Okay, so I'm having an issue with my DM which I can't resolve. The passage in the PHB (p. 78) on Martial Arts for Monks reads as such:
At 1st level, your practice of martial arts gives you mastery of combat styles that use unarmed strikes and monk weapons, which are shortswords and any simple melee weapons that don’t have the two-handed or heavy property. You gain the following benefits while you are unarmed or wielding only monk weapons and you aren’t wearing armor or wielding a shield:
- When you use the Attack action with an unarmed strike or a monk weapon on your turn, you can make one unarmed strike as a bonus action. For example, if you take the Attack action and attack with a quarter-staff, you can also make an unarmed strike as a bonus action, assuming you haven't already taken a bonus action this turn. Certain monasteries use specialized forms of the monk weapons. For example, you might use a club that is two lengths of wood connected by a short chain (called a nunchaku) or a sickle with a shorter, straighter blade (called a kama). Whatever name you use for a monk weapon, you can use the game statistics provided for the weapon in chapter 5.
Okay... So if I understand this correctly, these are the rules:
- Monks gain the benefits of Martial Arts while either unarmed OR using a Monk weapon (and unarmored/-shielded).
- Unarmed Strikes ≠ Monk Weapons. Ergo, using a Monk Weapon would disqualify you from making an unarmed strike outside of the one allowed by your bonus move. E.g. Using your free hand to make a second attack post-lvl 5.
My DM is making the case that Unarmed Strikes and the use of Monk Weapons are the same thing. This makes no sense to me. Per Martial Arts, if you attack with a Monk weapon then you are allowed to make an unarmed strike as a bonus action. But he is saying that if I attack with a one-handed Monk weapon that I could use an Unarmed Strike as a seperate attack with my free hand, that is not the bonus attack Martial Arts give you. And he says that the rules clearly state that this is allowed.
Now, my character is going to be using a Warhammer one handed, due to part of his backstory. Now I realise that that is not a Monk weapon, and therefore cannot benefit from Martial Arts. But here's where there's the conflict. If you can use an Unarmed Strike that is not a bonus action via Martial Arts with a free hand while wielding a Monk weapon, then by that logic, why can't you do the same with any other weapon (Assuming it's not automatically illogical to do so. I.e. Heavy Weapons, Two-handed Weapons, etc.)? We're not talking about getting the bonus attack while attacking with a Warhammer one handed, we're talking about whether as a Monk, you are allowed to use your free hand to make an "Unarmed Strike" as a second attack through Martial Arts, while wielding a weapon. Period!
To me, using Unarmed Strike with your hands through Martial Arts, so that you can get the bonus attack, means you can't have any weapons in your hands, period. And if he's going to rule that you can make an Unarmed Strike with your free hand while wielding a weapon, I don't see how it matters what sort of one handed, un-heavy weapon you're wielding, seeing as you're attacking with a free hand while wielding a one handed, un-heavy weapon, to make an "Unarmed Strike". Now if you're attacking with a monk weapon and using Martial Arts to do so, then that's another matter entirely, as the rules dictate you get that bonus action. But as far as I understand, using Martial Arts through a Monk weapon is not the exact same thing as using Unarmed Strikes in and of themselves to get the bonus attack.
Another way of putting this:
- Martial Arts = A
- Monk Weapon = B
- Unarmed Strikes = C
- A is true given B OR C (A = B OR C)
- B allows for A (B = A)
- C allows for A (C = A)
- B is not C (B ≠ C)
Does that make sense? Am I totally crazy and reading this all wrong for thinking of it like this? And if I am, how? Someone please explain to me, logically, what I'm missing.
Granted, by that logic, that would allow me to use my second attack to attack with an Unarmed Strike with my free hand and then use my bonus action to get another one, but I don't see how it matters what weapon I have in my hand while I do it. And I went into this expecting that, yeah, okay, I can't use the Martial Arts bonuses while wielding a Warhammer one handed. And I was completely fine with it. Up until the point where my DM in trying to get me to switch weapons, revealed that in his mind I could make Unarmed Strikes with my free hand while being armed with a Monk weapon. Now... this is just driving me nuts.
And I know... at the end of the day, if he's going to be stubborn, then as the DM, regardless of smart or stupid rulings, his word is law. In which case, I may need to retire this character until I can play with a DM that doesn't think I'm a crazy kook, and assumes I'm trying to min max at every opportunity.
Clarification: The Warhammer as listed, is versatile. But it is not heavy, or in anyway penalised in it's weilding anymore than a staff. The difference is, one is a simple weapon. The other is not.
If we really want to nitpick over whether or not it makes sense for a Warhammer (or rapier, or scimitar, or trident, etc.) to be an extension of a Sacred Warrior's body in a mystical realm, any more than it would make sense for a staff (or shortsword, club, sickle, mace, etc), then we're going to be here all day. I'm simply trying to break this down logically.