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Assuming the character in question isn't a monk, you only have room for one and could make use of both, which one of these would objectively output the most damage per hit over the course of his carrer? Bear in mind this would be more for a character who would use their hands and feet as well as their weapon in combat.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Carrer. Edited for clarity \$\endgroup\$ – Masakan Feb 15 '17 at 17:29
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It depends.

At character level 16+, for a medium-sized non-Monk, the Superior Unarmed Strike feat changes your base unarmed damage from 1d3 (average 2) to 2d6 (average 7), effectively a +5 bonus to damage.

If you hit the most difficult Knowledge check offered by the feat (DC 36), the Knowledge Devotion feat provides...a +5 bonus to damage.

Both of these effects will scale as you level up: the Superior Unarmed Strike goes from effectively +0.5 damage at level 3 to its maximum +5 damage at level 16; the Knowledge Devotion feat can provide anything from +1 damage with a low Knowledge roll to +5 damage with a high one.

So, to determine which one is better, you need to look at how much damage Superior Unarmed Strike provides at a given level, what the Knowledge DC required to get that much damage from Knowledge Devotion is, and then check if you can meet that Knowledge DC. Here's a helpful table:

\begin{array}{l|l} \text{Character Level} & \text{Damage from Superior Unarmed Strike} & \text{Knowledge DC to meet or exceed} \\ \hline \text{3} & \text{0.5} & \text{0} \\ \hline \text{4-7} & \text{1.5} & \text{16} \\ \hline \text{8-11} & \text{2.5} & \text{26} \\ \hline \text{12-15} & \text{3.5} & \text{31} \\ \hline \text{16+} & \text{5} & \text{36} \\ \hline \end{array}

So, at each level in the above table, if you can hit the listed Knowledge DC, you'll get more damage from Knowledge Devotion. If not, you'll get more damage from Superior Unarmed Strike (on your unarmed attacks, at least).

If, as the question implies, you're mixing armed and unarmed attacks, that will of course tend to make Knowledge Devotion a better choice (since it applies to all your attacks, rather than merely some).


(Final note: since Knowledge Devotion also grants a bonus to AB, it's a much better feat in the end, but this question appeared to be asking about damage/hit.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ “Bear in mind this would be more for a character who would use their hands and feet as well as their weapon in combat,” kinda makes Knowledge Devotion the obvious choice. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 15 '17 at 17:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Affirmative. Had a parenthetical about only applying to unarmed attacks, but have added another sentence to emphasize that mixing armed and unarmed attacks will tend to favor Knowledge Devotion. \$\endgroup\$ – A_S00 Feb 15 '17 at 17:58

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