The mechanical-fantasy core of the Monk, and that which could be shed


Pathfinder Playtest

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I know there's another discussion about the identity of Monks ongoing, but I think it is focused on the Western vs. Eastern axis, to its detriment. I will ask of anyone posting here to refrain from those matters, and take them to that thread.

It is no secret that the Monk has been my favorite class for a while. The Unchained Monk was a breath of fresh air, but only in mechanical terms. Thematically, I think an exploration and "unchaining" of the Monk mechanical-fantasy core is yet to be undertaken.

I propose that there is a core concept that encompasses the identity of the Monk, and that is as follows:

The Monk is a mystic warrior.

With that being said, here are the things that I don't consider to be part of the identity of the Monk, and thus I don't consider to be necessary to show as core features.

1. Monks don't need have to be masters of unarmed combat.

While they certainly should have the possibility to be exceptional at this, the core concept does not require monks to be necessarily "martial artists." That role, in my opinion, is best left to Fighters.

Fighters represent the culmination of martial mastery. Why would they be barred from being the mundane exemplars of unarmed combat, just because it's a province traditionally associated with Monks?

I think that the Monk class should not be home to the close-quarters action movie stars, and I think the Fighter class should have venues to be competitive in that aspect.

Likewise, the Monk class should have options to ignore unarmed combat and focus on other types of weaponry.

However, the major consideration here is that the Monk, whichever fighting style they choose, are able to combine it with the use of mystical arts.

2. Monks don't have to be Wisdom-based.

I consider that tying the Monks to a mental attribute for their mystical art is a core aspect of the theme – as they walk the line between martial combat and the occult.

But tying their mystic connection strictly to Wisdom is unnecessary.

This may be a little too much for the stated goals of ease of character creation, but allowing the Monks access to mystical powers through study and intellect, as well as through sheer force of personality, does nothing to diminish the core concept.

3. Finally, Monks don't have to be Lawful.

I'll be shorter here, because I believe Paizo is moving away from this type of alignment restrictions, as seen in the Barbarian. But one's ability to entangle oneself with a mystical source of power does not necessarily have to be through Discipline.

INT/CHA Monks have existed in many systems through archetypes – why not make them official from the get go?


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TBH I 100% agree with this. I think being a mystic warrior is key to this, and they should not be forced to exclusively fight using unarmed combat. I even agree with WIS/CHA/INT being possible for monks. But I feel the concern would be too big of a sacred cow to remove both wisdom and unarmed combat. If I had to pick/suspect which one Paizo would keep it would be it's connection to wisdom(with allowing cha &INT via archetypes or some other feature in the future) and instead expanding the monks martial capabilities to more weapons.


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Realistically when they monk comes out for the play test its going to be as close to the old monk as possible with changes for the new mechanics anything more substantial then that will come from the play test changes. So don't get your hopes up until the play test officially starts.


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Actually they said, that the playtest is their chance to deal with more radical options and changes and then would see what happens with those changes.


I think that the Wizard is largely right here. It makes sense considering what has come down the line so far.

1. The monk doesn't HAVE to be a master of unarmed/unusual weapons, but I think that this is going to be a sacred cow that has too much meat on its bones to be easy prey. There are a lot of modern monk type things and an esoteric kung fu master is pretty sharply ingrained.

I think that fighters should be able to dedicate themselves to unarmed combat and be roughly the equal of monks on a raw technique level, but the monks are going to have sneaky mystic feats that a fighter can't match. Technically both are equal in hand to hand skill, but only one can punch ghosts or actually kill with a touch. (Which is how my Reign of Winter game ended, quivering palm on the villain at the very end after the party almost died. Good stuff.)

2. I bet they will still be Wisdom based, but it won't be as necessary with the new way things work. They might be Occult centered though, considering mantras and mandalas and meditative runes and meridians of energy and all that. I expect that Ki rituals will be a thing they are good at, not being spell casters, but able to perform similar feats through ritual castings anyway. A monk chanting to create something like a Circle of Protection or to dispel a curse is pretty iconic. Among other traditions, monks are Taoist as well as Shaolin after all.

3. Probably not alignment locked, no. I had a pipe dream that where Paladins were the LG alignment focused class the Monk would be LN, but since they aren't making any more alignment exemplars before the paladin is polished I know that isn't the case.

I'm really looking forward to it either way!


And once the playtest officially starts I'm sure they will but the monk that comes out at the beginning of the play test is probably going to be very similar to the PF1 monk with changed mechanics. Please read everything I type. You pretty well said what I said. DURING the playtest major changes will be likely to be made but I'm saying when we get the monk preview and at the start of the play test the monk will probably look very similar.


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You misunderstand what I said, the developers have stated they put in the playtest book the biggest rule changes. That means the monk at the start theoretically, if we took the developers at their words the monk would have the changes that the developer find the most extreme and willing to make(that they came up with of course, they can't add something they couldn't think of) and would tame it down if not liked during the playtest. I did read what you said, you misunderstood my response.


Stone Dog wrote:


I think that fighters should be able to dedicate themselves to unarmed combat and be roughly the equal of monks on a raw technique level, but the monks are going to have sneaky mystic feats that a fighter can't match. Technically both are equal in hand to hand skill, but only one can punch ghosts or actually kill with a touch. (Which is how my Reign of Winter game ended, quivering palm on the villain at the very end after the party almost died. Good stuff.)

I live for this.


well in that case that is not the impression I have gotten so far from what they have showed. so far most of the classes are the same thematically for example the paladin is still LG holy champion. The barbarian I noticed did take off the alignment restriction so that could also hold true for the monk but I doubt they will no longer be based on wisdom. I do assume there will be options for non unarmed combat however. I don't think they will change the class so much so that it is unrecognizable.


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I think Paizo might consider opening monks to other ability scores considering the exceptional popularity of the Scaled Fist. If they end up going a similar route to Barbarians and giving Monks an anathema they choose and thereafter have to live by they could tie the Monk's key ability score to the chosen anathema.


Secret Wizard wrote:
I live for this.

I screwed up a lot of stuff in that session, but everybody had fun and the monk (Zen Archer, actually) got to paraphrase Princess Bride at the end. "I want my world back, you B__!"

Enough of that tangent though!

Liberty's Edge

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1. I think that, while Monks should certainly also be able to use weapons (and indeed, we know there's a Monk property, so we know they can), they should also pretty universally be good at unarmed combat. That's necessary to their thematic role, IMO.

I do think others should also be good at unarmed and unarmored combat, and would suggest an Archetype as an ideal way to make this available to everyone.

2. I'd be fine if Monks got to choose between Wisdom and Charisma, but consider this change to the base Monk deeply unlikely. I hope it becomes available as an Archetype at some point.

3. Here I agree entirely. There's no need for this sort of Alignment restriction. I hope they follow the example of the Barbarian in removing it, and in adding Anathema to the various Schools/Styles of Martial Arts a Monk can practice. That sounds awesome.


The existing Scaled Disciple 1st Edition Monk archetype (also works with Unchained Monk) already uses Charisma instead of Wisdom, so 2nd Edition has a precedent to follow for making not all Monks be Wisdom-based.

Liberty's Edge

UnArcaneElection wrote:
The existing Scaled Disciple 1st Edition Monk archetype (also works with Unchained Monk) already uses Charisma instead of Wisdom, so 2nd Edition has a precedent to follow for making not all Monks be Wisdom-based.

Oh, there's at least one or two more Cha-based Archetypes as well (Nornkith leaps to mind, and is probably my favorite). But they're very much exceptions to the rule and it would surprise me a great deal to see them built into the base Class.


Deadmanwalking wrote:

1. I think that, while Monks should certainly also be able to use weapons (and indeed, we know there's a Monk property, so we know they can), they should also pretty universally be good at unarmed combat. That's necessary to their thematic role, IMO.

I do think others should also be good at unarmed and unarmored combat, and would suggest an Archetype as an ideal way to make this available to everyone.

Alternatively, we could make the classic unarmed/unarmored monk an archetype.

That would encourage more variety in our ki-enhanced mystic warriors. Too many characters at the moment are simply "mundane" or "spellcaster".


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

By all means, I want Paizo to move firmly away from the mistake of [X Fighting Style] = [Y Class]. Just as I don't believe a gun wielder should be forced to play a Gunslinger, I don't think an unarmed striker should be forced to play a Monk.

That being said, I sincerely do not mind if Monks come with unarmed proficiency built in; it should just be readily available in other classes as well, particularly the Fighter. In the same vein, other classes should have access to means of utilizing weapons with "Monk" special property.

Monks should definitely differentiate themselves with mystic arts. Here are a few of the things that scream "Monk" to me:

* Stepping on air / fighting on a tightrope / walk on water
* Filling attacks with mystic energy
* Resisting poisons/disease/curses with mastery of the body and spirit
* Obtaining otherworldy insight through meditation
* Resist the effects of time through mastery of the mind and body
* Bend time with mystic energy
* Heal others with mystic energy
* Turn into stone through meditation
* Resist blades through mastery of the body


Dictionary definition of mystic: A person who seeks by contemplation and self-surrender to obtain unity with the absolute, or who believes in the spiritual apprehension of truths that are beyond the intellect. Comes from Greek mustikos, from mustēs ‘initiated person.’

Common traits of mystics:

  • Unworldly and ascetic
  • No interested in material property
  • Wise and serene
  • Spiritual enlightenment
  • Supernatural abilities that operate from harmony with the absolute or one's inner core

A mystic class in Pathfinder needs some of the common attributes of mysticism in order to seem mystical rather than religious or arcane or psychic. Weaponless attacks and lack of armor represent eschewing the material. A weaponless hand also represents serenity. Abilities that use the Wisdom attribute represent wisdom.

The mystic warrior does not have to be the best at unarmed combat. The Brawler class from the Advanced Class Guide shows that monk does not have a monopoly on unarmed combat, and the Unarmed Fighter archetype came out even earlier than the Brawler. In fact, I think that the increasing damage dice on the monk's unarmed strikes are inappropriate for the mystical theme. The mystic warrior should not appear heavily armed. No weapons, improvised weapons, or humble weapons, such as a stick or a weaponized farm implement, are most appropriate. Expensive enchanted weapons are out: maybe the mystic should automatically give an enhancement bonus to any weapon he or she wields, which does not stack with enchantments.

Is Wisdom the best stat for the mystic warrior? A martial artist ought to use Strength and Dexterity, but a martial artist is not innately mystic. Charisma is strongly associated with spontaneous casters, and the PF2 core rulebook will have two arcane spontaneous casters, the bard and the sorcerer. The sorcerer is another class that has no material trappings of his nature, not even a wizard's spellbook. We want to clearly distinguish between sorcerer and mystic warrior. So Charisma is out. Intelligence is an option for a mystic warrior based on a scholarly Catholic monk, but the mystic warrior ought to express it differently than a wizard.

Let's look at the PF2 core classes:


  • Alchemist - Int-based potion maker that throws bombs with Dex.
  • Barbarian - Rage-based martial, fights with Strength. Rage might benefit from Con.
  • Bard - Arcane caster with bardic performance based on Cha. Uses Dex for AC.
  • Cleric - Divine caster based on Wis. Uses Str for melee.
  • Druid - Divine caster based on Wis.
  • Fighter - Martial class uses Str for melee.
  • Monk - Martial artist uses Dex and Wis for AC and Str for melee.
  • Paladin - Divine martial uses Cha for defense and Str for melee.
  • Ranger - Martial scout uses Str for melee, Dex for archery, and Wis for spellcasting.
  • Rogue - Skill monkey uses Dex for AC and melee.
  • Sorcerer - Arcane caster based on Cha.
  • Wizard - Arcane caster based on Int.

Lots of Strengh-based martials and Wisdom-based spellcasters, so moving the monk/mystic away from Wisdom would balance the classes better. We could even base the mystic on Dex or Con, representing physical fitness.


WatersLethe wrote:

By all means, I want Paizo to move firmly away from the mistake of [X Fighting Style] = [Y Class]. Just as I don't believe a gun wielder should be forced to play a Gunslinger, I don't think an unarmed striker should be forced to play a Monk.

That being said, I sincerely do not mind if Monks come with unarmed proficiency built in; it should just be readily available in other classes as well, particularly the Fighter. In the same vein, other classes should have access to means of utilizing weapons with "Monk" special property.

That's probably my stance as well. I think someone who decides to be good at unarmed combat, who chooses to be a class other than Monk, should be as good at unarmed combat as a monk, but monks should be the ones to get that without choosing it as an archetype (so long as it's also possible to create monks that can use weapons, especially outside of the almost universally asian-flavored "monk" weapons. Give me my Shelyn worshiping Flurry of Glaive monk already.)

Grand Lodge

Secret Wizard wrote:

1. Monks don't need have to be masters of unarmed combat.

While they certainly should have the possibility to be exceptional at this, the core concept does not require monks to be necessarily "martial artists." That role, in my opinion, is best left to Fighters.

Fighters represent the culmination of martial mastery. Why would they be barred from being the mundane exemplars of unarmed combat, just because it's a province traditionally associated with Monks?

I think that the Monk class should not be home to the close-quarters action movie stars, and I think the Fighter class should have venues to be competitive in that aspect.

Likewise, the Monk class should have options to ignore unarmed combat and focus on other types of weaponry.

However, the major consideration here is that the Monk, whichever fighting style they choose, are able to combine it with the use of mystical arts.

2. Monks don't have to be Wisdom-based.

I consider that tying the Monks to a mental attribute for their mystical art is a core aspect of the theme – as they walk the line between martial combat and the occult.

But tying their mystic connection strictly to Wisdom is...

You have said what monks do NOT have to be but what is a good example that you DO want to see?

Any good examples in literature/movies?


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Gorignak227 wrote:


You have said what monks do NOT have to be but what is a good example that you DO want to see?
Any good examples in literature/movies?

Not particularly, but I think that the universal popularity of, say, the Jedi, point to me to a large crowd that would be interested in a lightly-armored mystic warrior, regardless of whether it is packed with Eastern flavor or not.


I decided to try to invent a Dexterity-based mystic powers, but the design shifted on me. It became a Dexterity martial based mostly on the Paizo BlogL Barbarian Class Preview. Secret Wizard's suggestions on what to drop from the monk led to a clean and flexible class that can be many things, including the traditional monk. My Agile Mystic became a Single Attribute Dependent class that needs only Dexterity, but can benefit from Strength and Wisdom. I put design comments in brackets.

Agile Mystic
Hit Die: d8
Starting Wealth: 2d6 pf2gp (average 7 pf2gp.) In addition, each character begins play with an outfit worth 10 gp or less. [The agile mystic is richer than a monk, since he might buy weapons.]

Class Skills The agile mystic is trained in Acrobatics (Dex), Athletics (Str), Crafting (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Medicine (Wis), Nature (Wis), Religion (Wis), and Survival (Wis). [All the Wis skills, to mimic wisdom without requiring high Wis.]

The agile mystic has good saves, but I don't know how those are expressed in PF2.

PF2 is radically changing base attack bonus so that everyone starts out the same.

Weapon Proficiency Agile mystics are proficient with all simple weapons and kama, nunchaku, sai, short sword, shuriken, and siangham. They also do not take a -4 penalty to attack rolls when using an improvised weapon.

Armor and Shield Proficiency: Agile mystics are not proficient with any armor or shields.

Serene Armor (Ex) Agile mystics gain +2 to AC, including touch AC. At 3th level, and every 3 levels after that, this bonus increases by 1. This bonus does not stack with armor bonuses. [An agile mystic might wear armor, but he has to gain proficiency via feats or multiclassing.]

Combat Agility (Ex) Agile mystics gain Agile Maneuvers, Improved Unarmed Strike, and Weapon Finesse.

Serene Weapon (Ex) At 2nd level, agile mystics gain a +1 enhancement to any weapon they wield, including unarmed strikes, improvised weapons, and natural weapons. At 4th level, and every 3 levels after that, this bonus increases by 1. This bonus does not stack with enhancement bonuses on the weapon.

Ki Powers (Ex) Starting at 2nd level, an agile gains a ki power. She must satisfy the prerequisites for a ki power in order to chose it. She gains another ki power for every two levels of agile mystic attained after 2nd level.

When an agile mystic activates a ki power, the effect endures for three rounds, including the activation round. Some ki powers also have a permanent effect. The Ki Enlightenment feat can make all parts of a ki power permanent so that it no longer requires activation.

Air Slide (Ex) (Prerequisite: trained in Acrobatics) You gain the Catfall feat.
[[A]]: (Su) At 5th level, you gain the ability to jump three times as high as normal. At 8th level, you gain Air Walk. At 11th level, you can grant Air Walk to adjacent allies. It converts to Feather Fall if they are no longer adjacent.

Evasion (Ex) [[A]]: You gain Evasion identical to the Rogue ability. At 8th level, you also gain Improved Evasion.

Fast Movement (Ex) [[A]]: You gain a 5 foot enhancement bonus to his land speed. At 5th level it increases to 10 feet, and an addition 5 feet every three levels.

Flurry of Blows (Ex) [[A]]: Your second attack of a turn does not suffer the -5 penalty. At 5th level, if you make a second attack, you gain a reaction. At 11th level, the -10 penalty your third attack of a turn is reduced to -5, and at 17th level, it is reduced to nothing.

Still Mind (Su) [[A]] You gain a +2 bonus on saving throws against enchantment spells and effects. At 8th level, the bonus applies to adjacent allies, too. Multiple Still Mind bonuses do not stack. The bonus increase to +3 at 11th level and +4 at 17th level.

Stunning Fist (Su) (Prerequisite: Dex 13, Wis 13, Improved Unarmed Strike) [[A]]: A foe damaged by your unarmed attack must attempt a Fortitude saving throw (DC 10 + 1/2 your character level + your Serene Weapon bonus). A defender who fails this saving throw is stunned for 1 round (until just before your next turn). A stunned character drops everything held, can’t take actions, loses any Dexterity bonus to AC, and takes a –2 penalty to AC.

[Since Serene Armor improves at levels 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, and 18 and Serene Weapon improves at levels 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, and 19, I put the improvements for Ki Powers at levels 5, 8, 11, 14, and 17. I ought to also create ki powers for Abundant Step, Diamond Body, Diamond Soul, Elemental Fist, Tongue of the Sun and Moon, a lot of Qinggong Monk ki powers, and WatersLethe's suggestions.]

Combat Style (Ex) At 3rd level, an agile mystic gains Combat Reflexes, Deflect Arrows, Dodge, Improved Grapple, Scorpion Style, or any style feat as a bonus feat. She does not have to meet the prerequesites for the feat. She also choses a style feat for which she can enter the stance for that style as a free action. [Since the ki powers will consume many early actions, we need the style feats to not compete for those actions. I took the list from the PF1 monk class, but I doubt all those feats will exist in PF2.]


Deadmanwalking wrote:
UnArcaneElection wrote:
The existing Scaled Disciple 1st Edition Monk archetype (also works with Unchained Monk) already uses Charisma instead of Wisdom, so 2nd Edition has a precedent to follow for making not all Monks be Wisdom-based.
Oh, there's at least one or two more Cha-based Archetypes as well (Nornkith leaps to mind, and is probably my favorite). But they're very much exceptions to the rule and it would surprise me a great deal to see them built into the base Class.

Annoyingly, Nornkith doesn't seem to support Unchained Monk, despite being a recent release.


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@MathMuse: Give me STR Monks or give me death.

UnArcaneElection wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
UnArcaneElection wrote:
The existing Scaled Disciple 1st Edition Monk archetype (also works with Unchained Monk) already uses Charisma instead of Wisdom, so 2nd Edition has a precedent to follow for making not all Monks be Wisdom-based.
Oh, there's at least one or two more Cha-based Archetypes as well (Nornkith leaps to mind, and is probably my favorite). But they're very much exceptions to the rule and it would surprise me a great deal to see them built into the base Class.

Annoyingly, Nornkith doesn't seem to support Unchained Monk, despite being a recent release.

I asked Mark about it back then, he said it was due to balance concerns.


I somewhat agree with these points, but also disagree.

Maybe it's just my opinion, but when I think about the monk, three things come to mind: wisdom/self-discipline, unarmed combat mastery, and lots and lots of weapons.

I would be in favor of a monk being treated similar to the ranger, in which they would get to choose to specialize in either unarmed combat or be a weapons master-type.

They would still be able to use the opposing style, but for instance, an unarmed combat monk would have access only to the basic monk weapons, whereas the weapons master-type would have access to all oriental weapons as simple or martial weapons, but their unarmed combat damage would scale at a slower rate, say increasing every 5 levels (or more) instead of every 3.

I think the class abilities that are mystic in nature should remain the same with both combat styles, but the available combat bonus feats should focus more on the individual styles.

I also feel that monks should continue to be wisdom based for their mystic dc's, unless there are specific archetypes (or whatever similar system that will be implemented), for the reason that monks seek "enlightenment" (good/neutral), or they seek power(evil/neutral). To me, this screams wisdom or strength.

For those that seek strength, they should get alternate mystic powers that are maybe damage dealing more than they are debilitating, but I'm not sure what stat would be appropriate to determine dc's for those mystic abilities.

Monks are awesome and intrinsic to the game. However they implement them, should be good.

Just my 2cp


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Soulgear, remember that with the new silver standard, your 2cp are worth more than they used to be!


There might also be abilities that do not need a DC. Remember in the disussions about clerics where they say that a cleric could get away with a 10 Wisdom for spell casting, they just would usually focus on spells that don't need saving throws.

Maybe there will be more Ki powers like that so that a high Wis isn't so mandatory anymore.

As a last thought of the night, I think my top five Monk abilities in no real order would be...
1. Excellent saves.
2. High mobility.
3. Low Armor, good AC
4. Ki powers
5. Occult training

and Occult training mainly so that monks can chant rituals and draw meditative/mystical patterns, which is increasingly something I like the sound of. No actual spells, but solid ritual use or at least the option for that.


Excellent saves in nowhere near any priority of mine.

I would rather have engaging gameplay that feels true to the class over numerical bonuses. The latter can be adjusted to be engaging and have some danger.

I mean, UnMonk's only weakness is lower base HP and low AC early on, and that's it. Later in the levels, you don't have any weak spots.

But that's not why UnMonk is fun. It's the mechanics that pull weight.


Tholomyes wrote:
WatersLethe wrote:

By all means, I want Paizo to move firmly away from the mistake of [X Fighting Style] = [Y Class]. Just as I don't believe a gun wielder should be forced to play a Gunslinger, I don't think an unarmed striker should be forced to play a Monk.

That being said, I sincerely do not mind if Monks come with unarmed proficiency built in; it should just be readily available in other classes as well, particularly the Fighter. In the same vein, other classes should have access to means of utilizing weapons with "Monk" special property.

That's probably my stance as well. I think someone who decides to be good at unarmed combat, who chooses to be a class other than Monk, should be as good at unarmed combat as a monk, but monks should be the ones to get that without choosing it as an archetype (so long as it's also possible to create monks that can use weapons, especially outside of the almost universally asian-flavored "monk" weapons. Give me my Shelyn worshiping Flurry of Glaive monk already.)

This thought process confuses me...

If one were to compare real-world unarmed combat vs a martial artist (i.e. the monk) a boxer, while fantastic at unarmed combat, would get wrecked by a martial artist. Flat out wrecked.

Is there a real-world unarmed martial art that does not require discipline (think wisdom) or judicial use of force (think law and wisdom)?

Most of this game is in some way founded in real-world legend and lore, so I guess to me, how the monk has been implemented mostly makes sense. I do however feel that monks should have a larger weapon list, and monks should have access to all oriental weapons, including exotic, as simple and martial weapons.


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I'd be wary of giving anyone auto-access to any exotic weapons. The design goal for exotics is that they all follow the fauchard/falcata principle of being a mechanical upgrade over their martial counterpart; weapons that are from the ~mysterious east~ are going to be sorted into any of the three categories based on how good they are, just the same as their western counterparts.


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Soulgear wrote:
Tholomyes wrote:
WatersLethe wrote:

By all means, I want Paizo to move firmly away from the mistake of [X Fighting Style] = [Y Class]. Just as I don't believe a gun wielder should be forced to play a Gunslinger, I don't think an unarmed striker should be forced to play a Monk.

That being said, I sincerely do not mind if Monks come with unarmed proficiency built in; it should just be readily available in other classes as well, particularly the Fighter. In the same vein, other classes should have access to means of utilizing weapons with "Monk" special property.

That's probably my stance as well. I think someone who decides to be good at unarmed combat, who chooses to be a class other than Monk, should be as good at unarmed combat as a monk, but monks should be the ones to get that without choosing it as an archetype (so long as it's also possible to create monks that can use weapons, especially outside of the almost universally asian-flavored "monk" weapons. Give me my Shelyn worshiping Flurry of Glaive monk already.)

This thought process confuses me...

If one were to compare real-world unarmed combat vs a martial artist (i.e. the monk) a boxer, while fantastic at unarmed combat, would get wrecked by a martial artist. Flat out wrecked.

Is there a real-world unarmed martial art that does not require discipline (think wisdom) or judicial use of force (think law and wisdom)?

Most of this game is in some way founded in real-world legend and lore, so I guess to me, how the monk has been implemented mostly makes sense. I do however feel that monks should have a larger weapon list, and monks should have access to all oriental weapons, including exotic, as simple and martial weapons.

It's really simple to understand: Monk shouldn't equal martial artist.

A dude who does kung fu is not a Monk. He should be a Fighter.

A Monk is someone who combines a martial fighting style, which may be an art, with a mystical bent, at least from my POV.

And on martial arts that don't require discipline, I'd say that's all of them. Anyone can learn the basics of a martial art and apply them in many ways.

Some people are particularly good at it because they have good builds.

Some people have great reflexes.

Some people can take more rigurous training.

Some people are quick-witted and have a knack for on-the-fly combat decisions.

Some people are well-centered and disciplined.

Some people are able to slog forward out of sheer force of will and confidence.

So yeah, I can see a lot of venues for it.


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I'd like to see a monk that has a set of traits they can apply to anything weapon-like they pick up, sort of like magus enchantments, but you know, not. Currently, I'm rather fond of unrogue/scaled fist unmonk dimensional savant for getting the fightan mountain mystic feel, as I feel debilitations fit in pretty well with most monk theming.

I think it would be interesting to see multiple development paths keyed to different stats, so that you can pick what you feel your particular discipline is based on. Sort of like the Xin Shan Quan master in Live a Live (though in his case, he had ALL the different stat-based stuff available to him, but you know, different game with different rules).

Alignment restriction needs to die, but I've said as much elsewhere. I feel it was borne out of looking at certain traditions from the outside. Every lifestyle looks restrictive if it's not what you personally want, but that's not how those philosophies or their adherents see it. The ascetic doesn't become an ascetic because she loves red meat and alcoholism and senseless murder and wants to needlessly restrict herself from those things and repetitively do a bunch of menial activities that she hates every day. She does it because she sees all those vices as restrictive and believes that through daily polishing, her spirit can achieve liberation and freedom.


"It's really simple to understand: Monk shouldn't equal martial artist.

A dude who does kung fu is not a Monk. He should be a Fighter.

A Monk is someone who combines a martial fighting style, which may be an art, with a mystical bent, at least from my POV.

And on martial arts that don't require discipline, I'd say that's all of them. Anyone can learn the basics of a martial art and apply them in many ways.

Some people are particularly good at it because they have good builds.

Some people have great reflexes.

Some people can take more rigurous training.

Some people are quick-witted and have a knack for on-the-fly combat decisions.

Some people are well-centered and disciplined.

Some people are able to slog forward out of sheer force of will and confidence.

So yeah, I can see a lot of venues for it."

All of these "examples" are all fallacies.

To suggest that because someone has "good reflexes", or have any one of the other attributes that are mentioned, would make them a good unarmed combatant is foolish, at best.

I've played sports. I've trained in martial arts. After 40 years of participating in such activities, it takes a whole lot more than physical ability to succeed and in many cases be considered competent in such activities.

It takes discipline. Without that, there are knowledge gaps, sloppy technique, and a lot of talk that cannot be backed up.

So to suggest that because a person has some skill or ability does not add up to an expert in an area.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I mean, the point is moot because Fighters definitely can possess discipline, knowledge, technique, skill, ability and expertise.

What makes a Fighter less of a martial artist than a Monk?


An unarmed fighter is no less a martial artist than a monk. The difference is that such a fighter would learn Kung Fu to become an excellent warrior and a monk would learn Kung Fu to unlock their Ki, leading to such things as their excellent defenses and mystic powers.

Technically the fighter is likely better at the martial part than the monk. The monk will be better at the (mystic) arts portion. it is the Ki cultivation that separates them.

My phone keeps wanting to say kids instead of ki.


Soulgear wrote:


All of these "examples" are all fallacies.

A fallacy is something that is not logically sound. What you mean is that what I'm saying is flat-out wrong, which is a different thing, and might be possible too.

Quote:

To suggest that because someone has "good reflexes", or have any one of the other attributes that are mentioned, would make them a good unarmed combatant is foolish, at best.

I've played sports. I've trained in martial arts. After 40 years of participating in such activities, it takes a whole lot more than physical ability to succeed and in many cases be considered competent in such activities.

It takes discipline. Without that, there are knowledge gaps, sloppy technique, and a lot of talk that cannot be backed up.

So to suggest that because a person has some skill or ability does not add up to an expert in an area.

1. Hey I do Aikido! But I suck – my motor coordination borders on comical. Genuinely curious as to what martial arts you perform!

2. Note that I never said GOOD martial artists. Just martial artists.

3. Martial artists are not monolithical. Sports-people are not monolithical. Sure. what sells Wheatees is saying you train all day and follow rigurous discipline, but we all know there's a big aspect of flair, moxy, irreverence, intellectuality, good genes, etc. Some people are more acquainted with violence, and, when a real fight crops up, none of the discipline in the world can prepare you for that shock. I think a lot more than just discipline is what makes a martial artist.

I invite you to read this article. It's a story about Bruce Lee, so we ALL know this will be enjoyable.

I think it shows different human facets of martial artists, and allows one to consider that perhaps not all of them are created equal.


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Soulgear wrote:
Tholomyes wrote:
WatersLethe wrote:

By all means, I want Paizo to move firmly away from the mistake of [X Fighting Style] = [Y Class]. Just as I don't believe a gun wielder should be forced to play a Gunslinger, I don't think an unarmed striker should be forced to play a Monk.

That being said, I sincerely do not mind if Monks come with unarmed proficiency built in; it should just be readily available in other classes as well, particularly the Fighter. In the same vein, other classes should have access to means of utilizing weapons with "Monk" special property.

That's probably my stance as well. I think someone who decides to be good at unarmed combat, who chooses to be a class other than Monk, should be as good at unarmed combat as a monk, but monks should be the ones to get that without choosing it as an archetype (so long as it's also possible to create monks that can use weapons, especially outside of the almost universally asian-flavored "monk" weapons. Give me my Shelyn worshiping Flurry of Glaive monk already.)

This thought process confuses me...

If one were to compare real-world unarmed combat vs a martial artist (i.e. the monk) a boxer, while fantastic at unarmed combat, would get wrecked by a martial artist. Flat out wrecked.

I don't understand what this is meant to demonstrate. Are you talking about pitting a real world boxer against a fantasy martial artist? Because like, boxing is a martial art; it's made up of many well codified systems of fighting. If it exists in a Pathfinder context, it will be every bit as supernaturally powerful as a fighter who power attacks hard enough to cleave adamantine with a silver sword. Watch the scene in Ip Man 3 where Ip Man fights Mike Tyson for a perfect demonstration of what your unarmed monk vs unarmed fighter should probably look like. Here, I'll link it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HvnRvUSHr4

If you're talking about real world boxing compared with other real world martial arts, then I find the statement even more confusing. They're all sports; they all exist in their own particular contexts with particular rules, written and unwritten, and assumptions. Comparing them against each other in a general sense is awkward at best, especially when it's one umbrella term, "boxing" vs another, "martial arts."

Any skill worth having requires disciplined practice, especially if you're talking about taking it up to the ridiculous levels of mastery that Pathfinder characters attain. If a fighter is spending feats and class abilities on ramping up their unarmed abilities, that constitutes the same determined effort. The only difference is that the monk class does it automatically.


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I think the 2E Monk is going to be very different from the 1E Core Monk as the 1E core Monk had many many problems.

Now going by what we've seen of the other 2e classes I feel like the common theme in all of them is that they're *very* customizable and allow for a lot of different fantasies to be accomplished right out of the core book. This is done through things like Class Feats as well as Class Abilities that provide choice such as Druid Orders, Barbarian Totems etc.

Despite this they still have baseline competencies in the core fantasy of the class. All Barbarians have d12 hit die. All Rogues get massive boosts to skills. All Fighters get massive amounts of feats etc.

So I would expect the 2E Monk to be no different. And so what we have to identify is what the Monk's base competencies should be and then what different fantasies they can build towards with class abilites and class feats.

In my view the base competencies should be

*Unarmed combat proficiency. They don't all have to be masters of it, but they should all be competent. If a monk gets stripped of her gear then she should be able to still lay the hurt on to a decent degree.

* Mental and Physical Perfection through training. One of the things that really attracts people to displays of martial arts skills is you can tell that the people who can pull them off worked REALLY hard at them and spent years honing their skills. This should be reflected in the Monk. One of the easiest way to do this is to give them all good saves. I know the unchained Monk ditched this, but I really think it should come back. Just as there's space for the barbarian's exceptional hit die, there should be space for a class with exceptional saves, and the monk is that class. Plus it alleviates potential MAD issues.

*Mystic connection to the world. Just like unarmed combat proficiency, not all monks need to be masters of the mystic arts, but they all should have some mystic flavour to them.

Now the fantasies that I feel they should be able to build towards using choosable class abilities and feats are:

Wuxia: Pathfinder is high fantasy. Monks should be able to run up walls, run across water, jump really high etc. and they should be able to do it pretty early in their career if they choose to. Steal from Ninjas in 1E.

Healer/Harmer: Making use of body pressure points to either heal or harm your foes is an amazing trope that the monk should be able to get up to shenanignas with this. This is where stunning fist and quivering palm type of abilites should live, but also a monk should be able to use an action to get rid of adverse conditions from an ally in a similar fashion. You can throw poison use in here to be able to build classic villainous Monk tropes. Jabbing poison needles into pressure points is fun for the whole family.

Weapon Master: The staff wielding Monk is a trope that I was incredibly sad that 1E Monk just couldn't pull of (mostly because so many weapons were weak in 1E) . It seems like Paizo is dedicating a lot of effort to fixing this drawback in 2E. But even beyond more competitive weapon options being available a monk should be able to do some amazing tricks with their weapons that would leave bystanders with their jaws on the floor (and their foes with broken ones). I'm thinking Zen Archer type builds should be possible to make not just with bows, but with other weapons as well. Improvised Weapon Mastery of some sort should be in here too. Some of the most amazing martial arts movies have someone going absolutely nuts with a paper fan. Put it in the game!

Mystic Wanderer: A wandering monk doing good deeds through means other than causing damage would be amazing. Being able to carry out Healing, protection, and battlefield control through mystic arts would be great and fit some of the class fantasies. It should be possible to make a monk that's a great support and competent utility member of a team rather than just being a damage dealer.

Street Fighter: We should be able to dedicate class resources to create a decent hadouken if we want to. This is a personal fantasy of mine. Give monks an optional Force Blast! Do it Paizo! Do it for all of us who grew up on 1 vs 1 2d fighting games and Dragon Ball. Take a simplified version of stuff from the 1E Kinetcist and make them options for 2E monk. Pleaaze!

Drunken Master/Animal styles: Crane Wing. Mantis Strike. Monkey steals the Peach! (ouch). I think a lot of the Monk feats should be the same as the 1E Style Feats and really let players dedicate themselves to a style. After all if attacks of opportunity can be made exclusive to Fighters, then stuff like this should be exclusive to Monks. It fits them to a tee and doesn't really make too much sense for even other martials like Paladins/Barbs/Fighters/Rangers.

Iron Fist/Knee/Leg/Elbow/Head: If a player goes all in on feats and class abilities that enhance unarmed combat then Monks should be the best in the game. Unarmed Fighters should be very very close, but a fully dedicated Monk should have the slight edge.

Martial Artiste: A monk who wants to wow the crowd should be able to use their training to dazzle, intimidate, charm, and distract.

Of course all these 'paths' can overlap with each other and be mixed and match as every unique character concept demands.

Miscellaneous

Maybe Monk Vows can be used as one of the major points of customization for Monks similar to Druid Orders and Barbarian Totems?

I also agree that Monks should be any alignment.

Monks should be able to pick between at least Wis and Cha for the mental stat that powers their mystical abilities. Just too many concepts out there to restrict it to just Wisdom.


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I should say that I'm not really on the side of removing wisdom as a monk thing. I think it fits in pretty well with the zen-type theming of the class, and it covers your mountain hermits who develop a sort of football playbook of different sword dances and playing mental chess to find the weaknesses in OTHER fighter's secret sword dances. But I think it should be a bit more optional, and do more for the monks that use it, like precision damage and/or hit bonuses. Maybe having the option to go further and be a bit druidic even, so you can get things like your 36 heavenly transformations or turning into a storm or whatever. Some kind of melee based spontaneous casting, even, though not precisely like the magus, because as much as magi can be strong, I find the way they work unpalatable overall.

On the other hand, there are plenty of fictional characters who could fall under the umbrella of monk who are just like, hard hitting power fighters that don't go in for the mental side so much. Live a Live, which I mentioned earlier, has a very strength/power based kung fu master set up as the villain of the "Ancient China" chapter. They're not... generally WUXIA characters (except as designated losers), but that's because wuxia is all about imaginary fights and deconstructing styles. There's still a balance of those factors that comes into play even there though.


I am down for Cha and Wis based monks, I'm not so certain about an Int-based monk. I guess you could do the Sherlock Holmes thing (from both the original books and the RDJ movies in which people thought this was weird even though it was from the books) where Holmes is a phenomenal boxer because he's an incredibly astute observer of human behavior, but I'm wondering if this shouldn't belong to a different class.


I feel int and wis are, to some extent, thematically interchangeable here. A lot of the style deconstruction stuff could really fall under either.

The problem, and I think probably the source of MAD problems with the monk class, is that a lot of the source material for its theming assumes that its characters have something like arete, or a general excellence applied to all things. Furthermore, it's trying to encompass a very diverse set of character types that would probably be many different classes if they had their own game (and they do, and it's Legend of the Wulin). Archetypes can help solve some of that, but ultimately, I feel like the monk should almost be built with the intention of being multiclassed, or with class abilities that in some way allow you to accomplish that.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

I would love a Cha based monk option. Being able to choose between Wis or Cha for your abilities, AC, etc. would be AWESOME!!!.


Azih wrote:
* Mental and Physical Perfection through training. One of the things that really attracts people to displays of martial arts skills is you can tell that the people who can pull them off worked REALLY hard at them and spent years honing their skills. This should be reflected in the Monk. One of the easiest way to do this is to give them all good saves. I know the unchained Monk ditched this, but I really think it should come back. Just as there's space for the barbarian's exceptional hit die, there should be space for a class with exceptional saves, and the monk is that class. Plus it alleviates potential MAD issues.

I find the rest of your post really enjoyable, but this line I particularly despise hearing.

Let me be clear: good saves means one thing – that you can more easily dump those stats.

The UnMonk has great Will saves because it was a well-crafted class. Less need for CON for HP, less incentive to pile on DEX and invest on WIS instead, more freedom with feats to pick up Iron Will and similar things as needed, less necessity to trade Still Mind for an archetype.

I would prefer, any single day of the week, a class that functions like the fantasy rather than a class that advertises itself as such while being disfunctional.

If the 2E Monk ends up having the worst Will saves but potential to be competent at them, I'd be satisfied.

It's like pretending the Wizard has little skill ranks because they have very few skill ranks per level in PF1E.

EDIT: And stop equating MAD with unviable. MAD is a descriptive term. If the system supports MAD characters, then it's not a problem.

Saffron Marvelous wrote:
On the other hand, there are plenty of fictional characters who could fall under the umbrella of monk who are just like, hard hitting power fighters that don't go in for the mental side so much. Live a Live, which I mentioned earlier, has a very strength/power based kung fu master set up as the villain of the "Ancient China" chapter. They're not... generally WUXIA characters (except as designated losers), but that's because wuxia is all about imaginary fights and deconstructing styles. There's still a balance of those factors that comes into play even there though.

I resent this too :P

(I resent things too easily.)

Why shouldn't I wanna play the bad guy? Why shouldn't I want to play the guy from Kung Fu Hustle at the beginning of the movie, instead that him at the end of it?

A lot of the Wuxia talk in here is focused on protagonists, whereas sometimes I just wanna be the comedic but skilled sidekick, or the crazed hermit with the moves, or the bloodshot swarthy anarchist.

I don't always wanna be the state-sanctioned Ip Man.


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For all this talk of wuxia, I don't see a lot of talk about playing the hedonistic young master ("I, your father"). Let me play the monk as a hedonistic young master.


willuwontu wrote:
For all this talk of wuxia, I don't see a lot of talk about playing the hedonistic young master ("I, your father"). Let me play the monk as a hedonistic young master.

That's exactly my point. Forcing us into a single fantasy as part of the core of the class prevents us from exploring different narratives.

Regard Jojo's Bizarre Adventure. Part of its appeal is that many of its irreverent but talented protagonists never truly make a 180° and become one-with-everything (as is the case of the oft-mentioned Sun Wukong).

They grow in power and experience, but stick true to that uncouth core. They may learn a bit about the values of traditional heroes, but they apply them in ways that don't reform them from their past, but instead embrace it.

I am loathe to make specific examples due to spoilers, but I think Jojo is a great modern example of what tearing down traditional fantasies to allow for creative deconstruction can do to fuel new narratives.


I wasn't saying you shouldn't want to play the villain archetypes. I was using them as an example of less wis-based seeming characters in fiction to demonstrate that they exist, counter to what I'd just finished saying about the more esoteric characters, to suggest that you'd probably want a way to make that sort of character as well.

I mean, I just finished running an unarmed antagonist for my players (all level 16/MR 3) who was based entirely around punching things so hard they explode and having a really difficult defense to get through. He was UnMonk (Scaled Fist) 6, Fighter (Brawler) 8, UnRogue 4. It amused me that his weakest point was a low will save, because nobody even considered that.


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One idea I haven't seen mentioned, though I should say I like a bunch of the others in this thread, is by owning the MADness of the monk by making them masters of the attribute boosting system.

In the way fighters get more feats, rogues get more skills, alchemists get more resonance, monks should get more attribute boosts as a core part of their ideal is perfecting the body and mind. It makes them less reliant on equipment and makes the fact that they want so many stats high work for the class. It also helps achieve the possibility of high saves across the board in a more organic way.


So, what do I want from Monk?

This isn't quite for Monk, but something I do want is for other classes to do unarmed combat. They don't need to be supremely great at it, but I would like it to be a viable option. Of course, I want the Fighter to be able to be good at it, but I would also like the Barbarian to be able to rage punch, for example. Could be nice if the Rogue can do it too, they might want a weapon they can use in any (melee) situation.

Unarmed Clerics can be a thing too, for Clerics who don't want to have an obvious weapon on them. Maybe for Sorcerer/Wizard for when they can't or don't want to use spells for some reason?

All that said, what I do want Monks to be good at is using other weapons. Although not as well as the Fighter, I think the Monk should be adept at using all sorts of weapons if they choose to. In particular, swords, staffs, bows, and spears. Also improvised weapons(maybe a magic item that can give magic weapon bonuses to any weapon they can carry?)

Mystical aspects of Monks is important; I'd say it's basically the main thing that lets Monks stand out from the other classes, since the other class should also be able to go the unarmed/unarmoured route. I don't think it would be bad to give the Monk some control of the elements like in the Avatar series, although that's not something I'm too familiar with. What's important for me would be controlling the flow of ki, both in themselves and in others. Some healing ability would be good for this, both for self and being able to help others recover. Maybe can help with some status as well, like fatigue or nausea. Against foes, being able to disrupt their ki in order to cause such conditions sounds good to me.

In battle, I think Monks being able to focus on active defense could be a good idea. So, they can maybe stun and/or reposition foes, disarm them or otherwise make it more difficult for them to attack. Of course, they should also be able to charge in and attack well as well, but a focus on disruptive or active defense could help set them apart from other martial and martial-ish classes. While Rogues do what they can to open up the foes' defenses and exploit that, Monks can do what they can to soften their offense and maybe exploit that.

Just my general thoughts for now.


Wolfism wrote:

One idea I haven't seen mentioned, though I should say I like a bunch of the others in this thread, is by owning the MADness of the monk by making them masters of the attribute boosting system.

In the way fighters get more feats, rogues get more skills, alchemists get more resonance, monks should get more attribute boosts as a core part of their ideal is perfecting the body and mind. It makes them less reliant on equipment and makes the fact that they want so many stats high work for the class. It also helps achieve the possibility of high saves across the board in a more organic way.

I feel like I like this in theory. In practice, I'd probably need to study it a lot more. One of the chronic problems that monks have had is balancing magic items with the ability to eschew magic items and the associated cost with that. If there are no longer any ability score booster magic items, then this seems like a perfectly reasonable solution. But if there are such Items, I feel like I'd need to study it a lot more to determine that it neither invalidates the existance of such items, nor gains for free what other people have to pay a resource separate from xp for, nor is constrained by such WBL assumptions that make it more of a hassle to play than another such class.

That's a number of plates to juggle, and honestly, I'd like to see the solution that manages to juggle those plates, but I'm skeptical of any system's ability to juggle that many plates, especially when there are as many moving parts as pathfinder has.

Liberty's Edge

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Honestly, being MAD in PF2 is just not that big a deal. I mean, what do Monks need? Str, Dex, Wis, and a bit of Con? Every time you raise stats you raise four of them, so you can keep all of those relatively maxed out for your level fairly readily.

That does make a Monk's Int and Cha suffer a bit, so I certainly wouldn't object to increased stat-ups (one obvious way to do this is have them raise 5 stats every time they raise them rather than four), but it's hardly mechanically unworkable or anything.

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