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View Full Version : What the Monk really is [3.5]



SharkVersusKoda
2011-10-24, 09:57 AM
ok so, i've been doing some searching around the forums and either 1)im just searching for it totally wrong, or 2)it hasn't been done yet.

After looking at many "Monk fixes/retools/ets" i've noticed a trend that when homebrewers rework the monk, they turn it into either 1) an elemental fist fighter 2)throw psionics and other classes in it so its not really The Monk anymore or 3)make it a ToB class.

but, what do you think of when you think of a monk in terms of the class?
cause i think of Tony Jaa, Bruce Lee, and Jet Li.

Has there ever been a rework/retool/reimmagining(sp?)/fix that instead of the above options has the monk say, choose a combat style to follow, from such lists as Muay Thai, Jui-Jitsu, Street Fighting, Taekwando, etc?

And if there has, could I please get a link from someone much more knowledgable than i?

arguskos
2011-10-24, 10:04 AM
Has there ever been a rework/retool/reimmagining(sp?)/fix that instead of the above options has the monk say, choose a combat style to follow, from such lists as Muay Thai, Jui-Jitsu, Street Fighting, Taekwando, etc?
I cannot claim to have done this, exactly, but I always take a chance to pimp my own monk rewrite (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=192781). I feel that too many people miss the core issue of the monk, which is it's lack of focus on a role. The solution, in my eyes, is to focus on a single role and just go for it whole-heartedly. Personally, I like the monk as a skirmisher and acrobatic combatant, using the environment and superior mobility to defeat their foes, but that's just me.

Seerow
2011-10-24, 10:29 AM
Have you checked Jiriku's monk fix? It tries pretty hard to stay true to what the core monk is (for better or for worse), while making the various abilities more useful/powerful.

paddyfool
2011-10-24, 10:30 AM
Seerow got there first, but here's a link to Jiriku's fix (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=150122).

T.G. Oskar
2011-10-24, 03:22 PM
After looking at many "Monk fixes/retools/ets" i've noticed a trend that when homebrewers rework the monk, they turn it into either 1) an elemental fist fighter 2)throw psionics and other classes in it so its not really The Monk anymore or 3)make it a ToB class.

There is a strong mechanical reason for this, and it's essentially something that Wizards of the Coast did with the actual monk (and eventually swordsage).

The first type of Monk was done with the Fiery Fist set of feats and Draconic Fist from Dragon Magic, and...well, it's pretty uncommon. If you refer to the recent Monk rework from Tempestman, that's the Monk as envisioned in DDO, which has not only elemental paths, but philosophy paths (Light and Dark) and a separate "void" path (which is sort of the force path). It expands many of the Monk's options, and makes some of the existing ones available at other times. Some may also be inspired by Avatar: the last Airbender, which has a very strong Monk feel in terms of how Aang and company live their lives and practice their arts.

The Monk with psionics was done as part of the Psionic Fist (of Zuoken) and then with the Zerth Cenobite, but then came Tashalatora (the feat that allows you to multiclass Monk with a psionic class) and beat everything away. Thing is, those reworks that add psionics or divine/arcane spellcasting are adding more options to the class, since the extra abilities other than punching well really don't help the Monk.

Monks that add martial maneuvers are essentially duplicating the unarmed adaptation of the Swordsage, that replaces weapon proficiency with the ability to gain the unarmed strike feature of the Monk (mostly the free Improved Unarmed Strike feature, the increased damage and the special rules that come with it, but not Ki strike which is a different feature). This is because martial maneuvers are the closest thing to emulate different combat disciplines, which many perceive to be the hallmarks of the Monk that aren't represented in D&D proper.

All three have a specific purpose: to make the Monk better at what it is and also give it options when its niche cannot be used. Very few reworks break the trend without adding any of these three options, because it is increasingly hard to make an effective Monk class that can contribute effectively in and outside of combat. I tell you this because I went with the tangent for a Monk retool, but I'm seriously planning to retool the retool of the retool into adding things from DDO, if only because I'm uncomfortable with its design (even though I added many abilities I like, such as making monk weapons worthwhile). WotC offered two very solid options with which a great deal of people are comfortable with, so any Monk design principle will gravitate towards one of those two, usually adding many of the core Monk's abilities.


but, what do you think of when you think of a monk in terms of the class?
cause i think of Tony Jaa, Bruce Lee, and Jet Li.

Most of the modern martial arts superstars would rarely qualify to embody the concept of Monks, even if they may be actual and devout Buddhists in nature and have philosophies that are akin to that of a Monk.

The biggest example of this is Bruce Lee, if he was alive at these moments. With his treatise explaining Jeet Kune Do, he taught a martial arts style that was meant to fix the flaws of other such arts (if I'm correct about his statements), but he was also focused on the spiritual aspect of practicing martial arts. Had he remained alive, he would have probably retired and taken the monk vows, which definitely don't include cool martial arts flicks moves but a peaceful philosophy. Those people that become monks are either trained from birth or take that as a "retirement" option from their careers, to pursue a spiritual path. That concept goes pretty much against the adventurer's path, since the latter is a more active path while the latter is a more passive (in terms of travels, wealth and whatnot) one.

The second part of it is that such martial artists would have difficulties in a world as D&D would, given that you're expected to have certain magical items and cover certain paths at given levels, which some people are expected to cover on their own. A wizard or cleric could provide these benefits, but it is often observed as making these classes highly dependable (and thus highly desirable) while classes that require the benefits become highly dependent of the former classes (and thus less desirable). The closest thing that even parallels what a Monk may be in D&D is the wouxia, which is tightly represented with the swordsage (given their choice of weaponry and how they are built, plus the martial maneuvers), which is polarizing on its own.

Personally, I observe the Monk through a mechanical perspective rather than a fluff perspective, with the idea that going through fluff perfectly justifies going Tash or unarmed Swordsage, but for those people that don't like those ideas, they can get a third option. Mechanically they were meant to be mobile skirmishers (thus the speed and increased unarmed strike damage alongside Spring Attack, but flurry of blows and the latter Spring Attack increasing feats make a dent on that style), mage-killers (hence their speed, spell resistance, high saves, Stunning Fist and Quivering Palm, amongst others; the sheer number of wizard defenses and options make this highly unlikely except on very early levels) and somewhere between a warrior and a skill-monkey (medium BAB, a HD right between the lowest and the highest, 4 skill points per level plus a wide variety of feats including some social, stealth, perception and knowledge feats, amongst others), but they were clinging to an outdated design philosophy which didn't truly changed until halfway through the life of 3.5, which is where you get stuff like Tome of Battle and Tome of Magic and Magic of Incarnum. Mechanically, the only set of abilities that would distance the monk from the psionics user or the swordsage would be bending (as per on Avatar: the last Airbender) expanded to create various builds (as per my design principle of creating a class, not a build; part of why I am unhappy with my earlier attempts at the Monk), but I firmly see it as a warrior class rather than a skill-oriented class. Perhaps a bit more of a mobile warrior and a supernatural warrior than others.


Has there ever been a rework/retool/reimmagining(sp?)/fix that instead of the above options has the monk say, choose a combat style to follow, from such lists as Muay Thai, Jui-Jitsu, Street Fighting, Taekwando, etc?

And if there has, could I please get a link from someone much more knowledgable than i?

A Monk class that provides a different set of styles rarely exists. Jiriku's fix has a design philosophy of making the Monk a skill-monkey, but with his ACFs you can create some distinctive builds which could represent different fighting styles. The Pathfinder Monk also has archetypes that represent different fighting styles, which can go as simple as the Drunken Master or as different as Qinggong Monk. I recall Arguskos (or another brewer) make a Monk based on parkour, which while not a combat style it works different from the traditional Monk.

However, making a Monk based on martial arts styles requires an extensive study of various disciplines. Those that seek to create "benders" are the closest to that idea, since the benders from Avatar base their bending techniques and movements from real-life combat disciplines (IIRC there's Tai Chi Chuan, Ba Gua and Northern Style) with elemental abilities added forth. While there are easily seen differences between martial arts styles, trying to translate that in D&D will often end with classes that will seem very much alike; compare Jujutsu and Aikijutsu, which are to an extent grappling styles, or Kickboxing, Karate and Taekwondo (the first is a fist and foot style, the second works best for sunder which is always considered a poor combat mechanic, and the third is almost exclusively a kick discipline). It is really hard to explain all martial arts styles in detail, but when you translate them into mechanics, they end up looking similar at times, and requiring you to have poor specialization in other such disciplines. Part of the idea was that you could use feats to form your own "combat styles" and the Monk's bonus feats lend to that idea, but it truly never maturated.

Is there an effective Monk retool/fix/rework out there? Sure. One that fits your requirements? To an extent, and you may feel unsatisfied with the results. Most people seem to like Jiriku's fix, so give it a shot if you want, and others find Pathfinder did an excellent job without going too distant from the core Monk's abilities. That is mostly the reason why you can't make a Monk fix from a single design principle; there are so many opinions running around, you can only satisfy some.

gkathellar
2011-10-24, 07:27 PM
but, what do you think of when you think of a monk in terms of the class?
cause i think of Tony Jaa, Bruce Lee, and Jet Li.

Has there ever been a rework/retool/reimmagining(sp?)/fix that instead of the above options has the monk say, choose a combat style to follow, from such lists as Muay Thai, Jui-Jitsu, Street Fighting, Taekwando, etc?

The problem with this approach is that RPG combat is an abstraction, while real-world martial arts are extremely technical and specific. As a martial artist, I can go on for hours about how you should be holding your torso, the angle of your elbow in a punch, questions of distance and timing and whether it's better to lock someone's elbow with your palm or fist of forearm or bicep and other fighters will almost certainly disagree with me. These are the kind of specifics that characterize individual martial arts, and they are entirely boring and useless in an RPG.

True, you could exaggerate and take the distinctions to extremes, but then you're talking about ToB-style special techniques and stances, not differing systems of and perspectives on combat. The virtue of not taking a "styles" approach to the monk class is that you can say whatever you want about the character's martial arts technique while still having it make perfect sense. Once you have your unarmed strike, your AC and your grapple modifier, everything else is fluff.


Bruce Lee -snip- Had he remained alive, he would have probably retired and taken the monk vows, which definitely don't include cool martial arts flicks moves but a peaceful philosophy.

Uh ... no. Bruce Lee was an atheist who basically lived to refine his fighting skills and make movies (and was involved in both pursuits from a very young age). He was very interested in the philosophy of martial arts, yes, but he was a martial artist first and foremost.

Zagaroth
2011-10-24, 07:58 PM
heh, I'm another homebrewer trying to upgrade the monk. So, to the OP: I tried to keep my monk fix "Like the book, but better". Here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=219537) If you want to take a look. Oh, that's pathfinder based too BTW, in case of confusion. Anyway...

But even so, most of what I did, while looking perhaps a tad outrageous in initial raw numbers, is relatively low powered. Feats for grapple vs trip vs scorpion strike etc are pretty much how you build your character's 'style'.

The maneuver abilities in ToB are another way of building up a set of abilities that represent a theme. Mechanically, most real world styles break down into hard (I will hit/kick you and you will so feel it), Soft (attack me, and I will throw you to the ground), and mixed (I may hit you, I may throw you to the ground. And if I throw you to the ground, then I'll hit and kick you some more)

Feats and/or maneuvers can replicate these basic styles. So they are used to either make some one a good hard striker (stunning fist), a good soft style thrower (lots of setting sun maneuvers), and mixed style (grappling counts I think. pin the guy to the ground, then keep hurting them)

Elemental stuff is used for a high-fantasy feel. Psionic stuff is very mystical an addition. Flavor to your desire.

playswithfire
2011-10-25, 07:09 PM
The maneuver abilities in ToB are another way of building up a set of abilities that represent a theme. Mechanically, most real world styles break down into hard (I will hit/kick you and you will so feel it), Soft (attack me, and I will throw you to the ground), and mixed (I may hit you, I may throw you to the ground. And if I throw you to the ground, then I'll hit and kick you some more)

It's not really a "monk" fix, since it's ToB style homebrew, but in my tome of tactics project, I added a few new disciplines that contain more close quarters style combat, including grappling (Giant's Grip (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=183826#post10181180)) and disarming (Circling Vulture (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=183826#post10181158), though it also has some supernatural/flight elements to it) and a prestige class which works with those two as well as Setting Sun, the Hand-to-Hand Specialist (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=183826#post10285059), which is easily entered by an unarmed swordsage or a Soldier (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=183826#post10181086), which also has access to the Crashing Wave (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=183826#post10181173) discipline, which focuses on bull-rushing (and fighting on and in water).

tempestman
2011-10-25, 07:46 PM
If you refer to the recent Monk rework from Tempestman, that's the Monk as envisioned in DDO, which has not only elemental paths, but philosophy paths (Light and Dark) and a separate "void" path (which is sort of the force path). It expands many of the Monk's options, and makes some of the existing ones available at other times. Some may also be inspired by Avatar: the last Airbender, which has a very strong Monk feel in terms of how Aang and company live their lives and practice their arts.

I'm not going to lie, it's pretty cool to see someone else reference one of my projects.

Anyway, in an attempt to make this post useful, I have to agree with T.G. Oskar, it's hard to stick to pure martial arts as a theme and manage to improve the monk class. You sort of have to throw in some supernatural aspects if you want to make the monk playable.

However, I believe Frank Trollman's monk (http://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/Dungeonomicon_%28DnD_Other%29/Charactonomicon#Monk) managed to retain most of the original "kung-fu fighting" spirit.

Zagaroth
2011-10-25, 08:30 PM
"Kung Fu Fighting". (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rED3y7x-uM8)

You made me link it. You made me by saying that! :-P

UserShadow7989
2011-10-26, 07:01 AM
When I think of the monk as a class, I think of a fist-fighter who focuses on their own body and cultivates supernatural skills from the power of their own spirit. They themselves are the weapon; anything they use outside their own body is simply an extension of themselves. The original flavor of the Monk in core has always been my favorite thing about it.

Mechanically speaking, however, monk suffers from having no real role. It's abilities are geared for taking out 'soft targets', I.E. getting around the meat shield or front line fighters and striking the squishy wizard. The problem is that most encounters don't have a 'soft target'. Many encounters are with multiples of the same monster, or variants of that monster.

Casters or low-hp high-firepower creatures often have some sort of defenses the Monk's extremely limited use/highly restricted special abilities can't hope to match. As a result, they're limited to being sub-par skirmishers and a proverbial fifth-wheel that compliments an already complete team, but has little use outside of one that could get along on its own.

Since a number of fixes have already been suggested, I might as well throw out my own. It sticks closely to the core monk with a few tweaks to give it a role as a mobile damage dealer that's self sufficient and makes it better at striking 'soft' targets on the rare occasion they appear. http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=153528

As you can tell by the sheer variety of monk fixes in this thread, there's many ways it can be taken and many opinions on what needs to be added/removed/changed and why. I'm not sure if there's anything that matches your ideas precisely, but you can take a look and see what interests you. If all else fails, take notes from the fixes and make your own. It's actually pretty fun.

Eldan
2011-10-26, 07:09 AM
The problem I see with the "why isn't the monk martial only" approach?

That would be a fighter variant. The core monk in the PHB already has plenty of supernatural power. He can punch someone so they die at a later time. He can become ethereal and teleport. That's not pure martial arts talent anymore.

Yitzi
2011-10-26, 09:31 AM
I'll definitely go with the "monk is not a primarily martial class" approach. Even leaving aside that that's a fighter variant, the basic idea behind a monk is very much one that is not focused on only the physical. His focus on perfecting his body does give him some combat ability, but that's not the focus. The three approaches I've come up with are:
1. Take the 3.5 monk's skill-set to its logical conclusion. He already has a lot of anticaster abilities, so increase these to the point where he can beat an optimized bordering on broken wizard of equal level. My approach to that is part of the fix linked in my sig.
2. Abandon the existing monk entirely, except for the focus on being unarmed and unarmored and some of the immunities and resistances. Instead, he focuses on perfecting his body, mind, and soul. The way this would play (as I envision it; I haven't written anything up yet), would be a DEX/WIS/CHA-based character with class abilities allowing him to use one those ability scores (usually WIS) where most would use others (e.g. eventually he gets WIS to damage and strength checks, uses WIS instead of INT for skills known, gets CHA to hit points and CON-based checks, uses DEX instead of STR for skill checks, etc), has a small pool of "ki points" regainable with a concentration check (probably takes 10 minutes and gives a value dependent on class level and CHA score) usable for things like temporarily boosting his unarmed attack (essentially giving it magical weapon enchantments), boosting a few checks (I've been thinking Diplomacy with individuals of the same alignment, and Intimidate with individuals of alignment at least 3 steps removed in alignment), and a few miscellaneous abilities (e.g. self-healing, out-of-body abilities, etc.) He'd probably get some other high-level boosts; the basic concept I have is designed to hit tier 2 at high levels, and so by level 20 gets autosuccess on Fortitude saves and many will saves and the ability to take 15 on all other saves, plus a weak regeneration ability (takes normal damage when unconscious), the ability to stay alive and conscious with a concentration check (the lower his negative HP, the harder the check), and the ability to survive as a pure spirit (even after the death of his body) at a cost of ki points per day (and yes, he can regenerate ki points, so permanently taking out a level 20 monk would be a major undertaking requiring the ability to keep him from concentrating. I did say tier 2, and it's meant for a system where everyone hits tier 1 or 2 by level 20.)

The role of such an approach would primarily be a sort of skillmonkey, but focused on ability checks and breadth of skill checks rather than powerful skill checks like a rogue has.

3. The third approach that I came up with is for yet another system, and its primary features are as follows:
-He's a divine caster (6 levels), but has a very limited spell list; it's all buffs (including some wizard buffs, but not including anything that gives a good BAB and not including anything flashy like size changes or polymorphs; he's stuck with medium BAB and his own body) and a few important curative and healing spells. He can cast the spells contingently at no extra cost (and the contingency can be activated as a free action).
-He has unlimited spells per day.
-His spells (except the instantaneous-duration ones) have infinite duration; they last until dispelled or expended.
-He can only cast spells on himself.
-He can only have a limited number of spell levels active at a time (and contingent spells count toward the limit.)
-All his spells have long casting times (probably 1 minute per spell level.)
-He gets the unarmed ability, speed, and skill list of the base monk.

This monk is the ultimate skirmisher: He can come in with a mix of buffs and contingent cures/heals, do some damage while expending his contingencies to stay alive, and then once they're expended (or his buffs are dispelled) use his mobility to get away and recharge. Should be great fun to play, especially as a solo class.

But turning "monk" into a synonym for "martial artist" is just plain wrong. Martial artists are martial artists, monks are something else.

SharkVersusKoda
2011-10-29, 07:39 PM
well thanks for all of your input playgrounders. its helped, and while i see everyones point on the monk as a spiritual monk, i also see the monk as a martial artist, and i while take a look at all the links provided, i am very grateful for them, i just thought that with the various fighter fixes, fighter feats, ToB homebrew, someone would have made a monk with class features that focus on martial arts styles as combat styles, and i do agree with the "its dnd and you need magic" sort of thing, but the monk already gets those as inherit class benefits with passing DR and whatnot, i was mostly just curious if anyone had ADDED to the monk class with the sort of features i was looking for. again, thanks for all of your input and links, it is much appreciated.