Monk Legendary Unarmed Strikes (How?)


Rules Discussion


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I'm about to play my first PF2 game (yay!), and as a monk (this girl!)... but I'm looking down the road, possibly at levels I'll never see in-game, but I like to plan for the long game anyway.

So I noticed that (Greater) Weapon Specialization adds 4 (or 8) damage if my Inarmed Strikes are legendary. This is under "Monk Details," which leads me to believe the Monk can somehow obtain legendary kicks. Only, the monk seems to max out at master at Lv.13.

So is it at all possible to increase a Monk's skill in unarmed strikes, even if not through her own class abilities?

I'm just curious, since there are Monk abilities that seem to imply there's a way to obtain legendary unarmed strikes. Is there (a non-houseruly way)?


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There isn’t a way for monks to get legendary unarmed proficiency right now, but that language got put in there just in case the developers decided to include a way in a later book.

It’s future-proofing, essentially.


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No, that language seems to be universal across all classes and implies they are just future proofing for later. Monks don't get legendary in unarmed strikes, and get other goodies instead.

It's not impossible that they might make a class archetype down the line that lets you trade those other goodies for legendary in unarmed strikes, see.


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It is not yet possible. It is conceivable that a future archetype (like Student of Perfection perhaps) might make it possible.


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Of course a monk with Dragon Stance @ Lv.1 gets immediate answers from dragons (and a possible answer from health food)! Thanks!

Yeah, I was kinda wondering if there would be an item that only unarmed masters can wear, like the Bruce/Chun-Li Black Belt of Legendary Punch/Kicks or whatever.

I would have liked a trade-off, like expert in unarmed at lv.1 as an option if you vow never to use a weapon. Maybe not a “vow” because if you throw a beer bottle at someone deserving, you un-monk yourself. But more like you remain untrained in simple weapons and can’t train in monk weapons in exchange for being one step better in unarmed.

To be fair, my own clumsy phrasing is probably why that option doesn’t exist. It’s admittedly easier to just say, “oh it’s only 2 points. Master is good enough; whiny monk players can wear a belt that only works for monks.”

If any devs are reading this, make that beads, not a belt. By Lv.13, all us whiny monks will have +STR belts to compensate for the 2 points of punchy-kickiness we feel entitled to.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Or maybe the monk unarmed attack proficiencies will be upgraded or errataed up a step (here's hoping).


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Monk already breaks the curve a little bit with proficiencies, as it is one of the 3 classes that gets legendary in an attack or a defense (and gets master in the other category - like the fighter and champion) and also manages LME saves, something otherwise only available to the martials who don't get legendary attack/defense. So giving monks legendary unarmed could pose a problem with monks getting the highest number in everything that matters.

I wonder, would a monk class archetype which trades "legendary unarmored defense" for "legendary unarmed attack" be reasonable?


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Note that master in unarmed strikes makes a Monk as good at punching things as a Barbarian is at hitting things with a greatsword. You aren't behind the curve for not getting legendary, it's just that the Fighter is ahead of the curve.


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By no means is it the end of the world. I actually *like* some of the monk nerfing, such as fists outdamaging weapons and dragon style giving the two-hander strength bonus to punches and kicks. Honestly, that's what helped me choose monk over other ideas I had.

That and ki being optional. I don't wanna keep track of a ki pool. I just wanna kick badguys.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Wait... why are you expecting that everyone would have a level 17 belt by level 13?

Liberty's Edge

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You currently cannot, as others have stated, much to my displeasure.

It makes NO SENSE that Fighter is more proficient with Unarmed Attacks than a Monk.

Someone high up in the ranks at Paizo either really hates Monk or simply doesn't care enough to pay attention to the details. In no universe should a warrior trained for his whole life to fight using his body fall behind doing something they are 95% focused on to someone who spends THEIR whole life mastering combat in heavy armor with shiny magic weapons.

Also, before someone goes all "It's for balance reasons!" on me, I find that to be a nonsense argument, the mechanics of the class should have been tweaked around Legendary in Unarmed to fit the fluff if the "math" was a problem.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

It doesn't bother me much, since no one gets to legendary proficiency in both their weapons and their armor. I would like to see a way for monks to decide whether to get legendary unarmored and master unarmed, or master unarmored and legendary unarmed, though.


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17's fine. I'm not expecting anything, but was just curious (as stated in OP).

I'm not complaining either, in case I may have come off that way. I love the simplicity of the new PF, the short list of feats, not rolling for stats and having that be the default system so we don't have all those point-buys and half-HD work-arounds.

And it's even worth being awesome in a background skill! My Shelyn-worshipping monk-actress is going to have perform feats, and I can do this and still get all of the game's acrobatic and athletic feats by Lv.20!

Really, my hope is that Paizo doesn't upgrade existing classes, and instead makes class-specific items to add to the game. I want to play this character to Lv.20, and not being able to advance her unarmed strikes beyond Master doesn't ruin the experience for me.


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Themetricsystem wrote:
Someone high up in the ranks at Paizo either really hates Monk

I don't really see how we jump to this conclusion.


Monk is meant to be an agile combatant.

Move in, Flurry, move out. You get two attacks, and the enemy either gets two and is now in range of your allies or drawn away from theirs... or they only get one to your two to retreat back to their lines. Or you can move to flank someone, flurry, then move to help an ally against another target.

OR, Assurance on Athletics. Flurry, Athletics-based attack.

So, their real prize is their skill at unarmored - which DOES go to legendary. They're the mobile hard-to-hits. That's their real power. (I made the mistake of an STR build in the playtest)

So, no legendary melee. That is a bummer, but Legendary melee is Fighter's thing. But it's not their focus; their focus is their defenses and mobility.

So, I don't think that's possible. I haven't read archetypes as well as I could, but I think they had Figther VMC Monk in mind for the "if Legendary" clauses.


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Literally the only thing being Legendary in a weapon type means is that you're more accurate than average with it. Fighters don't get the stance-based unarmed strikes and are stuck with the basic one, Fighters generally can't use unarmed strikes with their feats because they don't count as weapons.

To claim Fighters are "better at unarmed strikes" because they get +2 to their attack rolls is to ignore most of the mechanics of the game. A Fighter needs serious work to function with unarmed strikes (which will almost certainly include multiclassing into Monk), they are no threat to the Monk's supremacy with fists.


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Well, I mean, I can’t buy the fighter argument. The monk’s thing is unarmed combat. In fact, I love not having ki magic forced upon me.

But anyway, I’m overall happy with the class and the system, and I wouldn’t pick fighter over monk for an extra +2... I’m *really* happy with the whirling throw. Also, I don’t see STR as a mistake. High STR and legendary athletics should pay off if you take the maneuver path. (I love getting grapple, trip and shove all at once!)


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High STR was a bad idea in the playtest, but that issue has been completely resolved with the advent of Mountain Stance. No need to worry about uncompetitive AC if you decide you want a low dex character.


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Themetricsystem wrote:
It makes NO SENSE that Fighter is more proficient with Unarmed Attacks than a Monk.

Nonetheless- this was also true in PF1. A fighter with gloves of dueling, greater weapon focus, and weapon training + 4 in the close group is +7 ahead of the unchained monk in accuracy. At least now it's only +2.

Dark Archive

The Monk Catchers up to the fighter at Level 5 ,expert unarmed and passes them at level 13 Master unarmed.


Smoak Shadow wrote:
The Monk Catchers up to the fighter at Level 5 ,expert unarmed and passes them at level 13 Master unarmed.

Not quite true. Unarmed proficiency increases when Simple weapons do. So the progression is basically (unless the fighter decides to specialize in brawling weapons which is probably a bad idea):

1st - fighter expert, monk trained.
5th - fighter expert, monk expert.
13th - fighter master, monk master.
19th - fighter legendary, monk master.

So in pure proficiency, the fighter is ahead at 1st through 4th level, and at 19th and 20th level. The monk has other advantages when fighting unarmed however, so I don't see that as too much of a problem.


Smoak Shadow wrote:
The Monk Catchers up to the fighter at Level 5 ,expert unarmed and passes them at level 13 Master unarmed.

The errata hasn't been posted yet, but the developers announced that Unarmed Proficiency was supposed to progress with Simple Weapons (or class weapons for Wizards). For a graphical display that includes this errata, here are my Weapon Proficiency tables.

Side Note: Here are my Armor Proficiency tables.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

What about Fighter with Monk MC ?


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Legendary weapons is basically a fighter class features in 2e; I will be very surprised if other classes get it outside of very narrow edge cases (and I don't mean "just one weapon", because for most characters legendary in one weapon is just as good as every weapon).

However, I have to admit, a monk archetype that is legendary in unarmed and master in defense is the first idea I've heard that I think could happen.

Such a character would be pretty glass cannon, though, especially if they don't go the Dex route...

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