6
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Reference Information

Rake states:

A creature with this special attack gains extra natural attacks when it grapples its foe.

Rend states:

If a creature hits with both claw attacks, it latches onto the opponent’s body and tears the flesh.

Constrict states:

A creature with this special attack can crush an opponent, dealing bludgeoning damage, after making a successful grapple check.

What is stated above seems very straight forward, and for the most part it is.


Dilemma

A player wanted to take Improved Natural Attack: [Rend]. I told him that Rend is just the damage of two claw attacks and 1.5 x strength modifier and that Improved Natural Attack: [Claw] will indirectly increase the damage of Rend. He then pointed out that with Black Blood Cultist's:

Savage Grapple: Starting at 8th level, you deal damage as if you had hit with all your natural weapons (including rend, if you are raging) on a successful grapple check.

(emphasis: italic) and he was advocating that implies that Rend is a separate natural attack. I told him, "Okay, it is a separate natural attack, but it isn't a separate natural weapon. He then replied, "Well, the feat says Improved Natural Attack, not Improved Natural Weapon." A little stumped, I told everyone to take a 'smoke break.' After thinking about it, I allowed it after determining that there are much more powerful feats he could have taken, and it wouldn't be game-breaking.


Discussion

Now, Improved Natural Attack states:

Choose one of the creature’s natural attack forms. The damage for this natural weapon increases by one step, as if the creature’s size had increased by one category: 1d2, 1d3, 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 2d6, 3d6, 4d6, 6d6, 8d6, 12d6.

A weapon or attack that deals 1d10 points of damage increases as follows: 1d10, 2d8, 3d8, 4d8, 6d8, 8d8, 12d8.

This feat may be taken multiple times, but each time it applies to a different natural attack.

There are a few inconsistencies within the text of the feat that is now confusing me a little. It says "Choose one of the creature's natural attack forms." Rend would indeed be a natural attack form (wouldn't it?). But then it says right after it, "the damage for this natural weapon [...]," Rend isn't listed under the 'types' of natural weapons in the SRD:

Natural weapons have types just as other weapons do. The most common are summarized below.

  • Bite: The creature attacks with its mouth, dealing piercing, slashing, and bludgeoning damage.

  • Claw or Talon: The creature rips with a sharp appendage, dealing piercing and slashing damage.

  • Gore: The creature spears the opponent with an antler, horn, or similar appendage, dealing piercing damage.

  • Slap or Slam: The creature batters opponents with an appendage, dealing bludgeoning damage.

  • Sting: The creature stabs with a stinger, dealing piercing damage. Sting attacks usually deal damage from poison in addition to hit point damage.

  • Tentacle: The creature flails at opponents with a powerful tentacle, dealing bludgeoning (and sometimes slashing) damage.

Once again, here lies a conundrum by stating "The most common are summarized below."


Question(s)

  1. Are Rake, Rend, or Constrict 'uncommon' natural weapons?
  2. Could one indeed take Improved Natural Attack: [Rend] (et al.)?
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Part in parentheses intended to be read as: "including activation of the Rend ability". It implies that the Rend damage is included in Savage Grapple damage, not that Rend is a Natural Weapon. They just saved some page space, I guess. \$\endgroup\$ – annoying imp Nov 4 '15 at 7:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @annoyingimp If I had Rake and Constrict would that apply to Savage Grapple as well? \$\endgroup\$ – Ruut Nov 4 '15 at 15:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ As far as I can tell, you certainly should be able to apply the damage from additional natural weapons, which usually operate via rake only, to your savage grapple damage. \$\endgroup\$ – annoying imp Nov 4 '15 at 15:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ It is not so clear with constrict. Savage grapple by itself won't activate constrict, because this ability isn't mentioned in the description of SG. Then there is a debate about when one can add constriction damage to the grapple damage. But when you damage your opponent with natural weapon suitable for improved grab via grapple check you normally add constriction damage. Now, by means of SG, you damage your opponent with your natural weapons via grapple check. So at least if you have improved grab you should be able to also add constriction damage to the SG damage pool. \$\endgroup\$ – annoying imp Nov 4 '15 at 15:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ The feat Strong Coils (Dragon #313 91) improves constrict damage in a like fashion to Improved Natural Attack, implying there's a difference between a natural attack and constrict. Just putting that out there. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Dec 25 '15 at 14:55
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Constrict, Rake and Rend are not natural attacks. They are special abilities that, under certain circumstances, enhance natural attacks. Improved Natural Attack improves the damage of one of your natural attacks (per feat), not one of your special abilities.

Rake and Savage Grapple are pretty similar in effect. Arguably, they could stack, but Savage Grapple is essentially a better effect than Rake (or a better version).

It would be like taking Weapon Focus (Cleave). Cleave isn't a weapon (or an attack), it's a feat that can affect your attack with a weapon.

You could however, have Weapon Focus ([Grapple or Unarmed Strike or Ray]), but these are called out specifically as non-weapon attacks that can be "focused".

Some confusion comes in from the usage of the term "Special Attack" in the monster listings. They have "Special Attacks" which include special abilities, described as "modes of attack", but do not include what is listed under the combat section as "Special Attacks", such as grapple or bull rush. Specifically, a special ability is either extraordinary (Ex), spell-like (Sp), or supernatural (Su).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Grapple isn't a weapon. Yet I can select Weapon Focus for Grapple. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruut Nov 4 '15 at 3:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ The reason I bring up grapple, is that it is a special attack, and is the result of a touch attack, and a grapple check; dealing Unarmed Strike Damage. If I were a Monk, then that would indeed be Natural Weapon Damage. Rend deals double claw damage - Natural Weapon Damage. Is it wrong to infer a correlation? \$\endgroup\$ – Ruut Nov 4 '15 at 3:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's a great question, but grapple is an attack, not a special ability. It is a "special attack". Non-trivial difference. \$\endgroup\$ – Wyrmwood Nov 4 '15 at 3:32

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