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Thread: [3.5] The Monk Remixed

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    Default [3.5] The Monk Remixed

    If you're like me, then in your D&D career you've encountered many players who are attracted to the flavor and style of the 3.5 monk class, and yet the monk's performance is so poor that the experience is often unsatisfying. Wouldn't it be great if you could rework the monk to have its same flavor and style, but perform well enough to keep up with the rest of the party? Sure, but that would take a huge amount of effort, wouldn't it? There must be someone, somewhere, who did all that work, who developed and playtested a better monk that's worthy of the name?

    Look no further. The revised monk awaits.


    Before we begin, a word for the monk's detractors:
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    Many things are probably entering your mind now. Let me attempt to answer your F.A.Q.s.
    1. You know about the Monk Wars on this forum, right? Yup, sure do. And yet I love my players, and they want this. A good DM plays to his audience. Plus, I've come to love this monk class like one loves a crippled child. I want to see him run and play with all the other classes some day!
    2. Why don't you just play an unarmed swordsage? Some of my players don't have ToB and are intimidated by the idea of learning a new system. Moreover, many of them just want Monk Classic.
    3. Haven't you looked at the other homebrew monks in this forum? Sure have. I've stolen a number of ideas from them, but none are exactly what I need. In particular, classes that depart from the feel and flavor of the PHB monk, or classes that add new power systems like ki points or martial maneuvers, aren't appropriate to the player requests I'm trying to fill.


    Design goals for the revised monk:
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    1. The apple shouldn't fall far from the tree. I want the class to feel like the PHB monk and play like the PHB monk, but to contribute more successfully to a wider variety of situations, and not inspire 20-page bile-filled forum arguments.
    2. Can I haz party role now? The revised monk is intended to function as a melee-oriented dps skirmisher and skillmonkey, much like a rogue, ranger or scout (but without the wilderness focus of the latter two classes). It should also be able to step into other roles such as party face or infiltrator.
    3. The target power/versatility level is a strong Tier 4.
    4. MAD should be much reduced, with Wis primary, Dex secondary, and Con tertiary. Str, Int and Cha are not likely to be important stats for the revised monk.
    5. The revised monk should be less gear-dependent than a typical character, as befits an ascetic scholar.


    Change Log:
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    • Reduced skillpoints to accomodate a more stereotypical D&D setting, since the description of my treatment of skill points is apparently tl;dr.
    • Reduced DR from 20 to 15.
    • Added Dance with the Elements, a scaled ability that improves Balance, Jump and Climb.
    • Added a note specifying how Flurry of Blows interacts with feats that allow a character to combine movement and other actions.
    • Revised the class table to make the Flurry of Blows attack progression easier to understand.
    • Added additional bonus feat options for an archery-focused monk.
    • Removed the requirement to be near a wall in order to use Slow Fall.
    • Reformatted the entire description to include more detailed descriptions of class features, design notes calling out all changes, and some minor tweaks to the upper-level abilities.
    • Divided Empty Strike class feature into Versatile Attack, gained at 1st level, and Empty Strike, gained at 3rd level.
    • Converted Trapfinding and associated class skills (Disable Device, Open Lock) into an ACF. Monk now has and can sacrifice Research and associated class skills (Decipher Script, Forgery) to have them.
    • Restored skill progression to 10 + Int per level. Empty Strike no longer grants Wisdom bonus to damage rolls. Improvements have been made to Moment of Perfection and Timeless Body.


    So without further ado, the revised monk!
    Level Base Attack Fort Ref Will Special Flurry (std) Flurry (full) Unarmed AC Speed
    1st +0 +2 +2 +2 Bonus feat, empty mind, flurry of blows, research, unarmed strike, versatile attack -2/-2 -2/-2 1d6 +0 +0 ft.
    2nd +1 +3 +3 +3 Bonus feat, evasion -1/-1 -1/-1 1d6 +0 +0 ft.
    3rd +2 +3 +3 +3 Dance with the elements, empty strike, still mind +0/+0 +0/+0 1d6 +0 +10 ft.
    4th +3 +4 +4 +4 Ki strike +1, slow fall 20 ft. +1/+1 +1/+1 1d8 +1 +10 ft.
    5th +3 +4 +4 +4 Ki shot, wholeness of body +2/+2 +2/+2 1d8 +1 +10 ft.
    6th +4 +5 +5 +5 Bonus feat, slow fall 30 ft. +3/+3 +3/+3 1d8 +1 +20 ft.
    7th +5 +5 +5 +5 Diamond body, tongue of the sun and moon +4/+4 +4/+4 1d8 +1 +20 ft.
    8th +6/+1 +6 +6 +6 Abundant step, ki strike +2, slow fall 40 ft. +5/+5 +5/+5/+0 2d6 +2 +20 ft.
    9th +6/+1 +6 +6 +6 Improved evasion +6/+6 +6/+6/+1 2d6 +2 +30 ft.
    10th +7/+2 +7 +7 +7 Bonus feat, slow fall 50 ft. +7/+7 +7/+7/+2 2d6 +2 +30 ft.
    11th +8/+3 +7 +7 +7 Diamond soul +8/+8/+8 +8/+8/+8/+3 2d6 +2 +30 ft.
    12th +9/+4 +8 +8 +8 Ki strike +3, quivering palm, slow fall 60 ft. +9/+9/+9 +9/+9/+9/+4 3d6 +3 +40 ft.
    13th +9/+4 +8 +8 +8 Empty step +9/+9/+9 +9/+9/+9/+4 3d6 +3 +40 ft.
    14th +10/+5 +9 +9 +9 Bonus feat, slow fall 70 ft. +10/+10/+10 +10/+10/+10/+5 3d6 +3 +40 ft.
    15th +11/+6/+1 +9 +9 +9 Empty body +11/+11/+11 +11/+11/+11/+6/+1 3d6 +3 +50 ft.
    16th +12/+7/+2 +10 +10 +10 Ki strike +4, moment of perfection, slow fall 80 ft. +12/+12/+12 +12/+12/+12/+7/+2 4d6 +4 +50 ft.
    17th +12/+7/+2 +10 +10 +10 Timeless body +12/+12/+12 +12/+12/+12/+7/+2 4d6 +4 +50 ft.
    18th +13/+8/+3 +11 +11 +11 Bonus feat, slow fall 90 ft. +13/+13/+13 +13/+13/+13/+8/+3 4d6 +4 +60 ft.
    19th +14/+9/+4 +11 +11 +11 Empty soul +14/+14/+14 +14/+14/+14/+9/+4 4d6 +4 +60 ft.
    20th +15/+10/+5 +12 +12 +12 Ki strike +5, perfect self, slow fall any distance +15/+15/+15 +15/+15/+15/+10/+5 6d6 +5 +60 ft.
    Hit Die: d8
    The monk's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Autohypnosis (Wis), Balance (Dex), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Forgery (Int), Hide (Dex), Jump (Str), Knowledge (all skills, taken individually) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Search (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), Spot (Wis), Swim (Str), and Tumble (Dex).
    Skill Points at 1st level: (10 + Int modifier) x 4.
    Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 10 + Int modifier.

    Design Notes:
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    Additional class skills and more skill points per level solidly cement the monk's role as a skill monkey. Compare to the remixed daring outlaw or swift hunter.
    CLASS FEATURES
    All of the following are class features of the monk.

    Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Monks are proficient with club, crossbow (light or heavy), dagger, handaxe, javelin, kama, nunchaku, quarterstaff, sai, shuriken, siangham, and sling. Monks are not proficient with any armor or shields. When wearing armor, using a shield, or carrying a medium or heavy load, a monk loses her AC bonus, as well as her fast movement and flurry of blows abilities.

    Empty Mind (Ex): When unarmored and unencumbered, the monk adds her Wisdom bonus (if any) to her AC.

    These bonuses to AC apply even against touch attacks or when the monk is flat-footed. She loses these bonuses when she is immobilized or helpless, when she wears any armor, when she carries a shield, or when she carries a medium or heavy load.

    Design Notes:
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    Wis to AC has been broken out from the scaling class AC bonus so that I can offer the option of trading them away separately for alternate class features.
    AC Bonus (Ex): At 4th level, a monk gains a +1 bonus to AC when unarmored and unencumbered. This bonus increases by 1 for every four monk levels thereafter (+2 at 8th, +3 at 12th, +4 at 16th, and +5 at 20th level).

    These bonuses to AC apply even against touch attacks or when the monk is flat-footed. She loses these bonuses when she is immobilized or helpless, when she wears any armor, when she carries a shield, or when she carries a medium or heavy load.

    Design Notes:
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    An improved AC progression now tracks with the bonuses an armor-wearing character can obtain from the magic vestment spell. Between this and the Empty Mind feature, the monk's AC should be competitive with that of the rogue or ranger.

    Flurry of Blows (Ex): When unarmored, a monk may strike with a flurry of blows at the expense of accuracy when performing an attack or a full attack action, or as part of a charge. When doing so, she may make one extra attack in a round at her highest base attack bonus, but this attack takes a -2 penalty, as does each other attack made that round. The resulting modified base attack bonuses are shown in the Flurry of Blows Attack Bonus columns on Table: The Monk. This penalty applies for 1 round, so it also affects attacks of opportunity the monk might make before her next action. When a monk reaches 5th level, the penalty lessens to -1, and at 9th level it disappears.

    When using flurry of blows, a monk may attack only with unarmed strikes or with special monk weapons, although she may use them interchangeably as desired. When flurrying with a weapon, a monk applies her Strength bonus (not Str bonus × 1˝ or ×˝) to her damage rolls, whether she wields a weapon in one or both hands.

    A monk with the Combat Reflexes feat can declare a flurry of blows when taking an attack of opportunity.

    A monk with Flyby Attack, Ride-By Attack, Shot on the Run, Spring attack, or Swim-By Attack can combine flurry of blows with these feats to flurry on the move. If the monk obtains additional attacks via Bounding Assault or Rapid Blitz, she gains the extra flurry attacks only once.

    Greater Flurry: When a monk reaches 11th level, her flurry of blows ability improves. In addition to the standard single extra attack she gets from flurry of blows, she gets a second extra attack at her full base attack bonus.

    Design Notes:
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    Stop the presses! Flurry of blows is usable on the move, and is compatible with builds that rely on charges or opportunity attacks.

    Research: Monks are able scholars. You gain Research as a bonus feat, ignoring prerequisites.

    Unarmed Strike: At 1st level, a monk gains Improved Unarmed Strike as a bonus feat. A monk’s attacks may be with either fist interchangeably or even from elbows, knees, and feet. This means that a monk may even make unarmed strikes with her hands full. A monk can make off-hand attacks with unarmed strikes, and suffers no special penalty or hindrance for doing so. A monk may thus apply her full Strength bonus on damage rolls for all her unarmed strikes, or declare an unarmed strike as an off-hand weapon when fighting with two weapons (and would not take the additional -6 penalty for an off-hand attack when doing so).

    A monk’s unarmed strike is treated both as a manufactured weapon and a natural weapon for the purpose of spells and effects that enhance or improve either manufactured weapons or natural weapons. This is also true for feats and class abilities that affect manufactured and natural weapons. Thus, a monk's unarmed strike qualifies for use with feats like Improved Natural Attack, Two-Weapon Fighting, and Weapon Focus.

    A monk also deals more damage with her unarmed strikes than a normal person would, as shown on Table: The Monk. The unarmed damage on Table: The Monk is for Medium monks. A smaller or larger monk deals increases or decreases this damage as appropriate to her Size Category.

    Design Notes:
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    Damage is increased somewhat, and now regularized to progress as if the monk was receiving size increases. This makes it easy to figure the correct damage for a monk under the effect of size-alteration magic.

    Bonus Feat: At 1st level, a monk may select either Improved Grapple, Point Blank Shot, or Stunning Fist as a bonus feat. At 2nd level, she may select either Combat Reflexes, Deflect Arrows, or Rapid Shot as a bonus feat. At 6th level, she may select either Improved Disarm, Improved Trip, or Precise Shot as a bonus feat. At 10th level, a she may select either Improved Ki Defense, Improved Ki Strike, or Manyshot as a bonus feat. At 14th level, she may select either Earth's Embrace, Freezing the Lifeblood or Far Shot as a bonus feat. At 18th level, she may select either Crushing Strike, Driving Assault, or Slashing Flurry (the benefit applies only when she attacks with special monk weapons of the appropriate damage type, or with with unarmed strikes even if they are not of the appropriate damage type). A monk need not have any of the prerequisites normally required for these feats to select them. If she selects a bonus feat which she has already obtained using a previously-acquired feat slot, she may immediately retrain the earlier feat slot for free.

    Design Notes:
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    New bonus feat options provide support for a monk-archer (especially if you use the new Esoteric Weapons Training feat below to gain the longbow as a special monk weapon).

    Versatile Attack (Ex): A monk learns advanced martial arts that make her a more flexible attacker. While she is unarmored, she adds the better of her Strength or Dexterity bonuses to attack and damage with unarmed strikes and special monk weapons, and to all contested combat maneuvers (such as bull rush, disarm, grapple, overrun, sunder, or trip checks). A monk with Versatile Attack qualifies for prerequisites as if she had the Weapon Finesse feat.

    Design Notes:
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    Versatile Attack reduces Multiple Attribute Dependency by allowing the monk to focus either on Strength or Dexterity (most probably Dexterity, although some builds will appreciate the ability to get Strength to hit with ranged weapons).

    Evasion (Ex): At 2nd level or higher if a monk makes a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, she instead takes no damage. Evasion can be used only if a monk is wearing light armor or no armor. A helpless monk does not gain the benefit of evasion.

    Dance with the Elements (Ex): Where other adventurers practice rigorously with weapons or craft powerful magic items, the monk understands that devices are mere distractions. A wise master looks beyond rigid structures and perceives the dance of earth, air, fire, and water in the world. Then, she learns to dance with them. At 3rd level, a monk gains a bonus to her speed (which grants bonus to her Jump checks as normal; see the Jump skill for details), as shown on Table: The Monk. She also gains the same bonus as a competence bonus to her Balance, Jump, and Tumble checks. For example, a 3rd level monk gains +10 ft move speed and a +10 competence bonus to Balance, Jump, and Tumble, while an 18th level monk has a +60 ft move speed and a +60 competence bonus to Balance, Jump, and Tumble. A monk in armor or carrying a medium or heavy load loses these benefits.

    Design Notes:
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    Replacing fast movement, this feature allows the monk to benefit from haste and other effects that provide enhancement bonuses to speed, and provides massive bonuses to acrobatic skills. This enables a mid-level monk to meet the DCs for epic uses of Balance, Jump, and Tumble, and pull off dramatic wuxia-style maneuvers such as running across water or up the side of a wall, climbing a tree by leaping up from branch to branch, or jumping up onto rooftops or over alleyways. Tactically, this helps overcome the monk's limited ranged attack options, as it becomes easier to get within striking distance of a difficult-to-reach opponent.

    Empty Strike (Ex): At 3rd level, a monk learns to empty her mind of all desire and expectation and strike free from worldly worries. While she is unarmored, she adds her Wisdom bonus to attack rolls with unarmed strikes and special monk weapons, and to all contested combat maneuvers (such as bull rush, disarm, grapple, overrun, sunder, or trip checks).

    Design Notes:
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    Empty Strike allows the monk to hit and execute combat maneuvers like grapple and trip as effectively as a character with a full base attack bonus.

    Still Mind (Ex): A monk of 3rd level or higher gains a +2 bonus on saving throws against spells and effects from the school of enchantment.

    Ki Strike (Su): At 4th level, the intensity of the monk's ki focus grants her a +1 enhancement bonus to attack and damage rolls with her unarmed strikes, and her unarmed strikes gain the magic descriptor and bypass DR/magic. For each four additional monk levels she gains, her enhancement bonus to attack and damage while unarmed increases by an additional +1, and she may select and one of the following weapon qualities: adamantine, alchemical silver, cold iron, or lawful. Her unarmed strikes gain that quality and bypass damage reduction accordingly. A monk with adamantine ki strike bypasses hardness when attacking objects with her unarmed strike.

    Design Notes:
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    The improved ki strike offers more choice and flexibility in bypassing damage reduction and eliminates the numbers gap between a bare-fisted monk and a character with a magic weapon. It also makes the monk less gear-dependent.

    Slow Fall (Ex): At 4th level or higher, a monk learns to balance upon the sky. She can fall the listed distance without taking harm, and reduces the effective distance of longer falls by the same amount when determining how much falling damage she takes.

    Design Notes:
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    The new slow fall frees the monk from wall dependency, which is a good thing since Dance of the Elements makes it likely that the revised monk will find herself in precarious situations more often.

    Wholeness of Body (Su): At 5th level or higher, a monk can use a standard action to heal a creature's wounds with a touch, much as a paladin can. She can heal a number of hit points of damage equal to her monk level times her Wisdom bonus (minimum +1) each day, and she can spread this healing out among several uses.

    Design Notes:
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    Wholeness of body now heals more and can help your friends.

    Ki Shot (Su): Beginning at 5th level, a monk learns to embrace the tranquility and grace of the perfect shot, and may empower ranged attacks with ki. Once per day, she may ignore range increment penalties with special monk weapons and apply her ki strike to any ranged attacks she makes with special monk weapons for one round. If she has the Stunning Fist feat, she may use this ability additional times per day by expending a use of Stunning Fist for each additional use of Ki Shot.

    Design Notes:
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    Improving the monk's ranged capabilities. At its basic level, this feature is nothing special, but when combined with Esoteric Weapon Training (longbow), Improved Ki Strike, and Stunning Fist, the monk can deliver formidable ranged attacks.

    Tongue of the Sun and Moon (Ex): A monk of 7th level or higher can speak with any living creature, and may use her Wisdom modifier in place of her Charisma modifier on Diplomacy checks and Handle Animal checks.

    Design Notes:
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    TotSM is now gained at a more level-appropriate point in the monk's career, and now actually help you negotiate with those creatures you can speak to. Wis to negotiation skills also further reduces the monk's MAD.

    Diamond Body (Su): At 7th level, a monk gains immunity to poisons and diseases of all kinds, even those that are magical in nature.

    Design Notes:
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    Breaking the usual rule that only magic can defeat magic, the monk now resists magical poisons and diseases.

    Abundant Step (Su): At 8th level or higher, a monk can slip magically between spaces, as if using the spell dimension door, a number of times per day equal to her Wisdom bonus (minimum 1). Her caster level for this effect is equal to her character level.

    Design Notes:
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    Usable more often, and over a greater distance, to be a credible competitor with casters using dimension door

    Improved Evasion (Ex): At 9th level, a monk’s evasion ability improves. She still takes no damage on a successful Reflex saving throw against attacks, but henceforth she takes only half damage on a failed save. A helpless monk does not gain the benefit of improved evasion.

    Diamond Soul (Ex): At 11th level, a monk gains spell resistance equal to her monk level + 10. Unlike spell resistance gained from other sources, the monk can automatically choose to waive her resistance without taking an action whenever she would be affected by a spell, so long as she is conscious. When she is unconscious, her spell resistance does not block harmless spells (such as healing spells), but will interfere with any other spells that would affect her.

    Design Notes:
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    Spell resistance on a PC is normally a trap because of the hoops you have to jump through in order to lower it for beneficial spells. I removed the hoops.

    Quivering Palm (Su): Starting at 12th level, a monk can set up vibrations within the body of another creature that can thereafter be fatal if the monk so desires. She can use this quivering palm attack a number of times per day equal to her Wisdom bonus (minimum 1), and she must announce her intent before making her attack roll. Creatures immune to critical hits cannot be affected unless the monk has some means of bypassing the creature's immunity to critical hits. Otherwise, if the monk strikes successfully and the target takes damage from the blow, the quivering palm attack succeeds. Thereafter the monk can try to slay the victim at any later time, as long as the attempt is made within 30 days. To make such an attempt, the monk merely wills the target to die (a free action), and unless the target makes a Fortitude saving throw (DC 10 + ˝ the monk’s level + the monk’s Wis modifier), it dies. If the saving throw is successful, the target is no longer in danger from that particular quivering palm attack, but it may still be affected by another one at a later time.

    Design Notes:
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    Quivering palm as written was a colossal insult to monk players, an awkward, difficult-to-use ability that hardly ever influenced play, received at a time when casters could reliably slay with a word several times per day. Now usable more often, and it's possible to nova it during a flurry for extra-brutal stompdown.

    Empty Step (Su): At 13th level or higher, a monk can slip magically between spaces for even longer periods, as if using the spell swift etherealness, a number of times per day equal to her Wisdom bonus (minimum 1). Her caster level for this effect is equal to her character level.

    Design Notes:
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    Empty body's little brother, this keeps the monk effective as an infiltrator at higher levels when barriers become more complex than mere locked doors and stone walls, and allows the monk to compete a little better in high-level "rocket tag" combats where getting hit at the wrong moment can result in instant death.

    Empty Body (Su): At 15th level, a monk gains the ability to assume an ethereal state for a number of rounds per day equal to her monk level times her Wisdom bonus (minimum +1), as though using the spell etherealness. She may go ethereal on a number of different occasions during any single day, as long as the total number of rounds spent in an ethereal state does not exceed her daily limit. Her caster level for this effect is equal to her character level.

    Design Notes:
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    Now gained at a more level-appropriate point, and usable more often.

    Moment of Perfection (Su): At 16th level, the monk is nearing enlightenment, and can align herself perfectly with the universe to achieve a single moment of perfection. Once per encounter, she can add her monk level as a competence bonus to any one attack roll, opposed skill or ability check, or saving throw, or to her AC against any one attack. Alternately, she can instead gain a competence bonus of ten times her monk level on a Balance, Jump, or Tumble check. If the skill check applies to an activity that extends over multiple rounds, the monk gains the benefit for the entire duration of the activity. For example, if a 16th level monk gains a +160 competence bonus to Balance checks in order to balance on a cloud, he remains balancing atop the cloud without need for further skill checks until he leaves the cloud or something happens that would force another skill check (such as taking damage, for example).

    Design Notes:
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    Can be used to become highly effective in social situations, and also serves as yet another panic button to escape certain peril when in combat. The ability to gain extremely large rolls on mobility skills enables out-of-the-box uses for skills such as using clouds for long-distance travel or jumping across incredibly large obstacles.

    Timeless Body (Ex): Upon attaining 17th level, a monk no longer takes penalties to her ability scores for aging and cannot be magically aged. Any such penalties that she has already taken, however, remain in place. Bonuses still accrue, and the monk still dies of old age when her time is up. Furthermore, a dozen years are like a mere season to her, so she no longer requires food, drink, or sleep (although if she prepares spells, she still needs 8 hours of rest to prepare).

    Empty Soul (Su): Upon reaching 19th level, a monk achieves a state of complete emptiness, reacting to all situations without premeditation or thought. She continuously gains the benefits of the foresight spell upon her person at all times.

    Design Notes:
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    The monk is now impossible to surprise. Empty Soul combines well with Empty Step and Moment of Perfection, allowing her to know what sort of trouble is coming and which class feature will help avoid it.

    Perfect Self (Ex): At 20th level, a monk becomes a magical creature and her type changes to outsider. When targeted by spells and magical effects that consider her type, she may choose whether to be considered an outsider or a member of her former type, whichever is most advantageous. Additionally, the monk gains damage reduction 15/chaotic. Unlike other outsiders, the monk can still be brought back from the dead as if she were a member of her previous creature type.

    Design Notes:
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    Perfect Self is commonly considered another trap, since outsider status is a double-edged sword and the damage reduction granted is not very useful in high-level play. I removed the trap and improved the damage reduction.

    The default presentation here assumes a lawful monk, but if the player and DM agree that a monastic order with a different alignment bent is reasonable, this damage reduction should be modified appropriately to match the monk's alignment.
    Last edited by jiriku; 2016-09-15 at 10:59 AM.
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