Unarmed Combat

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Version 0.23: This article is up to date for the latest stable release of Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup.

The Unarmed Combat skill determines the effectiveness of all attacks made with your character's fists (or tentacles in the case of octopodes), increasing the damage, accuracy, and speed of your unarmed attacks. Although there are many non-punch auxiliary attacks you can make with the rest of your body, these are not affected by the UC skill whatsoever. Training this skill is only advisable if you intend to engage in melee while unarmed or while leaving your off-hand empty.

For many species, fighting without a weapon is not a very appealing prospect. Leaving your weapon and/or shield slot open means that you cannot take advantage of weapon brands, miss out on the defensive value of a shield, and have two fewer slots for wielding artifacts that may provide useful resistances or other bonuses. However, unarmed combat allows for some of the fastest attacks in the game, deals competitive damage to weapon wielders at high skill levels, and allows you to take advantage of the many Transmutations spells which grant you powerful unarmed capabilities. Also, some species have natural aptitudes or innate mutations that make unarmed combat a much more tempting choice.


Ba Ce DD DE Dg Ds Dr Fe Fo Gr Gh Gn Ha HO Hu Ko Mf Mi Mu Na Op Og Sp Te Tr Vp VS
1 0 -1 -2 -1 -1 0 0 0 0 1 8 -2 1 0 0 1 1 -2 0 0 -1 -2 1 0 1 0

The average aptitude of all species, excluding coloured draconian, is 0.111.

Attack Delay

Unarmed combat specialists are capable of making some of the fastest attacks in the game, on par with the speed of most short blades wielders. Couple this with the fact that UC attacks have a much higher base damage than any short blade, and you can see why they're capable of doing very significant amounts of damage very quickly. However, it requires much more unarmed combat skill to reach maximum attack speed than it does for a weapon fighter to reach their maximum. Bear in mind that this only applies to main-hand punches; auxiliary offhand punches occur along with your main hand attacks.

Bonuses From Skill

Compared to melee weapons, unarmed combat requires much more skill to reduce attack delay, but is faster to begin with; your attack delay starts at 1.0 and is reduced by 0.1 for roughly every 5.4 skill levels, reaching a delay of 0.5 at UC skill 27. (As an aside, unarmed skill also increases damage more than weapon skills do.)

Other Factors

Characters in bat form receive a special bonus to unarmed combat, making attacks in 60% of the normal time (though at a significant penalty to damage). Other effects that can influence attack speed (such as Haste, Slow, Statue Form, etc.) apply as normal, with a hardcoded limit at 3 which you cannot exceed.

Final Calculation

Finally, your attack delay can never be a fraction of the decimal place of an aut. If your calculated speed falls between two decimal place numbers, the game will round up or down based on the remainder (0.72 would have a 20% chance of being rounded to 0.8 and an 80% chance of being 0.7).

UC Avg delay UC Avg delay UC Avg delay
0 1.0 10 0.81 20 0.63
1 0.98 11 0.80 21 0.61
2 0.96 12 0.78 22 0.59
3 0.95 13 0.76 23 0.57
4 0.92 14 0.74 24 0.56
5 0.91 15 0.72 25 0.54
6 0.89 16 0.7 26 0.52
7 0.87 17 0.68 27 0.5
8 0.85 18 0.67
9 0.83 19 0.65

Base Damage

The base damage of your primary unarmed combat attack is determined through the following factors:

Condition Damage Special
Pig Form 3 -
Bat Form 1 60% Attack Delay
Vampire Bat Form 2 60% Attack delay
Spider Form 5 Venom
Wisp Form 5 -
Ice Form 12 Freezing
Fungus Form 12 Confusing Touch
Tree Form 12 -
Blade Hands 22 -
Statue Form 12 -
Dragon Form 38 -
Lich Form 5 Draining
Troll 9 -
Ghoul, Felid 5 -
Claws mutation +2 × Claws ranks Wearing gloves negates this
Other 3 -

Your base damage is then increased by 1 for each skill level you have in unarmed combat (though this bonus is divided by 5 when in Bat Form). This base damage is then further modified by your strength, fighting skill, and other factors.

Off-hand punch

Offhand punches are significantly less powerful, using the following calculation:

Condition Damage Special
Offhand Punch 5 + (UC / 3) +(1d3 × Claws ranks) or +(6 if Blade Hands) Wearing any shield negates this

Octopodes get tentacle slaps instead of offhand punches, and may still make tentacle slaps while wearing a shield, making it generally best for unarmed octopodes to use a shield. Indeed, regardless of which items are equipped, octopodes are never denied this off-hand tentacle slap attack. For all other species however, the off-hand punch is negated not only by the wearing of a shield, but also the wielding of two-handed weapons, making this particular use of a unarmed combat skill a viable long-term strategy only if one is to remain limited to one-handed weaponry.


  • Prior to 0.17, unarmed combat attack delay was penalized by armour. Also, trolls' claws could inflict the now-removed bleeding status.
  • In earlier versions of Crawl, Unarmed Combat improved the performance of your non-punch auxiliary attacks, giving all melee fighters a reason to train it.
Melee Short BladesLong BladesAxesMaces & FlailsPolearmsStavesUnarmed Combat
Ranged BowsCrossbowsThrowingSlings
Physical FightingArmourDodgingStealthShields
Magical SpellcastingInvocationsEvocations
Spell Schools AirCharmsConjurationsEarthFireHexesIceNecromancyPoisonSummoningTranslocationsTransmutations