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Viper Monk (Monk)


Round 2 - Top 32: Create an archetype

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Luz

Viper Monk (Monk)
Combining deliberate patience with deadly speed, the snake is regarded by some monks as the perfect balance of physical and mental discipline. Such is the way of the viper monk, who turns calm energy into lethal venom with lightning-fast strikes. He calculates his moves with the fluidity of a snake, while his mind and body are so attuned he can produce a natural poison to neutralize his foes. A viper monk does not use a closed fist in combat, preferring an open hand for penetrating thrusts and finger strikes.
Venom Strike (Ex): At 1st level, a viper monk can poison opponents with an unarmed strike. This attack functions exactly like a monk’s Stunning Fist ability, with the following exceptions: an opponent is poisoned instead of stunned on a failed Fortitude save (DC 10 + ½ the viper monk’s level + the viper monk’s Con modifier). The poison deals 1d4 Constitution damage per round for two rounds, and poisoned creatures can make a Fortitude saving throw each round to negate the damage and end the affliction. At 5th level, the poison gains a secondary effect of 1 point of Constitution bleed. At 10th level, the poison also inflicts 1d4 Strength damage for two rounds. At 15th level, the secondary effect also inflicts 1 point of Strength bleed. Secondary effects can be negated with a successful Fortitude saving throw. The viper monk is immune to his own poison, and constructs, oozes, plants, undead, incorporeal creatures, and creatures immune to poison cannot be poisoned with venom strike. This ability replaces Stunning Fist.
Lunge (Ex): At 4th level, a viper monk gains Lunge as a bonus feat, even if he does not meet the prerequisites. This ability replaces slow fall.
Ki Venom (Su): At 13th level, a viper monk can choose any two ability scores to be damaged with his venom strike. He must spend 6 points from his ki pool as a swift action, and the two ability scores chosen cannot be the same ability. This lasts until the start of his next turn. This ability replaces diamond soul.
Nest of Vipers (Ex): At 15th level, a viper monk can use his venom strike with all unarmed attacks during a full round action. This includes his flurry of blows and lasts until the start of his next turn. A viper monk can use this ability once per day, and he must announce his intent before making his attack rolls. This ability replaces quivering palm.
Snake Stance (Ex): At 17th level, a viper monk cannot be tripped or knocked prone. This ability replaces tongue of the sun and moon.

RPG Superstar 2009, Contributor

There are things I like and don't like about this one. First, the good. The concept of a viper-based monk "style" is a good one. Tiger, monkey, dragon, mantis...and snake. Works for me. I like the Lunge ability as a bonus feat...though, I might have suggested simply making that one available as one of the monk's bonus feats at a certain level rather than automatically assign it. You could throw in some other snake-esque feats as well, like Strike Back and maybe even Nimble Moves and Acrobatic Steps to ignore difficult terrain. My point here is I liked where you were headed. I just think you could have pushed it further. I also like the Snake Stance ability, too. Darn snakes are nigh impossible to keep down. You might even want to take this high-level ability a little further and grant a bigger bonus on grapple checks or CMBs in general.

Now, for the stuff I didn't like as much. Venom Strike...and the other powers like Ki Venom and Nest of Vipers grants a poison ability? That's a bit more monster-esque than something I'd imagine a monk developing in the course of their study. You've indicated it's an (Ex)traordinary Ability, which means its basis should be less (Su)pernatural or (Sp)ell-Like and more physical in nature. So, how exactly does a monk manage to make his fists venomous? I have a hard time reconciling that in my mind. I could buy it more if it was a (Su)pernatural Ability like the Elemental Fist of the Monk of the Four Winds archetype. Or, if you'd built some method of assassin-like poison-use whereby such a monk could poison his fingernails or something, that would have helped explain it.

In addition, I really didn't like the poison itself. To grant 1d4 Con damage per round (even if it's only for 2 rounds) is really potent. And then you can deal Con bleed damage at higher levels? Then it gets magnified to include Str damage along with more bleed? And later on, he can pick two ability scores to affect? You're breaking new ground here and I'm uncomfortable with it from a game-balance perspective. So, while your core idea is pretty cool, you took a sharp turn off into no man's land as soon as you dove into the poison attack stuff...especially the bleed damage mixed with ability damage. Everything else is strong...and, if anything saves you, it'll be that flavor and the more balanced snake-like abilities...along with your wondrous item.

As is, however, I DO NOT RECOMMEND this archetype design to advance. But, I have a feeling you might make it through on mojo and body of work so far. Thus, I'm going to advise you now to double-down on your rules-fu and ensure you aren't going over the top. Best of luck in the voting.

CEO, Goblinworks

Total Points: 2 Points
Recommendation: Not recommended for advancement

Comments In Detail

Name & Theme (.5 point)
I'm very meh on the name but it does match the theme (mostly)

Mechanics (.5 point)
The focus of this archetype is the Venom Strike feature. This should have been Supernatural unless you can explain how a human or demihuman suddenly learns to excrete poison from its hands.

You've tumbled into GM hell here. Changing ability scores is nasty nasty nasty to the GM, who has to recalculate all sorts of things (hit points, to hit / damage scores, etc.)

There's really nothing "snakey" about this archetype. The toss off 17th level feature sucks. It's like you thought "whoa nellie! I almost forgot to do something snakelike!" I'd much rather be able to speak with any living creature.

Awesomeness (0 points)
Not awesome. Not better than a basic monk. A GM headache.

Template (1 point)
You followed the template well.

Context (0 points)
You bring this to my game and I'll hate you. Every Single Combat I'm going to be re-calculating stats. After a handful of sessions I'm going to nerf this ability just for my own sanity.

Paizo Employee Developer

This is one of several monk archetypes this round, and I'm pleased to see people working on new things for my favorite class. I love the description you give and the theme you've chosen. Monks lend themselves to this sort of animal-inspired fighting style. So let's see how you did!

First we have venom strike...hrm. That's a strong poison to grant without any cost, even limited to number of times per day like Stunning Fist. Given the choice between stunning and reducing someone's Con (and thus hp) by as many as 8 points in 2 rounds, I'd choose the poison every time. Add the Con bleed at higher levels, and the ability to do this over and over again against the same opponent, thus increasing the DC and duration of the poison, you're looking at an ability that is far superior to the trade-off class feature sacrificed to attain it.

Lunge is awesome, and just the sort of thing I'd expect from a snake monk. I wish there'd been more of this sort of ability and the later snake stance, rather than spending ki to fiddle with his magic (or Extraordinary, as the case may be) poison. Even granting the alchemist or assassin's poison use ability would have been a balanced, thematic choice.

You started with a really cool concept and I see that you had some idea of how to execute it from the Lunge and snake stance abilities, but you diverted from that path for something really wahoo and unbalanced with the poison stuff. I think there's a definite place in the game for poison-wielding monks and a snake style is probably a good place for it. But the mechanics you chose to represent it were a misstep, and a fairly large one. I DO NOT RECOMMEND this archetype for advancement, but it's up to the voters at this point. Best of luck.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

Venom Strike: Urk, I don't want to be recalcing monsters in every battle. This ability is as good as the poison use ability of other classes. And I can't recall if there are any effects that give "Constitution bleed." And at higher levels, it's doing Con damage and Str damage, so that's two things I need to recalc for the monster. And you don't need to call out that creatures immune to poison are immune to this obviously poison-based ability.

Lunge: You're replacing a passive noncombat ability with an active combat ability. Power up!

Ki Venom: This makes venom strike even more cumbersome. Bleh.

Nest of Vipers: And now my monsters are facing even higher poison DCs because all of your attacks are poisoned.

I'm sorry, this is too much work for the GM, and it'll strongly tempt the GM to shut down all your class abilities with delay poison or poison-immune monsters.

RECOMMENDATION: I do NOT recommend this archetype design for advancement in the competition.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Luz

Thank you to all the judges for your comments and criticisms, this contest has been a fun learning experience so far. Hopefully the voters will see things differently, but I look forward to adding further discussion after the voting for this round.

Osirion RPG Superstar 2009 Top 4 , Star Voter 2013 aka raidou

Trevor, I thought your Talisman of Synchronicity was a lot of fun and had the potential for some really creative gaming. Your Viper Monk starts us off with some flavor text... it's good to have background but I fear there's too much of it. You're taking away from your ability to describe and clarify your abilities. Hopefully that won't matter.

viper monk wrote:
Venom Strike (Ex): At 1st level, a viper monk can poison opponents with an unarmed strike.

This is the core of the Viper Monk; the ability to produce poison instead of a stunning fist. As written , it's got some issues. First, I don't buy this as an (Ex) ability. Second, the combined poison damage/bleed to strength and constitution is way over the top. Every class that allows you to use poison makes it very costly to do, whether in terms of gold pieces or feats/talents. This is too deadly for too little given up. Lastly, you don't need to list all the creatures that are immune to poison.

viper monk wrote:
Lunge (Ex): At 4th level, a viper monk gains Lunge as a bonus feat, even if he does not meet the prerequisites. This ability replaces slow fall.

Thematic ability and actually gives up a significant amount (slow fall, sure, but also access to things like Spider Step and Cloud Step.) But not a very interesting one. Feats for class abilities is not particularly innovative.

viper monk wrote:
Ki Venom (Su): At 13th level, a viper monk can choose any two ability scores to be damaged with his venom strike. He must spend 6 points from his ki pool as a swift action, and the two ability scores chosen cannot be the same ability. This lasts until the start of his next turn. This ability replaces diamond soul.

Interesting use of Ki, and correctly pegged at (Su). Of all your abilities, I think this is the strongest in terms of a balance between theme and game mechanics.

viper monk wrote:
Nest of Vipers (Ex): At 15th level, a viper monk can use his venom strike with all unarmed attacks during a full round action. This includes his flurry of blows and lasts until the start of his next turn. A viper monk can use this ability once per day, and he must announce his intent before making his attack rolls. This ability replaces quivering palm.

This is the ability where all my issues with Venom Strike get cranked up to 11. Flurry of blows and a poison attack synergize way too well. Throw in an extra attack from your ki pool, a couple more from Medusa's Wrath, and suddenly you're boosting your poison DC up to un-saveable levels.

viper monk wrote:
Snake Stance (Ex): At 17th level, a viper monk cannot be tripped or knocked prone. This ability replaces tongue of the sun and moon.

As a near capstone, this seems pretty tame by comparison to the main abilities of this archetype.

Trevor, I think it's an interesting archetype in terms of theme, but the mechanics holding this guy together don't work for me. I have not read through all the archetypes, so I may give it a second look once I've got some more to compare it to.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Luz

Eric Bailey wrote:

Trevor, I thought your Talisman of Synchronicity was a lot of fun and had the potential for some really creative gaming. Your Viper Monk starts us off with some flavor text... it's good to have background but I fear there's too much of it. You're taking away from your ability to describe and clarify your abilities. Hopefully that won't matter.

viper monk wrote:
Venom Strike (Ex): At 1st level, a viper monk can poison opponents with an unarmed strike.

This is the core of the Viper Monk; the ability to produce poison instead of a stunning fist. As written , it's got some issues. First, I don't buy this as an (Ex) ability. Second, the combined poison damage/bleed to strength and constitution is way over the top. Every class that allows you to use poison makes it very costly to do, whether in terms of gold pieces or feats/talents. This is too deadly for too little given up. Lastly, you don't need to list all the creatures that are immune to poison.

viper monk wrote:
Lunge (Ex): At 4th level, a viper monk gains Lunge as a bonus feat, even if he does not meet the prerequisites. This ability replaces slow fall.

Thematic ability and actually gives up a significant amount (slow fall, sure, but also access to things like Spider Step and Cloud Step.) But not a very interesting one. Feats for class abilities is not particularly innovative.

viper monk wrote:
Ki Venom (Su): At 13th level, a viper monk can choose any two ability scores to be damaged with his venom strike. He must spend 6 points from his ki pool as a swift action, and the two ability scores chosen cannot be the same ability. This lasts until the start of his next turn. This ability replaces diamond soul.

Interesting use of Ki, and correctly pegged at (Su). Of all your abilities, I think this is the strongest in terms of a balance between theme and game mechanics.

viper monk wrote:
Nest of Vipers (Ex): At 15th level, a viper monk can use his venom strike with all unarmed attacks during
...

Thanks very much for your insight, Eric. I appreciate all of your comments and I do agree with some of the issues raised, but will save my response until after the voting.

Osirion RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014 aka Steven T. Helt

This was designed with no thought for game balance. In addition to the sort of absurdity of pisoning people with your fists as an Extraordinary ability, it's way too powerful at first level. Dealing more damage and bleed as early as 5th level is just silly-powerful. You had a better idea when you were jsut tinkering with the image of a snake-style monk. If you're gona make the snake kung fu posionous, make it a fairly cool poison at highlevel as a (Su) ability. I think people would really go for that. As is, it's too powerful, doesn't really emulate snakes, gets way more than it gives up (if I want to stun AND poison people I'll just take the feat, right?).

To make matters worse, this really seems inspired by one of those awful damage-per-second sort of games, and that is the exact opposite of Superstar to me.

Biggest single concern is EXACTLY that it makes the GMs' job harder. Unless you want all GMs to just throw down a heroe's feast on all your encounters, just like you heathen players are always doing to us. I agree poison has huge potential but causes little actual damage in most games. It DOES need some love. But your attempt is not the way.

Sorry, man. Out of three, we have three ideas that were neat to visualize until their contestants startyed adding mechanics. THen the game broke down and the class became completely unplayable.


Really like the concept would love to try this out in a campaign. I agree about the poison being (su) rather than (ex) like your ki being poison or something but deffinitly want to see more from you! you have my vote

Grand Lodge Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Name and concept: The basic idea seems to be going in an interesting direction, though I'm not sure it has gelled enough into a compelling image. Some of the prose had me raising eyebrows.
Archetype mechanics, expression of the concept: Venom Strike is really not (Ex), unless this monk mutates to have venom glands in his fingertips. That's strong poison - I would have preferred to see it scale by level - even before it gets additional nastiness at what seems like fairly low levels. Although Stunning Fist adds extra abilities by level, and less creatures are immune to it, I'm far from convinced it is this good.
Lunge swaps a situational utility power for a good combat feat.
Ki Venom costs how much? It hardly seems worth a third to half the monk's daily abilities except in special circumstances (kill the spellcaster). Again, this swaps a defensive power for offense.
Nest of Vipers: Potentially 48 points of damage plus bleed to two ability scores, with six to twelve saving throws to pass (unless they possibly stack for +10 save DC) seems more than the loss of quivering palm is worth.
Snake Stance: Gives up a flavourful ability for a combat boost. I can't say it's overpowered, though.
Wider relationships: Animal style monks are not new. I seem to recall seeing some for Pathfinder, though not from Paizo, though I could be wrong. In any case, this doesn't go far into that historical idea.

I don't think I can support the writing or balance here.


I love the name and the concept.

I think it may be too powerful to give the venom ability at 1st level. Also, I prefer to see some kind of build up to the ability to deliver poison. Maybe give immunity to poison at one level, and then the ability to create poisons and coat the monk's fists with them, and finally the monk's body naturally creates and delivers the poison. I'm sure there's a much better way to do it than I just did, but the idea of a progression ,even just a few levels, would appeal more to me.

The viper monk is immune to his own poison, and constructs, oozes, plants, undead, incorporeal creatures, and creatures immune to poison cannot be poisoned with venom strike.

Is it necessary to state that creatures immune to poision are immune to the poison delivered by a venom strike?

I like that the lunge feat feels like it fits with the archetype.


I think the idea of a monk with venom is cool.
It's pretty tough, but hardly a doom to all creatures.

I don't quit understand the concern over nest of vipers.
It's pretty much the same thing as a monk using flurry of blows with poisoned shuriken. Aside from the physical damage.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Marathon Voter 2014 aka Serpent

Despite the judges' somewhat negative reviews, I think your archetype has a strong mojo and some good flavor! I wish you the best of luck in the contest! :)


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

I like the concept. In my campaign there's a serpent priestess/monk that tries to accomplish this flavor.

The CON bleed seems way too much, however. Bleed in general is fine - our game's "serpent style" uses Belier's Bite to do 1d4 hp bleed on hits.

Though on the other hand, people have vipers as animal companions and all, and they do:

Bite—injury; save Fort DC 9; frequency 1/round for 6 rounds; effect 1d2 Con damage; cure 1 save.

with the DC going up with their HD and size.

And both a viper's bite and Belier's Bite are applied to every hit, not just a limited-times-per-day. So maybe CON bleed is fine. Admixing with the other stat drains is a PITA for the DM, but CON bleed is quick and easy (hp and Fort save goes down, that's it).

Perhaps start it at 1d4 hp bleed (1), then to 1d2 CON bleed (5), then to 1d4 CON bleed (10) and 1d6 CON bleed (15). That is "powerful," but an assassin using poison or various casters' ray spells can all do the same kind of thing, it's not "unbalanced." (any monk or fighter can take Belier's Bite at level 1 for example.)

Now for the Su vs Ex - I think maybe you are watching Five Deadly Venoms or similar kung fu movie while designing this archetype, right? For everyone else, there's a commonly reused trope in these movies where some dude has bunches of stuff bite and sting him over time until he is so poisonous that his touch can kill. I assume this is your inspiration and that is why you're interpreting it as Ex - but I would say that getting venom fist is not "normal," that it's the channeling of the monk's ki that makes it possible, so that is still a "supernatural" effect. I do see your point, though, of "he's full of venom which exists one way or the other."

"no trip" is weak for the level 17 ability, I like it and also would like to see some kind of gradated anti-grapple/trip/etc benefits over the levels. Of course with the super high monk CMD it's not like they ever have this happen to them anyway... Maybe some sort of freedom of movement/can't be tied up or entangled thing.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013

The poison strike and poison ki is a bit overkill. That it's (Ex) and there's no chance of self poisoning (or running out) kills it for me before I sink my teeth into the rest of the class.

I'm sorry, I can't vote for this.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

H'm Viper Monk eh? Sounds like it could be interesting, lets dive into it then.

The first thing I notice is the amount of flavor text at the beginning. Description is good but it seems to carry on for a little to long. Not a show stopper but does set me off from the get go. I do really enjoy the theme you have here though, definitely a great concept for a monk.

So the defining feature of this class is the Viper Strike, and unfortunately I think you may have shot yourself in the foot with it. It sounds like it would be a pain to deal with as a GM, and also seems to be fairly overpowered.
I don't really agree with the criticism that going (Ex)traordinary was a bad choice, it all depends on how the reader sees this ability functioning. Maybe adding some flavor text here would have alleviated some of this.

All the changes not related to Viper Strike are great though . Really ties into the theme well, while providing useful utility.

You might have one of my votes here. I'm willing to look over some mechanics issues if the flavor behind it is good.

Best of Luck.

Qadira RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6, Contributor , Dedicated Voter 2013

I wanted to call out that I think a monk who secretes poison sounds like a lot of fun, and that I love the ki-based ability to change what the poison does. There's other flaws here that unfortunately mean I won't be voting for the viper monk, but do think you had a fun idea here.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

I'm sorry that this is getting such a negative response, because my first impression was that this was a really excellent idea with a mostly-competent execution. There are definitely things that could have been better though.
It's odd that your additional effects for Venom Strike are all cumulative. The Pathfinder monk's Stunning Fist ability grants him variety, not power (before 20th level all the status effects he can cause are weaker than stunning, but they last longer; this certainly makes some of them better, but not ALWAYS better). Stunning is pretty powerful, but before 20th it never gets "strictly better", and this does. Which is unfortunately, because there are a lot of things you could have done here (sleep poison, blinding poison, etc) as an alternative to heaping the ability-damage-pile higher and higher.
The bleed effects are poorly considered. There is already a rules term for ability bleed which can be stopped with a fortitude saving throw; it's called "poison". What you really want to do here is increase the poison's duration and/or damage, because there's no reason why a monster should be making more than 1 save per round for any of this. In fact all of the advancement effects look poorly considered to me. I'm really not even sure what a 20th level Viper Monk does; which effects are cured by which saves, which effects have durations separate from the "primary" poison duration, whether bleed is inflicted with the poison or inflicted by the poison, etc, etc.
I'm with Neil in that I would have made this (Su), but I see where the author is coming from, in that a lot of existing (Ex) monk powers are also downright impossible. Either way, making knife-hand strikes which poison your victim is really freaking cool.
So, what's the deal with Nest of Vipers? I was under the impression that Stunnning Fist can already apply to every attack you make (if you're willing to burn though your daily uses that fast) and nothing here appears to change that. Was the intent to give multiple attacks off of one daily use?

Theoretically, and in my judgment, there's really nothing wrong with 1d4 or 1d4+1 points of con damage. That's less powerful than stunning, and (unless I'm reading the affliction rules wrong) also less likely to actually work, even when every attack is poisoned. Each creature is entitled to a fortitude save to ignore each dose of poison, AND gets a save each round to cure all doses currently in effect. The worst case scenario is that he takes damage once per round (with an escalating DC), but he is entitled to at least two saves before he ever starts taking damage, and a save at any point will set him back to zero doses. And in terms of complexity, is it that hard to keep subtracting a monster's level from it's HP, and 1 from its fort save? Really?

The biggest and most damaging problem with this, I think, was that he just piled on too much crap with the venom's improving effects. He saw how over-the-top the monk's alternate status effects get, he took that as an excuse to cut loose with his poison damage, and he made a mess of the ability. But the core concept, inflicting con damaging poison with his hands, is really fantastic, and I feel that the rest of the class was also well executed.

Star Voter 2013

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I love the concept. I'm now going over in my head how I would do it though, because I find the execution flawed.

My first reaction to Venom Strike was "has he read the poison rules?" The ability seemed very confusing the way it is presented. As it stands, it is unlike any poison in the book already. Perhaps you should have tried to present it like a poison from the core book.
DC: 10+1/2lvl+con modifier
Onset: -
Frequency: 1/round for 2 rounds
Effect: 1d4 con damage + 1d4 str damage(lvl10)
Additional: 1 con bleed(lvl5) +1 str bleed(lvl15)
Cure: 1 save for bleed, 2 saves for primary

presented this way, you can see it is very different than anything in the book, which has mostly 4 and 6 round poisons, no effects after the poison wears off, and the cure is consistent.

I think a better poison for what you want would be:
DC & Onset: same
Frequency: 1/round for 6 rounds
Effect: 1d4 con damage +1d4 str damage (lvl 10)/1 con damage (+1 at lvl 5) + 1 str damage (+1 at lvl 15).
Cure: 1 save

This would only apply the 1d4s on the first round and make it static loss over time. It eliminates the drain but makes it last a consistent number of rounds, like most poisons. Also, you can now compare it to the costs of poison much easier. This is easily a 2000 gp poison that the player gets to use multiple times per day at level 1, and by the high levels it easily gets up into the 5K range. I think here it is easy to see that it is an extremely powerful poison and should be toned down.

Next: Nest of Vipers I am unsure of. I really dont like the idea of the player ramping up this poison save DC that much. It will already be decent at that point, and with 6 attacks on FoB you are looking at over a potentially over DC30 1d4+1 str and con damage for 7 rounds.

Note: I do not mind the con bleed. Fighters can already do it. I just htink the poison execution was poor and not matching the mechanics well. It seems more like a 3.5 poison.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

Caineach wrote:
This is easily a 2000 gp poison that the player gets to use multiple times per day at level 1, and by the high levels it easily gets up into the 5K range. I think here it is easy to see that it is an extremely powerful poison and should be toned down.

Poisons are expensive because you don't give up anything to use them (they're in addition to any other affects of your attack). The Viper Monk gives up Stunning Fist to do this; there isn't a "stunned 1 round" poison for direct comparison, but the few poisons which disrupt or take away actions are also very expensive.

If you're already poisoned and suffer another attack from the same poison, do you get a save to resist the second dose as usual, or does it automatically add 2 to the DC of future saves? This is something I'm personally unclear on.

Anyway, great breakdown and thank you for posting it.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8 , Marathon Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014 aka Demiurge 1138

I like the idea of a venomous monk, ala Five Deadly Venoms, but this is definitely not the way to do it. That poison starts out very powerful for any level, let alone 1st, and only gets more over-the-top powerful from there. Ability score bleed does exist in the game (a few cards in the Critical Hit and Miss decks and a monster or two in Bestiary 2), but it's one of the most evil abilities in the game. Without access to a spell that takes 3 levels to cast, the victim is well and truly screwed. And we've got a class that can do that one hit per level starting at level 5!

I will not be voting for this entry.

Star Voter 2013

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I would like to note again: Fighters can get con bleed at level 11 by utalizing Deadly Stroke. Its not something unheard of for PCs to have, but the only currently available method is also fairly difficult to pull off as a feat that has 5 prereqs, 1 of which requires fighter 8, and also needing 11 BAB.

Nicolas,
Additional doses increase the DC by 2 and durration by 1/2, no save. The unresolved question is if they make the first save immediately or on their turn. If immediately, (method A) and they were hit say 4 times, would they make up to 4 saves, until they fail one, and hits after the first one they fail add to the DC on subsequent rounds (making low DC poisons completely worthless because no one will fail a DC 13 consistently enough, even if they have to make 4). If they roll a save on their turn for the first time (method B), then the DC stacks before they ever start making a save, and with 4 hits that DC 13 poison is already a DC19 before their first save. Personally, I use method B, but the rules are unclear on this.

Either way, I feel like Trevor didn't really know the poison stacking rules when designing this archtype, because nest of vipers just starts to confuse me with this poison, and it becomes quite obsurd.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter 2013

I like the snake style martial arts here, they always look so cool in the movies. That said, you kind of over did it with the poison. 8 con is a big deal, thats 4hp per hit die, which is nearly half the hp of a creature who rolls D8's and 2/3 the hp of a creture with D4's. The Str damages is almost needless at that point but it gets piled on anyways. Poison you don't have to buy, especially con poison is a horrible thing in the hands of a PC. Nearly every encounter something will go down from this, and the fun will go down with it. I also think that not being tripped or prone is cool, but should have come much sooner, it 17th level I want something really cool.


Your venom strike missed the mark, mate. If you had reeled it in a bit to be more in line with serpents fang (a la serpentine bloodline for sorcerers) this would've worked better. Snake stance and lunge are fitting and the concept is very strong, so I may hold my eighth vote for this one.


Trevor Watson wrote:

Viper Monk (Monk)

Combining deliberate patience with deadly speed, the snake is regarded by some monks as the perfect balance of physical and mental discipline. Such is the way of the viper monk, who turns calm energy into lethal venom with lightning-fast strikes. He calculates his moves with the fluidity of a snake, while his mind and body are so attuned he can produce a natural poison to neutralize his foes. A viper monk does not use a closed fist in combat, preferring an open hand for penetrating thrusts and finger strikes.

Disclaimer:

You should know the drill by now, but in case you missed it the first time round, Ask A RPGSupersuccubus is posting from the point of view of a CE aligned succubus:
Spoiler:
Fairness is an adjective applicable to hair coloration, balance is what a couple of mortals rapidly losing it on opposite ends of a plank pivoted on a rocky spire a couple of hundred feet above a slowly rising pool of molten basalt try to do, and logic is one of those things which you could swear is there when you rattle the piggybank but if anyone other than a demon opens it the contents turn out to be a couple of dead moths and a three week old shopping list.
;)

Would you want this person sitting next to you as a guest at a formal evening dress dinner party?
Yes. I'm immune to a Viper Monk's poison, but I do want to try and find out how and where in his hands he keeps it. Trevor Watson has been kind enough to point out in his initial treatise that a viper monk's poison is neither generated by a spell-like ability, nor otherwise of supernatural origins, so viper monks must have pouches or sacs or altered sweat-glands or something...
Sitting next to a viper monk through a thirteen course meal should give me plenty of time to study him and work out where the poison comes from.

How effective a flower-picker does this person seem likely to be?
Deliberate patience... deadly speed... It might seem overkill to a mortal to send a viper monk out to pick flowers. However, such a mortal has clearly not grasped that in the language of the Abyss, the word 'overkill' exists solely in connection with a clause meaning 'it costs I, the speaker, too much'. So, a viper monk should be quite good at picking flowers (jumping over hedgehogs, swinging from vines, and ducking decapitating traps to do it) and - unless he's too expensive - frankly whether he 'overdoes' things or not in the process is of no concern to me. Plant matter does not seem to be susceptible to his venom, so I'm not even concerned if he gets a bit over-excited during proceedings and happens to exude poison all over any flowers he happens to be carrying at the time.

Could you hire one person like this to do a better job than one other trained mercenary and/or to do the jobs of two (or more) other trained mercenaries?
Yes, a viper monk kicks butt more enthusiastically than the regular monastic aesthetic. Anything he does sacrifice in defensive training to achieve that doesn't concern me very much. Definitely better value for money than the average monk.

Other comments?
I'm not generally fond of members of monastic orders, but viper monks appear to have a bit more dash and panache to about them than their more regular brethren.

Desirability:
Hireable. Possibly even bodyguard material.

Further Disclaimer:
Ask A RPGSupersuccubus (with half an eye on Lord Orcus) would like to clarify that mortal voters should probably rely on more than just her own (impeccable) assessments in making up their minds on how to vote. Thank You.


Trevor Watson wrote:

Viper Monk (Monk)

Combining deliberate patience with deadly speed, the snake is regarded by some monks as the perfect balance of physical and mental discipline. Such is the way of the viper monk, who turns calm energy into lethal venom with lightning-fast strikes. He calculates his moves with the fluidity of a snake, while his mind and body are so attuned he can produce a natural poison to neutralize his foes. A viper monk does not use a closed fist in combat, preferring an open hand for penetrating thrusts and finger strikes.
Venom Strike (Ex): At 1st level, a viper monk can poison opponents with an unarmed strike. This attack functions exactly like a monk’s Stunning Fist ability, with the following exceptions: an opponent is poisoned instead of stunned on a failed Fortitude save (DC 10 + ½ the viper monk’s level + the viper monk’s Con modifier). The poison deals 1d4 Constitution damage per round for two rounds, and poisoned creatures can make a Fortitude saving throw each round to negate the damage and end the affliction. At 5th level, the poison gains a secondary effect of 1 point of Constitution bleed. At 10th level, the poison also inflicts 1d4 Strength damage for two rounds. At 15th level, the secondary effect also inflicts 1 point of Strength bleed. Secondary effects can be negated with a successful Fortitude saving throw. The viper monk is immune to his own poison, and constructs, oozes, plants, undead, incorporeal creatures, and creatures immune to poison cannot be poisoned with venom strike. This ability replaces Stunning Fist.
Lunge (Ex): At 4th level, a viper monk gains Lunge as a bonus feat, even if he does not meet the prerequisites. This ability replaces slow fall.
Ki Venom (Su): At 13th level, a viper monk can choose any two ability scores to be damaged with his venom strike. He must spend 6 points from his ki pool as a swift action, and the two ability scores chosen cannot be the same ability. This lasts until the start of his next turn. This ability...


Ah, the Monk.

Since the beginning .. this fat friar tuck or skinny bruce lee always had her head band handed to her by something that had abilities untoward.

The traditional Monk bores me.

A fighter has far more advantages .. a spellcaster far more power in the long run.. as a gamer I would always opt for for one of the two, depending on my mood.

To keep things interesting you must have variety .. or the game ends up stacked with Fighter/Magic Users- this venom monk has some spark and potential .. and an edge. I would play her.

Best of luck!

Qadira RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

Overall it's a decent concept that seems to fall short in terms of being consistent with the existing poisoning rules. It also errs on the powerful side by quite a bit.

Osirion RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

It's a neat idea, and a snake style monk takes me back to old Jackie Chan movies from the 70s, but dude the abilities are just too much. Yes, there's the bookkeeping nightmare, but an alchemist or poisoner rogue that chose to focus on poison-making could be just as annoying, so I'm not going to ding you too hard on those grounds.

I'm going to ding you because the class' foundational ability is tantamount to a quickened 4th level spell usable a number of times per day equal to your level. Except it's actually BETTER than the poison spell because the DC, while it starts lower, can quickly go higher, AND it does more Con damage (1d4 vs. 1d3) AND it's (Ex) so SR doesn't help you. Shorter duration is the only negative vs. the poison spell.

Also, unlike stunning fist, failing any save against this makes any future save harder and harder; remember that Con damage whacks their Fort save against every subsequent poison attack (to say nothing of your allies' attacks).

Then full-attack mega-poison? Ouch.

I actually like the no-trip power, but again you are swapping a noncombat power (tongue of S&M... yes, it's true) for a combat one. Not a good idea.

Good choice of a theme, but execution is just not there.

Congrats on making round 2, and best of luck!


Normally, I don't like to add to the Superstar threads unless I can add new information or viewpoints. However, I can't help myself, and am compelled to echo earlier comments here. I really don't think you realized how powerful Venom Strike was when you wrote this.

Essentially, you have normal combat damage plus possibly up to 8 con damage (decreasing the target's HP by 4 times its HD, AND decreasing its Fort saves by 4), at 1st level. If the target hasn't died from a con of 0, and the target hasn't died from the combined damage/HP loss, he's now more vulnerable to future venom strikes because of his decreased Fort save.

Then it just gets crazy. You add a Con bleed at 5th level. Unfortunately, the target's Fort saves are already reduced, so this will only snowball into a bigger and bigger bad day for the target as his chances of making a save get worse and worse. This is insanely powerful against anything with low Constitution and/or Fort saves. But not only that, its also possible with a few unlucky saves on the part of the opponent that a 5th level viper monk could take out any creature not immune to poison with a single punch.

Honestly, if I were a power-gamer and this archetype were available, I'd take at least 1 level dip in this if I were playing any melee combatant, and I probably wouldn't take the viper monk past 5th level. I'd multiclass into a fighter for the higher attack progression, weapon training (choosing close, monk, or natural), and access to the fighter-only feats, just so I could max out my potential to hit opponents with this one ability as quickly as possible.

Sorry, but my opinion is that venom strike is way too good, and the archetype is too front-loaded. Congrats on making it into the competition, but I can't vote for this.

Contributor, RPG Superstar 2010 , Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Con damage is too good at low levels, Con bleed at low level is nuts. If there was Str damage at lower levels and the Con damage came later, say level 7-10 this might be more reasonable.

Ki venom makes things slightly worse because you can target the abilities you want, although this takes 6 ki points and only happens at 13th level.

Snake stance should be earlier, this is a cool ability but probably won’t see much play at that level. It is powerful, but situational.

Snakes have other abilities as well, if you had added a snake mesmerism ability that could have been flavorful.

Others have already said it all. I hope that others can look past the archetype’s execution to see that this is a cool idea and also look back to your wondrous item to see your style and well thought out mechanics there. Good luck.


Trevor Watson wrote:

Viper Monk (Monk)

Disclaimer: My ranking scheme for this round consists of given marks form 0 to 4 in the following three categories:

1.Is the Archetype conceptually interesting?
2.Are the mechanics of the Archetype interesting?
3.Are the mechanics of the Archetype balanced and well executed?
But rather than simply adding up the marks for a final score I'm gonna interpret them as a point in 3-dimensional space and the final mark of your submission will be the length of the vector between the origin and this point.
Note that my ranking doesn't need to directly correspond with my votes, as other factors like: Strength of your item submission, mood, my horrorscope and other random stuff still factor in. Also note that this scheme is highly subjective and only mirrors my perception and opinion about your archetype submission.

Conceptual Mojo (CM): 3, Viper style monks are a basic staple of fiction, and using actual poison is a nice twist.

Mechanical Mojo (MM): 2, not too many abilities, too focused on the Poison strike. Which just feels odd as an (Ex). Snake stance would have benefited from a few words of flavor

Mechanical Execution (ME): 2, your main ability is full of cans of worms, poison at early levels is hefty, at late levels a joke. Attribute bleed is way out there. Poison doesn't make sense as an Ex.

Final note: I would have liked more snake style and less poison fist.
Total Score: 4.123

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 , Star Voter 2013

Over-the-top and unlike some of the other high-powered entries this seems like it would be tough to rein back in without gutting the concept as envisioned by the author.


I want to play this one. I have always liked the monk but felt that they get too short changed at earlier levels. This one speaks to me.


Trevor Watson wrote:
Viper Monk (Monk)

NOTE: I read all archetypes before voting, but didn't get all comments posted before voting. I'm now finishing my comments.

Since I know so little about Monks I have trouble voting on these ones. Sorry.

Ken

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Luz

(whew) I'm glad that's over, I feel like a snake in the grass that has been trampled by a herd of stampeding elephants! Now, I suppose an explanation is in order:

Neil Spicer wrote:

Now, for the stuff I didn't like as much. Venom Strike...and the other powers like Ki Venom and Nest of Vipers grants a poison ability? That's a bit more monster-esque than something I'd imagine a monk developing in the course of their study. You've indicated it's an (Ex)traordinary Ability, which means its basis should be less (Su)pernatural or (Sp)ell-Like and more physical in nature. So, how exactly does a monk manage to make his fists venomous? I have a hard time reconciling that in my mind. I could buy it more if it was a (Su)pernatural Ability like the Elemental Fist of the Monk of the Four Winds archetype. Or, if you'd built some method of assassin-like poison-use whereby such a monk could poison his fingernails or something, that would have helped explain it.

In addition, I really didn't like the poison itself. To grant 1d4 Con damage per round (even if it's only for 2 rounds) is really potent. And then you can deal Con bleed damage at higher levels? Then it gets magnified to include Str damage along with more bleed? And later on, he can pick two ability scores to affect? You're breaking new ground here and I'm uncomfortable with it from a game-balance...

Venom strike was by far the ability that received the most criticism and, in hindsight, deservedly so. There isn't much I can say in my defense here that hasn't already been covered, other than I overreached with it. Its one of those things that seemed like a good idea at the time, but looking back I can see I made the viper monk's poison attack too powerful. It happens and it will cost me. Poison is a tough thing to gauge because it is far more potent on paper than it is in play, yet while I was designing this archtype I failed to recognize the full potential of this attack.

As far as choosing it to be an (Ex) ability over a (Su) ability, I was really torn. My idea behind this monk was that he could produce it naturally like a monster, but also realized it was a bit of a stretch. In the end, I went with (Ex) because I felt if diamond body (immunity to poison) is (Ex), then so should a poison ability.

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Lunge: You're replacing a passive noncombat ability with an active combat ability. Power up

There were a couple of comments like this and I think its an unfair assessment. One look at the zen archer tells me differently. With lunge and snake stance, I was going for more thematic, level appropriate choices than anything else. For instance, it didn't make sense for a snake monk to have slow fall and lunge did, so it seemed like a fair swap. Also, considering that 17 of the 23 class features for a monk are utility / defensive features, its pretty tough to avoid when designing a melee style monk.

Lastly, the issues of having to recalculate abilities. Poison is a part of the game as much as a ray of enfeeblement or an enervation and I've run groups that bang those off every round. Its part of the rules and something a GM accepts he has to deal with. Its not advanced calculus. A TWF poisoner rogue with crippling strike who uses deadly cocktail on his blades is going to potentially cause an enormous amount of ability damage on a sneak attack and the GM will still have to deal with it.

I see that my archtype had some fundamental flaws, but I do still believe this design could work with some adjustments. Thanks to everyone who took the time to read and comment and best of luck to all those in round 3! Its been fun!

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32 aka Hydro

Trevor Watson wrote:


There were a couple of comments like this and I think its an unfair assessment. One look at the zen archer tells me differently. With lunge and snake stance, I was going for more thematic, level appropriate choices than anything else.

I think that's fine, it's okay to have some give here and some take there. But Sean was right; it IS a powerup. It builds towards a case of there being too much "give" and not enough "take" overall. I think that if everything else had been fine (balance-wise) then the Lunge feat wouldn't have raised many eyebrows, because like you said, it's pretty appropriate.

For what it's worth, you got my vote in the end.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Luz

Nicolas Quimby wrote:
For what it's worth, you got my vote in the end.

Thanks very much, Nicolas! I appreciate your support.


Disclaimer:
Ask A RPGSupersuccubus is posting from the point of view of a CE aligned succubus; and in the language of the Abyss ‘sorry’ is what you make others after you’ve had a bad day, ‘commiserations’ is the concept whereby if you’ve had a miserable day you go out and make others at least as unhappy as you are, and ‘sympathy’ is military jargon for a popular model of half a mile high siege-tower with spiked wheels, ballistae and fireball hurling catapults. (By way of explanation for the latter it’s a demonic joke: ‘See, we have sympathy for your situation’.)

Obligatory End of Round 2 Results Post:

Spoiler:
In the ever-shifting chaos of Abyssal hierarchies and social-networks, Good Manners are naturally essential. One never knows when a powerful demon whom one once jostled at a dinner party and whom one never actually made sufficient reparations to for the inconvenience is going to be the new landlady of your own part of the Abyss and looking for some demons to make Very Sorry having just had a bad day herself.
Consequently a multitude of books of etiquette are in circulation with examples of ‘appropriate’ phrases to use in various situations. I shall take the liberty of quoting a few:
“Abyssal etiquette, Demon Lords” wrote:
…Greetings, your most puissant highness…
“Abyssal etiquette, Apparent Mortal Who Is Prospective Dinner” wrote:
…Why sirrah, it is a pleasure to meet you. May one inquire, is that an enchanted cold-iron dagger of demon-slaying in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?...
“Abyssal etiquette, Guests Whom There Is No Longer Any Room To Accommodate And Who Are About To Depart Through A Trapdoor Into A (Possibly) Snake Filled Pit” wrote:
…Goodbye Mr. Bond…

(The author of the work from which I derive the latter quote is incidentally a fiend with a curious affectation for monocles and white cats who happens to be a servant of Andirifkhu.)

See you around another year, perhaps. Or maybe sooner if you feel like sticking around to post for the duration of this year’s contest... ;)


Trevor, you got a vote from me as well... I really did enjoy your submission. Were there hiccups? Sure, but in my opinion, there were larger glitches - like balancing issues - in entries that made it in. Hey, you can't account for taste in a voting pool, I guess.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8 , Star Voter 2013

Trevor, thanks for the insight.

If it makes you more resolved to work on design, my typical flaw is to make things too weak instead of too strong. Keep on writing, practice makes perfect.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Luz

That Old Guy wrote:
Trevor, you got a vote from me as well... I really did enjoy your submission. Were there hiccups? Sure, but in my opinion, there were larger glitches - like balancing issues - in entries that made it in. Hey, you can't account for taste in a voting pool, I guess.

I appreciate your comments ToG. Its nice knowing some saw past the viper monk's obvious problems and liked the rest of it enough to vote.

Mathew Morris wrote:
If it makes you more resolved to work on design, my typical flaw is to make things too weak instead of too strong. Keep on writing, practice makes perfect.

Since you're living proof that lightning can strike twice, Mathew, your words of encouragement mean a lot. Thanks!

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