D&D Player’s Handbook Errata and Unarmed Strike

The first set of errata for the D&D Player’s Handbook is now available! And there are quite a few clarifications that might affect things.

And there’s also a couple of pieces of errata that make things a little more confusing. Let’s look at that errata… to Unarmed Strike.

Unarmed Strike errata

The changes are as follows:

Weapons (p. 149). Unarmed strike doesn’t belong on the Weapons table.

Melee Attacks (p. 195). The rule on unarmed strikes should read as follows: “Instead of using a weapon to make a melee weapon attack, you can use an unarmed strike: a punch, kick, head-butt or similar forceful blow (none of which count as weapons). On a hit, an unarmed strike deals bludgeoning damage equal to 1 + your Strength modifier. You are proficient with your unarmed strikes.”

Jeremy Crawford has additionally tweeted the following: “Addressing a nuance in the PH errata: the rule lets melee weapon attacks use unarmed strikes, despite those strikes not being weapons.” (twitter)

What does this mean? Unarmed strikes are melee weapon attacks but not weapons. There’s been a bit of confusion as to whether this mean stunning strike works with unarmed strikes – it certainly does, the strike is still a melee weapon attack! (Stunning Strike says “When you hit another creature with a melee weapon attack”. You use a melee weapon attack to make unarmed strikes, so it still applies. The same applies to Divine Smite – you may use that with an unarmed strike.

However, what it does mean is that your unarmed strikes can’t be enchanted with the Magic Weapon spell, as that spell says, “You touch a nonmagical weapon.” Unarmed strikes are no longer considered weapons (per the page 149 errata), and cannot be enchanted with this. (It’s a little less clear whether you could use blinding smite with an unarmed attack, as it uses both “melee weapon attack” and “weapon” in the description, but I’d generally allow this usage as the primary text says “weapon attack” or “melee weapon attack”).

Interestingly, it also means that unarmed strikes can bypass the resistance of all the creatures that have resistance or immunity to “bludgeoning damage from non-magical weapons”. Jeremy Crawford has tweeted that the intent of that type of resistance is for non-magical bludgeoning damage, regardless of source, hashtagging it as a MM errata preview (link), so you should still treat unarmed strikes as being affected by those resistances or immunities (until the monk reaches 6th level and its unarmed strikes become magical).

Twinned Spell errata

This one will change a number of Sorcerer spells. The errata: “Twinned Spell (p. 102). To be eligible for Twinned Spell, a spell must be incapable of targeting more than one creature at the spell’s current level.”

As a result, you can’t twin Scorching Ray or Magic Missile if you cast them just at one target. (You never could twin Fireball, because it targeted a space rather than a creature).

As a DM, I find this an eminently sensible change to the rules. Some of my players may disagree.

Ammunition and Two-Handed errata

A couple of things that have basically been how I’ve been playing things, but good to see them officially in the rules. You need a hand free to reload a one-handed weapon with the Ammunition property. (It needs two hands). Also, although the maul and other two-handed weapons might require two hands to attack with, you can hold those weapons in a single hand.

This second clarification makes a spell-caster casting Somatic spells have an easier time with it when also wielding a two-handed weapon.

Sentinel and Reach errata

The reach property of weapons now increases your reach for opportunity attacks as well, which actually makes them slightly worse at controlling the space around you: an opponent may freely move around you as long as it doesn’t leave your reach. The change to Sentinel takes this into account: otherwise a creature 10 feet away from you could take the Disengage action and not be attacked!

Unfortunately, Sentinel still requires you to be within 5 feet of a creature attacking an ally to hit it after it attacks. That hasn’t changed.

Stealth errata

The last of the changes I find particularly interesting are those to stealth and obscurement. The original version of Hiding stated that you can’t hide from creature that can see you; this has been changed so you can’t hide from creatures that can see you clearly. In addition, it now makes it clearer that the DM decides when the circumstances are appropriate for hiding. This was always the intention, to leave things more up to the DM’s judgement, but it didn’t quite read that way in the text.

So, those are what I consider the major changes in the errata, although there are quite a few more clarifications and actual bits of errata (particularly in the spells). Go have a look –it takes up a single side of piece of paper, although the items are pretty closely packed. In general, most of them are what I consider to be pretty obvious rulings, with a few useful clarifications.

5 comments

    • merricb

      That’s part of the way it works – twin spell works only on spells with a single target; the clarification is that it only works on spells that can’t have more than one target.

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  1. Callan

    That melee weapon attacks but not weapons – they really need to figure better wording, because it’s just got my head spinning and isn’t really intuitive at all. Then again these are the guys who say a rogue can sneak attack once per turn…and by that they mean anyones turn! Perfectly natural english…not!

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