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Monk Problems - A Full Summary


Suggestions/House Rules/Homebrew

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Monk Problems Summarized

I would like to preface this article by saying that I love Monks, and I love Pathfinder. This is not the first time I’ve written an article along these lines, having spent some time in a previous article trying to put together an alternate archetype for people unhappy with the current situation.
But that won’t help things. I’m not a professional game designer. Not unless me and my friends finish a project in the next century anyway. I digress: The point of this is to discuss a complete, user friendly, compiled list of everything that we think is currently wrong with the Pathfinder Monk. It is my hope that the designers will read this, and in some way respond. I do not expect any of these things to change, and I do not demand it. I’m just putting this out there in the event that someone is willing to read it. I just play the game, and want my favorite class to be awesome. It is my hope that these problems, perceived or real, will be addressed or taken to heart.
Pathfinder is an amazing system. I do not intend to diminish the supreme effort that was made to bring it into being, and I do not intend to single out anyone who’s spent their time and energy making this brilliant thing a reality. I speak on behalf of the disaffected, with what I believe is the truth. I just want my favorite RPG to get even better.
With all of this said, I will pull no punches. It is time to discuss everything that I and others perceive to be wrong with the Monk. I will include potential solutions to each problem in the section. I do not expect them to be followed. It is my hope that if anyone who designs Pathfinder reads this, they will understand that players desperately want major, positive changes for the Monk.

1: Unarmed Strike or Bust.

The Explanation:
When people play Monk, they face a Catch-22. A Monk gains a steadily increasing damage dice for their Unarmed strike, increasing by 1 dice size at level 4, 8, and 12, with two potential points of damage added with each increase, and then 4 potential points added at levels 16, and 20. (AKA: 1d6, 1d8, 1d10, 2d6, 2d8, 2d10). Based on my observations, this is the single most destructive aspect of the monk. The entirety of damage that a player can do is locked into their unarmed strike. Unless the Sohei, Martial Artist, or Zen Archer monk variants are being used (also using the Flurry of Blows rules prior to the current conflict), there is no reason to use any weapon besides monk unarmed strike after level 4, because there is no way to get increased damage with any monk weapon besides monk unarmed strike. Worse yet, Monk Unarmed strike cannot be enchanted with any degree of efficiency due to the prohibitive cost of the Amulet of Mighty Fists. For better or for worse, Monk is considered a martial class, and once an enemy has been Combat Maneuvered or Stunned, some kind of damage or accuracy is required on the Monk’s part.
Furthermore, the 2d10 Unarmed Strike damage has, as near as I can tell, become a game-damaging cancer. Because of Monk’s Speed combined with their 2d10 unarmed Damage, they could not be given Full BAB because of the 8d10 damage they could deliver through Vital Strike at reasonable levels. Spring Attack and Vital Strike could not be combined, as Monks would make up for their frailties by being able to move 45 feet, strike a target for 8d10 damage, and then flee 45 feet away. This has echoed out beyond merely balancing the monk, making many players wonder what exactly the point of having Spring Attack is beyond a certain level. Furthermore, 2d10 dealt across 11 potential attacks (Haste, Flurry of Blows at level 20, Medusa’s Wrath feat, 1 Ki Point spent for a bonus attack) could lead to overwhelming potential damage in a round, so a Monk has never been allowed anything to increase their accuracy. Monk is thought of as some as a High Speed Attack Missing Machine for this reason.

Solutions?: Reduce the Monk Unarmed Damage Dice to 1d6 or 1d8. Replace their increases in Monk Unarmed Strike Damage with a bonus to attack and damage with Monk Weapons and Unarmed Strike, and give Unarmed Strike unique weapon properties that allow it to remain a unique and interesting option to use…thus allowing a player to play an unarmed or armed monk and have great utility throughout and allow a greater number of options for the player. It would also allow for Monk to have Full Base Attack Bonus. Finally, It would mean that Spring Attack and Vital Strike could be potentially stacked. After all, 4d6 and 4d8 are MUCH less threatening than 8d10. Finally, Amulet of Mighty Fists could be reasonably cheap, as Unarmed Strike would have a much smaller threat of being overwhelming.


2: MAD Monks.
The Explanation:
The two classes with the most MAD in Pathfinder are the Cleric and the Monk. The Cleric is Multiple-Attribute-Dependent, but there are very few complaints regarding this. The reason for that is because the Cleric is Multiple Attribute Dependent while gaining awesome powers for their MAD nature. No one has ever complained about the power of Channel Energy, and no one has ever complained about Divine Spells; except of course for the possibility that they are too powerful.
Monk is MAD, requiring Strength, Constitution, and Wisdom to be reasonably effective. The conception of Monk in both fluff and concept is a light, incredibly agile combatant, so most players want to give Monk a strong Dexterity score as well. Despite their MAD nature, Monks do not have the awesome power needed to justify their required statistics.
Somehow, someway, this Multiple Attribute Dependency either needs to be reduced, or Monk Powers need to be enhanced to the point that there is no reason to complain. Monk is a class that needs to be able to spend a few levels paying it’s dues, but when it’s dues are paid the result should feel worthwhile.

Solutions: Base Monk attacks off something other than Strength, like Wisdom or Dexterity. Honestly? There is no real way to FIX Monk MAD that doesn’t involve that or just making all the stats you need to play it a worthwhile investment.


3: A Class of Compromises
The Explanation:
Monk is a class built of compromises. It cannot have Full Base Attack Bonus, but it gains Full Base Attack Bonus if it is flurrying or performing Combat Maneuvers. Monk can stun a target, but it must do so with an attack roll, followed by a save the most targets will make. It’s glorious when it works, but it never seems to work when you need it to. Monk can take feats from their trees ignoring early feat prerequisites, but it can never go further in the tree using its bonus feats without first earning those original prerequisites, leading it’s combat maneuvering to be outclassed by the majority of fighting classes. Monk can jump very high and survive incredible falls if it can touch a wall using Slow Fall. This is billed as a major class feature- instead of getting access to a Feather Fall equivalent early on, much the way Ninja does. This is not an effective class feature, it is another compromise.
Monk Ki Pool is a compromise. It’s supposed to compensate for some of Monk’s weaker guaranteed resources by giving bonus attacks, bonus movement, and more abilities, all of which are static for their level, as they level. The initial bonuses of the Ki pool never get stronger, and once gained, the later enhancements such as Abundant Step and Etherealness do not become more powerful. For the later powers, this is not an issue, but the early powers start to show their age and their cost. There are a number of things you can spend a swift action on later in the game, and Ki for a single extra attack isn’t always worth it.
Anyone who does a comparison of similar power pools, such as Magus Arcane Pool and Bard Performances, will notice a distinct power disparity on all levels. Monk Ki Pool is effectively designed to give a temporary bonus for one round, whereas Magus Arcane Pool and Bard Performances are designed to last for longer periods in a fight.
An Arcane Duelist Bard can enchant a weapon with a bonus that increases as they level, and stacks with pre-existing enhancement bonuses on the weapon. A Sohei Monk can do the same thing, yet it only lasts until the end of the next round, and does NOT stack with preexisting enhancement bonuses. While still flawed, this is a great improvement over the Monk of the Empty Hand; they require a point of ki for every point of enhancement added to their improvised weapon! This is, in some cases, the nail in the class’s coffin, considering the sheer lack of magical enhancement options it has. Monk just does not get solid bonuses for the vast majority of their powers, compared to their role and to other classes in similar roles.
The compromises must end. Monk needs powers that make it’s archetypes strong and able to perform the roles it is required to fulfill. No more Half-powers and Half-bonuses or abilities of extremely limited use. It needs hard numbers, abilities that give appreciable bonuses that last for more than a round. The closest thing that allows this is the Qingong Monk. The Qingong Monk is an amazingly useful Monk variant, although it requires several monk vows to be effective. It is quite the Ki Pool guzzler.

Solutions: Honestly, this is the least important problem with Monk. The majority of these compromises (Stunning Fist, the basic applications of Ki pool, etc.) would work just fine if Monk was a little more accurate and a little less MAD. Although, items like the Sohei or Monk of the Empty Hand need more effectiveness with those weapon enchanting abilities, especially considering the cost of enchanting monk Unarmed Strike. Most of these problems arose with the alternate archetypes for monk in the Advanced Players Guide, and later Archetypes in Ultimate Magic and Ultimate Combat were geared toward avoiding these compromise problems.


I would like to thank all of the readers who took the time to read through this. It is my hope that people will read, comment, and consider my thoughts.


I don't know if that is a full summary. I have seen longer list with more complaints. If you are trying to highlight the community's issue with them I would visit some of the other monk threads, and compile all the complaints.


Admittedly, my last list WAS longer at nearly twenty pages of written material: http://paizo.com/forums/dmtz5042?Fixing-the-Pathfinder-Monk-with-1-new-arch etype#1

Admittedly, I was arrogant and foolish about it? Oh well. :(

I think most of them CAN be summed up by those three Items though, especially the way Monk Unarmed Strike has messed up the game. Actually, lets change the nature of this shall we?

Lets compile every single complaint that's come up, and put it right here. I think most of them are covered by the three items I listed, but why stop at just the Playtesting Thread? If somebody's got something, drop it here!

Oh, and because I was suddenly brainless and forgot the most recent one:

4. The ability to flurry with one weapon using Flurry of Blows and the original Rule as Interpreted for Flurry of Blows shouldn't be changed.


When talking about compromises, consider the Inquisitor judgments - sure they get fewer than the Monk gets Ki Points, but they can last all combat long, which can be incredible depending on the nature of the combat. Not saying that the Inquisitor is over-powered, just something to consider.

Sczarni

Re: Unarmed Strike or Bust

I'm not sure I agree. The fact that a monk's unarmed strikes can't be enchanted the way a weapon can means that there is a legitimate reason for a monk to carry a weapon. Does he go for 2d8 from his fists, or 1d6+1d6fire+1 damage from his +1 flaming sai? Against, say, a troll, that might not be such an obvious choice. Consider also that any non-Zen Archer monk has reason to want a ranged weapon in the event of flying enemies and whatnot.

I pretty much agree with everything else, though. Monks as they stand are all about a cool idea: Wuxia-style martial arts. The mechanics, however, are just strung out too thin for it to work like it does in the movies.

EDIT: I just had an idea. Paladins get the Divine Bond ability to magically enhance their weapons and add magical properties like flaming. What if monks got a similar ability? I'm imagining they gain their Wisdom bonus as a magic bonus to attack and damage rolls with unarmed strikes, and they can spend some of that bonus on certain weapon properties. Not sure if they'd spend ki to do this, or just get it constantly on, but it's a germ of an idea.


Thati s most certainly no where near the full list of problems with the class. The most glaring problem tends to be that many of their class features are aimed at making a totally mechanically unviable combat style (unarmed) viable when being a noncaster in and of itself already makes you weak, failing to even get that far, and giving it these half-backsies while other classes are getting actual straight improvements and boons with their class features.

RE: MAD

Clerics are far less MAD than monks. More AC and healing makes con less direly needed, spells can buff a mediocre strength, and channel energy hardly needs a super high charisma to work decently.

But the most MAD class in the game is Ninja. He lacks the good finesse-able weapons of rogue and thus needs strength. He's a freaking ninja, so obviously he needs dex. Con* is mandatory for a combat class with a d8 and poor fort saves. Int is the closest thing ninja gets to a dump stat, but it still has to be at least 10, lest you sabotage one of the main reasons to be a rogue/ninja in the first place (skill points)! Wisdom* needs at least some bonus to counter the poor will saves...rogues get the crappiest saves in the game, if you hadn't noticed. And of course Charisma. Needed for most ninja tricks, the only thing that makes ninja an improvement over rogue (it or monk being the worst class in PF) anyway. The final version ninja actually expressly increased several ki costs and removed the 1/day free use of them all, making those tricks quite expensive indeed. You can't afford to skimp much on the charisma.
So yeah, most MAD class I've ever seen. Utterly unplayable below 30 point buy or extremely high stat rolls, IMO.
*Same is true for normal rogues, of course


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
ReconstructorFleet wrote:

4. The ability to flurry with one weapon using Flurry of Blows and the original Rule as Interpreted for Flurry of Blows shouldn't be changed.

Surely you mean Rule as Misinterpreted ;)

I think the biggest problem is that people are trying to make the monk something that they were never intended to be. False expectations always breed disappointment. Trying to play a wizard as a fighter will be extremely hard. The same applies to the monk.


ReconstructorFleet,

First off, good write up. however please look at your keyboard.

You will notice there is a key marked "Enter" it will more then likley have a little arrow on it.

Please for the love of god learn to hit it once in a while.

I opened your spoilers and got crited by a wall of text wielding a scythe.

While I do not feel you spelled out all of the problems with moks I think you hit the biggies.

Then again I might have missed you hitting the others while my eyes were trying to kill me for making them read those spoilers :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Quote:


Finally, Amulet of Mighty Fists could be reasonably cheap, as Unarmed Strike would have a much smaller threat of being overwhelming.

Amulets of mighty fists will never be cheap. Its not even the monk that is the full reason for their price. Its monsters/characters with natural attacks. The item itself needs to be redesigned, one for natural weapons, one for unarmed. The unarmed one could just cost twice the cost of a magic weapon and be ok. But as long as it works as is, and there are druids, summoners, and animal companions around, you cant have the amulet of mighty fists be available at a lower cost.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Silent Saturn wrote:

Re: Unarmed Strike or Bust

I'm not sure I agree. The fact that a monk's unarmed strikes can't be enchanted the way a weapon can means that there is a legitimate reason for a monk to carry a weapon. Does he go for 2d8 from his fists, or 1d6+1d6fire+1 damage from his +1 flaming sai? Against, say, a troll, that might not be such an obvious choice. Consider also that any non-Zen Archer monk has reason to want a ranged weapon in the event of flying enemies and whatnot.

Having a choice between two bad options is not the same as having one good option. When other combat classes can both hit and do damage, why is the monk alone in having to choose between the two?

Also not addressed here was the issue of damage resistance the monk runs into.

Silent Saturn wrote:
I pretty much agree with everything else, though. Monks as they stand are all about a cool idea: Wuxia-style martial arts. The mechanics, however, are just strung out too thin for it to work like it does in the movies.

I agree. It's got everything thrown in, then nerfed to uselessness in order not to be over-powered.

Silent Saturn wrote:
EDIT: I just had an idea. Paladins get the Divine Bond ability to magically enhance their weapons and add magical properties like flaming. What if monks got a similar ability? I'm imagining they gain their Wisdom bonus as a magic bonus to attack and damage rolls with unarmed strikes, and they can spend some of that bonus on certain weapon properties. Not sure if they'd spend ki to do this, or just get it constantly on, but it's a germ of an idea.

There was a class that did this, the kensei, in 3.5, and it worked reasonably well.

If I was writing the monk from scratch I'd re-work it as follows:

Spoiler:

Ki-strike: Starting at fourth level the monk gains a +1 enhancement bonus to hit with his unarmed strike, or with ki-focus weapons. This is in effect a magical bonus, so that the monk's unarmed strike counts as a magical weapon. For every four levels the monk gains, the bonus increases by one. At 12th level the monk's unarmed strike also overcomes damage resistance bypassed by cold iron and/or silver, at 16th level they may bypass adamantine damage reduction, as well as item hardness. At 20th level they overcome alignment-based damage reduction. This replaces the existing Ki pool-based strike, but not the ki pool itself.

Unarmed Damage: At first level the monk's unarmed strike delivers 1d6 damage. Starting at 2nd level, the monk gains bonus damage when using their unarmed strike or a monk weapon from their knowledge of anatomy and their ability to maximise the force with which they strike. For every two levels in the monk class, they gain a +1 bonus to damage when attacking with monk weapons or an unarmed strike. This replaces the existing upgrading of dice.

Flurry of Blows: Regarding the FoB question, either leave it as 'Flurry of Blows is it's own thing' where you can flurry with a single weapon for all attacks, or else if it has to be TWF, MAKE it TWF! Give the monk the feats in full, and the full BAB to go with it.

Edit:

Kolokotroni wrote:
Amulets of mighty fists will never be cheap. Its not even the monk that is the full reason for their price. Its monsters/characters with natural attacks. The item itself needs to be redesigned, one for natural weapons, one for unarmed. The unarmed one could just cost twice the cost of a magic weapon and be ok. But as long as it works as is, and there are druids, summoners, and animal companions around, you cant have the amulet of mighty fists be available at a lower cost.

I agree, problem is the devs do not want to make the item 'redundant' for monks either. I came up with a suggestion in this thread if you haven't seen it.


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ReconstructorFleet wrote:
Because of Monk’s Speed combined with their 2d10 unarmed Damage, they could not be given Full BAB because of the 8d10 damage they could deliver through Vital Strike at reasonable levels. Spring Attack and Vital Strike could not be combined, as Monks would make up for their frailties by being able to move 45 feet, strike a target for 8d10 damage, and then flee 45 feet away.

To my way of thinking, it makes no sense to gimp an entire class over a single poorly-constructed feat. Change vital strike to a flat +2d6 damage, instead of basing it off of weapon damage; make it work with Spring Attack, and make it scale with BAB instead of being a feat chain (+4d6 at BAB +11, +6d6 at BAB +16).

Then you can give monks full BAB, and you can give Vital Strike to tyrannosauruses without it being an insta-kill. And PCs other than Monkey-gripping lead-blades giant greatsword-wielding anime clones will still be able to get some use from the feat.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8

Responding to only part of what's going on in here, wouldn't it be really simple to just give the monk something like the magus's arcane pool weapon enhancement (swift action to get a scaling one-minute bonus that can be spent on enhancement or properties), based off ki? The list of properties, and possibly a restriction on what weapons the monk can use this ability with, would keep it thematic.

===

Also, I understand that there are problems with monks, and I'm not going to try to come in here and say you're all wrong, but I do think that to some extent it's a matter of expectations. It's like how in another thread, I saw some comment about rogues being fine, you just need a player who wants to play a rogue. That's simplistic, but there's some truth to it. Let me just say a few things about my own (current) monk experience.

I'm playing a zen archer 7 / paladin 2. I'm surrounded by optimized min-maxed characters. Overall our party power level is very high. The party arcanist has a 28 Intelligence; the party fighter misses most CR-appropriate enemies only on a 2 or lower. I have four 18s in stats due to the MAD thing (compounded by my reliance on Charisma as the party diplomat). I hit most CR-appropriate enemies half the time. My maximum damage is lower than the fighter's, lower than the magus's (while the magus has spells). Clustered Shots however allows me to be more effective against some foes than the fighter. My range is a huge benefit, and I'm the only one in the party who can turn into a cloud of gas nine times per day. I get a lot of cool abilities (perfect strike, style feats) and as a player I am okay with not being the same damage machine the fighter is in return. If I wanted to be that machine, I'd play a fighter, who gets very few cool toys.

Maybe the zen archer is way better than the normal monk, but I'm still relevant in combat. If I were the GM, I'd probably let a monk take Clustered Shots and use it for a normal unarmed strike flurry of blows. Thematically it makes sense to me, and balance-wise it helps a bit.

I guess my point is, while the monk is definitely mechanically challenged in some ways, it doesn't bug me much. And I think if we fixed all the monk's problems, they'd be too desirable, really, perhaps obsoleting fighters to some extent. It's possible to make a monk work, if you want to play a monk. My 2¢. I'd definitely look into giving the monk a viable method for unarmed strike enhancement bonuses, but I'd be wary of giving them too many other goodies.


Flak wrote:
I do think that to some extent it's a matter of expectations. It's like how in another thread, I saw some comment about rogues being fine, you just need a player who wants to play a rogue. That's simplistic, but there's some truth to it.

Exactly -- and I'd point out that the Commoner is a perfectly good PC class as well; if your expectation is to be unable to contribute in any meaningful way, insdide of combat or out of it, by about 2nd level, it works perfectly fine. You just need a player who wants to play Otis to everyone else's Andy Griffith.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8

Hey now, that's hardly a fair response :P
(Emphasis on "but I'm still relevant in combat.")


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Flak wrote:
I guess my point is, while the monk is definitely mechanically challenged in some ways, it doesn't bug me much. And I think if we fixed all the monk's problems, they'd be too desirable, really, perhaps obsoleting fighters to some extent. It's possible to make a monk work, if you want to play a monk. My 2¢. I'd definitely look into giving the monk a viable method for unarmed strike enhancement bonuses, but I'd be wary of giving them too many other goodies.

I agree with you here, and this is the biggest problem the monk seems to have. Take this one away and the others start looking less painful.


Preventing the no brainer dip level IS the Monk's biggest challenge.
Or rather the designer's biggest challenge in the monk.


Gonna gripe on you a little bit Flak, Zen Archer is one of the best ways to play a Monk, period.

Second of all, maybe I'm the only one who spotted it, but you said you have four 18s in stats. Hell, if I had four 18s, it wouldn't really matter what class I play, he'd be a god.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8

Quote:
Second of all, maybe I'm the only one who spotted it, but you said you have four 18s in stats. Hell, if I had four 18s, it wouldn't really matter what class I play, he'd be a god.

Thanks to copious +2 stat items which eat up most of my wealth. Meanwhile everyone else in the party has higher stats for their 1 or 2 key stats (24 or 26 for the most part), and +3 weapons. So... :P

Edit: I'm not saying my experience is the same as every monk's, and I accept that the zen archer has its advantages. My goal was to illustrate that MAD isn't the end of the world, and that you can still be relevant, fun, and interesting even if you don't build your character around maximizing one ability score. None of this is to say that monks don't have problems. Cheers!


Dotting this for later.

MA


Flak: I agree with you completely. The problem of course, is that Zen Archer and Sohei are basically the two most effective, best working Monk variants in the game. Try to play a Monk of the Empty Hand, a plain old PHB Monk... basically, there ARE ways to make monk work. A Flowing Monk/Monk of the Sacred Mountain is one of my favorite ways to run a Disruptor Tank Monk. But if there's a situation where the BASIC MONK is barely useable, then there's a serious problem.

And if the fix ends up being bonus feats...I'm sorry, but as awesome as Style Feats are for Monk, they're a huge investment on a class that's already taxed heavily in regards to what feats they can actually USE. This is mostly due to the BAB requirements of most useful combat feats.

Cheapy: While I respect your opinion, I don't think that means what you think it means. Keep in mind that everything in all of the books backed the original interpretation for 4 years, and no one believed in the interpretation you're suggesting. The vast majority of people are unhappy with the potential future interpretation.

Please do not be disruptive, Cheapy.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I understand what you are saying, RF, but I think feats and items are the way that the fix has to go right now. Perhaps when the next iteration of Pathfinder comes out, things will be different. If it takes a few feats to make the monk effective, perhaps they can be also added to the list of Monk Bonus Feats at least.


Dabbler: I like your ideas, but I don't necessarily like monk getting such fantastic damage with their attacks at the expense of accuracy. Half the issue everyone has is their inability to hit, after all. I'd prefer a balance between damage and accuracy across twenty levels so they'd be competitive, but not at the top of the heap where I think that damage bonus would put them. Still, I definitely want to know what you've got in mind conceptually. :D

And more feats that a monk MUST take to be effective makes me want to cry. Although if they had cheap requirements, I guess I'd be up for that.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
ReconstructorFleet wrote:
Dabbler: I like your ideas, but I don't necessarily like monk getting such fantastic damage with their attacks at the expense of accuracy.

I'm sorry, but where have I suggested they get damage in favour of accuracy? My main proposal - a feat to allow enhancement of the unarmed strike - was an enhancement to hit only, not to damage.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I have said this before, but I would rephrase much of the monk's issues (besides MAD) to be that the monk is intended to be a, in the words of the core rulebook, "battle-minded ascetic," but Pathfinder is designed to make its PCs reliant upon gear, and specifically upon items which enhance to-hit and allow you to bypass DR.

There's also a broad issue that I think the monk concept is not clear, its purpose and role nowhere near as easy to determine as, say, a fighter or barbarian or cleric or wizard or even rogue. It's easy to say "people who don't like the monk don't get what the monk is about," but if so very many people "don't get it," maybe the problem isn't their abilities to comprehend the issue, but a lack of clarity in the concept itself.

Is the monk an unarmed specialist who can deal amazing amounts of damage with his fists? If so, why does he require external magical support to get spells to enhance his attacks, or is he forced otherwise to fight with weapons that goes against this unarmed specialist concept?

Is the monk a melee support skill monkey? If that, why not more class abilities that allow the monk to work with the party better or enhance his skills (besides acrobatics)?

Is the monk an expert in mobility? If so, why does one of his key class features force him to more or less stand still?

Is the monk a defense specialist? Is so, why isn't the monk designed to be a better damage sink, or have better AC?

Is the monk a mystic with incomprehensible abilities that allow him to do impossible things? If so, why are these abilities so limited compared to d8 spellcaster classes?

Is the monk a combat maneuver specialist? If so, why can't he get Combat Expertise as a bonus feat so as to more easily qualify for combat maneuver feats, since Int is often dumped?

The thing is, the monk TRIES to be an unarmed specialist AND a melee support skillmonkey AND a mobility expert AND a defense specialist and a mystic and a combat maneuver specialist all at once. If you're very very clever, you might find a way to milk one and make it work. But it is very hard to find a way to make the best of a given ability of the monk without diminishing or forgoing using other monk abilities.

Unfortunately, there's no way to officially fix a lot of this in the current edition, although the archetypes help to a degree. What interests me is that while many folks often say the monk is not supposed to be as good at combat/damage as others think they are, most archetypes focus on different fighting styles and combat focus, rather than, say, on the monk's defensive abilities (Iron Monk being a notable exception) or mobility or skills, which should ostensibly be as important as his fighting abilities, given he is supposed to be a d8 class. (And then we go to this dead horse of a problem--if he is supposed to be primarily a warrior, why is he a d8 class again?)

I do hope if and when there's a new edition down the line in many, many years, that the monk gets scrapped and the concept gets rewritten from scratch--even split into multiple classes as needed.


Dabbler wrote:
ReconstructorFleet wrote:
Dabbler: I like your ideas, but I don't necessarily like monk getting such fantastic damage with their attacks at the expense of accuracy.
I'm sorry, but where have I suggested they get damage in favour of accuracy? My main proposal - a feat to allow enhancement of the unarmed strike - was an enhancement to hit only, not to damage.

I meant the +1 bonus to damage at every 2 levels. I mean, that's +10 Damage with all attacks using Unarmed STrike and Monk weapons, AND using Flurry of Blows across 20 levels. That's just tricky. XD


ReconstructorFleet wrote:
Dabbler wrote:
ReconstructorFleet wrote:
Dabbler: I like your ideas, but I don't necessarily like monk getting such fantastic damage with their attacks at the expense of accuracy.
I'm sorry, but where have I suggested they get damage in favour of accuracy? My main proposal - a feat to allow enhancement of the unarmed strike - was an enhancement to hit only, not to damage.
I meant the +1 bonus to damage at every 2 levels. I mean, that's +10 Damage with all attacks using Unarmed STrike and Monk weapons, AND using Flurry of Blows across 20 levels. That's just tricky. XD

That mirrors the original AD&D monk's bonus damage with weapons, RF. His version of unarmed strike deals 1d6 damage and never increases, except through that bonus damage.

Master Arminas


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
ReconstructorFleet wrote:
Dabbler wrote:
ReconstructorFleet wrote:
Dabbler: I like your ideas, but I don't necessarily like monk getting such fantastic damage with their attacks at the expense of accuracy.
I'm sorry, but where have I suggested they get damage in favour of accuracy? My main proposal - a feat to allow enhancement of the unarmed strike - was an enhancement to hit only, not to damage.
I meant the +1 bonus to damage at every 2 levels. I mean, that's +10 Damage with all attacks using Unarmed STrike and Monk weapons, AND using Flurry of Blows across 20 levels. That's just tricky. XD

You did clock that it replaced the escalating damage for unarmed strike didn't you? So it's 1d6+10 at 20th level? The idea comes from the original AD&D monk which was actually quite deadly with weapons. The average on damage - 13.5 - at 20th level is comparable (and only slightly better than) to the current average of 11.

Now most monk weapons don't do more than 1d6 anyway, and you can compare it to the duelist prestige class, which also has +10 to damage at 10th level. Now a fighter/duelist could have +2 from weapon training, +2 from Weapon Specialisation, +10 from precise strike for a total of +14 on an Aldori dueling sword (base damage 1d8 with a higher threat range). I will add that the duelist is actually not the best damage dealer of fighter builds by a long way, either.

It's intended to work in conjunction with the enhancement bonus to hit, so less accurate is not the case.

In other words, it makes the monk not quite as good as the other fighting classes, instead of being only half as good as the other fighting classes. I thought that was the problem we were looking at addressing...

Edit: I'll add, if the application turns out to be too much in testing, we could reduce to +1 per three levels, but in all honesty I don't see it. Hell, my daughter's greatsword fighter is regularly hammering out 2d6+32+1d6 damage per hit at 13th level. At 13th level the monk would be hitting for 1d6+6+str+5 magic (max). Busted? Hardly.


I am working on a more ascetic monk, a monk that doesn't rely on magic items. I think if we can work out all of the kinks it might just solve the problems with the Pathfinder monk as written.

Master Arminas


^^ Errr, Yeah, but Dabbler, compare it to a Fighter performing two weapon fighting, and consider that Monk can get a possible maximum of 11 attacks in a round, add in something like Hammer the Gap and Dragon Style/Dragon Ferocity...and we're outdoing Fighter on all counts.

This is why I preferred the idea of a rising bonus to attack/damage kind of like what Fighter has, but not going beyond the Fighter's +6/+8 Maximum. (Which is technically +10/+12 with Dueling Gloves. We live in a glorious bonus fueled world. XD)

Something like +5/+5 across 20 levels. As opposed to the +5/+10 you currently have in your proposed alterations... this is mostly because lets face it, we don't want to put the Fighter out of business. Regardless of what version of FOB is implemented, +5/+10 and 11 potential attacks in a round would basically win the DPR olympics a thousand times over.

Also: Apologies to the Fur Monger. It all looked MUCH better when I was writing it in Microsoft Word. ^^;;;


11 attacks? Four from flurry (or BAB if changed), three from flurry/TWF chain (depending on how it is worded), one from spending ki, two from Medusa's Wrath (if your target meets the conditions), and one from haste (which may or may not stack with the attack from ki, because we never got an answer on that one). That is eleven.

Monk's damage (at 20th level) is 1d6+10 (weapon damage bonus)+5 (enhancement)+Str mod. 1d6+15+str mod. Critical is 20/x2.

A two-weapon fighting fighter gets four from BAB, three from TWF chain, two from Medusa's Wrath (he can take the feat as well), and one from haste. That is ten.

Fighter's damage (with short swords) (at 20th level) is 1d6+5 (enhancement)+4 (weapons training)+2 (gloves of dueling)+4 (weapon spec./greater weapon spec.)+Str mod. 1d4+15+Str mod (he takes Double Slice as a bonus feat). Critical is 19-20/x3 (weapon mastery).

Not seeing that great a difference, especially since the fighter will (not maybe, but will) have a higher Strength.

Master Arminas


Yup! You got the chain that leads to 11 attacks exactly. But here's the problem: If Monk and Fighter both have the same strength, and the Monk does more damage...well, lets face it. We're not trying to have Monk REPLACE fighter, but we want it to be able to take the Fighter role if absolutely necessary.

...I dunno though. We're just talking about hypotheticals at this point, aren't we? :D And Monk DOES need it's own role, as has been stated. More thoughts on the matter, everybody!


Not only that, the Fighter is more likely to hit with his iterative attacks. Hell, the Fighter could opt out of twf and just two hand a greatsword and power attack. Sure, he loses 3 attacks, but the bonuses on damage will be worth it. Especially since he no longer needs that 19 dex and has 4 extra feats that weren't spent on TWF and Double Slice.

Sorry, short of a poorly built and super (I mean SUPER) optimized monk specifically built for damage and damage only, even using the proposed changes, the Monk won't be winning any DPR olympics, nor outfighting the fighter.


One thing that always confused me was how no one ever remembered that when it wasn't being used as a double weapon, the Quarterstaff was wielded as a two-handed weapon. And the rules allowed a monk to attack with a quarterstaff wielded two-handed for all of it's Flurry attacks...and would get the two-handed bonus for power attack.

Factor that into your DPR calculations. Admittedly, that would only affect a Vanilla Monk with this alteration wielding a Quarterstaff. But still! That's a lot of potential damage across 11 possible attacks. Especially if they ever increased Monk's weapon selection to allow their traditional Spears and Short Swords to flurry? +5/+10 nearly outdoes a Dragoon Fighter's possible spear bonuses, especially if you could flurry and get double attacks with that spear assuming current flurry doesn't become SKR Flurry.

That's the real rub. Don't think in terms of what Monk has right now. Think in terms of what Monk could have if our dreams are fulfilled and we kept current flurry, AND could get these bonuses. We love our standard flurry, but flurrying with a two handed weapon AND getting +5/+10 on attacks could get ridiculous, couldn't it?


So, I'm going to some basic calculations based on Dabbler's proposition.

A 20th level fighter with a 15 base strength, +2 racial, +5 levels and +6 belt will have a 28. Weapon training gives him +4 and gloves of dueling makes that +6. Wpn Focus and Grtr Focus give a total of +2 to hit, and Wpn Spec. and Grtr Spec give a total of +4 to damage. Let's assume a +5 weapon and haste for +1. Now we factor in Power Attack for -6/+12, however since it's two-handed it's -6/+18. Plus, he has Improved Critical.

Let's leave it right there as its a pretty standard set up, except for the 15 str.

So we have a 28 str for +9, but two-handed makes this +13 on damage. Now we add in everything else.

To hit: 20 + 9 + 6 + 2 + 5 + 1 - 6 = 37 So, since all of the iteratives are at a cumulative -5 BAB we have 37/37/32/27/22.

Damage: 13 + 6 + 4 + 5 + 18 = 46 with a greatsword dealing 2d6 17-20x3 and auto confirms all threats if they hit (Weapon Mastery).

Now for the Monk using Dabbler's proposed change.

We're going to use the same stats. So 28 strength. Ki Strike gives +5 to hit on unarmed strikes or weapons with the ki focus property and Unarmed Strike gives +10 to damage with unarmed strikes or monk weapons. He's got weapon focus and Improved Critical for Quarterstaff and Unarmed Strike. We're going to cheat a little and make the Quarterstaff have a total of +6 for a +5 Ki Focus Quarterstaff (one end) and we're going to give him a +5 Amulet of Mighty Fist. Now, we're going to factor in Power Attack for -4/+8 and when two handing, -4/+12. Keep in mind, the Monk only has a BAB of 15 at 20th level, so he does NOT get the -6/+12 that full BAB classes get. Flurry imposes a -2 to hit which. To top it off, he will be hasted and use his Ki for an extra attack. I may be having a brain fart, but I'm having trouble thinking of anything else that's really going to help the Monk. Moving on.

To hit: 15 + 9 + 5 + 5 + 1 + 1 - 4 = 32 on a non-flurry full attack, this is a 32/27/22.

To hit while flurrying: 18 + 9 + 5 + 5 + 1 + 1 - 4 = 35 (BTW, pre-factored in the -2 from Flurry to modify the 20 to 18). In a flurry of blows, this is 35/35/35/35/30/30/25/25/20.

Damage with a quarterstaff: 13 + 10 + 5 + 12 = 40

Damage with an unarmed strike: 9 + 10 + 5 + 8 = 32

Both weapons are 1d6 19-20 x2

So to sum it up:
The Fighter is 37/37/32/27/22 2d6 + 46 17-20x3
The Monk is 35/35/35/35/30/30/25/25/20 1d6 + 40 19-20x2 or 1d6 + 32 19-20x2

====================

I would have to say, that Dabbler's proposals are a little too good for the Monk to have, at least when compared to a Fighter of equal strength. I should point out neither cases are optimized, as that isn't the question. I chose 15 for strength as that's the highest stat granted by a Heroic NPC stat selection. A Monk with 28 Strength is going to penalized elsewhere as he is a very MAD class and dumping everything he's got into his strength means he's going to be one hell of a glass cannon, or in this case, a Glass Gatling Gun.

I should also mention, I don't do these kinds of things with characters very often, so if anything is wrong, it's because I did it wrong. But I believe it's mostly correct. I'm not any good with percentages, so I didn't even try to calculate those.


Errr, keep in mind that whatever flurry we end up with, Monk has Full BAB while flurrying, so he DOES get the -6/+12 if he flurries. And maybe another attack? Not sure. That's my only complaint.


I'm not so sure. A Monk's actual BAB at 20th, is 15, but his BAB is treated as equal to his hit die for flurry of blows, but doesn't qualify him for feats. I would have to say that the Monk has to calculate his Power Attack off his actual BAB.

I pulled the Flurry right from the Monk stat table and then added his bonuses. The flurry in the table already has extra attacks from his higher BAB included. If you look, there is 4 from BAB, 3 from TWF, 1 from Haste, and 1 from Ki for a total of 9.


I'm pretty sure the BAB increase counts for all purposes during the attacks it's used. I'd go to a rules questions board for that. I can't say I've ever actually thought about this before.


Me neither, but it occurred to me while I was typing it up, so I thought I'd err on the side of caution. If the Monk does qualify, he take a further -2 to hit, but gains +6 to damage with the Quarterstaff and +4 to damage with his unarmed strike.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
ReconstructorFleet wrote:
Errr, keep in mind that whatever flurry we end up with, Monk has Full BAB while flurrying, so he DOES get the -6/+12 if he flurries. And maybe another attack? Not sure. That's my only complaint.

No, it's been answered in the FAQs somewhere. Monk has BAB15 for the purposes of the feat.

Tels wrote:

So to sum it up:

The Fighter is 37/37/32/27/22 2d6 + 46 17-20x3
The Monk is 35/35/35/35/30/30/25/25/20 1d6 + 40 19-20x2 or 1d6 + 32 19-20x2

OK, let's expand on this. First off, the fighter will use a falchion if he has any sense. That's:

The Fighter is 37/37/32/27/22 2d4 + 46 15-20x3

The Fighter
Now assuming an AC38 foe (not unreasonable at 20th level), his chances to hit are: 95%/95%/70%/45%/20%
Of these hits, 30% will crit for x3 damage. That adds 60% to our damage total, so we have: (325% x 51) x 160% = 265.2 DPR.

The Monk is 35/35/35/35/30/30/25/25/20 1d6 + 40 19-20x2 or 1d6 + 32 19-20x2

The Monk
So against the same AC38 foe, his chances to hit are: 90%/90%/90%/90%/65%/65%/40%/40%/15% (585% in total) of these, 10% have a chance of a critical, said chance being equal to their original hit percentage. That makes the chance of a critical hit equal to the probability of a hit squared, times ten percent:

8.1% at 90% to hit, 4.225% at 65% to hit, 1.6% at 40% to hit, and 0.225% at 15% to hit. At x2 crit multiplier, that makes an extra 44.275% of total damage.

So damage total = 43.5 x (585% + 44.275%) = 274 DPR.

I have to concede the point there Tels. Given your parameters, which allow the monk to be two-handing with a staff and equal strength. I don't think that is very likely in either case - the monk is more likely to be attacking unarmed or with lighter weapons, which reduce the damage output by 4 from Power Attack.

So damage total = 39.5 x (585% + 44.275%) = 249 DPR.

Which is much more palatable. If this was a problem, though, the monk's damage bonus could be easily tweaked. By making it +1 per three levels after 2nd level, you max at +7 damage instead of +10.

I don't think this is absolutely necessary though - your design included some factors that were not likely to be combined.

One thing to add:
Even if they inflict greater damage output, the monk still has less hit points and less AC than the fighter. Given the monk's role of attacking fast and hard, does it make sense that the monk would dish out serious damage in a shorter period of time?


Dabbler wrote:
ReconstructorFleet wrote:
Errr, keep in mind that whatever flurry we end up with, Monk has Full BAB while flurrying, so he DOES get the -6/+12 if he flurries. And maybe another attack? Not sure. That's my only complaint.

No, it's been answered in the FAQs somewhere. Monk has BAB15 for the purposes of the feat.

Actually, Monks use Full BaB (unless they will change it in the future).

Quote:

Monk: How does a monk's improved BAB when flurrying interact with feats like Power Attack and Combat Expertise, which have different effects depending on your BAB?

The monk uses his improved flurrying BAB to determine the effect of those feats.

—Sean K Reynolds, 07/08/11

Andoran

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

I have a tendency to 'house rule' everything and anything which doesn't quite fit IMO and as such already have adjusted Monk rules for many of these issues;

Show:
Monk
Monk base combat abilities (i.e. ‘Unarmed Combat’ and ‘Flurry of Blows’) have been reworked for clarity and consistency. The 3rd level ‘Maneuver Training’ ability has been removed and is now covered under ‘Special Monk Weapons’.

Special Monk Weapons (Ex): At 1st level, monk unarmed strikes and weapons with the ‘Monk’ special quality are considered ‘special monk weapons’. A monk attacking with a special monk weapon treats his monk level as his base attack bonus for determination of whether the attack(s) hit, number of attacks, CMB, and CMD. For all other purposes, such as attacks with non-Monk weapons or qualifying for a feat or prestige class, the monk uses his normal base attack bonus. A monk always applies his full Strength bonus to damage rolls for both primary and off-hand attacks made with special monk weapons. Off-hand attacks made with non-monk weapons instead apply 0.5x the monk’s Strength bonus to damage rolls. A monk using a two-handed weapon applies 1.5x his Strength bonus to damage rolls unless he is using it as part of a flurry of blows (see below).

Flurry of Blows (Ex): Starting at 1st level, a monk using special monk weapons can make a flurry of blows as a full-attack action. When doing so he may make one additional attack as if using the Two-Weapon Fighting feat (even if the monk does not meet the prerequisites for the feat). He may also substitute an unarmed strike for any or all attacks in the sequence. If using a two-handed special monk weapon as part of a flurry of blows the monk treats it as the primary hand weapon, receives only normal Strength bonus to damage rolls (instead of 1.5x), and must make all attacks with the ‘off hand’ as unarmed strikes.

At 8th level, the monk can make two additional attacks when he uses flurry of blows, as if using Improved Two- Weapon Fighting (even if the monk does not meet the prerequisites for the feat).

At 15th level, the monk can make three additional attacks using flurry of blows, as if using Greater Two-Weapon Fighting (even if the monk does not meet the prerequisites for the feat).

A monk may also substitute disarm, sunder, and trip combat maneuvers for unarmed attacks as part of a flurry of blows. A monk cannot use any weapon other than an unarmed strike or a special monk weapon as part of a flurry of blows. A monk with natural weapons cannot use such weapons as part of a flurry of blows, nor can he make natural attacks in addition to his flurry of blows attacks.

Unarmed Strike (Ex): At 1st level, a monk gains Improved Unarmed Strike as a bonus feat. A monk's attacks may be with fist, elbows, knees, and feet. This means that a monk may make unarmed strikes with his hands full.

Usually a monk's unarmed strikes deal lethal damage, but he can choose to deal nonlethal damage instead with no penalty on his attack roll. He has the same choice to deal lethal or nonlethal damage while grappling.

A monk's unarmed strikes are treated as both manufactured weapons and natural weapons for the purpose of spells and effects that enhance or improve either. However, left and right attacks must be enchanted separately. Thus, a monk using flurry of blows might make attacks with their left fist and left knee both enchanted with a single casting of Magic Fang and their right elbow and right foot both enchanted with a single casting of Magic Weapon.

A monk also deals more damage with his unarmed strikes than a normal person would, as shown on the Monk table. The unarmed damage values listed on the table are for Medium monks. See the Weapon Size Adjustments house rules to adjust these values for monks of other sizes.

A general house rule on feat prerequisites is also applicable;

Feat prerequisites
Class features and other abilities which provide benefits similar to a feat prerequisite may, at the GM’s discretion, be treated as providing that prerequisite for purposes of learning feats. However, if this alternate ability does not function in particular circumstances then any feats which used it as a prerequisite also do not apply under those circumstances unless the character has the normal prerequisite(s) as well.

For example, at 1st level Monks get the ability to perform an ‘off hand’ attack using a special monk weapon with their full Strength bonus to damage. This is equivalent to the ‘Double Slice’ feat and thus could be used in place of that feat to meet the prerequisites for ‘Two-Weapon Rend’. However, since the Monk’s off-hand Strength bonus ability does not apply when using a non-Monk weapon they also wouldn’t be able to use ‘Two-Weapon Rend’ in that situation, unless they actually have the ‘Double Strike’ feat as well.

Basically, monks get the highest BAB progression for everything they do with monk weapons, can have all of their unarmed strikes enchanted with the same number of spells/cost as two weapon fighters, and can use their 'pseudo feats' to qualify for other feats with the same limitations (i.e. only with monk weapons) applied.

If you don't like the rules, change them.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
The Wraith wrote:
Actually, Monks use Full BaB (unless they will change it in the future).

Ah, I stand corrected! It still reduces on single-handed weapon use, though, and in all honesty I tend not to use Power Attack with monks - their chances to hit are bad enough as it is.

@Tels
One factor missed on the above comparison was Furious Focus - it allows the first attack with a two-handed weapon using Power Attack to be made without the penalty.

Osirion

Aargh!
I just wrote a post but it disappeared!
Anyway here's what I recommend:
.
..
AC: Make Mage Armor and Shield available as 4th level Ki powers for the Qinggong monk. Or change the monk's bonus AC progression to:
Level Bonus
1-3: +1
4-6: +2
7-9: +3
10-12: +4
13-15: +5
16-18: +6
19-20: +7

DR: Create a new 8th level Ki power for the Qinggong monk. For a cost of 2 Ki points, the monk's unarmed strikes bypass one type of DR (except chaos or an alignment that does not match the monk's alignment) for a number of rounds equal to the monk's level. Or change the Ki strike DR bypass to:
Level 4: Magic
Level 6: Slashing
Level 8: Piercing
Level 10: Lawful
Level 12: Cold Iron
Level 14: Silver
Level 16: Adamantine

HP: Improve Wholeness of Body. It would be a move action or a swift action rather than a standard action. It would heal the monk's WIS modifier per level (minimum 1/lvl) rather than 1 point per level. Perhaps it could even grant temporary HP (limited to 1/lvl).


I think the general thought that everyone's having here, is that Monk should have an updated concept, allowing it to be a Fragile Speedster Glass Cannon? It would certainly make Monk MAD worth it if they WERE heavy damage dealers.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I think the potential should be there, definitely. Currently the monk is good at maneuvers, and can inflict damage at the price of accuracy. They are not the best at either, however, by a very long way. The fighter is, end of. Now the blurb on monk is clear that he's meant to hit vulnerable points/places, so perhaps that is an avenue to explore?

Again, I supplied something that could do this in the feats I suggested.


CBDunkerson wrote:

I have a tendency to 'house rule' everything and anything which doesn't quite fit IMO and as such already have adjusted Monk rules for many of these issues....

...

If you don't like the rules, change them.

The problem is, this doesn't help any of the Monks playing PFS. I have several people wanting to play a Monk, but realized, that in PFS, they are pretty much limited to combat maneuvers to assist their allies in combat.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8

Quote:
The problem is, this doesn't help any of the Monks playing PFS. I have several people wanting to play a Monk, but realized, that in PFS, they are pretty much limited to combat maneuvers to assist their allies in combat.

Is anything we do here going to help monks in PFS?


Depends on if we can get Paizo to change the Monk. If so, then yes, it will, if not, then PFS is still screwed.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8

I didn't realize that they paid attention to this stuff. Cool.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

They do, actually, from what I can tell. They may need their attention bringing to any conclusions we come to, and our reasoning, but this is how the play-tests were conducted back when Pathfinder was a free Alpha.

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