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Suppose my character is a monk (and thus can make unarmed strikes with her feet). Suppose that for some reason she's wielding a longbow. Does she threaten the area around her? Can she provide a flanking bonus to her ally the rogue?

Suppose my character is a cleric, but has the Plant domain power:

As a free action, your hands can become as hard as wood, covered in tiny thorns. While you have wooden fists, your unarmed strikes do not provoke attacks of opportunity, deal lethal damage, and gain a bonus on damage rolls equal to 1/2 your cleric level (minimum +1). You can use this ability for a number of rounds per day equal to 3 + your Wisdom modifier. These rounds do not need to be consecutive.

If she is wielding a bow but then activates this power, does she then threaten the area around her, and does she then provide a flanking bonus?

My guesses are yes for the monk and no for the cleric, but I'm trying to find a RAW answer.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ If all you want is to provide a flanking bonus, a spiked gauntlet works. \$\endgroup\$ – MrLemon Jan 23 '16 at 10:21
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You are correct.

From the PFSRD on flanking:

Only a creature or character that threatens the defender can help an attacker get a flanking bonus.

From the PFSRD on threat:

You threaten all squares into which you can make a melee attack, even when it is not your turn. ... If you're unarmed, you don't normally threaten any squares and thus can't make attacks of opportunity.

From the PFSRD on being unarmed (emphasis mine):

"Armed" Unarmed Attacks: Sometimes a character's or creature's unarmed attack counts as an armed attack. A monk, a character with the Improved Unarmed Strike feat, a spellcaster delivering a touch attack spell, and a creature with natural physical weapons all count as being armed

Monk: Yes

Again from the PFSRD:

This means that a monk may make unarmed strikes with his hands full.

You definitely threaten adjacent squares, even when you are wielding a bow, because you are capable of making "armed" melee attacks into those squares via unarmed strike. Therefore you can flank.

Cleric: No

The domain power does not say you count as being armed, nor is it a touch attack or natural physical weapon. Therefore it cannot be used to threaten spaces and thus does not allow the cleric to be a flanking buddy.

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You threaten all squares into which you can make a melee attack, even when it is not your turn. ... If you're unarmed, you don't normally threaten any squares and thus can't make attacks of opportunity.

“Armed” Unarmed Attacks: Sometimes a character's or creature's unarmed attack counts as an armed attack. A monk, a character with the Improved Unarmed Strike feat, a spellcaster delivering a touch attack spell, and a creature with natural physical weapons all count as being armed (see natural attacks).

The Monk always has "Armed" Unarmed Attacks (AUA) and so threatens and provides flanking.

The Cleric, with the power activated, has AUA and so threatens and provides flanking.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Why do you feel the cleric has AUA with the power activated? It's not described as a touch attack or natural attack. It acts like the monk's unarmed strike in terms of doing lethal damage without penalty and not provoking, but it never explicitly says the cleric counts as being armed. \$\endgroup\$ – Oblivious Sage Jan 22 '16 at 21:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Looking at the "Improved Unarmed Strike" method of having an "Armed" Unarmed Attack, the "Normal" state listed under the feat says "Without this feat, you are considered unarmed when attacking with an unarmed strike, and you can deal only nonlethal damage with such an attack." The Cleric power deals lethal damage, therefore they are not in a "Normal" state. Specific outweighs General so in this DMs opinion the Cleric should be counted as an "Armed" Unarmed Attacker. There is no logical difference between the Monk and Cleric-with-power-active. \$\endgroup\$ – niekell Jun 7 '19 at 3:10
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Also on a side note either the monk or cleric with Weapon Focus (ranged weapon) and the Snap Shot feat gains a 5' threat area while wielding the selected weapon, which would allow you to provide flanking for a rogue ally.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks -- I doubt my current build will have the feats for that, but still this is useful to know about. :) \$\endgroup\$ – Dan B Jan 22 '16 at 23:54
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Ranged Attackers never provide flanking for characters other than themselves, unless they explicitly threaten squares with their ranged weapon.

Neither the Cleric nor the Monk threatens any squares with their bow, and they separately cannot make any attacks of opportunity with their bow (AoO must be melee attacks). Both characters are presumably also wielding Unarmed Strikes, as there is no penalty for doing so. The Monk's Unarmed Strike does threaten squares and thus matter for flanking and AoO. The Cleric's does not. If the Cleric was wielding a longsword in addition to the bow, however, they would threaten the spaces adjacent to themselves with that weapon, as normal, and could make their AoOs with either said longsword or any other ready melee weapon (like their Unarmed Strike).

TL;DR Count threatened squares for each attack method present on a creature separately. If a character threatens a square with any weapon, the character 'threatens the square'. Ranged weapons themselves are irrelevant, unless you obtain the ability to threaten with them.

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