For a setting I'm creating, I have an optional rule where dragonborn may possess claw attacks in addition to their breath attack. To wit:

This attack does 1d4 slashing damage as an attack action. You may make an attack for each unarmed hand that is capable of using the claw attack. At level 10, your claw attacks count as magical with regard to weaknesses, resistances, and immunities and the damage increases to 2d4.

Now what I'm wondering is, is this broken when the other attack options a dragonborn may have are taken into account?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you give your reasoning in the question for why you're giving a second attack for free instead of letting them use normal two-weapon rules? If you have thoughts on that, answers will want to tackle those reasons. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 30, 2016 at 19:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie - My reasoning is that the rules for using a weapon in your offhand (having to use your bonus action) is because a weapon requires training to use effectively, and it takes time to swing one through the air, whereas an unarmed attack would be faster because you're moving an unburdened limb. I hope I adequately explained it. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 31, 2016 at 0:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is this basically a Multi-attack for two Claw attacks? \$\endgroup\$
    – Javelin
    Jan 31, 2016 at 8:55

2 Answers 2


It isn't overpowered, but it is strong. For example, it allows a Monk to make 3 attacks per round at level 1, or 4 if they are willing to spend a ki point. It's also better damage than any other weapon, as it works out to be (5 + Str * 2) on average vs (7 + Str) for a greatsword.

It's also great for any character that wants to make as many attacks as possible. As an example, Paladins are already known for their nova rounds - now a level 2 Paladin can do (1d4 + 2d8 + Str) * 2 in a single round. It will burn up all their spell slots for the day, but against a powerful monster that they really want to see dead it's definitely going to accelerate their victory.

But where it becomes really problematic is at level 5, when classes start getting Extra Attack. With no interaction specified, this will allow 3 attacks per round for any martial Dragonborn, or 4 if they have a way of getting bonus action attacks (5 for Monks who spend a ki point). Thankfully, this doesn't work with some of the best methods of adding extra damage to every attack, but it will still enable some incredibly high-damage builds.

At level 10, things become problematic all over again, as now every Monk wants to be a Dragonborn, and the claws deal better damage than any one-handed weapon while also enabling more attacks.

To make this non-broken, you need to at least make it require the use of a bonus action, and fix up the interaction with Extra Attack. However, you've said that this feature is in addition to a Dragonborn's normal features. Therefore, rather than making it still strong but not broken, you might want to aim a little lower. I would recommend modelling it off a feature that already exists and represents exactly what you're trying to do:

Talons. You are proficient with your unarmed strikes, which deal 1d4 slashing damage on a hit.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I think this is a better approach than the accepted answer, even -- and is probably how I would implement it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Shalvenay
    Jan 31, 2016 at 3:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ The monk can reliably (without a reaction) only make two attacks in a round at level 1 if I'm not mistaken, and 3 at level 2 by spending ki. Both two-weapon fighting, martial arts, and flurry of blows are all bonus actions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Samthere
    Aug 7, 2017 at 12:30

It completely depends on the circumstance and the setting. Assuming this "Claw" attack is a modified "Unarmed Attack" action, I would personally say that using two weapons (Handaxes, Scimitar or Shortswords) would be more effective. Especially since some classes grant you access to these weapons off the bat. Plus, a lot of martial weapons average out at 6.5 or 7 damage, which your claws only deal 5.

This ability wouldn't be much use in the hands of a Monk, as their unarmed attacks deal 1d4 at lv1 regardless.

I honestly think it would be a very niche ability that would really shine in scenarios where you had your gear taken off you or you find yourself disarmed by some effect such as the Fighter's Disarming Strike ability.

I'd say it's a fair addition, it's a nice piece of flavour to add to a character. Lots of people go overboard with their additions, but I personally think this is just a nice, subtle touch.

TL;DR: It's not overpowered and at best niche. But it's a nice touch. (Assuming "Broken" means overpowered)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I was using the term broken to mean overpowered. "Niche" is basically what I was going for with this; just a bit of flavor. Thank you! \$\endgroup\$ Jan 31, 2016 at 0:24

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