Pathfinder RPG Reference Document
Pathfinder Reference Document

Monk

Monks are seekers after knowledge, idealists who find unity and enlightenment in the training and perfection of both the physical body and the conscious mind. Many of a monk's powers derive from or rely on ki, a form of supernatural energy inherent in one's spirit.

This section introduces monk vows, which any user of ki can take to increase his ki pool. Following the vows is a new archetype, the qinggong monk, who can learn unusual uses of ki.

Monk Vows

A monk can discipline his body to hold more ki by upholding the strict tenets of a vow. By adhering to his vow's tenets, the monk's ki pool increases by the amount listed in the vow's description. Every vow comes with a penalty or limitation to offset this increase in ki. A monk can take a vow at any level, but it does not add to his ki pool until he gains a ki pool as a class feature. The ability to take these vows replaces the still mind class feature, even if the monk abandons all his vows.

If a monk knowingly and willingly breaks his vow, his ki pool is reduced to 0 (as if he had spent all of his ki points) and he cannot replenish his pool or use abilities that require ki or a ki pool until he has redeemed himself. Redemption requires a recommitment to his vow accompanied by an atonement spell. After the redemption, the monk's normal ki pool (without the bonus from the vow) returns. If he upholds the previously broken vow for a full month, his ki pool regains the additional points from taking the vow, and he can decide whether to continue with his vow or forgo his vow without penalty. Once a monk forgoes a vow in this fashion, she can never gain a ki point bonus from that vow.

A monk may have multiple vows. Their effects and increase to his ki pool stack. If a monk violates a vow, he suffers the loss of ki described above; redemption means the monk regains the extra ki from his unbroken vows, but the extra ki from the broken vow does not return until he finishes the month-long commitment (in effect, violating one vow does not have an effect on the other vows once the monk redeems himself).

Vow of Celibacy: The monk must abstain from all sexual and intimate physical activity. A monk with this vow takes it to an extreme, refusing to even share a room with another person, or sleeping on the opposite side of a camp from other people in a group. A celibate monk is not allowed to touch others or have others touch him (including touch spells from allies). Striking enemies in battle or being struck by enemies is not prohibited, but the monk shuns all peaceful or pleasurable contact. A monk with this vow increases his ki pool by 1 ki point for every 5 monk levels (minimum +1).

Vow of Chains: Either out of penitence or to bring attention to the suffering of the enslaved, the monk wears shackles on his wrists and legs. This gives the monk a –1 penalty on attack rolls and to AC, and reduces his movement by 10 feet. If temporarily unable to wear his chains, he may carry rocks or some other heavy burden (including medium or heavy armor) to simulate this suffering. A monk with this vow increasing his ki pool by 1 ki point for every 3 monk levels (minimum +1).

Vow of Cleanliness: A monk undertaking this vow must wash daily. He must change into fresh clothes daily or shortly after his robes become dirty. His appearance must be kept immaculate, including either neatly braiding or shaving off his hair (and, for male monks, maintaining a clean-shaven face). His vow forbids him from willingly touching the filthy, diseased, dead, or undead (though he may attempt to cleanse or heal those suffering from disease), though using manufactured weapons to attack these creatures is allowed. A monk with this vow increases his ki pool by 1 ki point for every 5 monk levels (minimum +1).

Vow of Fasting: The monk eats nothing but rice (or a similar bland, staple food) and drinks nothing but water. On certain days (usually once per month or on a religious holiday), he may eat a small portion of other simple, bland food to maintain proper nutrition. The monk cannot use tobacco, drugs, potions, alchemical items requiring eating or drinking, or any other thing that could be considered a food or beverage. A monk with this vow increases his ki pool by 1 ki point for every 6 monk levels (minimum +1).

Vow of Peace: The monk must strive to attain peace and may only use violence as a last resort. He can never strike the first blow in combat. If attacked, he must use the fight defensively action or the total defense action for the first 2 rounds. He must always give his opponent the option to surrender, and cannot purposely slay another creature that could reasonably be influenced to flee or join a civilized society as a productive member (obviously this excludes many monsters). Many monks who have taken this vow learn how to grapple and pin opponents, tying them with specialized knots that allow them to work themselves free after sufficient effort. Many monks of peace are vegetarians. A monk with this vow increases his ki pool by 1 ki point for every 5 monk levels (minimum +1).

Vow of Poverty: The monk taking a vow of poverty must never own more than six possessions—a simple set of clothing, a pair of sandals or shoes, a bowl, a sack, a blanket, and any one other item. Five of these items must be of plain and simple make, though one can be of some value (often an heirloom of great personal significance to the monk). The monk can never keep more money or wealth on his person than he needs to feed, bathe, and shelter himself for 1 week in modest accommodations. He cannot borrow or carry wealth or items worth more than 50 gp that belong to others. He is allowed to accept and use curative potions (or similar magical items where the item is consumed and is valueless thereafter) from other creatures. A monk with this vow increases his ki pool by 1 ki point for every monk level he possesses.

Vow of Silence: The monk must speak no words and attempt to be quiet in his actions. Accidental noises and the sounds of battle (such as the sound of a fist or weapon striking an opponent) do not affect his vow, though most monks with this vow choose their weapons and opponents so as to minimize even these sounds. The monk is allowed to make a nonvocal noise to warn another of danger (such as by stomping or clapping). The monk is allowed to use gestures and motions to communicate with others (including sign language) and is allowed to write. A monk with this vow increases his ki pool by 1 ki point for every 6 monk levels (minimum +1).

Vow of Truth: The monk is not allowed to deliberately speak any lies, including bluffing, stating half-truths with the intent to deceive, exaggerating, telling white lies, and so on. This applies to all forms of communication. If presented with circumstances where telling the truth would bring harm to another, the monk remains silent. Many monks of this vow also take a vow of silence to show their commitment. A monk with this vow increases his ki pool by 1 ki point for every 5 monk levels (minimum +1).

Qinggong Monk (Archetype)

The qinggong monk is a master of her ki, using it to perform superhuman stunts or even blast opponents with supernatural energy. Some achieve their power over ki through extreme discipline, while others attain this power by intentionally or accidentally ingesting rare herbs or strange mystical fruits, and a few are gifted these abilities by a dying qinggong master.

Ki Power: A qinggong monk can select a ki power (see below) for which she qualifies in place of the following monk class abilities: slow fall (4th), high jump (5th), wholeness of body (7th), diamond body (11th), abundant step (12th), diamond soul (13th), quivering palm (15th), timeless body (17th), tongue of the sun and moon (17th), empty body (19th), and perfect self (20th). This replaces the monk class ability the qinggong monk gives up for this ki power.

Ki Powers

Ki powers are abilities that draw on the power of a monk's ki. The standard monk has several abilities that count as ki powers, such as wholeness of body, abundant step, and empty body. A qinggong monk can learn additional ki powers, which often replaces a non-ki monk ability such as purity of body. Ki powers are divided into three categories: feats, monk abilities, and spells.

Feats: These ki powers duplicate the effects of specific feats. A monk does not need to qualify for a feat to select it as a ki power. For example, a qinggong monk can select Spring Attack as a ki power even if she doesn't meet the prerequisites for selecting Spring Attack as a feat. Activating one of these ki powers is a free action on the monk's turn; until the start of her next turn, the monk is treated as if she had that feat. Some of these ki powers that duplicate feats may also be activated as an immediate action; these powers are noted in the ki powers list.

Monk Abilities: Some ki powers are standard monk abilities. Even if a qinggong monk selects a different ki power in place of a standard monk ability, she can select that monk ability later as one of her ki powers.

Spells: These ki powers duplicate the effects of a spell, and are spell-like abilities. A qinggong monk's class level is the caster level for these spell-like abilities, and she uses Wisdom to determine her concentration check bonus.

Requirements: All ki powers have a minimum monk level requirement to select them. A monk who does not meet this requirement cannot select that ki power.

Activation: Most ki powers require the monk to spend ki points; the exact amount is listed after the ki power. Ki powers that cost 0 ki do not require the monk to have any ki points in her ki pool to use the ability.

The saving throw against a monk's ki power, if any, is equal to 10 + 1/2 the monk's level + the monk's Wisdom bonus.

Feats marked with a dagger (†) are ki powers that can be activated as an immediate action.

4th-Level Ki Powers

Acrobatic Steps (1 ki point)

augury (1 ki point)

barkskin (self only, 1 ki point)

Deny Death † (0 ki points)

feather step (self only, 1 ki point)

hydraulic push (1 ki point)

ki arrow (1 ki point)

Ki Stand † (0 ki points)

message (1 ki point)

Power Attack (1 ki point)

Quick Draw (1 ki point)

slow fall (monk ability, 0 ki points)

scorching ray (2 ki points)

Throw Anything (1 ki point)

true strike (self only, 1 ki point)

6th-Level Ki Powers

cloak of winds (self only, 2 ki points)

gaseous form (self only, 1 ki point)

Heroic Recovery † (1 ki point)

high jump (1 ki point)

hydraulic torrent (2 ki points)

remove disease (2 ki points)

Sidestep † (1 ki point)

Snatch Arrows† (1 ki point)

Spring Attack (1 ki point)

8th-Level Ki Powers

dragon's breath (2 ki points)

Gliding Steps † (1 ki point)

neutralize poison (3 ki points)

poison (2 ki points)

restoration (self only, 2 ki points)

share memory (0 ki points)

silk to steel (1 ki point)

Spider Step (1 ki point)

Whirlwind Attack (2 ki points)

wholeness of body (monk ability, 2 ki points)

10th-Level Ki Powers

discordant blast (2 ki points)

Greater Bull Rush (2 ki points)

Greater Disarm (2 ki points)

Greater Feint (2 ki points)

Greater Sunder (2 ki points)

Improved Blind-Fight † (1 ki point)

ki leech (0 ki points)

Lunge (1 ki point)

shadow step (1 ki point)

spit venom (2 ki points)

Step Up and Strike † (2 ki points)

Wind Stance (2 ki points)

12th-Level Ki Powers

abundant step (monk ability, 2 ki points)

diamond body (monk ability)

Elemental Fists (2 ki points)

Improvised Weapon Mastery (2 ki points)

Ki Throw (2 ki points)

Punishing Kick (2 ki points)

shadow walk (3 ki points)

14th-Level Ki Powers

blood crow strike (2 ki points)

Cloud Step (3 ki points)

cold ice strike (3 ki points)

diamond soul (monk ability)

Disarming Strike (2 ki points)

Improved Ki Throw (2 ki points)

ki shout (3 ki points)

sonic thrust (2 ki points)

16th-Level Ki Powers

Bleeding Critical (3 ki points)

Greater Blind-Fight † (2 ki points)

Improved Vital Strike (2 ki points)

Lightning Stance (3 ki points)

Penetrating Strike (2 ki points)

quivering palm (monk ability, 2 ki points)

strangling hair (3 ki points)

18th-Level Ki Powers

timeless body (monk ability, 0 ki points)

tongue of the sun and moon (monk ability, 0 ki points)

20th-Level Ki Powers

Blinding Critical (3 ki points)

Crippling Critical (3 ki points)

Deafening Critical (3 ki points)

empty body (monk ability, 3 ki points)

Greater Penetrating Strike (3 ki points)

perfect self (monk ability, level 20)

Tiring Critical (3 ki points)