I have a 3rd level Ratfolk Unchained Rogue character in a Pathfinder campaign who uses the Sharpclaw racial feat. He's currently dishing out D4+Dex+2D6 (avg 13.5) damage on a Sneak Attack using Finesse Training with each of his claws.

Our GM asks us to briefly describe what we are attempting to do in combat and how a kill is carried out just to add a bit of cinematic flair. Unfortunately, I am struggling to justify the fairly high damage my small (3'11"), weak (Strength 8) character armed only with his bare claws is able to do - particular to Undead, those in plate armour and so on which would seem largely impervious to those kinds of attacks.

So far I have been doing the following:

  • Describing the use of improvised weapons where possible (e.g. smashing the orc in the face with a chamber pot).
  • Using environmental factors in my descriptions (e.g. trip opponent up and send them flying down the stairs, knocking them out).
  • Describing the use of combat actions that would normally be a separate skill entirely (e.g. disarming the opponent and stabbing them with their own blade).
  • Describing the attack using a manufactured weapon (e.g. tailblade, dagger) even though I'm using natural weapon mechanics.

So, the question is: Are there any depictions or stories of how this fighting style (small creature with natural weapons against tough targets) works in the D&D setting or are there any good justifications for why the character can do as much damage as they do?

In the long run, if I can't think of an appropriate solution then I'm likely to switch over to using daggers and two-weapon fighting instead.


2 Answers 2


Precision. Describe your character as hitting the weak points of an enemy - e.g. sliding his claws like a dagger through the joints of an armoured character, or going for tendons, organs, eyes, etc. Everything (or at least, everything that isn't a gelatinous cube) has weak points - even stuff like undead, golems, or even buildings have points of structural vulnerability. Also, play up the sharpness of your claws - you've basically got a bunch of razors tied to your fingers, and while you might not be able to put a lot of force behind a razor, get it in just the right place...

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Exactly right. it's why you chose to have Finesse Training, you're not using strength, but dexterity. And the OP should also note that the same thing goes for any rogue with sneak attack, most use a hand x-bow or a short sword and still do loads of damage \$\endgroup\$ Nov 30, 2016 at 13:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not every opponent is susceptible to Sneak Attack. See d20pfsrd.com/classes/unchained-classes/…. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 1, 2016 at 6:49

The baby with a gun

Ohhhh... What a cute baby. Oh wait, he has a desert eagle with a custom silver slide and FMJ ammo ! That thing could stop a Rhino at full speed !

The focus must be put on the terrifying part, namely, the gun.

As I see it, you should put the focus on how your claws look and how precise are your attacks.

Here is a quick example :

The ratfolk jumps onto the back of his target and raises his pointy claws, which whistle through the air like a rapier. He starts clawing at the neck of the orc with very fast and precise strikes, tearing its flesh like it's nothing. A generous amount of blood flies left and right, making splatters on the ground. After a final sweeping motion, the rogue jumps back to his previous position. In his shiny claws, he is still holding a piece of the orc's flesh. The orc tries to stop the flow of blood, but only moments later, his lifeless body is lying on the ground, the flow of blood having stopped by itself.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I made an edit to your answer (that is, it still has to be accepted). The thing that got me to edit it was the obvious grammatical mistakes in the example. However, as I was doing so, I found more and more things that weren't quite right (or nice) grammatically. There, I took a bit more artistic license in changing the text, but I tried to maintain the tone of the example as well as its content. I hope the resulting text is still in line with what you meant. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jasper
    Dec 1, 2016 at 14:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with the original "rapier" instead of "pointy blade". D&D people should know what that is. \$\endgroup\$
    – ErikE
    Dec 1, 2016 at 18:45

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