Monk on Monk action :)


Advice


Okay, so I have this Monk PC whose teacher has said "once you can beat me in single combat, I have a quest for you".

My concern is - how do I make this into something else than two mostly-identical stat blocks pummeling each other into the ground?

The player character just reached level 5, the level I have pegged for my NPC teacher.

Since we don't have official NPC stat blocks (even if we did, what are the chances of getting a level 5 "sensei"?), I would like to ask for your help.

The easiest solution would of course be for there to be a perfect match among the monster stat blocks for a "monk-y" NPC. But I do have the Pathbuilder app, since I likely have to build the NPC myself...

What main Monk builds are there for me to choose between?

I don't have the PC's character sheet. I do know she's using Stunning Strike and Wolf Stance, so ideally you'll show me a different style of PF2 Monk. Or two.

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A related question. I assume the potentially interesting choice when to switch from lethal to non-lethal damage is a non-issue since it's Monks we're talking about?

That is, a Fighter that doesn't want to kill his teacher needs to decide when to switch to -2 attacks. Too soon, and you'll give yourself a handicap. Too late, and... well.

But if I understand it correctly a feature of being trained in Unarmed is that you don't get any -2 penalty, and thus can choose freely whether you deal lethal or non-lethal damage?


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For me, a Sensei is not someone in optimal fighting condition, but with great knowledge and a lot of tactical moves. Having a basic monk unarmed fight would always see the victory of the young against the old.
So, instead of having the Sensei deal as much damage as the player, I would give him tons of special maneuvers using the weaknesses of his opponent. For example, if your player makes a critical failure on an attack roll, the Sensei can trip him for free. Instead of using a classical Stunning Fist, the Sensei could be able to choose the save he is targeting. I would create a very tactical fight full of complex reactions that the player has to learn to avoid. It will also make the fight very tough in the beginning, while the player learns the special moves, and slowly easier and easier, to give this feeling of hard earned victory that such a fight should have.

Sovereign Court

Yeah I think a good outcome of the fight is that the player feels that his younger character is now skilled enough that his superior physique together with his adequate technique, are now a real challenge for the superior technique but aged physique of the master.

So yeah, the master should have some extra tricks that will surprise the player (and that he might learn some day), but have lower overall numbers.

And yeah, the whole fight could (and probably should) be done nonlethally.


How taking that idea a little further and making an alternative version to Stunning Fist, that instead of stunned, the opponent makes a save vs Disarm, Grapple, Shove, or Trip. (Fort or Reflex depending on the action)

And if you design a map that's a little more interesting, those Shoves can be rather entertaining...


Thank you for your ideas, but I was rather hoping for specific build advice.

That is, either suggestions for feat combos (from the CRB) or suggestions on kewl monk-like moves from PF1 monk-like monsters.

My hope would be to recreate the feeling of fighting a unique monster, rather than a PC of your own class (with pretty much the exact same moves), leading to the dull notion of "it's just a matter of who loses its hit points first".

So any ideas for moves or stances that have figured in Pathfinder lore but perhaps was deemed too strong or weird to include in the CRB would be great :)

PS. I used "sensei" in the term "teacher", not "pensioner". She's not that old, she's Jabyl Sorn of Sandpoint's House of Blue Stones. (She's Monk4 there, Monk 5 here)

Wayfinders

Zapp wrote:

My hope would be to recreate the feeling of fighting a unique monster, rather than a PC of your own class (with pretty much the exact same moves), leading to the dull notion of "it's just a matter of who loses its hit points first".

Honestly, it seems to me SuperBidi's advice directly addressed this. I rather liked his suggestion of creating a "monster" with special effects and triggers over just building another monk.


Claudius16309 wrote:
Zapp wrote:

My hope would be to recreate the feeling of fighting a unique monster, rather than a PC of your own class (with pretty much the exact same moves), leading to the dull notion of "it's just a matter of who loses its hit points first".

Honestly, it seems to me SuperBidi's advice directly addressed this. I rather liked his suggestion of creating a "monster" with special effects and triggers over just building another monk.

Absolutely.

But he didn't actually provide any specific abilities or values. He would create "a very tactical fight full of complex reactions". I don't know what that means.

Normally, I would presume a one on one combat would mean the player makes her best strikes, over and over again, hoping to defeat the NPC before running out of hit points.

Do you have any suggestions on how to write a "monster" that encourages a more involved approach?


Unarmed is nonlethal by default, and monks can make it lethal with no penalty.


Zapp wrote:

Do you have any suggestions on how to write a "monster" that encourages a more involved approach?

You could give them abilities that capitalize on missing, like a reaction that allows them to make a strike or other attack if an attack against them critically fails, a la the Fighter Feat "Dueling Riposte." That by itself incentivizes a more measured approach to make each strike as effective as it can be instead of brute-forcing it.

Give them a high athletics score and make good use of tripping and grappling, forcing the PC to use actions to counter them.

If you were feeling really adventurous, you could give them 2 custom styles, maybe one based on maneuver control and the other focused on defense, for example, and maybe an ability to switch from one to the other with an extra effect. That would make for a really interesting fight, I think.


Maybe I need to explain I'm looking for ready-made already-built actions/abilities, complete with numbers appropriate for a level 5 monk teacher NPC.

Or at the very least "look at monster X and its ABC action but lower its attack bonus to +Y"

Best Regards,


I think that if you're only using pre-existing abilities, you won't be able to create a monster according to your specifications. Monster design in 2E basically comes down to two steps:
1) Generate stats based on level, weaknesses and strengths.
2) Give the monster some number of abilities (usually 2-5, depending on level and role). These abilities can be either pre-existing ones or ones you create yourself.

The monster you're trying to create is fairly atypical since it's supposed to be designed for 1v1 combat. Just using abilities from the bestiary and CRB is a very big limitation in this case.


Okay, so what I am asking for is

1) advice on building a Monk NPC that feels as different from the PC described as possible; meaning specific build choices; concrete advice
2) any suggestions for "monk-like" monster/NPC stats that I could use to give my NPC a unique fighting style

As a possible third point
3) illustrate - with an example - things I don't understand, like "custom styles, maybe one based on maneuver control" or "create a very tactical fight full of complex reactions" or which actions the PC needs to "counter" attempts at grappling or tripping? (I don't understand how you "counter" a trip. I mean if you're tripped, your recourse is basically to stand back up again? What am I missing here?)

Scarab Sages

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Here's how I would do it:

Create an arena with a lot of 5 to 10 foot platforms.

Give your sensei decent dex and con, but only 12 or so strength

Give them monastic weaponry at 1st so they can flurry with a bo staff, which can do reached trip.

Have them take dancing leaf at 2nd so they can easily jump on the platforms at will, being able to attack with reach, but causing the player to have to chase them.

Give them flurry of maneuvers at 4th so they can trip+attack each turn with one action and reach or mix up maneuvers close range before running away again.

Quick Jump would be a good skill feat to make the leaps one action instead of 2.

Your NPC monk will play vastly different from the PC and the PC will spend most of their actions chasing the NPC without it being likely that a ton of damage will end the fight too soon.


Zapp wrote:
3) illustrate - with an example - things I don't understand, like "custom styles, maybe one based on maneuver control" or "create a very tactical fight full of complex reactions" or which actions the PC needs to "counter" attempts at grappling or tripping? (I don't understand how you "counter" a trip. I mean if you're tripped, your recourse is basically to stand back up again? What am I missing here?)

Well considering the maneuvers are the attacker using their athletics vs the defenders fort/reflex dc, with a crit failure leading to it backfiring.

I was just suggesting looking at stunning fist, Stunned, which is an arguably stronger debuff, because losing an action to shove or trip can be either countered with Kip Up or just handled in a different fashion, Stunned is Stunned and Stunned 3 is nasty AF, and it can be achieved whilst causing damage to the opponent without as crit failure result.

So if you were to say make the defender save vs the Disarm (Reflex), Grapple (Fort), Shove (Fort), or Trip (Reflex), it would be nerfing the power of stunning fist, but giving it flexibility, and not have it backfire.

And if the map to get to your Sensei's favourite meditation spot just happens to have lots of 10ft+ drops (which the character might have to climb), spikey bushes, etc, you would give the player a method to defend against a large portion of the Sensei's damage, and a method where the player can fail by relying only on dice rolls.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I really like Kios' advice. That's well thought out and ought to leverage a lot of what makes PF2 great!

I’ll add one more idea.. maybe “beat me in a fight” doesn’t mean “knock me out.”

Maybe the sensei carries a talisman, and challenges the PC to take it out of their hand?


I wonder if maybe Mountain Stance and its feats might help. Slightly different, and even justify an elder monk that doesn't move much. Although the platforms and pokeypole idea from earlier is neat too.


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Kios wrote:

Here's how I would do it:

Create an arena with a lot of 5 to 10 foot platforms.

Give your sensei decent dex and con, but only 12 or so strength

Give them monastic weaponry at 1st so they can flurry with a bo staff, which can do reached trip.

Have them take dancing leaf at 2nd so they can easily jump on the platforms at will, being able to attack with reach, but causing the player to have to chase them.

Give them flurry of maneuvers at 4th so they can trip+attack each turn with one action and reach or mix up maneuvers close range before running away again.

Quick Jump would be a good skill feat to make the leaps one action instead of 2.

Your NPC monk will play vastly different from the PC and the PC will spend most of their actions chasing the NPC without it being likely that a ton of damage will end the fight too soon.

So the idea is that the PC student spends one action standing up, one action closing in, and only one action attacking.

And from the NPCs POV, any time the PC fails to make its climb/balance check, she can still use reach to attack, and possibly trip. Repeat.

I like how you try to use existing rules to create something that could have come out of Hidden Dragon Crouching Tiger. Interesting. Thank you.


Parduss wrote:

I was just suggesting looking at stunning fist, Stunned, which is an arguably stronger debuff, because losing an action to shove or trip can be either countered with Kip Up or just handled in a different fashion, Stunned is Stunned and Stunned 3 is nasty AF, and it can be achieved whilst causing damage to the opponent without as crit failure result.

So if you were to say make the defender save vs the Disarm (Reflex), Grapple (Fort), Shove (Fort), or Trip (Reflex), it would be nerfing the power of stunning fist, but giving it flexibility, and not have it backfire.

And if the map to get to your Sensei's favourite meditation spot just happens to have lots of 10ft+ drops (which the character might have to climb), spikey bushes, etc, you would give the player a method to defend against a large portion of the Sensei's damage, and a method where the player can fail by relying only on dice rolls.

Well..

First off Kip Up is 7th level no neither master nor student has access to it.

The student PC does have stunning strike. It would have been worthless had she made an attempt while lower level. Conversely, giving it to the master at that time would have felt grossly unfair, since the master's stunning strike would have worked while the student's would not. Now they're both the same level (5th), so thankfully the crude restriction on Incapacitation effects is temporarily nullified. But my main reason for not giving it to the master is that I would like to avoid a symmetrical fight. I want the combatants to feel as different as is possible for two characters of the same class :)


Qaianna wrote:
I wonder if maybe Mountain Stance and its feats might help. Slightly different, and even justify an elder monk that doesn't move much. Although the platforms and pokeypole idea from earlier is neat too.

Generally defensive abilities mostly serve to draw out the combat, making it take longer.

Defensive abilities are great for a player character, don't get me wrong; but that's in the context of group dynamics. It's quite okay for one PC to go on defensive, to tank the enemy.

In a one-on-one duel not so much: sure, it's theoretically interesting which wins out: maximizing your outgoing damage, or minimizing your incoming damage. But as the GM I'm supposed to entertain, and I'm already aware the other players need to sit on their hands while this duel takes place - I really don't want to drag it out by Jabyl denying the player his character's actions or negating her damage.

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