[RotRl] A monk


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Samuli wrote:
I'll come back tomorrow, and try to figure out if this made any sense.

It did. At least to me. Recapping the previous post: I didn't enjoy the agile monk but wanted more force behind his personality. I still think the Dex build is a viable way of making superb damage dealers. I just wanted a more crunchy character.

One option would've been to build the character as a fighter. I agree with hogarth that such a character is better at hitting high AC opponents, and can perform consistently in different situation. I just wanted something more. I prefer a few opportunities where my character takes the spotlight, instead of numerous scenes where he's the best supporting actor.

So, I had a discussion with DM, and asked if I could rebuild the character somewhat. The plan was to swap Str and Dex. I was happy to hear it was okay with him. I think the new build fits the party better, and surely I enjoy playing him more now.

(If this was an optimization board I'd taunt myself for giving up such a well optimized concept :))


Samuli wrote:
The plan was to swap Str and Dex.

Of course, after that I need to replace Agile maneuvers and Weapon finesse with something suitable. So far my ideas revolve around Ability focus, Alertness, Double slice, and Toughness.

Ability focus (stunning fist) is problematic in RotRl. Those who have any idea about the campaign know what I'm talking about. Alertness fits the characters secondary abilities (Wisdom, Perception, Sense motive) quite well. I'm just wondering if there is something more urgent. Double Slice is really not needed, at all. I'd just like to have it for completeness' sake. Toughness is rather useless. The hit points aren't a problem with this character, in this campaign for various reasons. I just couldn't come up with anything better than that.

Currently his stats are as follows:

Abilities: STR 20, DEX 18, CON 16, INT 12, WIS 18, CHA 11

Feats: Improved Disarm, Improved Grapple, Improved Natural Attack, Improved Unarmed Strike, Martial Weapon Proficiency (Longbow), Stunning Fist, Two-weapon Fighting, Weapon Focus (Unarmed Strike)

Special Qualities: AC Bonus (Ex), Evasion (Ex), Fast Movement (Ex), Flurry of Blows (Ex), High Jump (Ex), Ki Pool (Su), Maneuver Training (Ex), Purity of Body (Ex), Slow Fall (Ex), Still Mind (Ex), Wholeness of Body (Su)

Skill ranks: Acrobatics 7, Climb 1, Escape Artist 1, Knowledge (History) 1, Perception 7, Performance 1, Ride 1, Sense Motive 7, Sleight of Hand 1, Stealth 7, Swim 1, Use Magic Device 7

Notable equipment: Amulet of Natural Armor +1, Belt of Incredible Dexterity +2, Cloak of Resistance +1, Eyes of the Eagle, Headband of Inspired Wisdom +2, Ring of Protection +1, Wand of Mage Armor, Wand of Shield


Would you ever consider the Weapon Focus/Dazzling Display/Stunned Defense feat chain? I know it sounds kind of crappy, but Stunned Defense seems like a better way of getting Medusa's Wrath to work than Scorpion Style/Gorgon's Fist.


hogarth wrote:
Would you ever consider the Weapon Focus/Dazzling Display/Stunned Defense feat chain? I know it sounds kind of crappy, but Stunned Defense seems like a better way of getting Medusa's Wrath to work than Scorpion Style/Gorgon's Fist.

Neat idea, especially when our barbarian has Intimidating Glare as a rage power. I had actually given up with the SS/GF/MW feats as they are so hard to set up. But what keeps flat-footed opponents from ruining MW by withdrawing?


Samuli wrote:
hogarth wrote:
Would you ever consider the Weapon Focus/Dazzling Display/Stunned Defense feat chain? I know it sounds kind of crappy, but Stunned Defense seems like a better way of getting Medusa's Wrath to work than Scorpion Style/Gorgon's Fist.
Neat idea, especially when our barbarian has Intimidating Glare as a rage power. I had actually given up with the SS/GF/MW feats as they are so hard to set up. But what keeps flat-footed opponents from ruining MW by withdrawing?

That's where battlefield control comes in (Grease, Solid Fog, tanglefoot bags, tripping, boxing enemies in a corner, etc.). And at the very least, getting one opponent to retreat means that you can focus on other opponents who aren't retreating. And a withdrawing opponent is wasting a turn he could be using trying to kill you. :-)

Alternately, you can try to get some kind of pounce ability (via Beast Shape II, for instance). But that's a higher level kind of tactic if you're not using splatbooks.


hogarth wrote:
That's where battlefield control comes in (Grease, Solid Fog, tanglefoot bags, tripping, boxing enemies in a corner, etc.).
hogarth wrote:
Alternately, you can try to get some kind of pounce ability (via Beast Shape II, for instance). But that's a higher level kind of tactic if you're not using splatbooks.

Both are great options, and I see how to use them efficiently with this kind of approach. Unfortunately, our current party has no battlefield control except for the monk. That is, the MW tactic doesn't really work with that party.

Back to the drawing board. Which feats to take? :)


I'll try to sort out what I want from him. This is not crystal clear for me, either.

Bruiser, Human
Str 19 Dex 16 Con 16 Int 12 Wis 16 Cha 11

mnk1: Two-Weapon Fighting, Stunning Fist, Ability Focus (Stunning Fist)
mnk2: Improved Grapple
mnk3: Weapon Focus (Unarmed)
mnk4: Str +1
mnk5: Combat Reflexes
mnk6: Improved Disarm
mnk7: Improved Natural Attack (Unarmed)
mnk8: Str +1
mnk9: Improved Two-Weapon Fighting (need Dex +2 item)
mnk10: Improved Trip
mnk11: Double Slice
mnk12: Str +1
mnk13: feat
mnk14: bonus feat
ftr1: Vital Strike, Greater Two-Weapon Fighting (need Dex +4 item)
mnk15: Str +1
mnk16: Two-Weapon Rend
brb1: Rage
brb2: Rage Power (Knockback), feat
ftr2: Str +1, Improved Vital Strike

Still has two feats and one monk bonus feat to choose. I guess all the essential man-handling feats are there. Maybe this helps with the idea I have about the character.


I'd move Double Slice up and Improved Two-Weapon Fighting down -- if you're having a hard time hitting with your primary attacks, that extra attack from Improved TWF is probably pretty hopeless (until you can sacrifice it to Vital Strike). Then again, it's only a few points of damage on one attack.

Actually, I'd get rid of TWF altogether, if it was me, but I know it's part of your character idea. Note that you could buy a wand of Alter Self, turn yourself into a troglodyte, and use your natural attacks to power the Vital Strike feat.

Scarab Sages

Samuli wrote:

Okay, leveling to monk 7. One new feat, totally useless Wholeness of body, and BAB +1. One of the more useless levels in monk progression. Except that single-class monks now fulfill the requirements for Improved natural attack.

Arguably, that single feat is the best monk ability in the current rules (Pathfinder Beta + SRD). The only competition comes from the 4th level Ki pool ability, and it's quite easy to see INA being more powerful than that. INA is so powerful that all monks should take it at 7th level. This shows two problems with the feat. Most probably it's overpowered if all monks choose it. And if all monks choose the feat it's no longer an option but required instead.

In other words, Improved natural attack is seemingly an option but the effect is so overwhelming that it reduces the option to an automation: everyone chooses the feat. Along the best practices in game design such an "option" should either be removed or changes should be made that turn it into a real option. If the feature is not important enough removing is the route to take.

I would not allow a monk to take improved natural attack as he already has it from the class(his attacks are already improved) but reading this thread makes me think its not that bad after all.


Rizzen the unkillable wrote:


I would not allow a monk to take improved natural attack as he already has it from the class(his attacks are already improved) but reading this thread makes me think its not that bad after all.

Please, no! The monk is already a mediocre melee fighter, so taking away one of the few feats that helps him improve is not a good solution, IMO.


I just have to say that the 2nd most damage dealing character I've seen in 3rd edition (after a Barb/Fighter/Psychic Warrior with Devastating Critical on Falchion), was a high level Monk. Anything without a high level DR got pretty well pummeled.

The other thing he was was indestructible - and I think that's one of the key things to remember whenever you're playing a Monk. You take the class for the cool punching, you stay with it for the Incredible defenses:

  • Perfect saves that match up with your high stats.
  • Evasion.
  • An AC that starts slightly low, but can skyrocket higher than anyone else usually.
  • Spell Resistance at higher levels.
  • The speed to get away from anything but a dragon.

I did kill him (somewhat on accident..), but it took an Intensified Meteor Swarm from a creature with a +36 Base attack (double HD/caster level Formian Queen). Even then I had to roll a bit lucky on the hits.

In no way do I think Monks are perfect, but they can be very potent. They take patience - check out the 1st edition Monk. Didn't get Dex to AC, and started at AC 10 at first level - got 1 improvement every level, and d4's for hp (though 2 at first level). Difficult to survive, but the rewards were (and still can be) extreme.

If you want a brawler without all the extras, Fighter or Monk2/Fighter is a great option (now, with Weapon Training).


Majuba wrote:
I just have to say that the 2nd most damage dealing character I've seen in 3rd edition (after a Barb/Fighter/Psychic Warrior with Devastating Critical on Falchion), was a high level Monk. Anything without a high level DR got pretty well pummeled.

How was he built, and what equipment or buffs did he rely on?

I'm asking this as I'm trying to figure out what the monk needs, and what can be done with Pathfinder Beta only. I know Divine Power used to great for monks. Unfortunately that route has been blocked.


Samuli wrote:

Bruiser, Human

Str 19 Dex 16 Con 16 Int 12 Wis 16 Cha 11

Now that we're discussing damage I'll check what my bruiser build can do in a few select levels.

mnk1: 1d6 unarmed damage, 3 attacks
mnk7: 2d6 unarmed damage (improved natural attack), 3 attacks (4 w/ ki point)
mnk9: 3d6 unarmed damage (monk's belt), 5 attacks (6 w/ ki point)
mnk14/ftr1: 6d8 unarmed damage (vital strike), 6 attacks (7 w/ ki point)
mnk16/brb2/ftr2: 12d8 unarmed damage (improved vital strike), 6 attacks (7 w/ ki point)

Throw in Enlarge Person and the damages are 1d8 (1st), 3d6 (7th), 4d6 (9th), 8d8 (15th), and 18d8 (20th), respectively.


I'm interested in the Attack Bonus at the various Levels.
Could you please post them along with the damage?


The Monk/Fighter debate is just one reason why the Monk class needs a total rewrite; perhaps don't even call it a "monk," call it a Martial Arts Master or a Wuxia Fighter or something. It's a martial arts variant of the Fighter, with some Ki powers (magic/psionics variant) and a lot of high damage attacks (ideally). The "martial arts" character is a popular enough concept to keep around, so whether we're going to call him the "monk" or something more fitting, he needs: Full BAB, a d12 or at least a d10 hit die, and lots of powerful and useful class abilities that help him fight, pursue enemies, and stun/incap enemies in melee. Monks AND fighters need a complete rewrite. At the very least, they should be outright killing most equal-cr monsters if they can get their hands/swords on them - and the 3.5 and 3.p versions are not.


Samuli wrote:
Throw in Enlarge Person and the damages are 1d8 (1st), 3d6 (7th), 4d6 (9th), 8d8 (15th), and 18d8 (20th), respectively.

The to-hit scores (without ability modifiers) for full attacks at these levels are:

mnk1: -4/-4/-4
mnk7: +2/+2/+2
mnk9: +4/+4/+4/-1/-1
mnk14/ftr1: +9/+9/+9/+9/+4/+4/-1
mnk16/brb2/ftr2: +14/+14/+14/+14/+9/+9/+4

The Str score for our monk would be as follows:

mnk1: Str 19
mnk7: Str 22 (Str +1, Enlarge person)
mnk9: Str 25 (Str +2, Enlarge person, Stat item +2)
mnk14/ftr1: Str 28 (Str +3, Enlarge person, Stat item +4)
mnk16/brb2/ftr2: Str 36 (Str +5, Enlarge person, Stat item +6, Rage)

So, Ki point adds one more attack at highest bonus starting from mnk4. Let's throw that in but not assume Haste or any similar effects here. I'm not assuming any other Str boosters than Enlarge person (essential for the build) and a Stat boosting item (everyone have these). And Weapon focus counters the -1 to-hit from Enlarge person. With these assumptions the full attacks are:

mnk1: +0/+0/+0
mnk7: +8/+8/+8/+8
mnk9: +11/+11/+11/+11/+6/+6
mnk14/ftr1: +18/+18/+18/+18/+18/+13/+13/+8
mnk16/brb2/ftr2: +27/+27/+27/+27/+27/+22/+22/+17

After that you start measuring in whatever gets you going. (Greater) Magic Fang would be my first choice.


If Pathfinder rules state there is no such thing as an off-hand attack for a monk striking unarmed..... I don't think you'd be able to add an off hand attack via TWF+ feats.

I know you quoted the SRD on monks for off hands... But there have been significant changes to the base classes that I wouldn't think it'd matter unless it was specifically mentioned in the Pathfinder book due to the number of changes. *shrugs* I'm sure that'll be one of the many questions/debates when we get into classes as the focus :)

So far though I've enjoyed you're sharing of how a monk's been working for you in Alpha/Beta.

Thanks
Weave


Suicidal wrote:

If Pathfinder rules state there is no such thing as an off-hand attack for a monk striking unarmed..... I don't think you'd be able to add an off hand attack via TWF+ feats.

I know you quoted the SRD on monks for off hands... But there have been significant changes to the base classes that I wouldn't think it'd matter unless it was specifically mentioned in the Pathfinder book due to the number of changes.

It was the exact same wording in 3.5 edition that they "cleared up" in the FAQ. I sincerely hope Jason uses some better wording in the final revision of the rules.


[offtopic]

I was looking at the monk character I'm playing in a Savage Tide game, and I noticed something similar to what Samuli commented on before -- for the first few levels of my build, using unarmed attacks is my character's worst option.

In Samuli's case, his (Pathfinder Alpha) monk was better off using a missile weapon than his fists (since his Dex was higher than his Str and he couldn't take Weapon Finesse at level 1, and a bow does 1d8 instead of 1d6 damage).

In my case, I have a monk 1/sorcerer 1. At level 1 he's better off using a longspear for +3 to hit, 1d8+4 damage instead of an unarmed strike for +3 to hit, 1d6+3 damage, and at levels 2, he's better off using two claws (from his Abyssal bloodline) for +4/+4, 1d6+3 damage vs. a flurry of blows for +2/+2, 1d6+3 damage. Only at level 6+ does his flurry of blows start to get better. I know it's because of the way I built the character, but it's still a bit disappointing.

[/offtopic]

Liberty's Edge

Samuli wrote:
The Str monk has now four feats to spare (thanks to the latter two TWF feats). He also has 7 worse AC, reflex save and mobility related skills. How to use those four feats in his advantage?

If said character has 4 levels of fighter, he is entitled to Weapon Specialization. But maybe he already has it (I did not see said character's stats anywhere).

What about Cleave and Great Cleave if you want to add even more attacks ?

As a sidenote, what is your experience with the use of Acrobatics to tumble past enemies ? I have the feeling that the new DC rule (basic DC : 15 + BAB) makes it almost useless in a fight, but I would very much like to hear from actual play.


The black raven wrote:


As a sidenote, what is your experience with the use of Acrobatics to tumble past enemies ? I have the feeling that the new DC rule (basic DC : 15 + BAB) makes it almost useless in a fight, but I would very much like to hear from actual play.

As long as you keep it maxxed it USUALLY works.

Assume 18 dex and level 5.

Acrobatics is 5+4+3 = 12 (15 with skill focus).

Means vs a person slightly better then you Fighter 6, you need to get a 21 which reaquires a roll of 9 (or 6).

At level 10 your acrobatics is 10 + 3 + 4 = 17 (23 with skill focus).

Againt a level 12 fighter you would need a 27 which would be a 10 or a 4. If you add in elven boots (+5 acrobatics) its automatic with a skill focus and a 5 (80 percent chance) without.

If you get a +10 to acrobatics item it's pretty much guaranteed. Remember it is much easier to boost skill then BaB.

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