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Deity
2010-02-26, 05:53 PM
I'm starting a new campaign, and want to play a martial artist type character. I've heard from a lot of people that fully classed monks make terrible characters.

I'm wondering, why are they so bad?
Any good alternatives?

I'm not looking for heavy optimization, just a character based on tumbling and stealth skills, as well as fast movement and decent damage, that fits a "Kung fu monk" type character.

Any help is appreciated!

The Dark Fiddler
2010-02-26, 05:59 PM
I'm starting a new campaign, and want to play a martial artist type character. I've heard from a lot of people that fully classed monks make terrible characters.

I'm wondering, why are they so bad?

They aren't as bad as you've heard, especially if you have some Alternate Class Features to use.

However, the main reasons are usually because you need good stats in nearly everything to have a good character, most of the abilities don't synergize well with each other , and not having a defined role (can't skillmonkey well, isn't good as a front line fighter due to medium BAB and not-so-great HD).


Any good alternatives?

Unarmed Swordsage in Tome of Battle. Also, there are tons of homebrew fixes if you look around.

lsfreak
2010-02-26, 06:05 PM
The problems:
- You have one ability that revolves around moving a lot (speed boost) and another that can't be used when you move (flurry)
- You need too many ability scores all high. Str for damage, Con for hit points, Dex and/or Wis for AC, you've got a huge skill list so you want high Int to capitalize on it. Compare that with even other melee classes, who generally only need two or occasionally 3 high.
- Standard melee shortcomings combined with the above puts you at the top of the 'gear-dependent' list.
- Half your abilities are fluff and not crunch, or easily replicated by low-level spells or cheap magic items.
- You get so little past the first 2 levels of monk that you're better off going into something else.

The solutions:
If homebrew is allowed, Fax Celestis has an excellent monk replacement in the homebrew forums.

Unarmed Swordsage is great if ToB is allowed. Gets rid of much of the MAD issues, mobility, has actual class features, etc.

Totemist is a great 'unarmed fighter' depending on what you have in mind. Though Incarnum takes a while to really wrap your head around.

Failing those, play a fighter or rogue or cleric without weapons and call yourself a monk.

Tyndmyr
2010-02-26, 06:10 PM
Keep in mind, fluff is highly variable. You could play a cleric, and describe his abilities as being based around martial training and ki, and bam, you have an effective, badass monk.

Don't rely on the fluff in the books...think of it as a guideline or source for ideas, and make up your own where you see fit.

Cisturn
2010-02-26, 06:16 PM
i think the biggest problems with monks is that with their speed bonus they should make good scouts but with there only so-so hp, and usual low ac they seem to get killed pretty frequently. I don't really know what a monk should be, i mean they it seems like it wants to be a front line fighter with flurry and bonus speed, but with no armor and usually only a +2 or so constitution bonus they really kind of crash and burn. I mean they start to balance out a little when you get to level 9 or so, but before then just kinda are kinda lousy

Pluto
2010-02-26, 06:26 PM
It doesn't help that Monk levels 1 and 2 give pretty much everything that defines the Monk.

For alternatives, Unarmed Swordsage is the most straightforward.

Or you could use Monk 2 as a lead-in for:

Ardent
Cleric[/Sacred Fist]
Druid
Factotum*
Mystic Ranger*
Ninja*
Psion/Slayer
Psychic Rogue*
Psychic Warrior
Rogue[/Assassin]*
Sorcerer/Enlightened Fist
Swordsage*
Warblade
Wizard/Enlightened Fist

*Actually, you'll probably want to take a level of these classes first, for the extra skills, then dip Monk, then come back.


edit.
Some Multiclassing will require feats for good synergy:

Kung Fu Genius (dragon magazine) and Carmendine Monk (Champions of Valor) use Intelligence for Monk abilities. These are useful for Assassins, Factotums, Psions and Wizards.

Ascetic Mage (Complete Scoundrel) uses Charisma for Monk AC bonuses and lets Sorcerers burn spell slots for extra damage. For Monk/Sorcerers.

Tashalatora (Secrets of Sarlona) stacks Monk levels with psionic class levels for the purposes of Monk class abilities.

Eldariel
2010-02-26, 06:28 PM
Rogue is a fine alternative, frankly. Out of core, at any rate. If you have access to Tome of Battle, the unarmed adaptation of Swordsage is a great class with exactly the same feel as Monk, but 100% more functionality. There are also some Monk remakes available online, and with enough sources you can actually make a Fighter that fits the role quite well.

Of course, Monk/Psion/Slayer (with Tashalatora), Monk/Cleric/Sacred Fist or Monk/Wizard/Enlightened Fist is fine if you want any of those fluffs; Psionics works best for Monk, I find, as it's pretty much what Monk does anyways; introspection and mind over matter.


EDIT: Ninjas teach me to play a game of SC while typing message.

Bibliomancer
2010-02-26, 06:31 PM
Any of the classes in Tome of Battle, unmodified, tend to make better, more enjoyable martial artist characters than monks, although if you don't want to use weapons you should try the Unarmed Swordsage variant (normal Swordsages are perfectly good unarmed, though, since they can pick up the basic feat easily and it's a favored weapon for a few of their disciplines).

Gametime
2010-02-26, 06:31 PM
The problems:
- You have one ability that revolves around moving a lot (speed boost) and another that can't be used when you move (flurry)


While I agree that monks are considerably below par, I always see this touted as a reason why. It isn't. Increased speed IS A VERY GOOD THING if you need to stand still to make full attacks. Why? Because if you don't start adjacent to your target, then increased speed reduces the length of time necessary to get adjacent. Not every ability needs to have perfect synergy with every other ability, and to claim that these abilities are somehow to the detriment of the monk when they are net benefits is absurd.

That said, it's been done to death but swordsages really capture the whole feel of a semi-mystical warrior far better than the monk, complete with special maneuvers and responses to enemy attacks.

Eldariel
2010-02-26, 06:37 PM
While I agree that monks are considerably below par, I always see this touted as a reason why. It isn't. Increased speed IS A VERY GOOD THING if you need to stand still to make full attacks. Why? Because if you don't start adjacent to your target, then increased speed reduces the length of time necessary to get adjacent. Not every ability needs to have perfect synergy with every other ability, and to claim that these abilities are somehow to the detriment of the monk when they are net benefits is absurd.

It's not absurd. They're the two primary abilities of a Monk. They are what you "get" for expending levels taking Monk. You give up all other classes to take levels in Monk instead. Your gains are speed and extra attacks. Since you cannot combine the two, your gains are notably lesser than what they would be if they did synergise.

As it stands, Monk doesn't have a notable advantage at the start of the encounter. He actually has a notable disadvantage on the first round since charging Monks are not as impressive as charging anything elses due to lacking two-handers and all that. Now, he may get a full attack off on the first round if the opponent or the Monk isn't dead or disadvantaged by some ability or whatever. If he doesn't, he needs to move and attack again. See where this is going?

Due to the design of the class, Flurry just isn't usable all that often. Flurry is how he makes up for his medium BAB, MAD and lack of combat feats, rage, sneak attack or 1 Str bonus. When he can't use it, he comparably just falls horribly behind. And due to its design, it's far less omni-usable than other equivalent abilities.

Deity
2010-02-26, 06:38 PM
Thanks for all the replies.

Currently looking through Tome of Battle (borrowed from my room-mate), and the Swordsage does look like a great alternative.

Currently thinking of Swordsage with a one level dip into barbarian for increased speed and rage. (Backstory along the lines of a wandering barbarian taken into a monastic temple)

JaronK
2010-02-26, 06:54 PM
Unarmed Variant Swordsage absolutely covers the Monk character concepts nicely while removing a lot of the flaws.

With that said, it's perfectly possible to play a Monk, it's just that the class isn't comparitively that powerful. Depending on the rest of your group that may be okay. If you're with a Ninja, a Healer, and a Warmage it's fine to be a Monk and honestly Unarmed Swordsage could be at risk of being overpowered. But a traditional party usually has a Cleric, Druid, or Favored Soul in it, as well as a Wizard or Sorcerer. In a party like that, the Monk looks pretty poor, and the Swordsage does a much better job of keeping up.

JaronK

ericgrau
2010-02-26, 06:55 PM
I'm always amused when my group talks about how OP monks are (my opinion is not at either extreme) and that's why they ban them. All because when they were last browsing internet forums the wild opinion on them went the other way.

The main problem in play seems to be that people expect to play a martial artist, immediately start punching things and then forget, say, everything else monks get at level 1 (including exotic weapons!). I could get into about 50 more misconceptions, but considering how they stem from not reading how to use the monk's abilities and how discussions on such tend to go nowhere (also I suspect from not reading), I think it would be a waste of typing. Anyone who wants to know can look it up in your PH, under the combat, weapons and skill sections. If the first words out of your mouth are "martial artist", and nothing else, then look elsewhere. This creates a large portion of their poor reputation purely from poorly played monks. You'll need to learn a lot of rules referenced but not found in the monk class description.

I'm not saying the above is the only problem, but it'd be a nice start if people tried out their abilities instead of doing nothing but punching and then complaining. At that point the monk's main problem seems to be that they're fairly humanoid focused. Maybe they could work against large 2 legged creatures but anything beyond that is pushing it. It's best to know about your campaign first to see if your special abilities will apply. Even more so than, say, clerics and rangers.

Eldariel
2010-02-26, 06:55 PM
Thanks for all the replies.

Currently looking through Tome of Battle (borrowed from my room-mate), and the Swordsage does look like a great alternative.

Currently thinking of Swordsage with a one level dip into barbarian for increased speed and rage. (Backstory along the lines of a wandering barbarian taken into a monastic temple)

You could take Pounce instead of speed increase. Probably stronger in the long run, especially if you're into full attacking. And Whirling Frenzy over Rage; seems more appropriate for someone slightly more cultivated and skilled (it increases AC, Reflex and Str, but doesn't give Con-bonus (and thus Fort-bonus) or Will-save bonus).

The Pounce-variant is in Complete Champion, under "Spirit Lion Totem" and Whirling Frenzy (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/classes/classFeatureVariants.htm#rageVariantWhirlingFrenzy ) is a Rage-variant from Unearthed Arcana. Do note that Pounce has tremendous synergy with Charge-maneuvers; for example Bounding Assault from Diamond Mind. It enables you to full attack in these maneuvers. Combined with Insightful Strike-class feature of Swordsage, this enables you to bring your Wisdom into play in a big way.

El Dorado
2010-02-26, 07:24 PM
There are also a couple (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?PHPSESSID=83098b4417f8350a98af316486a346 7e&topic=1015.0)of handbooks (http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19871934/Guide_to_Monks)out there.

Kurald Galain
2010-02-26, 08:06 PM
I think a design flaw in 3E in general is that the designers expected full attacks to be the normal state of play; whereas in practice they turn out to occur only rarely, except if you have some exotic abilities like pounce.

Fighters and monks are both heavily reliant on full attacks. Full attacks are a dud. Therefore...

Harperfan7
2010-02-26, 08:06 PM
Aw, man. What a relief! I thought we were pregnant......cuz we have monthly monk threads...

Unarmed swordsage will work, so will normal swordsage with superior unarmed strike.

If you want an actual monk fix, here you go
same as normal, except as noted below:

at 5th level, gain the ability to take an extra move action, once per round.
at 10th level, gain the ability to take an extra standard action, 1/round.
at 15th level, gain the ability to take an extra full round action, 1/round.
You cannot use two extra actions in one round. You must choose.

Abundant Step 1/day/4 levels (starting at 12th)

Wholeness of Body is now regeneration 5 for a number of rounds equal to monk level as a free action. It kicks in automatically if at -1 to -9 hit points (and you can stop it once concious).

Quivering Palm can now be used once per encounter, up to your wis mod a day.

Ki Strike - a monk can pick one type or DR per 5 levels to overcome with unarmed strikes.

Perfect self is now DR 20/adamantine. (of course, this can be lowered if you feel it is too much)

Speed increases by 5ft. at each increment instead of 10ft. You will still be faster than scouts, who are the second fastest class.

Dr.Epic
2010-02-26, 08:10 PM
I'm not looking for heavy optimization, just a character based on tumbling and stealth skills, as well as fast movement and decent damage, that fits a "Kung fu monk" type character.

Any help is appreciated!

Well from the look of what you want I'd suggest only a few levels in monk followed by rogue. In the DMGII they give an example of a martial artist and it's half monk/ half rogue.

Godskook
2010-02-26, 08:11 PM
The solutions:
If homebrew is allowed, Fax Celestis has an excellent monk replacement in the homebrew forums.

People keep mentioning Fax's 'fix', but the only link I ever see is for his d20r Monk. Is that one compatible with an otherwise standard 3.5, or does Fax have another monk class lying around that I haven't seen. If that's what you're referring to, I've always wondered what people are expected to make out of Prowess points when the feats the monk would be taking don't have places to spend them.

Devils_Advocate
2010-02-26, 09:02 PM
The main problem in play seems to be that people expect to play a martial artist, immediately start punching things and then forget, say, everything else monks get at level 1 (including exotic weapons!).
The Monk's exotic weapons suck, and are only special in that Monks can flurry with them. (Compare, e.g., a kama to a sickle. Yeah, that's right.) Flurrying with weapons would suck next to full BAB TWFing even if it could be done with good weapons. The Monk's AC bonus generally sucks next to actual armor and a(n eventually Animated) shield, except for a Wisdom-focused character, which means that a Cleric with a Monk's Belt will typically get more out of this class feature than an actual Monk. Unarmed strikes suck next to actual (non-Monk) weapons.

Other than good saves, eventually Spell Resistance, and a movement bonus, the Monk's class features generally either (a) are just plain less useful than what other classes get or (b) compensate poorly for Monks being restricted from using things that other classes can use without penalty.

If a team collectively has high defense but low offense, then that just means that fights tend to last longer. If one character on a team has high defense but low offense, he doesn't contribute much to fights. And the Monk's out-of-combat utility also isn't too hot. So it's just not all that good for anything.

Flickerdart
2010-02-26, 09:07 PM
People keep mentioning Fax's 'fix', but the only link I ever see is for his d20r Monk. Is that one compatible with an otherwise standard 3.5, or does Fax have another monk class lying around that I haven't seen. If that's what you're referring to, I've always wondered what people are expected to make out of Prowess points when the feats the monk would be taking don't have places to spend them.
The d20r Monk is compatible with 3.5. Just ignore the prowess stuff. The wiki (http://wiki.faxcelestis.net/index.php?title=Monk) has an older version of the class that has no Prowess and a set class skill list.

JaronK
2010-02-26, 09:28 PM
I'm always amused when my group talks about how OP monks are (my opinion is not at either extreme) and that's why they ban them. All because when they were last browsing internet forums the wild opinion on them went the other way.

The main problem in play seems to be that people expect to play a martial artist, immediately start punching things and then forget, say, everything else monks get at level 1 (including exotic weapons!).

Come on, seriously? Have you noticed that the monk exotic weapons are worse than normal martial weapons? There's a standard pattern for what exotic weapons are supposed to be, and the monk weapons aren't anywhere near that... they're in fact effectively simple weapons.

While Monk weakness is often overstated, they are distinctly a weak class, and in many games are unable to function as they're supposed to. There's a reason the Swordsage was made... to replace the Monk and Ninja.

JaronK

Roderick_BR
2010-02-26, 11:16 PM
i think the biggest problems with monks is that with their speed bonus they should make good scouts but with there only so-so hp, and usual low ac they seem to get killed pretty frequently. I don't really know what a monk should be, i mean they it seems like it wants to be a front line fighter with flurry and bonus speed, but with no armor and usually only a +2 or so constitution bonus they really kind of crash and burn. I mean they start to balance out a little when you get to level 9 or so, but before then just kinda are kinda lousy
They want to be skirmishers, i.e.: good offensive (flurry), good speed for hit-and-run and flank (speed boost), some low battle field control (through stunning fist/grapple), good skills (less than a rogue, but more than a fighter), and averagely good AC balanced to allow good speed (therefore, less than the fighter, and more than a rogue). Then the dev team screwed up, and made it worse than the bard (that tries to be a fighter/rogue/wizard, sprinkled with cleric, and need a lot of effort to be playable).

Ormagoden
2010-02-26, 11:30 PM
Obligatory fixed monk link (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=35152&page=2#33)
Obligatory monk handbook (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=1015.0) link

Now

Go.
Play. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDeEeal3af8)

Savannah
2010-02-26, 11:51 PM
Due to the design of the class, Flurry just isn't usable all that often.

Interesting. I'm currently playing a monk and she uses her Flurry on more than half her attacks. Most battles involve the rapier-wielding rogue running straight to the biggest enemy and the monk running around the enemy and flanking with the rogue. Flurry with no penalty (-2 from low level Flurry and +2 from flanking cancel each other out) + sneak attack damage each round isn't fun. (Well, not for the enemy, anyway!)

Jallorn
2010-02-26, 11:58 PM
I would recommend this (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=140278), and say that "bad" only matters to groups of optimizers where their build is unable to stay low in effectiveness (Even if they want it to).

sonofzeal
2010-02-27, 12:08 AM
Tashalatora really is a good "fix". Inertial Armor can shore up the defense, and Psionic Lion's Charge means you can flurry all the time. Expansion is pretty sweet, too, since the monk benefits more than most from size categories. Once you start hitting 3d8 -> 4d8 -> 6d8, on five attacks, damage dice start to mean something.

Lycanthromancer
2010-02-27, 12:25 AM
Tashalatora really is a good "fix". Inertial Armor can shore up the defense, and Psionic Lion's Charge means you can flurry all the time. Expansion is pretty sweet, too, since the monk benefits more than most from size categories. Once you start hitting 3d8 -> 4d8 -> 6d8, on five attacks, damage dice start to mean something.What happens if you use Twin Power on psionic lion's charge? What about a well-timed Linked Power?

Eloel
2010-02-27, 12:27 AM
What happens if you use Twin Power on psionic lion's charge? What about a well-timed Linked Power?

Psionic Lion's Charge lasts forever anyway, why care about timing?

Eldariel
2010-02-27, 12:33 AM
Interesting. I'm currently playing a monk and she uses her Flurry on more than half her attacks. Most battles involve the rapier-wielding rogue running straight to the biggest enemy and the monk running around the enemy and flanking with the rogue. Flurry with no penalty (-2 from low level Flurry and +2 from flanking cancel each other out) + sneak attack damage each round isn't fun. (Well, not for the enemy, anyway!)

Yeah, against high HP low damage opponents on low levels, it's gonna be usable quite often. I do have to ask you though, don't you think a second Rogue wouldn't fare better? Rogue with TWF has the same penalties, but vastly more damage (well, "vastly" depending on stats of course).

sonofzeal
2010-02-27, 12:51 AM
What happens if you use Twin Power on psionic lion's charge? What about a well-timed Linked Power?
I'm already far-and-away dominating combat in my group, sheerly through Monkness + Inertial Armor + Lion's Charge. Most of the rest of the group is pretty new, and even the Arcane Hierophant is kind of scared of the damage output I do in a round. It very much helps that the DM throws a lot of masses of low-AC opponents without DR at us.

Hornstien
2010-02-27, 01:31 AM
The monk is a class that isn't as powerful as other classes straight off of the bat, however they can be played to great effect by first determining what it is about the monk that you like and want to accentuate.

Monk is actually my favorite core class, and I have to say that I have personally never had a problem not only avoiding being a hindrance to my party, but also being a valued asset. Here I will illustrate a few simple ways (some homebrew) that I have found make the monk a viable class to play.

This is not a level by level build but in general this makes the monk a more viable option. The classic image of the monk is that of being a swift, hardened warrior with no need for weapons in getting his damage done. I like using the Human as the race for the extra feat and skill points, also it's nice and generic. When determining ability scores I always go in this order greatest to least: Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution, Strength, Intelligence, then Charisma. Both Wisdom and Dexterity effectively raise your AC score. Making AC a priority over Constitution is important because even if you raise your Con in an attempt to gain more hit points your success is going to be limited at best, better to learn not to get hit rather than how to take a hit. Monk gets evasion at second level making him better at dodging those nasty area of effect spells, coupled with perfect saves and a nice Dex score your are on your way to avoiding damage all together.

If you take Weapon Finesse as your third level feat you really won't have to worry overly much about Str, as a monk get used to your damage coming from the sheer number of attacks that you make rather than the Str bonus on top. This already improves your chances of hitting your enemies with your Flurry of Blows ability. Then you can take Two Weapon Fighting which stacks with Flurry of Blows, giving you a -2/-2 full attack and a -4/-4/-4, which may not be all that appealing right now but later on you'll be glad you did.

As your first level monk bonus feat you have the choice of either Improved Grapple or stunning fist. I was always advised by my DM to take stunning fist because its an attack form that scales with your level and works off of your wisdom which works well with this build. While grappling and monks don't get along well because of the monks lack of BAB, and grappling is reliant to Str which is not the focus of this build. Also monsters are going to tend to be larger than medium on average which gives them another advantage against your monk that you really don't wanna contend with in battle. From their take feats like Weapon Focus: Unarmed Strike reducing the penalty to all your attacks, Improved Natural Attack (which will treat your Unarmed Strikes as if you were one size category larger, in an attempt to increase your average dice damage), Combat Reflexes (giving more legitimacy to the fluff of monks being very fast warriors. If you want something really sick watch what I do later with this plus the Stand Still feat.), Power Attack (if you have the Oriental Adventures Guide you will like this feat), if you have access to the Oriental Adventures Handbook I would look into taking Flying Kick which allows you to do double Unarmed Strike damage at the end of a charge (prerequisites: Str 13, Power Attack, Improved Unarmed Strike, and Jump 4 ranks. With a +2 Str bonus magic item this can be really easy.), If you can raise a Str of 15 take Round About Kick from the oriental Adventures Handbook (allows you to make another attack at the same AB if you get a critical. If you particularly like this feat you might think about taking Improved Critical.) If you play Pathfinder RPG their monk is better in a couple of ways including more choices for your monk bonus feats.

Add some magic items like a shirt that has a command word ability to cast Mage Armor a couple of times per day, some gloves that you can put some magic weapon bonuses and element damage on, a amulet that command words Shield spell a couple of times a day, Cloak of Resistance, Ring of Protection, boots of striding and springing, ect. Also keep either pumping Wis or Dex. If you don't like just being Melee oriented you might want to pick up proficiency with a long bow, and if you pump Wis over Dex Zen Archery allows you to use Wis for ranged attack roles instead of Dex.

I do have to admit though that through the years the monks different problems have made themselves known to me, and my DM. We recently were talking and worked together to come up with a Homebrew fix that made sense as far as the monk theme went. What we came up with was surprisingly simple.

All one needs to do is give the monk a Psychic Warriors Power Point progression and powers. By merely using fluff to explain that the monks ability to manifest these powers as either manifestations of his supernatural usage of chi/ki or that in the monks quest to perfecting his mind as well as his body he developed the ability to manifest Psychic Powers. This does several things for the monk, the biggest is that reduces his multi ability score dependency drastically. With his ability to buff himself and cast these array of powers, which work off of Wis, the monk class becomes not only feasible but a force to be reckoned with.

This also opens up psychic feats like Psionic Body (whenever you take a psychic feat you gain hit points), also the Psychic Feat: Up The Walls (as long as you end your movement on the ground you may move across walls ceilings or other gravity defying objects. Spiderman, Spiderman, does what ever a spider can.), if you take Weapon Proficiency in a reach weapon and combat reflexes then you will love Stand Still (Benefit: When a foes movement out of a square you threaten grants you an attack of opportunity, you can give up that attack and instead attempt to stop your foe in his tracks. Make your attack of opportunity normally. If you hit your foe, he must succeed on a Reflex save against a DC of 10 + your damage roll (the opponent does not actually take damage), or immediately halt as if he had used up his move actions for the round.

Since you use the Stand Still feat in place of your attack of opportunity, you can do so only a number of times per round equal to the number of times per round you could make an attack of opportunity (normally just one). sorry just had to copy paste that one.), the original poster mentioned sneaking around so I present Cloak Dance (also copy pasted. Prerequisites: Hide 10 ranks, Perform (dance) 2 ranks. Benefit: You can take a move action to obscure your exact position. Until your next turn, you have concealment. Alternatively, you can take a full-round action to entirely obscure your exact position. Until your next action, you have total concealment.) Because of how the rules for hiding coincide with concealment this allows you to make a hide check whenever cloak dancing, even in front of an enemy!

If you do use Pathfinder I would suggest that you look at several of the feats in the core book or at their reference document at http://www.d20pfsrd.com/. Such as Vital Strike, Throw Anything, Razor Sharp Chair Leg, and several more. Basically this is just a small overview of ways to make your monks kick a little harder. If you want to hear more I would advise that you ask a poster by the name of Ashiel. He is quite knowledgeable about everything that I just went over and probably would do a better job of explaining than I did. Well that is all for this late.

Later guys,

Savannah
2010-02-27, 02:16 AM
I do have to ask you though, don't you think a second Rogue wouldn't fare better?

Damage-wise, probably. Fun-wise, no. The rogue and monk are friends, despite being CN and LN. I can't imagine another rogue having the same relationship/role-play experience. (By which I mean the monk smacks the rogue upside the head when the rogue mouths off :smallbiggrin:)

(I should probably mention that, because there's only me and my DM in the area, I actually play both the rogue and the monk, plus two others, but I would not swap the monk for a rogue if I were only playing her.)

T.G. Oskar
2010-02-27, 03:18 AM
The monk is a class that isn't as powerful as other classes straight off of the bat, however they can be played to great effect by first determining what it is about the monk that you like and want to accentuate.

Sound advice. Most Monk builds work by focusing into one thing and attempt to work the rest. It also implies not taking much of the class, since the later abilities just don't cut it well.

The usual is either raising your damage to ridiculous levels, or attempting an AoO build AND taking advantage of Decisive Strike. Still, it doesn't work the same way a Psychic Warrior, for example, could achieve.


This is not a level by level build but in general this makes the monk a more viable option. The classic image of the monk is that of being a swift, hardened warrior with no need for weapons in getting his damage done. I like using the Human as the race for the extra feat and skill points, also it's nice and generic. When determining ability scores I always go in this order greatest to least: Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution, Strength, Intelligence, then Charisma. Both Wisdom and Dexterity effectively raise your AC score. Making AC a priority over Constitution is important because even if you raise your Con in an attempt to gain more hit points your success is going to be limited at best, better to learn not to get hit rather than how to take a hit. Monk gets evasion at second level making him better at dodging those nasty area of effect spells, coupled with perfect saves and a nice Dex score your are on your way to avoiding damage all together.

This is basic advice. The reason why Monks are considered MA dependant is because they make good use of almost all stats. Wisdom grants them AC, Will saves and advances some class features, but the potential of Wisdom reduces at the moment you decide not to go further into Monk, not taking a Psionic class/PrC or disregarding Stunning Fist; in fact, Wisdom is more of a defensive tactic than an offensive tactic, barring Zen Archery and Intuitive Strike which work well with high Wis.

Dex is the second best not only for AC, but because of Reflex, initiative, most of the Monk's skills (which are Dex based) and potentially attack bonus (if you go Weapon Finesse); furthermore, some of the feats a Monk may use key off Dex, including and not limited to TWF. However...you need a very high Dex score (at least Dex 19 before, say, level 15) to take advantage of the full TWF way. Furthermore, the unarmed strike reading is pretty ambiguous, and you need a weapon that can be used for flurry AND that grants you unarmed strike damage which you can use with the unarmed strike in order to eliminate that ambiguity. The one weapon I can think of is Scorpion Kama, and while interesting, it won't be accessible until some time.

Con is important for HP and Fortitude. However, just how much you'll want for HP and Fortitude? That may imply, since Con would be tertiary, that HPs will not be so good and Fort will be less so, even with all good saves.

Strength, thus, is the problem. You need Strength to hit without wasting a feat slot (of which Monks are starving, since their bonus feats are severely restricted) and to do damage, plus a good set of the Monk's skills key off strength (Balance, Climb, Jump, Swim). So you're sacrificing damage potential, which won't be very important if you're going a multiple damage route, but dangerous if you are going for attack multipliers.


If you take Weapon Finesse as your third level feat you really won't have to worry overly much about Str, as a monk get used to your damage coming from the sheer number of attacks that you make rather than the Str bonus on top. This already improves your chances of hitting your enemies with your Flurry of Blows ability. Then you can take Two Weapon Fighting which stacks with Flurry of Blows, giving you a -2/-2 full attack and a -4/-4/-4, which may not be all that appealing right now but later on you'll be glad you did.

I know you mentioned this isn't a guide, but this feat is too strict. You essentially sacrifice two feats to get one extra attack and adding your secondary score to attack rolls instead of your primary (to which you'd like to have Intuitive Attack. You still need a very high Dex roll. Thus...wouldn't you rather have Dex as your primary score, since you're tying feats AND your attack bonus to it, and you gain more if not enough benefits from it? Think about it; as you're suggesting:

Dex: attack rolls, AC, Reflex, TWF line, initiative, Dex feats
Wis: AC, Will, Stunning Fist DC (which has its own problem), Wis skills.

That's 6 benefits against 4, and one of the Wis-based boons is ambiguous. That would make me thing you need more Dex than Wis. Not bashing you, but something important to point out.


As your first level monk bonus feat you have the choice of either Improved Grapple or stunning fist. I was always advised by my DM to take stunning fist because its an attack form that scales with your level and works off of your wisdom which works well with this build. While grappling and monks don't get along well because of the monks lack of BAB, and grappling is reliant to Str which is not the focus of this build. Also monsters are going to tend to be larger than medium on average which gives them another advantage against your monk that you really don't wanna contend with in battle. From their take feats like Weapon Focus: Unarmed Strike reducing the penalty to all your attacks, Improved Natural Attack (which will treat your Unarmed Strikes as if you were one size category larger, in an attempt to increase your average dice damage), Combat Reflexes (giving more legitimacy to the fluff of monks being very fast warriors. If you want something really sick watch what I do later with this plus the Stand Still feat.), Power Attack (if you have the Oriental Adventures Guide you will like this feat), if you have access to the Oriental Adventures Handbook I would look into taking Flying Kick which allows you to do double Unarmed Strike damage at the end of a charge (prerequisites: Str 13, Power Attack, Improved Unarmed Strike, and Jump 4 ranks. With a +2 Str bonus magic item this can be really easy.), If you can raise a Str of 15 take Round About Kick from the oriental Adventures Handbook (allows you to make another attack at the same AB if you get a critical. If you particularly like this feat you might think about taking Improved Critical.) If you play Pathfinder RPG their monk is better in a couple of ways including more choices for your monk bonus feats.

That's...about 8-9 feats you mentioned, right? With Stunning Fist AND Combat Reflexes, you've pretty much exhausted your feat line. Furthermore, some of the feats aren't so good, and some of the feats from OA were updated into Complete Warrior, which reduces their potential. To explain:

Improved Grapple/Stunning Fist: most people would say neither. You've mentioned exactly the troubles that Improved Grapple monks have (unless you're going for the odd Goliath or Half-Giant Monk and make Strength primary), so I don't need to point them out. Stunning Fist, on the other hand, has it's own share of problems. Some say it scales poorly, but I have faith on the SF equation; the problem is that its resisted by Fortitude, which is usually the largest of most (if not nearly all) creatures' Saving Throws. It doesn't work against undead, doesn't work against constructs, doesn't work against plants or oozes, anything with immunity to stun is immune to SF AND Freedom of Movement essentially denies it. It turns better if you specialize in getting Stunning Fist to be awesome, and that usually implies Freezing the Lifeblood and hoping for the best.

Weapon Focus: that alone is a trouble. A +1 modifier won't do much when AC scales at uneven levels. You already have severe penalties, and what you want is to reduce them and gain bonuses at the same time.

INA: usually the recommended way for Monks to get at least some decent damage. Since you're treated as one size larger, you're treated as if a Large Monk, thus you use the progression granted on the list. With an Enlarge Person or similar ability that you can use (Expansion, for example), you can get to Huge Monk and thus get some more damage from it. But that's mostly it...damage. It works wonders if you have methods to maximize that damage, but it won't progress equally; you can hit without much problems, but the Rogue, the Ninja, the Scout and even the Spellthief will out-do your damage even with their limitations. So it's more of a patch than a boon. Not a bad recommendation, tho.

Combat Reflexes: Monks have it bad. You get Combat Reflexes without the Dex requirement, but you still need a huge Dex to take advantage of the feat. Monk's unarmed strikes don't have reach, which is one of the things you want for tripping checks. And other classes can do this better than the Monk. One of the saving graces is replacing Flurry of Blows with Decisive Strike, somehow become Large or Huge, get Snap Kick, Stand Still and either Karmic Strike/Robilar's Gambit, and Improved Trip. Then, you save some face by dealing two double-damage attacks per attack of opportunity (one from the AoO plus one from Snap Kick), plus you get options with your AoOs (either stop them dead in their tracks or tripping them, which activates your Snap Kick feat). Get Knockback and a sure way to deal 10 damage at least, and your attacks of opportunity become nice. This is usually what you seek for an AoO build, and it's still feat intensive (and doesn't work well until very high levels). Also, remember Strength? I...presume you do.

Power Attack: Monks have low BAB. They have even worse things with penalties. They *might* get invisible but not get melee touch attacks. The last thing you want is adding yet another penalty for a meager increase in damage, let alone on a TWF build. That is why Barbarians and 2H weapon users get Power Attack; they get a much better return for what they lose. It does serve for other benefits, but usually the least you want is adding more penalties to the already penalized Monk.

Flying Kick: nerfed in CW to deal only an extra 1d12 damage. So it no longer works nicely.

Roundhouse/Roundabout Kick: the last thing you want is forcing Improved Critical on your unarmed strikes. However, if you get the Scorpion Kama, you can make it keen and attempt to get this feat. It's far too feat-intensive, and it requires having the right weapon, but you can get a reliable 17-20 threat range which means at least a 20% chance to activate the feat, instead of a 5% or a 10%. And that is further penalized when you need to actually confirm the crit for the feat to activate; if you have lots of penalties, you can figure out the feat's actual chances reduce to, say...less than 12% perhaps.

Now, there are some nice recommendations for feats, but you need to focus on a feat chain almost exclusively for it to work. If you dabble in Power Attack AND Combat Reflexes, you'll eventually have to decide whether you want to focus on dealing more hits (and stronger hits) or going into counterattack. Mix TWF into that, and you'll suddenly realize it's not a very good idea when you only get 3 bonus feats, and at least two of the options are feats you've selected, which entirely disregard the rest. It's still too feat intensive, and the Monk doesn't have enough feats to cover that build, which is one of its fatal flaws.


Add some magic items like a shirt that has a command word ability to cast Mage Armor a couple of times per day, some gloves that you can put some magic weapon bonuses and element damage on, a amulet that command words Shield spell a couple of times a day, Cloak of Resistance, Ring of Protection, boots of striding and springing, ect. Also keep either pumping Wis or Dex. If you don't like just being Melee oriented you might want to pick up proficiency with a long bow, and if you pump Wis over Dex Zen Archery allows you to use Wis for ranged attack roles instead of Dex.

Here you hit another of the troubles with Monk; severe magic item dependency. It's great that Mage Armor can be used with the Monk; bracers of armor work just as fine. Amulet of Natural Attacks (Savage Species) works better for what you want, although I also favor the Scorpion Kama for mixing unarmed strike damage with enhancement bonus AND a decent crit range. Add the Cloak, the Ring for deflection bonus, and you'll notice that most of what it does is patching the mechanical problems of the Monk.

Of course, magic items are necessary. They are provided to the DM and the players for a reason. However, you have to think that you may never get those magic items during a campaign, and perhaps you won't have enough money to buy those items. A few classes can effectively ignore having any magical item and still work out; a smaller few can work fine despite the lack of magic items but still gain a huge benefit from them. Monks are neither of the above. To effect, they are treated as if they had a monk's belt (although the idea is that the Monk's Belt emulates the benefits of a monk), a Periapt of Health (and not to full strength), a Periapt of Proof against Poison, a Mantle of Spell Resistance, triple-strength Sandals of Springing, a permanent Tongues spell, and...perhaps one or two things I'm forgetting. Consider which of those items I've mentioned is probably useful, and consider which items they need to complete being a successful character. They lack flying, energy resistances, a proper magic weapon (not an adamantine weapon that is merely treated as a magic and lawful weapon); and those are mostly the basics.

I might be already sounding a bit despondent against the Monk, but it's mostly retelling what anyone here might tell you. I certainly don't have the intention to sound despondent, and I'm one of the few who would attempt something with the Monk and make it work, which is why I'm providing alternative ideas and pointing the weaknesses.


I do have to admit though that through the years the monks different problems have made themselves known to me, and my DM. We recently were talking and worked together to come up with a Homebrew fix that made sense as far as the monk theme went. What we came up with was surprisingly simple.

All one needs to do is give the monk a Psychic Warriors Power Point progression and powers. By merely using fluff to explain that the monks ability to manifest these powers as either manifestations of his supernatural usage of chi/ki or that in the monks quest to perfecting his mind as well as his body he developed the ability to manifest Psychic Powers. This does several things for the monk, the biggest is that reduces his multi ability score dependency drastically. With his ability to buff himself and cast these array of powers, which work off of Wis, the monk class becomes not only feasible but a force to be reckoned with.

This also opens up psychic feats like Psionic Body (whenever you take a psychic feat you gain hit points), also the Psychic Feat: Up The Walls (as long as you end your movement on the ground you may move across walls ceilings or other gravity defying objects. Spiderman, Spiderman, does what ever a spider can.), if you take Weapon Proficiency in a reach weapon and combat reflexes then you will love Stand Still (Benefit: When a foes movement out of a square you threaten grants you an attack of opportunity, you can give up that attack and instead attempt to stop your foe in his tracks. Make your attack of opportunity normally. If you hit your foe, he must succeed on a Reflex save against a DC of 10 + your damage roll (the opponent does not actually take damage), or immediately halt as if he had used up his move actions for the round.

Since you use the Stand Still feat in place of your attack of opportunity, you can do so only a number of times per round equal to the number of times per round you could make an attack of opportunity (normally just one). sorry just had to copy paste that one.), the original poster mentioned sneaking around so I present Cloak Dance (also copy pasted. Prerequisites: Hide 10 ranks, Perform (dance) 2 ranks. Benefit: You can take a move action to obscure your exact position. Until your next turn, you have concealment. Alternatively, you can take a full-round action to entirely obscure your exact position. Until your next action, you have total concealment.) Because of how the rules for hiding coincide with concealment this allows you to make a hide check whenever cloak dancing, even in front of an enemy!

I know that this'll sound a bit weird, but there's already a fix for it! It's called Tashalatora, which is probably a word you've heard a lot. Believe me, I'm one of the people that state Psionics does wonders with the Monk, and I heartily suggest you look for Secrets of Sarlona and realize just how good this feat really is. It can even give a run for its money to the Unarmed Swordsage, although in the end you're more of a Psychic Warrior with Monk benefits than an actual Monk with Psionics.

There's no need to mention Stand Still. Most of the tripper builds know the requisites and the benefit by memory, and can do a great lot better with it. Cloaked Dance, on the other hand, may not work as intended; you wish to get concealment by other means, not by sacrificing a Move action and taking advantage of the Hide rules but sacrificing an effective combat ability for it. It doesn't stack with Flurry, or with Decisive Strike, and it still forces you to remain standing in one place.


If you do use Pathfinder I would suggest that you look at several of the feats in the core book or at their reference document at http://www.d20pfsrd.com/. Such as Vital Strike, Throw Anything, Razor Sharp Chair Leg, and several more. Basically this is just a small overview of ways to make your monks kick a little harder.

I'd say something of Pathfinder, but I would defer that to someone else. Pathfinder Monks can't get INA for their fists, though (or as far as I've heard).

As a final note; while it is a build and not an explanation on how the class is good or not (which is your intention), the build itself still has a few flaws. I think I mentioned where are those apparent flaws, but the biggest one is the feat expenditure and how long it takes for the feat combos to work; a TWF Monk would require high Dex, a secondary weapon that takes advantage of your unarmed strike damage to work, a method of reducing penalties and ways of getting extra attacks for it to work, and you still need a lot of magic items to make it useful by level 6 (Scorpion Kama, perhaps Gloves of the Balanced Hand, a method of becoming Invisible). Grapple Monks require a more specific build (high Str, Goliath or Half-Giant, Improved Grapple, a way to become large), Counter Monks are almost nonexistent until very high levels (level 15, to be precise) and require doing something more than just using AoOs (which is why the combo of Decisive Strike, Improved Trip, Snap Kick, Stand Still, and eventually Karmic Strike/Robilar's Gambit, plus a method of gaining range is necessary) and then you're dabbling on being a tripper. Power Attack is a bad option for Monks unless somehow you can mix both treating your fists as a two-handed weapon, and it would require a lot of Strength to pull it off. Stunning Fist is a feat that requires far too much attention, and doesn't make good returns. And that's mentioning some of the most common options; that's without mentioning that this is mostly based off feats and not class abilities, which have their own series of problems (from being nearly useless, to completely useless).

It's a good attempt, but it's not enough to convince that Monks are viable. A good optimizer could make a Monk viable somehow while attempting to limit itself to prevent using easy ways out (Tashalatora, for example), but it won't make a Monk always useful.

sonofzeal
2010-02-27, 04:16 AM
I know that this'll sound a bit weird, but there's already a fix for it! It's called Tashalatora, which is probably a word you've heard a lot. Believe me, I'm one of the people that state Psionics does wonders with the Monk, and I heartily suggest you look for Secrets of Sarlona and realize just how good this feat really is. It can even give a run for its money to the Unarmed Swordsage, although in the end you're more of a Psychic Warrior with Monk benefits than an actual Monk with Psionics.
Small quibble, but that's actually the opposite of what I've found. I mean, looking at the character sheet yeah, but I've been playing one for months now and in actual play I almost tend to forget he's more PsiWar than Monk. His approach to combat (unarmed and unarmored; move in fast and flurry or grapple as situation demands) is pure Monk. The only times he's overtly PsiWar is when he uses Expansion, but even that isn't very often and he does just fine without it. I stack monk levels with Monk's Belt and Improved Natural Attack, gained two extra secondary attacks through various means, and blast away. It's the psiwar powers that make it work (especially Inertial Armor for defence and Lion's Charge for offence), but I really feel like I'm playing a monk.

T.G. Oskar
2010-02-27, 05:15 AM
Small quibble, but that's actually the opposite of what I've found. I mean, looking at the character sheet yeah, but I've been playing one for months now and in actual play I almost tend to forget he's more PsiWar than Monk. His approach to combat (unarmed and unarmored; move in fast and flurry or grapple as situation demands) is pure Monk. The only times he's overtly PsiWar is when he uses Expansion, but even that isn't very often and he does just fine without it. I stack monk levels with Monk's Belt and Improved Natural Attack, gained two extra secondary attacks through various means, and blast away. It's the psiwar powers that make it work (especially Inertial Armor for defence and Lion's Charge for offence), but I really feel like I'm playing a monk.

Well, that's part of why I like mingling Monk with Psionics. I'd say that, although the actual method was using Psionic Fist, Psionics really serve as a potent complement to the Monk (which is why I'd rather say "use PsyWar/Ardent with Tashalatora" than suggest Unarmed Swordsage).

However, it mostly depends on how you work it out. Basically, you do use some of the concepts of the Monk (unarmed strike, unarmored combat, perhaps flurry, enhanced movement) and use the psionic powers that enhance that (Metaphysical Weapon, Hustle, Expansion, Inertial Armor, Thicken Skin). It does show the Psychic Warrior vibe when you separate from those aspects; for example, when you use Claws of the Beast, or Vampiric Blade, or Exhalation of the Black Dragon. A Monk/PsyWar is also better when using Expanded Knowledge, which tends to give a similar idea.

I can understand your point; in essence, what you're doing is basically expanding the options you'd gain through Psionic Fist/of Zuoken, by adding more PP, more powers, more feats and 6th level powers, while opening Expanded Knowledge to 5th level powers (and thus, to marvels such as Metamorphosis, Psionic True Seeing, Metaconcert, Psionic Teleport and Fiery Discorporation; I'd also make a case for Ectoplasmic Shambler).

In fact, most of the potential builds that the Monk can use benefit from Psionics. For example, Grapple Builds can take advantage of Expansion, Animal Affinity and Strength of My Enemy (which is just sickeningly brutal); multi-hit builds benefit just from Hustle (but they can also benefit from Form of Doom, Vampiric Blade and I'd dare say Weapon of Energy); counter-tripper builds take a hit from lower BAB but more feats, Expansion and Animal Affinity still work wonders. Heck, with Hammer Strike, even Power Attack becomes effective.

In the end, though, the more you use from the Monk the more it will resemble a working Monk. Still doesn't imply that you can effectively get Improved Unarmed Strike, Superior Unarmed Strike, a Monk's Belt and call a Psychic Warrior a Monk without spending a single level...