16 at 0:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ Your opening statement implies that there is a rule somewhere that allows this, but you actually describe your group’s houserule. The opening bolded statement should accurately reflect the content of that answer (or, equivalently, if you want to claim a more general right to enhance unarmed strikes, the body of the answer should back that up). \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 16 '16 at 13:50
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A monk is a master of his /her own body. They work to make their body's perfect so there for they become masterwork after a while

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We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi Jeremereed, do you have any citation for this? \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Nov 24 '17 at 17:11

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