The Alchemist is good at helping party aurvivability, especially the Mutagenecist. Juggernaut mutagens offer an excellent bump in survivability, as do Mistform Elixers and Smokesticks.
They also have a lot of options for debuffing the enemy's offense (Debilitating Bombs) or Speed (Debilitating, Frost, and Tanglefoot bombs).
Oh wow. I just realized that Monks are proficient with any weapon with the monk quality. That opens up the Seven-Branched Sword, the Rope Dart, etc etc etc. There are bunch of good options with that on the table.
As for unarmed vs weapon. It depends a bit on level, but weapon is going to win out early on and unarmed is going to win out later. Regardless of build, you should be using a weapon almost exclusively for levels 1-3.
However, Unarmed is the only thing that works with Style Strikes, Stunning Fist (and derivatives), Vicious Stomp, Enhanced Ki Throw, Bleeding Attack, Enforcer, the extra attack from spending a point of Ki, etc. Unarmed also has the advantage of allowing you to perform grapples. I think it may be useful to list all of the things that only work with unarmed attacks before really assessing a focus.
I keep wanting a Greater Trip + Enhanced Ki Throw + Vicious Stomp build to be effective.
An aside, if you are playing exclusively at very low levels (like 1-4) or if you can retrain feats then Bleeding Attack is amazing. 1d4 damage at that point is "they are dead and just don't know it yet" for a lot of things.
Offhand, for an unarmed build...
Unchained, Unarmed Monk. 20pt Buy
High Jump, Wind Jump, and Elemental Fist are highly negotiable and should probably be swapped out. Thinking of taking an earlier Insightful Wisdom. Basically everything after level 12 could probably be improved. I'm thinking an early Insightful Wisdom, because I feel like when that applies your ally will absolutely love you. This, in turn, makes sappy sad eyes for buffs more likely to work.
I feel like not much is all that different, although Unchained does filter out all of the "noise." Hybrid Weapon / Unarmed does seem the way to go, especially at lower levels.
If your race has a +Wisdom Modifier but not a +Strength Modifier (Dwarves, Etc.) then consider raising STR to 18 and lowering Wis to 14 and one of your other stats down as necessary.
Doing a quick comparison to a fighter with the
Here's a quick infodump of me comparing monk to fighter at lowish levels.
At level 1 you are looking at
Both characters at this level are pretty comparable.
The fighter can both dish out more damage in a single hit and take a lot more attention from enemies. +2 AC is pretty huge at this level and while 2d4 might not seem much better than 1d8, the added consistency of the extra die in the damage roll helps a lot more than you would think against weaker enemies. The Fighter is also more free to gain Weapon Focus at level 1, raising his to-hit. I seriously can't stress the AC thing enough. Remember that enemies are killing you with about 2-3 sold hits.
The Monk, in contrast, has really two or three things going for it: Flurry of Blows, Stunning Fist, and access to Improved Grapple. Flurry of Blows puts the Monk to the top of the offense heap when it applies. Against big bad CR3 bosses the Fighter looking at around 8 average damage per turn while the Monk is looking at 14. Improved Grapple and Stunning Fist are both powerful disabling techniques at this level if used with wisdom.
Both characters are probably going to want Power Attack because it allows them to one-shot CR 1/2 enemies and have a decent chance of one-shotting CR 1 enemies (~37% if they hit for both).
In short, the Fighter is who you want while storming the front of a cave full of Kobolds and the Monk is who you want to take out the evil necromancer at the heart of the lair. If the Monk has a Wizard or Sorcerer friend to cast Mage Armor on him with their very limited slots at this level, then they jump ahead of Fighters in terms of survivability.
At level 2 you are looking at
This level favors the fighter a lot, largely due to equipment. A monk can sort of keep pace if they are really creative with their expendables but...
Really, the fighter just plain wins at level 2. Monk has some niche uses because of Grappling and Stunning Fist and its DPR is significantly higher during a Flurry. This is all offset if the Monk can get on his hands and knees and successfully beg the party arcane caster for Mage Armor.
A special note, Monk gets Evasion at this level. That can occasionally be a lifesaver.
Things even back out at level 3. A Wand of Mage Armor ensures that the Monk has access to the spell whenever he needs it (in the rare case he doesn't, there are going to be some big survivability issues). Monk reaches 40ft movement while the Fighter reaches 30ft movement (armor Training).
The Monk gains a Ki Pool of 4 at this point and the ability to add an extra unarmed attack to a Flurry by spending 1 Ki. This is huge, and keeps the Monk well ahead of the Full Attack Damage Curve (tm). Get into the habit that every time you spend Ki for an extra attack, you also make that extra attack a Stunning Fist.
Monk remains fantastic at burst damage with some disabling options and the Fighter remains a better all arounder. Monk is still dependent on Mage Armor for survivability.
Monk gets a Ki Power. The Monk selects Barkskin because it is, hands down, the best option. It makes the Monk more independent of Mage Armor and if combined with Mage Armor, brings the Monk ahead of the Fighter in terms of AC.
The Fighter gains more Damage from Weapon Specialization. Power Attack improves for both parties. Otherwise it's business as usual. Monk is better at disabling targets and dealing damage during a full attack, especially with resource expenditure.
An aside, both parties should be shoring up their defenses with their various +1's at this point. As a Monk, get into the habit of trying to use Stunning Fist at least 1/battle at this point.
The Monk gets probably the biggest decision of its life at this level: the choice in Style Strike. I feel that Elbow Smash, Flying Kick, Sweeping Kick and Shattering Fist are the most likely candidates.
I personally like Flying Kick because the Monk is only better than the Fighter when full attacking and the Flying Kick lets the Monk full attack more.
Elbow Smash is mostly a trap at this level unless you are heavily invested in unarmed strike because of that heinous -5 penalty. A single attack with a Temple Sword averages out to 11.55 (12.51 if you get Weapon Focus) damage at this level vs AC 18. An unarmed attack with an Elbow Smash attached averages out to 10.14. If you are making a full-on unarmed build (Human with Weapon Focus [Unarmed], Dragon Style, Dragon Ferocity, and an Amulet of Mighty Fists +1) then you deal 15.77 (17.13 if it benefits from Dragon Style's 1/rd damage boost) average damage with the Elbow Smash combination. Another situation you might want to consider Elbow Smash for is if you are a trip build or similar, and are using an unarmed attack anyways. Note that you can trigger Elbow Smash off of a trip attempt made during a Flurry of Blows.
Sweeping Kick's advantages over Elbow Smash is that it avoids the -5 penalty and that you can place the Trip alongside an attack that deals lethal damage. In contrest Elbow Smash requires you to either take a -5 penalty to your Trip Attempt (to place the trip on the second attack) *or* to make the attack deal nonlethal damage (by placing the trip attempt on the first attack). Sweeping Kick places the Trip on the second attack but has no -5 penalty attached. It also allows for AoO-less Trip Attempts one level early, but keep in mind that you are almost certainly going to take Improved Trip as your level 6 bonus feat.
Shattering Fist isn't really a combat choice. If you have to rely on its ability to punch through Damage Reduction, then you aren't going to be doing that much damage anyways. That said, the ability to completely ignore Hardness has a lot of creative uses if you put your mind to it. I'd take it to challenge myself.
Defensive Spin and Spin Kick both have niche uses. The former is if you need to tank one combat-centric enemy for an extended period of time. The latter is to help the extra attack you're going to get next level actually hit.
I would personally take Flying Kick at this level, and then Elbow Smash at level 9, when it is more useful.
Otherwise it's mostly the same as Level 4. Both parties should have more magic items but I'm kinda lazy at this point. If a Monk is going unarmed it'll have Amulet of Mighty Fists around here.
Finally, the fighter is incentivized to stand still and full attck. Before the Fighter was probably charging all over the place and/or moving and attacking (or moving and firing with his bow).
Vs. an AC of 19 the Fighter can deal 33.06 average damage.
I figure this pattern will more/less continue until about level 11, where Dazing Assault changes the melee game entirely.
Making a Combat Rogue is possible, but difficult in any environment. With that stat generation, its pretty easy. If you have that stat generation and are looking for "low optimization" then its painfully easy.
The trick? Just do it. Focus on getting a lot of to-hit through your feats and your magic items. Challenge yourself to use smart play over a smart build, particularly if you are a low level.
That stat array is really your saving grace, though. With it you can easily have a high Dex, go finesse rogue, and still have decent damage. By the benchmark fr your DPR, with Sneak Attack, is roughly 1/3 of standard target's HP at your level.
What level are you starting at?
Drunken Master? You could pick up Searing Ray--one of the few archetypes that can spam it, and laser eyebeams are effective until a decent level.
What is the goal of the character?
What is the rest of your party? What buffs can you count on? In particular, look for someone to cast Mage Armor on you.
Heavy Hitter is good. You can do better than Honored Fist of the Society. I.E. You could grab UMD as a class skill--yes, even with 5 Cha--or something more interesting. As a DM you have tons of Ki.
You don't need Fast Drinker. The trick is to just be drunk all the time, so you enter combat inebriated and Ki'd up.
Crane Style is almost always the better choice over Dragon Style, unless you're trying for the absolute highest DPR possible. Even then, if someone hits you once then Crane Style usually comes out ahead.
At 30 Point Buy start with STR 16, DEX 14, CON 14, INT 13, WIS 16, CHA 7 before Racial Mods (you're one point short, nothing to spend it on).
The hell? Make sure your GM knows:
Monk is absolutely fantastic and broken in this environment. If you plan on melee at all, Monk is your best bet.
The Advanced template is amazing at +1. Its +4 all stats and +2 Natural Armor.
Lets see... For pure Melee (going caster on the side is strictly better)
Oh, Int Caster / Fighter -> Duelist would be awesome too.
...lol. No, really, Rod of Absorption, Ring of Blinking, and Stealth. Mage's Disjunction also allows a will save, probably DC 31. Wizards are only unbeatable if you let people continuously, retroactively change up their spells to match the situation. Having an infinite white plane also benefits the Wizard, and ranged combatants in general. In practice, Wizards--even high level ones--don't prepare for everything.
That said, teleport and methods for having tons of minions (Undead, Planar Binding) are valid "The Wizard can beat anything." At least in Core. There is nothing to stop the Wizard from just teleporting away in core. :/
Thinking on it. The only way you have a chance with those tactics is readied actions to attack the wizard to disrupt spellcasting
No really... learning a monk isn't that hard. Just have to know what to look for and know that you have to look. Monks just need a good guide. :/
Also, any party with a buffbot benefits more from the Monk. Throw in a Bard, and suddenly your Monk is the best thing since sliced bread and can laugh in the Fighter's face.
Being survivable is also of tactical value. Most enemies really don't just push past the random unarmored guy assuming he has the best defenses ever. Even if they do, this gives the Monk the freedom to do... well, whatever he wants.
The Monk is also as good as the Fighter if you actually use archetypes and non-core options... which, honestly, I'd wager 80%+ of people do. You don't really need excessive System Mastery(tm) to make the Maneuver Master, Tetori, Wanderer, et cetera.
"System Mastery" involves...
So. Improved Invisibility at level 10 is a lie. Almost everything in existence will have See Invisibility or something similar. Maintaining concealment for Moonlight, etc. at that level can be difficult. You can sit inside darkness / an eversmoking bottle, but then you have to talk with your team-mates about the realities of doing that.
There are two challenges with any Ninja build--the first is gaining Sneak Attack, and the second is adding to your to-hit.
The issue with Feinting is that it only works for one attack. This requires upwards of five feats to properly fix, or two feats if you splash in a level or four of Monk.
If only Vital Strike didn't come after Haste does.
Lets assume a generic, Greatsword-wielding Fighter. 18 STR, Level 6, Weapon Focus, Weapon Spec, Gloves of Dueling, Masterwork Greatsword, Power Attack.
Power Attacking fighter hits on 6's, IIRC and deals an average of 24 damage. That's (0.75+0.5)*24*1.1 or 33 average damage. Vital Strike deals an average of 24. At -5 DR, a full attack is still better by 0.55 average damage.
If you have Haste up, which you should at that level, then full-attacking is ahead of Vital Strike by 10 DPR against 10 DR enemies at level 6.
Improved Vital Strike comes in at 11. Taking Improved Vital Strike implies you aren't taking Dazing Assault. That is almost never a good idea if you're a build that can use it effectively.
It doesn't require a save. That's okay, and not OP. Its a level 8 Discovery, that means its competing with the trifecta of Fast Bombs > Force Bomb > Sticky Bomb, which is what every powergaming bomb-slinger wants at level 8, 9 and 10 respectively.
Think of it this way, if it requires a save, why would you ever use it over stink bomb?
@Lormyr: Rod of Absorption ruins that tactic. Targeted Dispel Magic is non-issue, really. Telekinesis is only hitting a level 20 Fighter or Monk on a natural 20.
Also, you buy an eversmoking bottle and take Blind-Fight for enemies like this. Heck, stealth is an option at that point, which opens a whole lot of hilarity.
A net can be used to hold the Balor in place, by the way, assuming you can stop the teleporting. If you can buy a net made of something other than rope--like an Adamantium Chain Net--it becomes easy. Net the Balor, make sure the rope is in a locked gauntlet. One of you will be dragging the other. In non-core there are other options as well. Harpoons, for instance. Hell, non-Core the Monk can probably just jump high enough to get the Balor anyways. XD
Grappling is also an option, although I'm not sure if the Core Monk can get his CMB high enough to do so. Can you nab True-Strike in Core? I forget. The Balor can't reliably hit the Monk's CMD to break free.
Clever use of Marvelous Pigments can also stop a Balor from flying, but I'm sure there's any number of ways to carry a roof around you in core by the time you are level 20.
In non-Core the Monk is a full-fledged ranged melee fighter thanks to Blood Crow Strike / Dimensional Agility feat Chain. Its all the advantages of an archer, with none of the penalties or cursing wind wall to the high heavens.
Off the top, this can probably get better.
Weapon Master 3 / Master of Many Styles 4 --> Duelist 10 --> Fighter +3
Stats: STR 9 / DEX 16 / CON 14 / INT 14 / WIS 14 / CHA 7, before Racials
If you can, ditch the Bracers. Instead buy a lesser Rod of Extend for your mage and get Mage Armor cast on you. The bracer rout sits you at AC 24, just under a lazy Full-Plate Fighter (~26 without shenanigans). Mage Armor brings you up to match and frees up some gold. On top of that, you can Fight Defensively for another +4 (-1 to-hit) and negate/counter the first melee attack against you per round.
Some things for you to consider...
- Elves are rated a bit highly IMO, although I can understand the desire for the free weapon proficiency. Any time I try to, mechanically, select an Elf I always go, "Why are you not an Ork or a Halfling?"
- Half-Orc should be Blue for bombers entirely for the alternate racial feature. Its disgusting. Some of their alternate racial features are also particularly nice, and open some things up.
- Not going over featured/uncommon races because I can't do them off the top of my head. Only thing I recall Tieflings arguably being the best of the best bombers, and your guide reflects that.
- Defensive Strategist isn't as good as I think you think it is. Flat-Footed =/= denied dexterity bonus to AC. Its still good, mind you, but you may want to give it another look before keeping it purple.
- Extra Discovery is not purple? I stare at every feat, regardless of what build the Alchemist is and go, "Why are you not Extra Discovery?" Now, there are times when I can come up with a good answer to that question, but the fact that it is the measure by which every other choice is made means that its a solid Purple / Blue for Bomber/Hyde.
- Kirin style is a perfect example of a bad choice you should cover, because it looks so good on paper. In practice, you spend too many swift actions setting it up. You could have spent those swift actions on Arcane Strike or something instead.
- Alchemical Allocation deserves its own section.
- Vomit Swarm is disgusting against (and only against) clever GMs. Its particularly useful if you stealth and control the engagement. Thing is an amazing Kobold-Tunnel-Clearer.
- Your ratings are sometimes at odds with your description. For instance, blistering invective. This is confusing to a new person.
- Touch Injection is also disgusting, for reasons people have already said and so many more. Not only does it let you mass-apply buffs but some infusions have rather amusing offensive-possibilities.
- The more I read your extract section the more I realize I'm not getting the information I want, or would hypothetically want as a new person. There are too few Blues. I can't even begin to imagine what an optimal Extract spread is, going entirely from your list, because apparently every thing sucks. Alchemical Allocation in every slot ever?
- Communal Spells exist as Extracts just so the Alchemist can learn them from a spellbook, not because they in any way bypass the rules for infusions or extracts. This was stated by a developer or something a while back, but I'm too lazy to go digging for the quote.
- You keep referencing types of hydes, et cetera at this point but you haven't explained what, exactly, they are. I can infer thanks to prior knowledge, but a new player would not be able to.
- Magic Jar should be Purple, and then stricken from existence because it breaks the game.
- Over all, relate Extracts to other Extracts of the same level. An option is blue if its the only good option, et cetera.
- Crypt Breaker should be higher than Red. Not only does it give trapfinding, which may be amazing depending on party composition, but their bombs deal acid damage, which is a less common resistance. The situational bonus damage may or may not be fantastic depending on your campaign. The only reason I wouldn't say blue is because its competing with Grenadier.
- You really love Brew Potion too much.
- Alchemical Weapon deserves its own section. There are not words to describe how disgusting this ability can get, particularly at level 6+.
- Preservationist should be Blue. Summoning is and will always be the strongest choice.
- Briar Bombs wins combat at lower levels. Hyde will want to look elsewhere, however. That said, its a tad party-contextual.
- Gnome Saboteur should be at least green, if not blue.
- You aren't advocating proper use of firearms, launching crossbows, syringe spears (which are awesome, by the way), et cetera. Namely, you're advocating actually reloading the buggers in combat. Don't. Fire and forget.
- Shotguns are amazing on a Grenadier. It turns your alchemist fire, tanglefoot bag, whatever into cone-based AoE.
- Use Burst Jars to get your Int*2 to damage using a hybridization funnel.
- Re: Ghast Retch Flask. I'm pretty sure that rules for stacking sickening don't actually exist. There's a single mention of it in an example used by the Monk.
- Shard Gels are splash weapons.
- Unstable Accelerant really shouldn't be purple. Its rarely worth the GP at any level where its damage matters, especially en-masse.
- Fungel Stun Vial should really be blue. It remains relevant into your teens, and Stun is a no-joke condition.
- There are more good uses for alchemical items for you to find.
- I believe Conductive Stacks with Explosive Missile, but I may be wrong. Explosive Missile + Conductive + Coated Acid Flask remain a viable source of damage into your teens, at least.
- Designating, notably, does not stack with Pheremone arrows.
- Endless Ammunition is useful in the hedge case where you are using a Double Crossbow late-game.
Oh, and since it came up. Murdering a Balor or a Balor Lord is actually relatively easy at level 20, except for their ability to teleport away (Dimensional Lock is expressly the mage's job, so we're not holding it against Monk). All a Monk has to do is carry around a Rod of Absorption and he's pretty much set--something a Fighter is less able to do. He can get AC high enough that the Balor can't hit, can use items to bypass a Balor's DR, and can hit the Balor almost all of the time. On top of that you throw in an Eversmoking Bottle on top of a Fog-Cutting Lens... now your Balor has to actually target the correct square in order to dispel you, in which case the Rod will take care of it anyways.
I swear every time I leave one of these crop up. tl;dr: Monks are awesome, but you have to think to do it. This means that, yes, you need to understand the system and work for your power. If your allies make buffs available, then Monks are a force-multiplier the likes you'll never see again. If they don't make buffs available... you have to try harder, but its doable.
Basically this will devolve into moving goal-posts from both sides because no one has a hard-definition of what would make them happy. That is, they have solutions in a desperate and angry search of a problem.
If Monks require system mastery, your response should be to master the system, not to be lazy. Some people think having to work is a problem, I think its a feature. I've become a better player in regards to all of my classes because I've played Monks and I propose that the same thing will happen to you, if you let it.
That said, I will concede that Monks do have an accessibility problem in regards to new players. Their choices aren't intuitive like they are for a Fighter. I would not say this is because you have to search for every bonus, etc etc. I'd compare this to playing a Wizard and learning what your spells can do, honestly.
@Lormyr: Good catches on some of that stuff, I learned a thing or two.
Monk, eh? What are your goals? What type of enemies are you fighting? How much do you get to play with your money? Damage? Mobile Fighter? Mage-Killer? Maneuver Master? Grappler? How much can you play with your money?
MoMS is really only good for Crane-Style rushing and Wis-Whoring with an Elemental Style, Dragon, and Tiger when using Ki Diversity.
As an aside, since you are starting at level 9, you can totally take Ki Diversity, be a Drunken Master, and go Wis-SAD. You could do the same thing with a level in Cleric, but eh.
Why are you Brawler, on that note? If you're going more than 4 levels of Monk, its almost always better to just keep going Monk.
Ditch Panther. You will always feel like the GM is giving it to you when it works, and its useless otherwise. Just not fun, at least IMO.
Snake only works on some builds. There are better fighting styles, depending on what you want to do.
Make sure you get the barkskin SLA and beg, borrow, and steal to get Mage Armor cast on you by the party arcanist. Buy a wand or a pearl of power or something, if necessary. Its so worth it.
If you plan on using laser eye-beams then you want to have Drunken Master.
Practically speaking, "Sandbox Campaign" means either tons of prep-time from the GM (See Kingmaker for what's required) or it means a normal game that is exceptionally side-quest friendly. Give them an overarching goal that isn't time sensitive and then string them along with other time / situation-appropriate sidequests.
All you really -need- in Melee is Feral Mutagen. Here's a basic template for levels 1-10. You basically have three free feats. Traditionally these are Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Shot or Two-Weapon Fighting. However, if you are taking Feral Mutagen and have the point-buy to support it, I'd advise against that rout. Switch hit ftw.
1. Free Feat OMG!
Ditch Strength, focus on Wisdom. This will not work if you are starting from level 1. You have a few options:
1. Take level as a Cleric of Iori and take the Guided Hand feat.
Your chief advantage will be your truly obscene amount of AC, especially if you can snag Mage Armor from an ally.
So, the Alchemist. It's one of the most versatile classes out there, capable of specializing in almost anything. It's a good design, but that means there's a lot of possibilities that have to be considered. I'm curious what some good RP archetypes and what good mechanical archetypes people can come up with regarding the Alchemist.
Some I have come up with:
I always liked bleed damage. In early levels, you can one-shot a character--they just don't know they are dead yet. Its great for Rogues who go solo, or if the whole team is on board with the hit-and-run thing.
It's also a very assassin-y ability, cool for flavor.
As someone else stated, its cool for concentration checks and tracking people who are supposed to run. Yes, eventually special stuff counter-acts that, but you have to reach that level first.
Sometimes I think the cost to get the bleed damage is much too high though (often a feat for ~2 Bleed). Sadly, there are no items or ointments that'd just grant bleed damage.
But then, I'm a fan of nets, caltrops, and smoke pellets, so YMMV.
Just wanted to give a heads up. Due to lack of interest, I don't foresee this project coming to fruition. No one seems available to design floors, which is probably the key part of this project. If I get the manpower I need (especially for floors), I'm definitely still interested in finishing this. I'll even probably design some floors myself regardless, but that'll be constrained by time.
Ten Steps to avoiding being Naruto(tm)!
Step 1. Don't wear orange
Sabatour is actually what you take for damage. Combine Immolation Bomb with... anything. At level 4 (Pyro) it lets you deal 3d6+Int Mod per round for 3 rounds. Whatever you hit is dead. It just doesn't know it yet.
Also, don't get Infusion at level 2, trust me. You don't have enough spell slots. Infusion should come in around level 4. If you go control get Smoke and then Stink bomb at levels 2 and 3. If you go damage get Tanglefoot (or an Element), Immolation, and Complex Bombs at levels 2, 3, and 4.
And, man. Paragon is... just fantastic. Absolutely fantastic! Among other things, that gives you any Discovery you qualify for on-command! Know you're fighting Fire Elementals? Learn Frost Bombs.
Ninja + Crane Style gives you everything you're looking for. You don't even need to multiclass, although two or three levels in Master of Many Styles Monk will help a lot with your feats (third level with the right Archetype would let you use Wis for Ki). Ninja grants you great acrobatics, sneak attack, stealth, and at level 10 they get an instant-death ability.
What level are you starting at?
I have a high level character who, through plot, became very very interested in Grafting. Fleshcrafting Poison seems to be Pathfinder's equivalent to Grafting, so I'll probably be picking up that feat. Assume that the CR can be no more than half the Caster Level, rounded up.
What type of monster abilities/stuff would you go for? What's flavorful and interesting? To an extent, I'll be playing Megaman, but this also opens up seeking particular monsters for their parts.
I'm not looking to hardcore power-game this (which is entirely possible), I'm looking for neat/flavorful things that can be done. Ultimately, the price would be considered a guideline and the GM as well as myself would adjust it up or down based on its power.