Simple to use and effective style for Monk



i am basicly in charge of developing the monk character of my wife. First i had planned a very elaborate intimidate-centered build which would most likely have resulted in a s~+$load of dmg every turn... but well... all that dice rolling prove to be quite tedious in actual play (we have 6 player characters and we really should try to keep the turns fast).

Anyway - its a STR based build with 18/14/13/10/18/6, which means she is a bit behin in defence, and i was wondering which style might be able to use without too much hassle and effective to play.

I had taken 2 styles into consideration:

Crane-Style - basicly a lot of defense to offset the lack in DEX
Jabbing-Style - deal a s&*#-ton of extra damage, when attacking a single opponent

What do you think? Are those viable? Or is there another style that works even better (i had also considered Panther Style and Dragon Style, but ultimately they didnt cut it).

I had Panther Parry and Crane Riposte on a Swashbuckler I built, and the two styles proved effective together. I had a host of other silly things going on with that build besides fusing styles, but I feel they meshed well for how I used them.

Variel was a Long Limbed Elf, so he started with a 35' land speed. He was only in Monk (Kata Master/MoMS) long enough for one installment of Fast Movement, but 45' was enough for him to waltz around the battlefield absorbing AoO from the enemies (and throat-punching them in return).

He also had the Swashbuckler's Parry & Riposte Deed... so anytime someone FINALLY landed an attack, he would deflect it an stab them for their efforts. And I say "finally", because that -2 from the throat punch really messed up a lot those AoO he was out there collecting.

Now, that doesn't really help your wife any, but hopefully it does somewhat highlight the synergy between those two styles.

Spear Dancing Style and Stick Fighting Style might be better, though.

You are quite right, that doesnt help at all...

also i wonder, what "throat punch" might be... and that build sure needs a lot of feats (9 feats for the style feats alone - even with your 4 bonus feats, thats quite a lot).

"Throat punch" is the Unarmed Strike allowed by Panther Parry before the enemy's AoO caused by your movement... so you casually walk up to them, they attack with an AoO due to your movement, but BEFORE that AoO occurs, you get to punch them. If you hit them before their AoO, they take a -2 to their attack. Throat punch.

VoodistMonk wrote:
"Throat punch" is the Unarmed Strike allowed by Panther Parry before the enemy's AoO caused by your movement...

Ah ok :-) so you just made up a name for that... i see.^^

St0nemender wrote:
VoodistMonk wrote:
"Throat punch" is the Unarmed Strike allowed by Panther Parry before the enemy's AoO caused by your movement...
Ah ok :-) so you just made up a name for that... i see.^^

Yeah, sorry, totally non-Paizo term there.

Silver Crusade

Dragon style is the simplest, and probably the best style for Strength based monks Far superior to Jabbing style for extra damage. Other styles that work well with "damage monks".

-Pummeling style
-Crane style(pre errata, post errata its trash)
-spear dancing style is interesting if you want to use a weapon
-Snake style is a good defensive option

Ascetic style and Stick Fighting Style
And dirty tricks

The Exchange

Without too much hassle:

-Crane Style (just the first feat): +4 to AC for -2 to hit. Very simple to use.
-Pummeling Style (and Pummeling Charge): Good damage, straightforward
-Pummeling Style, Pummeling Charge, and Dragon Style: If you are able to be in two styles at once this combo gives you the ability to almost always full-attack.

There's some other styles that I think are "better" but the ones above slow down the game the least while still being useful.

What about a style-less monk? Power Attack, Iron Will, Dodge, etc? It doesn't feel as martial arts-y, but it also doesn't bring in a ton of additional mini-systems and situational/exceptional rules.

Mathematically, I think you start off being better than a lot of styles, then fall a little behind in the mid-levels, but still remain fairly flexible.

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Before anything, you probably should decide on whether you want to use a weapon or not. UnMonk is proficient with every weapon with the monk special property, so there're plenty of choices. Upsided of weapons compared to unarmed are cheaper enchantment cost, the ability to use them two-handed for both 1.5xStr (that was changed from cMonk) and 3:1 Power Attack ration, the ability to have reach (only beneficial during early levels), and the ability to have different damage types. The downsides are that you can't use the bonus attack from spending ki, or style strikes, with weapons (unless you have the Ascetic Form feat, see below for more on that). That doesn't mean armed builds can't use them, though - they can use an unarmed strike (usually the bonus attack from ki pool) to make the style strike and attack with the weapon the other attacks, which is something especially worthwhile for Flying Kick.

Unlike cMonk, UnMonk is a fully functional class without archetypes, but there are some that are worth looking at:
Invested Regent replaces the first bonus feat to grant you additional spell-like abilities in place of feats (bonus or regular); your pool won't be overly large but some of these SLAs are rather nice (most notably Air Walk at 10th level, which alone makes this archetype very potent).
Perfect Scolar replaces Still Mind and the 4th level ki power with a bonus to knowledges and a more-cute-than-relevant accuracy boost.
Soul Sheperd replaces Stunning Fist and Evasion with DR and resistances.
Windstep Master replaces the 4th level ki power with the ability to walk on air. Already pretty nice, especially when you don't plan on taking Empty Body early on, it gets to almost must-take levels if your GM allows you to make Flying Kicks while in the air (RAW is very unclear, but they are called "flying" kicks after all!).

Feats: Apart from the archetype, your most important choice is probably going to be which style chain/VMC you use.
The "normal" paths would be Ascetic Style, Dragon Style, Jabbing Style, Pummeling Style, VMC Barbarian, VMC Magus, or using none of the above. Apart from Dragon Style, they all also work with Weapon Finesse, although VMC Barbarian only if you take unchained Barbarian as a base. There is no single best playstyle for unMonk throughout all levels, if you're interested in damage comparisons, check my unMonk DPR calculator for exact numbers throughout levels 1-16.
The easiest method is Styleless, i.e. not using any style feat chain at all and instead grabbing assorted feats like Power Attack and Possessed Hand - it's not much weaker (at some early levels even stronger) than other styles and allows greater flexibility. Also has the advantage of not needing a swift action to enter a style, which can be relevant in surprise fights. Armed or unarmed.
Ascetic Style (up to Ascetic Form) is something like the default style for armed - it's not exactly necessary, but it is much smoother (and more flavorful) than weapon based styleless, and it's also pretty much top dog for damage. You basically get all the goodies of both armed and unarmed (including ki pool's DR penetration ability, and even the scaling damage), for the cost of a few feats. Armed only.
Dragon Style (up to Dragon Ferocity) is something like the default style for unarmed - low investment (only two feats) and comes online very early (3rd level). Unarmed only.
Pummeling Style (up to Pummeling Charge) is a possibility if you want more maneuverability, especially on open battlefields. You'd use your early feats on singular feats like Power Attack, and the build in DR penetration is nice, but your style only really comes online at 9th level. It does, however, free up style strikes even if you have to move. Unarmed only.
Jabbing Style (up to Jabbing Master) depends a bit on the enemies - the higher the AC, the weaker it is, while target switches aren't helpful either. Also needs four feats and only becomes good at 9th, but can do a lot of damage and has some added mobility. Note that against tougher enemies, you don't want to use Power Attack. Unarmed only.
VMC Barbarian takes even more feats (every other feat, plus you probably want Extra Rage) and lowers your AC, but it comes online early (3rd level), and has some nice additional benefits (well, it's Rage), including a Rage Power at 11th level. Like Styleless it has the advantage of not needing a swift action at the start of combat to get ready. Armed or unarmed.
VMC Magus takes at least as many feats (you definitely want Extra Arcana, as the Magus Arcana you get at 7th level will be Ki Arcana), comes partially online at 3rd level, but becomes pretty crazy at 10th level, when you can basically make every attack against touch AC by (ab)using Accurate Strike and the Ki Leech ki power. Touch attacks sadly can't profit from Power Attack, and the swift action is already used and thus isn't aviable for the bonus ki attack, but the damage is still very high, and you could add Flamboyant Arcana for a defense boost via OP&R. Armed or unarmed.

Jabbing Style and Pummeling Style don't actually require you to be in their stance to work, meaning you don't need a swift action to activate them and you can use them alongside other style feats. You wouldn't get to use the followup feats (those always require an active stance), both these two can be tacked onto basically everything.

Bonus Feats: The stand out ones are Dodge, Deflect Arrows, and Medusa's Wrath, plus depending on campaign, build, and allies, Mobility and Combat Expertise. Improved Critical is the only one to directly increase your damage, but it's really weak at that.

Style Strikes: Your first or second style strike will be Flying Kick, period (the only exception would be Pummeling Charge builds, and even than Flying Kick can be useful). It takes a while to be really good, especially when adventuring in open spaces, which is why selecting it at 9th level can be okay, but this is the main reason unMonk is so much better than cMonk.
Defensive Spin boosts AC, Elbow Smash boosts damage (it's usually the best style strike for that).
Foot Stomp prevents escape; including 5-feet-steps.

Ki Powers: There are too many ki powers to list all the good ones, and a lot of it depends on your build. Notable standouts:
Empty Body is aviable at 4th level (yes, really!), and grants amazing versatility, especially outfight, to a class very much lacking just that. Rather ki hungry early on, but flight, invisibility, and intangibility is awesome.
Barkskin grants some very welcomed AC boost, and is all but mandatory when using an AoMF (which prevents you from using an Amulet of Natural Armor).
Placebo Effect can surpress most conditions from yourself or allies.
Restoration removes all ability damage or drain and even negative levels. Self-only, but you get to ignore the material component cost.
Freedom of Movement is a swift action to use, and it's a supernatural ability, meaning you can have it active exactly when you need it to.
Insightful Wisdom doesn't help yourself, but can easily save party members.
Ki Leech costs no ki to activate, meaning it can be sustained indefinitely, and should remove all ki problems.
Dust Form is amazing for defense, as it makes you immune against non-magical damage, only take half magical damage, and be affected only half the time by non-damage spells.
Diamond Soul is better than the cMonk's permanent version, as you can activate it after getting buffed by your party.
Action Before Thought (6th) starts weak, but becomes very interesting in combination with Ki Leech.

Equipment: At early levels, you'll probably want to use one of the three monk reach weapons, Double-chained Kama, Kusarigama, and Kyoketsu shoge. All are weird, but Kusarigama and Kyoketsu shoge also have two different damage types. Since Flying Kick requires you to end adjacent to the enemy, you'll want to use a non-reach weapon later on, Sansetsukon or Seven-branched Sword have the highest base damage (Sansetsukon is slightly superior because 19-20/x2 is better than 20/x3). If you prefer, you can just want to start with one of the, dealing more damage early on for losing the usual benefits of reach (AoOs and higher chance of full attacking). It's possible to flurry with any melee weapon by using the Versatile Design weapon modification and Ascetic Form, but you need to spend a feat or two on proficiency, and mechanically, it's usually not worth it. For unarmed, there's two ways to "enchant" unarmed strikes, both with weaknesses. handwraps come at regular cost, but you won't be getting the bonus on some style strikes, while Amulet of Mighty Fists affect all unarmed strikes but cost twice as much (and also blocks your neck slot, so you'd really want the Barkskin ki power). Mathematically, using handwraps is better for most levels even during turns in which you use flying kick, but you have to deal with different attack and damage rolls, and while flying kick is about the movement, Foot Stomp and Leg Sweep mainly care about hitting, making an AoMF better if you chose to use those.
Weapon Finesse based builds can go either unarmed, or use weapons, the best ones are Sanpkhang and Cestus. If not using Ascetic Style, the best weapon is Waveblade.
Something of a 'must have' item is a Wand of Mage Armor, handed to an arcane caster of your choice. You can be generous with the charges, as your caster buddy should have 1st level spell slots to spare by the time you've used them all. Unarmed build should also buy a Scizore, which is a weapon (you don't need to care about proficiency since you never attack with it) that grants a +1 shield bonus to AC when worn. Not an actual shield so it can't be enchanted, but it doesn't hamper your Monk abilities like a shield would.

Multiclassing: Multiclassing is, of course, possible. UnMonk does gain quite a lot from staying in class, though - bonus attack at 11th level, ki powers that can be very strong (like Ki Leech at 10th level), and style strikes/improved Flying Kick range. A dip into Bloodrager would be okay, but I wouldn't recommend lowering your accuracy by dipping into a non-full-BAB class.


St0nemender wrote:
all that dice rolling prove to be quite tedious in actual play (we have 6 player characters and we really should try to keep the turns fast).

For that, I recommend using cheat sheets. What I'm using is basically a condensed version of the character sheet, without the irrelevant full calculations, but with multiple entries for things such as attack rolls, for different combinaiton of situational bonuses. Here are some examples. The first two are the standard version, fitting a single a4 sheet and containing everything needed for a session (except spell preperation, for that I suggest using spell cards), while the third one is what I made for some pregen characters showing text for all abilities, so one doesn't even need to remember anything but general rules; my players liked it so much they keep updating their sheets.

I would advise every player to create such cheat sheets, they make gameplay so much smoother and quicker you won't believe it. Calculating the currently valid attack roll(s) every round is probably the biggest time waste during combat.

Sovereign Court

My favorite 'style' is a Dex-based Intrepid Rescuer with a (at least) 2 level dip in Eldritch Guardian while both you and your familiar are prone.

very simple, very quick, good solid hit

Martial Artist 5, Barbarian whatever

Furious Finish, Vital Strike, Dragon Style, Dragon Strike

one attack roll, lots of damage, immune to fatigue, rage cycle

Thanks a lot @Darklord - that is way more than i was hoping for, but it gives me a solid base for developing that char :-)

We will go for unarmed with dragon style - while weapons may be more effective - the whole group is more RP-centered anyway so, style matters...^^

If you go with ScaledFist Monk, or UnMonk... obviously swapping Wisdom and Charisma scores... consider starting with a dip into Eldritch Scrapper Sorcerer (just a one level dip, just for Will saves, a spell, and Martial Flexibility)... then Dragon Disciple is an option. Which could be cool, more for the roleplaying aspect than any sort of power optimization. You could essentially ignore the spellcasting, but it's not going to hurt anything having it.

Starting with Sorcerer allows 5 ranks in Know Arcana for earlier access to DD. With a good Strength, Martial Flexibility, and a Longspear... level 1 should be a breeze. Charisma seems to open up more RP opportunities for a character, anyways. And sprinkling in DD levels here and there makes the character interesting.

4 levels of DD gives you +2 natural armor, +3 CL, +3 BAB, +4 Strength, a Bloodline feat, a bite attack, a breath weapon... and it can be made up for with Monk's Robes.

1. Eldritch Scrapper
2-7. ScaledFist UnMonk
8-11. Dragon Disciple
12+... ScaledFist (maybe sprinkle in more DD if desired)

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