Monks: What is their "role?"


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First off, I want to say that this thread isn't meant to debate the usefulness of the monk; I'm not interested in reading an endless stream of "monks are underpowered," or the like. If you only want to comment on how much monks suck, please move along.

That being said, I will say that I've never played the class. I never really understood what the class was for? What is their role? How exactly do they contribute to a group of adventurers?

Having just picked up the Ultimate Combat book, I've seen a lot of neat things there for monks, and unarmed combat in general, but I'm still having trouble grasping just *what* it is the monk is supposed to be doing in the grand scheme of things. In a way, this feeling extends to the other hybrid classes, but for me the monk is the most elusive.


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Their role is to be fun to play and to have high adventure! I don't understand why this is difficult.


Monks in general do well at a skirmish and control fighting style. They'll never add up to the damage of a fighter, but they have far superior mobility and saves as well as solid control options in the form of maneuvers and Stunning Fist.

The new combat style feats and monk archetypes add a LOT to the monks options. They allow you to further customize the character with offensive, defensive, and control options. And while other classes can use the feats, they're generally much better for monks, meaning you're likely to be able to pull off a number of stunts that the fighter couldn't hope to do.

For party role, they make decent scouts, as they're extremely mobile, have excellent saving throws, and are generally great at Acrobatics and Perception, letting them perceive hidden threats and get into places that other party members couldn't.


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Slaunyeh wrote:
Their role is to be fun to play and to have high adventure! I don't understand why this is difficult.

That could apply to any class. I don't understand why trying to answer the OP's question in the manner that he wanted it to be answered is so difficult. You can't really have fun if you have are not being effective. well maybe YOU can, but many people can't.

@ the OP: Monk's don't really have a role. They have to pick their spots, which is why they are so hard to play and build well. You might want to flank one minute, grapple another, and then trip someone. I would pick something I really want to do well, and a few other things I want to be competent at and go that route. Then again that is how I build all my characters though. I haven't played a PF monk so I don't know if that still applies.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

To use 4th edition terms, primarily they are strikers, with a dash of controller added in for flavor. They're highly mobile damage dealers with quite a few tricks to either deny actions or disble foes outright. They're also the guy who charges engages a group of enemies while yelling at the mage to Fireball Us Now! And have a good chance of surviving it relatively unscathed.

Back in AD&D, monks were described as an advanced class for a vaeriety of reasons, one of them being that they're not mindlessly simple to operate and place. For the most part,Pathfinder hsn't changed much of that.

Silver Crusade

The role totally depends on the build, including archetypes. You could be a skirmisher, a mage-killer, someone gaining one weapon per ennemy thanks to a flurry of disarms after a SLA True Strike, a tank with lots of HPs, high AC, godly saves and a good enough bonus to maneuvers to be a real threat to any class in front of you not prepared enough.

To me, their major "roles" mechanics-wise aren't fixed, since like I said, it depends on your build. But they =
- Kick spellcasters asses with an efficiency ranking from good to awesome ;
- Can control the battlefield with combat maneuvres ;
- Can deal their share of damage when needed ;
- Have the best mobility without needing a wizard to help them (especially since the qinggong archetype) ;
- Etc.

I would say they are the ones with the most combat versatility, and the ability to resolve things when just being good at hitting isn't enough. But if you are looking for a MMO/steterotyped type of answer like "tank", then I don't think you'll easily find one for the monk as a class.

Grand Lodge

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Support.


wraithstrike wrote:


That could apply to any class. I don't understand why trying to answer the OP's question in the manner that he wanted it to be answered is so difficult. You can't really have fun if you have are not being effective. well maybe YOU can, but many people can't.

The OP didn't bring up effectiveness. Neither did I. Being hostile much?

If you really want me to elaborate, "I don't think a monk, or any other class for that matter, has a predefined role to fill. The game allows for more imagination than that."

Or, to quote another poster: "Monk's don't really have a role". :p


Sayer_of_Nay wrote:
That being said, I will say that I've never played the class. I never really understood what the class was for? What is their role? How exactly do they contribute to a group of adventurers?

Mobile support, I have generally found. Monks can fill in as scouts or as fighters, but are best supporting either role. One American Civil War general claimed battles were won by whoever was "fustest with the mostest" - and that is how monks play.

Classic example: Party found a large group of bandits in a forest and prepared an ambush. When they struck, the bandit leader stood back behind his ranks of minions and started picking off the party with his longbow (he had some feat or ability that enabled him to get sneak attack on us). To the rescue came the monk with the Acrobatics and movement to get around the minions and engage with the bandit leader in melee. It didn't matter that the monk couldn't beat him, what mattered was tying him up so that the rest of the party could cream his minions without getting butchered, then deal with the leader.


Ok first of all in order for monks to contribute they must avoid the vow of poverty like the plague.

Now on to "roles":
I believe that the best way to contribute as much as possible to a battle is to take the role of a damage dealer, sure they can't reach the damage of the fighter (i think) but they come close and they have other things to add to that (high saves, mobility etc.), sure they are difficult to build and they are truly MAD but still i believe that it can be done.
Surely the recent nerf to brass knuckles didn't help but from what i hear they got some good things from UC (still haven't gotten through the monk stuff in UC).


leo1925 wrote:

Ok first of all in order for monks to contribute they must avoid the vow of poverty like the plague.

This I agree with. That archetype is HORRIBLE.


Let's settle on the fact that the VoP is a RP option that makes sense perhaps in low-magic games and be off toward other monkish fare. The debate could be rather long, but I think it had been so on severeal other threads. This horse cadaver has been beaten enough.

Monks are surgical strikers. they can generally get "there" fast and relatively safe no matter where it is and use combat maneuvers and flurry to deal with anyone that isn't melee horror himself.


Sayer_of_Nay wrote:
leo1925 wrote:

Ok first of all in order for monks to contribute they must avoid the vow of poverty like the plague.

This I agree with. That archetype is HORRIBLE.

Not at all that terrible for npcs which are assumed to have a lower wealth by level.

The monk doesn't have a very strict role to play it is by nature less specialized, making it mostly support it can be build to specialize in combat and won't exceed the fighter or other warriors in that arena, but has alot to fall back on having few weaknesses and being as versatile as a non-spellcaster gets.


Slaunyeh wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:


That could apply to any class. I don't understand why trying to answer the OP's question in the manner that he wanted it to be answered is so difficult. You can't really have fun if you have are not being effective. well maybe YOU can, but many people can't.

The OP didn't bring up effectiveness. Neither did I. Being hostile much?

If you really want me to elaborate, "I don't think a monk, or any other class for that matter, has a predefined role to fill. The game allows for more imagination than that."

Or, to quote another poster: "Monk's don't really have a role". :p

Slau,

Though accurate, your initial post was not constructive and absolutely dripped of sarcasm as well as the superiority complex that seems to be so common when one's identity is unknown on the internet.

Now everyone play nice and if you can't say something nice to each other, say nothing. Everyone will be better for it, especially the person who had the intestinal fortitude to say nothing.

TCG


Monk's are pretty awesome at combat maneuvers and battlefield mobility. Use some combination of that to your benefit. I would avoid trying to be a "heavy hitter." That will only end in tears.


My 8th level PFS monk tends to be a high mobility fighter, outpacing other melee classes and choosing freely which foe he goes after.

My mobility (even as a dwarf) gives me a lot of options in combat. For instance, I've been able to pass through harms way (enemies, walls of fire, terrain features) to pull npc's and allies out of harms way and get them to healing. Or jump across terrain to grapple flying spellcasters so that fighters can shuffle up and pound them. Or I can incapacitate a dominated party member easily, because I made my will save by about a factor of two, and the fighter failed it by a factor of two.

Fighting ghouls while swimming through underwater mazes holding my breath, trying to reach a lever on the other side? No problem.

I've also front-lined for parties of sorcerers and bards (oh PFS); for my particular build (power attacking monk with an amulet of mighty fists: vicious and weapon focus (unarmed)) i can do 60-100 points of damage a round while flurrying, although with vicious and moderate AC I tend to be a bit of a glass cannon.

Plus, antimagic fields don't scare me :).

I focused on grappling, flurry of blows, saves and reasonable hitpoints, but many builds are possible.


Tangaroa wrote:

My 8th level PFS monk tends to be a high mobility fighter, outpacing other melee classes and choosing freely which foe he goes after.

My mobility (even as a dwarf) gives me a lot of options in combat. For instance, I've been able to pass through harms way (enemies, walls of fire, terrain features) to pull npc's and allies out of harms way and get them to healing. Or jump across terrain to grapple flying spellcasters so that fighters can shuffle up and pound them. Or I can incapacitate a dominated party member easily, because I made my will save by about a factor of two, and the fighter failed it by a factor of two.

Fighting ghouls while swimming through underwater mazes holding my breath, trying to reach a lever on the other side? No problem.

I've also front-lined for parties of sorcerers and bards (oh PFS); for my particular build (power attacking monk with an amulet of mighty fists: vicious and weapon focus (unarmed)) i can do 60-100 points of damage a round while flurrying, although with vicious and moderate AC I tend to be a bit of a glass cannon.

Plus, antimagic fields don't scare me :).

I focused on grappling, flurry of blows, saves and reasonable hitpoints, but many builds are possible.

I'd be very interested in seeing your build; I often hear/read horror stories about monks gone wrong, but I rarely get to see any that are "effective" (by which, I mean that the build meets the players expectation).


Slaunyeh wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:


That could apply to any class. I don't understand why trying to answer the OP's question in the manner that he wanted it to be answered is so difficult. You can't really have fun if you have are not being effective. well maybe YOU can, but many people can't.

The OP didn't bring up effectiveness. Neither did I. Being hostile much?

If you really want me to elaborate, "I don't think a monk, or any other class for that matter, has a predefined role to fill. The game allows for more imagination than that."

Or, to quote another poster: "Monk's don't really have a role". :p

Absolutely

Now, if the question is, "what are some of the thing I can do with a character who has high wis, perception as a class skill, high dex, a lot of combat manuevers, crazy defenses, and a lot of movement?" that's a different question.


Slaunyeh wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:


That could apply to any class. I don't understand why trying to answer the OP's question in the manner that he wanted it to be answered is so difficult. You can't really have fun if you have are not being effective. well maybe YOU can, but many people can't.

The OP didn't bring up effectiveness. Neither did I. Being hostile much?

If you really want me to elaborate, "I don't think a monk, or any other class for that matter, has a predefined role to fill. The game allows for more imagination than that."

Or, to quote another poster: "Monk's don't really have a role". :p

I was no more hostile than someone else whose post was dripping with snark.

You can give constructive advice, or at the least be civil. If not, don't start whining when you get the same type of responses you give.

The "role" determines how someone will be effective. I was smart enough to know that the word need not be printed.

That elaboration is what you should have posted the first time.


Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:
Slaunyeh wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:


That could apply to any class. I don't understand why trying to answer the OP's question in the manner that he wanted it to be answered is so difficult. You can't really have fun if you have are not being effective. well maybe YOU can, but many people can't.

The OP didn't bring up effectiveness. Neither did I. Being hostile much?

If you really want me to elaborate, "I don't think a monk, or any other class for that matter, has a predefined role to fill. The game allows for more imagination than that."

Or, to quote another poster: "Monk's don't really have a role". :p

Slau,

Though accurate, your initial post was not constructive and absolutely dripped of sarcasm as well as the superiority complex that seems to be so common when one's identity is unknown on the internet.

Now everyone play nice and if you can't say something nice to each other, say nothing. Everyone will be better for it, especially the person who had the intestinal fortitude to say nothing.

TCG

You agree that his comment was accurate, but disagree with the way he expressed it. How would you have expressed his point?

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Slaunyeh wrote:
Their role is to be fun to play and to have high adventure!

That would have been better.


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Quote:
I'd be very interested in seeing your build; I often hear/read horror stories about monks gone wrong, but I rarely get to see any that are "effective" (by which, I mean that the build meets the players expectation).

Sure! Stats are here

Other then being a dwarf and some pretty atrocious min-maxing, it's actually kind of vanilla; all the feats are core. Step up helps with the 5 foot and step wizards/archers. Kind of weak in the skill department, but I let the bards and sorcerers handle that :).

You think for all my wands I would pick up UMD. My survival becomes much improved when someone in the party can cast mage armor off the wand, which doesn't always happen. In that case, most of my ki goes to the temporary AC boost :). Defensive Combat Training is necessary in grappling because your defense needs to be just as high as your offense for maneuvers to work.

Stunning fist is amusing but mostly useless. I've gotten it off successfully 5 or 6 times in 70 combats, but this character was made before APG.

Where I have dipped into the sourcebooks is in ioun stones; the cracked ones give you several nice abilities at a good discount.

Level 9 will probably include getting the feat toughness, to help offset the glass cannon aspect. If I could find a cooperative cleric of the same faith, I wouldn't mind getting a meditation crystal


In my opinion, monks function best as a 5th party member, after the basics have been covered by other characters. They can usually assist the rogue in sneaky stuff, and usually fight side-by-side with the fighter on the front lines.

Liberty's Edge

I quickly figured out my monks main role was not front line. Even with the Wis bonus applied to AC and the monk bonus, my AC was always too low to avoid a decent attack and the D8 HD made my HP too low to stand the damage I was receiving. What I eventually realized was that the combination of my insane movement and Stunning Fist, the battlefield was at my mercy. I could run forward and get behind a monster to set up a flank for the rogue, I could get in the faces of enemy casters, get back to protect our caster, secure objectives. Basically, flurry of blows makes you think your purpose is to squat and dish out damage, but your real role is to stay mobile and deal with threats anywhere on the battlefield. Flurry of blows is just a great tool is no mobility is required.


LilithsThrall wrote:
You agree that his comment was accurate, but disagree with the way he expressed it. How would you have expressed his point?

I'm not TCG, but I would have looked at the post, decided something obviously true of all PCs regardless of class should go without saying, and hit <Cancel> instead of <Submit Post>.

Actually on topic monks look like mage killers. Fighters seem to make better maneuver builds with less MAD and the ability to add weapon training to trip and disarm. Mobility is a bit weak for anyone because of the way iterative attacks work, but classes that can use two handed weapons and not reduce their effective BAB when not full attacking are, again, better. Barbarians are probably best. Front line combat monks are pretty good at, but not as good as the guys with d10 or d12 hit dice and less MAD. If that's their role then they're stuck being a weak class.

But mage killing? Nothing else except a paladin can hope to have saves like a monk and only a few serious casters are going to hold up against them. Possibly just druids and maybe Maguses if they can use spell combat to crank their concentration checks while grappled. Unless they recognize that you're a monk and start combat by greasing themselves, but that still only applies to 2/3 arcane casters and probably not to most summoners at that.


Sayer_of_Nay wrote:

First off, I want to say that this thread isn't meant to debate the usefulness of the monk; I'm not interested in reading an endless stream of "monks are underpowered," or the like. If you only want to comment on how much monks suck, please move along.

That being said, I will say that I've never played the class. I never really understood what the class was for? What is their role? How exactly do they contribute to a group of adventurers?

Having just picked up the Ultimate Combat book, I've seen a lot of neat things there for monks, and unarmed combat in general, but I'm still having trouble grasping just *what* it is the monk is supposed to be doing in the grand scheme of things. In a way, this feeling extends to the other hybrid classes, but for me the monk is the most elusive.

I played a few monks in our pathfinder campaigns. Monks are good in a few areas. If you focus on one, you'll be great at it, without fear of compromising a weak point.

There was the fast attack mobile fighter. And zen archers, especially with good alchemy skill, are hellish range attackers.

Fast attack fighters, with good stats anyway, can sometimes be more than or as effective as the actual fighter I've found.

Oh, and with a good intelligence, they can be a skill monkey as well. Multiclass with Rogue to level 2 and you're looking at a replacement for the party rogue.


Atarlost wrote:
LilithsThrall wrote:
You agree that his comment was accurate, but disagree with the way he expressed it. How would you have expressed his point?
I'm not TCG, but I would have looked at the post, decided something obviously true of all PCs regardless of class should go without saying, and hit <Cancel> instead of <Submit Post>.

^^ That^^


Jason Rice wrote:
In my opinion, monks function best as a 5th party member, after the basics have been covered by other characters. They can usually assist the rogue in sneaky stuff, and usually fight side-by-side with the fighter on the front lines.

I agree with this, sort of. Monk's are generally useful, but don't excel at anything particular (except maybe combat mobility).


Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:
Atarlost wrote:
LilithsThrall wrote:
You agree that his comment was accurate, but disagree with the way he expressed it. How would you have expressed his point?
I'm not TCG, but I would have looked at the post, decided something obviously true of all PCs regardless of class should go without saying, and hit <Cancel> instead of <Submit Post>.
^^ That^^

Which I don't agree with. For example, if someone asked 'how fast can an airplane move under the water?', I'd expect people to reply "airplanes don't fly under the water - are you thinking of submarines?"

If the premise of someone's question is in error, correcting it, rather than providing an answer for the nonsensical question makes sense.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber

As someone who has been mainly a GM for the past couple of years I can tell you the Monk's main role is to make the GM miserable. Here are a few senarios:

1. BBG is getting beat but is supposed to retreat. That should be no problem right? Wrong, the Monk has a movement of 40 or better, never mind if haste has been cast. You can't run away from these guys.

2. The party is full of tough fighters. Solution? Use stand-off tactics liker archers or spell casters. Wrong. The monk will catch the first arrow shot at him and has a great reflex save and evasion.

3. The party is full of tough fighters. Solution? Spells that target will saves? Wrong, the monk has a great will save.

4. The party has a lot of high AC characters. Solution? Touch attacks and spells? Wrong. The Monk has the highest touch AC in the party.

The only real weakness of a Monk is DR. Especially at low levels Monks have difficulty with DR being a class built around lots of low damage attacks rather than one or two big damage attacks.

Monks won't put out a lot of damage until high levels, but they are great a breaking senarios because they are good at so many things.


LilithsThrall wrote:
Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:
Atarlost wrote:
LilithsThrall wrote:
You agree that his comment was accurate, but disagree with the way he expressed it. How would you have expressed his point?
I'm not TCG, but I would have looked at the post, decided something obviously true of all PCs regardless of class should go without saying, and hit <Cancel> instead of <Submit Post>.
^^ That^^

Which I don't agree with. For example, if someone asked 'how fast can an airplane move under the water?', I'd expect people to reply "airplanes don't fly under the water - are you thinking of submarines?"

If the premise of someone's question is in error, correcting it, rather than providing an answer for the nonsensical question makes sense.

Duely noted. Shall we get back to discussing monks now?


Pyrrhic Victory wrote:

As someone who has been mainly a GM for the past couple of years I can tell you the Monk's main role is to make the GM miserable. Here are a few senarios:

1. BBG is getting beat but is supposed to retreat. That should be no problem right? Wrong, the Monk has a movement of 40 or better, never mind if haste has been cast. You can't run away from these guys.
This isn't a monk only problem. We've ripped up a couple monsters in Kingmaker that the GM said were supposed to make repeat appearences with web or ye olde mighty composite longbow.

2. The party is full of tough fighters. Solution? Use stand-off tactics liker archers or spell casters. Wrong. The monk will catch the first arrow shot at him and has a great reflex save and evasion.
Archers should still work if you use several or they have rapid/multishot.

3. The party is full of tough fighters. Solution? Spells that target will saves? Wrong, the monk has a great will save.
That's not completely unique. Paladins do too. Tough fighters can arguably include some of the 2/3 casters that have strong will saves as well.

4. The party has a lot of high AC characters. Solution? Touch attacks and spells? Wrong. The Monk has the highest touch AC in the party.
Yeah, pretty much. If you take down the rest of the party you're not wasting time as long as one of the enemies can go toe to toe with the monk.

The only real weakness of a Monk is DR. Especially at low levels Monks have difficulty with DR being a class built around lots of low damage attacks rather than one or two big damage attacks.
DR, maneuver resistant melee focused monsters, and members of more focused melee classes that have precautions against disarming. A monk against a bunch of fighters and barbarians may well contribute less than against a bunch of fey that include spellcasters.

Monks won't put out a lot of damage until high levels, but they are great a breaking senarios because they are good at so many things.

The "issue" with monks is that they're simultaneously weak as a melee class and strong because they're a melee class without the usual weaknesses. So are some of the melee/caster hybrids, but they pick up caster weaknesses which monks don't.

I think the real problem with monks, though, is that they're dangerously MAD which leads to nearly forced dumping of the two stats that impact characterization most: int and cha. Lots of character concepts require one or both of those to be above sea level, and monks have a harder time than nearly any other class doing so. An optimized monk is a little dim and very uncharismatic. Actual archetypal monks in literature and the media are rarely dim and some are very charismatic.


A monk is a commoner dialed to 11. Doesn't often use weapons, never uses armor, has tons of common sense. is the best at any profession skill you can name. The only way you can pick out the monk in a party is by picking the one that does look like an adventurer.


OP: Hopefully you've gotten the point: monks are support melee with high mobility.

That being said, the class is actually quite good, given one condition: you know what you are building. Being able to avoid trap feats, going down the right feat chains, buying the right magic items, knowing the direction you are taking your monk is very important, as while they can do many things, trying to be good at all of them leads to having an "underpowered" character.


I'd put the Monk in the same category as the Rogue - they can be handy to have around as a 5th party member. Bards and Rangers are the better choices for the primary party scout/skill-monkey. (If we were talking 3e D&D, the Rogue and Bard would be switched.)


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The point, OP, is that the role of monks is to have fun playing a character, not to get mindlocked into thinking that the only effective way to play a good monk is by sticking inside some tightly focused box/role.

Look at your tools; high dex, high wis, perception as a class skill, insane movement, insane saves, several combat manuevers, and the ability to be useful without gear.

There's a -lot- that you can do with those tools. If you really want to rip yourself off and nerf your character, then start thinking that you've got some 'role'. If you want to be effective and have lots of opportunity to shine, then stop thinking in terms of roles and start looking for opportunities to take advantage of your tools. Step out of the box.


Unfortunately, the only way to effectively play a good monk, mechanically, IS to focus on a certain style. Even with all their tricks, you can't do everything.

But that's not really any different than any other class. A fighter might specialize in two-handed fighting, or archery, or sword and board. A wizard might focus on evocation, or enchantment, or illusion. A monk might focus on grappling, or mobility, or being defensive, or raw damage.

The availability of a number of tools doesn't automatically mean that you're going to be awesome with any of them without investing more into it.


LilithsThrall wrote:

The point, OP, is that the role of monks is to have fun playing a character, not to get mindlocked into thinking that the only effective way to play a good monk is by sticking inside some tightly focused box/role.

Look at your tools; high dex, high wis, perception as a class skill, insane movement, insane saves, several combat manuevers, and the ability to be useful without gear.

There's a -lot- that you can do with those tools. If you really want to rip yourself off and nerf your character, then start thinking that you've got some 'role'. If you want to be effective and have lots of opportunity to shine, then stop thinking in terms of roles and start looking for opportunities to take advantage of your tools. Step out of the box.

Best. Monk. Advice. EVER.


SunsetPsychosis wrote:

Unfortunately, the only way to effectively play a good monk, mechanically, IS to focus on a certain style. Even with all their tricks, you can't do everything.

But that's not really any different than any other class. A fighter might specialize in two-handed fighting, or archery, or sword and board. A wizard might focus on evocation, or enchantment, or illusion. A monk might focus on grappling, or mobility, or being defensive, or raw damage.

The availability of a number of tools doesn't automatically mean that you're going to be awesome with any of them without investing more into it.

At what point does "look for opportunities to take advantage of your tools" mean "you can do anything"????

What it means is "don't restrict yourself to a role, instead look for opportunties to take advantage of your tools".

Scarab Sages

I got caught taking advantage of my "tools" last night. My wife cried :(


Arcane_Guyver wrote:
I'd put the Monk in the same category as the Rogue - they can be handy to have around as a 5th party member. Bards and Rangers are the better choices for the primary party scout/skill-monkey. (If we were talking 3e D&D, the Rogue and Bard would be switched.)

Just because they don't fit the traditional eigenparty doesn't mean they're fifth party members. An urban/trapper ranger and a monk can perform the role of a rogue and fighter. If traps are less significant than other skills an oracle and monk can perform the rogue and cleric roles. If there's a bard around that doesn't take one of the archetypes without inspire courage monk is probably a perfectly adequate fighter replacement.


Atarlost wrote:
Arcane_Guyver wrote:
I'd put the Monk in the same category as the Rogue - they can be handy to have around as a 5th party member. Bards and Rangers are the better choices for the primary party scout/skill-monkey. (If we were talking 3e D&D, the Rogue and Bard would be switched.)
Just because they don't fit the traditional eigenparty doesn't mean they're fifth party members. An urban/trapper ranger and a monk can perform the role of a rogue and fighter. If traps are less significant than other skills an oracle and monk can perform the rogue and cleric roles. If there's a bard around that doesn't take one of the archetypes without inspire courage monk is probably a perfectly adequate fighter replacement.

Yes, but the Ranger as a trapper/urban is still in his role (whether ranged warrior, skill monkey, semi-healer with a CLW wand).

The Monk doesn't get that facit. He will never be a role: this is a detriment to him. He wil be like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Never be able to play any reindeer game (all require you fit a role). And worst of all, he has no red nose to guide Santa's sleigh.

Bards are still casters so they beat monks as Bards are casting roles still.

The Exchange

Pyrrhic Victory wrote:
As someone who has been mainly a GM for the past couple of years I can tell you the Monk's main role is to make the GM miserable.

In my experience Pyrrhic is spot on. In so many scenarios, the Monk will be still up and at them, not dealing the pain like the main fighter, but contributing when the others can't.

In terms of roleplaying, your 'role' is an interesting one. Why is someone who joined an cloistered religious institution out adventuring? What is the motivation? Why did they become a monk to start with? Are the Zen-like or Zealot? Are they naive of the ways of the world? Do they drop esoteric pearls of wisdom or let their fists do the talking?

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

It depends a lot on build, but monks generally are melee support and have some good skills. They can make excellent scouts as they are very mobile--and can get places others can't easily, with Acrobatics, High Jump, and Abundant Step--and have the important "scout" skills of Perception and Stealth.

They can also be useful in social and research contexts, having Intimidate, Knowledge History, Knowledge Religion, and Sense Motive.

Grand Lodge

Perhaps this is just my lack of experience, but the monks I've all played have been awesome mage killers. Improved Evasion + All Good Saves meant that they were almost never halted on their path to grapple and then start automatically damaging any nasty squishy that got a little too big for his britches.

I think if you're looking for strict damage output, you're going to be disappointed. But if you use the monk as a controller, almost nobody does it better. (Aside from certain wizard builds, although their spells are limited to so many uses per day and you trade away two of your saves, durability, and AC.)

There's a great guide to making a powerful monk build here. Although it's built with 3.5 in mind, like almost anything 3.5, it translates well to Pathfinder.

Scarab Sages

I view the monk as a light melee combatant. He's faster (and more skilled in the combat mobility skills) than a fighter so better able to get where he needs to be. Shield Wall fighters blocking access to glass cannon on a platform? No problem - the monk will just tumble over their head and shimmy up a pole to put the caster or archer into melee.

Yeah its not super-useful all the time (but neither is a rogue - the most common class he shares this role with). Like with a rouge a monk should be helping his fighter score hits on the tertiary attacks by providing a flank in those boring open plains combats.

The base monks dabbling in combat maneuvers is also helpful. While they probably won't out wrestle a gargantuan grapple monster they can attempt to trip him. The versatility lets monks strike where their opponent is weak - grappling mages, disarming giants, and tripping constructs.

Personally I hate the stunning fist but do enjoy the elemental fist (Monk of the Four Winds) for providing a slightly increased damage output.


In the art for the AP's they fill the rogue role.

Whatever that is!


His role is to take Zen Archer (APG) and arrow to death anything from range (flurry of blows with a bow!), while being impossible for the enemy's ranged attacks to deal with (since he's got awesome touch AC and saving throws).


Monks role is defense, at least with most builds. What Eshadow and Trent said are both true, but part of the whole defense thing most monk builds tend towards. Mobile (defends against game effect that restrict movement), lots of attacks (defends against miss chance), good saves, unarmed strikes is a good defense against being disarmed, etc. They are lite on direct offense (high to hit and high damage).

DMs often hate them because the thing they thought would work just doesn't with the monk, IMHO.


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I used to wonder this myself.

Then I played a monk... It was awesome.

My build focused on using sacred mountain techniques and ki points to turtle up while using flurry of blows on anything that gets too close to the wizard. If I couldn't hit it I could grapple it just long enough for the rest of the party to finish up what ever else they were doing.

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