Help Build: Katana Monk?


Advice


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The idea was inspired from two separate conversations with my current group. One involved two of my group's current players having the idea to create "bro fighters", the other involving another player/gm wanting to create a closed quarters combatant for perhaps an upcoming game.

I was then contemplating the practicality of building a samurai or sohei inspired character, just not necessarily built with that class or that archetype respectively. Equally, I'm not wanting to build this character with any kind of ninja/rogue/sneaky business.

Necessarily, I wanted to build a katana wielding combatant that follows some form of a moral code, but doesn't necessarily rely on mounted combat or challenges.

Enter, One Piece's Monk Zoro... (Nope, I haven't watched OP for years, I have no idea what's going on or what these new character restylings are even about. I just think the pictures look cool.)

So, to solidify my idea a little better then, I believe my version of a "monk zoro" to be a nihonto wielding combatant. Human probably, unless there's any compelling reason to be otherwise. He will either be adept in the traditional styles of kenjutsu, wielding the katana as a two-handed weapon, or perhaps in niten ichi ryu, wielding a katana and wakizashi with TWF. Also, like the sohei, he should be able to become spiritually invested with his weapon, therefore having the weapon becoming an extension of his own body. Being able to flurry with it would be nice (and the only reason to go with monk versus some form of fighter in my opinion).

So here's a couple of questions: Without having to use the sohei archetype, can I somehow make the monk be able to flurry with his sword(s)? Also, for the purposes of grabbing a free exotic WP from the deity's favored weapon (Shizuru), is there any downside to dipping warpriest versus cleric? How would a one-sword build look like versus a TWF build, and how do they stack up?

Scarab Sages

You can flurry with a Katana with a single level dip into Cleric and the Crusader's Flurry feat. You would need 4 levels of Warpriest to do the same, because you need Channel Energy. Crusader Cleric can get Weapon Focus at 1st level as a bonus feat (ignoring BAB requirements), so you could be flurrying with the katana as early as 3rd level.

You can't flurry and TWF, so assuming you can use Unchained Monk, you're much better off going with a single weapon. Unchained Monks also get 1 1/2x STR when two handing a weapon, so that's another definite advantage to just wielding a katana.


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I can't advise you on the flavor, because I consider One Piece to be one of the most ugly things known to mankind, but mechnically, unchained Monk wielding a katana with the Versatile Design weapon modification plus Weapon Adept, Ascetic Style and Ascetic Form would probably be best. Crusader's Flurry was fine for cMonk, but unMonks bonus ki attack and style strikes don't work with it. You still need to either dip or wait until 7th level, though.

A dip into Kensai Magus also works (for a possible +1 AC), in addition to Warpriest and (by GM allowance, see below) Crusader Cleric.

@Ferious Thune: Crusader only allows ignoring level- and class based restrictions, which BAB technically doesn't fall under. I guess few GMs would actually rule it that way, but YGMMV.


Lol I feel you Derk. It took me a lot of swallowing to get into OP myself, and it was primarily because of my then-not-yet-ex that I did. I completely disagree with the whole niten ichi ryu with two katana PLUS a tooth grip third that they depict with Zoro. Being a practitioner myself I understand the horrific impossibility of what they're trying to portray.

That said, let's just assume that my primary interest is in a one-sword practitioner with flurry at the moment.

Let's also say that I'm willing to dip. I can see cleric and warpriest, why crusader cleric (is it just for the bonus feat and nothing else)? Also, what benefit would I get from Kensai magus besides the AC? Would the katana be able to effectively strike against touch AC?

And let's assume that I'm willing to take a dip for 4 levels of warpriest, potentially for other benefits in the class (spells and such), how would that affect the effectiveness of the flurry attacks (assuming that that is the pony's primary trick), and other tricks our pony might possess?

I'm not understanding the whole thing about the crusader clarification. From my understanding dipping crusader cleric is more or less just a 1 lvl dip? Or was that a clarification about crusader's flurry?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Regarding OP, they have a weather controller, a guy who is pretty much literally made of rubber, a man who pretty much just didn't realize he was dead and didn't care when he found out,amongst people a LOT wierder, and you're worried about the impossibility of wielding a sword in your teeth?


Everything else I can more or less chalk up to "oh that's some devil fruit tomfoolery", Zoro, I can't...

Also, don't forget chibi Rudolf the red nosed were-reindeer...

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Hey, just because he never admitted one, doesn't mean he never ate one. If my Devil's Fruit gave me an extra hand in my mouth, I'd lie about it.


Lmao... Val'bryn2 is a moray eel. Got it.


To add on Derklord's idea, I'd probably recommend Brawler instead of Monk if we're using the Versatile Design trick.

Then you wouldn't need Exotic Weapon Proficiency/Weapon Adept since Brawlers are proficient with all weapons from the close weapon group.

Of course, Brawlers are quite different from Monks, but I enjoy the flexibility they provide.


That's certainly an idea. Though, it would still mean I would need to invest in a significant chunk of cash for the weapon, but with brawler's flurry I then open up the TWF option... Hmm...


iantruesilver wrote:
Let's also say that I'm willing to dip. I can see cleric and warpriest, why crusader cleric (is it just for the bonus feat and nothing else)? Also, what benefit would I get from Kensai magus besides the AC? Would the katana be able to effectively strike against touch AC?

All three 1-level-dips grant very little apart from a small save boost and two bonus feats (Exotic Weapon Proficiency + Weapon Focus). The other benefits are cantrips, limited uses of utility spells (like Protection from Evil, Obscuring Mist, Monkey Fish, Silent Image, or Enlarge Person), and easy wand usage. Both have access to healing wands (Cure Light Wounds and Infernal Healing, respectively), but the Magus has better spells.

iantruesilver wrote:
And let's assume that I'm willing to take a dip for 4 levels of warpriest, potentially for other benefits in the class (spells and such), how would that affect the effectiveness of the flurry attacks (assuming that that is the pony's primary trick), and other tricks our pony might possess?

Spells are never bad, but you won't have too many of them. Your main spell would be Divine Favor, which, with the help of two traits, can grant up to +3 to attack and damage rolls, which you can activiate as a swift action. Nice 2nd level spells would be Lesser Restoration and Silence.

As to what you'd lose/delay: A lot: Ki Powers, which offer such things such as Barkskin at 4th level, Restoration as a material-free SLA at 8th level, and Ki Leech for infinite ki at 10th level. Style Strikes, especially Flying Kick (your pseudo-pounce) which scales with the Fast Movement bonus. And, of course, the bonus attack at 11th level.

iantruesilver wrote:
I'm not understanding the whole thing about the crusader clarification.

Actually, you shouldn't take dip at first level anyway (to gain two expected hitpoints), making the issue moot. Taken at first level, Crusader would be an "ask your GM" thing.

Val'bryn2 wrote:
Regarding OP, they have a weather controller, a guy who is pretty much literally made of rubber, a man who pretty much just didn't realize he was dead and didn't care when he found out,amongst people a LOT wierder, and you're worried about the impossibility of wielding a sword in your teeth?

Actually, it's a pretty normal reaction. It has something to do with what's called Willing Suspension of Disbelief. "You can ask an audience to believe the impossible, but not the improbable."

iantruesilver wrote:
That's certainly an idea. Though, it would still mean I would need to invest in a significant chunk of cash for the weapon, but with brawler's flurry I then open up the TWF option... Hmm...

Brawler's Flurry still doesn't gain anything from using more than one weapon.


One more thought: Guided hand feat.

I'm assuming if I built say the cleric 1 unmonk x without guided hand, I'd want perhaps maxed str, wis about 14-16ish. Something to the effect of STR 18 (16+2), DEX 12, CON 14, INT 10, WIS 15, CHA 7 at chargen.

If I spend a feat to go guided hand, I could potentially drop Str, and just max Wis?? I'd then be foregoing extra damage based on str... How much would that hurt, and how would the two builds stack up?

Scarab Sages

The Crusader Archetype says you can select Weapon Focus as a bonus feat at 1st Level. I don’t think many people would rule it doesn’t work. However, it is correct that you’re better off going Monk 1 Cleric 1 Monk X for the extra 2 HPs (assuming Unchained Monk). If you’re playing the character at level 1, you wouldn’t be able to use the katana at level 1 doing that. That’s why I put Cleric first.

The reason to take Crusader is so that you can get Crusader’s Flurry at 3rd Level instead of 5th. Monk doesn’t have proficiency in katana, so you can’t take Weapon Focus katana with your regular level 1 feat. Which means unless you get it as a bonus feat from somewhere, you have to take it at 3rd. Which means you can’t take Crusader’s Flurry until 5. Crusader Cleric let’s you get Flurry with a katana 2 levels early. You could also use retraining, if you want. That would be the other way to do it. If you’re starting the character at higher level, it may not matter.

I wouldn’t recommend Warpriest if you mainly want to be a monk. At least not if you are going Unchained Monk. 4 levels is s lot, and Unchained Monk is really good. You could do what I did on my Whip flurrying Character, though. I took a one level dip of Monk and the rest Warpriest. With Unchained Monk that translates into one extra attack at my full BAB from the flurry for 1 level lost of spellcasting.

As for STR vs WIS, again, it matters whether you’re going Unchained Monk or not. Unchained Monk gets 1 1/2x STR with a two handed weapon when flurrying. That’s a lot of bonus damage to give up by not being STR based. Also, the only way to get Wis to damage that I know of is the Guided weapon enhancement, which your GM may not allow. It’s not PFS legal, but I’d ask your GM if you go that direction.


Hmm... I'm now bouncing between a UnMonk 1/Crusader Cleric of Shizuru 1/Unmonk X build vs a Sacred Fist Warpriest of Shizuru (or half-elf ancestral arms, whatever gives me the katana) build, apparently sacred fists get flurry too...?

Scarab Sages

Sacred Fist gets flurry, but it’s the core monk flurry, not Unchained. Though you could ask your GM. You still need to take Crusader’s Flurry to use the Katana with it. And you can’t do that before 4th, when you get Channel, so you’re still looking at 5th level. Sacred Fist gives up Savred Weapon, but losing the scaling damage isn’t as big of a deal with a katana as it was for me with a whip.

So the benefit is you’re single class and keep full casting progression. The downsides are that you’re only x1STR damage on flurry and it works like TWF (-2 on all attacks). You also lose your 3rd and 9th Level Bonus Feat and are locked into style feats/chains for your other ones. And you would get your Ki pool 3 levels later, no style strikes, no qinggong/Ki Powers.


So currently I've got this build as follows, but I'm not entirely convinced that this is the best way to go about it, it seems as though Ascetic stuff is a little late (primarily wanted to account for the 500gp cost for Versatile Design), and I have some holes to fill with regard to the Ki powers and style strikes (I've never played monk before so...)

Human (Tian-Min)
20 PB Allocation: Str 16+2=18, Dex 12, Con 15, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 7
Alternate Racial Traits: None (?)
Traits: Reactionary, Martial manuscript

Cleric (Crusader) of Shizuru 1, Unchained Monk 19

1 (UnM) - Power attack, (Hum) Furious focus, (UnM) Dodge
2 (Cru) - Domain: Repose, (Cru) Weapon focus: Katana
3 (UnM) - Crusader's flurry, (UnM) Scorpion style
4 - Con
5 - Improved initiative, Ki power (Qinggong power: Barkskin)
6 - Style strike: Flying kick
7 - Cleave, (UnM) Gorgon's fist, Ki power (?)
8 - Str
9 - Hammer the gap, Ki power (Qinggong power: Restoration)
10 - Style strike (?)
11 - Weapon adept, (UnM) Improved critical, Ki power (Qinggong power: Ki leech)
12 - Str
13 - Ascetic style: Katana, Ki power (?)
14 - Style strike (?)
15 - Ascetic form, (UnM) Medusa's wrath, Ki power (?)
16 - Str, Style strike (?)
17 - Critical focus, Ki power (?)
18 - Style strike (?)
19 - Blinding critical, (UnM) Improved trip, Ki power (?)
20 - Str

Scarab Sages

Looks good to me. I like Furious Defense as a Ki Power, because UMonk lost that part of the standard ki pool. Also, it works as an immediate action now, so you don’t have to predict when you’re going to need it.

Abundant Step would be the other one I’d try to work in. Dim door, even for self only, is powerful. It’s Su so you can use it to escape grapples and other such things.

EDIT: I will say that Furious Focus loses some appeal in a flurry build, since it only applies to the first attack.


just read the op.
if you are not set on the monk. a swashbuckler using katana (via slashing grace) might be what you look for. (i had one as human used the alt trait that swipe the given feat for 2 exotic weapons and picked tekko-kaggi for the 2nd. as it can also perform as a buckler.)

there is a 3rd party archtype for swashbuckler called Ronin that does that even better and also install some samurai abilities and code. as far as 3rd party goes it doesn't even break the game balance.
(do notice though that if you use it the 3rd level deed name 'Derring-Do' is probably a type-o as he already has the level 1 'Derring-Do' deed. i understand from general talks that it should have been named 'iai-jutsu' -fast draw technique)


Idea: dump monk. --Look at all the MAD contortions you're going through, and you're not even going to get to make extra Ki attacks with your katana as an unchained monk who dabbles in cleric for Crusader's Flurry! Ouch....

Try this instead:

Human (Tian) 20pt-buy

STR: 12
DEX+ 19 (all bumps)
CON: 14
INT: 12 or 7
WIS: 12
CHA: 7 or 12

Traits: Anatomist, Berserker of the Society
01 Barbarian[Savage Technologist], Weapon Finesse, Two Weapon Fighting
02 Sword Saint1 [Iaijutsu Strike][Resolve x1]
03 Sword Saint2 [Order of the Warrior], Extra Rage
04 Sword Saint3 [Resolve x2][Brutal Slash][Weapon Expertise:Wakizashi], DEX>20
05 Sword Saint4 Weapon Focus:Wakizashi
06 Sword Saint5 [Resolve x3][Terrifying Iaijutsu]
07 Sword Saint6 [Feat: Piranha Strike], Improved Two Weapon Fighting
08 Sword Saint7 [Resolve x4]
09 Sword Saint8 Improved Critical: Wakizashi
...etc.

* At 1st level, you're +7, or +5/+5 with a pair of wakizashis: 2x (d6+3, 18-20/x2)
* By 4th, you're +3 to confirm crits with the wakizashis.
* Rage bonus + Resolve's rerolls grant much better odds of making crucial will saves than unchained monk even with a cleric dip.
* Armor: Quilted Cloth (and don't spend a penny upgrading it)
* Tactics: in party-formation you'll march with a polearm to pick up off-turn AoOs; when opponents are adjacent, drop it and quickdraw (via Weapon Expertise) your light blades.

Mid-level equipment wish-list: Champion's Banner (wear on a samurai back-brace), Vambraces of the Tactician, Celestial Armor, +1/Furious/Agile wakizashis (two, and have one +1/Furious and one +1/Agile before upgrading either fully), Daikyu of Commanding Presence


iantruesilver wrote:
So currently I've got this build as follows, but I'm not entirely convinced that this is the best way to go about it, it seems as though Ascetic stuff is a little late (primarily wanted to account for the 500gp cost for Versatile Design)

Generally, a Monk is centered around making a bunch of attacks via Flurry. Your selections should support this - stuff that helps you do that is good, stuff that doesn't work with a full attack is bad.

Feats: Furious Focus only affects one of many attacks, and thus is pretty weak. Cleave is a standard action and thus almost never useful.Hammer the Gap look better than it is - when you land alkl your attacks against a single enemy, you normally shouldn't need the bonus damage at that point, so it's kind of a "win more" feat.
Crusader's Flurry is completely redundant when you get Ascetic Form, so I'd try to get the latter ASAP. It is possible to play without Ascetic Form for so many levels, but you can't use the bonus ki attack nor the style strikes with your weapon (you can use one with the other, though). Is retraining allowed? And are you adamant on using the Katana all the way, or are a few levels of a different Weapon (e.g. Temple Sword, Seven-branched Sword, or Nine-Ring Broadsword) ok?

Bonus Feats: Scorpion Style is something you'll likely never use, so take Combat Reflexes or Deflect Arrows instead (you'd need to take a hand off the Katana to use Deflect Arrows, so you couldn't take AoOs, but it's still situationally very strong). Gorgon's Fist is just as crappy, take Mobility instead - very nice against enemies with reach. Medusa's Wrath is super strong if you have some reliable means of triggering it - if someone in your party does that, take it at 10th level. Stunning Fist (which works with the sword via Ascetic Style) can trigger it, but the DC is generally too low against most enemies.
What you might have overlooked is that your bonus feats ignore prereqs - thus you can grab Medusa's Wrath without the abyssmal prereq feats.

Ki Powers: The three SLAs are among the best you can get, but one thing definitely worth considering is Empty Body. It was cMonk's level 19 ability, but probably because of a mistake, the Ki Power version doesn't have any level requirements. The high ki cost limits it (i.e. not somethign you're goign to use every combat, at least not without Ki Leech), but very strogn an versatile nonetheless. Especially nice is that it grants some outfight options, something that's generally in short supply for Monks.
For higher levels: Insightful Wisdom (8) is amazing for letting party members reroll failed saving throws. Freedom of Movement (8) can be good depending on party and campaign, as can Abundant Step (8) (although to fully use the latter, you need Dimensional Dervish, which has two prereqs, i.e. you can't grab it before 13th level without retraining). Qinggong Power: Improved Blind-Fight (10) is about the only interesting feat option from Qinggong, ignoring all non-total concealment is especially nice when fighting in dim light a lot. Diamond Soul (12) and Ki Volley (16) are good late-ish game options to improve your defense, and the cMonk version of Diamond Body (12) (grabbed via Qinggong Power) allows you to walk through a Cloudkill, if that's your thing.
You'll note that apart from Barkskin and Ki Leech, all of these are a bit situational (like, if your campaign only very rarely includes ability damage/drain and negative levels, Restoration looses value), and many effects can be duplikated by a party member's spell. You should decide what to grab when you actually reach that level.

Style Strikes: Flying Kick is a must have, of course, even though the range starts small. Elbow Smash is great because more attacks is more good. The others are more situational - Foot Stomp is nice to prevent enemies 5-foot-stepping away to not provoke AoOs for casting or ranged attacks, for instance, while Defensive Spin is nice against strong physical enemies that show up in small numbers.

Something to consider is the Windstep master archetype - depending on how your GM rules the interaction between Flying Kick and the sustained Wind Step.

Scarab Sages

Derklord has good advice.

A small note. Cleric grants exotic weapon proficiency katana, not just martial, so the katana could be used one-handed for AoOs even if you took a hand off for deflect arrows. Plus, Monk, so you could always AoO with an unarmed strike. But I do like the dodge/Mobility combo on a monk. Flying kick still provokes from movement, so those feats help you position yourself without needing to tumble as much.


Ferious Thune wrote:
A small note. Cleric grants exotic weapon proficiency katana, not just martial, so the katana could be used one-handed for AoOs even if you took a hand off for deflect arrows. Plus, Monk, so you could always AoO with an unarmed strike.

Argh. It's supposed to read "so you couldn't take AoOs with it", sorry about that. Of course, me being used to unMonks with Sansetsukon, I totally forgot that katana is a one-handed weapon.

Yeah, all three dips grant full proficiency, so when preparing to use Deflect Arrows, you'd only lose a few points of damage on a potential AoO.

Scarab Sages

I missed that Cleave was in the build. Yeah, unless that's a prerequisite, it's not terribly useful on this build. You can flying kick anything within monk bonus speed range and still flurry. So cleave is only going to apply when you have t move more than your bonus speed, and there are two opponents adjacent to each other where you end up. That situational of a use isn't worth a feat.

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