So, the Monk's Martial Arts say:

You can roll a d4 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.

Meanwhile, the Tavern Brawler feat says:

Your unarmed strike uses a d4 for damage.

My question is, could either a Monk or a Tavern Brawler choose to deal the flat 1 damage an untrained unarmed strike would do, instead of the d4 or better die?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you go a step further and share why you'd want to? (If it's why I think, there's a solution that has nothing to do with changing the damage, but I'm only guessing at what your “why” might be.) What problem are you facing that you're thinking would be solved by being able to choose to do less damage? \$\endgroup\$ Jan 22, 2017 at 5:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think I see where you're going Seven. So, I'll ask the question outright -- is the intent to ensure you don't kill the target? If so, the question is answered elsewhere. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 22, 2017 at 6:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Of note: there are no untrained unarmed strikes. You are always proficient with them. Sage Advice covers this. Martial Arts and Tavern Brawler supersede that. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 22, 2017 at 15:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ I am aware that you can choose to not kill a creature you drop to 0 hit points with melee attacks. I was thinking along the vein of stunning a charmed ally--- since Monks have to hit someone they want to stun. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 24, 2017 at 12:28

2 Answers 2


Monk: Yes.

Monks can choose to use their attack's original damage or to use their Martial Arts damage dice. This often comes up since at lower levels, many monk weapons do higher damage than the Martial Arts dice can. As your quoted section says, monks can roll the Martial Arts damage dice instead of the normal damage.

Tavern Brawler: No.

Tavern brawler outright changes your damage dice for unarmed strike to 1d4. It doesn't have the language that Martial Arts does of allowing you to choose which damage amount to use.


RAW, the Monk's Martial art is optional "You can roll...", while the wording on Tavern Brawler implies it is always in effect.

So, Monk, yes, Brawler, no.


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