Obviously just about any weapon would be better than fists for a character that's not trained in unarmed combat, but I'm curious as to what stats I should give PC's when forced to fight unarmed (perhaps their weapons were stolen or they were imprisoned). I'm looking for a little more than just numbers though to add a bit more flavor, like some bonuses against small creatures that might also let them push or pull them.
I've never created my own stats before, but here's my rough estimate:
Fists (weapon) <> at will attack: Melee 1 (one creature); +5 vs. AC or Reflex, whichever is greater Hit: 1d4 +2 damage against a small creature and push/pulls target 1 square. 1d4 damage otherwise.
Does this seem to meet the requirements for how unarmed melee should work? What stats have you successfully used for unarmed combat?
Just to coalesce things here:
These are the stats provided by the Players handbook. However, if you want to go off script look at the Brawler fighter and the monk for unarmed/improvised weapon ideas. I would tone those powers down and give them to the players to simulate ingenuity. I would also encourage players to use their environments heavily and provide some things that could easily weaponized (tall braziers, forges etc.).
Before you put your characters into a situation like this remember that 4e is a system heavily reliant on things like proficiency and magic weapon bonuses. If you put higher level characters into a situation like this and face them with a challenge on their level it will go badly.