Druid considering a dip into UCMonk: Worth it? Also, Archetypes?


Advice


So I'm a 5th level Vanara Druid (Menhir Savant, Race Point benefits altered via GM permission) with specializations in Summons/Battlefield Control (primarily) and Melee (secondarily), and I notice that whenever I want to Wild Shape or am being attacked, my AC seems too easy to hit. I thought it would be a smart decision to not lower my mobility wearing something like Stoneplate and instead boosting my AC via taking a dip in UCMonk.

Here are some general houserules, for discretion purposes:

-Charisma has been removed as a statistic (anything reliant on it is substituted for Wisdom or Intelligence, as appropriate).
-All creatures are given max HP for their Hit Dice (treat all Hit Dice rolls as the highest roll possible).
-This campaign involves all UC conversions as far as classes are concerned.
-This campaign uses all ABP rules and our ABP is adjusted one level higher than normal.
-De Facto feats, such as Power Attack and Point Blank Shot, are given to everyone for free if they meet pre-requisites. Weapon Focus doesn't exist as a feat (and is not a pre-requisite for any remaining feats).
-I did take VMC (Barbarian) to boost my Melee capabilities, and was given free access to Natural Spell.
-We were given a 17 Point Buy to work with.

Without further ado, here's the build:

The Build:
Wibajabba
Level 5 Vanara Druid

17 Point Buy
Strength 14
Dexterity 12 (10 + 2)
Constitution 12
Intelligence 8 (10 - 2)
Wisdom 20 (16 + 2 + 2)

HP 45
AC 17 (10 Base + 5 Armor + 1 Dexterity + 1 Deflection), CMD 17 (10 Base + 3 BAB + 1 Dexterity + 2 Strength + 1 Deflection), CMB 5 (3 BAB + 2 Strength)

Saves 6 Fort, 3 Reflex, 10 Will

Special Abilities: Elemental Assault (5 rounds/day), Wild Shape (1/day), Fire Domain

FEATS
Incremental Elemental Assault (Acquired by Race Points)
Spell Focus (Conjuration) (Acquired by Race Points)
Power Attack (Free)
Natural Spell (Free)
Augment Summoning (1st level feat)
Superior Summons (5th level feat)

To-hit: +1 Scythe @ +6 (2D4+4). With Power Attack, Elemental Assault, and Rage, I'm sitting at +7 to hit, and 2D4+1D6+9 damage, average of 17.5 damage per attack.

WILDSHAPE: Deinonychus (+2 Strength)

To-hit: Bite/Talons @ +7 (1D6/1D8+3), Claws @ +2 (1D4+1). With Power Attack, Elemental Assault, and Rage, I'm sitting at +8/+3 to hit. Talons do 1D8+1D6+7 (X2), Bite does 1D6+7, Claws do 1D4+4 (X2), average 53.5 damage per full attack (and no, I'm not including Pounce benefits; that comes at 6th level Druid).

With the melee benefits, I'll be hitting most CR-appropriate enemies on a roll of 10.

SUMMONS: Leopard (X2)

AC 15, HP 39

Creatures are summoned in position to Pounce and/or Flank.

To-hit: Bite and Claws [X4] @ +9 (1D6+5 and Grab/1D3+5). With Power Attack, they're sitting at +8 to hit. Bite does 1D6+7, and Claws do 1D3+7 (X4), average 44.5 damage per full attack (figure it's doubled with both creatures attacking the same target).

As you can see, I can be fairly competent in melee as of right now, and my Summons are powerful enough to warrant spending a Full-Round Action to create them (as they're almost, if not more effective than myself).

The problem I have is, if I plan to go into melee, I've been quite easy to hit. Running around with "+1" Lamellar Leather means I'm getting hit fairly easily (compared to our Crane Style UCMonk tank who runs around with a base 20 AC with basically zero items, and can increase it to ~30).

The other downside is that when I Wildshape, I lose this armor bonus, and with ABP, getting the Wild property on that armor is highly unfeasible unless I planned to do something like wear Stoneplate (but that severely limits my mobility). Granted, I have Shield on my spell list thanks to an altered Ring of Spell Knowledge II the GM gave us, it just shores up the fact that I basically lose my armor when I Wild Shape.

One thought that didn't occur to me, was to take a dip into UCMonk, which provides my Wisdom modifier (which is equal to my Armor as of right now), and just ditch my Lamellar Leather entirely (seems fitting, as I should embrace all of the aspects of nature; nudity included). The best part is I can retain my +1 Enhancement to AC thanks to ABP, which means I'd gain an AC out of the deal. I'll also be able to take Dodge by skipping the pre-requisites, granting me another point of AC (as the other bonus feats are garbage for me), gain Improved Unarmed Strike (for those moments I'm not Wild Shaped and I'm Grappled, and it deals 1D6, so it's not a wimpy pigsticker), Stunning Fist, etc. With spending a feat on Feral Combat Style at 9th level, this allows me to make use of Flurry of Blows, providing me yet another attack on top of my 5-attack repertoire, which is at my full BAB.

Lastly, I'll gain increased Reflex and Fortitude saves, as well as a slightly increased BAB, which greatly helps with feats like Power Attack.

The downside is that I lose a CL (which I suppose I can shore up with the Menhir Savant ability, though I prefer the increase on it), and have reduced Spell progression. This can be a deal killer, even as a full caster. This has me troubled because one of the most powerful and interesting spells I can get (Flame Strike) is available at the next spell level, and I'd prefer not to reduce my availability to spells, since Flame Strike being available at 4th level for Druids is perhaps one of the most unique benefits ever.

So I ask the forums here to determine whether losing some spell power in exchange for melee survivability is worth it. If it is, should I do it now, or should I wait until I reach character level 8th? (So I can make full use of Flame Strike while it's fresh and interesting for the levels.)


I did this with my druid but he had 16 strength and 16 con, so more melee focused and I am still on the cusp of retraining it.

We will see how I feel when I can flurry with a weapon as an earth elemental. Then I may feel differently. You have the right archetype to do it but your stats favour casting in my opinion.

The other problem I found is that this didn't get me good AC it got me not awful AC. At level 5 I had dodge +1, Dex +1, wis +5, nat arm +2. That's only 19 at level 5. Add a potion of mage armor for 23. That a lot to put in to AC. You can keep burning resources like bark skin etc. But never feels great to me.

Hope this helps. It's not an answer but may weigh in on your decision.


I agree, you have the stat array of a Caster. I'd say summon critters then change into something flying to stay out of reach, until you can get some changes with massive boost to strength. Maybe cast "Chain Lightening" before you change? Or "Produce Flame?" or anything else that lasts for rounds/level?


Snively wrote:
I agree, you have the stat array of a Caster. I'd say summon critters then change into something flying to stay out of reach, until you can get some changes with massive boost to strength. Maybe cast "Chain Lightening" before you change? Or "Produce Flame?" or anything else that lasts for rounds/level?

I would wildshape smaller and flying get a dex boost and fire extended produce flame for easier fights.


Malkin the Magician wrote:

I did this with my druid but he had 16 strength and 16 con, so more melee focused and I am still on the cusp of retraining it.

We will see how I feel when I can flurry with a weapon as an earth elemental. Then I may feel differently. You have the right archetype to do it but your stats favour casting in my opinion.

The other problem I found is that this didn't get me good AC it got me not awful AC. At level 5 I had dodge +1, Dex +1, wis +5, nat arm +2. That's only 19 at level 5. Add a potion of mage armor for 23. That a lot to put in to AC. You can keep burning resources like bark skin etc. But never feels great to me.

Hope this helps. It's not an answer but may weigh in on your decision.

"Not Awful" AC is kind of what I'm looking for, especially when Wild Shaped. I'm not looking to be a tank, I'm just looking to not get hit almost every damn attack (i.e. mooks can 1-round me). Losing 5 AC out of the gate when Wild Shaping makes it a very unattractive option, and is a major penalty at all levels of play, but just getting Wisdom to AC and applying the Enhancement Bonuses to AC for free is a much better option, especially for Wild Shape (as then I won't have to get some Wild property armor, which is retarded-expensive and stupid due to the FAQ).

With this, I'll have 10 Base + 1 Dodge + 1 Dexterity + 1 Deflection + 1 Enhancement + 5 Wisdom = 19 AC. The best part is that when I Wild Shape, I'll be ~21 AC, which I can still increase to stupid levels (29) via Iron Skin (both me and the Alchemist can cast it, and he can give his to others) and Shield. If I had access to Mage Armor, that'd be another constant +4 AC.

I might just get a second Ring of Spell Knowledge II for Mage Armor, as I have Shield currently. Since we get Rings of Deflection and such for free via APB, a +8 AC bonus is damn nice. If it's too much investment, I'll probably just substitute Shield for Mage Armor, since the duration is more favorable, and I won't have to spend another round in combat to buff (as it's probably active).

I am curious, are there other effects besides Mage Armor and Bracers of Armor that provide Armor Bonuses to AC? I might just invest in something like that instead of the ring if it provides a large enough bonus. (I also question if I can even acquire such items under the APB rules....)

**EDIT**

I also heard that you can't take any Monk archetypes with UCMonk; is that true?


No, that's not true. Most Monk archetypes are off-limits with UMonk, but the Monk of the Mantis and Serpent-Fire Adept are available to the UMonk and Core Monk.


Umonk only has 2 archetypes. All the old monk archetypes don't work for it.

I'd suggest being in an animal form like all the time and have barding for that form.


Chess Pwn wrote:

Umonk only has 2 archetypes. All the old monk archetypes don't work for it.

I'd suggest being in an animal form like all the time and have barding for that form.

This a good option once you settle into a couple forms.

Liberty's Edge

Problem is that this basically locks you out of wild shaping during combat, which can be a major boon to a druid. Like walking into a fight with 2 erinyes while in deinonychus shape. Your produce flame is useless against them, and call lightning only slightly less so. You might have prepared air walk that day, but if not, you're going to be very marginally useful that fight. If you can all of a sudden turn into an air elemental, you're suddenly much more useful. So personally I say it's a fair trade, being able to maintain a +4 armor and +5 monk bonus while wildshaping. But I've also played a number of PFS scenarios with my druid where a combat with a flying enemy starts, and you look around to the other players wondering who's got this, and every one has a comment similar to "well, I've got this sling..."


Deighton Thrane wrote:
Problem is that this basically locks you out of wild shaping during combat, which can be a major boon to a druid. Like walking into a fight with 2 erinyes while in deinonychus shape. Your produce flame is useless against them, and call lightning only slightly less so. You might have prepared air walk that day, but if not, you're going to be very marginally useful that fight. If you can all of a sudden turn into an air elemental, you're suddenly much more useful. So personally I say it's a fair trade, being able to maintain a +4 armor and +5 monk bonus while wildshaping. But I've also played a number of PFS scenarios with my druid where a combat with a flying enemy starts, and you look around to the other players wondering who's got this, and every one has a comment similar to "well, I've got this sling..."

For the example you gave. Summoning is the ultimate backup for most situations. Summon a bunch of something that can fly. Augmented summoning is even better. Wind wall if you still need protection. When it is weakened fly up there even with low AC and smite away (planar wild shape).

You will not have a perfect answer to every situation but a pretty good one for most situations. Flying creatures with range tend to do poorly when engaged (AC is less important). And, melee flyers will come to you.

Maybe a AC helps here but every second level your summons are a level behind and you would be without access the next level of spells.

Also at some point if I have access to air walk I always have it available scroll, potion or prepped.

Liberty's Edge

In the examples I gave, I have used summoning, the results were less than stellar. Unless you're focused on summoning, you'll likely have problems with anything that both flies and has DR. Since you're using summon nature's ally your summons don't get smite.
And scrolls/potions are pretty inconvenient. They take 1 round to switch into a form that can use/access them, another to grab/use the item, a third to switch back to your combat form, then on the fourth you can actually act. Preparing the spell is much more useful, and I agree that as a melee druid air walk should be your number one spell prepared when you get 4th level spells, which is a shame because there are a lot of really good druid spells at that level.

Honestly a 1 level delay in spells and class features is not a huge price to pay for 5-9 points of AC on melee focused druid, plus bonus feats, and good bonuses to saves. Plus the fact that the AC keeps working when you use arguably your best class feature.

Scarab Sages

I have seen no mention of the fact that the monk gets his WIS bonus to AC only if he is wearing no armor.


Monk Proficiencies wrote:
When wearing armor, using a shield, or carrying a medium or heavy load, a monk loses his AC bonus, as well as his fast movement and flurry of blows abilities.


Brother Sapo wrote:
I have seen no mention of the fact that the monk gets his WIS bonus to cAC only if he is wearing no armor.

It is implicit in the discussion. The reason for the dip is your armor merges into your body when you wildshape and you lose the armor bonus then the wisdom becomes active.

It is a particular quark of how these to abilities interact.


Deighton Thrane wrote:

In the examples I gave, I have used summoning, the results were less than stellar. Unless you're focused on summoning, you'll likely have problems with anything that both flies and has DR. Since you're using summon nature's ally your summons don't get smite.

And scrolls/potions are pretty inconvenient. They take 1 round to switch into a form that can use/access them, another to grab/use the item, a third to switch back to your combat .....

Give it a try! I still like it more than I don't. Then if you don't like it retrain it later. That is, if you are allowed. I'm more concerned with your ability to hit than your AC. 2/3 BAB with 12 strength (20 at high level plant shape) with slow access to weapon enchantments (amulet of mighty fist crazy over priced).

**I just noticed you have access to rage. So you have decent strength. I will leave what I wrote for others thinking of a similar build that don't have access to rage. Sorry I missed that.**

If your open to suggestions some other wild shape fliers are Pterosaur, Pteranodon or Pterosaur, Quetzalcoatlus. The fly is clumsy but you get a way better to hit and damage, and 3 attack on the second one with 3x crit on the bite. Dire Bat and Giant Vulture also seem better.


Malkin the Magician wrote:
Brother Sapo wrote:
I have seen no mention of the fact that the monk gets his WIS bonus to cAC only if he is wearing no armor.

It is implicit in the discussion. The reason for the dip is your armor merges into your body when you wildshape and you lose the armor bonus then the wisdom becomes active.

It is a particular quark of how these to abilities interact.

Alas no more.

FAQ
When wearing melded armor and shields, if you gain no benefit from the melded armor, you still count as wearing an armor of that type.
And since you are wearing armor, you lose monk AC bonus.

Liberty's Edge

Malkin the Magician wrote:
Deighton Thrane wrote:

In the examples I gave, I have used summoning, the results were less than stellar. Unless you're focused on summoning, you'll likely have problems with anything that both flies and has DR. Since you're using summon nature's ally your summons don't get smite.

And scrolls/potions are pretty inconvenient. They take 1 round to switch into a form that can use/access them, another to grab/use the item, a third to switch back to your combat .....

Give it a try! I still like it more than I don't. Then if you don't like it retrain it later. That is, if you are allowed. I'm more concerned with your ability to hit than your AC. 2/3 BAB with 12 strength (20 at high level plant shape) with slow access to weapon enchantments (amulet of mighty fist crazy over priced).

**I just noticed you have access to rage. So you have decent strength. I will leave what I wrote for others thinking of a similar build that don't have access to rage. Sorry I missed that.**

If your open to suggestions some other wild shape fliers are Pterosaur, Pteranodon or Pterosaur, Quetzalcoatlus. The fly is clumsy but you get a way better to hit and damage, and 3 attack on the second one with 3x crit on the bite. Dire Bat and Giant Vulture also seem better.

I'm not the OP, but have been playing a melee focused wildshaping druid for the last few years. The OP is actually playing a druid more focused on summoning/casting, and as such, multiclassing to have a higher AC is less necessary, though still a decent choice. Especially if you really like to pick up a weapon and wade into melee.

Also, a couple quick things to note on the pteranodon and quetzalcoatlus, both have a middling fly speed with clumsy maneuverability, only have one primary attack, quetzacoatlus has 2 secondary attacks, and quetzacoatlus form doesn't get the x3 crit on it's bite. It's a special ability that doesn't appear in the beast shape entry, so you don't get the ability when you wild shape. All of these are pretty marginal when at the same level you can be an allosaurus who air walks. Or an emperor hippo who, after strong jaw, vital strikes for 16d8+1.5 strength and power attack. Which is actually pretty good for a low strength druid, just don't power attack to increase accuracy and rely on the damage dice for damage.

Also, a huge animal form with a clumsy fly speed has a -12 to fly, which means to hover, you need to reliably be able to make a DC 27 fly check, which can be pretty hard at level 8 when quetzacoatlus becomes an option. Air elemental is a much better fly option, especially considering elementals can use weapons, and it get's 2 primary attacks at large. It's actually what I would suggest for the build, it's better able to skirt around combat, casting spells from out of melee range, then if necessary you can wade in with natural attacks, DR, immunity to crits, sneak attack and bleed. Also, if you run into flying enemies, you're already set to fly up and attack.


WagnerSika wrote:
Malkin the Magician wrote:
Brother Sapo wrote:
I have seen no mention of the fact that the monk gets his WIS bonus to cAC only if he is wearing no armor.

It is implicit in the discussion. The reason for the dip is your armor merges into your body when you wildshape and you lose the armor bonus then the wisdom becomes active.

It is a particular quark of how these to abilities interact.

Alas no more.

FAQ
When wearing melded armor and shields, if you gain no benefit from the melded armor, you still count as wearing an armor of that type.
And since you are wearing armor, you lose monk AC bonus.

Which is why I was just considering dumping my regular Armor entirely; it's Light Armor, and I can't really use the heavier stuff unless I want to be screwed over on mobility. I'll still retain my Enhancement bonuses to AC through ABP, so I'm actually gaining 2 AC (1 from Wisdom, 1 from Dodge). And that's only going to go up with increased Wisdom.

As others have said, losing caster levels and having delayed spell progression is a killer. That's why, if I was going to do this, I'll wait until character level 8, so that I at least get access to Flame Strike before. The problem with that is that is 3 levels where I'm still going to be stuck with this junk level of AC.

Sovereign Court

A Umonk dip can be pretty decent generally for a melee focused druid, especially a Dex based one, but as others have said, I don't think that it's worth the loss of casting etc. for your particular build.

It would definitely boost your AC if you can get Mage Armor consistently (pearl of power or wand) but is that worth it? *shrug*

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber

I have a number of builds, including casting Druids, that have dipped Monk. It offers a number of advantages including Save boosts, Bonus Feats, Flurry and HP. One thing you can plan to do is rather than animals, go elementals. Rather than using their natural attacks, flurry.

This way you can at 7th (or 6th if you grab Shaping Focus) go Earth Elemental, grab +4 Natural Armor, +1 Size and +2 Str plus Earth Glide and use Barkskin and an extend rod to boost your AC further. When you fight just Flurry like a monk only with the Wild Shape benefits. You can also cast spells like Frostbite or Produce Flame to add damage to every punch.


I have looked into a level dip into monk for druid.

With the change to Wildling enchantment ( and therefor the wildshape in general ).

I do not think it is worth it. Two many thing working against it.

1) To gain the monk WIS bonus to AC, you have to be both Unarmed and Unencumbered. With the errant fix to wildling, You are now considered to be wearing armor even when it is melded to you, which just throws out the monk wis ac bonus right out the door.

The fix to this is just not to were any armor at all, but then your giving up +2 to +4 ac in human form at low level while wearing armor ( which at mid to high levels could be enchanted ).

If your encumbered ( which now care throw to wildshape), this also prevent to monk wis bonus.

........................

What you are give up for the level dip is =

One lower level of wild-shape = Take you longer to gain forms and uses to use the monk ac wis bonus with.

-1 BAB for the live of your character = harder to hit stuff in all your form for the rest of your character life.

One level lower in spell per day / spell level / Caster level = for the life of you character life.

..........................

Stuff you do gain =

+1 Fort, + 2 Ref, +1 Will saves.

one extra Feat (from monk list), mostly Dodge .... although Combat reflexes, Improved grapple, or Throw Anything are not bad options.

The ability to do monk damage without weapons (which is very s by DM, weather this is useful or not at low level), and once you gain wildshape is mostly a pointless ability.

.............................

It is bad enough that the level dip hurts your spell casting, but the hit to BAB, hurts your combat.

It is still a option if you are in a low magic world,
a low level campaign world that does not go above level 9+ ,
or if you build a Dex based Elf with favorite class bonus going into AC, and Initiative feat build to take advantage of the high Dex.

But those are the pro and cons that i saw looking into it.


Oliver McShade wrote:

I have looked into a level dip into monk for druid.

With the change to Wildling enchantment ( and therefor the wildshape in general ).

I do not think it is worth it. Two many thing working against it.

1) To gain the monk WIS bonus to AC, you have to be both Unarmed and Unencumbered. With the errant fix to wildling, You are now considered to be wearing armor even when it is melded to you, which just throws out the monk wis ac bonus right out the door.

The fix to this is just not to were any armor at all, but then your giving up +2 to +4 ac in human form at low level while wearing armor ( which at mid to high levels could be enchanted ).

If your encumbered ( which now care throw to wildshape), this also prevent to monk wis bonus.

........................

What you are give up for the level dip is =

One lower level of wild-shape = Take you longer to gain forms and uses to use the monk ac wis bonus with.

-1 BAB for the live of your character = harder to hit stuff in all your form for the rest of your character life.

One level lower in spell per day / spell level / Caster level = for the life of you character life.

..........................

Stuff you do gain =

+1 Fort, + 2 Ref, +1 Will saves.

one extra Feat (from monk list), mostly Dodge .... although Combat reflexes, Improved grapple, or Throw Anything are not bad options.

The ability to do monk damage without weapons (which is very s by DM, weather this is useful or not at low level), and once you gain wildshape is mostly a pointless ability.

.............................

It is bad enough that the level dip hurts your spell casting, but the hit to BAB, hurts your combat.

It is still a option if you are in a low magic world,
a low level campaign world that does not go above level 9+ ,
or if you build a Dex based Elf with favorite class bonus going into AC, and Initiative feat build to take advantage of the high Dex.

But those are the pro and cons that i saw looking into it.

He is planning on dipping unchained monk. They have full BAB


It's actually Unchained Monk, which doesn't bite a BAB penalty, but has no Will save boost. He's already 5th level, so it's not super low-level. Also, he can choose to not wear armor in his non-wildshaped form, which means he doesn't have to do weird armor switchy things before wildshaping.


For the record, I wouldn't be able to dip regular Monk, as we are overriding the base rules with the Unchained rules, so to speak. This means my Barbarian Rage functions as the UCBarbarian Rage.

I'm not too worried about my Will Saves, as they're 10+, and are only gonna get higher.

I don't lose out on BAB, as it's UCMonk, and they get full BAB.

The Dodge feat helps when I melee. I don't have a real ample amount of Dexterity to make good use of Combat Reflexes; I don't need Improved Grapple if I assume a form with a Grab ability (they do exist), and Throw Anything just seems too last-ditch to be worth taking over a constant +1 AC.

Did I also mention the Wisdom to AC is actually more AC than my current armor, and it applies to Flat-Footed and Touch AC as well? I can get an item like a Corset of Dire Witchcraft which gives a constant +4 Armor bonus to AC and stacks with my Wisdom to AC (as it's not an item in the Armor slot), and provides just as much armor as my current armor, without actually being armor.

To be honest, the biggest things I'm considering are going Feral Combat Training and being able to Flurry of Blows with my natural attacks, and on top of that, I can use Stunning Fist with them, and since Stunning Fist scales with Wisdom, it's pretty damn awesome. It can also get me out of tight spots with being grappled, and is Character-level based. (I've been grappled in a couple situations, and it sucks when I try to cast spells, as I don't have Combat Casting, and my statistics aren't high enough to auto-work; been lucky so far, but need something more reliable).

I might be able to shore up my CL with the Magical Knack trait, as we use a Special Points system to grant us extra character traits. I'd still be behind on Spell Levels (figure Oracle spell progression) and spells per day, but it's not too big of a deal, since the Druid spell list is kind of meh, and I want to be a bit more than just a spellcaster.

So it's settled, I'll be talking to the GM about it this upcoming Monday.

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