Unarmed Combat

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Version 0.30: This article is up to date for the latest stable release of Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup.

The Unarmed Combat (UC) skill determines the effectiveness of all attacks made with your character's fists, claws, tentacles, and other forelimbs. It increases the damage, accuracy, and speed of your unarmed attacks. It does not boost auxiliary attacks, except for the off-hand punch done without a shield.

Your fists do not normally benefit from weapon brands and definitely don't have artefact properties. However, training Unarmed Combat gives a special bonus to base damage, and can benefit from Transmutations magic.


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-1 1 -2 -1 -1 0 0 0 0 0 1 8 1 0 0 1 2 1 -2 0 0 -1 -2 1 0 1 0

Useful Info

By default, Unarmed Combat has a base damage of 3, accuracy of +2, base delay of 1.0 decaAut, and a mindelay of 0.5 decaAut (reached at 27 skill). UC itself functions like any other melee weapon, though your fists cannot be enchanted or branded normally.

However, each level of Unarmed Combat skill gives different benefits than other weapon skills:

  • Damage: Each level of UC adds +1 to base damage, which is then multiplied by strength and Fighting. This is instead of the usual +2% per level boost.
  • Attack speed: Unarmed starts at 1.0 delay, and reaches its mindelay of 0.5 at 27 skill. Therefore, every 5.4 levels of UC reduces attack delay by 0.1 decaAut; each level of UC reduces delay by ~0.0185 decaAut. For comparison, it takes 2 levels of a weapon skill to reduce delay by 0.1 decaAut.
As with weapons, your attack delay will be rounded to an integer aut (i.e. rounding to 0.1 decaAut) in a weighted fashion.

The to-hit boost is the same as other weapon skills (+0.5 to-hit per level).

Offhand punch

Offhand punches are an auxiliary attack. Most species are unable to use the offhand punch unless their offhand is empty, which means not wearing a shield or wielding a two-handed weapon. Octopodes get tentacle slaps instead of offhand punches, and may slap even when their offhand is occupied.

If offhand punches/slaps are available, then increasing Unarmed skill increases the chance of an attack. At 0 skill, you have a 5% chance per attack to throw a punch, at 27 skill, you have a 50% chance. It scales linearly, meaning you are 1.67% more likely to proc a punch per skill level.

Offhand punch damage equals:[1]

5 + (UC / 2)
+ 1d3 × Claws rank
+ 6 under Blade Hands

Damage Modifiers

Unarmed Combat's base damage is modified by most transformations, as well as the Claws mutation. In addition, many transformations have other special effects.

Condition Damage Special
Base damage 3 -
Claws +2 × level Wearing gloves negates this
Ghoul: Claws 1, Troll: Claws 3
Felid 5 Works well for stabbing
Spider Form 5 Venom
Ice Form 12 Freezing
Blade Hands 22 -
Statue Form 12 All melee damage further multiplied by 150%
(but all actions slowed by +50%)
Dragon Form 38 Damage post-Claws
Storm Form 2 + pow/3 Cleaving, Electrocution
Lich Form 5 Draining
Bat Form 1
Fungus Form 12 Confusion
Pig Form 1 For damage, skill has 1/5 impact
Tree Form 12
Wisp Form 5 Uses (XL/2) for dmg instead of UC skill


Unarmed Combat has three main advantages. You don't need to find a weapon, meaning dungeon RNG can't screw you over. Unarmed Combat scales better with skill, so skill 27 unarmed is one of the strongest things in the game. And unarmed can be boosted further with various Transmutations. The downsides are, as mentioned, the inability to enchant or brand fists, and the poor stats at low skill.

The skill scaling of Unarmed Combat can be overrated. At 16 skill:

  • Unarmed Combat deals 19 base damage, and attacks at 0.7 delay.
  • A morningstar deals 17 damage (after M&F skill), and attacks at 0.7 delay. However, a morningstar can be enchanted and branded.

At high enough skill, (pre-form) Unarmed Combat is around the level of the strongest two-handed weapons. But that's a huge chunk of the game where you are weaker, equal to, or just slightly better than a weapon wielder.

Many forms have high base damage, so you don't need to train that much Unarmed Combat skill to effectively use them. For example, Dragon Form has 38 + UC base damage. Even at 5 UC skill, that's enough to pulverize your enemies. Of course, you should still train at least some skill, to boost accuracy and speed of your attacks.


  • In 0.31, unarmed combat will have a base accuracy of +6, but forms and the Claws mutation no longer give bonus to-hit.
  • Prior to 0.20, certain forms (Blade Hands, Statue Form, Dragon Form) scaled their unarmed damage with strength.
  • Prior to 0.17, unarmed combat attack delay was penalized by body armour. Also, trolls' claws could inflict the now-removed bleeding status.
  • Prior to 0.11, Unarmed Combat gave a chance to perform kick and headbutt auxiliary attacks, if you didn't already have Hooves / Horns to do so. The off-hand punch was slightly weaker (5 + UC/3).
  • Prior to 0.7, Unarmed Combat improved the performance of your non-punch auxiliary attacks, giving all melee fighters a reason to train it.


Weapons Short BladesLong BladesRanged Weapons

AxesMaces & FlailsPolearmsStavesUnarmed CombatThrowing

Physical FightingArmourDodgingStealthShields
Magical SpellcastingInvocationsEvocations
Spell Schools AirConjurationsEarthFireHexesIceNecromancyPoisonSummoningTranslocationsTransmutations