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Sometimes when I attack with Fists of Thunder I see a few forks of lightning shoot forward, even though neither my weapons nor the active or passive skills I'm using list anything like that in their skill description.

What makes this happen, and how can I control it?

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Are you talking about the skill bonus you get every third attack? –  user9983 May 16 '12 at 13:47
    
Does it look like chain lightning? Does it appear to be damaging enemies? You are probably too low level to have "Bounding Light", but if you did, every third strike would release chain lightning. –  EBongo May 16 '12 at 13:49
    
@OrigamiRobot it definitely does not happen every 3rd attack, it's rarer than that. –  Oak May 16 '12 at 13:49
    
@EBongo it seems very chain-lightnig-ish, it carries for some distance. Whenever it happens it was too chaotic for me to notice whether they actually inflicted damage. –  Oak May 16 '12 at 14:24
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2 Answers

I've been playing a monk and, though the in-game skill doesn't appear to have this text, both the official Battle.net builder and the Diablo 3 database contain the following description for Fists of Thunder:

Generate: 6 Spirit per attack

Unleash a series of extremely fast punches that deal 110% weapon damage as Lightning. Every third hit deals damage to all enemies in front of you and knocks them back a short distance. Generates Spirit faster than other Spirit-generating skills due to the high attack speed.

It appears that the lightning animation is used to indicate the small AoE lightning damage and knockback in front of you on the third hit.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Found out the answer!

Sometimes when you kill enemies they are blasted into tiny parts. When your attacks inflict lightning damage, arcs of lightning will appear between these parts. If the parts fly high and wide, this can create a chain-lightning-tyle effect; but it is purely cosmetic.

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