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MAD Monk? Big Deal! Just be still y'all grasshoppers


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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Bomanz wrote:

No No No No No....it has clearly been stated that reading just one section of the book (combat) is indeed "system mastery" by someone here. Further, Wraithstrike himself has come here and said that he has never seen an ineffective wizard (because of having picked/prepped the wrong spells, like a NooB might) so clearly the Monk is by far mechanically MUCH more difficult than say...the wizard.

Yep, Noobs clearly can operate a Wizard, but not a Monk, and anyone who can't see that has clearly got blinders on.

I have seen the light my friends...this class is broken.

I said I have never seen a wizard be ineffective for 8 hours.

If you are going to quote me then do so correctly. :)
The wizard is easier to make into an effective character with a minimum level of system mastery. Either that or I was lucky to have some really good new players. My luck is not that good though.

As for reading the combat section of the book equaling system mastery(enough to play a monk) that was said by someone that agree with you. Then someone that agreed with me repeated it, but in a mocking fashion. At least that is how I remember it anyway. Provide quotes if I am wrong.


Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:

Now to the oddly stated topic, which i think is whether or not the monk is too badly flawed to be playable.

I can understand and follow the math arguments about their low effective damage causing them to not contribute significantly to the party. And I sort of agree with most of it.

However, I also have to say, that doesn't match with what I've experienced.

I have seen them played in multiple groups clear back to 2nd edition. I have rarely seen them 'fail to contribute to' or 'be an anchor on' the group. The few times they haven't done well it was a bad fit to the campaign (once low magic mostly ghosts and once everyone else was a mounted knight troop) or obviously poorly played. I also have to say I think they have done a better job with each edition of the game. Up to the times I've seen them played in PF they are sometimes even the 'star' of the show.

Obviously, I have not seen even a tiny percentage of the games played across the world. But every other complaint I have read about players, classes, options, etc... I have seen at least a little bit of at some time or another. It just seems odd to me that this one issue of something that is 'so horrible that it should never have made it to publication' is one that I have never seen.

2nd edition is not PF, and I have yet to see anyone say how they play well, only that they do play well*.

*In this thread anyway.

As for my experience with monks I have seen them played well, using splat books in 3.5 and PF. I have never seen a core monk played well when the GM was not holding back a lot. In those cases monk have struggled to have the spotlight or do anything of note. I am not saying they never do anything that made an enemy want to make them a target, but it is rare. I have used them as NPC's, but I think I know the system better than most players.

PS: Strangely enough my favorite, and 2nd character in 3.5 was a monk. I did ok, until I forgot I was not a tank. The GM had some unlucky rolls which made me more confident than I should have been.

PS2:What happened to the OP? :)


I think the issue here is that people think some of us hate the monk. If I hated the monk I wouldn't be bothering to post because I wouldn't care. It is just that many people don't have fun playing someone who is 2nd or 3rd best or worse depending on the build at almost everything.
It makes it hard to get spotlight time, and be seen as a valuable member of the group. Now in some groups a GM will set things up so player Y can "be the man" at certain points in the game. I think that is cool. I have done it before, but I have had to do it for the monk more than any other class.


wraithstrike wrote:
I have had new people play wizards, sorcerers, and psions... but they still contributed some...

That is actually pretty close to my point. Many people seem to be saying: since the monk is not equal to the fighter with minimal knowledge of the game it is a waste of time, if it's not the best it is an anchor on the party, etc...

wraithstrike wrote:
... people who can play every other class reasonably well still suck at monks ...

That is what I'm saying I haven't seen. The only people that I've ever seen in any edition that 'suck at monks' would not have done much better with any class. I don't think they had a 'decent understanding' of how the game works.

wraithstrike wrote:

... Once again I say, dont tell me the monk does not have issues, tell me why it does not suck. Telling me "not it doesn't" is not going to convince anyone.

Once again I refer you to this post-->click me

...

Once again, I'm not saying it doesn't have issues. I'm not trying to convince you it doesn't. I can follow the arguments and I even agree with many of them. I'm saying in actual play I've never seen any actual examples of it being as bad as many people say it is.


wraithstrike wrote:
2nd edition is not PF...

I agree. What I was trying to say is that I think back in 2nd edition they were much farther from power balance than they are now in PF. However, I see much more complaint about how they suck than ever before.

wraithstrike wrote:

... and I have yet to see anyone say how they play well, only that they do play well*.

*In this thread anyway ...

I (and others) have tried in other threads. I was either ignored, scoffed at, mis-quoted, told I had soft pitch GM's, or actually accused of lying. Not going through that again.

wraithstrike wrote:
... As for my experience with monks I have seen them played well, using splat books in 3.5 and PF. I have never seen a core monk played well when the GM was not holding back a lot ...

I have played with very few GM's that would hold back for any reason (other than the first few levels) let alone a weak character.

wraithstrike wrote:
... In those cases monk have struggled to have the spotlight or do anything of note ...

That is what I was saying surprises me. I've never seen that.

Shadow Lodge

Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
2nd edition is not PF...
I agree. What I was trying to say is that I think back in 2nd edition they were much farther from power balance than they are now in PF. However, I see much more complaint about how they suck than ever before.

I just blame that on the Internet. =)


GurgleGutbuster wrote:


This game is about having fun, telling a kick-butt story, and exploring other worlds and other kinds of people. I think the Monk Class lets players do that just fine.

Let this be a lesson to everyone. Don't be fooled by pretty words. The OP when asked to bring objective evidence to support his case has not posted been able to do so.

I think I am done here unless the OP can return. If he is not willing to debate his own point why should anyone else.

PS:My question/observations are littered throughout this thread in case you do come back.


Ah, 2nd edition didn't have monks, gentlemen. Well, not what we think of when we say monks. The game had a Priest Kit called monk, which was probably the worst ever invocation of the class.

Just to remind you fellows. Now, when I played 2nd edition, I still used the 1st edition monk (actually the monk class from the Dragon magazine article He's Got a Lot to Kick About), but technically speaking, monks as we know them did not exist in 2nd. That is why so many people rejoiced when they were resurrected in 3rd edition.

MA


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I'd play a Monk any day. I don't care if Wizards and Fighters and everything in between "outshines" me. As long as I'm not a liability for my party, I'm happy making whatever contributions I can.


Uninvited Ghost wrote:
As long as I'm not a liability for my party, I'm happy making whatever contributions I can.

There is nothing wrong with this. I feel the same way when I play.

Strangely enough I did not even know the spotlight was even important until about a year or 2 ago. All I have ever cared about was nobody being dead weight.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
wraithstrike wrote:
Uninvited Ghost wrote:
As long as I'm not a liability for my party, I'm happy making whatever contributions I can.

There is nothing wrong with this. I feel the same way when I play.

Strangely enough I did not even know the spotlight was even important until about a year or 2 ago. All I have ever cared about was nobody being dead weight.

Make that three of us. I still play monks when I can!

That does not make me blind to their problems though, and I am often frustrated by my inability to do what a kick-*** martial artist should do.


master arminas wrote:

Ah, 2nd edition didn't have monks, gentlemen. Well, not what we think of when we say monks. The game had a Priest Kit called monk, which was probably the worst ever invocation of the class.

Just to remind you fellows. Now, when I played 2nd edition, I still used the 1st edition monk (actually the monk class from the Dragon magazine article He's Got a Lot to Kick About), but technically speaking, monks as we know them did not exist in 2nd. That is why so many people rejoiced when they were resurrected in 3rd edition.

MA

No way... checks his 2ed PH... Wow, no "Monk" class. What do ya know...

Also, cheers on playing a monk from He's Got a Lot to Kick About. I had that article in a best of Dragon (Vol. 4?) and even though I always wanted to play one, it still seemed like a painfully weak class. Reflecting back on how far the monk has come, it has been a hell of a rise. From d4 to d8, the boosts in combat and the lifting of so many restrictions on the class. And we are so close. I think the only things that need to be fixed to make the monk class "finished" are fairly minor.

  • Be able to bypass DR frequently without loosing combat effectiveness. Much of this must be an ability of the monk, but monk weapons need a little help as well.
  • Get a little help in the AC department. This is tricky because dex monks can have very high AC's, but are not damage dealers in most cases. I found getting mage armor cast on you was a requirement to being able to function in most combats.
  • Turn Wholeness of Body into a decent healing ability. Something like d6/monk level, useable 1/day + 1 for every 5 monk levels you attain.

That is about all monks need to be a finished class.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Fergie wrote:
Be able to bypass DR frequently without loosing combat effectiveness. Much of this must be an ability of the monk, but monk weapons need a little help as well.

Agreed, the monk needs to be able to get full enhancement on the unarmed strike.

Fergie wrote:
Get a little help in the AC department. This is tricky because dex monks can have very high AC's, but are not damage dealers in most cases. I found getting mage armor cast on you was a requirement to being able to function in most combats.

I've not seen a monk have problems with AC, especially with feats out there like Crane Style etc. I do agree that a monk generally has to choose between good AC and hitting/damaging, though. In a way this is more the MAD issue than anything else.

Fergie wrote:
Turn Wholeness of Body into a decent healing ability. Something like d6/monk level, useable 1/day + 1 for every 5 monk levels you attain.

Doesn't matter what it heals, it costs too much ki and it needs to be used as a swift action in order to actually accomplish anything more than quaffing a potion could do.


Dabbler wrote:
I've not seen a monk have problems with AC, especially with feats out there like Crane Style etc. I do agree that a monk generally has to choose between good AC and hitting/damaging, though. In a way this is more the MAD issue than anything else.

That is basically the way I see it. Monks need sacrifice too much to have a decent AC.

Fergie wrote:
Turn Wholeness of Body into a decent healing ability. Something like d6/monk level, useable 1/day + 1 for every 5 monk levels you attain.
Dabbler wrote:
Doesn't matter what it heals, it costs too much ki and it needs to be used as a swift action in order to actually accomplish anything more than quaffing a potion could do.

I was thinking of separating Wholeness of body from Ki. Just have it as a separate ability. I think swift action healing is perhaps overly powerful (at least when I have seem paladins use it), but the option of doing it as a swift action for X Ki could be cool.

Both of these ideas should indirectly reduce MAD.


Kydeem de'Morcaine wrote:
If you are trying to introduce a new player to the game (never played an RPG of any kind) do you steer him right at the wizard. My guess would be no. Why? Because they are squishy and difficult.

Actually, I point them in the direction of psions. Most people have played RPGs in some form or another (even if only hack & slash or MMOs like Diablo II and WoW). It's not hard to explain that casters have little health and are easily killed. Only Vancian casting is odd as hell for most people to get. Not that it's hard or complicated, just weird. Psions use a system that is more akin to a Mana Pool; so if you want a caster that's newbie friendly, use Psion.

Quote:
and almost everyone I've talked to tries to talk newbies into a basic martial class like fighter or barbarian at first.

Fortunately, that's not a sweeping statement. If someone has no preference for party role, I generally suggest Ranger. The reason I suggest Ranger isn't entirely because it's non-complex, but because it is a class that teaches a player everything about the game without loading them down at once.

At low levels, they are effective fighters (full BAB, martial proficiencies, good HP & AC). They get good skill points (allowing someone to learn how more skills work). When they hit 4th level (and thus about the point they've gotten comfortable with simple options like melee and ranged attacks) they get a pet (which allows them to learn how to handle minions) and access to a small but good amount of spells (some buffs, some heals, and some crowd controls) which are prepared spells (allowing them to understand how wizards, druids, clerics, witches, and to a degree alchemists function). The ranger also has no weird alignment restrictions or methods of losing their features.

Finally, Rangers are fairly hard to screw up since they will mostly get some good feats for certain and some rather nice class features. Harder to screw up (IMHO) than Fighters or Barbarians. The Ranger just seems to be the best class in the game for helping someone learn combat, skills, feats, spellcasting, and pets in the same class--without overwhelming them with all of it at once.

Quote:

Because it is easier to learn a smaller number of things at once. If they really want a spell caster we'll try to propose cleric because it at least is less squishy, so it is more forgiving if they make a mistake. If they really insist on arcane blaster then we would go with sorc and help them pick their spells. That way they only need to learn a few at first.

I've played with a lot of newbies over the decades. I don't think I've ever seen one successfully start with wizard right out of the gate without a huge amount of hand-holding.

Indeed. Like I said. Psion is your friend here. I have a player who is eternally inexperienced. The most complex class he's ever played was a bard. Generally he plays either Barbarian or Psion. The first time he played a Psion (the first caster he ever played actually) he hit the ground running and successfully (and joyfully) played the Psion until the campaign ended around 15th level or so (real life issues of ease of getting together sort of forced that campaign to end).

Quote:
So the system already has classes that require more system mastery than others. ANY complex system has easier and more difficult options/paths.
I am undecided on the question on whether the monk as a class is flawed, but the fact that it is further to the end of the difficulty scale is actually a point in favor of it in my opinion.

The problem here is that it's not a point in its favor at all. It's like Nightmare from Soul Calibur II. He takes a lot of system mastery to play effectively (he shifts stances constantly which changes his moves up, and he's very slow and clunky unless you are skilled at perfectly chaining his moves together, at which point he looks like he's dancing with his bigass greatsword; and button mashers will more than likely get owned trying to play him like a newbie) but when you do have system mastery he seems absolutely amazing (he hits really hard, is sturdy, has great interrupt-worthy techniques, very strong comboing and chaining potential, and your foe might not even know what hit them). Nightmare from SC II is like Wizard.

Meanwhile, the sorceress from Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance I requires a pretty good amount of system mastery to play. She begins with poor proficiencies compared to her peers, and requires a stronger understanding of positioning, mobility, and timing to use effectively. Only when you master her and get deeper into the game, you realize that she is actually just inferior to the other two characters in the game because her capabilities (IE - her spells) cap out very early in their cost vs returns, and simply hitting things with the sword you get in the last dungeon is basically the best thing she can do, but other classes do it better (so now she basically is wasting time and energy using spells and instead melees with a sword, but the other characters in the game are a Fighter who makes you look like a joke, and an archer who slaughters everything at ranges better than you and is equal or better than you at using a sword). Sorceress from Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance II is like Monk.

Monks require a great deal of system mastery in comparison to their peers. I'd dare say more system mastery that wizards. Wizards definitely are more forgiving in terms of the learning process (the ability to try different things every day means that you can figure out what works and what doesn't without having to rebuild your entire character; whereas monks are basically screwed if they pick the wrong feats, set their ability scores poorly, or don't yet realize how limited the tactic they're planning for is).

With enough system mastery, even a commoner can be made to look surprisingly effective (at low levels, handle animal + perception can get your combat down; understanding that check penalty to attacks is mostly irrelevant to the commoner means carrying a heavy shield, wearing at least studded leather or better armor; relying on alchemical weapons and so forth; and then using magic items and good knowledge of how the game works to function at higher levels). The problem is that by virtue of class, the bottom rung of monk is very low, and the top rung isn't all that high.


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Ashiel wrote:

I am undecided on the question on whether the monk as a class is flawed, but the fact that it is further to the end of the difficulty scale is actually a point in favor of it in my opinion.

I fully agree with the principle that having some classes be easily accessible to beginners and others that are more complex can be a good thing. Monks are actually a good example of how to reward system mastery the right way. You have a set list of predefined abilities and a limited list of options that you can customize your character with, while still staying within the confines of the predefined set. There are enough options to give the class versatility and to promote creativity, but not enough to give you option paralysis. It's a much better model than the fighter, which expects you to rummage through an ever expanding list of feats to build it yourself. Now, that said, I actually DO think that the monk is a flawed class. But the basic framework is very elegant.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Fergie wrote:
Dabbler wrote:
I've not seen a monk have problems with AC, especially with feats out there like Crane Style etc. I do agree that a monk generally has to choose between good AC and hitting/damaging, though. In a way this is more the MAD issue than anything else.
That is basically the way I see it. Monks need sacrifice too much to have a decent AC.

I agree that the MAD issue works against them here; if you go with dexterity you pay a feat-tax to get any chance of hitting. Investing in Strength, Dexterity AND Wisdom (let alone Con) will leave you points down generally.

Fergie wrote:
Fergie wrote:
Turn Wholeness of Body into a decent healing ability. Something like d6/monk level, useable 1/day + 1 for every 5 monk levels you attain.
Dabbler wrote:
Doesn't matter what it heals, it costs too much ki and it needs to be used as a swift action in order to actually accomplish anything more than quaffing a potion could do.

I was thinking of separating Wholeness of body from Ki. Just have it as a separate ability. I think swift action healing is perhaps overly powerful (at least when I have seem paladins use it), but the option of doing it as a swift action for X Ki could be cool.

Both of these ideas should indirectly reduce MAD.

The problem here is that if it takes a standard action it's basically a free potion. Now a free potion is handy, but it's nothing to write home about, and you can't really use it in combat which is when you're likely to be losing hit points fast. The paladin's lay on hands that can heal him as a swift action basically means that paladins can afford to drop Con. It's not a dump-stat, but it's not as important to them as charisma and strength. That is why paladins are MAD but nothing like as MAD as monks: they only need strength and charisma.

I would give monks Weapon Finesse and Agile Maneuvers as standard, to reduce strength dependence, and I would make wholeness of body a swift action to reduce Con dependence. Then the monk can be built on Dex and Wis. Other stats are still useful, but they stop being essential, and this leaves the monk player much more freedom to make the kind of character they want - like a a charismatic or intelligent monk.


WPharolin wrote:
Ashiel wrote:

I am undecided on the question on whether the monk as a class is flawed, but the fact that it is further to the end of the difficulty scale is actually a point in favor of it in my opinion.

I fully agree with the principle that having some classes be easily accessible to beginners and others that are more complex can be a good thing. Monks are actually a good example of how to reward system mastery the right way. You have a set list of predefined abilities and a limited list of options that you can customize your character with, while still staying within the confines of the predefined set. There are enough options to give the class versatility and to promote creativity, but not enough to give you option paralysis. It's a much better model than the fighter, which expects you to rummage through an ever expanding list of feats to build it yourself. Now, that said, I actually DO think that the monk is a flawed class. But the basic framework is very elegant.

I must apologize. The credit of that quote belongs to Kydeem de'Morcaine, not I, Mr. WPharolin. Due to an error in editing, that portion was not properly quoted. My text begins exactly 1 line below.

I agree with you about the monk though in terms of being mostly self-enclosed, and that making it nice from a practical point of view. It's also why I like Rangers over Fighters for newbies (Rangers have their little feat-packages and sample some of everything, albeit slowly).


Ashiel wrote:


I must apologize. The credit of that quote belongs to Kydeem de'Morcaine, not I, Mr. WPharolin. Due to an error in editing, that portion was not properly quoted. My text begins exactly 1 line below.

I actually meant to erase your name there but forgot. ...oops.


wraithstrike wrote:
GurgleGutbuster wrote:


This game is about having fun, telling a kick-butt story, and exploring other worlds and other kinds of people. I think the Monk Class lets players do that just fine.

Let this be a lesson to everyone. Don't be fooled by pretty words. The OP when asked to bring objective evidence to support his case has not posted been able to do so.

Just to chime in here (not really invested in the topic, but finding this thread rather amusing): You didn't, either. All you and others came up with is anecdotes, which does not construe "objective evidence", either. So I propose that before you can show such evidence, don't bother coming back.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Fabius Maximus wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
GurgleGutbuster wrote:


This game is about having fun, telling a kick-butt story, and exploring other worlds and other kinds of people. I think the Monk Class lets players do that just fine.

Let this be a lesson to everyone. Don't be fooled by pretty words. The OP when asked to bring objective evidence to support his case has not posted been able to do so.

Just to chime in here (not really invested in the topic, but finding this thread rather amusing): You didn't, either. All you and others came up with is anecdotes, which does not construe "objective evidence", either. So I propose that before you can show such evidence, don't bother coming back.

No, I'm the one who has been pointing out the hard evidence, and Wraithstrike has been agreeing with me.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion Subscriber

Which part of my post wasn't exactly clear?


Gorbacz wrote:
Which part of my post wasn't exactly clear?

It was clear and I agree with it. Unfortunately, other people don't seem to.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It's like an itch you just have to scratch...


Evil Lincoln wrote:
I just feel that the monk uses overly complex mechanics to achieve a somewhat unsatisfying take on the martial-arts character. A lot of this owes to "patching" the 3.5 version's problems. I get why it's like that, but it doesn't make it any more fun to play, for me.

Gotta +1 this (despite being a monk-lover). There's actually an OOTS strip that pretty much comments on this (Belkar is being snarky to a monk, whose only response is "b-b-but I get more attacks!") It actually helped me to streamline a lot of my own character builds that were overly complicated.


All I'm hearing is people trying to defend poorly balanced class because it fits what they want to play. God forbid we try to make a weak class more effective then it already is.


Fabius Maximus wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
GurgleGutbuster wrote:


This game is about having fun, telling a kick-butt story, and exploring other worlds and other kinds of people. I think the Monk Class lets players do that just fine.

Let this be a lesson to everyone. Don't be fooled by pretty words. The OP when asked to bring objective evidence to support his case has not posted been able to do so.

Just to chime in here (not really invested in the topic, but finding this thread rather amusing): You didn't, either. All you and others came up with is anecdotes, which does not construe "objective evidence", either. So I propose that before you can show such evidence, don't bother coming back.

The burden of proof is on he who makes the statement.

With that aside I made a claim saying what would happen if he posted also. In order for me to prove my claim was true I needed his post. I am still waiting.
#read the post before you try to counter me.


There is another possibility for the monk rather than damage, that it be changed into even more of a defensive and confounding class (ac, feint, miss-chance). This could be done in the monk special abilities rather than done with feats. IThe monk could be streamlined into two types, where you choose offence or defence. There are offensive and defensive styles of martial arts. Some want the high damage, bab, or hit die, but the monk more gets defensive bonuses (ac and wis bonus to ac, speed to move in and out of combat, great saves, that new defensive ki ability that works for a short while) than raw damage.

The pure damage and high bab attack argument, that they should go this way never worked for me (I've done years of martial arts from a few different cultural backgrounds, but this comes from something else). If you watch the shows that compare weapons on dummies, worlds greatest warriors, the best historical tools do far more damage than a hand strike or kick can seem to do: Mongolian maces detonate heads, axes take off limbs, spears impale bodies, swords completely ruin flesh and organs. Unarmed strikes can be good, and people really can be killed, but they don't compare to a berdiche axe, a heavy mace or even a fine rapier in penetrative and destructive power. A good lunge with a piercing sword (rapier, estoc, whatever) when you are off-balance and vulnerable will just go straight through you. Where are the reports of a martial artist impaling someone with a strong jab?

Now we can go and say, it is fantasy, these monks have even more power. That is fine of course. They do get their special abilities, and get up to 2d6 unarmed damage pretty quick if it is a high xp game. Now the bab difference between them and fighters and barbs always made sense. The monk is using their limbs, the pure bab characters are usually using forged killing tools, and have trained with them until they can part flesh with ease. They have not focused on ki special abilities or contemplation. I see it like this, you can be very skilled with death-dealing with no-fuss weapons (fighter) or go into a rage and tear people apart with them (barbarian), shoot people with tens of arrows (ranger) or a few good stabs in the back (rogue), but the monk is an all natural combatant, and as a result their damage is less, but they get funky powers from the martial arts mythos.

Their unarmed strikes should have some trouble getting through armour, or natural ac, and not do the best damage on the other end, but for the pure melee using the best tools for the job, these obstacles should trouble them less. To balance this, the monk should get either a range of defensive tricks, acrobatics skill, a capacity to drag out a fight, or they should lose a lot of the fluff, and be made into purely destructive kill bone-breaking combatants. I would like to see the division and choice made clear for players. I have experimented with making classes before, where you choose what powers you get from two paths, and yes, you can walk the middle line if you want--the monk how it now stands.


3.5 Loyalist wrote:
There is another possibility for the monk rather than damage, that it be changed into even more of a defensive and confounding class (ac, feint, miss-chance). ...

I just want to point out that they sort of did this with the release of the Archtype Flowing Monk in Ultimate Combat.


We must, and can, go deeper.

Ultimate combat has some great ideas, but if players want more offensive or defensive monks, they can re-design the very class itself. Without UC, without any other aids whatsoever. Make two monk types, or turn the archetypes into four base monk classes, whatever works with the setting.

Archetypes? Yeah, archetypes proliferate. If there is fundamental problems with the monk, switch it up. In my setting atm, a monk player can alter what they get and how strong it is (at the cost of losing something or another thing being weakened). So you want to do more damage? Great, sure. Since you are more violence-focused your saves are now worse, because you are less of a contemplative (and closer to something like a fighter). The other thing I did is I worked out the common weapons of regions and people, and the monks of the most common monk region, the endless prairie dotted with the occasional monastery, have Japanese monk weapon proficiencies as well as the awlpike (for anti-roc/anti-harpy combat, long story).


3.5 Loyalist wrote:

We must, and can, go deeper.

Ultimate combat has some great ideas, but if players want more offensive or defensive monks, they can re-design the very class itself. Without UC, without any other aids whatsoever. Make two monk types, or turn the archetypes into four base monk classes, whatever works with the setting.

Archetypes? Yeah, archetypes proliferate. If there is fundamental problems with the monk, switch it up. In my setting atm, a monk player can alter what they get and how strong it is (at the cost of losing something or another thing being weakened). So you want to do more damage? Great, sure. Since you are more violence-focused your saves are now worse, because you are less of a contemplative (and closer to something like a fighter). The other thing I did is I worked out the common weapons of regions and people, and the monks of the most common monk region, the endless prairie dotted with the occasional monastery, have Japanese monk weapon proficiencies as well as the awlpike (for anti-roc/anti-harpy combat, long story).

I think one of the problems is we need more offensive AND defensive monks. At the moment, it's possible to make a very defensive monk, but then he has little effect/presence because it's like a turtle on the battlefield with tigers. Alternatively, we can build to deal damage that is somewhat respectable, but doing so leaves us effectively naked and we end up squishy and dead.

This was one of the things I illustrated in a comparison of a monk vs Ranger. At 8th level, with a 15 point buy, a Ranger with a Sword & Board can beat a monk's AC while also out-damaging the monk with a longsword - without counting criticals - while the monk flurries, against the average 21 AC of an equal CR opponent. The main thing holding the monk back in such comparisons is their multi-ability dependency. To come within .5 of the Ranger's average damage when the two were not hasted, the monk needed in excess of 25 PB vs the Ranger's 15 PB. The ranger was still ahead slightly though and matched AC. If the two were hasted, it became no contest (since the monk cannot legally make extra attacks with his unarmed strikes via haste, allowing the Ranger to hit as often as the monk and for more damage with every strike).

It's worth noting that both classes were assumed to have been under the effects of greater magic weapon to give them a +2 modifier to hit and damage (I felt this was fair since it's a common long-term buff in an average party, and maybe even favored the monk a bit since it lets him get around his amulet problem at this level); so the Ranger wasn't getting any bonuses to hit from equipment, feats, or anything else that the monk wasn't (the Ranger could choose not to power attack and raise his damage vs higher AC foes though o_o).


3.5 Loyalist wrote:
...they can re-design the very class itself.

Hmmm...that sounds like my next project.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
3.5 Loyalist wrote:
There is another possibility for the monk rather than damage, that it be changed into even more of a defensive and confounding class (ac, feint, miss-chance). This could be done in the monk special abilities rather than done with feats. IThe monk could be streamlined into two types, where you choose offence or defence. There are offensive and defensive styles of martial arts. Some want the high damage, bab, or hit die, but the monk more gets defensive bonuses (ac and wis bonus to ac, speed to move in and out of combat, great saves, that new defensive ki ability that works for a short while) than raw damage.

The big problem with this is, what do you actually contribute to the party if the enemy decides to ignore you? I think you are right in one respect, that the monk should be able to decide whether they are offensive or defensive to a greater or lesser degree. This is something I built into my own re-design, and I think it works OK.

3.5 Loyalist wrote:
The pure damage and high bab attack argument, that they should go this way never worked for me (I've done years of martial arts from a few different cultural backgrounds, but this comes from something else). If you watch the shows that compare weapons on dummies, worlds greatest warriors, the best historical tools do far more damage than a hand strike or kick can seem to do: Mongolian maces detonate heads, axes take off limbs, spears impale bodies, swords completely ruin flesh and organs. Unarmed strikes can be good, and people really can be killed, but they don't compare to a berdiche axe, a heavy mace or even a fine rapier in penetrative and destructive power. A good lunge with a piercing sword (rapier, estoc, whatever) when you are off-balance and vulnerable will just go straight through you. Where are the reports of a martial artist impaling someone with a strong jab?

Certainly RL martial arts work that way, but then watching those shows a lot of the monk weapons were a lot more effective than they are in D&D as well. The point here is that for the monk class the unarmed strike is presented as a viable weapon when it is actually nerfed by lack of enhancement. It either needs to BE a viable weapon, or it needs to be ignored.

Plus, this IS fantasy. RL martial artists may have problems impaling with their fists, but legendary martial artists do it all the time, as well as stopping hearts with punches, leaping off clouds etc.

3.5 Loyalist wrote:
Now we can go and say, it is fantasy, these monks have even more power. That is fine of course. They do get their special abilities, and get up to 2d6 unarmed damage pretty quick if it is a high xp game. Now the bab difference between them and fighters and barbs always made sense. The monk is using their limbs, the pure bab characters are usually using forged killing tools, and have trained with them until they can part flesh with ease. They have not focused on ki special abilities or contemplation. I see it like this, you can be very skilled with death-dealing with no-fuss weapons (fighter) or go into a rage and tear people apart with them (barbarian), shoot people with tens of arrows (ranger) or a few good stabs in the back (rogue), but the monk is an all natural combatant, and as a result their damage is less, but they get funky powers from the martial arts mythos.

This isn't in question. The problem is that while the monk should not be the best at dealing damage and hitting their target, they need to be effective to function at all. As I have said many times, I am not trying to make the monk match the fighter's damage output, but I do want him to be able to match or just about exceed say, a paladin when not smiting in hits and damage.

3.5 Loyalist wrote:
Their unarmed strikes should have some trouble getting through armour, or natural ac, and not do the best damage on the other end, but for the pure melee using the best tools for the job, these obstacles should trouble them less. To balance this, the monk should get either a range of defensive tricks, acrobatics skill, a capacity to drag out a fight, or they should lose a lot of the fluff, and be made into purely destructive kill bone-breaking combatants. I would like to see the division and choice made clear for players. I have experimented with making classes before, where you choose what powers you get from two paths, and yes, you can walk the middle line if you want--the monk how it now stands.

I disagree, not because RL doesn't work this way but because the legendary monk COULD do these things. I don;t think the monk should be the ultimate combatant, but as things currently stand his offence is pretty light compared to the other combat classes. I would like the monk to have more effective options - not necessarily have them all at once, mind you, but actually have them.


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I see references made to individuals with legendary skill with their unarmed strikes. However, if we look at certain characters like bruce lee or the old jackie chan martial arts movies, I would say that such individuals are not actually high level monks. I would more classify them as pure fighters or fighter monks. With the latter, assuming they had 10 class levels, it would probably be something like monk 1/fighter 9 or monk 2/ fighter 8. Feats are sank in weapon focus (unarmed), weapon specialization (unarmed, fists of iron and melee weapon mastery bludgeoning (specifically unarmed strike).


Or, if we want to use the many many Hong Kong and Chinese made martial arts films as resources of what a monk is or should be, matches and fights to the death are long complicated affairs and only lowly mooks are killed quickly. For martial arts heroes against the villains, it goes for minutes. Which certainly works with a high ac monk with low damage. They don't explode their opponents like a marauder with an axe, they wear them down and beat them with skill over time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWpQi3_v7Zc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5wqO5IMjZw&feature=related


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

True, but we have to account for the party dynamic. No point saying "Well I could have beat him solo" when the rest of the party cruised in and pulped the BBEG in three rounds before you actually inflicted any damage on them...to them, you did nothing.


Yeah, sometimes a high defence character without great damage doesn't shine. That is the problem of playing such a character. The barb might rush forward, kill someone important and take such tremendous damage, you float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, and stay relatively fresh as the rounds go past. Your great saves can keep you up and fresh too. The offensive barb, well they rock their fort, but what about the other two?

I enjoyed running a game for a defensive monk, such a high ac, such low damage. I knew he would last a long time, and the others, it turns out their offensive focus actually involved a vulnerability. They got critted, poisoned and far more pressured than the monk of the crane style.

Another defensive, win over time character concept, was the swashbuckler with spiked gauntlets and a strong use of expertise and dodge. Work the jab Sonny!


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The problem is not that the monk floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee, it's that he floats like a butterfly and very often stings like a butterfly. I want a monk with a sting - it doesn't have to be a super-sting like the paladin't smite evil, but it has to be able to hit and be effective to place the monk in the same bracket as the other combat classes.

The other problem is with AC: at high levels growth in attack bonus out-paces growth in AC. So the monk isn't not getting hit, he's just getting hit a little less often - but he still can't dish out reliable damage.


The equalizer wrote:
I see references made to individuals with legendary skill with their unarmed strikes. However, if we look at certain characters like bruce lee or the old jackie chan martial arts movies, I would say that such individuals are not actually high level monks. I would more classify them as pure fighters or fighter monks. With the latter, assuming they had 10 class levels, it would probably be something like monk 1/fighter 9 or monk 2/ fighter 8. Feats are sank in weapon focus (unarmed), weapon specialization (unarmed, fists of iron and melee weapon mastery bludgeoning (specifically unarmed strike).

The examples you cite should be stat as no higher than 4th level in anything. Monk/Fighter is actually a reasonable build for trying to make such characters, and functions fairly well assuming you're looking for a more gritty realism in your characters than D&D assumes.

The idea that Bruce Lee, amazing as he was, was a 10th level anything (even a commoner) is a sick joke. :P


A bee sting does not tear someone apart, unless you are talking about the sting of a gigantic monstrous bee. A bee sting hurts, damages, may cause shock and bring someone down over time or with more stings layered on top.

Which strikes me (oof!) a lot like the old martial arts films, and the mythos around many martial arts (but not all). Flurry, block, get in, hit, ow, weave, complicated strikes and blocks, another hit, ow, and on and on and on. The mooks go down, but unarmed take a long time to wear down a strong foe. That works for me. How can we make it work, does it already work?

Some martial arts of course are divergent in their aims. Karate's idea of one punch one kill, others that try to accomplish complete dominance in one great kick or a series of kicks, strikes and elbows--Muay Thai. Cat style, juijitsu and the like that focus on grappling and eye-gouging/limb breaks, control and massive damage quickly, all very good and offensive, but that is exactly the opposite of the high ac float around and not get hit and high save idea.


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3.5 Loyalist wrote:
A bee sting does not tear someone apart, unless you are talking about the sting of a gigantic monstrous bee. A bee sting hurts, damages, may cause shock and bring someone down over time or with more stings layered on top.

It's worth noting that you're comparing the offensive prowess of a creature the size of a bee to something the size of a person. A wasp that stings a person is painful. A wasp that stings something around it's size is saying "GG dude". A house spider that bites a person might swell a little (barring exceptional venomous varieties) but anything its size is likely dead.

When spiderman punches a badguy, he goes down like a sack of potatoes. If an actual spider hit the same badguy, it would be negligible. The problem is that monks have a problem being built to not die and also be able to hit in a way that matters.

The sheer fact people are afraid of bees despite their size is exactly what the "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" thing is talking about. Bees hit really damn hard for their scale, and float like a butterfly means being light on your feet. So now if you have a monk that floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee, then they have to actually be both mobile and dangerous relative to their level.


And if they move and dodge with ease, and they strike and immobilise with great speed, what monk abilities does that leave left in the equation of trying to create balance?

If they are high ac and high damage fighters, except they use hands not greatswords, what else should they get?

I would actually like to see more monk abilities causing effects other than stunning, how about nausea, blindness, feeblemind, level drain? Make them... the reverse of the paladin.

So yes, allowing at its heart, from the monk class base with no additional added sh*t needed, the chance to play a defence monk, a status monk, or an offence monk. Mix and match from the three streams, or follow one solely.


Ashiel wrote:
The equalizer wrote:
I see references made to individuals with legendary skill with their unarmed strikes. However, if we look at certain characters like bruce lee or the old jackie chan martial arts movies, I would say that such individuals are not actually high level monks. I would more classify them as pure fighters or fighter monks. With the latter, assuming they had 10 class levels, it would probably be something like monk 1/fighter 9 or monk 2/ fighter 8. Feats are sank in weapon focus (unarmed), weapon specialization (unarmed, fists of iron and melee weapon mastery bludgeoning (specifically unarmed strike).

The examples you cite should be stat as no higher than 4th level in anything. Monk/Fighter is actually a reasonable build for trying to make such characters, and functions fairly well assuming you're looking for a more gritty realism in your characters than D&D assumes.

The idea that Bruce Lee, amazing as he was, was a 10th level anything (even a commoner) is a sick joke. :P

Exactly that. Realism. There are other possible class combinations of what would constitute Bruce Lee. Monks have a somewhat variable role. Can chase down the enemies or if it goes really badly they can flee and probably stand the best chance of escaping. Granted it doesn't happen often but when the situation arises, that nice base speed really helps.

Monks have alot of eastern mysticism incorporated into the class and the bulk of it takes the form of defensive abilities. If you wanted a monk with good BAB progression and better hit die, talk to the DM. Chances are you'll probably have to give up a fair amount of classs abilities on exchange for those changes.

On a side note, I assume you think its a sick joke because you feel bruce lee shuld be higher level. I don't completely disagree there but CR 10 is not weak. He could indeed be higher level but I don't think he is a CR 20 martial artist. A CR 10 would be one of the best in a country's elite military organization. Then again, if I played alot more games which revolved around CR 14+ characters, I suppose CR 10 would look really insignificant.


Your kung-fu style very good, Mr CR 10!


I have seen hard hitting monk characters (yes they can actually hit). It takes me back to a game with a fighter and a monk taking on ogre rangers. The fighter was high strength bastard sword wielder. He was impressed at how close his unarmed counter part came to possibly hitting as hard as he did. The fighter had weapon spec and melee weapon mastery slashing. The monk who was also high strength had fists of iron and fiery fists. Granted, the monk only had so many uses of stunning fist per day but at full throttle, his melee damage at level 8 was something like:

+13/+13/+8, 1d10+1d6+6

max damage was something like: 3d10+3d6+1d4+18

That attack bonus may not be the best but hitting two out of three attacks
still dished out a considerable amounts of damage. This is before he drinks any potions or is buffed by any party spellcasters. That seems pretty solid for a level 8 character. If those numbers are too low, then I concede the point that their melee damage is indeed too mediocre for your game. My advice would be to either discuss with the DM about trading in some class abilities for other bonuses (e.g. good bab progression) or don't play them. If you want to play an unarmed specialist, go fighter/drunken master or even swashbuckler/drunken master.


"If you want to play an unarmed specialist" keep in mind you prob won't do as much damage as the wielder of a two-handed weapon. There are however feats and means, by which to do more damage.


The equalizer wrote:
On a side note, I assume you think its a sick joke because you feel bruce lee shuld be higher level. I don't completely disagree there but CR 10 is not weak. He could indeed be higher level but I don't think he is a CR 20 martial artist. A CR 10 would be one of the best in a country's elite military organization. Then again,...

Quite the opposite. Bruce Lee for all his awesomeness is no higher than 4th or 5th level. There's not a person on the planet that is CR 10. To try and suggest that Bruce Lee was CR 10, would be like suggesting that he could single handedly kill two grizzly bears with his bear hands after falling off a 50 ft. building and landing on asphalt.

Bruce Lee was an amazing man whose history has swept the world and can be felt in everything from martial arts and bodybuilding to iPods and modern culture, but he was still just a man. Someone once asked him why martial arts movies were typically period films (specifically low tech time periods) and he said (paraphrasing here) that today someone would just pull a gun, shoot you, and it's over. Bruce Lee films depict him as fighting off lots of mooks by himself in melee combat with his hands. Most are armed with - at best - knives and such. Surround him with the same number of mooks and put M9s in their hands and see how long the movie lasts.

Bruce Lee might accurately be statted as a Monk 1-2/Fighter 1-2 that is very athletic. Str 16, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 10 would human-legal 4th level statistics for Pathfinder. That would leave him with a +3 BAB, +3 to hit from Strength, a 14 AC unarmored, about 28 hit points, Improved Unarmed Strike + 1d6 damage per hit, flurry of blows (allowing multiple attacks per round), 4 bonus feats (2 monk, 2 fighter). Feats might include Combat Reflexes*, Dodge*, Stunning Fist*, Weapon Focus (Unarmed Strike)*, Toughness*, +3 feats additional feats like Catch off Guard, Throw Anything, and something else nice. That would leave him with a +7 to hit with unarmed strike, 1d6+3 unarmed strike damage, AC 15 unarmored, and 32 hit points.

With the exception of the boss enemies he faces in his films, the vast majority tend to be mobs of mooks who are villager thugs, or single combat with enemies who aren't as strong as him. Your average 1st level NPC-classed character uses 3 point buy. Using a standard array for a thug, we get 13, 11, 12, 9, 10, 8 or so in stats. Hit points are 4 (commoner), 5 (expert), 6 (warrior). Few to no people he fights in his films wear armor (AC 10-11), and most will have a +1 to +2 to hit him.

Since most of the mooks in his films are not proficient in unarmed combat, and instead kind of flail about at him, he gets AoOs on anyone who attacks him unarmed. Since he has Combat Reflexes, he can take out up to 3 mooks per round without ever even taking his turn. Then on his own turn he can take out another 2 mooks, since even with penalties for flurrying he has a +6 to hit, which means he hits on a 4+ against most of his foes. His damage is 4-9, which means he one shots most of his opponents who have only 4-6 HP.

Most foes are only going to hit him for 1d3+1 damage, and occasionally 1d4+1 damage with small blades like daggers. Assuming he's not fighting defensively, they only have a 35% chance to hit if they are warriors (30% chance if they aren't), and only deal an average of 3 damage unarmed or 3.5 with a small blade like a dagger. Some of them probably aren't even proficient with the weapons they do use (in the case of commoner thugs) which means a 15% chance to hit him, and only a 5% chance to hit him if he's fighting defensively. At 3.5 or less damage per hit, he could take around 9 hits before he was in serious trouble. When you consider that only roughly 1 out of every 3 attacks will hit him if he's not keeping his guard up, then he can drive through countless mooks in t-shirts.

Example A.


3.5 Loyalist wrote:
I would actually like to see more monk abilities causing effects other than stunning, how about nausea, blindness, feeblemind, level drain? Make them... the reverse of the paladin.

The core Pathfinder monk gets to inflict blindness. And not nausea, but sickness at least. Plus a few other conditions, but nothing quite like feeblemind or level drain. There may be archetypes that add some other conditions.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
3.5 Loyalist wrote:
A bee sting does not tear someone apart, unless you are talking about the sting of a gigantic monstrous bee. A bee sting hurts, damages, may cause shock and bring someone down over time or with more stings layered on top.

The thing with a bee-sting is, you can't ignore it, it hurts enough that you notice and it can't be avoided. The problem is that at higher levels, the monk has problems making this happen. He either has sub-par chances to hit (basically FoB becomes a few more chances to roll a 20), or sub-par damage that struggles to get past any DR.

When comparing him to the other combat classes it's important to note that critical hits are an important source of damage as well as the basic dice. Unarmed strike and most monk weapons crit on 20 only, most decent weapons will crit 2-3 times more often.

What the monk needs is a boost to chances to hit, more than anything, so they can 'sting like a bee' - then all those FoB attacks might actually achieve something.


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Okay, the whole bee/butterfly metaphor debate is only proving to me that you guys can argue at length about absolutely anything. I guess I knew that, but this really seals the deal.

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