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The Rabbler
2010-09-02, 12:14 AM
My friend approached me with a build request the other day. She wanted a character that could cut people's heads off with fingernails.

my idea to build this character was monk 2/rogue 4/lion totem barbarian 1/kensai 5. I was thinking of using a feat to change the unarmed strike damage type to slashing before level 12 and picking up vorpal on the unarmed strike via kensai.

Then I realized that the playground could probably do this better than I could. So, does anyone have any ideas to on accomplishing this faster/easier?

All sources are allowed, but using any magic/psionics/martial material is greatly frowned upon by the player (:smallsigh: I know.)

Innis Cabal
2010-09-02, 12:21 AM
Epic Monks can take this as a feat.

The Rabbler
2010-09-02, 12:22 AM
Ideally this would be a good deal of time before epic level.

Admiral Squish
2010-09-02, 12:28 AM
I can't find the book, but there's a versatile unarmed strike feat that lets you deal slashing, piercing, or bludgeoning with an unarmed strike.

NelKor
2010-09-02, 12:29 AM
A bit costly, but theres an amulet from Savage species that allows weapon enchantments, i think it can get around the slashing requirement for vorpal weapons and allow you to punch peoples heads off, or finger nail in this case.

Ashram
2010-09-02, 12:32 AM
Versatile Unarmed Strike, PHB2. Requires Improved Unarmed Strike. As a swift action, you can change your unarmed strike damage to be piercing, slashing or bludgeoning damage; it stays that type of damage until you use another swift action to change it.

Amulet of Natural Attacks, Savage Species. Allows for enhancement bonuses and special enhancements on one or more natural attacks; DM discretion is needed, since unarmed strikes are both considered and not considered to be natural attacks.

Eldariel
2010-09-02, 12:37 AM
Well, fastest you can get is obv 5 levels in full BAB class (you can get Diplomacy & Concentration in class through some tricks; notably Paladin, Swashbuckler and Zhentarim Fighter have Diplo in class and Concentration can be acquired through feats, Ranger, Paladin or ToB types) followed by 5 levels in Kensai; all it takes is IUS and VUS to qualify for the Vorpal hands. If level is of the essence, Rogue is most certainly a misstep as losing that second BAB cuts out a level from Kensai entry.

So...there. What exactly is the goal? Efficient unarmed fighting while having Vorpal fists or just ASAP Vorpals?

The Rabbler
2010-09-02, 12:39 AM
Versatile Unarmed Strike, PHB2. Requires Improved Unarmed Strike. As a swift action, you can change your unarmed strike damage to be piercing, slashing or bludgeoning damage; it stays that type of damage until you use another swift action to change it.
That's certainly useful, thanks.


What exactly is the goal? Efficient unarmed fighting while having Vorpal fists or just ASAP Vorpals?

ideally efficient unarmed fighting, as she would want to actually play this build.

Ashram
2010-09-02, 12:45 AM
Also, having scrolls of Surge of Fortune are really handy if you don't want to play the numbers game of waiting for a natural 20 to pop up to activate Vorpal.

If you don't know, Surge of Fortune (Complete Champion, Clr 5) gives you a +2 luck bonus on virtually anything you could possibly think of. If you expend the spell as an immediate action instead of letting it run its duration, your next die roll is considered to be a natural 20.

Curmudgeon
2010-09-02, 12:53 AM
Amulet of Natural Attacks, Savage Species. Allows for enhancement bonuses and special enhancements on one or more natural attacks; DM discretion is needed, since unarmed strikes are both considered and not considered to be natural attacks.
The bolded part is wrong. The rules are quite consistent: unarmed strikes are always natural attacks. Here are some citations.
You canít cast this spell on a natural weapon, such as an unarmed strike.
You canít cast this spell on a natural weapon, such as an unarmed strike (instead, see magic fang).
Magic fang gives one natural weapon of the subject a +1 enhancement bonus on attack and damage rolls. The spell can affect a slam attack, fist, bite, or other natural weapon. (The spell does not change an unarmed strikeís damage from nonlethal damage to lethal damage.)
A fanged ring grants its wearer the Improved Unarmed Strike feat and the Improved Natural Attack (unarmed strike) teat. Unarmed strikes use the iterative attacks of manufactured weapons, but aren't (usually; Monks have a proviso where their unarmed strikes can also be considered as manufactured weapons, but that's a special case).

Frosty
2010-09-02, 02:26 AM
The bolded part is wrong. The rules are quite consistent: unarmed strikes are always natural attacks. Here are some citations. Unarmed strikes use the iterative attacks of manufactured weapons, but aren't (usually; Monks have a proviso where their unarmed strikes can also be considered as manufactured weapons, but that's a special case).
Then don't you find it stupid that creatures aren't always proficient with thier own natural attacks?

JeenLeen
2010-09-02, 08:46 AM
I've heard of players letting monks enchant fist-wraps or gauntlets and use them as monk weapons for flurry of blows, etc. You could do the same, but refluff it for a special fingernail ink if that's how she wants to kill. The downside to this method is that the player can be disarmed if captured.

I don't think it would overpower anything to just let them enchant their fists. Monks can use the help. Kensai does this well, though, so going that is probably a good idea, especially if you want to avoid over-houseruling.

The Glyphstone
2010-09-02, 09:41 AM
I think you'll need at least Kensai 6 - unless the class gets an exception that I don't remember, they can't just slap 'Vorpal' on a weapon, they would have to make it "+1 Vorpal" as per the normal rules for enchanting magic weapons.

Fearan
2010-09-02, 10:17 AM
Initiate of Draconic Mysteries (Draconomicon) deals slashing damage with unarmed strike. Dip for one or two levels.

Fouredged Sword
2010-09-02, 11:29 AM
Warblade makes a great base. Let the character run around as a kung-fu fighter useing Iron Heart, Dimond mind, Stone Dragon and Tiger.

Just take IUS, and such to allow for unarmed strikes. Dip monk for wis (or int with a feat) to armor and to save a feat.

Temotei
2010-09-02, 11:40 AM
Epic Monks can take this as a feat.

You're funny. :smallbiggrin:

Keld Denar
2010-09-02, 12:03 PM
More hillarious with a Monk/Kensai is Brilliant Energy. Since a monk's whole body is a weapon, and Brilliant Energy weapons pass through all non-organic matter, you'd have to keep on the lawn. If you ever step onto a stone street or other surface not covered with organic material, you'd fall through the ground like a badly programmed no-clipping cheat. You'd accelerate until you reached the center of the earth, at which point you would continue past it, all the while slowing down until you reach the point where you'll be suspended momentarily with zero velocity*. Then you'll start falling back toward the center of the earth again. Since you pass through all non-organic matter, there wouldn't be any friction to damp out your osciliations, and you'd just fall back and forth indefinitely unless you fell on someone walking through the underdark. Oh, what a surprise that would give em!

*Assume a perfectly spherical earth.

Caliphbubba
2010-09-02, 12:18 PM
More hillarious with a Monk/Kensai is Brilliant Energy. Since a monk's whole body is a weapon, and Brilliant Energy weapons pass through all non-organic matter, you'd have to keep on the lawn. If you ever step onto a stone street or other surface not covered with organic material, you'd fall through the ground like a badly programmed no-clipping cheat. You'd accelerate until you reached the center of the earth, at which point you would continue past it, all the while slowing down until you reach the point where you'll be suspended momentarily with zero velocity*. Then you'll start falling back toward the center of the earth again. Since you pass through all non-organic matter, there wouldn't be any friction to damp out your osciliations, and you'd just fall back and forth indefinitely unless you fell on someone walking through the underdark. Oh, what a surprise that would give em!

*Assume a perfectly spherical earth.

while really funny to think about, I don't think it actually works that way because of how Kensai imbues their weapon. It specifially calls out imbuing "fists" and having to pay more XP because he has two of them. So in this instance you have to decide up front what part of your body is your imbuded unarmed strike.

The Rabbler
2010-09-02, 07:05 PM
I think you'll need at least Kensai 6 - unless the class gets an exception that I don't remember, they can't just slap 'Vorpal' on a weapon, they would have to make it "+1 Vorpal" as per the normal rules for enchanting magic weapons.

We actually have a houserule which negates this. My group had been unaware of that rule for about 5 years until I came along and they decided to just keep using it the same way. Needless to say, I abuse this rule frequently.



Warblade makes a great base. Let the character run around as a kung-fu fighter useing Iron Heart, Dimond mind, Stone Dragon and Tiger.

Just take IUS, and such to allow for unarmed strikes. Dip monk for wis (or int with a feat) to armor and to save a feat.

I would... but the person that I'm making this for (and just about all of my group) despise the ToB because it's "overpowered". Meanwhile, my wizard/incantrix (I know I spelled that wrong...) friend rocks every encounter without a scratch; but that's a different conversation.


while really funny to think about, I don't think it actually works that way because of how Kensai imbues their weapon. It specifially calls out imbuing "fists" and having to pay more XP because he has two of them. So in this instance you have to decide up front what part of your body is your imbuded unarmed strike.

hmm... because the monk is not considered to have an off-hand and that any part of the body can be used for an unarmed strike, would it be possible to enchant one fist and use it for both the main-hand and off-hand attacks (assuming TWF)? If so, that would be an interesting new way to play fistbeard beardfist.

Jack Zander
2010-09-02, 08:59 PM
I was thinking about this recently. If you only have one weapon on you, but you want to use twf, can't you full attack with your main hand, then swap the weapon to your off hand and full attack with that in the same round?

The Rabbler
2010-09-02, 09:06 PM
I was thinking about this recently. If you only have one weapon on you, but you want to use twf, can't you full attack with your main hand, then swap the weapon to your off hand and full attack with that in the same round?

well, that's different. that's moving weapons around. Theoretically it could be done with Quick Draw and Quick Sheath, as neither specify which hand you draw it with, but there's probably some mechanical error that I'm overlooking with this. Even without some sort of flaw, most builds wouldn't want this because it uses up a pair of feats and TWF builds are pretty feat-starved as it is.

EDIT: though I could see it's use in an Iaijustu build.

Lhurgyof
2010-09-02, 09:10 PM
Unarmed Strikes are considered manufactured weapons... so just get them enchanted as vorpal? No need to waste levels on Kensai.

Edit: Agh, need to be masterworked... damn.

Jack Zander
2010-09-02, 09:12 PM
Or, by a gross misrepresentation of the rules, you can deduce that since its a free action to put your hand on or take your hand off of a two-handed weapon, that you could do the same for a one-handed weapon thereby switching hands as a free action.

Zhalath
2010-09-02, 09:13 PM
Then don't you find it stupid that creatures aren't always proficient with thier own natural attacks?

Are you proficient with your own bite? Can you effectively bite people in melee?

I think the best way to do it is the necklace of natural weapons+Versatile Unarmed Strike.
However, that item has a bizarre yet hilarious example in the text. They discuss a +1 throwing returning necklace of natural weapons. Think about it.

Alternatively, you could take the Draconic template, or some feats, or anything that gives you a claw attack, and couple that with the Necklace of Vorpal Natural Weapons. That too should allow your hands to go snicker-snack.

The Rabbler
2010-09-02, 09:26 PM
I think the best way to do it is the necklace of natural weapons+Versatile Unarmed Strike.
However, that item has a bizarre yet hilarious example in the text. They discuss a +1 throwing returning necklace of natural weapons. Think about it.

Alternatively, you could take the Draconic template, or some feats, or anything that gives you a claw attack, and couple that with the Necklace of Vorpal Natural Weapons. That too should allow your hands to go snicker-snack.

I don't particularly like this idea because you are required to pay for every natural weapon that the necklace affects. This means that using TWF requires that the necklace be twice as effective, unless the same unarmed strike (assume a monk) can be used for both main-hand and off-hand attacks.



Or, by a gross misrepresentation of the rules, you can deduce that since its a free action to put your hand on or take your hand off of a two-handed weapon, that you could do the same for a one-handed weapon thereby switching hands as a free action.

I think this requires that the weapon be two-handed. If it's worded to be a weapon held in two hands, it could probably be slipped by a DM, but otherwise, I don't think so.

Lhurgyof
2010-09-02, 09:29 PM
I don't particularly like this idea because you are required to pay for every natural weapon that the necklace affects. This means that using TWF requires that the necklace be twice as effective, unless the same unarmed strike (assume a monk) can be used for both main-hand and off-hand attacks.

You can't TWF with unarmed strikes, it says so specifically that they don't consider any monk unarmed strikes off-hand attacks. So, yes, to TWF you'd have to get both enchanted and you'd not get the flurry + twf, just TWF with the BAB. Oh, and have fun with your 1d3 damage.

Edit: You may be able to flurry and TWF, but you can only use the flurry attacks for your special monk unarmed strike.

Zhalath
2010-09-02, 09:36 PM
I don't particularly like this idea because you are required to pay for every natural weapon that the necklace affects. This means that using TWF requires that the necklace be twice as effective, unless the same unarmed strike (assume a monk) can be used for both main-hand and off-hand attacks.

You can't TWF with unarmed strike. I believe that's why monks even get flurry of blows, to make it look like they can.

Edit: Well, I was swordsage'd.

Eldariel
2010-09-02, 09:40 PM
You can't TWF with unarmed strike. I believe that's why monks even get flurry of blows, to make it look like they can.

Edit: Well, I was swordsage'd.

Actually, it's not that black and white. FAQ claims you can tho. Take it for what it's worth. Let's not go through the same old argument over again. And frankly, Monks need all the help they can get so far as I'm concerned, they can flurry and TWF all they want.

The Rabbler
2010-09-02, 10:29 PM
You can't TWF with unarmed strikes, it says so specifically that they don't consider any monk unarmed strikes off-hand attacks. So, yes, to TWF you'd have to get both enchanted and you'd not get the flurry + twf, just TWF with the BAB. Oh, and have fun with your 1d3 damage.

where is this 1d3 damage coming from? a tankard?

dgnslyr
2010-09-02, 11:55 PM
Rule of Cool: Chopping peoples heads off with your fist is just too awesome. I'm sure if you refluffed Vorpal, you could make it make sense to work with a bludgeoning weapon.
Otherwise, nothing useful from me. Does Amulet of Natural Attacks work?
Also, Fist of the Forest has a crazy fast Unarmed Strike damage progression. Worth checking out, but it might not fit the character you have in mind.

Nick_mi
2010-09-03, 12:36 AM
I was going to suggest fists of the forest as well.

dgnslyr
2010-09-03, 01:07 AM
I was going to suggest fists of the forest as well.

It's a good PrC if you're going for a Fistbeard Beardfist kind of character. It's more of a barbarian than a monk, so it might not be appropriate for this character. Crazy fast Unarmed Strike damage progression is hard to pass up, though, because Fist of the Forest gives instant gratification, as nature should!

The Rabbler
2010-09-03, 01:09 AM
It's a good PrC if you're going for a Fistbeard Beardfist kind of character. It's more of a barbarian than a monk, so it might not be appropriate for this character. Crazy fast Unarmed Strike damage progression is hard to pass up, though, because Fist of the Forest gives instant gratification, as nature should!

Ripped from Eldariel's barbarian guide. For shame. :smallbiggrin:

dgnslyr
2010-09-03, 01:10 AM
Ripped straight from Eldariel's barbarian guide. For shame. :smallbiggrin:

I considered mentioning that I lovingly ripped it from Eldariel's guide, but I decided against it. Forumites Swordsaging directly from my brain!

BladeofOblivion
2010-09-03, 03:24 AM
To make this even more awesome, just apply a continuous magic item that gives you a constant effect of Blood Wind from the Spell Compendium. Now you can decapitate people with your fingernails without the petty restriction of standing next to them. It worked for Dhalsim!

GodGoblin
2010-09-03, 04:17 AM
Im not entirley sure how helpfull this is but there is a weapon enchantment in the Magic item Compendium that is Vorpal for Bludgening weapons. Using that might make the build easier as you wont have to find a way to slash

But if he literally wants to use finger nails rather than punching off heads then never mind :smallredface:

Nihb
2010-09-03, 05:47 AM
In our group, that's how we'd do it.

1. Get the Versatile Unarmed Strike feat.
2. Get your fists to be magic (through monk levels, kensai?)
3. Enchant your fist (only one) with +1 Vorpal.
4. Use the slashing punch. Bludgeoning and piercing aren't going to trigger Vorpal on a nat 20.

To enchant a piece of armor or a weapon, it must be masterwork. Since the monk's fist aren't masterwork, you can't enchant then. But since a monk's fists become magic and adamantine, two properties that imply masterwork qualities, we allowed the enchanting of them in this case.

But, heh, that's how we house-ruled.

Caliphbubba
2010-09-03, 05:57 AM
hmm... because the monk is not considered to have an off-hand and that any part of the body can be used for an unarmed strike, would it be possible to enchant one fist and use it for both the main-hand and off-hand attacks (assuming TWF)? If so, that would be an interesting new way to play fistbeard beardfist.

I don't think it is possible to do just one fist. It specifically says you must imbue ALL natural weapons of the same type, and give an example of a Kensai with 6 arms, a tail and a bite. All natural attacks. if it imbues it's fists, it'd have to do all 6 of them and pay the increased cost in XP OR it can do its tail or bite for the regular cost. It's laid out pretty plain in the description of the class.

Person_Man
2010-09-03, 08:39 AM
Psychic Warrior 20 with Claws of the Beast would be the easiest way (or Monk 2/Psychic Warrior 18 with the Tashalatora feat, or some similar unarmed buffing combo (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=7081777), if you must have finger nails and not claws that grow out of your fingers). With 12d6ish damage, your enemy will be dead after a full attack regardless of if you crit or not. Just add a fluffy description that she decapitates her enemies when she reduces them to -10 hit points or less.

Morph Bark
2010-09-03, 10:21 AM
More hillarious with a Monk/Kensai is Brilliant Energy. Since a monk's whole body is a weapon, and Brilliant Energy weapons pass through all non-organic matter, you'd have to keep on the lawn. If you ever step onto a stone street or other surface not covered with organic material, you'd fall through the ground like a badly programmed no-clipping cheat. You'd accelerate until you reached the center of the earth, at which point you would continue past it, all the while slowing down until you reach the point where you'll be suspended momentarily with zero velocity*. Then you'll start falling back toward the center of the earth again. Since you pass through all non-organic matter, there wouldn't be any friction to damp out your osciliations, and you'd just fall back and forth indefinitely unless you fell on someone walking through the underdark. Oh, what a surprise that would give em!

*Assume a perfectly spherical earth.

Energy is much less affected by gravity, depending on the kind of energy we're talking about. Photons are affected, otherwise black holes wouldn't be black. Heat energy is just making matter move a lot to generate it. If "brilliant energy" is some form of energy that is unaffected by gravity, it wouldn't be a problem.

Or you just keep wearing sandals made of organic matter.

Zhalath
2010-09-03, 11:35 AM
The idea of forging your fists to be masterwork and/or magic is kind of hilarious. I keep imagining a monk putting his hand on an anvil, wincing as the blacksmith-wizard starts his upswing.

Hemp sandals could protect you from falling through the earth as Brilliant Energy Man.

I'm curious, though. How does Versatile Unarmed Strike work? Does it allow you to have razor fingernails, or wolverine claws or something? Do you have an awesome karate chop? It's one of those rules that doesn't actually make sense.

Urpriest
2010-09-04, 04:22 PM
Energy is much less affected by gravity, depending on the kind of energy we're talking about. Photons are affected, otherwise black holes wouldn't be black. Heat energy is just making matter move a lot to generate it. If "brilliant energy" is some form of energy that is unaffected by gravity, it wouldn't be a problem.

Or you just keep wearing sandals made of organic matter.

Energy is fully affected by gravity, provided it's actually energy. Energy concentrations even cause gravity.

Critical
2010-09-04, 05:09 PM
More hillarious with a Monk/Kensai is Brilliant Energy. Since a monk's whole body is a weapon, and Brilliant Energy weapons pass through all non-organic matter, you'd have to keep on the lawn. If you ever step onto a stone street or other surface not covered with organic material, you'd fall through the ground like a badly programmed no-clipping cheat. You'd accelerate until you reached the center of the earth, at which point you would continue past it, all the while slowing down until you reach the point where you'll be suspended momentarily with zero velocity*. Then you'll start falling back toward the center of the earth again. Since you pass through all non-organic matter, there wouldn't be any friction to damp out your osciliations, and you'd just fall back and forth indefinitely unless you fell on someone walking through the underdark. Oh, what a surprise that would give em!

*Assume a perfectly spherical earth.
Okay, I'm making this as an NPC if I run an IRL game. xD

Zhalath
2010-09-04, 10:27 PM
Energy is fully affected by gravity, provided it's actually energy. Energy concentrations even cause gravity.

I'm sorry, but the discussion on "brilliant energy" and the repercussions of being "made of it" is giving me a brain aneurysm. I thought D&D made physics go sit in the corner when we decided that it's not unreasonable for a man with a book of gibberish to shoot lightning out of his hands.

deuxhero
2010-09-04, 10:37 PM
Ideally this would be a good deal of time before epic level.

Cheseewought Kobold unarmed swordsage. The other requirements are a pain though.

Dusk Eclipse
2010-09-04, 10:37 PM
The idea of forging your fists to be masterwork and/or magic is kind of hilarious. I keep imagining a monk putting his hand on an anvil, wincing as the blacksmith-wizard starts his upswing.

Hemp sandals could protect you from falling through the earth as Brilliant Energy Man.

I'm curious, though. How does Versatile Unarmed Strike work? Does it allow you to have razor fingernails, or wolverine claws or something? Do you have an awesome karate chop? It's one of those rules that doesn't actually make sense.

I have always though of it as Karate chopes when doing slashing damage, finger pokes when doing piercing and normal punches when using bludgeoning

Though this only applies when you just use your hands for your unarmed attack, my head starts to hurt when I try to thing of a reasonable way for this when using other kinds of unarmed attack

Lhurgyof
2010-09-04, 11:42 PM
where is this 1d3 damage coming from? a tankard?

Well, there's no such thing as an offhand attack with your special monk weapons, unarmed strike being one of them. So you could TWF with one of your other weapons, including your regular non-monk unarmed strike, which deals 1d3 damage.

Curmudgeon
2010-09-05, 02:00 AM
So you could TWF with one of your other weapons, including your regular non-monk unarmed strike, which deals 1d3 damage.
Yeah, I don't think so. Once you're a Monk, your unarmed strike can't be "regular non-monk". Just like when you're an adult, you can't hit someone with the baby fists you no longer have.

The Rabbler
2010-09-05, 12:53 PM
Well, there's no such thing as an offhand attack with your special monk weapons, unarmed strike being one of them. So you could TWF with one of your other weapons, including your regular non-monk unarmed strike, which deals 1d3 damage.

It's not that you don't have an off-hand attack, it's that any part of your body could be considered an unarmed strike and because of that, any part of your body could deliver unarmed strikes equally well.

Imagine you are a boxer. As a boxer, you've trained so that your left and right arms are equally strong and that you can use them equally well.

With this being the case, does it seem logical that if you figured out a way to punch more often and less accurately you would still punch just as hard?