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Voice of Reason
2010-02-16, 10:03 AM
Ok, I've got a strange question for all of you rules-lawyer types out there. What exactly is it that specifies a "melee attack?" According to the [relevant text of the] PHB, a melee attack is

"Targeted: Melee attacks target individuals. A melee attack against multiple enemies consists of separate attacks, each with its own attack roll and damage roll. Melee attacks donít create areas of effect..."

That's not entirely the most helpful clause in the world. I've always considered an attack to be a melee attack if the power indicates that it is so in the upper right-hand corner of the power box (seems logical to me). If that's the case though, then what of the Shaman power Claws of the Eagle (primal power)? It is a "melee spirit 1," or a melee attack power. Like warlord's strike, it has no damage or attack roll but allows an ally to attack instead.

Does is still count as a melee attack for things like a Staff of the Serpent and similar items? The Staff of the Serpent adds 1d6 damage to "any melee attack made with this staff." Notice that it does not explicitly require an attack or damage roll to activate this property, unlike an enhancement bonus on an implement/weapon. So what exactly is a melee attack, does Claws of the Eagle qualify (and if so, would that change the keywords), and would that allow for extra, automatic damage with it??

I'd appreciate it if someone could help me out with an answer besides "houserule it." It'll probably become houseruled in my game, but I'd like to know what exactly is being houseruled first :smallwink:

TheCountAlucard
2010-02-16, 10:09 AM
Might wanna specify the system - from the fact that you said, "PHB," I'm assuming you mean D&D, and from my utter confusion at what you're talking about, I'm assuming you mean 4th edition; it usually helps to clarify these things in the thread title.

nightwyrm
2010-02-16, 10:35 AM
I assume you're asking about 4e. Perhaps a bit pedantically, a melee attack is any attack power with melee on it's target line. There are a few (though not keyword defining) things associated with a melee attack, namely no OA and the use of a reach weapon usually increasing the distance you can hit things.

For your specific example with the shaman power and the staff, it won't work. But not because of the melee line, it's because shamans can't use staffs for implements and thus their spirit powers aren't "attack made with this staff".

Mando Knight
2010-02-16, 12:54 PM
However, in general, a melee attack is a melee attack, regardless if it's an implement or weapon attack. Thus, a Druid in Wild Shape can get bonuses from Staff properties that affect melee attacks, since the Staff's property is still active in Wild Shape and is (probably) the implement used for the Druid's Beast Form melee attack powers.

"Claws of the Eagle" and "Commander's Strike" use the Leader's reach, but the ally makes the attack, so only the ally's items and abilities come into play for the attack and damage rolls except if the Leader has an item or ability that specifically boosts granted attacks.

Voice of Reason
2010-02-16, 03:13 PM
Might wanna specify the system - from the fact that you said, "PHB," I'm assuming you mean D&D, and from my utter confusion at what you're talking about, I'm assuming you mean 4th edition; it usually helps to clarify these things in the thread title.

Yes, Dungeons and Dragons 4.0, sorry.


For your specific example with the shaman power and the staff, it won't work. But not because of the melee line, it's because shamans can't use staffs for implements and thus their spirit powers aren't "attack made with this staff".

Pretend that it's a Wizard|Shaman or Druid|Shaman hybrid class that can use staves for its powers.


"Claws of the Eagle" and "Commander's Strike" use the Leader's reach, but the ally makes the attack, so only the ally's items and abilities come into play for the attack and damage rolls except if the Leader has an item or ability that specifically boosts granted attacks.

So you would be of the opinion that in order for such items to work, they need to have an attack roll associated with them? Because the shaman is using a melee attack power. Alternatively, are you suggesting that the shaman is not using the attack power, but the ally is? Because if we're going with that, then it becomes possible for wild-shape druids to use it in beast form (since you're not using an attack power, your ally is).

I'm not saying you're wrong, just wondering what you're trying to convey.

Mando Knight
2010-02-16, 04:33 PM
So you would be of the opinion that in order for such items to work, they need to have an attack roll associated with them? Because the shaman is using a melee attack power. Alternatively, are you suggesting that the shaman is not using the attack power, but the ally is? Because if we're going with that, then it becomes possible for wild-shape druids to use it in beast form (since you're not using an attack power, your ally is).

You're using a melee attack power, but the creature that makes the attack isn't you. In order to qualify as an attack or attack power for an effect, you need to make an attack roll (Divine Challenge isn't an attack, and neither are damaging aura effects). In order to qualify for effects to damage rolls, you need to make a damage roll (static-damage attacks don't count unless otherwise specified). Claws of the Eagle and Commander's Strike do neither: the ally makes the attack and damage rolls, so you need to use effects that trigger on an ally's attack or damage roll. However, you are still using the power, since it is by your power that the ally makes the attack. Thus if something precludes you from activating that power, you still can't use it even though you're not making the attack and damage rolls.

Evard
2010-02-16, 04:51 PM
Melee attack = any power that has the melee keyword

Basic Melee attack = Basic attack

Some melee powers can be used as a basic melee attack. Sure they are both melee but one is just a basic attack and the other has special properties along with the basic attack.

cupkeyk
2010-02-16, 09:40 PM
I am not sure how claws of the eagle is phrased but Commander's Strike can "carry" a warlord's hit riders be they from weapon or class feature or otherwise (but not his crit riders, because he didn't crit, your ally did) because it has a attack line and a hit line. If claws of the eagle does have an attack and a hit line, then it should follow that if the attack roll connects, it would carry any other effects the shaman would have gotten had he attacked himself. It easier to imagine it from a warlord's perspective since he is still actually in melee with his opponent, he could have shoved the guy, or more popularly, attacked him with a whip, dealing no damage but allowing an ally to make an attack. A shaman has a bird swoop in to make an opening, and maybe have his implement's effects channeled from the bird... maybe. Compare commander's strike with opening shove, and the bard's increasing the tempo. The phrasing is differentiated by their attack lines, hit lines and the absence thereof.

EDIT: I forgot something. Commander's strike has the weapon keyword. Claws of the egle must have the implement keyword to benefit from a hit rider via attack line and a hit line.

RebelRogue
2010-02-16, 10:02 PM
Wait, what?! Does the Weapon keyword of Commander's Strike mean the ally adds your weapons proficiency and/or magic bonus instead of his own when making the basic melee attack?

Edit: after reading up a bit, I's say it's there because a) you need a weapon to use the power and b) the reach of the weapon may be important. It would seem weird that the ally should use my bonuses.

cupkeyk
2010-02-16, 10:19 PM
Wait, what?! Does the Weapon keyword of Commander's Strike mean the ally adds your weapons proficiency and/or magic bonus instead of his own when making the basic melee attack?

Edit: after reading up a bit, I's say it's there because a) you need a weapon to use the power and b) the reach of the weapon may be important. It would seem weird that the ally should use my bonuses.

Yeah... notice the attack line in commander's strike does not say str vs. AC. It says an ally so on and so forth. The proficiency/enhancement bonus adds to the modifiers of an <stat>vs.<def> attack roll.

RebelRogue
2010-02-16, 10:23 PM
Yeah... notice the attack line in commander's strike does not say str vs. AC. It says an ally so on and so forth. The proficiency/enhancement bonus adds to the modifiers of an <stat>vs.<def> attack roll.
That makes sense :smallsmile: In other words, I've done it right the whole time :smallbiggrin: