Monk Class Preview

Monday, June 18, 2018

Some players love to play monks so they can strive toward enlightenment. Others just like to punch stuff!

Monk Features

Monks choose whether their key ability is Strength or Dexterity, which will determine the DC of some of their abilities. Their selection of initial proficiencies looks pretty different from most classes! First off, they have expert proficiency in all their saving throws. Monks aren't trained in any weapons, but they are trained in all unarmed attacks. They also get powerful fist, which increases the damage die of their fists and lets them make lethal strikes without penalty when using normally nonlethal unarmed attacks. Further, they're untrained in armor, but get graceful expertise at 1st level, which gives them expert proficiency in unarmored defense (everybody else is only trained).

They get one last class feature at 1st level, of course: Flurry of Blows! This is a single action that can be used once per round to make two strikes using an unarmed attack. If both hit, their damage is combined. Both these attacks take the multiple attack penalty normally, so usually the monk will be making the second attack at a -4 penalty (since a fist is agile). Flurry of Blows is a huge advantage, letting the monk attack up to four times in a round, or letting the monk have plenty of actions to move and attack in a single turn. Speaking of moving, at 3rd level, a monk gains incredible movement, increasing his speed as long as he's not wearing armor. This starts at a 10-foot increase, and it goes up by 5 feet every 3 levels.

Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

Because monks can defend themselves in so many different ways, we wanted to let the monk pick how his saving throws improve. His saves increase at 7th level through the path to perfection class feature, which lets him increase a save's proficiency rank to master. The second path to perfection, at 11th level, lets a monk treat any successful save as a critical success instead, as long as he has master proficiency in that save. The monk gets his third path to perfection at 15th level, which he can use to either increase his proficiency rank in another save to master proficiency or progress his proficiency at a save in which he's already a master to legendary.

The monk's unarmored defense proficiency also goes up as he levels, first to master at 13th level and then to legendary at 17th. You'll notice that monks no longer add their Wisdom modifiers to AC, which is due to a few factors. First, depending on the monk's Dexterity modifier, the gulf between a heavily armored character and a monk without armor is extremely low, so adding even more bonuses would put the monk really far ahead. Second, adding more than a single ability modifier to a check or DC now really distorts the game. Third, we have another role for Wisdom to play in the class, and wanted it to be optional so monks aren't dependent on many different ability scores, giving you more flexibility with how you can build a monk character.

Of course, it goes without saying that the monk's unarmed attacks get better as he levels up. Magic strikes, at 3rd level, makes the monk's unarmed attacks magical, and increases his proficiency rank to expert. At 5th level, metal strikes causes them to be treated as cold iron and silver; at 17th level, adamantine strikes makes them act as adamantine. Fierce flurry, at 9th level, increases the damage dice of a Flurry of Blows by one step whenever both strikes hit. At 19th level, the monk has developed perfected form, meaning that when he makes an unarmed attack, he can treat any die roll lower than 10 as if he had rolled a 10! This lets the monk plow through weaker enemies who can't handle his immaculate fighting style, and against bosses, he can even turn a good number of misses into hits.

Monk Feats

A monk's feats let him expand how he can attack, teach him special martial arts techniques, let him develop an entire fighting style, or use magic called ki (which we explain in the Ki section).

Your monk could take Monastic Weaponry at 1st level, letting him use his unarmed attack proficiencies, as well as any monk abilities that normally work with unarmed attacks, with simple and martial monk weapons. This is how Sajan gets to use that sweet temple sword! If you'd rather stick with punches, kicks, knees, and headbutts, take a look at Brawling Focus at 4th level, which gives you the critical specialization effect for anything in the brawling weapon group. This means if you critically hit with your unarmed attacks, the target might be slowed 1 on its next turn, losing 1 action.

Some of the special attacks you can learn include Stunning Fist, a great option if you're looking to recreate your Pathfinder First Edition monk. A Stunning Fist strike takes 2 actions and you make an unarmed strike; if the strike deals damage, the target has to succeed at a Fortitude save against your class DC (based on your Strength or Dex, remember?) or be flat-footed for 1 round, or stupefied 2 if it critically fails. So how do you stun the target? If your strike is a critical hit, the target's saving throw result is treated as one category worse, and if it critically fails its save it's stunned for 1 round! At 4th level, you can pick up Deflect Arrow, a reaction that gives you a +4 bonus to AC against a ranged weapon attack, or Flying Kick, which lets you use 2 actions to jump and make a strike at the end of your jump. You can even Long Jump—normally 2 actions—as part of your Flying Kick, potentially moving very far before your strike. Other attacks include Ghost Strike, which lets you use 2 actions to target TAC, or Wall Run, which lets you run up vertical surfaces at your full Speed.

Now what about fighting styles? Let's look at one that starts with the Crane Stance feat at 1st level! A stance takes one action to enter, and can be used only in an encounter. You typically stay in a stance until you enter another stance or get knocked out. In Crane Stance, you gain a +1 bonus to AC and get better at jumping, but the only Strikes you can make are crane wing attacks. What the heck are those? Well, many stances give special unarmed attacks that have statistics much like weapons. Crane wing attacks deal 1d6 bludgeoning damage, and have the agile, finesse, nonlethal, and unarmed traits. They're not too different from normal fist strikes, but others differ more; for instance, heavy dragon tail attacks deal 1d10 bludgeoning damage and have the backswing trait instead of agile or finesse. What if Crane Stance isn't enough? Well, you can pick up Crane Flutter, a reaction that increases your AC against a melee attack and lets you immediately riposte with a crane wing strike at a -4 penalty if the triggering attack misses. Each of the stances in the Playtest Rulebook has one special attack tied to it, but I could see us expanding on them in the future, couldn't you? If you really get into stances, you can pick up Master of Many Styles at 16th level, which lets you enter a stance as a free action at the start of each of your turns.

Ki

Oh, geez, I'm running long, huh? Let's make this quick. You know how I said there's a role for Wisdom? Well, that's where ki powers come into play. And when I say powers, I mean powers—they're spells just like other powers (such as the wizard's school powers or the cleric's domain powers). You gain access to ki by picking up the first ki power feat, Ki Strike, which gives you a pool of Spell Points equal to your Wisdom modifier, which you can spend to cast ki strike. This power is a Verbal Casting free action you can use when making an unarmed strike to get a +1 bonus to your attack roll. So you let out a shout and hit better!

Now that you have Spell Points, you can expand your repertoire of powers to teleport with Abundant Step, fire a cone of force with a Ki Blast, or kill someone with Quivering Palm. Quivering Palm costs 2 Spell Points, and as with the monk's other Spell Point abilities, taking the 16th-level feat to get this spell increases your Spell Point pool by 2. Let's take a look, and then I'm outta here (probably flying away using the wind jump power)!

Quivering Palm Power 8

Attack, Necromancy
Casting [[A]] Somatic Casting, [[A]] Verbal Casting
Duration 1 month

Make a melee unarmed Strike, dealing damage normally. If you succeed and the target is alive, anytime during the duration you can spend a Verbal action to speak a word of death that could instantly slay it, depending on its Fortitude save.

Success The target survives, the spell ends, and the target is bolstered against it.
Failure The target is stunned for 1 round but survives. The spell's duration continues, but the target is bolstered against being killed by quivering palm for 24 hours.
Critical Failure The target dies.

If you cast quivering palm again, any previous quivering palm you had cast ends.

Logan Bonner
Designer

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Pathfinder Playtest Wayne Reynolds
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PossibleCabbage wrote:

I feel like "Dex-to-Damage" being relevant may have sailed when PF2 decided to refocus the damage math from "lots of static modifers" towards "lots of dice".

Like the difference between 6d6+6 and 6d6+2 is not enormous, so whether the 14 str 22 dex monk with crane style gets dex to damage isn't that earth-shattering. Meanwhile the 22 Str 14 Dex monk with dragon style will be doing 6d10+6.

My real question is how is dex based offense going to keep up with anybody in any class since all finesse weapons seem to have small damage dice.

In one of the math threads with Mark, we went over something like this with respect to the size of the flat modifiers and it turns out you actually need those numbers to be lower for the balance of the game to not be thrown off, as I did all my Power Attack calculations with proficiency modifier being added to damage. This additional modifier throws the curves off so much that it would make something like Power Attack actually seem useless compared to other fighting styles.

If before it was a balance issue because of the implications of having higher DEX for other things, here it may end up being worse for balance.


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Captain Morgan wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
mrianmerry wrote:
Excellent! So we can indeed dump Strength (and even prioritise Wisdom) very effectively straight outta the CRB.
You can if you wish, yes (though the Wisdom boost is technically speculative).

It isn't speculative -- remember that every ancestry gets to choose one floating bonus, so gnomes and halflings could choose wisdom for the floating bonus even if neither of them gets a bonus to that stat by default, and since they don't have a penalty to it that is being offset, they get the normal benefit for doing so.

DMW was more referring to the theory that Halflings are getting their CHA bonus replaced with a WIS bonus. That makes them better for monks than before, even with the floating bonus, because they can get +2 to DEX/WIS and then stick the floater in CON or something. We just don't quite know for sure if Halflings got Wis in the playtest, even though there have been some pretty strong hints dropped.

I guess I focused too narrowly on being able to make wisdom as high as desired (as any ancestry without a wisdom penalty can do that) but forgot about possibly wanting to apply the floating bonus to a different stat, as charisma is probably not a stat that a monk would necessarily want a bonus to.


The Raven Black wrote:
Shinigami02 wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
Secret Wizard wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
Secret Wizard wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

If DEX to damage works only for low-damage melee weapons then STR gets monopoly on high-damage weapons and ranged weapons. That combined with needing a feat for DEX to damage sounds enough for balance IMO

I do not think DEX to damage should be taboo, nor exclusive to a Class

What's the point in DEX-to-damage in a system with 4 skill ups, other than opening the doors to rampant optimization?

Other than saying "you'll be worse at mental skills because you must go STR"?

I am sorry I did not understand what you mean with a system with 4 skill ups

I want DEX to damage to play agile characters that do not rely on muscles but rather on finesse to hurt their opponents

And this kind of characters should not need to be skillful Rogues IMO

I have complete faith in the ability of the devs to build this into the system in a way that prevents rampant optimization

4 attribute boosts per 4 levels is what I mean.

And if you want that, play a class that has high base damage that doesn't rely on total damage rolls, so you are able to have high DEX and modest STR (like 12 or 14, like every typical Rogue), and you'll deal damage because you are agile, not as much because you are strong.

How do I get higher damage thanks to higher DEX with this formula ?
By not splitting your stats so much between Dex and Strength, meaning you can have more accuracy, and therefor more crits. Hitting a critical spot seems like a more accurate portrayal of dealing more damage because of finesse anyways.
How does this fit with STR being the default modifier for melee attacks ? STR-based gets both higher damage and more frequent critical hits. By your reasoning the latter should belong to DEX I think

A Strength-based build will still in most cases need Dex in order to keep their AC up to par. This is the splitting your stats part I referenced in the quoted post. Granted it's not quite as much of a give-and-take in the system as we've seen as it would be in point buy, they are still splitting their attention, meaning it is quite possible (possibly even likely) that either their Accuracy or their AC will take a hit. Sure they could have Accuracy on par with the Dex-based, and thus get just as many (not more, just 'just as many', and even that's assuming they either both or neither has Agile to affect accuracy on later attacks) crits, but in return it will likely reduce their AC which in turn means that enemies are critting them more often.

Of course, there are exceptions to this, like the Grey Maiden plate we've seen since. That armor has it's full bonus with a Max Dex of 0, so as long as Dex is not dumped (no boosting on a -Dex race) they should be able to keep up... but that armor is also a very particular case that requires multiple prerequisites and at least level 6 to get a hold of, and does not seem like par for the course.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

So DEX makes the combat last longer (less damage, better AC) while STR makes it shorter ?

This is by itself a huge advantage for STR

You do not need to worry about your enemy hitting you in the 5th round if you killed him by the 3rd round ;-)


master_marshmallow wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:

I feel like "Dex-to-Damage" being relevant may have sailed when PF2 decided to refocus the damage math from "lots of static modifers" towards "lots of dice".

Like the difference between 6d6+6 and 6d6+2 is not enormous, so whether the 14 str 22 dex monk with crane style gets dex to damage isn't that earth-shattering. Meanwhile the 22 Str 14 Dex monk with dragon style will be doing 6d10+6.

My real question is how is dex based offense going to keep up with anybody in any class since all finesse weapons seem to have small damage dice.

In one of the math threads with Mark, we went over something like this with respect to the size of the flat modifiers and it turns out you actually need those numbers to be lower for the balance of the game to not be thrown off, as I did all my Power Attack calculations with proficiency modifier being added to damage. This additional modifier throws the curves off so much that it would make something like Power Attack actually seem useless compared to other fighting styles.

If before it was a balance issue because of the implications of having higher DEX for other things, here it may end up being worse for balance.

That is the very conversation that I was siting on the last page. Those were good times.


The Raven Black wrote:

So DEX makes the combat last longer (less damage, better AC) while STR makes it shorter ?

This is by itself a huge advantage for STR

You do not need to worry about your enemy hitting you in the 5th round if you killed him by the 3rd round ;-)

This is unless your monk gets killed round 2 and the fight drags on. But yes: I am thinking that strength tends towards doing more reliable damage (that is damage that comes out in most situations) and dex builds are behind in damage but catch up to strength builds under certain conditions.

For instance: in the greatsword power attack vs. short sword double strike discussion, it seems that the double strike option tended to be optimal or close to optimal when characters spent exactly two actions on attacking whereas the strength build did better damage when using only one action to attack or all three actions to attack.
In the case of the monk: Since a monk can actually make 4 iterative attacks with three actions, I kind of suspect that the dex monk will catch up to the strength monk in those situations where a uses all three actions to attack since the dex monk will be making attacks at:
+0/-4/-8/-8 (w/ crane style or temple knives or whatever)
While the strength monk attacks at:
+0/-5/-10/-10 (w/ dragon tail style or a big damn temple pipe or something)

So, depending on the circumstances, a strength monk and a dex monk could see about the same damage output (since both build are equally damage optimal for a certain range of combat situations) but the dex monk would be more survivable. Meanwhile, the strength monk has the advantage of being damage optimal in a wider range of situations.


Excaliburproxy wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

So DEX makes the combat last longer (less damage, better AC) while STR makes it shorter ?

This is by itself a huge advantage for STR

You do not need to worry about your enemy hitting you in the 5th round if you killed him by the 3rd round ;-)

This is unless your monk gets killed round 2 and the fight drags on. But yes: I am thinking that strength tends towards doing more reliable damage (that is damage that comes out in most situations) and dex builds are behind in damage but catch up to strength builds under certain conditions.

For instance: in the greatsword power attack vs. short sword double strike discussion, it seems that the double strike option tended to be optimal or close to optimal when characters spent exactly two actions on attacking whereas the strength build did better damage when using only one action to attack or all three actions to attack.
In the case of the monk: Since a monk can actually make 4 iterative attacks with three actions, I kind of suspect that the dex monk will catch up to the strength monk in those situations where a uses all three actions to attack since the dex monk will be making attacks at:
+0/-4/-8/-8 (w/ crane style or temple knives or whatever)
While the strength monk attacks at:
+0/-5/-10/-10 (w/ dragon tail style or a big damn temple pipe or something)

So, depending on the circumstances, a strength monk and a dex monk could see about the same damage output (since both build are equally damage optimal for a certain range of combat situations) but the dex monk would be more survivable. Meanwhile, the strength monk has the advantage of being damage optimal in a wider range of situations.

The Str Monk will always have the damage advantage.

They too can use the same agile style or weapon to get 0/-4/-8/-8.
There are no bonuses I can think of that a Dex Monk can get that a Str Monk cannot get except maybe when using Acrobatics to perform a combat maneuver that can't be done w/ Athletics.
And the Dex Monk will always have the defensive advantage AFAICT.

But this isn't a point buy system where pushing one stat puts a disruptive burden on progressing the other stats.
A Str Monk can opt for a Dex of 16 or 14 w/ nearly zero impact.
Same with a Dex Monk re: Str.
Since +1 or 2 damage is easier to get and a smaller % increase than +1 or 2 AC/Reflex, I think the advantage lies in the strong Dex Monk.

Of course, saying all that makes me want to veer off course and try to create a viable Halfling Monk w/
Str 8
Dex 18
Con 14
Int 12
Wis 16
Cha 10
Would be getting lots of ki powers and strikes which cause conditions.

Cheers


Castilliano wrote:
Excaliburproxy wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

So DEX makes the combat last longer (less damage, better AC) while STR makes it shorter ?

This is by itself a huge advantage for STR

You do not need to worry about your enemy hitting you in the 5th round if you killed him by the 3rd round ;-)

This is unless your monk gets killed round 2 and the fight drags on. But yes: I am thinking that strength tends towards doing more reliable damage (that is damage that comes out in most situations) and dex builds are behind in damage but catch up to strength builds under certain conditions.

For instance: in the greatsword power attack vs. short sword double strike discussion, it seems that the double strike option tended to be optimal or close to optimal when characters spent exactly two actions on attacking whereas the strength build did better damage when using only one action to attack or all three actions to attack.
In the case of the monk: Since a monk can actually make 4 iterative attacks with three actions, I kind of suspect that the dex monk will catch up to the strength monk in those situations where a uses all three actions to attack since the dex monk will be making attacks at:
+0/-4/-8/-8 (w/ crane style or temple knives or whatever)
While the strength monk attacks at:
+0/-5/-10/-10 (w/ dragon tail style or a big damn temple pipe or something)

So, depending on the circumstances, a strength monk and a dex monk could see about the same damage output (since both build are equally damage optimal for a certain range of combat situations) but the dex monk would be more survivable. Meanwhile, the strength monk has the advantage of being damage optimal in a wider range of situations.

The Str Monk will always have the damage advantage.

They too can use the same agile style or weapon to get 0/-4/-8/-8.
There are no bonuses I can think of that a Dex Monk can get that a Str Monk cannot get except maybe when using Acrobatics to perform a combat maneuver that can't be done w/ Athletics.

That is true enough given that the strength build will have higher static bonuses. I take your point!

Still, static bonuses are going to be a relatively small portion of total damage at higher levels.


KAAAAAAAAAAAAAA


Excaliburproxy wrote:

While the strength monk attacks at:

+0/-5/-10/-10 (w/ dragon tail style or a big damn temple pipe or something)

... I nearly spat my tea on my computer reading this hilarity. Excellent!

Castilliano wrote:

Of course, saying all that makes me want to veer off course and try to create a viable Halfling Monk w/ Str 8 / Dex 18 / Con 14 / Int 12 / Wis 16 / Cha 10

Would be getting lots of ki powers and strikes which cause conditions.

Slightly edited to be less lines - force of habit, sorry!

I'm with you on that! It sounds like it could be very interesting, so I'm hoping there are paths for Ki Powers that are all about debilitating the opposition to set up for others.


mrianmerry wrote:
Excaliburproxy wrote:

While the strength monk attacks at:

+0/-5/-10/-10 (w/ dragon tail style or a big damn temple pipe or something)
... I nearly spat my tea on my computer reading this hilarity. Excellent!

That is pretty rockin'; I now want a bong-wielding monk.

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