D&D 3.5 Core Monk Build Advice


3.5/d20/OGL


Okay, so i'm playing a 3.5 campaign and i want to play a monk. We are all 6th lvl and my DM told be that i could switch to a monk since I've been wanting to try one out for a long time and just haven't got the chance until now. He himself is skeptical about whether they can be good or not and i really want to show that they can. This campaign would probably be considered very high-powered. The stats i have to work with are very good so hopefully i can bring out the best of the monk, they are as follows. 20,18,16,16,16,10. i can arrange them however i want and i was thinking about distributing them as such:
Str: 16
Dex: 20
Con: 16
Int: 16
Wis: 18
Cha: 10
if allowed i plan to take the improved natural attack feat as my feat for 6th lvl but he said he would have to think about it.

While our characters may get high stats the DM is very Stingy with Magical items. Most every thing we get that is magical comes from being made by our Wizard. the only magic items we've gotten at this point as drops are a ring of protection (gone to the wizard)and Spell storing mace (gone to a cleric)

So anyways i need help on how to build him to be a great asset to the party. anything will be greatly appreciated. I need help on feats and skills ( i will also have to act as the party's scout/rogue which will limit my skill choices) and anything else you can think of that would help me out. i'm open to changing my stats around if it will make my character better.

One important thing is that my DM doesn't use AoOs as of yet because he believe's that since a round is 6 seconds there wouldn't really be time for characters to take their actions and use get AoOs. he said he may incorporate them somehow later on but he hasn't decided a good way to add them in yet.

Thank you, your help is greatly appreciated.


Odd that you're asking this on a pathfinder board rather than on a messageboard like giantitp, but OK.

Monks aren't great, with limited magic items they're worse. Still, very high stats will help. I would put the 20 on strength on the basis that offence works better than defence in D&D 3.5.

Would you be open to using monk as a dip before entering another class? E.g. Taking maybe 2 levels in monk, then 4 in psion, and getting the Ascetic Psion and Practiced Manifester feats?

If it has to be monk all the way, could you take feats from the Tome of Battle to gain some access to maneuvers?


I'm not sure how Improved Natural Attack works with your character or with 3.5. In Pathfinder, INA does not normally work with Monk Unarmed Strikes, but there are little tricks you do with your character build work around it.

For a pure 3.5 Monk, and in 3.5, you pretty much can't multiclass with Monk, I strongly recommend the Vow of Poverty Feat from the Book of Exalted Deeds. It gives you a wide variety of benefits and bonuses that scale up with level. Especially since your DM is stingy with magic items.

Also, I recommend your character acquire or rather another player acquire and use on you, Antimagic Shackles. When the shackles are applied, a permanent Antimagic Shell comes up. And none of your monk abilities are magical. Use that whenever the party runs into a lich or beholder.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

GM is stingy with magical items? Great, take Vow of Poverty and if your GM starts crying that you are destroying balance in his game, direct him to us :)


We aren't doing any multi-classing or things like that. it is also strictly core meaning i couldn't take classes such as psion to begin with. i am limited to the 1st PHB and Maybe a couple feats from the MM would be allowed but thats it. so sadly a lot of the really good feats would not be allowed. My DM's thought on feats from other books and things such as that is that if you can't make your character good from original feats and things such as that then the character isn't worth playing to begin with.

Shadow Lodge

So...why are you playing with him again?

As to build advice, swap Wis and Dex to get a higher flatfooted AC and higher Spot/Listen bonuses to avoid being caught unawares. I would say grab a longspear, but the extra reach will be diminished with his stance on AoOs and I suspect he will complain about you using unarmed strikes while carrying it despite the rules allowing it. Definitely invest in Tumble to avoid AoOs if you get spotted. You're going to be hurting with your 4 base skill points being devoted to Hide/Move Silent and Listen/Spot, but being human can help with that. Otherwise, go dwarf to get dark vision and more Con, while using fast movement to balance out the speed penalty.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Find another GM. Core-only 3.5 is horrible. Your GM sounds like one of those "I have fantastic idea how to houserule the game, I've never playtested them or discussed with anybody, but they're brilliant because they're mine" people. Gaming with them usually leads nowhere.


Come now, core 3.5 isn't all that bad. Once upon a time that was all there was to play...

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

And we used to play with DIRT, and we LIKED it!


would it be wise to go for a more STR focused build as apposed to DEX Focused? if i put my 20 in STR my AC will basically drop by 2, my damage would go up in exchange but would it be wiser to do that or just take weapon finesse? since we have better stats we typicaly take on tougher fights like on my other charecter at lvl 6 we fought a Bullet and almost immediately after we got attacked by 2 Chimera, so is offense or Defense more important for my charecter. oh my party consists of a Fighter,wizard, 2 clerics, and my Monk. and yeah i might swap Dex and WIS. the one magic item i will have is "Eyes of the Eagle" so having 20 wis and max ranks in spot will bring me to a +19 on spot and that would be incredible. WIS would also help my Stunning fist DC too so it might be the best option anyway.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Your Dex and Str are close enough that Weapon Finesse isn't a big boost. Only take it if there is another feat you want that requires it. Weapon Focus (Unarmed Strike) is usually a better option, although it may not lead you into any feat chains either. If you want to avoid that completely put your 18 or 20 in Str, then next highest in Wis, then next in Dex.


i just wonder which is better. basically if i put a 20 in STR i'll have 18AC id i put an 18 in STR i'll have 19 and a 16 will let me have 20AC. Will 18 still be good or do i need 20? since i'm a monk i know i don't have quite the staying power of a fighter so should focus on my AC or is 18 going to be just fine?


Seriously, core only 3.5 monk really is bad, especially without magic items. If you must be a scout and a fighter try ranger, which will allow you to use real weapons and armor, or druid which will give you real mobility. With your GM's rules and attitude your monk will I'm afraid not be fun to play.


wait would it be a good idea to put 20 in Wis 16 in Dex and 18 in STR? i could replace weapon finesse with dodge and keep my 20AC as well as bump my Damage up a bit.


While my DM isn't much for dropping magic items i could get the wizard to make me magic items as we get higher lvl. my DM thinks having charecters make their own magic items is good because it puts those feats to use and your magic items keep scale easily. my DM also just informed me a about half an hour ago that now that we are lvl 6 we will probably be coming across more magic items. he said it's just that early on he feels magic items feel like they make you too powerful, but once you get closer to that mid-level range it isn't a big game changer so they will become more common.


What feats should i take? aside from the bonus feats i feel like i should take Weapon Focus (Unarmed) and Improved Initiative. if i can i'll be taking Improved Natural Attack so what should i take for my other feat? and if i can't take INA what should i take in place of it?


at 1st lvl, take imp grapple (+4 grapple, no AoO) as your bonus feat, then go with jotunbraud and hammer fist. jotunbraud modifies your size bonus (+4) for grapple & trip. hammerfist lets you add 1.5 str bonus on single strikes with both hands. for your 2nd lvl bonus feat take combat reflexes. your 3rd lvl feat should be dodge so you can get defensive throw at lvl 6 (imp trip is your 6th lvl bonus feat). this will help you get attacks out of turn. then go with imp natural attack, then superior unarmed strike (scales your unarmed damage as a monk 4 lvls higher). if you have a hard time grappling then stun unless your escape artist is good.


Core 3.5 feats only.

Since it has been a couple of weeks, I imagine this isn't going to be helpful, but I would suggest going the Spring Attack route (Dodge, Mobility, Spring Attack). I know it seems as flurry is going to be effective, but really it is a trap. You won't have the AC no matter where you put your highest stat, nor the hps to sit there and go toe-to-toe with most level appropriate foes. Spring in, stunning fist, spring out. That should be your modus operandi.

If you had faith in your GM letting you get any magic item you wanted, wealth level appropriate of course, then I might suggest other routes, but based on what you have said about this GM, I would not assume that.


I'm not sure if this thread is still relevant but I'll throw in my 2cp.

Lets see, as a Human Monk you'll get (not including bonus feats)---

Human - Improved Initiative
Monk 1a - Improved Unarmed Strike
Monk 1b - Stunning Fist
1st - Ability Focus (Stunning Fist)
Monk 2 - Combat Reflexes
3rd - Weapon Focus (Unarmed Strike)
6th - Improved Natural Attack (Unarmed Strike) now 2d6
Monk 6 - Improved Trip
9th - Blind-Fight
12th - Improved Critical (Unarmed Strike)
15th - Improved Natural Armor
18th - Ability Focus (Quivering Palm)

The last two are pretty much filler. Same thing with Blind-Fight. Being blind really sucks so being able to roll an extra d20 is really nice to have when magical items aren't forthcoming.

As for Stats: 20,18,16,16,16,10
Str 20 / 21 @ 4th / 22 @ 8th
Dex 16 / 17 @ 20th
Con 16
Int 16
Wis 18 / 19 @ 12th / 20 @ 16th
Cha 10

Without any magical aid @ 20th level:
AC 23
Unarmed Attack: +22/+17/+12 or
Flurry of Blows: +22/+22/+22/+17/+12 (4d8+6/19-20)
SR 31
Dimension Door 1/day (Caster Level 10th).
Stunning Fist (Fort DC 27)
Quivering Palm (Fort DC 27)


pres man wrote:

Core 3.5 feats only.

Since it has been a couple of weeks, I imagine this isn't going to be helpful, but I would suggest going the Spring Attack route (Dodge, Mobility, Spring Attack). I know it seems as flurry is going to be effective, but really it is a trap. You won't have the AC no matter where you put your highest stat, nor the hps to sit there and go toe-to-toe with most level appropriate foes. Spring in, stunning fist, spring out. That should be your modus operandi.

If you had faith in your GM letting you get any magic item you wanted, wealth level appropriate of course, then I might suggest other routes, but based on what you have said about this GM, I would not assume that.

3.5 Monk Flurry actually gets decent at higher levels. 9th level your flurry is taking no penalties and at 11th level you get 3 [4 if hasted] attacks at full BAB.

That being said those early levels are not a good time for flurry unless the enemy approached you first. [Getting in two attacks to the enemy's one isn't bad, especially if your allies are in position to capitalize on the damage you've infliected. If you've got a rogue he'll thank you for staying there for his flanking maneuver.]

@ OP: the only other piece of advice I can really give you is to put your highest stat into strength. A monk's greatest failing is damage output, both via lack of accuracy and lack of actual damage. That 20 in Strength will give you +5, a great asset. Also consider using a Quarter Staff instead of unarmed strikes at low levels. Same base damage, but when you aren't flurrying it's a 2 handed weapon which deals 1.5x strength bonus damage. [Meaning your level 1 damage output would be 1d6+7, or an average of roughly 10 points of damage per hit.]

EDIT: if your GM continues to reject the AoO system, you should probably ask him if you can replace the now-pointless Combat Reflexes Monk Bonus Feat option with Improved Initiative, both are thematically related to quick reactions.

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