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Monk Unfettered (PFRPG) PDF

****½ (based on 7 ratings)

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The world of the monk is a harsh one. It is said that the monk is steeped in tradition, but the truth is that these traditions span a diversity and depth comparable to the great schools of magic. From the disciplined exercises of a novice, the brutal application of the ascetic warrior, to the flawless execution of grandmaster: a vast range of possibilities exist. In the Monk Unfettered these traditions and possibilities are explored.

  • A complete reinvention of the monk class
  • Massive selection of insights, feats, favored class bonuses, and dedicated magic items for monks
  • A variety of sample characters ranging from very low to very high CR allow GMs to easily add the new monk to their game
  • Discussion on balance and intentions
  • Beautiful artwork to inspire future monk characters

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Product Reviews (7)
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****½ (based on 7 ratings)

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****( )

At this stage of third party Pathfinder product collection this pdf has a lot of competition. Early on I had the priority of bringing weaker classes up to snuff so I amassed a lot of products that support the Monk class, including new toys to play with and entire class rebuilds. The Monk Unfettered is another class rebuild with the goal of making the Monk easier to build and play and to make it worth playing.

Unfettered Monk looks a lot like it's original in basic form but of course it has some drastic differences. Since this is a class rebuild I'll go over it in order of new class features.

First of all not proficiency with all monk weapon group weapons so a boo there but not that big of a deal since that's the baseline I guess.

Instead of Flurry of Blows the UMonk gets 'Flurry'. This flurry is not tied to TWF in explaination. Instead it's a full attack that has one attack. As the UMonk levels they get more attacks scaling up to six attacks during a flurry, and since this isn't modeled after TWF all the attack bonuses are the same. Also they do not treat your level as your BAB so at lvl 20 you get six attacks at +15 BAB. In the end this makes flurrying less exciting early on but on most levels this equals more bonuses than negatives so as a whole it's more accurate even without counting your level as your BAB. In the end you're about as accurate as a Rogue but you have twice as many chances at the same attack bonus. That and it's a bit less complicated.

At the same rate as a fighter gets bonus feats the UMonk gets 'insights' which are essentially Monk talents. There's a bunch of them in the book that go all over the place. Some use Ki and some don't. If I go over them all I'd be here all day, so I'll just say that they range from okay to really really good. In general they're better than feats. They take the place of bonus feats meaning that some of them are the bonus feats normally granted but some do not specify whether or not you still need to meet the prerequisites so that's a bit of a bummer. Some insights grant two feats which makes me wonder about it's balancing point, especially when some are effectively three feats on a situational basis. Some Insights are 'deep insights' which means that you can only have one active at a time (scaling to up to three at a time) and you can change them up once a turn. Some of the deep insights are things that can be taken again to stack but would be scary if you just started stacking them too early or too often. I noticed areas where I don't know how they interact with some things making a few insights unusable but they're mostly all together.

And that's it for the brand new class features. From there it's feats and favored class bonuses. Nothing exciting and pretty standard. Then there are UMonk NPCs, which is handy, and new magic items. After that there are explanations and suggestions on how to fit the UMonk in your game including how to make it play with archetypes.

Finally there is an index for insights, something that I'm not sure isn't done in other products. Its basically a feat table for the insights.

Sorting out how I feel about the Unfettered Monk is kind of complicated. By the time I had it, I didn't need it anymore so I wind up having to compare it to other Monk replacements, including the Unchained Monk and it has a ton of things for and against it on that leg.

On the plus side, it takes archetypes in consideration to some extent meaning that it can play a bit nicer than other monk rebuilds. It also gives a lot of insights to choose from. The pdf is also beautiful with great art. Flurry is drastically easier to deal with than Flurry of Blows. Unlike the Unchained Monk it's 'talents' aren't tied to ki so you can avoid being ki starved and outright bad abilities.

On the down side, I think this is the worst monk at maneuvers I've seen. It has similar accuracy, AC and full attack dependency issues as the normal monk while at the same time some of it's insights are way more powerful than others making it difficult to pin down exactly how strong it can be. Soloing in a module it looks like it works out okay enough and can handle more situations than normal monks so it is an outright improvement. But I feel like I've seen better in terms of solving the Monk's problems. Also some abilities I stumble on because of a lack of rules language.

Looking at it as it's own thing its definitely a better monk. It takes a lot of what the Unchained Monk does wrong and does it better but it also doesn't fix thing that the Unchained Monk does. In the end I would feel like it's on par with the Unchained Monk but the Unfettered Monk is more diverse and the Unchained Monk is more devastating due to it's access to Flying Kick.(This does depend on how Flurry interacts with Pummeling Style. If Pummeling Style works with Flurry then the Unfettered Monk has a little bit of a leg up but the margin isn't that wide.) I really liked the Unchained Monk so I think I'm rating this at 4 out of 5 stars. Its pretty functional and is an improvement on the normal Monk but some moving sliding balance on some insights and some that are more difficult to use drags it down a mark.


Monks become considerably more versatile

****( )

Read my full review on Of Dice and Pen.

I'm not sure Monk Unfettered will satisfy many people's complaints about the core monk, though it certainly will satisfy some. Even though some things, like flurry, are simpler, I suspect it will still take some system mastery to make a fully effective unfettered monk. That said, that's not necessarily a bad thing. It just means the class won't be for everyone. One thing Monk Unfettered definitely does succeed at, though, is expanding the versatility of the monk class. Monks created through this book have a much wider degree of choice available to them, meaning players can create more different kinds of monks than ever before. I suspect that any group that chooses to use this book will gain a lot from it.


The Monk. With added Monk.

*****

The Monk Unfettered offers a pre-Pathfinder Unchained revision of the Monk class, intended to overcome the monk's Core Rulebook shortcomings (such as low hit rate, MAD, and the movement/full attack conundrum, to name a few).

The Good
Careful design. The author take a lot of time explaining exactly why he made the design choices that he did, in a section at the end of the book: you can tell that he's put a lot of thought and number-crunching into this class, and worked hard to make this monk at least as interesting as the Core monk at all times, and also offer greater flexibility.

Insights. This is probably the biggest single departure from the Core monk. Insights are gained at 1st and 2nd level, and at every even level after that. They range from a number of Core monk abilites (which got pulled out of the main class features), to completely new abilites, with a broad range of applicability (that insight you pick up at 10th level is almost always going to be as powerful as any other 10th level insight, regardless of which one it is).

Stunning(ish) Fist. This was something that made me sit up and take notice. One of the main things I've always liked about the various iterations of the monk is stunning fist. It's just a shame that it's less useful than I'd like, most of the time. The Unfettered Monk takes Stunning Fist and shifts it into overdrive, in the coolest possible way. Yes, it suffers from the old "must choose before the attack" problem, but being able to actually paralyse the target for 1d6+1 rounds at 20th level? That's awesome.

The Bad
There's not really a lot of bad to mention in this book. Having seen the Unchained monk, this one does suffer slightly from design inertia, as plenty of the Core monk abilities have been left in as automatic, but it feels much more versatile thanks to the Insights.

Everything is the same, but different. As a GM, looking at this class, my initial thoughts are pretty simple: I like it. Quite a lot. Except... the damage progression has changed, some of the abilites are worked differently, and there's dozens and dozens of insights to work through. As a long-time player, I can mentally work out a Core monk's flurry attack progression with a few simple pieces of information. Learning a new way of calculating it is... irritating. Not bad, as such, but it leaves me with the feeling that my players (who, let's face it, can be a bit lazy at times) might look it over and say "looks nice, too much like hard work, stick with the original". Now, this particular point really is me being quite nitpicky, I know ("waah, don't wanna learn a new class, waaaaaah"), but it does factor in to me deciding whether to offer this class as an option to my players. (I am doing so, by the way. Not that any of them want to play a monk right now...)

The Conclusion
If this had been the Core monk, I think we'd have far fewer complaints about the monk. It's a good, solid take on the theme, and the added extras in the book (advice on existing archetypes; the design choices secion; favored class option from here to infinity and back; and a slew of new magic items) make it a worthwhile read. I don't think anyone who chooses to use the Unfettered Monk instead of the Core monk will be disappointed. Full 5-stars because I'm using this book, and the class is awesome enough to make me want to point people at it and say "here, look at this!"


Monk Unfettered- A better option

*****

Monk Unfettered is quite possibly the single most in-depth re-write of the monk class ever done. From the first page, it is obvious that this supplement is a labor of love.
The description calls this a complete reinvention of the monk class, which isn't much of an exaggeration. While the basic format of this monk is similar to the original, several changes have been made.

The first thing that jumps out is the change to the monk's flurry of blows. For making 1 fewer attacks that the vanilla flurry, this monk makes each flurry at their full base attack bonus (meaning where a core monk would have a flurry of +6/+6/+1/+1 at level 8, the unfettered monk has a flurry attack of +6/+6/+6).

The author discusses this in the introduction, and while my initial knee-jerk reaction was to think that this change was way too powerful, the author asserts that the approximate DPR remains unchanged.

The second major change is the addition of ki abilities called insights, which are similar to the ki abilities of the more recent Unchained monk, but far more in-depth. The sheer number of insights allows for the creation of multiple unique monks, from a Fist of Legend style beat-stick, to a ki channeling mystic, to the wise teacher in the tradition of Kwai Chang Caine.

All said, there are over 140 insights, and while several are based on or improve upon existing monk abilities, the vast majority are new and flavorful additions to the class.

The final change of note to me is the full page of favored class options. Breaking from the standard put forth by Paizo, the unfettered monk has numerous favored class options which depend not on race, but on minimum ability scores and insights.

All in all, this supplement makes me somewhat disappointed that my normal group doesn't allow 3rd party supplements. While there are some minor improvements that could be made to this supplement (see Oliver Volland's review for a very comprehensive list), as a whole this is one of the finest supplements that I have come across for Pathfinder.


Great Monk Improvement

*****

This is a review for 'Monk Unfettered', a supplement by Henri Hakl Games. I'm not a native speaker (I'm German), so I may have fumbled my language skill checks from time to time. Give me a note if I wrote something wrong and I'll try to make myself more clear.

Monk Unfettered has 35 pages and many nice pics (and a cover, OGL and so).

The basic idea of this supplement is to give the monk options, and it succeeds at this by introducing insights which function a bit like rogue talents or rage powers in so far as there are deep and basic insights, The difference is you can take the deep insights early on, but are limited in using them. All in all 6 bonus feats and 8 special abilities are taken away, and 11 insights are added to each character, which is a nice balance since you can tailor the insights to fit your concept. Good work! Oh, and did I mention there are 152 chooseable insights available? Yes, 152, and almost all are at least good, some great. You can construct any character build you want with a well of possibilities like this. Of those 152, 6 are the special abilities monks lost due to the addition of insights, so if you want you can rebuild most of the standard monk with this new systems also, though you'll have to replace the bonus feats with complimentary insights, which should be possible in most cases.

The other main change is about flurry of blows, generally speaking you get less attacks with them but are more likely to hit, since all are equal in strength and tied to your BAB. While mathematically the hits you are likely to achieve with both methods are about equal, the misses are reduced with this method. Mathematics to prove this claim are included, and while I'm no mathemagician (pun intended) to verify it, at least it reduces the attack time at the table if someone can roll many dices at once instead of one after another with different change modifiers on each. Also, who doesn't like to roll many dices at once, like in a fireball?

Like the changes in flurry of blows some other changes are explained on three pages as well, for example the high movement but full attack for flurries, and are adressed with the insights. There are even suggested combination to take full advantages of some ideas and a reference table for the insights.

Last but not least there are some full basic builds for inspiration or to use as NPCs, fully fleshed out with a picture, Before Combat, During Combat and Morale lines, suggested encounters and so on. All in all we get 7 monks ranging from CR ½ to CR 18, every one of them about a page long.

On top of that, we get new toys like feats, lots of favored class boni (surprisingly none of them race.tied), new magic items and thoughts about using the existing archtypes with the new changes.

Now, normally you would read in my reviews about things I liked and those I don't, but in this supplement almost everything is good or even very good, so I just go to the part of minor complains and questions which are mostly easily fixed.

Thoughts about improving the material:
- The supplement could use a table of content. Its heavily bookmarked, which is another plus on my list, but if you have printed it a table would make it more easy to handle;
- there are four levels where nothing special does happen when you reach them, no special ability, no better BAB, damage or whatever. All are uneven luckily, so you get a feat like every other class does in those levels, but design-wise I'd I'd let slow fall happen a level later in all cases just to fill the blanks. Obviously this is a very minor complain;
- with the allowed weapons being identical with the Core Rulebook a chance was missed in my eyes, I'd have included other weapons out of Ultimate Combat, Ultimate Equipment or some other product here;
the same happens with the maneuvers you can substitute in a flurry, I'd have added reposition to that list;
- the Ex-Monk section is contrary to the Beyond Order feat that is introduced later on which does allow non-lawful monks. I'd rule that the feat superceeds, but its not mentioned, and it would be interesting to know what would happen if the character took the feat later on. Will he be a full monk again?
- Flawless Mantra should be renamed into Advice, Flawless or something like that, so the connection to the Advice-insights is more easy to find;
- likewise Maneuver Training should be renamed, since the Core monk does have an ability with the same name, but different mechanics, which may confuse;
- sometimes the 'Meditation Insight' is named as a requirement, but there are insights like Meditation of the Beast. Do they qualify?
- With Drunken Master the penalty is a poison effect. What is the synergy with Diamond Body? Also a reference to the alcohol-rules in the Core Rulebook would have been nice;
- are reach melee attacks included in the damage of Elemental Awakening Fire?
- Why is Elemental Mastery Water limited to enemies, but Fire isn't?
- Why does Faster Movement end with level 17? Wouldn't be +10 feet an acceptable choice?
- Kyton Pact, fourth line: 50 what? Hp, I assume;
- Does Monkey foot count against the movement of the current round or the next round like the feat Step Up does?
- The table on page 3 is a bit lower on the page than it should be. Asura Curse and Accurate Self should both be deep insights (they have the asterisk).

All in all you see I'm nitpicking here – it tells about how little is wrong if I mention such things as I do above. My two a bit bigger complaint are about the Improved Wholeness of Body Insight, it turns the monk too much into a healer in my eyes, and the synergy of the various Cat-Insights with the feats Piranha Strike and Slashing Grace. I think here a failsave should be added to limit powerbuilding. Finally I'd tie the Favored Class Options to races, tagging on the better ones to classes with limited powers and vice versa can level the field a bit.

Conclusion:
All in all, the author claims this work being a labor of love, and it sure is. There is a lot of thoughts and experiences and, yes, love in these pages. I can wholly recommend buying it. I never played a monk myself, nor was I ever interested in playing one, but this supplement makes me want to try one. For this, its 5 of 5 stars and the the first time I'll give out the crown of approvement. Great work!

Have fun!


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