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Thread: [3.5] Monks

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    Default [3.5] Monks

    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!

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    Default Re: [3.5] Monks

    Quote Originally Posted by Deity View Post
    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.
    Last edited by The Dark Fiddler; 2010-02-26 at 06:04 PM.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Monks

    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.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Monks

    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.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Monks

    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
    Last edited by Cisturn; 2010-02-26 at 06:17 PM.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Monks

    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.
    Last edited by Pluto; 2010-02-26 at 06:30 PM.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Monks

    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.


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    Last edited by Eldariel; 2010-02-26 at 06:29 PM.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Monks

    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).
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    Default Re: [3.5] Monks

    Quote Originally Posted by lsfreak View Post
    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.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Monks

    Quote Originally Posted by Gametime View Post
    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.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Monks

    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)

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    Default Re: [3.5] Monks

    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.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Monks

    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.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2010-02-26 at 07:02 PM.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Monks

    Quote Originally Posted by Deity View Post
    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 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.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Monks

    There are also a couple of handbooks out there.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Monks

    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...
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    Default Re: [3.5] Monks

    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
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    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.
    Last edited by Harperfan7; 2010-02-26 at 08:38 PM.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Monks

    Quote Originally Posted by Deity View Post
    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.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Monks

    Quote Originally Posted by lsfreak View Post
    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.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Monks

    Quote Originally Posted by ericgrau View Post
    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.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Monks

    Quote Originally Posted by Godskook View Post
    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 has an older version of the class that has no Prowess and a set class skill list.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Monks

    Quote Originally Posted by ericgrau View Post
    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.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Monks

    Quote Originally Posted by Cisturn View Post
    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).

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    Default Re: [3.5] Monks

    Obligatory fixed monk link
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    Default Re: [3.5] Monks

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldariel View Post
    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!)

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    Default Re: [3.5] Monks

    I would recommend this, 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).
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    Default Re: [3.5] Monks

    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.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Monks

    Quote Originally Posted by sonofzeal View Post
    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?

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    RogueGuy

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    Default Re: [3.5] Monks

    Quote Originally Posted by Lycanthromancer View Post
    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?

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: [3.5] Monks

    Quote Originally Posted by Savannah View Post
    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).
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