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?
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.
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. =-)
All the products that I received are top notch. Very happy.
But these fine point brushes that were moved.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
I've been running a table and playing for over two decades. So far, our group has most enjoyed D&D 3.5. We switched to 4E, not knowing about Pathfinder, and, we made it work but, we all missed a lot about 3.5, even though we still had enjoyable sessions.
With D&D switching again, and us having to re-invest again, we were considering just going to Pathfinder.
Here's what we're looking for. Please respond and let us know if you think Pathfinder fits the bill for you.
1 - We don't care that all classes are perfectly forced to be balanced. We liked the options of 3.5 and that, if you put more effort into your character, you were rewarded. Our GMs can deal with powerful players or a powerful party and regulate any totally broken combos without being unfair to the player.
2 - We're looking for a system that isn't going to change every few years.
3 - We really liked the web tools of 4E, and we don't mind paying money for good electronic tools. How good is Hero Lab? The old eTools for 3.5 was spotty, while the 4E tools have been more solid.
4 - We have thousands of miniatures and environments and have always loved using them. Since Pathfinder is similar to 3.5, I assume this isn't an issue.
5 - Is anything in Pathfinder's basic rules more broken than some of the 3.5 stuff? Or do the changes help it?
6 - What supplements are the "most broken"... besides the core rules, which other books would you add without ending up with auto-death combos? (we've always solved that through rational group discussion and house rules if something seemed totally broken because, if the PCs can do it, the monsters will too, so no player wants anything too broken thrown back in their face)
7 - How healthy is Pathfinder? Are we going to invest in this just to have it change or go out of business in a year? (best intelligent guess)
8 - I'd describe our group as highly tactical, where combats have always involved a lot of chess-work and swat-team type tactics. They love planning and preparing for a battle, and missed buff spells a lot in 4E.
We're leaning towards switching to Pathfinder, but, just looking for some level of confirmation that 6 guys aren't going to invest hundreds of dollars and be disappointed.
(from what I've seen, we won't, but, we haven't played it for years either to see the warts)
What I am saying is that YRM's monk was being carried by the rest of the group and he mistakingly thinks that the monk is balanced and valuable.
What's interesting is that we didn't have a pure fighter in our group, and he wasn't missed at all. The animal companion replaced the fighter.
If your premise is that I'm too stupid to realize that I played an ineffective character after gaming and GMing for decades, game designing professionally, winning miniatures tournaments, etc. Then your premise is not correct.
I'm not stupid.
If I played a monk for 5 years for one of the best DM's I'd ever met, a former marine and nuclear engineer, and my character was ineffective, I'd have dropped it, changed characters, agreed with the anti-monk folks whole heartedly...
But that wasn't the case. The monk was, through most of the middle levels, the best PC in the party and useful in all situations.
Around level 15, the casters passed up the monk yet, he was useful and effective until the campaign ended at level 19.
The character who was least useful in the campaign was the Dwarf who played a fighter/mix. His speed an inititiave and lack of flexibility to deal with other situations held him back a lot. That character had his great moments, but, far less effective overall.
The druid, for example, and the GM, didn't think it was very in-character for the druid to summon a deer and have it purposely trigger traps. But, even if he did, him wasting a spell slot to trigger a trap was more costly than me triggering it and taking 0 damage.
Not that it'd matter, you don't know me, you have no reason to trust what I'm saying, or that I have a strong grasp of strategy, tactics, and maximizing a PC. It's cool.
But I promise you if you asked any of the 6 other guys in the group, they'd tell you that the monk was never useless, never disposable, never baggage.
Even in the places where we did, admittedly, have skill overlap. So what? Maybe I'd make a perception check that the Druid failed or vice versa. That's a good thing.
You want two guys with mobility to set up flanks.
You want multiple chances to disarm a key enemy.
You want other ways to get to enemy soft targets besides the one spell per round your Wizard might use. If he uses a targeted spell to take out one enemy, it's another spell he can't use to clear the rest of the room.
Since the Monk can fill MANY roles, depending on the encounter, and where he acts in initiative order, the Monk can free up another class to be more efficient at what they do.
I didn't imagine all this. If the character had sucked, I'd tell you.
We tried 4E and there was a Gith Spellsword defender type or something who was completely ineffective in the group. The guy playing it is an IT Manager and former developer working at a hospital, he's not stupid either, but, the PC sucked and he asked if he could rebuild after 8 or so levels.
If the monk had sucked, I would have done the same thing. No biggie.
I'd be here, agreeing with you.
But the monk was definitely highly effective in almost every type of situation that the DM threw at us and, again, the guy is a decades long professional engineer who used to be a marine that specialized in small group tactics.
Not to say that you aren't a tougher DM but, my point is, we weren't in some group where we all gathered around one foe and beat on it in a 30x30 room that the DM didn't even plan out.
(which is probably why the monk was effective... the more you actually follow all the rules, such as time to don armor, large encounters and obstacles, the better the monk becomes)
I believe the price carry over was just something they didn't fix from the 3.5 SRD. All the way back to 3.0, this item hasn't been worth it's cost, and making the spell permanent was always a much better buy.
The amulet of mighty fists is definitely not worth it.
Greater Magic Fang can be made permanent. You can make it permanent several times just as you'd upgrade this amulet, but, at lesser cost and without taking a key slot away from your Monk.
This item is a large reason why people think Monks are underpowered.
Playing a monk without access to Greater Magic Fang and Enlarge is sort of like playing a Fighter without access to magical swords.
It varies from GM to GM, but, if your GM's campaign allows for a Cleric to track down a +4 Mace of Undead Bane, or your Wizard to track down some powerful ring, I'm not sure why the Monk couldn't find a high level caster combo to make GMF permanent on himself. It's right in that same magical power level of suspension of disbelief.
It can be dispelled, but, if you spend a bit more to hire the services of a higher level Wizard, it should last as long or longer than the amulet itself would last before you need to upgrade that.
I know that any GM can sort of meta "gotchas" against his players but the good ones don't do that. They let the dice fall where they may, and in that case, taking a chance on Permanent GMF typically pays off.
In theory, every group could function as Wizard, Cleric, Fighter, Rogue.
Eventually, and in theory, the wizard can duplicate just about everything that everyone else in the group can do, but, only with high levels, time, preparation, and cost. In the end, probably in most groups the Wizard will be likely the most powerful, Cleric close second, then Fighter, then Rogue.
Typically the roles are:
Wizard - Control foes and long range area damage.
So, mix that up a bit...
Sorcerer - More uses of his spells, less versatility.
Between the animal companion, and fast moving monk, barbarian, and sometimes the druid, the fighter isn't needed here.
The Druid and Sorcerer cover 99% of the buffs and spells the party will need. Everyone will always be hasted, barkskinned, Greater Magic Fanged, etc.
The monk will flank with the Barbarian or animal companion due to everyone having high move speed to get into place.
How do we disarm traps though?
Druid or Sorcerer detects magic when it's felt necessary. Monk invests in perception.
What I used to do as a Monk, when faced with a trap, as long as it wasn't "deat magic" we'd get a rough idea of what the trap did and I'd see if I can purposely trigger it.
At mid to higher levels, improved evasion, my insane saves, magic resist, slow fall, immunity to disease and poison, etc. I'd just purposely trigger the trap and avoid half or all of the damage. Is a chest coated with contact poison? I'm immune, I break it open.
I know this might not "always work" but, it worked for us for dozens and dozens of traps over different home made or module adventures.
D&D is all about giving the players options right?
So if the Monk can serve in various group compositions and contribute a lot of valuable things, getting to soft but dangerous targets, scouting, triggering traps, etc. What's the harm?
It's kind of cool that you can put together dozens of viable group combinations. Some, with no fighter, some with no monk, some with no rogue, some with no wizard, some with no bard, etc.
If you took the Cleric, Fighter, Wizard & Rogue and put them up against the Druid, Sorcerer, Barbarian & Monk, at any level, it's not clear to me that the first group would always win that fight.
I've actually done things like that at conventions too, where I had 8 folks at my table, competing against each other in a party battle format.
Sometimes those intangibles that aren't added up in most math calculations, like, rolling a higher initiative and reaching a key enemy first, made all the difference.
master arminas wrote:
The times when my move speed worked out exactly were few and far between, but, since potions of fly only let you climb at half speed, I was able at one point to successfully run, leap, and begin flying from my highest point to reach a cliff edge that the DM thought would be out of reach for most of us.
But you're right... it's rare that you need the movement to jump a rushing river.
It's not rare, though, that there's a rope bridge over a 20-30 foot cavern and the fighter and an enemy grunt are blocking passage.
Or that you'd need an extra 15 feet of movement to "get behind" a key target instead of just reaching it.
Or that you'd need an extra 10 feet of movement to allow the fighter room to charge his max distance and reach, but you're still in there, in the fight.
Or perhaps, as a monk, your good balance enables you to move at half speed over a tough ledge or surface but still reach combat.
Really "How does the GM plan encounters and settings and environments" has a lot to do with how good the monk can be.
That's not "totally" situational, as, my feeling is, most fights shouldn't take place in a 30x30 room with a handful of melee oriented foes. If the whole dungeon is planned, with multiple hallways and passages and other encounters in other rooms that "might hear this one", you're going to have a lot more need for movement.
I used to be fairly good at D&D minis, and movement speed on your squad wasn't the only thing you needed, but, it was a big thing. There was one release where Gith Monks were extremely popular due to their extremely high defense values and move speed coupled with their stun.
Usually, you'd need at least one "striker" in your party in case the enemy party had a good ranged character sitting in the back, picking you off (or one of those low cost commanders used to fit in bigger hitters... but take out the commander, and they lost their buff and morale save bonus.)
Consider a League of Legends type game... or D&D minis... or DOTA or whatever... it's good to have a fast moving, disruptive, assassin type on your team. They can't go toe to toe with the melee-tanky-DPS, but, they can rip apart the ranged DPS and ranged caster types.
The monk is that "fast moving, disruptive assassin type".
Skirmisher/Striker/Ganker... whatever you want to call it.
Great speed and great resistances vs caster types = designed to pick his battles and disable enemies of his choosing, while ignoring a lot of their abilities to fight him off.
I'm not sure what other classes fill that role better than a monk?
The save DC of stunning fist is bad, I agree, but it isn't brokenly bad. Stunning fist will work more often if you can just hit and do damage more often, that's the crux of the monk's problem in combat.
When I built my monk, I built him to overcome several problems.
1 - Raise BaB as much as possible.
At every possibility, raise WIS, STR, and DEX. (Belt and Headband...)
Desired buffs, either by potion, item, or teammate:
With the money saved by not needing a +4 Silver Flaming Greatsword, you can put that money towards those other needs above.
If the DM allows access to a highish level town where custom items are available for a fighter, that same town should be able to put a Permanent GMF and Enlarge on the Monk. (risk of dispelling at higher levels so hire the best possible wizard to put it on)
In the end, you're getting ~7 attacks, 3 at the highest BaB, with all sorts of DR penetration and damage, and your Stunning Fist DC is pretty high.
The fact that no core race gives +2 STR and +2 WIS hurts but, if the GM allows an Oni Spawn Tiefling or Oread, you can get those bonuses with a -2 CHA.
Obviously a higher point buy system works a lot better for a Monk than lower.
But a person building a Monk should be working and questing with the DM to build on those things just like a Fighter may try to find or buy armor that lets him fly, or a Cold Iron (weapon of choice).
The more a player's GM and party helps him to solve those monk problems, just like a Fighter can solve problems with the right magic items, the better and better a Monk gets.
Instead of a 17% chance to stun, you might be up to a 40% chance.
Another key thing is, with a hasted flurry, each time you roll is another 5% chance of a guaranteed hit and possible crit. (so if you take a feat to crit on a 19-20, you'll be rolling that, on average, every round and a third of full round combat)
A problem that a Monk definitely has to overcome is the lower BaB, and Damage reduction.
However... real time experience has shown me that the fighter isn't always useful and the monk only situationally useful. Since I could act sooner, move faster, reach enemies that were tougher to reach, and pick my battles, I actually found that I was contributing more to our victories than the fighter.
Yes, he was powerful. Yes, he contributed.
But he also was "held", "dominated", "sunk to the bottom of a lake", "stuck on the wrong side of a chasm during a fight", "acted so low in the initiative order that half the battle was over by the time he started (at times)", "forced to double move to reach the foe he hoped would still be standing there fighting him next round".
I was put in a bad situation where I couldn't contribute two times in 19 levels. Both times were against higher level, well armored, well built fighters. (again, I'm not saying fighters suck) I couldn't get away from them in those instances and needed the group to save me.
But, that's no different than when the fighter was bleeding to death after being hit by two high damage touch spells that would have missed me.
Most of the time... just like the Monk has some "overkill" on his saves. Does he really need another +2 vs enchantment? Against most foes, no. Against a key badguy? It could be the difference between winning the fight or not.
So... most of the time... the fighter doesn't NEED all of his "to hit" bonus. If the fighter is hitting most of the enemies on a roll of a 2, then, it's not so bad if the Monk needs a 5.
And just as the fighter might quest to gain various weapons to defeat various types of Damage Reduction... can't a Monk quest to buy a far cheaper potion of Greater Magic Fang? Or buy a potion of Enlarge to do more damage to overcome some DR5?
Sure, some enemies require a +5 Silver weapon to bypass DR, but most don't.
Again this depends on the GM, but, likewise, some enemies have ranged touch attacks or will attacks that really mess up a fighter's day too.
A confused, or dominated, or charmed fighter isn't just "out of the fight", but now he's doing his massive damage to your own team.
That's certainly a situation where a fighter is worse than useless. (and even if the Cleric targets him with a dispel magic, you could potentially lose helpful buffs, and it wastes another key action in the fight)
I guess I'm just saying... having played a monk for years from level 1 to 18, that I didn't have these problems.
And having a Druid around sure helped... but, what class doesn't benefit from having a support caster? Just so happens that Druids synergize better with Monks than Clerics do but, shrug.
Like I said before, there's a big cause and effect here with how the GM runs the game.
When you compare L6 monk and L6 fighter, the fighter hits harder and more accurately by a lot. The monk saves much more often, especially against things that could take him out of the fighting. The monk has more ways to avoid damage and "on hit effects", the fighter has more HP to suffer the damage.
But here's how it depends on the group and the GM.
- Greater Magic Fang: 1/hr per level, scales with the Druid in your party, if he saves two slots for you, you'll ALWAYS have it, even without making permanent. Without spending a dime, you're hitting harder and more accurately and scaling much closer to a fighter.
- 30x30 Dungeon rooms vs Large Scale Environments: In a small, map-isn't-so-important battle, where people stand toe to toe and trade damage, the fighter wins, hands down. In a huge room, with chasms and rope bridges and hazards and poison gas, with the enemy wizard hiding up on a dias 80 feet away, the Monk wins, hands down.
- Initiative: Does the party excel at team tactics? Does spotting foes, getting the jump on them, and winning initiative make a huge difference? A group that focuses down or debilitates a foe before they can act benefits more from the Monk who is less likely to be surprised, and more likely to act at the top of the initiative order. A monk acting in a surprise round may have time to quaff a key potion to buff him where a fighter didn't get to act.
If you're in slogging battles with relentless undead foes, then, initiative matters a little less, and the fighter wins out.
- Gotcha Spells: If the DM uses foes that present some "gotcha" spells like "Harm", "Hold Person", "Charm Person", "Energy Drain", "Disintegrate", "Flesh to Stone", "Dominate Person"... a Monk is much better at not being touched, evading damage, resisting effects, etc.
- Toughest Enemies: If the DM uses a lot of spell-caster or "sit in the back and shoot arrows" types as the leaders of his enemy forces, a Monk can get to them and disable them more easily.
If the DM uses a lot more "lead from the front in full plate mail and sporting some kind of fire shield" then a Fighter wins. Iron Golems, Giants, Fighters... those things tend to give more trouble to a Monk who can't absorb as much damage when he finally does get hit.
But our group. We use miniatures, master maze, large outdoor battle maps... we have battles where composite longbows have taken range penalties. The speed and ability of a Monk to get to just about anywhere is huge.
The fighters can kick ass too. Fighters don't suck. But Monks are absolutely useful, absolutely effective under a wide range of circumstances.
The way a Monk and Fighter work well together is... at higher levels, the Druid buffed Monk grabs the fighter early in the battle, dimension doors past the front line grunts, and the Monk-Fighter team up on the squishier casters in the back that would have taken the fighter maybe 2-3 rounds to reach if the DM set it up right.
Liam ap Thalwig wrote:
Currently there are several good threads around discussing the monks weaknesses and really nice monk redesigns. One often mentioned weakness is the monks disadvantage at hitting foes compared to the fighter. While I think that these arguments are valid, I'm wondering how the monk compares to the fighter when not concentrating on this aspect...
Having played a Half-Orc Monk to level 19, I'd have to agree that Monks can really shine, especially when paired with a Druid in the party. The ever improving, and long lasting, Greater Magic Fang spell, along with the potential to make it permanent, is fantastic. Enlarge Person is a Monk's friend too.
Party composition does make a difference here. Shrug. With that done, the Monk can focus on using the neck slot to boost Wisdom and gain those extra benefits.
In my experience, with our DM, we had a lot of fights that could take place across multiple dungeon rooms, or in a large cavern, or with terrain obstacles, hazards, pits, water, and various things blocking the way to the enemy wizard, or cleric, or rogue, or ranger.
I could get past just about any obstacle with my speed and skills, and I could resist just about any attack other than standing toe to toe with a same level, powerful fighter.
When I got to my preferred target, I could trip them, grapple them, stun them, disarm them... as the situation dictated.
An enemy ranger with no bow isn't such a threat.
An enemy wizard who is stunned or grappled isn't such a threat.
An enemy rogue who is stunned and disarmed isn't so bad.
An enemy cleric who is disarmed or tripped or grappled... again.
I could resist their close spell damage, touch attacks, and other defenses better than a fighter. A cleric with a devastating touch attack still had to hit me, and my Touch AC was VERY GOOD.
My saves were over the top in almost all areas and coupled with other resistance defenses like evasion, still mind, diamond body, etc. Most attacks had to get past several levels of defenses.
Only the encounter bosses who were higher level than us could reliably penetrate those defenses, and, those bosses are a risk to anyone.
So, in the end, I could get to foes a round or two before our fighter could reach them, and survive until he got there. I'd prevent insane amounts of spell damage to the party just by disrupting the enemy formations like this.
In another encounter, in a black dragon's lair, we had to deal with a flying, swimming foe, and at one point, our plate armored dwarf fighter fell into the water.
Sure, he survived it, but, in that fight, I was able to get to, and attack, the dragon far more easily. I also evaded it's breath, and had good enough armor to only be hit physically about half the time.
There were dozens and dozens of times that the defense and mobility and skillset of the monk let us prepare for an ambush instead of walking into it, or dodge critical spells or attacks, or get to foes that should have been out of reach.
But, again, it is situational.
I had a great group. The druid and I partnered up a lot with his contingent of buff spells, etc. Getting some permanent buffs on a monk can be a quest just like a fighter might quest for a specific magic sword. Not much different right?
I'd highly suggest, if your party does have a druid, consider playing a monk.