Water-Born Votary (Monk)


Round 2: Design an archetype

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

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Water-Born Votary (Monk)

A fervent follower of the River Preacher, the water-born votary is the protector and sage of the Riverton congregation. This zealot adheres firmly to the community’s dogmas, and while others manifest their devotion by serving as priests, the water-born votary treads a different path towards his god. Through contemplation and training, he seeks to become one with the river, thus attaining the ultimate communion with the Water Rat.

Class Skills: A water-born votary gains Knowledge (nature) and Survival as class skills and does not gain Perform and Ride as class skills.

Riverton Vow (Su): At 1st level, a water-born votary swears to uphold Hanspur’s tenets and to rigidly obey and enforce the Six River Freedoms. He increases his ki pool by 1 ki point for every 6 water-born votary levels (minimum +1). This ability functions like a monk vow.

Run the River (Ex): At 4th level, a water-born votary adds 10 ft. to his swim speed. This speed increases by 10 ft. for every two levels above the 4th (to a maximum of 90 ft. at 20th level). This ability replaces slow fall.

Revered Deathbed (Su): At 7th level, the belief that death on water is the only honorable death protects the water-born votary. If reduced below 0 hit points while out of water, he can spend 3 ki points as an immediate action to stabilize at -1 hit points, ignoring the extra hit point damage. This ability replaces wholeness of body.

Aquatic Surge (Ex): At 9th level, a water-born votary can make a Swim check to jump from the water, adding his water-born votary level and using his swim speed to determine bonuses. Rough and stormy waters increase this check’s DC by +2 and +4, respectively. This ability otherwise works like an Acrobatics check made to jump. This abiity replaces improved evasion.

Hanspur’s Embrace (Su): Starting at 15th level, once a day after successfully initiating a grapple, a water-born votary may submit his foe to a deadly imitation of the water-born rite. He must announce the use of this ability before making the grapple attempt (a failed attempt wastes this use). The grappled creature must succeed on a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 the water-born votary's level + the water-born votary's Wis modifier) or immediately begin to drown. Breaking the grapple ends the drowning. Creatures that do not breathe or breathe underwater are immune to this effect. This ability replaces quivering palm.

One With the Flow (Su): At 19th level, a water-born votary seamlessly blends with water. Whenever he is touching a natural body of water, he gains concealment. If he is completely submerged, he gains total concealment instead. This ability replaces empty body.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

I like the ties to Hanspur and Riverton, but I think it is really weird for a lawful monk to serve a CN deity (as I mentioned in the other chaotic monk archetype).

Revered Deathbed: That's neat!

Aquatic Surge: I think this is a weak ability, and you're giving up improved evasion, which is a GREAT ability.

Hanspur's Embrace: Because this is less powerful than quivering palm (it's not immediate), you should at least get it more times per day.

One With the Flow: That's pretty cool.

I DO recommend this archetype for advancement.

Founder, Legendary Games & Publisher, Necromancer Games, RPG Superstar Judge

Initial Impression: Great tie to RK, great presentation, some balance issues but those are development notes not cause for rejection, many of the abilities you detail show that you understand the dynamics of the class and the importance of giving players some choices to make. This is, to me, a really, really good submission. Last round I called you out on your writing and I have to say, you must have listened. You brought it, Pedro.

I DO Recommend this archetype for advancement.

The Exchange Contributor; Publisher, Kobold Press; RPG Superstar Judge

There's been a lot of Hanspur archetypes this round. This one stands out as one of my two favorites, partly because this monk makes Hanspur's central ritual a credible combat power.

I agree with Sean that the alignment issue is a problem. But some of the other abilities are really well-executed and original both flavor-wise and mechanically, so this is one of my favorites of the many water-linked archetypes.

Recommended to advance.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Champion Voter Season 6, Champion Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8, Champion Voter Season 9

I really like this archetype. Hanspur is one of my favorite elements of the River Kingdoms and I think you did him justice! As mentioned above, a few minor flaws for balance, but you went safe rather than OP.

Riverton Vow: Keeping with the tenets of Hanspur & the Six River Freedoms seem like they would run afoul of being lawful. This was my only real gripe, but I think the rest of what you presented makes up for it.

Gets my vote and added to my RK campaign folder.

Scarab Sages Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7

I am really happy to see that I need to chose and re-chose this year to bring my list of 'ooohhh - looking good' entries down to those eight I can actually vote for, so I want to say: thanks to all competitors for providing a good chunk of fun looking archetypes.

Since I am a bit short on time this month, I will only comment on the Items I voted for.

I like this archetype beause of how nicely the abilities complement the theme, and because of how good it fits into the River Kingdoms - as I am not much of a monk-user and neither are my players, it is hard for me to evaluate the mechnical aspects of this archetype, although I do feel evasion is a rather hefty price to pay for aquatic surge.

Good luck with the rest of the contest.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Locke1520

I like this archetype. I'll have to weigh it against the other archetypes in my no longer quite so short list to make final choice. Congratulations on making the top 32 and good luck with the voting.

Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Clouds Without Water

I will give general impressions, but with 3 areas of particular focus that suit my personal interests. Archetype and ability names: do they show flair? How closely tied to the River Kingdom is the archetype? And last but certainly not least, do I want to play this archetype?

Archetype and ability names: Strong. Closely tied to RK, thematically coherent, evocative of the powers they represent. Solid Archetype name as well.

River Kingdom tie: Strong. Plays with the rivers and with Hanspur and does it well.

Desire to play: Above average. As with all the water-based archetypes, there's the issue of being tied to the water. But if you've got water around there's some fun to be had here. And Revered Deathbed is a very nice touch, very flavorful and actually useful. Nicely done on that one alone.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9 aka surfbored

Pedro Coelho Mendes Bueno Barbosa wrote:

Water-Born Votary (Monk) A fervent follower of the River Preacher...

The name is great and the tie in to RK (and a single page at that!) is terrific. My only question, why would the fervent follower ever leave Riverton?

Pedro Coelho Mendes Bueno Barbosa wrote:

Class Skills: A water-born votary gains...

Nice, thematic swap of skills.

Pedro Coelho Mendes Bueno Barbosa wrote:

Riverton Vow (Su): At 1st level, a water-born votary swears...

You traded away still mind, what did you get in return? A vow similar to "fasting"or "silence". That seems pretty balanced, it keeps to the theme and it uses new UM rules. All pluses!

However, adding "minimum +1" is a bit of a sneaky way to get one ki point extra at 4th level.

Pedro Coelho Mendes Bueno Barbosa wrote:

Run the River (Ex): At 4th level, a water-born votary adds...

Hmm, you can't increase your swim speed if you don't already have a swim speed. "Swim speed" is a specific characteristic, so first you need to grant a swim speed of some sort (which is quite powerful). Then you can start bumping it up. Perhaps you meant to remove the 1/2 movement penalty for swimming and then increase beyond that? But that's not what this says.

Pedro Coelho Mendes Bueno Barbosa wrote:

Revered Deathbed (Su): At 7th level, the belief that death on water...

By now you have 7 or 8 ki points, so this could be a pretty good life saver. Of course, wholeness of body is a pretty handy HP ability too, so this feels balanced.

Pedro Coelho Mendes Bueno Barbosa wrote:

Aquatic Surge (Ex): At 9th level, a water-born votary can make a Swim check to jump...

I'd rather have improved evasion. How often do you want to jump out of the water you value so highly? This feels like a misstep.

Pedro Coelho Mendes Bueno Barbosa wrote:

Hanspur’s Embrace (Su): Starting at 15th level, once a day after successfully initiating a grapple...

I like this ability, this is a great flavor change. I'm not sure how the target breaks the grapple since they're unconscious in the first round. It takes longer to execute (3 standard) than quivering palm (1 standard, 1 free), but that's okay.

Pedro Coelho Mendes Bueno Barbosa wrote:

One With the Flow (Su): At 19th level, a water-born votary seamlessly blends with water...

This is good. Not etherealness good, but still good.

Overall: This is a nice progression of abilities (although some of the awesome wavers at later levels) and it's not just a bunch of bonus here and there. The archetype is very closely tied to water, but still has abilities beyond water. This entry will likely get my vote.

Good Luck!

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka GM_Solspiral

Good: Love the vows bit that was well considered and cool.
Bad: Another water theme arg, see that green stuff that make up more than 85% of the riverlands map they call that LAND!
Ugly: Some of the swaps would make me think twice about taking this.
Overall: Another contender for my vote.

Star Voter Season 6

The skill swap is probably unbalanced. I otherwise like this tight little, RK compatible, arcehtype, a rather lot.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 8 aka nate lange

template, writing, and RK flavor are all good.

i've disagreed with the judges several times but here i think their assessment of the balance and mechanics of your archetype are right on- i have nothing to add there (except that whether you advance or not, take their advice in honing your craft).

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9

Very good, all the pieces fit together. Very strong RK tie-in.

My only complaint is that this archetype would feel out of place in any campaign that is not set it the RK and/or doesn't heavily involve adventuring in rivers or other bodies of water. (In my opinion, a good archetype has a strong RK theme but is also usable elsewhere.) EDIT: The Revered Deathbed ability, of course, makes you want to stay out of water... which raises another concern. Players usually don't like crossing rivers or lakes because they're more vulnerable in boats. This character is definitely stronger in water, but ironically, if he's reduced to low hit points, he'll actually want to crawl out of the water so he cannot be killed so easily.

Anyway, this is one of the best archetypes this round, so you got my vote!

Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 9

This is an interesting archetype, mostly because I think it does what it does pretty well, but the flavor of it doesn't wow me in particular. There's some good stuff, no doubt, but I can't put my finger on why this doesn't seem as awesome as it looks like it deserves.

Maybe it'll come to me later. Until then: good luck!

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Marathon Voter Season 9 aka theheadkase

I'm going to preface ALL my monk reviews with this: I am a zealous monk lover. I am going to try to step away from that as I review the monk archetypes.

You've got theme game my friend! You've got it dripping from your pores!

You've got a tight theme with the abilities and names all mixed and working towards that theme. Cool!

Class skills: Good and thematic, although riding a waterborn creature would be cool to retain :)

Riverton Vow: Automatic +3 ki by 19th level...cool but not flashy flashy. I like it though...maybe this would be better as a normal Vow selection.

Run the River: Echo the same about swim speed needing to be granted first, but this is cool. You know what would have been cooler...running ON the water.

Revered Deathbed: Wow, so cool and so creative and so thematic.

Aquatic Surge: Not sure I see the utility in this, but its cinematic at least.

Hanspur's Embrace: I agree that this should be usable more times per day since it's technically weaker than Quivering Palm...but it may be easier to successfully use than Quivering Palm was...so I like it.

One with the Flow: You rascal, you made another awesomely themed and cool ability!

Overall, I am over the moon with this. You garnered my last vote, or you are knocking one of my weaker keeps out with this.

I DO recommend.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka JoelF847

I was mixed on this - from the start, a lawful monk following the chaotic diety and river freedoms doesn't work at all for me.

The flaw with run the river increasing a non-existant swim speed is a big problem - it's one thing to have a mechanical flaw that's not balanced, but this simply doesn't work.

Aquatic surge is sort of nice, but wouldn't it make more sense to replace high jump, since it's also a jumping related ability?

Riverton vow doesn't seem to have a balancing limitation, like the published vows from UM. It seems a lot better than still mind without any limit, and the actual vows don't really seem like even RP hinderances for most adventurers.

That being said, revered deathbed is not only cool, but it helps balance the character that's otherwise water themed - if they're not in the water, they have some toys that still work.

Hanspur's embrace and one with the flow are also both cool and appropriate, though the embrace should have more uses as mentioned, not only is it slower, but it can only work on things that can drown.

With my mixed feelings, I'm probably not going to vote for this, but hope you do make it through, sicne this has some very cool things in it, even if it didn't work as a whole for me.

Dedicated Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Marathon Voter Season 8, Dedicated Voter Season 9

Congrats! I'm loving your take on a Hanspur archetype. Lots of good stuff, easy to polish.
Good luck!

Grand Lodge

I think it is weird for a lawful monk to serve a CN deity , but despite that , i love the concept behind it. With some small polishes from hearing all of the above comments, it can become great.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Well! Now we can speak again. Thanks everyone for your comments, praises and criticism. Also, a big “thank you” to everyone who voted for this archetype, and to the judges for their recommendations. There were some very good points raised here, and I’ll address them before getting to the revised version of the archetype. I’m glad that, in general, there were easy fixes to those issues, which maybe shows that I didn’t miss by that much. Without further ado, here we go.

Water Theme:
I’ve seen voters ding some submissions because of the abundance of water-themed archetypes. I don’t regret my choice; I think this round was an opportunity to design in an unusual space (aquatic mechanics) and it’s natural that a lot of us chose to go this route. What did worry me regarding parallel design were the Six-River Freedoms and Hanspur archetypes. My initial focus was Riverton, and that naturally led to Hanspur, which led to the Six River Freedoms as a late tie-in; though the Water-born Votary didn’t compete with others as directly as the Scallywag vs. the Riverhelm, there was definitely some conceptual overlap with the Six-Freedoms Monk and the Oathbreaker ranger.

I don’t think the water archetypes in Round 2 are problematic on itself, but I agree that they feel like a big blur because of the volume. This made other archetypes stand out. I’m not judging any fellow competitors here: I think there are great water archetypes and great non-water archetypes. Overall, I feel like this may have been one of the toughest 2nd Rounds I’ve seen (was it? Maybe it’s different when you look at things as a competitor).

Alignment:
I’m at fault here. I like the alignment system, but I tend to be a little forgiving as a GM (one of my players is a paladin of a CG god – yeah, we worked something out). I guess I saw a lawful monk strictly following a code – in this case, a set of nonlawful rules. I understand that I shouldn’t have handwaved this, since a character’s acts are inherently aligned in this system (i.e., there are good acts, evil acts, etc.). With this in mind, it is true that a monk that “lawfully” and diligently commits a series of chaotic acts cannot be, in fact, lawful. I sense this is one of the main gripes people had with the archetype.

Riverton Vow:
Joel Flank wrote:
Riverton vow doesn't seem to have a balancing limitation, like the published vows from UM. It seems a lot better than still mind without any limit, and the actual vows don't really seem like even RP hinderances for most adventurers.

I disagree. It effectively works as code of conduct using the monk vow mechanics. It replaces still mind with 3 additional ki points over 20 levels (it’s like taking the Extra Ki feat 1 and a half times), which doesn’t feel broken at all. Following the Six River Freedoms brings some restrictions and the threat of a severe penalty, even if that can be minimized for some types of characters. Then again, Vow of Truth does not really penalize a character that was conceived to be truthful anyway. I don’t know. I still think it’s balanced and that it would work well in this setting.

Jerry Keyes wrote:
However, adding "minimum +1" is a bit of a sneaky way to get one ki point extra at 4th level.

Hm, this is pretty much standard for the Monk Vows.

Swim Speed:
Ah, word count, thou are a heartless b*! I thought I could get away with just adding to a swim speed – I figured it would work for creatures with and without swim speed. My logic was “well, people will get that creatures without a swim speed start with a swim speed of 0 ft.” That was a mistake: it should have been spelled out, even if it got the point across. Typical case of RAI vs. RAW, but hey, it’s only 450 words, cut us some slack! :)

Aquatic Surge:
I considered replacing High Jump, but I thought it would be kind of lame. If a monk could jump out of the water, he should be able to do that in land, too. But the main reason I took away Improved Evasion was that I feared Revered Deathbed could be perceived as a bit too good. So I saw it as a paired swap: Revered Deathbed/Aquatic Surge vs. Wholeness of Body/Improved Evasion. Since nobody thought Revered Deathbed was that strong, in the end it was a weaker swap. In the revised version, I opted to take away the 10th level bonus feat instead of Improved Evasio, since Aquatic Surge is not really that much stronger than a Feat (perhaps a little, but so circumstancial…). Still, I like the visuals of this ability.

Hanspur’s Embrace:
My reasoning behind keeping the same number of uses as Quiverin Palm was that it was a little easier for a Monk to grapple than to hit. But hey, I will happily add another use – more goodies to play with! About an unconscious foe breaking the grapple… I guess that was a poor choice of words. What I meant was that, if the grapple ends, so does the drowning effect.

And here is the revised version, over word count. If I had to trim it down to submit, I think I’d have to chop off some of the introduction.

Water-Born Votary – Revised:

Water-Born Votary (Monk)

A fervent follower of the River Preacher, the water-born votary is the protector and sage of the Riverton congregation. This zealot adheres firmly to the community’s dogmas, and while others manifest their devotion by serving as priests, the water-born votary treads a different path towards his god. Through contemplation and ritual training, he seeks to become one with the river, thus attaining the ultimate communion with the Water Rat.

Alignment: any nonlawful

Class Skills: A water-born votary gains Knowledge (nature) and Survival as class skills and does not gain Knowledge (history) and Ride as class skills.

Riverton Vow (Su): At 1st level, a water-born votary swears to uphold Hanspur’s tenets and to obey and enforce the Six River Freedoms. He increases his ki pool by 1 ki point for every 6 water-born votary levels (minimum +1). This ability functions like a monk vow.

Run the River (Ex): At 4th level, a water-born votary gains a swim speed of 10 feet. If he already has a swim speed, it increases by +10 feet. This speed increases by +10 ft. for every two levels above the 4th (to a maximum of +90 ft. at 20th level). This ability replaces slow fall.

Revered Deathbed (Su): At 7th level, the belief that death on water is the only honorable death protects the water-born votary. If reduced below 0 hit points while out of water, he can spend 3 ki points as an immediate action to stabilize at -1 hit points, ignoring the extra hit point damage. This ability replaces wholeness of body.

Aquatic Surge (Ex): At 9th level, a water-born votary can make a Swim check to jump from the water, adding his water-born votary level and using his swim speed to determine bonuses. Rough and stormy waters increase this check’s DC by +2 and +4, respectively. This ability otherwise works like an Acrobatics check made to jump. This ability replaces the 10th level bonus feat.

Hanspur’s Embrace (Su): Starting at 15th level, twice a day after successfully initiating a grapple, a water-born votary may submit his foe to a deadly imitation of the water-born rite. He must announce the use of this ability before making the grapple attempt (a failed attempt wastes its use). The grappled creature must succeed on a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 the water-born votary's level + the water-born votary's Wis modifier) or immediately begin to drown. Ending the grapple stops the drowning. Creatures that do not breathe or breathe underwater are immune to this effect. This ability replaces quivering palm.

One With the Flow (Su): At 19th level, a water-born votary seamlessly blends with water. Whenever he is touching a natural body of water, he gains concealment. If he is completely submerged, he gains total concealment instead. This ability replaces empty body.

Ex-Water-Born Votaries
A water-born votary who becomes lawful cannot gain new levels as a water-born votary but retains all water-born votary abilities.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7

Ops, a little mistake in the revised edition:

Aquatic Surge Revised (again):
Aquatic Surge (Ex): At 10th level, a water-born votary can make a Swim check to jump from the water, adding his water-born votary level and using his swim speed to determine bonuses. Rough and stormy waters increase this check’s DC by +2 and +4, respectively. This ability otherwise works like an Acrobatics check made to jump. This ability replaces the 10th level bonus feat.

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