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Mark Hoover wrote:
YRM wrote:

(I don't know any player on earth who would not immediately kick the ninja's ---es and then got to the village and kick all those ninja's ---es too.)

I do. God help me, I had a player once who just drove a campaign into the ground in situations like this, purposely steamrolling away from ANY plot hook. He was in a situation kind of like this where some guards they KNEW were corrupt and working for an evil sheriff showed up to shake down the party. This guy laid down all his weapons and walked away.


After enough of his shenannigans I just handed him the game. He had more fun running and setting his own plot hooks; I had more fun not fighting him.

That's just shy of punching the DM in the face when he asks you to roll initiative.

If the rest of the players were happy with the job you were doing, I'd have talked to them, and to the guy privately.

Maybe say to your other players, "Guys, I'm trying my best here... but Josh seems to hate all my plot hooks and actively rebels against them. Am I doing something wrong?"

When they say "You're doing a great job."

You say, "Is there anything you guys can do to help?"

Eventually, when push comes to shove, and he does a thing like tosses his weapons down and walks away, just say, "Josh walks down the road and out of the fight... everyone stares in disbelief for the next 10 minutes until he's a pinprick on the horizon, a mile out of the way."

Then have the fight. Make it a nice, long, tactical fight and just keep skipping the guy when it's his turn.

Anyone got software or Herolab where they can paste a few of these builds?

You'll get better as you go so ask the players for a little patience and even take feedback after the session.

It takes a lot of time, practice, and patience to get really good at being a DM.

The idea is to paint a realistic world in front of your players, make it challenging, and make them feel good about "beating you" or steering the story.

There are lots of good ways to hook your players, but, in your case, it could be as simple as:

Teenage peasant girl, dirty and bedraggled, but very beautiful, bursts out of the woods on the side of the road, looking behind her and crashes into the party fighter.

"Help, they're chasing me... please help. They've taken over Happy Town and imprisoned all of us but..."

And out of the woods burst 3-6 ninjas who jump into the road with weapons drawn.

The leader says, "Stand down and don't interfere with the capture of this criminal if you know what's good for you..."

(and if the party still doesn't jump to the bait)

The leader says, "Are you carrying contraband magical items? Search them and confiscate any unauthorized magic!"

(I don't know any player on earth who would not immediately kick the ninja's ---es and then got to the village and kick all those ninja's ---es too.)

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How about something like this:

I gave him one level of Barbarian so he could use a Helm of Fearsome Mein too. This is built as a PC with PC traits and wealth.

Sandor Clegane
Human Barbarian 1/Fighter 11
N Medium humanoid (human)
Init +2; Senses Perception +7
AC 28, touch 12, flat-footed 26 (+10 armor, +6 shield, +2 Dex)
hp 131 (1d12+11d10+59)
Fort +15, Ref +7, Will +6 (+3 vs. fear)
Defensive Abilities bravery +3, fortification 50%
Speed 30 ft.
Melee heavy shield bash +20/+15/+10 (1d8+8/×2) and
+2 heavy mace +23/+18/+13 (1d8+10/×2) and
+2 keen longsword +25/+20/+15 (1d8+13/17-20/×2)
Special Attacks rage, weapon training abilities (heavy blades +2, hammers +1)
Str 24, Dex 14, Con 18, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 7
Base Atk +12; CMB +19 (+23 bull rush, +23 sunder); CMD 31 (33 vs. bull rush, 33 vs. sunder)
Feats Alertness, Greater Bull Rush, Greater Shield Focus, Greater Sunder, Greater Weapon Focus (longsword), Improved Bull Rush, Improved Shield Bash, Improved Sunder, Power Attack, Shield Focus, Weapon Focus (heavy mace), Weapon Focus (longsword), Weapon Specialization (longsword)
Traits steel skin, suspicious
Skills Climb +9, Handle Animal +9, Intimidate +13, Perception +7, Ride +11, Sense Motive +8, Survival +12, Swim +9
Languages Common
Other Gear +1 Fortification (moderate) Full plate, +2 Bashing Heavy steel shield, +2 Heavy mace, +2 Keen Longsword, Belt of physical might (Str & Con +4), Cloak of resistance +2, Helm of fearsome mien, 570 PP, 3 GP
Special Abilities
Armor Expert -1 Armor check penalty.
Bravery +3 (Ex) +3 to Will save vs. Fear
Fortification 50% You have a chance to negate critical hits on attacks.
Greater Bull Rush When bull rushing, foe's movement provokes AoO from your allies.
Greater Sunder When destroying an item, extra damage is transferred to the wielder.
Helm of fearsome mien Can use intimidating glare rage power when raging.
Improved Bull Rush You don't provoke attacks of opportunity when bull rushing.
Improved Shield Bash You still get your shield bonus while using Shield Bash.
Improved Sunder You don't provoke attacks of opportunity when sundering.
Power Attack -4/+8 You can subtract from your attack roll to add to your damage.
Rage (8 rounds/day) (Ex) +4 Str, +4 Con, +2 to Will saves, -2 to AC when enraged.
Shield Focus +1 Shield AC
Weapon Training (Blades, Heavy) +2 (Ex) +2 Attack, Damage, CMB, CMD with Heavy Blades
Weapon Training (Hammers) +1 (Ex) +1 Attack, Damage, CMB, CMD with Hammers

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I might pin him as neutral.

Sure, he's a killer, and he killed the butcher boy, but, he helped both Sansa and Arya, didn't try to rape them or hurt them.

He killed on Joffrey's orders but didn't seem to like it and eventually left Joffrey's service.

He defended Loras from his brother at the tournament.

I might give him the "bullied" trait due to his treatment from Gregor growing up.

He doesn't seem to have a lust for gold or power beyond what he needs not to starve. He was going to get a reward for Arya, but, enough to take it easy, not looking to rise to power at the expense of others or whatnot.

In Game of Thrones spectrum... he's not as "good" as say Ned or Tyrion, but he's not in the evil class of Littlefinger, Joffrey, Janos Slynt, Gregor, Crastor or Cersei.

The Hound probably wouldn't hurt someone who doesn't get in his way, and he's cynical but mostly honorable.

I see him as the kind of guy who, if he'd grown up in a better environment, would probably tilt towards "good".

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Actually... if you watch the Hound's fights in Game of Thrones, at Joffrey's name-day tournament he fights with a mace & shield. When fighting Beric Dondarion, he fights with a sword and shield.

He seems to regularly carry a shield. It's The Mountain who uses the two handed greatsword most often.

I'd make him a full or partial plate armor... weapon and shield fighter.

He's large with high STR and fairly good DEX.

He knocked the hell out of both guys and sundered Beric's weapon.

I'd give him shield related feats, power attack, bull rush, sunder, and weapon feats around a longsword and mace.

The first major magic item I'd give him would be the iconic hound shaped helm. Possibly some kind of ability to cause foes to become shaken unless they make a will save.

I'd give him extra HP but give him a "vulnerability to fire" or give him a Will save (ever increasing) to avoid being shaken when he takes fire damage.

Yeah, I guess it's in how much you value mobility and a wide array of ways to avoid problems and get to your target.

There are definitely some DMs where, it wouldn't be worth it.

I can say that having reach pretty much, all the time, and the ability to stun or trip with the AoOs that afforded, was really fun.

The build I had was a little different, from 3.5, but, I really miss playing the guy... I'd drive my GM nuts. :-)

It was actually playing a lot of D&D Minis that helped show me how valuable movement could be in setting up a fight. Miss that game too... I wasn't great but I was ranked 5th in PA and beat the Euro champ once.

Next time I get away from the GM side of the screen, I'm going for a wizard/loremaster.

Also the Pit Fiend... besides trapping the soul, has a DC 32 poisonous bite and a DC 32 Disease (onset immediate).

The Monk is immune to both of those, but they are abilities designed to wreck a Barbarian, Fighter, Rogue, etc. (soul trap, poison, disease)

It's exactly this versatility to stay in almost any fight that is the highlight of a monk.

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I mean, I guess he can shine elsewhere, but that place wasn't really named.

I've tried to name a lot of places besides a BBEG fight vs a single dragon or pit fiend where the Monk can shine.

Here are several.

- When the enemy features a battlefield controller caster. (pit spells, slow, entangle, web, etc.)

- When the enemy features a protected, hard to reach, area damage dealer (fireballs, lightning bolts, chain lightning, etc)

- When the environment in a fight is challenging. (slippery, water hazards, pits, jumps, difficult terrain, hazardous poisons)

- When the BBEG features henchmen, especially casting henchmen.

- Reaching and destroying the line of ranged foes peppering the party from across the chasm.

- VS any Enemy who is disabling the party or dominating/holding them by targeting WILL

- Any BBEG encounter where the room is actively trapped, and you need to deal with and constantly make checks to stay active in the fight.

- Any large area encounter (outdoor encounters on a 3'x3' table map - we have and use one, etc)

- Simply running down a trapped hallway, setting them all off, and taking 0 damage (don't do often enough that the GM metagames the traps just for you, lol)

FYI at Level 16, the Monk, with just these few buffs, is (+32 Grapple/+30 Trip) with CMDs of 55 vs Grapple or Trip.

A CR 20 Pit Fiend, is (+38 Grapple with a CMD of 53)

Neither a Pit Fiend nor this Monk can reliably grapple each other.

But a Horned Devil, CR 16, is (+26 and CMD 44)

You only need a 12, and you have two checks to maintain the grapple.

Now again... going into a BBEG type fight, I honestly have never seen a group not even try to "buff up" with spells. Even if the players don't normally help each other, they tend to plan for a BBEG fight.

You could easily have 5-6 more spell bonuses over the ones I've listed, as I only listed the bare minimum of what the Monk could easily provide for himself by that level.

And if your Level 16 party is going up against a Pit Fiend, the monk has a chance to hit (50% first three attacks, 25% next, then crit) which goes up if he flanks or has ANY other spells.

So while you can't count on every hit to hit a BBEG solo foe, you also can't count on spells working against his SR 31.

Are you assuming the fighter or barbarian has Resist Fire or Protection from Fire before facing a Pit Fiend? Then why not assume the entire party has buffs?

Pit Fiends also have TRAP THE SOUL, which takes someone out with a high DC will save.

If the Pit Fiend targets the monk with this spell, it's likely to fail. There's SR + a very high WIS modifier and WILL save.

If the Pit Fiend targets that barbarian with the spell, it's much more likely to work, and you've lost that damage dealer for the whole encounter.

I GM a lot, and when I run tough BBEG type foes, I look at their nasty abilities and put them to use... not to be a dick, but, the ability is there for a reason and it's part of the CR.

I'd use Trap the Soul vs a rogue or fighter, and throw a quickened fireball at the rest of the party.

Maybe you're fighting a BBEG with a super high DC poison as part of their attack? Monks = Immune Poison... just go tank it while the party helps you finish it off.

Since I have spent skill ranks, even though it's not supported by a high CHA, in Use Magic Device, the Monk can even buy and apply wands/scrolls to give himself things like Mirror Image (low level), Blur (low level), or even Stone Skin. All easily usable with his ranks by high levels, and the spells scale well into higher levels.


The ability to be "good" in almost any type of varied, unique encounter... is why a person would play a Monk.

You don't have to be the best in every situation, you just have to be able to excel in role in the party where you can make a GM's life tough and help lead the direction of the fight and pick a key target to reach and disable or engage.

Like BBEGs in a dungeon? Those are the tough fights, the ones where you need to pull the stops out. In fact any high-AC target taxes the monk more than any other martial class.

Other than dragons... most BBEGs I've seen are not alone.

They don't always have super high AC either. They might have, for example, Anti-Life-Shell + Wind Wall + Mirror Image + Blur + Spell Resistance + Energy Resistance + Fire Shield.

It might be a Giant who has several support clerics or mages or whatnot.

It might be a Hag with several beefy bodyguards.

It might be a Wizard with a Cleric second in command and several high level fighter bodyguards.

In those cases... in practice, I'd typically go for the casters or archers or healers who sat in the back, because I could get there and disable them. The Druid in the party and his companion would move up and engage the front line melee of the enemy. (possibly dropping a few spells first)

The wizard and cleric would use Dispel Magic and other de-buffs or limiting spells on the BBEG

Once we'd lowered some of the support, the Monk would set up flanks for the Rogue on the BBEG as the Druid and Companion moved up.

(party was Cleric, Wizard, Druid, Monk, Rogue)

You're right, the one place I'd have trouble is VS an EXTREMELY high AC, but flanking tended to compensate pretty well.

Over the long haul, the benefits outweighed the negatives just about every time.

It may not always be like that, it depends on the GM. We did run a combination of pre-built and home-brew encounters, and the home-brew were always harder.

Everything always depends on the GM though to some extent right?

If you play in a campaign world where metal is unheard of, it's probably not wise to be a plate-mail fighter. Lol.

Anyway guys, I'm really enjoying the debate/discussion. If you have Herolab and paste a few builds at me, I'll run them at the monk and see how it goes.

All the best.

Rynjin wrote:

IF you're buffed, IF you get an AoO, and IF you Stun the target, you can do 217 damage a round, which is a respectable sum, but it relies on way too many assumptions for it to happen, and STILL doesn't match most other dedicated martial characters, which is what you're attempting to be here.

Like I said, the built is alright. But it's definitely not EXCELLING every round because of those factors.

The build assumes that you are pushing for permanent GMF and Enlarge, while still carrying a wand of GMF and potions of Enlarge.

Given that GMF lasts for an hour per level, and Enlarge is cheap. It's not a big assumption at all that these spells would be in place.

Haste is a free action with boots of speed when the build uses those.

The attack of opportunity comes with Enlarge vs any opponent who lacks reach and can't tumble in or 5' step in. The monk's movement and initiative allows you to move away behind cover and drink a potion on round 1 if you're not already enlarged.

You can set up the distances to make it impossible for the opponent to tumble in or 5' step in.

So it really should be likely that you get the AoO every fight, unless the guy is a pole-arm specialist.

These 1-1 fights aren't very normal in game sessions, but, given that a Monk's STR comes from resisting most of the varied encounters and threats in a campaign (poison, pits, area damage, touch attacks, arrows, etc)... my reasoning is that if he can ALSO compete against melee specialists, even 45% of the time, it's worth it because you have the speed and defensive benefits ALL the rest of the time.

In my actual practices, the Monk won more than 45% of these fights but I'm sure I didn't test it against every build.

When a barbarian rages and uses a two handed weapon, typically, their AC is a little lower than I was projecting.

It's quite possible in that case, that the Monk hits every one of his attacks, or at least 7 out of 8.

He doesn't have to beat the Barbarian or Fighter every time to be effective though.

If he wins almost half the time... but benefits from Monk defenses and speed in dozens and dozens of normal encounters, then, it's worth the slight tradeoff in melee for the huge boost in defense and speed.

(granted a hasted barbarian is equally fast, and can take a lot of physical damage, and isn't likely to sink like a stone in a lake either... but also typically has much lower WILL/REFLEX and much lower Touch AC)

Personally, I love a good Barbarian Build. I think they're highly viable too.

It's not that the monk is better, it's just that he has a role, and he can excel in a group like any other well built class can excel.

That's my point.

MC Templar wrote:

one suggestion... be careful on the environmental challenges.

when I ran my at the time 6 person party through RoTRLs, i though I needed to 'expand the maps' so everyone wont be falling all over each other.

this turned out horribly in the big cistern chamber underneath foxglve manor, where the size increase more than doubled the amount of time they spent dealing with the terrain instead of the monsters, and the 'climactic battle' turned into 'fish the fighter out of the water as the NPC helper does the fighting'.

It was a disappointing finish for everyone.

I've run into similar things from time to time as a GM.

At the same time though, if a PC builds a one-track crit-in-the-face machine who can't swim or climb, who doesn't buy a spare potion of fly or levitate or spider climb, and the party casters don't keep spells that might help, or a rope to tie off and toss down...

I dunno.

I'd probably have put a creature down in the water that let the fighter try to fight it while swimming for his life.

He'd still have had something exciting to do, but, he'd still be paying for his one-dimensional build.

(not saying this definitely was the case in your example... but, to some extent, PCs should be trying to be ready for just about anything)

Looks like the group is designed to hit pretty hard physically, and lacks some arcane power. There is a pretty good mix of HP and attack power with moderate defense.

It's important for a DM not to have his bad guys meta-game against his party's weaknesses unless the bad guys are aware of the growing threat of the party and actively research "these guys who are coming after them".

To that end, maybe the groups that the party mopped the floor with in the first few sessions reported up to a key antagonist.

That antagonist is in meetings with his chief henchmen, and they use skills like survival, spells like speak with dead, and other abilities to get an idea of who these PCs are.

You might start to see encounters where the antagonist group is a hired wizard and rogue who have a group of low level thugs with decent HP under them. The rogue and wizard scout the party, cast buff spells like haste, blur, mirror image, (rogue using UMD with scrolls written by the wizard) and try to set up an ambush where the higher level foes join the fight a round later from behind cover.

All of a sudden, the big physical damage stuff starts missing due to mirror image or blur, and maybe the wizard hits the PCs with spells like color-spray or other will-save stun spells.

Targetting low-will save physical PCs with spells like Hold Person or the like (or Dominates at later levels) also makes things incredibly harder for the party)

Enemies might be flying, or have spells like pass-wall, that allow them to do a little hit-and-run on the PCs, try to force them to need to rest in the dungeon, and attack them while resting.

Difficult terrain, or traps/hazards that target reflex or will saves, could also be good against this group.

If the GM mixes the types of challenges you face, and has the main bad guy start to react to what the PCs are doing to his minions, you can have a much more realistic response and variety of difficulty.

I did create a few competing warrior type builds and even ran a few test battles.

With the monk enlarged and having deflect arrows, plus doing relatively strong damage with javelins and having strong grappling bonuses, with good initiative, he has some pretty strong ways to start a fight.

If a competing fighter shoots at him, he can deflect at least one of the hits per turn. I didn't put it in these builds but normally I'd carry about 15-20 javelins.

If you can force them to come to you, with your greater movement, you can force them to charge or double move in and take an attack of opportunity, from which you can deliver an attempted stun or trip.

They get one attack... and as pointed out, if it's one attack that happens to crit and confirm with an uber STR great axe... well, that's the way the dice bounce.

But on the flip side, if your AoO Stun or your next round Stun attempts work... the enemy is disarmed, and you get a full round flurry against a foe who loses their Dex bonus to AC.

If this monk gets a full round flurry against a tripped and/or stunned foe, you're looking at (L16 build with buffs above), an average of 31 damage per hit... 8 attacks.

Not every attack hits but you have a 10% chance to crit too.

So let's say that 5 attacks hit, and one crits.

That full round is 186 damage, plus the damage taken on the first "stunning fist". (another 31)

So, with a very simple combo, that can be achieved just from having reach, stunning fist, and getting an Attack of Opportunity, you do 217 damage without hitting all of your attacks.

Against a Stunned opponent, (and you have two chances to pull that off), you can often hit more than 5 out of 8.

You have the movement, initiative, and defense to sort of force them to come to you, unless they are committing to, and very good with the bow.

And if they ARE going full round Composite Longbow on you... the monk can charge in from 160 feet away, attempt a stun, and unless the fighter or barbarian has quick draw, it's going to take actions to get that weapon back out.

With Reach, they can't take a 5' step away to fire the bow again.

The typical builds I'm seeing in Fighters at similar levels have a Fort save at around +17 or so. The stunning fist has a DC of 24. If you get an AoO stun, and attempt it on both of the next two rounds, you have a fairly good shot of pulling that off.

(or trip instead if the guy is built even heavier on Fort save)

But even without the guy being stunned, the bonus to hit is high enough to still deliver the damage outlined above on the first full round attack.

And with all that in mind, going up against a pure melee beast is probably what the Monk does WORST.

The fact that he can hold his own, but still be harder to disable in combat and be better at reaching and disabling casters, is what I mean by the Monk's role defined as the kind of hard to stop striker that can greatly alter how a combat plays out.

Great read!

While this build was used in a home game, both myself and the other GM have run many sessions at conventions.

Typically, our home sessions are more difficult than the sessions you get at conventions (more time to craft difficult encounters in difficult environments than most 'out of book' modules), but, the point may be that, it's harder to count on getting access to items or spells you need in a setting where you're running under different GMs all the time?

But if that's the case, then how can people argue against the value of the monk's mobility... "You can just buy a potion of spider climb or fly or jump"

But at the same time, people are saying, "The monk is vulnerable to dispel magic... or the monk can't count on getting the buffs he needs in a non home brew setting"

If you can't count on support in a non-home brew setting, then that would apply to any class right?

Don't most people attend gaming sessions with at least one friend? So it's valuable to partner that Barbarian with say, his Wizard buddy.

A monk could game with his druid buddy, or rogue with UMD who buffs the monk pre fight, and the monk uses mobility to set up flanks for the rogue.

Most of the other melee classes eventually get things to compensate for their bad Will saves, but, it's much more likely at various points to have a Barbarian, Fighter or Rogue taken out of a battle completely by save or X - Will Save spells.

I think the main area where this monk build would have problems would be if a GM hates monks, doesn't build a variety of challenges, or where you're constantly facing high AC, high physical damage foes in small spaces.

Any GM can come up with things to counter any class. But if you just mix in random challenges, the Monk is generally the hardest to disable or prevent from reaching his target.

The worst moment I had with this Monk was vs an Enlarged Duergar fighter at a higher level, wearing spiked armor, who got into a wrestling match with the Monk.

But comparatively, the other players spent time drowning, poisoned, dominated, charmed, held, stunned, taking full damage from an area spell, etc.

From what I've seen on many forums, I could probably play this build right beside certain players, play it effectively for a few straight years, and they still wouldn't believe that it's a reasonable, effective choice.

Keep in mind that I'm not suggesting "don't play a Barbarian"

I'm just saying, "if you want to play a melee oriented monk, this build works pretty well, and I've played it extensively"

Paladins can be extremely effective but I agree with the posts that talk about how difficult it can be to get that kind of melee fighter where he wants to be.

It's only reasonable to assume that you might be able to quaff one potion before a fight, and if you do have more time to buff, the encounter may be on the other side of a locked door.

So as a fighter, you can't know if you'll need your potion of fly before a fight...

But the 50gp potion of Enlarge for a Monk? It's only 50gp. Use before every fight.

CY_Method wrote:
So, the first thing you're thinking is "what kind of monk?" Well, I'm looking to make the best possible unarmed melee monk possible. I don't think I'll actually be using him, but if I did it would be in a campaign where none of the players believe monks can be any good. I basically want to use every underhanded, dirty, or munchkin-esque thing I can find to push him overboard. The GM is pretty lenient, so we can use any PF content and quite a bit of 3rd party content with his approval. We get 2 traits (3 if we take 1 drawback), and I'm sure a few erratas could be "overlooked." We're currently using a 20 point buy, and I'm looking to get as many tasty points from dumped stats as possible. Currently looking at a 19str/14dex/14con/7int/14wis/7cha buy, but I'm still playing around with it. So in essence, help me be a piece-of-crap-SUPER-power-gamer just for fun.

I just put a post on these boards the other day about a solid, high damage, accurate, Monk build that relies on Enlarge Person, high STR, WIS, DEX, CON. Take a race that boosts STR and WIS like Versatile Human or Oread. Don't point buy STR up to 18 to start. Stop at 16 so you can boost WIS and DEX. CHA is your dump stat.

The spells you want to find ways to have access to as much as possible are Enlarge (50gp potions at worst), Greater Magic Fang (Druid, Wand, whatever)... and then stack whatever other buffs you can like Haste.

Your key items are a Headband of Wisdom and a Belt that boosts STR & DEX and probably STR, DEX and CON. You can afford it because you don't need a sword and shield.

Take deflect arrows, improved trip, improved grapple, and combat reflexes to take advantage of your REACH.

Don't take improved disarm as "stun" disarms a target unless they have special feats or items to prevent them from dropping their stuff.

You may also consider, if the DM allows, something like a Duergar which can enlarge itself.

Enlarge is normally a semi-crappy spell, but, it works wonders on a Monk's Damage progression. Coupled with a Monk's Robe, you'll often be adding another damage dice and a few more + to each strike.

Couple that high damage with being able to get wherever you want, not be surprised, and picking your opponents while being the hardest member of the party to fall prey to "random effects" (poison, area spells, arrows, whatever)

You trade some base AC and durability for being better at not dying to everything else that normally wrecks a fighter or rogue's day.

I posted builds at level 8, 12, and 16... it should still be on the first page or two of this forum.

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In response to a few other things.

I did play this build for about 3 years in a long running campaign, so, I can answer some of those other questions.

The build assumes that you'll sometimes need to refresh Enlarge or Greater Magic Fang. I'd kept potions handy and lost one of my Permanency spells once, which I had to replace.

To be fair, several other PCs lost expensive weapons to things like Rust Monsters or Sunder, and the Wizard lost a spell book.

Inside an anti-magic field... I did fight inside one, thankfully not against a dragon. Monks keep a lot more benefits than most classes inside an Anti-Magic Field. Yes, I'd lose a lot of damage, and reach, but was still better off than the pure casters. Fighters also draw a lot of damage and AC from enhancements that go away inside an AMF.

I believe that I just grappled an enemy cleric and beat the hell out of him during the time stuck in the anti-magic field. I did take more damage than usual though.

As to what does a monk do better than any other class?

What this build did on a regular basis was...
- No matter what the situation, the monk never got completely shut down. AMF reduces a wizard to nothing, and falling in a lake or being dominated can end a fighter or rogue's encounter. But even if I did eat a target dispel magic, that just let the rest of the party not eat a worse spell, and the build still functioned at a more standard "monk level".

- In that campaign, I'd adjusted the build slightly and had a very high initiative. Between that and very high perception, we often had surprise rounds or initiative advantage.

The monk is the best melee class for closing the distance in any number of ways on his target of choice, and disabling that target.

In the campaign, there were many instances where I'd charge through traps to get to an enemy caster, or jump a chasm, or tumble through foes.

There were sessions where I had a starring role, and sessions where the monk performed very well, but maybe the Druid edged him out. But he never had a bad session.

When I run campaigns, I regularly see players who build very strong builds, end up having that "bad session" where they fell victim to Hold Person, or a bad Poison, or Blindness, or the Wizard got stunned, or whatever.

And for the next few rounds, the party is bailing the normally effective PC out of a jam.

The monk can pick his spots, start off the combat, set up great flanks for any rogues in the party, disable enemy casters in many cases, and is just far more difficult to completely disable than most classes.

I used to love D&D Minis... those tactical battles... and the Monk in D&D or Pathfinder was the "mini" who set the tone of the whole fight.

Our party performed largely like a swat team or special forces squad, moving quickly, (I'd kick in doors even if they were trapped and just make the save).

Honestly it was a lot of fun.

If the build isn't your taste, that's totally cool, but it did actually work very well.

If you're on the fence, take a Monk like this and use him as an NPC against your party. Mix him in with an enemy Druid so you can Enlarge, Barkskin, and GMF the Monk (and not give away as much treasure if they do manage to take him out).

Even if the PC Wizard does use a target dispel on the monk, that's normally a round of combat on a single target de-buff that the caster can't afford to lose.

Also keep in mind that these builds don't list many other buff spells that are quite possible to have. (Bless or Aid, Heroism, higher bonus Bull's STR or Barkskin at low levels, etc.)

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Alex Mack wrote:

Hmm considering you are pointing out how hard you're monk is to kill the following numbers at level 8 seem a bit worrisome:

AC:22 HP:63

Critcal hit with a Great Axe from an 18 STR level 8 warrior with power attack is gonna be around 60 damage.

Not saying it's a bad build but in my book with those numbers you don't qualify as a front liner. Still there is some solid advice here.

Yeah, I can order some of the items differently to build more AC or HP at that level. It lower HP and AC than the comparative fighter at this level, but about 2x the save.

At level 16, the AC and HP matched the fighter, but still with 2x the save. I did pump the fighter full of alternate defensive items though.

Most classes at L8 are vulnerable to a crit from a Great Axe fighter though right?

Don't forget too, it's not all about damage output.

At this level, crossing a woods during a cold season like late fall, winter, or early spring, can be deadly without someone good at survival. I ran a session earlier this year where the low level party was fleeing through some woods for a few days, and they were taking subdual damage at night from the cold, waking up fatigued, and genuinely worried about the next encounter. The party Druid largely kept the group alive by assisting them on their Survival checks.

It's right around the time when you can be giving out a magic item here or there, so, perhaps a +1 Flaming Longbow put into the mix would last her for another 5-6 levels as her first magic item.

Try to set things up where she might spot the danger first with her skill rolls, or maybe help the party scout out an encounter, and therefore create a surprise round.

Maybe she's the one who stumbles onto some key tracks...

Maybe you put a few flying creatures in an encounter, and she's the one best suited to hit them.

As long as she's contributing, the damage output will quickly start to tip back in her favor as she gets more attacks, wizards add haste.

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Everyone knows that debates over the value of the Monk class have raged across forums since D&D 3.5 and even earlier. I hope that whether you love or hate the Monk, you can put that aside for a second and enjoy a read from a GM & Player who has played a pure Monk to Level 20 with a high level of effectiveness.

I'll post a few Monk Builds copied out of Hero Lab and if you're interested, I have comparison builds of Fighters with the same money at the same levels. (and the Fighter Builds, IMO, are solid Fighters that I'd be happy to play as well)

When you are using a Point Buy system, it costs more to buy points as you go higher. Your total bonus across all stats is higher if you spread them out with several good abilities. A class that takes advantage of several good abilities is hurt less in a Point Buy system.

Additionally, a character that uses less weapons and armor can sink their gold into multi-ability belts and headbands. This'll benefit your other skills and saves as well.

Monk's key score is STR, then WIS, then DEX, then CON, then INT, and CHA is a dump stat.

With a 20 point buy system, I recommend STR 16, DEX 14, CON 12, INT 12, WIS 14, and CHA 7.

A Human with "Versatile Human" or an Oread will boost STR and WIS, which are the two things you want to boost.

Add all Ability Boosts to STR going forward, and focus on getting the best Headband to boost WIS and the best Belt to boost ALL attributes or at least STR and DEX.

You want DEX for things like when you have to throw a javelin and Combat Reflexes for Attacks of Opportunity which you will constantly get.

Monks benefit from the Enlarge Person spell more than any other class that I'm aware of because Monk's damage progression for unarmed strikes. In most campaigns, there are multiple ways to get low level potions, either buying them or having an alchemist or wizard in the party.

Always have a way handy to enlarge the monk. This gives you free attacks of opportunity when medium or smaller creatures rush in (unless they tumble), and it significantly boosts the monk's damage far above and beyond the benefit to most weapons.

This gets better and better as you increase in level.

Greater Magic Fang
Paizo has confirmed that Greater Magic Fang applying to one weapon applies to "unarmed strike" and therefore to all of a monk's attacks.

Greater Magic Fang is a very long lasting spell. If you don't have a Druid in the party, buy or pay for the crafting of partially charged wands.

There are multiple ways to make Greater Magic Fang available, so if you're playing a Monk, work with your GM. Tell him you will be, long term, looking for a high level wizard to make Enlarge and GMF permanent, but you're in no huge rush and respect his process. Tell the GM to think of it as the same kind of quest a Fighter might make to get a specific type of enchantment on a specific weapon.

You'll also be looking for the best ALL PHYSICAL STAT belt and the best WIS headband... building towards the best available at least.

A monk's robe is nice too, as it advances the damage by huge amounts.

Stunning Fist
Stunning Fist is underestimated because it's a free add on to an attack that doesn't always have to work. You have a lot of them. Monks are best suited to using their extreme mobility to engage Wizards, Sorcerers, Rogues, large or smaller monsters, Bards, Witches, etc.

But a Monk's stunning fist still has a good shot against most Clerics and Fighters, even with their high FORT save because CONSTITUTION is generally not someone's primary ability score.

When it does work, a stunned opponent drops all their stuff, so STUN is better than Disarm.

Your attitude about Stunning Fist should be "don't count on it, but when it works, the fight will be a lot easier"

It should work roughly once per fight though. But it doesn't cost you anything to "cast" it. You're not wasting an action, which is why it's better than people give it credit for being.

Between Flurry and Haste and Ki bonus... Monks may have a slightly lower first attack than a Fighter, but they'll have more attacks at that highest bonus. They also don't need to waste points in Power Attack.

The crit on an Unarmed Strike can only be improved to 19-20 x2, but, at 8 attacks per round, it's still quite solid.

Eventually, a Monk can run down a hallway in a dungeon full of traps, and literally set them all off and avoid any damage. (other than high level death traps) Poison? no Disease? no Area damage? improved evasion Touch attacks? high touch AC

The Monk isn't as good in a toe to toe fight with a Fighter as another Fighter (at most levels), but he's better vs EVERYTHING ELSE including the dreaded spells like Confusion or Dominate Person that can take a Fighter right out of an entire encounter or even turn him on the party.

A Monk's massive mobility and high initiative should be used so that the Monk can get to the right enemy and engage them on his terms.

Get to the enemy caster and grapple.
Get to the enemy archers and stun.
Hop over that chasm of lava and engage that cleric in the back.

Even large, a Monk can often tumble through spaces, leap over foes, or eventually Dimension Door in the surprise round. His high WIS makes him hard to surprise.

Keep a nice large quiver of javelins and a few ways to fly handy as part of your build.

How is your GM?
If your GM is the type to put a big, single, heavily armored foe in each of the next 30x30 rooms that make up his dungeon, then, a Monk isn't a great choice.

If your GM is the type to mix it up with large, mapped combat environments, a variety of difficult terrain and hazards, traps, various cunning foes, etc. A Monk is almost always effective. There aren't many things that easily disable a monk.

You want to watch out for:
- Standing toe to toe with a superior level and equipped fighter.
- Grappling a larger, stronger enemy with spiked armor.
- Fighting a highly defensive caster with Fire Shield or other no save retributive spells.
- Bigger, stronger things that JUST go after your AC, and have an extremely high AC and FORT save.

You don't need to fear, other than really bad rolls:
- Hold Person
- Charm/Dominate/Confusion
- Disarm or Stun
- Pit spells or traps
- Reflex Area damage spells or traps
- Poison
- Falling off a ledge
- Just about anything else.

Level 8 Monk - Hasted, Enlarged, GMF+2
Test Monk 8 CR 7
XP 3200
Versatile Human (Keleshite) Monk 8
LG Large humanoid (human)
Init +6; Senses Perception +15
AC 22, touch 19, flat-footed 18 (+2 armor, +2 Dex, -1 size, +1 natural, +2 dodge, +6 untyped)
hp 63 (8d8+24)
Fort +9, Ref +10, Will +11; +2 vs. enchantment spells and effects
Defensive Abilities evasion; Immune disease
Speed 60 ft.
Melee unarmed strike +16/+16/+11 (2d8+9/×2)
Flurry w Ki bonus +16/+16/+16/+11/+11 (2d8+9/x2)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks flurry of blows, ki strike, cold iron/silver, ki strike, magic, stunning fist (8/day, DC 18)
Str 24, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 18, Cha 7
Base Atk +6; CMB +17 (+19 trip); CMD 34 (36 vs. trip)
Feats Blind-Fight, Combat Reflexes, Deflect Arrows, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Improved Trip, Improved Unarmed Strike, Stunning Fist, Weapon Focus (unarmed strike)
Skills Acrobatics +13 (+18 to jump, +25 jump, +21 to jump), Climb +11, Diplomacy -1, Disable Device +1, Escape Artist +6, Intimidate +2, Perception +15, Ride +6, Sense Motive +8, Sleight of Hand +3, Spellcraft +2, Stealth +7, Swim +11, Use Magic Device +6
Languages Celestial, Common, Kelish
SQ ac bonus, fast movement, high jump, ki defense, ki pool, maneuver training, purity of body, slow fall, stunning fist (stun), unarmed strike, versatile human, wholeness of body
Combat Gear Potion of enlarge person (5), Wand of Magic Fang, Greater (CL 8); Other Gear Amulet of natural armor +1, Belt of physical perfection +2, Boots of striding and springing, Bracers of armor +2, Cloak of resistance +1, Headband of inspired wisdom +2, 45 PP

Level 12 Monk - Hasted, Enlarged, GMF+3
Test Monk 12 CR 11
XP 12800
Male Versatile Human (Keleshite) Monk 12
LG Large humanoid (human)
Init +6; Senses Perception +21
AC 27, touch 23, flat-footed 23 (+2 armor, +2 Dex, -1 size, +2 natural, +1 deflection, +2 dodge, +9 untyped)
hp 93 (12d8+36)
Fort +14, Ref +15, Will +18; +2 vs. enchantment spells and effects
Defensive Abilities evasion, improved evasion; Immune disease, poison
Speed 70 ft.
Melee masterwork javelin +13/+13/+8 (1d8+7/×2) and
masterwork javelin +13/+13/+8 (1d8+7/×2) and
masterwork javelin +13/+13/+8 (1d8+7/×2) and

unarmed strike +20/+20/+15 (3d6+10/×2)
flurry + Ki +21/+21/+21/+16/+16/+11 (3d6+10/x2)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks flurry of blows, ki strike, cold iron/silver, ki strike, lawful, ki strike, magic, stunning fist (12/day, DC 22)
Str 25, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 22, Cha 7
Base Atk +9; CMB +21 (+25 grapple, +23 trip); CMD 41 (43 vs. grapple, 43 vs. trip)
Feats Blind-Fight, Combat Reflexes, Deflect Arrows, Dodge, Extra Ki, Greater Grapple, Improved Grapple, Improved Initiative, Improved Trip, Improved Unarmed Strike, Stunning Fist, Weapon Focus (unarmed strike)
Skills Acrobatics +15 (+31 jump, +27 to jump), Climb +11, Diplomacy -1, Disable Device +1, Escape Artist +6, Intimidate +2, Perception +21, Ride +6, Sense Motive +16, Sleight of Hand +4, Spellcraft +3, Stealth +11, Swim +13, Use Magic Device +6
Languages Celestial, Common, Kelish
SQ abundant step, ac bonus, diamond body, fast movement, high jump, ki defense, ki pool, maneuver training, purity of body, slow fall, stunning fist (stun), unarmed strike, versatile human, wholeness of body
Combat Gear Potion of enlarge person (5), Wand of Magic Fang, Greater (CL 12); Other Gear Masterwork Javelin, Masterwork Javelin, Masterwork Javelin, Amulet of natural armor +2, Belt of physical perfection +2, Boots of speed (10 rounds/day), Bracers of armor +2, Cloak of resistance +4, Headband of inspired wisdom +6, Ring of protection +1, 95 PP

Level 16 Monk - Hasted, Enlarged, GMF+3
Test Monk 16 CR 15
XP 51200
Male Versatile Human (Keleshite) Monk 16
LG Large humanoid (human)
Init +8; Senses Perception +25
AC 38, touch 29, flat-footed 32 (+5 armor, +2 shield, +4 Dex, -1 size, +2 natural, +3 deflection, +2 dodge, +11 untyped)
hp 171 (16d8+96)
Fort +18, Ref +19, Will +20; +2 vs. enchantment spells and effects
Defensive Abilities evasion, improved evasion; Immune disease, poison; SR 26
Speed 80 ft.
Melee masterwork javelin +20/+20/+15/+10 (1d8+10/×2) and
masterwork javelin +20/+20/+15/+10 (1d8+10/×2) and
masterwork javelin +20/+20/+15/+10 (1d8+10/×2) and
masterwork javelin +20/+20/+15/+10 (1d8+10/×2) and

unarmed strike +26/+26/+21/+16 (4d8+13/19-20/×2)

flurry + ki +28/+28/+28/+23/+23/+18/+18/+13 for (4d8+13/19-20/x2)

Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks flurry of blows, ki strike, adamantine, ki strike, cold iron/silver, ki strike, lawful, ki strike, magic, quivering palm, stunning fist (17/day, DC 24)
Str 30, Dex 18, Con 18, Int 12, Wis 22, Cha 7
Base Atk +12; CMB +28 (+32 grapple, +30 trip); CMD 53 (55 vs. grapple, 55 vs. trip)
Feats Blind-Fight, Combat Reflexes, Deflect Arrows, Dodge, Extra Ki, Greater Grapple, Improved Critical (unarmed strike), Improved Grapple, Improved Initiative, Improved Trip, Improved Unarmed Strike, Stunning Fist, Toughness, Weapon Focus (javelin), Weapon Focus (unarmed strike)
Skills Acrobatics +23 (+43 jump, +39 to jump), Climb +14, Diplomacy -1, Disable Device +3, Escape Artist +8, Intimidate +2, Perception +25, Ride +8, Sense Motive +18, Sleight of Hand +6, Spellcraft +3, Stealth +13, Swim +16, Use Magic Device +14
Languages Celestial, Common, Kelish
SQ abundant step, ac bonus, diamond body, fast movement, high jump, ki defense, ki pool, maneuver training, purity of body, slow fall, stunning fist (stun), unarmed strike, versatile human, wholeness of body
Combat Gear Potion of enlarge person (5), Potion of fly (2), Potion of haste, Potion of invisibility, Potion of water breathing, Wand of Magic Fang, Greater (CL 12); Other Gear Masterwork Javelin, Masterwork Javelin, Masterwork Javelin, Masterwork Javelin, Amulet of natural armor +2, Belt of physical perfection +6, Boots of speed (10 rounds/day), Bracers of armor +5, Cloak of resistance +4, Headband of inspired wisdom +6, Monk's robe, Ring of force shield, Ring of protection +3, 615 PP

It's hard to get your head around how good the Monk is in his sweet spot of Levels 12-16... he will start to get passed up by Clerics, Druids, and Wizards in the very high levels.

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They confirmed a while back that the unarmed strike of a Monk counts as one natural weapon, so, it's pretty cost effective to find ways to add Greater Magic Fang to your "body" (applies to all attacks).

This lasts 1 hour per level and grows in power.

Enlarge and Greater Magic Fang are excellent spells to look to make permanent on a Monk. It is possible that they can be dispelled, but only if the wizard dispelling is higher level than the wizard making it permanent (if memory serves).

Greater Magic Fang is an hour per caster level, and even if you have to buy a Wand with 10 charges at CL 8, it's only 3600. That gives you +2 attack and damage on your flurry of blows, just about every session, for 10 sessions. Most likely, you'll use 2-3 charges per session, and by the time you run out, you'll have leveled up a few times anyway, and buy a more powerful wand.

As both a player and DM, I know that players seek very special items. Wizards seek Metamagic Rods, all classes seek the right headband or girdle to improve their stats, and Fighters seek the exact right enchantments for their sword or shield to fit their style.

All of this stuff is accepted as normal.

So why would it be unreasonable for a Monk to seek out spellcasters in a big city to permanently enlarge and GMF the Monk?

If it does get Dispelled in 5-6 sessions, then, do the same kind of work that a Wizard does to replace a familiar or bonded object and get the spells put back on you.

And with Monks not needing to spend as much money on a magic sword, or shield, or armor, they can spend the money on Multi Ability boosting belts and headbands.

In other words, I don't think you need to skimp on STR or need enchanted brass knux to get the end result you want as a Monk.

Additionally, a super fast, enchanged, enlarged monk is the best non-spellcasting class for getting to and disabling enemy casters of any kind.

There are defenses that work against a Monk, but, a caster is much more at a disadvantage vs a Monk than a Fighter.

These things offset the other Fighter advantages... so while the Fighter is holding off the enemy linemen, the Monk is sacking the enemy quarterback with a safety blitz.

It's much harder to turn the Monk against the party or make him useless too, such as with a confusion or charm or dominate or hold spell.

All the best man, and enjoy it... a well built Monk is extremely fun to play and effective if approached correctly.

Can infusion be used to hand out extracts that are self target spells? Or just extracts on spells that can normally be cast on others?

I've read through the books and SRD, but our group is still new to Pathfinder and I don't feel confident about which way it is intended.

You can definitely put alignments on the characters in the show but, it just plays out a lot more gray-scale than most D&D campaigns or books.

Burlew pokes at this with Order of the Stick with how PCs or Paladins have been known to kill things that are colored evil or fail a Detect Evil spell.

Even when I've played PCs with some reasonable depth, there've been situations where we kicked in the door and started the fight so that the enemies wouldn't get their typical jump on us.

If we go in and start trying to figure out if we should talk to them or kill them, a lot of times it just gives away a surprise round or grants one in a tough fight.

But in the Game of Thrones world... you can be a reasonable, relatively good natured, family man (Kevan Lannister), and live a pretty good life in peacetime under the rule of Tywin, who is fairly brutal. Lawful Evil if you consider his orders to Gregor Clegaine on various points.

Living under Casterly Rock likely isn't bad unless you think you can disrespect Tywin and get away with it. Tywin didn't commit genocides or torture people for fun or whatnot... he's just completely brutal.

Whereas... living under, say, a brutal historical dictator on earth tends to be a lot less viable.

I'm not arguing against Alignment.

I'm suggesting that Alignment matters a lot less in GoT.

The "good" characters have done some questionable things. The "bad" characters tend to be multi-faceted.

They even take pains to provide some insight as to why Joffrey is such an evil prick.

He's been neglected by his father and spoiled horribly by his mother for his whole life, and, he's the product of incest, likely a little nuts. He's definitely a sociopath/psychopath where he lacks any empathy for other human beings.

But he's even been taught that anyone who isn't a Lannister is an enemy.

Empathy is at least partially a learned skill. Emotional maturity is learned.

He's one of the few characters in the show that is solidly in the "evil" camp, and the only character on the show besides his mother to seem to like him at all is Pycelle. (who is senile)

But even in those cases, the villian isn't totally one dimensional.

Yeah, you're right.

And you could say Tyrion Lannister is sort of Chaotic Good while Littlefinger is more leaning towards Chaotic Evil.

But if you read this newspaper article:

A member of the king's court had another member of the king's court thrown into the black cells for betraying confidences and loyalties. That same member of the king's court took steps to protect Sansa Stark, betrothed of Joffrey. This member of the court is well known for their intelligence, diplomacy, and craftiness, though not respected universally. Physically weak, tormented by nobility where they grew up, they've risen to power through taking advantage of circumstance and a strong sense of using their wealth to get ahead.

Is that Littlefinger helping to have Ned Stark thrown into the cells?

Or is that Tyrion having Pycell thrown into the cells?

Haha... yeah...

I'm dealing with an Enchantress, Rogue, Alchemist, Fighter and Druid.

So I'm thinking every encounter will be with a flying wizard with lots of abjuration and illusions, leading 2-3 Iron Golems against the party while archers fire against them from outside effective range for any of them.

I'll show them.

Maybe I'll let them get to level 3-4 before I do that, just to build up a false sense of security.

So I've started off a new campaign, as stated below... and it's homebrew in the Game of Thrones style of writing.

I'm almost not paying attention to alignment at all.

Most every character is capable of generating sympathy for their point of view, or also being brutal in pursuit of their own goals.

"Monsters" can still be random but in many cases, tribes of creatures can be hired out by one house or the other to move against a rival.

The players have already been twisted into a few plots and witnessed something that might or might not have been an assassination.

(random troll encounter resulted in the trolls eating a lord while the PCs ran for their lives... but was it just a random encounter... it's a lot harder to raise dead if there's no corpse)

So far, it's going well... the PCs aren't really a group of heroes at all, but rather a group of characters who've banded together for a king's contest, and got roped into a bigger plot.

They could find themselves later supporting any of the four houses I'm running as the potential sides in a future conflict, and no house is pure good or pure evil.

There's the potential for PCs to die... and a lot of freedom in that, I don't have a winner in this race. I don't care what happens or who wins.

There'll be enough hooks to keep things moving.

Surprisingly, this is the first time that I've tried running anything like this in 18years... where, every motivation is gray scale and there's this much high level intrigue.

Typically I've had a clear cut enemy target behind everything, driving the plot, even if the PCs didn't realize it at first.

I had a party that was captured by a Half Red Dragon, who had dry brushed his red scales with gold paint, and convinced them he was on their side before dropping the boom.

They had chances to avoid the capture, but each chance was low percentage... but as DM, I was hoping to capture them and a lot of times, that doesn't work out based on the dice or whatnot.

I like to follow the dice and alter the story to suit the randomness of what happens. That's sort of how things work in real life.

Anyway, the capture worked out, and when the PC tiefling was taken off and interrogated, they sent back a changeling in his place, with all the PCs gear on, who'd watched the interrogation.

The player got to play his evil double, with the promise that his PC wouldn't miss out on any gear or EXP due to his switch.

The player had played his tiefling as suspicious to begin with, and the party Aasimar cleric was highly worried about his intentions.

During a fight, the changling cast a magic missile into the back of the Aasimar's head. Even though the player KNEW that the PC was a rogue and couldn't cast spells, he assumed UMD or something, and started pointing and yelling that he knew it all along!

The party won the fight, and the Aasimar brutally and happily beat down the disguised tiefling.

Just as the tielfling double was getting pounded and reverting to his original form, the actual PC came through the door and saw the Aasimar beating what he thought was the PC to death.

It was a good time all around.

We used it to complete character arcs where the Aasimar went on a journey to atone for his mistrust, and the tiefling came to realize how his behavior was affecting people.

By the time 2-3 more levels had passed, the two of them were getting along fine.

As long as they weren't railroaded into the capture, I see no problem with it.

Even if they had to start from scratch re-gathering items... and EVERY item was gone... as long as you gave them a means by which to get back to appropriate treasure for level, it's fine.

There should be genuine danger in any good campaign.

What I'd do is use the opportunity to get the PCs to really hate their captors, then have them get a chance to get revenge and complete the plot. They'll feel so good when they open a can of whoop-ass on the people who stole from them.

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I personally like players to be both effective in their builds and care about the story.

I will say that the younger players in my group care less about the story and their character motivation than the older players. That may just be my group, or maturity, and not a generational change.

Yeah, I've noticed some changes here and there and it can be hard to re-read everything just to find the few differences. We try to look everything up as we go though.

Persistent Spell applied to Daze would take an enemy out of the fight indefinitely eh?

One of my big challenges as a DM will be to balance encounters where the Enchantress has the potential to take enemies out of it or even cause them to switch sides as her mind control spells get more powerful.

I'm noticing that between the Alchemist and Enchantress, big, dumb, heavily armored foes will be neutralized very easily.

Of course, I still have to run enemies like this sometimes because the world doesn't metagame against the PCs.

But as the PCs get a reputation and make enemies who know what they're capable of... those enemies might plan a force to attack the PCs that blocks a lot of these tactics.

As a long time 3.0 and 3.5 DM, I've just started GMing Pathfinder after moving out of 4.0.

I love my group, they are bright, into the story, tactically strong, and have effective builds.

My setting is a Game of Thrones type environment and the players are an Enchantress Wizard, Human Alchemist, Catfolk Rogue, Samsaran Druid with an Ape, and a Human Sword/Board fighter who also uses a bow.

Core Rules, Advanced Player Guide, and Advanced Race Guide are all fair game, and Ultimate Magic is allowed only on a case-by-case GM approved basis. Part of that is, I don't have the book myself, and want to be able to understand any new spells so my rulings are accurate.


So, for those of you who've been GMing in Pathfinder or playing it for a long time.

Anything pop to mind that I should look out for as they get more powerful?

I run a balance of enemies to sometimes, but not all the time, counter PC strengths. We're good on all the basics.

But, any impression come to mind of "ooh, that could be trouble" or, "I didn't realize X, Y, and Z changed so much from 3.5" or "that class is a lot weaker at higher levels" or whatever...

All feedback welcome. =-)

Thanks much!

All the products that I received are top notch. Very happy.

But these fine point brushes that were moved.
Order # 2232284

The brushes that caused the problems with the August 11th order in the first place, and then were split off (see above in the thread).

It's been almost 2 months and they're still on backorder.

I don't need those any longer. I bought a bunch at a local art store.

Can we please cancel that order? (Order # 2232284)

I received the package yesterday. Everything was fine.

Much appreciated. I got a notification right away when you made the correction.

The actual products are very good.

Thanks to both of you.


Normally with this many things going wrong, I'd be gone forever as a customer, but, what saves you guys is that you have intelligent, living, breathing, english speaking customer service folks answering in the forums, and the actual products are great.

Problems happened... but at least you guys minimized the difficulty in resolution.

Thanks again.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Hey Cosmo.

Good news and bad news.

Good news is, I got my first part of the order today. Came fast once you took care of that.

Bad news is, some of the items on the list in the box weren't in the box. They were on the package list, and there was room in the box for them, so, I assume it just got missed?

Bamboo Thatch & Black Dice Bag - YES
Pathfinder GM Screen - YES
Miniature Drow Gate - YES
Miniature TOtem of Angazhai - YES
Miniature Kyonin Diplomat - YES
Miniature Nexian Bounty Hunter - YES
Miniature Cultist of Abraxus - YES
Paizo Catalog - YES
Condition Card Deck - YES
Buff Card Deck - YES
(photo linked)

Set of 7 Dice: Gemini - NO
Set of 7 Dice: Leaf-black/gold/silver - NO
Set of 7 Dice: Ch Pearlescent-Black/White - NO

Ok, they all just changed to shipping. =-)

(just trying to be proactive now rather than upset later)

FYI - I just checked the order status and it showed the update you made. Though, in the time that's passed, one of the other items is showing on backorder too (bamboo dice bag).

I just wanted to make sure you knew, so you could prevent any further delays.

Ultimately, I don't care if the backorder stuff ships later, but, we do have a session coming up in 2 weeks and having the GM Screen, Cards, Minis and Dice would be great.

Mistakes happen. As long as someone out there is caring and fixing it, I feel a lot better.

I appreciate the S&H discount too.

Assuming all goes well from here, I'm chalking this up as a blip on the radar.


I just checked on this again. Nothing has changed. Everything is still pending and the brushes are on backorder.

I don't even need the brushes any more, we had to buy them at Michaels for our painting gathering this past Saturday because this order has been in limbo for a full month. Would that help? Can you take the brushes off the order so that it ships right away?

I'd still like to get this order but I'm running out of patience. I don't know anyone in my position who'd still be this patient after a full month with nothing shipping.

This message board is the only place that I got a quick, helpful response so far, but, it looks like nothing happened from there.

I hope that I'm an unusual case, and that something will be done by tomorrow to have this thing out the door.

Glad to hear. Thank you.

I placed an order back on August 11th. Apparently there are a few brushes on backorder, but, this was only updated on my order status recently. The rest of the order is still pending.

So, it's been just shy of a month and all of my order is still pending? Is this normal? I emailed customer service last week and haven't heard anything.

I'm a huge fan of your products and I don't understand why my order is being handled this way.

"You have 1 pending order.
Order # 2187652"

A good monk shouldn't JUST have High AC. A good monk will have a very high Touch AC, a very high Flatfooted AC, spell resistance, immunity to poison, immunity to disease, (or similar depending on choices), 3 good saves, bonuses vs other kinds of spells, the ability to move fast enough to face most any enemy he wants to face in a large environment, improved evasion and more.

Monks benefit vastly from Enlarge, Greater Magic Fang, and Haste, which are all pretty low level spells and not so hard to get someone in your party to cast on you.

With Monk's blazing fast movement, they should have no problem setting up a flank to get another +2 to hit.

My old Monk build had worked in story to get a high level wizard to eventually make a few of those buff spells permanent. (paid him well after completing a quest for him)

The DM can beat up on the Monk in the following ways.

- A creature that can out grapple the monk... say, a Duergar with lots of fighter levels and spiked armor.

- Spells that do damage without having to hit. Monks don't have a lot of HP. Retributive damage spells, like Fire Shield are good.

- If the Monk is dumb enough to stand 1-1 vs a pure Fighter. (not picking a target, not moving with flanking allies, etc)

Fully enlarged and buffed out, a Monk can make 7-8 attacks per round at a high enough bonus to hit most of them, and enlarged, he can be doing 4d8+12 damage or so per attack.

The monk's role is ideally as a striker type that can support a lot of needs a little less well than each base class. He picks his fights, extremely good scout, can trigger traps on purpose and not be hurt, get around obstacles and large environments the best of any non-caster, and works really well setting up a rogue with flank opportunities.

He can't beat a tougher fighter 1-1.

He can't counter ALL spellcasters.

He is vulnerable to dispel magic or auto damage.

If your DM understands that stuff, then the Monk can shine without outshining everyone else.

As a monk, sometimes I'd go 2-3 sessions without getting hit or hurt at all, but then on the 4th session, I'd run into something with auto damage or whatnot, and nearly die.

To play a monk well, the player has to be smart. To challenge a monk well, and not imbalance things elsewhere, or just screw the character because the DM has an ego... the DM needs to be smart.

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cranewings wrote:

Without passing judgement on any of them or on GM's who have a problem with this, I just wanted to brain storm some ways to keep the party moving, despite having burned through some resources or being afraid of failure against a BBEG. Adding to the list would be helpful.

1) The Literal Timer.

If the party doesn't finish their task in a certain amount of time, the window for succeeding in it will close. Variations include: Hostage Crisis, Magic Doorway Closing, Ingredient Needed Before Whatever Bad Thing Happens (magic stops working, person dies, buyer leaves), Ritual Completion at X Hour

2) The Threat of Increasing Difficulty

Once the party starts doing damage to the enemy, word will travel that they are coming. If a minion fails to check in, the enemy will go on alert. Therefore, once contact with the enemy is made, the party has invested interest in hurrying. This requires a balance on the GM's part: that the increase in difficulty for not getting the job done quickly is significantly worse than doing the job with limited resources.

3) Pointless Attrition

The trail to the enemy is so fraught with peril, including intelligent and bothersome wondering monsters, that staying in the campaign area longer than necessary is unacceptable. The players may believe that each day will be equally difficult and that no advantage will be gained for waiting.

4) Looming Death

Similar to the counter, there is a random daily chance of encountering a superbeing unrelated to the adventure at hand. For example, the goblin dungeon is next to a red dragon the party can't kill, and there is a 10% daily chance of meeting the dragon. Be prepared to wipe the party with the dragon if they drag their feet.

5) Competing Forces

There's a reward for the giant shaman's stone of translation, and another competing adventuring party might get there first. As a DM, have some increasing random chance that another group completes the mission while the PCs screw around.

6) Competing Evil Forces

This is more like Indiana Jones, where, he's racing against the Nazis to find the treasure. There'd be risks and consequences for not getting to it fast enough, including losing it to the enemy forces.

7) Enemies Leave with their Loot

The last battle of the day is easy, the PCs win, most of the enemy soldiers surrender, and the PCs search, but, find empty drawers, square-dust-free-areas, and worse. The prisoner confirms that the shaman and his body-guards cleaned up and took off because they didn't think they could beat the PCs, and they did it while the PCs were camping in the barred off larder 2 levels down. The enemies are planning on spending their treasure to buy more guards and traps.

8) Enemies prepare escape spells

Along the same line, the enemy bosses stay to fight, but, they've taken the time of rest to prepare spells like fly, passwall, invisibility, teleport, etc. They'll laughingly point this out as they escape with their magical gear still being weilded by them.

9) Enemies had prisoners, PCs didn't know about

After resting again in the Dungeon of Doom, the PCs run into a haggard NPC who has just escaped a mass execution. "They know you are coming, and when you were camping, they started executing prisoners so that there'd be no chance of escape or freedom for us! Why did you take so long?"

Even after the adventure is over, PCs start to gain a reputation of being "overly cautious" and lose respect among the townfolk.

10) Enemies hear the current battle and start heading for it.

After the battle is over, new enemies will arrive on the scene within minutes, wrecking any chance for camp.


If you mix stuff like this in sometimes, when it makes sense, they'll feel like they should have a sense of urgency even when they don't have a known timer.

In GMing any campaign in any system, I've always tried to find some way to reward RP effort, and it varies.

Like the other posters are saying... maybe it's EXP, maybe it's a discount on items, maybe it's a bonus item, or potential follower, or maybe you share critical new info with the group, which lets them get a surprise round in their next fight, or maybe a new item.

No matter what, avoid any temptations to figure out ways to screw over what the PCs are trying to do, just because it may not follow the script.

If they fail, or guess wrong, or roll badly, that's different.

But generally.

IF the PCs make a smart effort, and perform well.

THEN reward that effort in a meaningful way.

RESULT - PCs make more smart efforts, trying to get more rewards, and campaign is better.

I was looking at just picking a school for Wizards and liked the special abilities associated.

As far as the GM pandering to certain classes, I agree, and I think it's less a matter of pandering, but more:

A - You walk into a 30x30 room. There are 5 Hobgoblin Fighters in plate mail and 1 hobgoblin wizard in the back.

B - You walk into an 80x80 cavern with a cracked and broken floor. The room is obscured by the toxic gasses rising from burning fissures that cut across the room, but, arrows fly out of the haze at the party from a ledge across the cavern and a group of fiery creatures let out mocking cries from the middle of the room. A prisoner is dangling over an open section of lava in the back, screaming in pain from the heat, and the floor of his hanging cage is starting to smoke.

In situation B. You would be glad to have a PC with fast movement, good fortitude saves, good acrobatics and athletics, good reflex saves against the fire effects, some way to deflect arrows, good climb skills, perhaps enough strength or ability to pick locks to free the prisoner within 3 rounds, etc.

It's a lot harder to prep Sit B. But we think it's more realistic and we've had a lot more of "B" mixed in.

Without picking out a particular class, it tends to reward any class that isn't one dimensional. The weak constitution wizard may pass out from the gas and the heavily armored fighter may burn and struggle to bypass the fissures.

The party has to work together, or have some well rounded folks in the mix to handle the distances and threats involved.

These comments are all sort of confirming what I'd already been seeing in my own research into it. But, it's a help, definitely a help, to read well reasoned defenses of the system.

Cranewings, I get what you're saying about different defenses.

Wizard spells still vary on the saving throw they require right? Reflex for Fireball, Will for Charm, Fortitude for certain directly harmful things, etc.

Flipped through the spells and it seems like that's the case.

We've never had problems varying the enemies and varying the encounters and environments. I've always believed that mixing things up a lot in terms of environment and foes will trip up characters that only do one thing well, and dumped stats and have obvious glaring weaknesses.

To illustrate, we balanced the challenges so well in 3.5 that the best player in one campaign from levels 3 through 15 was a Monk. (who usually fail in campaigns that don't mix things up or skip a lot of rules like taking armor off to camp or carry capacity)

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