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D&D 3E
Can a hand be a fist? 
24th-Oct-2004 06:36 pm
My character (who is not a Monk and does not have Improved Unarmed Strike) has just learned a touch attack spell (Chill Touch).

1) Can Magic Fang give a +1 to hit with this spell? I think so (the spell says "fists", Chill Touch says "hand") but I suspect the intent is that I would have to then deliver the attack as an unarmed strike (with the associated AoO, full-AC instead of touch-AC, and, in my case, damage penalty for STR).

2) How about the +1 damage from Magic Fang. This, I suspect, really needs an unarmed strike.

3) Can I "fight defensively" with it? SRD says "when attacking". I think I'm on safe ground in saying that a touch attack is an attack?
24th-Oct-2004 01:13 pm (UTC)
A touch attack is different from an unarmed strike. You're not trying to beat the guy, just to touch them.

I'm not sure, but I would say that Magic Fang's +1 to hit should apply to touch attacks. It makes your hand magically move faster or something, so you can hit. It'd be like if you had a higher BAB or Str or something.

But it definately shouldn't affect the spell's damage. Because you're not damaging them with your fist.

If you mean fight defensively with Magic Fist, then definately yes. As for fighting defensively with Chill Touch... I think you want to stick with casting on the defensive. And that's what you can pull off. Chill touch is a small. Touching the guy just happens to be part of the effect of that spell.

I have no support for any of this. I say DM's call.
24th-Oct-2004 05:12 pm (UTC)
Actually, I've thought of another can of worms if Magic Fang added to damage: the way Sneak Attack (according to the sage) does not "add to the damage done by the spell" but is applied separately, merely acquiring the energy type of the spell it comes with. So Vampiric Touch does not give you lots of hit points when a sneak attack is added to it.

If Magic Fang "added to" spell damage, it would come with conditions like the above. And there are not any I've heard of, so it doesn't.

Chill Touch can be held like any touch spell, and also lasts for as long as you want (up to caster-level attacks). While I'm aware that it can be cast as part of an attack, I may want to cast it five minutes before a fight then make X attacks: it is those attacks I wish to make while fighting defensively.
25th-Oct-2004 10:34 am (UTC)
As an aside, that sneak attack thing is idiotic.

I remember discussing it on a news group and drawing the conclusion that any rogue worth his or her salt should carry vials of alchemist's fire to use against cold-subtype creatures for great effect.

Just seemed funny to me.
24th-Oct-2004 03:45 pm (UTC)
I think I remember a Sage Advice that talked about touch spells. I'll try to back up my reasoning if possible. I partially disagree with the previous reply (but I'm just one opinion).

1) +1 to hit: I don't see why it wouldn't work. It is an Enhancement bonus. A touch attack is still an attack, it just doesn't damage the opponent (not counting spells of course). Touch attacks are affected by bonuses to Strength, increased BAB, etc.

2) +1 damage: Yes, BUT you'd need to be trying for a regular unarmed attack, not a touch attack. Touch attacks don't do damage normally. It isn't that they do zero damage, they do no damage. A subtle distinction. Plus this isn't causing some sort of effect (like acid, fire, etc.) that does damage on its own. The kicker is that attacking (unarmed or otherwise) and spellcasting are both standard actions. You would have to take 2 rounds, one to cast and one to attack. You are allowed to "hold the charge" on touch spells.

3) "fight defensively": Err, I don't think so, but it is unclear. SRD states that you are "Fighting defensively as a standard action". It also says that all attacks (plural) for the round are at a -4. If it were a true standard action, you couldn't do multiple attacks. Plus, even fighting on the defensive and casting a spell would provoke an attack of opportunity. Regardless of the call on that one, you'd really want to cast defensively rather than fight defensively.

For Fighting and Casting on the defensive, see the SRD.
24th-Oct-2004 05:01 pm (UTC)
I don't have the energy to dig through SRDs and such right now, but I believe that touch spells give a free touch attack in addition to the casting of the spell. Otherwise, my clerics would be boned when trying to heal people in combat.
24th-Oct-2004 06:41 pm (UTC)
> I believe that touch spells give a free touch attack in addition to the casting of the spell

Yes, yes. Sorry if I was unclear. By virtue of casting a touch spell, the caster gets a free touch attempt in the same round. The "2 round" business was if someone wanted to cast a touch spell AND make a regular unarmed attack. Limited use, but I can see it happening now and then.

One example might be that you cast the spell one round well out of reach of your target. Next round you move in and make a regular attack. It would still be easier to make a touch attack, but maybe you want to add insult to injury. Or would that be injury to insult? ;)
24th-Oct-2004 05:30 pm (UTC) - Just checked...
As well as the chapter on "Fighting defensively as a standard action" there is also "Fighting defensively as a full-round action" with (too) similar text (as if the confused one you quoted was a cut and paste error: i nearly said "cut and paste artifact" but that would get some people here excited!), so if I've got the spell "held" I can fight defensively with it (in my case) twice a turn.

(My charcater is likely to be using it against flat-footed opponents: flat-footed touch AC tends to be 10. I add 12 to my attack rolls, don't Combat Expertise and want to do something useful with the slack!)

However, the rules imply that since fighting defensively is an action (standard or full) in itself, and not just some option you have while making an attack, you can't "cast a spell and fight defensively" with it as a standard action nor as a full-round action. It is a standard followed by a standard, or a standard followed by a full depending on how many touch attacks you want to make.
24th-Oct-2004 06:41 pm (UTC) - Correction
On second thoughts, I think the formatting of the SRD is misleading...

the text of fighting defensively as a full round action (which is n bold, as if it were a full round action itself) says

You can choose to fight defensively when taking a full attack action.

...so I think I can cast a touch spell (on or off the defensive!) and make a defensive touch attack as a single standard action.
24th-Oct-2004 06:50 pm (UTC) - Re: Just checked...
> so if I've got the spell "held" I can fight defensively with it (in my case) twice a turn.

True enough, but do remember that you cannot grab a weapon with the hand that holds the spell. You could hold the spell with your off-hand, although making the touch attack would incur all the normal penalties of off-hand fighting.

Also, you cannot make an AoO with a spell, but I see no reason why you can't make an AoO with a held spell. Thankfully touch attacks with a held spell do not provoke an AoO on their own (besides the casting itself, if applicable).

SRD quote: If the [unarmed] attack hits, you deal normal damage for your unarmed attack or natural weapon and the spell discharges. If the attack misses, you are still holding the charge.

Hmm. Maybe they didn't want to overcomplicate it, but I would think that if your unarmed attack "missed", you would use the same die roll to determine if the touch connected. AC is really two parts: making the connection (touch) and penetrating defenses (armor, natural armor, etc.) That might fall to a DM's ruling.
25th-Oct-2004 03:20 pm (UTC) - Re: Just checked...
I think that's the trade-off, are you just tyring to tap the guy or do you really wanna whack him? It's damage or touch AC, your choice.
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