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D&D 3E
Good Monk Build? 
8th-Sep-2008 05:16 pm
Good Monk Build?

In my game, my girlfriend is playing a monk, she's already 4th level but we're using the retraining optional rule from the ph2, so that's not a big deal.

The killer thing is her stats. We did point buy, and her lack of int and dex makes her unable to take some feats that would other wise kick ass.

stats(15,10,12,8,16,8)

(She hasn't distributed her +1 stats bonus for being 4th level yet.)


For feats right now she has Imporved Init (1st) and versatile strike (3rd)

Anyone know of anything she should take or any ideas for what prestige class she should do?

She plans on grabbing a level of fighter for the feat and d10 (naming it as her half-elven favored class) at some point, and putting her 4th level ability point into str.

I suggested taking wild talent and bulking up on psionics.

Any ideas?
Comments 
8th-Sep-2008 09:34 pm (UTC)
Unless you're using some special house rules or the Monastic Training feat from ECS, that fighter level will keep her from returning to monk.
8th-Sep-2008 09:35 pm (UTC)
Actually Oriental Adventures is what let's the monk leave monk and return, I believe.

Good point though.

Yea, that's a pretty dumb rule, monk's are hindered enough I think. Even if there is no optional rule somewhere for it, I would allow it.
8th-Sep-2008 09:51 pm (UTC)
I would agree with putting the point in Str, I'm always a fan of rounding out my odd-numbers with my stat boosts. For a fighter feat, why not Weapon Focus?
8th-Sep-2008 09:53 pm (UTC)
that's a good choice. we are also thinking about the power atk feat tree.

Also: dex 13 would let her start the dodge feat tree.
8th-Sep-2008 10:16 pm (UTC)
Aha, Dodge! Ignore my question below about Dex feats. :-)

Also agree about Str.

Power Attack doesn't really work for monks...and can you *do* that with a natural weapon? Maybe you can.

I think it's reasonable to prevent monks (and paladins) from double-dipping. They can get crazy broken with enough multiclassing. (It's why barbarians are nonlawful and monks are lawful: a multiclassed barbarian/monk would be unstoppable.)
8th-Sep-2008 11:20 pm (UTC)
A Monk/Barbarian would probably be a little better than a single-classed Monk, probably a little worse than a single-classed Barbarian, and definitely a lot worse than a single-classed Wizard, Cleric, Druid, Rogue, Sorcerer and most other things.
9th-Sep-2008 12:23 am (UTC)
Yeah, you're probably right. The game in which this issue came up was gestalt, and that's something else entirely. (I forgot that point.)
9th-Sep-2008 02:27 am (UTC)
Isnt there a problem with the Lawfull/ Chaotic thingy?
9th-Sep-2008 02:39 am (UTC)
Right. quote: (It's why barbarians are nonlawful and monks are lawful: a multiclassed barbarian/monk would be unstoppable.)

But in a theoretical sense, if there weren't those alignment restrictions, a gestalt barbarian/monk would be insane.
9th-Sep-2008 04:28 am (UTC)
Sure, but there shouldn't be. There's no reason either from a rules balance perspective or from a fluff one. It's the first thing to go whenever I DM.
9th-Sep-2008 11:06 am (UTC)
a monk needs order and balance, it is the essence of martial arts. A barbarian, because of his rage fighting style, cannot be lawful becausehis emotions are simply too hard to control to fit into a set of rule and boundaries. Makes sense to me.

however, if they're paying a drunken master or a brawler type type character (as opposed to an eastern monk) then sure. Lawful makes no sense.
9th-Sep-2008 11:18 am (UTC)
So why have the rule if you can think of exceptions to it? If I can envisage a Monk who rebels against existing order (and there are thousands of examples of this in literature and art) then why shouldn't I be allowed to play one? Likewise, if I can imagine a a Barbarian who follows the laws and conventions of his home town, why should the rules prevent me playing it? I completely disagree that strength of emotion dictates one's alignment. Is my Paladin not allowed to get angry at anything, simply because he's Lawful?

Basically what it comes down to is that rules should facilitate creativity, not stifle it. It's a fantasy game, after all. Why should a character's personality be dictated by their ability to fight with their bare hands?
9th-Sep-2008 01:11 pm (UTC)
no. being lawful does not mean you can't get angry, it simply means you adhere to a code of ethics, traditions, or laws.

when WoTC envisioned a monk, it seems as though they envisioned one trained in martial arts. He adheres to a certain lifestyle and training. Lawful. Paladin can, and often do, get angry at lots of stuff.

And why have rules if you can think of exceptions? Because it lends structure to the game.

A character's personality dictates how they can fight with their bare hands only if they are a monk. Let's not forget that other characters can take the monk feats as well, they just won't get them for free. By adhering to a strict code of martial arts training, the monk is able to get these feats for free. They sacrifice a lot to do it too.
9th-Sep-2008 10:48 pm (UTC)
no. being lawful does not mean you can't get angry, it simply means you adhere to a code of ethics, traditions, or laws.

And what if I want my Barbarian do adhere to a code of laws? Or to the traditions of his people? The rules shouldn't prevent that.

when WoTC envisioned a monk, it seems as though they envisioned one trained in martial arts. He adheres to a certain lifestyle and training. Lawful. Paladin can, and often do, get angry at lots of stuff.

I get that. What I'm saying is that they shouldn't have presupposed character personality based on class. When it comes down to it, the Monk class is just a collection of rules for building a character that fights with their bare hands (and does a pretty bad job at it too). It says nothing about how they were trained or even if they received training. It may be the case that in WotC's imagined fantasy world all Monks are from some nebulous "orient" and all have been trained in strictly Lawful monasteries, but why on Earth should it be the same in my game world?

And why have rules if you can think of exceptions? Because it lends structure to the game.

Not if the rules are unnecessary. Then it just stops people making the characters that they want.

A character's personality dictates how they can fight with their bare hands only if they are a monk. Let's not forget that other characters can take the monk feats as well, they just won't get them for free. By adhering to a strict code of martial arts training, the monk is able to get these feats for free. They sacrifice a lot to do it too.

So if my Fighter can take Monk feats and for all intents and purposes fight like a Monk, why aren't all Fighters Lawful?

The thing is, flavor is mutable. If I want to make a bare-knuckle fighter who rebels against authority, and I want to use the Monk class to do it, why shouldn't I?
9th-Sep-2008 11:36 pm (UTC)
I understand everything you said, except for the last paragraph.

Monks get those feats for free, BECAUSE they are lawful. Following a strict code and method of training allowed them to gain these feats for free as part of their natural progression, regardless of feat prerequisites.

if you want to make a bare knuckles rebel, make a monk, and then change alignments later on. The book says he gets to keep every monk ability he gained, but no longer progresses as one.

9th-Sep-2008 11:44 pm (UTC)
But let's assume that I don't want to change alignments, I want my character to start Chaotic as it's integral to his back story.

Monks get those feats for free, BECAUSE they are lawful. Following a strict code and method of training allowed them to gain these feats for free as part of their natural progression, regardless of feat prerequisites.

This is what WotC believes, but there is no reason for it. As I say, there are tons of examples in films, books, comics etc. of Chaotic Monks. Furthermore, why should it require more discipline to learn Martial Arts than magic? Why should that discipline only by required for learning those Martial Arts that use your fists, or nunchaku, or kama, and not for those that use swords. It makes no sense.

Removing the rule not only allows people to make interesting characters that they would otherwise be unable to, but also helps out what is at the moment a cripplingly underpowered class. As I've said, there's really no reason for Monks to have to be Lawful.
10th-Sep-2008 12:11 am (UTC)
oh, i by no means think the rle is absolute. I am simply describing to you WHY they are lawful in the standard dnd universe.

dnd has gods in the book too, but those aren't absolute either, but yet, nobody ever complains about them.
10th-Sep-2008 12:54 am (UTC)
Yeah, that's true. Tbh, I think my dislike for prerequisite alignment is just one facet of my dislike of the alignment system as a whole. I never realized how much it was hanging over me until I started playing games that didn't have it.
10th-Sep-2008 01:00 am (UTC)
i love the alignment system out of game, but dislike it when i'm actually playing, you know?

4th edition made everything much more simple alignment wise, at least.
8th-Sep-2008 09:39 pm (UTC)
One of my players is playing a monk in my campaign and he has taken to pouring skill points into use magic device and using wands. He even had a quarterstaff specially crafted to hold a wand on both ends. Of course, if she's already low on int and thus lacking in skill points, that might be hard.
8th-Sep-2008 09:42 pm (UTC)
yea, she gets 4 skill points per level. She has 4 skills she's just been maxing out: spot,listen,tumble,sense motive.

i think use magic device is unfortunately out of the question for her.
8th-Sep-2008 10:12 pm (UTC)
What monk feats does she want that would require a high Dex? Two-Weapon Fighting is useless when you've got Flurry of Blows, and archery feats generally aren't worth it for a monk unless you're an elf. (Half-elves don't have bow proficiencies if I recall correctly.)

Requiring a high Int I could see -- that's useful for stuff like Combat Expertise, which in turn lets you take cool chained feats. Too bad she min-maxed. She could always try a Headband of Intellect or Ioun Stone!

Personally, I really like the Tattooed Monk prestige class from Complete Warrior.

She could also just stay in the monk class -- you get some pretty cool stuff at high levels.

FYI -- this doesn't matter, but when you're a human or a half-elf, you don't get to "pick" your favored class. Your highest class is automatically your favored class. And sometimes, this sucks.

Remember that taking a level of fighter will prevent her from leveling up in monk ever again. (But if she's rebuilding I guess that is moot.)
8th-Sep-2008 10:25 pm (UTC)
According to WotC, 2 weapon fighting stacks with Flurry.

You can argue about whether this is a good thing or not.

8th-Sep-2008 11:16 pm (UTC)
He did say "useless", not "against the rules".

Count me firmly in the "tacking on ANOTHER -2 penalty to Flurry of Misses? Waste of time!" camp.
8th-Sep-2008 11:28 pm (UTC)
It entirely depends on you bonus to hit and your target's AC.

In general, if you do ~20 points of damage per hit, you're better off with the additional off hand attack. (A 12th/1st level monk/rogue can do it easily -- (unarmed 2d6 - average 7) with 18 Strength, (+2, offhand), +2 flaming ki straps/amulet of unarmed combat/whatever (+5.5 average), 1 die of sneak attack (+3.5) and a strength item or spell or any other magical enhancement that adds 2 points of damage (enlargement, whatever).)

Is it usually worth it? only if you build for it. But, if you add the additional iterative attack, (Improved TWF, Greater TWF), the threshold of how much average damage you need to do drops, significantly.
9th-Sep-2008 02:16 am (UTC)
How significantly? And what kind of shape is the 3rd, 6th, and 9th level monk in as he builds towards the 13th level example you just gave?

...for that matter, how did you arrive at ~20 points per hit as the tradeoff point?
9th-Sep-2008 03:30 am (UTC)
Well, I was guessing at the numbers.

As it turns out, I'm wrong.

Lets call on hand damage 12, and off hand 10

When a creature is very hard to hit (18+), you're generally better off with many low-percentage hits than fewer.

When a creature is very easy to hit (11-), you're generally better of with man high-percentage hits than fewer.

In that middle range is when your better of flurrying than using TWF.

The exact ranges will depend on how much your average damage is. It is, however, almost never better to do a single attack than flurry, if you can.


Adding in iterative attacks will change the math some. You need to add in those attacks. And if your flurry is more than a second attack, add that in as well.

I did a spread sheet for the above. You can see it here:
http://marphod.net/~galens/MonkDamage.html
9th-Sep-2008 12:22 am (UTC)
Whoa, really? Yikes.
9th-Sep-2008 01:06 am (UTC)
This is an age old debate. The sage long ago answered it was fine.

In the end, since adding another -2 penalty mean the monk (except in some edge cases, where you'd hit on a 1 if it weren't an auto-fail, or need a 19 or more to hit) hits 10% of the time less, it isn't in the PCs interest to do so.

It is only beneficial at the point where the expected damage from an additional hit (which gets half your strength bonus, unlike your flurry attack) is more than the reduced chance to hit. This is another case where 3.x requires a spread sheet to figure things out. (For a 15th level game I was in a few years ago, I did print out expected damage charts, so I knew what to use when I could guess the opponents AC, and when I should Rage, etc. It took 3 pages of a spread sheet)

(For added fun, add in a race that gets a prehensile tail, like the Nezumi from Oriental Adventures, which gets another attack at -2 using their tail, althogh it is much lower damage (1d4, 1/2 strength).)
8th-Sep-2008 11:17 pm (UTC)
Ouch, a half-elf Monk? That's the worst race and one of the worst classes in 3.5. Your girlfriend is going to have to work pretty hard to make it work.

What books do you have available. Shou Disciple from the FR book Unapproachable East is a top-tier Monk prestige class. If you have access to Eberron books, taking Monastic Training, Tashalatora and then moving into Ardent from Complete Psionic might be her best bet.

Let us know how it turns out.
9th-Sep-2008 12:22 am (UTC)
I agree about half-elf being the worst race. Not sure that monk is the worst class...but I do like bards, so maybe it is. That's too bad, especially for a new player.

Hmmm...but are monks worse than rangers? I think I would rather play a monk than a ranger, because at least then you have options if you're thrown into a dungeon naked. (Although the last time that happened to one of my characters, I was playing a rogue and killed some rats and improvised lockpicks from their bones. So I guess it's all in what you make of it.)
9th-Sep-2008 12:38 am (UTC)
I'd probably guess that Monks and Rangers are roughly on a par, except that Rangers might be less dependent on good stats all across the board. At least they can afford to dump Wisdom if they have to. At a guess I'd say two-weapon fighting Rangers would be worse than Monks in terms of damage output, but shooting Rangers would be better.
9th-Sep-2008 02:43 am (UTC)
Monks can dump Int and Cha (as this one did), if they don't care about Combat Expertise.

But yeah.
9th-Sep-2008 04:29 am (UTC)
Yeah, but so can Rangers.
9th-Sep-2008 02:45 am (UTC)
Oh...and in the homebrew game I'm running, all the monastic schools (save one) are found among the kobolds.

Take that, half-elves!
9th-Sep-2008 01:05 pm (UTC)
haha, it's true.

Well, my campaign is a lot of role playing, and half-elf and monk fit exactly with her idea for a good character history. She's a new player, so she is yet unspoiled by game mechanics.
9th-Sep-2008 12:51 am (UTC)
For a monk, I suggest buying ToB and playing the Swordmage. That's what a monk was meant to be in the first place. I know that isn't the answer you'd want to hear though.

Disclaimer: I don't play monks, so don't know the field of good feats/stuff for them.

For a new player... hmm... usually new players (in my experience) like to be able to hit stuff and do damage, whether it is a lot of not. In which case I'd bulk up on stuff that increases her attack. Bumping strength would be best for that, and Weapon Focus (while a subpar feat generally) might actually be pretty nice for her. As I think someone mentioned a level of Barbarian might be better than a level in Fighter. You get a nice speed boost and more HP, plus she can rage when she really wants to beat things.

I'd look at what she's enjoying or not enjoying about her character in the game now. If she feels like she's almost dying a lot, then focus on her defenses. If she feels like she's never contributing, focus on her attacks/damages. If she wants more options, find some tactical-style feats. Is there a particular trick she seems to like (ie, grappling)?

Part of the issue is that Monk is indeed one of the weakest classes in the game, so depending on the rest of your players/party she might start feeling left out or helpless or stuff. If so, keep an eye on when and look at compensating for those points. The object of the game is to have fun, so pick a path that emphasizes what she thinks is fun!

PS. Depending on the player (if she likes the character-building mini-game; I know my wife doesn't), you might just let her look through the books for a PrC that seems interesting. Monk stuff is scattered throughout the books iirc. Indeed, you might have her say if she likes the theme of any books (like dragons, or elves, or undead, or whatever), and then see what the monk classes in those are. There's almost always one :p
9th-Sep-2008 02:43 am (UTC)
Drunken master, tattooed monk, initiate of the draconic mysteries, initiate of Pistis Sophia, enlightened fist, sacred fist, psionic fist, eldritch fist (okay I made that last one up, but they would be trivial to construct), reaping mauler...and there are certainly more.

Wheee!
9th-Sep-2008 02:44 am (UTC)
There are also feats (in either Complete Warrior or Complete Adventurer, I think) which allow monks to multiclass with other classes fairly freely -- they typically begin with the word "Ascetic."
9th-Sep-2008 04:31 am (UTC)
Swordsage, but absolutely. The Unarmed Variant does the Monk thing far better than the Monk ever did.
9th-Sep-2008 04:42 am (UTC)
Right, swordsage.

I've been looking at too much 4e stuff I guess ;p. They never seemed very sagacious to me anyway.

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