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I have a 5th-level Monk, whose martial arts die is a d6. I'm wielding a magic +1 dagger in my hand.

If I use my martial arts die in place of "the weapon's normal damage", does the dagger then deal 1d6 (replacing all of the weapon's damage), or 1d6+1 (replacing only the weapon's d4 damage die, but still including the +1 enchantment)?

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The +1 Carries Forward

The martial arts class feature (PH page 78), at 5th level, allows you to

…roll a [d6] in place of the normal damage of [a]…monk weapon.

A dagger is a monk weapon, so its damage is changed.

What, then, is the "normal damage" of a weapon? We turn to page 146 of the Player's Handbook:

The Weapons table shows the most common weapons used in the worlds of D&D, their price and weight, the damage they deal when they hit, and any special properties they possess.

A +1 weapon (DMG page 213) adds

…a bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon.

Parsing these all together we can determine that:

  • The normal damage of a dagger is d4
  • Martial arts swaps the damage rolled from a d4 to a d6
  • A +1 dagger adds one to the damage rolled

The +1 is still added, since that's not part of the normal damage a dagger does.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Because it's a bonus to the damage. Bonuses are in addition to the normal amount being modified. Normal, in this case, is d6 for a dagger bring wielded by a monk. \$\endgroup\$ – Christopher May 11 '16 at 21:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmm yes, just parsing the English, any "normal" amount does not include the "bonus" amount. I'm personally willing to buy that (+1 bonus) but I do wonder if this difference between "normal" and "bonus" is defined anywhere in the rules. \$\endgroup\$ – Tim Grant May 11 '16 at 22:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that the extra "unarmed strike" provided by this Monk class feature (Martial Arts - PHB p.78) cannot implement any weapon , leading me to believe that it would not receive any magic weapon bonus. \$\endgroup\$ – eyecosahedron May 17 '16 at 19:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Correct, unarmed strikes are, by nature, not made with weapons and thus the magical bonus isn't added to the unarmed attack or damage roll. \$\endgroup\$ – Christopher May 17 '16 at 19:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ You could add that the final damage isn't just 1d6+1, but also +STR or +DEX \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor May 6 '18 at 13:04
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The Martial Arts class feature only replaces the damage die of the base weapon, so the +1 feature works as normal, as it is not a part of the weapons damage dice.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you have supporting reference? \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. May 11 '16 at 17:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ I suggest citing DMG p. 213: “You have a bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon.” Notably, the magic ability doesn't change the damage die/dice, it gives you a bonus when rolling, so other abilities that change damage dice won't affect the bonus you get later during the actual rolling. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 11 '16 at 19:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast I think it's a correct reading… of that part of the text. However, on re-reading the monk ability it works by changing the roll too, not the die as I was thinking, so this reading of magic bonuses turns out to not be relevant. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 11 '16 at 19:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ I believe it comes down to order of operation. Does the bonus +1 happen before or after the damage roll is replaced? I'm inclined to think that bonuses happen after replacement, the same as your ability score bonus, thus supporting this answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Derek Stucki May 11 '16 at 20:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ They're both bonuses added to the die roll. The combat chapter refers to both as modifiers, which it says are added after the roll. \$\endgroup\$ – Derek Stucki May 11 '16 at 20:46
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TL;DR: the +1 is tied to the dagger's damage roll

The +1 bonus damage is applied to damage rolls "made with this magic weapon." The class ability's 1d6 roll is being substituted for the weapon's damage roll.

You can roll a d4 {now 1d6 at lvl 5} in place of the normal damage of your unarmed strike or monk weapon. The 1d6 roll replaces the monk weapon damage roll. (Staff, dagger, short sword, whatever...)

Discussion

Damage Rolls

Each weapon, spell, and harmful monster ability specifies the damage it deals. You roll the damage die or dice, add any modifiers, and apply the damage to your target. Magic weapons, special abilities, and other factors can grant a bonus to damage. With a penalty, it is possible to deal 0 damage, but never negative damage. When attacking with a weapon, you add your ability modifier—the same modifier used for the attack roll—to the damage.

An analysis of the rules lends support to the ruling that the "normal damage" of the +1 dagger is the quantity "1d4+1." The way the martial arts text reads, you make a choice of which roll to use in the form of either / or: either sub in the Monk class feature damage roll (per table) or use the weapon's damage roll.

You can roll a d4 {now 1d6 at your lvl 5} in place of the normal damage of your unarmed strike or monk weapon (Fuller text from rules at the bottom)

The +1 bonus looks to be inherent in the weapon. I found nowhere in the rules an indication that the +1 bonus is transferable to another weapon or attack, melee or otherwise, for a simple +X weapon. A notable exception is the Defender Sword that can transfer + to hit/damage to a + to armor class. (That's a legendary item that requires attunement).

(SRD pg 254/DMG p. 213) Weapon, +1, +2, or +3 uncommon (+1), rare (+2), or very rare (+3)
You have a bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon. The bonus is determined by the weapon’s rarity.

From the way that reads, if you choose the magic weapon, its damage (1d4+1) is used, and modified by a Dex/Str bonus to arrive at total damage (see above). If you choose the martial art feature, use that damage roll (1d6) which modified by Dex/Str to arrives at total damage.

  • For what it's worth, that 1d4+1 averages to the same amount of damage as 1d6, (3.5) but you won't get any 6's or 1's.

From the Martial Arts rules text

At 1st level, your practice of martial arts gives you mastery of combat styles that use unarmed strikes and monk weapons, which are short swords 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:
• You can roll a d4 {now 1d6 at lvl 5} in place of the normal damage of your unarmed strike or monk weapon. This die changes as you gain monk levels, as shown in the Martial Arts column of the Monk table. {you can choose to sub in the unarmed strike or not}
• 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 quarterstaff {substitute in dagger here as it is a monk weapon}, you can also make an unarmed strike as a bonus action, assuming you haven’t already taken a bonus action this turn.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What is the significance of using the word “transfer”, and of the sentence “The +1 is applied to attacks "made with this magic weapon."”? It sounds like you're picturing the attack somehow not being made with the dagger. If that's not what you intend it to mean, it might need revising, especially since the answer leads with that, making it seem like a critical part of its reasoning. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 11 '16 at 20:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ …Oh, you did mean that. Where is the idea coming from that attacking with the dagger isn't attacking with the dagger? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 11 '16 at 21:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ The attack is being made with the dagger, but this answer is saying it's not being made with the dagger. Why must seem obvious to you, but it's not obvious to me. I don't think it's a common reading to say that attacking with a monk weapon, and electing to use the monk's damage die, means suddenly not attacking with that monk weapon. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 11 '16 at 21:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not really. It's still saying that the +1 only applies to attacks made with that weapon, and then saying this means that it doesn't apply. It's still talking about transference, as if there are two different things to transfer between, when (as far as I understand) a replacement of damage number generator is happening, not a replacement of what's being attacked with. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 11 '16 at 21:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ You seem to be saying that if you choose to use the 1d6, it doesn't count as attacking with the dagger. I don't think there's anything unclear about that statement; what's unclear is where that interpretation even comes from. (The alternative being that when you choose the 1d6, you're still attacking with the dagger.) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 11 '16 at 21:33

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