The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Subclass for Spear Monk

    I have a Monk character in AL that just hit level 3 and I'm not sure what subclass I want to pick. Race is Wood Elf. Stats are 12/16/14/8/16/8

    I have Gauntlets of Ogre Power, so I am considering changing my stats to (19)/17/15/8/16/8 which is kind of cheesey, but still tempting. Grapple Monk?

    The concept is he "just got really into the spear for a hundred years" and recently snapped out of hyperfocus to discover everything has gone to hell. Originally I was thinking Kensei because it's the weapon focused one, but picking additional weapons isn't attractive to me because the concept is about a spear user.

    I like versatile builds and support. AL means playing with different parties all the time so I like being flexible to fill different or uncommon niches.
    Last edited by Terebin; 2019-10-20 at 10:17 PM.

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    Kobold

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    Default Re: Subclass for Spear Monk

    Ahoy AL Spearmonk! (The few, the proud)

    Kensei would be good if you never get around to picking up a magic spear. Monk weapons aren't Kensei by default, so you'd need to pick spear and, oh, longbow. You can already use it, so it's more filling in the gaps. Look to javelin and trident for future picks.

    You can never go wrong with open hand. The only drag on that is that your first set of tricks is explicitly flurry-tied. This will de-emphasize spear slightly.

    Drunken Master would be good if you tend to get deep into melee - you are super nimble, and your attack deflect can easily via spear - using the haft to slide the weapon onto a different course; snagging the sleeve, and attacking with the opponent's weapon.

    Everything else reallly steps back from "super into spears" and more into unrelated other tricks.

    You are already well suited to stealth, shadow monk will add utility and mobility.

    Four elements, derided as it is, can be used sparingly as a super weapons techniques discipline. Wind and lightning are the key functions.

    Sun soul and long death are getting way too far afield.
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    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: Subclass for Spear Monk

    I'd definitely go for the cheese stats. You're a monk, so even if you step into an anti-magic field, you're not relying on the gauntlets for attacking. Boosting your other stats does so much more for your AC, attacks, and Stunning Strike DC. It will also make taking PAM at L4 relatively painless. Since spear is now officially included in PAM, you can get a reaction attack when someone enters your reach, which will let you Stunning Strike them before they get to attack you.

    As to Monastic Traditions, Drunken Master is probably best for combat with its free Disengage when you Flurry. Open Hand is solid too, with the healing and forced movement abilities. Shadow gives you a boost to scouting and mobility, and lets you provide Darkvision to other party members who lack it (i.e. all those V. Humans who show up at your table).

    EDIT: I typed this between doing other things and didn't see Joe the Rat's post before posting mine. He's spot on as well.


    Second Edit: Wait... How do you come up with the 18 Dex/17 Wis at L3? Did they change PB rules this season?
    Last edited by Crgaston; 2019-10-20 at 06:58 PM.

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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Subclass for Spear Monk

    How much freedom do you have with fluff in AL? Because a long death monk, who refluffs a spear as a scythe could be an awesome Grim Reaper type character.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: Subclass for Spear Monk

    Quote Originally Posted by Crgaston View Post
    Second Edit: Wait... How do you come up with the 18 Dex/17 Wis at L3? Did they change PB rules this season?
    No, I just did it wrong. Should be 8/15/15/8/15/8 point but and 19/17/15/8/16/8 after racials and gauntlets
    Last edited by Terebin; 2019-10-20 at 10:17 PM.

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    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: Subclass for Spear Monk

    Quote Originally Posted by Terebin View Post
    No, I just did it wrong. Should be 8/15/15/8/15/8 point but and 19/17/15/8/16/8 after racials and gauntlets
    Gotcha. That makes PAM less of a no-brainer, but I still think if you're wanting to highlight the "spear master" aspect, being able to Reaction Stunning Strike will help your survivability more than 1 point of AC, +1 TH&D, and 4-7 max HP will. Assuming you'd take +1 Dex/Con otherwise. Take the stat bump at L8 for sure, though.
    Last edited by Crgaston; 2019-10-20 at 10:38 PM.

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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Subclass for Spear Monk

    Pretty much any monk build that is based upon using a quarterstaff can apply just as well to using a spear. The only real difference is damage type (P vs. B) and that you can throw the spear, not that you likely ever will.

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    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: Subclass for Spear Monk

    Quote Originally Posted by Terebin View Post
    I have a Monk character in AL that just hit level 3 and I'm not sure what subclass I want to pick. Race is Wood Elf. Stats are 12/16/14/8/16/8

    I have Gauntlets of Ogre Power, so I am considering changing my stats to (19)/17/15/8/16/8 which is kind of cheesey, but still tempting. Grapple Monk?

    The concept is he "just got really into the spear for a hundred years" and recently snapped out of hyperfocus to discover everything has gone to hell. Originally I was thinking Kensei because it's the weapon focused one, but picking additional weapons isn't attractive to me because the concept is about a spear user.

    I like versatile builds and support. AL means playing with different parties all the time so I like being flexible to fill different or uncommon niches.
    Hi!

    IF you're going up to level 12+ and don't mind waiting...
    - 4 Elements for versatility (pick disciplines that make you useful when spear really isn't a good option) and Fly.
    - Kensei Monk for brutality: +3 to hit and damage is really a big deal.

    Otherwise...
    - Kensei Monk for assurance your attacks will always count as magical (but that's sadly about it).
    - Long Death Monk otherwise (THP is always helpful, and it probably fits the "deadly spear" theme ^^).

    Drunken Master has a nice lvl 6 ability, but level 3 is not that good for you (since you're all about spears. If you're ok with Flurry of Blows then it's the best choice for lvl 10 and below character).

    -----
    So, in short, my recommendations:
    - If high-level: Kensei.
    - Otherwise: Long Death

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    ClericGirl

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    Default Re: Subclass for Spear Monk

    I have Gauntlets of Ogre Power, so I am considering changing my stats to (19)/17/15/8/16/8 which is kind of cheesey, but still tempting. Grapple Monk?

    I like versatile builds and support. AL means playing with different parties all the time so I like being flexible to fill different or uncommon niches. [/QUOTE] If you want to take the grappler feat at 4, I can see that as being of benefit to your party now that you have gaunts.

    (1) The gauntlets will make a difference in your jumping. That opens up a few mobility options when you use step of the wind. Crossing some chasms will be child's play.

    (2) Any of the builds will be fine; there is an elegant simplicity to Open Hand that I have a hard time not taking it. So I played a sun soul in a one shot and I'm sold. I'll recommend you go Sun Soul.

    Long death intrigues me conceptually, but I've never played one so I can't recommend.
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2019-10-21 at 11:31 AM.
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  10. - Top - End - #10
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: Subclass for Spear Monk

    Quote Originally Posted by Crgaston View Post
    Gotcha. That makes PAM less of a no-brainer, but I still think if you're wanting to highlight the "spear master" aspect, being able to Reaction Stunning Strike will help your survivability more than 1 point of AC, +1 TH&D, and 4-7 max HP will. Assuming you'd take +1 Dex/Con otherwise. Take the stat bump at L8 for sure, though.
    I think what I'm going to do is go Drunken Master then take PAM and see how I like that for a module or two. I think it will be fun to weave in and out of combat, but TBH most of the combats I've played so far either haven't allowed for that (7 characters in a 10ft corridor) or haven't needed it. If it's not working for me, I'll switch to Open Hand.

    Thank you all for your help!

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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Subclass for Spear Monk

    Quote Originally Posted by Terebin View Post
    I think what I'm going to do is go Drunken Master then take PAM and see how I like that for a module or two. I think it will be fun to weave in and out of combat, but TBH most of the combats I've played so far either haven't allowed for that (7 characters in a 10ft corridor) or haven't needed it. If it's not working for me, I'll switch to Open Hand.

    Thank you all for your help!
    Hang a gourd full of your drink of choice from your spear and try to drink from it from combat!
    I Am A:Neutral Good Human Bard/Sorcerer (2nd/1st Level)
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    Yunru's Avatar

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    Default Re: Subclass for Spear Monk

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    If you want to take the grappler feat at 4, I can see that as being of benefit to your party now that you have gaunts.
    Please do explain how. Because currently the Grappler feat isn't worth the paper it's written on.

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    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: Subclass for Spear Monk

    Quote Originally Posted by Yunru View Post
    Please do explain how. Because currently the Grappler feat isn't worth the paper it's written on.
    On the contrary, it's extremely worthy. People just don't care about trying usually to be honest. :)

    Let's keep it short.
    1. Monk has great speed -> provided he manages to Grapple, he can pull/push enemies to better locations (bring close to Rogue/Paladin, into Cleric's Spirit Guardian, into a pitfall, towards a Stinking Cloud...). Especially since he can also Dash as a bonus action.
    2. Monk has many attacks. He will profit from having an advantage.
    3. Monk doesn't care about having one hand unfree: he doesn't have any spellcasting (at least Kensei/Drunken), and he can use any body part for Unarmed Attacks so he can still Flurry of Blows in addition to spear attacks.
    4. Monk does not have great AC until high level, and his reaction against ranged attacks works only once. Having a mobile cover can always come in handy.
    5. Monk can Dodge as a bonus action for a Ki, so he can facetank for one or two turns, forcing enemy to either try and hurt him in spite of, or "waste" action to try and break the Grapple.

    So anytime Monk wants advantage on *all the following attacks on a single enemy as long as needed*, he just needs to start turn with Attack action and use first attack on a Grapple. Then he can use both his offense potential and mobility potential to the most.

    In comparison...
    1. Just Shoving an enemy prone brings two potential downsides:
    a) You're gimping all your ranged friends because they'll have disadvantage on their attacks.
    b) The guy can just stand up next turn, and you have to start again.
    2. Shoving then Grapple has a big downside: on that turn you ate two attacks, meaning you dealt much less damage (and at least Monk can Flurry if he has still some ki). So it would be worth only if you have two or more melee friends ready to act after you, more or less offsetting your "missed" attacks with the to-hit bonus on their to end with at least the same damage dealt over the round. AND you all still focus on that same creature on the next round (which is the ideal objective but not necessarily always doable).

    In addition to that, Drunken Master gets extra synergy.
    First, he gets extra speed when using Flurry of Blows, so depending on his choice of action and bonus action, at level 3, supposing he starts turn close to enemy, he could drag it half the amount of either base (30+10), Flurry (30+10+10), Dash ((30+10)*2 or Double Dash ((30+10)*3).
    So respectively 20 feet, 25, 40 or 60 feet per turn.

    Then at level 6, he can redirect a missed attack. Considering that a Grappled enemy will have little other option than to attack him, he can use that by grappling enemy close to another (or dragging it close) so he has a high chance to use his deflect reaction.

    --> Monk is a mobile striker that constently switch between "solo mode" and "tag-team" mode. Having a self-sufficient way to get advantage is a big benefit. And the magic item ensures he'd have a good chance to succeed.

    So, yeah, Grapple has some significant limitations because of the size difference restriction, but imx you still get many grappleable creatures (you're usually a Medium size, so Small/Medium/Large creatures) throughout most campaigns even at higher level.
    Of course Grapple won't work against Dragons or other high-CR Huge+ creatures without some external trick. But, can you really hold it against the feat or the action? Even for a magic world it would really be immersion breaking. XD
    Besides, nobody has a trick that works against ALL enemies. Relying on your party for some situations is not only inevitable, it's simply natural: otherwise, Paladins and Barbarians would cry whenever party gets a full-flyer enemy party for example.
    Last edited by HiveStriker; 2019-10-22 at 05:40 AM.

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    Yunru's Avatar

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    Default Re: Subclass for Spear Monk

    Quote Originally Posted by HiveStriker View Post
    [snip]
    But literally none of that is due to the Grappler feat.

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    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: Subclass for Spear Monk

    Quote Originally Posted by Yunru View Post
    But literally none of that is due to the Grappler feat.
    Advantage.
    You're indeed right on the fact the mobility to drag is irrelevant (sadly) to Grappler feat (which imo should definitely give a bonus to the grapple itself) and solely due to Monk itself.

    But barring that, Monk's only ways to generate advantage are either stick around pals that Shove/provide advantage another way, or spend one attack at least every turn to Shove, or spend two attacks to Shove and Grapple (which is not necessarily a good strategy if the creature you target is one that would die in 4-5 hits anyways) meaning you'll definitely want to spend a Ki on Flurry, or spend Ki to try and Stun it (which you don't always want to do on less dangerous creatures).
    = Either spend action economy every turn, or ki every turn, or be restricted in how you move.

    On the flip side, a non-Grappler Monk that would want to use mobility to drag enemies around would always suffer of that problem or accept to hit without advantage.

    Grappler is, in other words, completely dispensable on Monks per se (especially regular DEX-based Monks) but, provided you can actually grapple reliably (which should hold true with proficiency + 19 STR) makes dragging around something doable without gimping you on action economy.
    As well as improving your regular action economy when you want to simply face-tank a creature.
    Because even with just mundane turn (Attack + Unarmed bonus action attack), the attack "wasted" on Grapple means advantage on all other attacks following: so even if you don't really care about moving, you still trade "3 regular attacks" to "2 with advantage" jut on your turn.

    You also get advantage on OA if enemy uses action to break your grapple and get away, whereas if you just Shoved it he will obviously get up before moving away.
    And since it's grappled you can still decide to move it if your attacks didn't have the expected outcome (killing it outright or stunning it)

    In short: as far as getting advantage for you goes for dealing with isolated creatures or small groups, Grappler makes Grappling the definitive best option over Shove. Of course if you want to just hit and run as usual (without using Stunning Strike or Disengage) it's less useful since Shove would impose disadvantage on the OA you provide to creature when pulling away. ^^
    Besides that, whether one if better than the other in any given round depends of many factors notably party composition and fighting style.

    EDIT: NOTE: as I adamant as I am about Grappler being good on a Monk, especially Drnken, I still have to stress that going for such tactics for mundane turns means PC would reduce the chance to use spear as thrown weapon (since if he has a grappled creature he would be imposed disadvantage). @OP thing to keep in mind. ^^
    Last edited by HiveStriker; 2019-10-22 at 07:37 AM.

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    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: Subclass for Spear Monk

    Quote Originally Posted by HiveStriker View Post
    Advantage.
    You're indeed right on the fact the mobility to drag is irrelevant (sadly) to Grappler feat (which imo should definitely give a bonus to the grapple itself) and solely due to Monk itself.

    But barring that, Monk's only ways to generate advantage are either stick around pals that Shove/provide advantage another way, or spend one attack at least every turn to Shove, or spend two attacks to Shove and Grapple (which is not necessarily a good strategy if the creature you target is one that would die in 4-5 hits anyways) meaning you'll definitely want to spend a Ki on Flurry, or spend Ki to try and Stun it (which you don't always want to do on less dangerous creatures).

    And a non-Grappler Monk that would want to use mobility to drag enemies around would always suffer of that problem or accept to hit without advantage.

    Grappler is, in other words, completely dispensable on Monks per se (especially regular DEX-based Monks) but, provided you can actually grapple reliably (which should hold true with proficiency + 19 STR) makes dragging around something doable without gimping you on action economy.
    As well as improving your regular action economy when you want to simply face-tank a creature.
    Because even with just mundane turn (Attack + Unarmed bonus action attack), the attack "wasted" on Grapple means advantage on all other attacks following: so even if you don't really care about moving, you still trade "3 regular attacks" to "2 with advantage" jut on your turn. You also get advantage on OA if enemy uses action to break your grapple and get away, whereas if you just Shoved it he will obviously get up before moving away.

    In short: as far as getting advantage for you goes, Grappler makes Grappling the definitive best option over Shove.
    Besides that, whether one if better than the other in any given round depends of many factors notably party composition and fighting style.

    Literally one thing.

    On the other hand, without the Grappler feat, a monk can grapple someone, drag them over to a melee buddy so they both have advantage, and then shove prone. The enemy's move is 0 (because they're grappled) so they can't "just stand up the next turn" without breaking the grapple first.

    Monks don't actually make very good grapplers because they usually have low Str and they don't get Expertise.

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    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: Subclass for Spear Monk

    Quote Originally Posted by Crgaston View Post
    Literally one thing.

    On the other hand, without the Grappler feat, a monk can grapple someone, drag them over to a melee buddy so they both have advantage, and then shove prone. The enemy's move is 0 (because they're grappled) so they can't "just stand up the next turn" without breaking the grapple first.

    Monks don't actually make very good grapplers because they usually have low Str and they don't get Expertise.
    Litterally ensure you didn't miss some bits in the thread? :)

    1. You're supposing a) party has other melee "within range" b) party has no ranged attacker or those ones target another creature c) creature is too dangerous to be taken care of alone d) melee pal has turn early enough to profit.
    It's not far-fetched, but it's still some amount of requirements.

    2. OP indicated that he had (or could get) a magic item boosting strength to 19. Proficiency can certainly be gained with a background (AFB but I'd find it extremely improbable than no background has Athletics proficiency). Expertise does help quite a bit but you can do without it as long as you learn (by experience or otherwise) which creatures have a low chance of succeeding.

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    Default Re: Subclass for Spear Monk

    So what I somehow managed to take from this is "Haste is really good on an Open Hand Monk" :P

    I think my thought process went "Open Hand Monks can Shove as part of a Flurry. But that's after any Extra Attack. What they need is another Attack action to take first. Haste!"

    So (Hasted Attack action) Grab, Flurry (with prone checks, Attack action.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

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    Default Re: Subclass for Spear Monk

    Quote Originally Posted by HiveStriker View Post
    Litterally ensure you didn't miss some bits in the thread? :)
    but Cragston's point stands. is advantage during grapple worth a whole feat/ASI?
    +1DC to stunning strike, elven accuracy, woodelf magic, ...

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    If you want to take the grappler feat at 4
    Grappler feat is not an option. It has a Str req of 13. This must be done without magic items.

    edit: this restriction is explicitly mentioned for multiclass, it is reasonable that it would apply to feats as well.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sage Advice Compendium
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    Last edited by NaughtyTiger; 2019-10-22 at 09:33 AM.
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    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: Subclass for Spear Monk

    Quote Originally Posted by HiveStriker View Post
    Litterally ensure you didn't miss some bits in the thread? :)

    1. You're supposing a) party has other melee "within range" b) party has no ranged attacker or those ones target another creature c) creature is too dangerous to be taken care of alone d) melee pal has turn early enough to profit.
    It's not far-fetched, but it's still some amount of requirements.

    2. OP indicated that he had (or could get) a magic item boosting strength to 19. Proficiency can certainly be gained with a background (AFB but I'd find it extremely improbable than no background has Athletics proficiency). Expertise does help quite a bit but you can do without it as long as you learn (by experience or otherwise) which creatures have a low chance of succeeding.
    I mean that literally the only thing the Grappler feat gives you in your aforementioned examples is Advantage on your attack rolls.

    We're all assuming some things... The inverse of all your alphabetized points, for example.
    a) No other melee within 20/40 feet? b) The party is all ranged and want to target this same creature? c) Wait... which is it... does the monk want to handle the enemy alone, or do the ranged attackers want a shot, too? d) Turn order is irrelevant. The enemy is either 1) Grappled and Prone on ally's turn, or 2) Has used his Action to break the Grapple, half his movement to stand, and now faces 2 Attacks of Opportunity if he wants to do something other than stand around and wait for the ally's turn.

    Do note that I qualified the "Monks don't actually make very good grapplers because they usually have low Str..."
    OP is in a better spot than most, but still, it seems like a waste of resources.

    Monks get proficiency in Athletics. No background needed. OP's character with his Gauntlets would be starting with a +6, would have +7 at L5, and +8 at L9

    Contrast that to a Rogue with Expertise in athletics and a 12 Str, who would have +5, +7, and +9 respectively. Or an actual grappling build with an 18 Str and Expertise with +8, +10 and +12.


    All that said, I'm not claiming your idea is a bad one, just that it seems like a lot of investment for relatively little gain. If you like the visual/narrative aesthetic, go for it.

    Edit: Posting between meetings at work means sometimes it takes me a long time and I miss things. Naughty Tiger and Yunru, great points!
    Last edited by Crgaston; 2019-10-22 at 09:30 AM.

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