tenletter

Pathfinder Monk Remake

Posted in pathfinder, rpg by trashcondor on 6 May 2012

Revision 1.05: Fixed ki “focus” weapon enhancement in Monk Weapon Mastery insight

Revision 1.04: Removed “Empty Body” from the class abilities table (it is present in the list of insights); and fixed level 19 speed column entry

Revision 1.03: Added meditation of night insight

Revision 1.02: Rewrote Flurry ability to make its mechanics more explicit, also limited initial Flurry to unarmed strikes and monk weapons – though a new insight Flurry Versatility is available that allows Flurry with any weapon. Added a level restriction to Enhanced Ki Strikes insight.

Revision 1.01: Flurry movement is now limited to a single speed of movement; previously it allowed for movement up to double the monk’s speed. Additionally I added Dodging Monk and Swift Target insights (that grant Dodge and Mobility feats respectively). Lastly, the Total Defense action may only be used once a round when flurrying.

A warning: this post is quite massive. Take your time.

Every so often I get the itch to redesign something from the ground up. Sometimes that itch actually makes it all the way onto the internet – like in this case. And occasionally this attention is focused on the monk. It’s no secret: it’s my favorite class. There’s something real about getting in your face with fists, feet and elbows. Maybe it’s because I can relate to it, or because it’s got a semblance of reality touched with the supernatural.

Well – there’s been some upheaval in the monk community in the last while, with Paizo developers clarifying (or by some opinions rectifying/retconning) the monk’s flurry, that is to say that it is not intended for the flurry of blows class ability to allow a character to do all attacks with the same weapon. Needless to say this has caused an uproar to many, and vocal appreciation by others – but under the bottom-line the clarification has left several archetypes in a bad state of disrepair.

Cue a general call for monk redesign by avid fans; I think notable are master arminas tattoed monk, and the more conservative revisions by Veldan Rath. I think both efforts are admirable, but also I think they could reach further. A monk redesign should (for me) do the following:

  • bring something new to the table: the monk’s “flurry” is not special, other than its limitations and that it is for “free”. Anybody can go and take two-weapon fighting feats.
  • create options: the monk class as defined by Paizo’s Pathfinder is very diverse and feature rich – but it is also a static richness of features that doesn’t change from monk to monk (other than by the application of archetypes)
  • endorse stereotypes: something that Paizo did right for several classes is the ability to re-create iconic characters or abilities by judicial application of character options. A ninja that creates shadow clones of himself? Check. A witch that has animated hair or a sleep-inducing poisoned apple? Check. These are options not imposed onto the class, but are exposed to the class. This is a great thing.

So, with those core features in mind, here’s my take on a redesigned monk. A fair amount of core features remain in-tact. Things that I thought so intricately linked to the monk that they survive the changes (or are only minimally impacted by the changes). The two main points of change have been the Flurry mechanic, and the Insights mechanic. Flurries are entirely re-defined. And Insights are the monk’s take on rage powers, ninja tricks, revelations, discoveries, and-so-forth. Changes are highlighted in the text below, either in the ability title, or in the ability text.

Monk, unarmed warrior

Monk

Level BAB Fort Ref Will Special Flurry Unarmed AC bonus Speed
1 0 2 2 2 Flurry, stunning fist, unarmed strike 2 1d6 0 0
2 1 3 3 3 Evasion, insight 2 1d6 0 0
3 2 3 3 3 Fast movement, still mind 2 1d6 0 +10 ft
4 3 4 4 4 Insight, ki pool (magic), slow fall 20 ft 2 1d8 1 +10 ft
5 3 4 4 4 Purity of body 2 1d8 1 +10 ft
6 4 5 5 5 Insight, slow fall 30 ft 2 1d8 1 +20 ft
7 5 5 5 5 2 1d8 1 +20 ft
8 6/1 6 6 6 Insight, slow fall 40 ft 3 1d10 2 +20 ft
9 6/1 6 6 6 3 1d10 2 +30 ft
10 7/2 7 7 7 Insight, ki pool (lawful), slow fall 50 ft 3 1d10 2 +30 ft
11 8/3 7 7 7 3 1d10 2 +30 ft
12 9/4 8 8 8 Insight, slow fall 60 ft 3 2d6 3 +40 ft
13 9/4 8 8 8 3 2d6 3 +40 ft
14 10/5 9 9 9 Insight, slow fall 70 ft 3 2d6 3 +40 ft
15 11/6/1 9 9 9 Quivering palm 4 2d6 3 +50 ft
16 12/7/2 10 10 10 Insight, ki pool (adamantine), slow fall 80 ft 4 2d8 4 +50 ft
17 12/7/2 10 10 10 Timeless body 4 2d8 4 +50 ft
18 13/8/3 11 11 11 Insight, slow fall 90 ft 4 2d8 4 +60 ft
19 14/9/4 11 11 11 4 2d8 4 +60 ft
20 15/10/5 12 12 12 Insight, perfect self, slow fall any distance 4 2d10 5 +60 ft

Alignment: Any lawful.
Hit Die: d8.

Class Skills

The monk’s class skills are Acrobatics (Dex), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Escape Artist (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (history) (Int), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Perception (Wis), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Stealth (Dex), and Swim (Str).
Skill Ranks per Level: 4 + Int modifier.

Class Features

All of the following are class features of the monk.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Monks are proficient with the club, crossbow (light or heavy), dagger, handaxe, javelin, kama, nunchaku, quarterstaff, sai, shortspear, short sword, shuriken, siangham, sling, and spear.
Monks are not proficient with any armor or shields.
When wearing armor, using a shield, or carrying a medium or heavy load, a monk loses his AC bonus, as well as his fast movement and flurry abilities.

AC Bonus (Ex): When unarmored and unencumbered, the monk adds his Wisdom bonus (if any) to his AC and his CMD. In addition, a monk gains a +1 bonus to AC and CMD at 4th level. This bonus increases by 1 for every four monk levels thereafter, up to a maximum of +5 at 20th level.
These bonuses to AC apply even against touch attacks or when the monk is flat-footed. He loses these bonuses when he is immobilized or helpless, when he wears any armor, when he carries a shield, or when he carries a medium or heavy load.

Flurry (Ex): Starting at 1st level, a monk that fights with unarmed strikes or with monk weapons can make a flurry. When doing so he gains two Flurry Actions and a Move Action (instead of a Standard Action and a Move Action). A Flurry Action is similar to a Standard Action but more limited in the options available for that action.

A monk can use a Flurry Action to:
1. take a melee attack action,
2. use a combat action or feat that is activated as a standard action (such as Total Defense, Grapple, Cleave and Vital Strike),
3. use a skill (other than Use Magic Device),
4. use an extraordinary ability,
5. use a supernatural monk class ability,
6. take a move action (though he may not move more than his speed in a round when using a flurry).

He cannot use a Flurry Action to:
1. cast spells,
2. use spell-like abilities or activate magic items,
3. drink potions,
4. combine them to take full-attack or full-round actions (including charge),
5. ready an action.

At 8th level, and again at 15th level, the monk gains an additional Flurry Action when doing a flurry.

A monk that flurries may use no more than one Flurry Action to perform a Total Defense action in a round.

Unarmed Strike: At 1st level, a monk gains Improved Unarmed Strike as a bonus feat. A monk’s attacks may be with fist, elbows, knees, and feet. This means that a monk may make unarmed strikes with his hands full. There is no such thing as an off-hand attack for a monk striking unarmed. A monk may thus apply his full Strength bonus on damage rolls for all his unarmed strikes.

Usually a monk’s unarmed strikes deal lethal damage, but he can choose to deal nonlethal damage instead with no penalty on his attack roll. He has the same choice to deal lethal or nonlethal damage while grappling.
A monk’s unarmed strike is treated as both a manufactured weapon and a natural weapon for the purpose of spells and effects that enhance or improve either manufactured weapons or natural weapons.

A monk also deals more damage with his unarmed strikes than a normal person would, as in the table. The unarmed damage values listed on the table is for Medium monks. A Small monk deals less damage than the amount given there with his unarmed attacks, while a Large monk deals more damage; see the Core Rule Book page 58 for a table of monk unarmed damage for small and large monks.

Stunning Fist (Ex): At 1st level, the monk gains Stunning Fist as a bonus feat, even if he does not meet the prerequisites. At 4th level, and every 4 levels thereafter, the monk gains the ability to apply a new condition to the target of his Stunning Fist. This condition replaces stunning the target for 1 round, and a successful saving throw still negates the effect. At 4th level, he can choose to make the target fatigued. At 8th level, he can make the target sickened for 1 minute. At 12th level, he can make the target staggered for 1d6+1 rounds. At 16th level, he can permanently blind or deafen the target. At 20th level, he can paralyze the target for 1d6+1 rounds. The monk must choose which condition will apply before the attack roll is made. These effects do not stack with themselves (a creature sickened by Stunning Fist cannot become nauseated if hit by Stunning Fist again), but additional hits do increase the duration.

Never unarmed nor unarmored

Evasion (Ex): At 2nd level or higher, a monk can avoid even magical and unusual attacks with great agility. If a monk makes a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, he instead takes no damage. Evasion can be used only if a monk is wearing light armor or no armor. A helpless monk does not gain the benefit of evasion.

Insights (Ex): As a monk gains levels, he learns to use his meditations and insights in new ways. Starting at 2nd level, a monk gains an insight. He gains another insight for every two levels of monk attained after 2nd level. Unless otherwise noted, a monk cannot select an individual insight more than once. Some insights are named “Meditation of …”; a monk may only have one set of meditation insights. The list of insights is presented after the list of core class abilities.

Fast Movement (Ex): At 3rd level, a monk gains an enhancement bonus to his base speed, as shown on the table. A monk in armor or carrying a medium or heavy load loses this extra speed.

Still Mind (Ex): A monk of 3rd level or higher gains a +2 bonus on saving throws against enchantment spells and effects.

Ki Pool (Su): At 4th level, a monk gains a pool of ki points, supernatural energy he can use to accomplish amazing feats. The number of points in a monk’s ki pool is equal to 1/2 his monk level + his Wisdom modifier. As long as he has at least 1 point in his ki pool, he can make a ki strike. At 4th level, ki strike allows his unarmed attacks to be treated as magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. Ki strike improves with the character’s monk level. At 10th level, his unarmed attacks are also treated as lawful weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. At 16th level, his unarmed attacks are treated as adamantine weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction and bypassing hardness.

By spending 1 point from his ki pool, a monk can one additional attack at his highest attack bonus when taking the full attack action. In addition, he can spend 1 point to increase his base speed by 20 feet for 1 round. Finally, a monk can spend 1 point from his ki pool to give himself a +4 dodge bonus to AC for 1 round. Each of these powers is activated as a swift action. A monk gains additional powers that consume points from his ki pool as he gains levels.
The ki pool is replenished each morning after 8 hours of rest or meditation; these hours do not need to be consecutive.

Slow Fall (Ex): At 4th level or higher, a monk within arm’s reach of a wall can use it to slow his descent. When first gaining this ability, he takes damage as if the fall were 20 feet shorter than it actually is. The monk’s ability to slow his fall (that is, to reduce the effective distance of the fall when next to a wall) improves with his monk level until at 20th level he can use a nearby wall to slow his descent and fall any distance without harm.

Purity of Body (Ex): At 5th level, a monk gains immunity to all diseases, including supernatural and magical diseases.

Quivering Palm (Su): Starting at 15th level, a monk can set up vibrations within the body of another creature that can thereafter be fatal if the monk so desires. He can use this quivering palm attack once per day, and he must announce his intent before making his attack roll. Creatures immune to critical hits cannot be affected. Otherwise, if the monk strikes successfully and the target takes damage from the blow, the quivering palm attack succeeds. Thereafter, the monk can try to slay the victim at any later time, as long as the attempt is made within a number of days equal to his monk level. To make such an attempt, the monk merely wills the target to die (a free action), and unless the target makes a Fortitude saving throw (DC 10 + 1/2 the monk’s level + the monk’s Wis modifier), it dies. If the saving throw is successful, the target is no longer in danger from that particular quivering palm attack, but it may still be affected by another one at a later time. A monk can have no more than 1 quivering palm in effect at one time. If a monk uses quivering palm while another is still in effect, the previous effect is negated.

Timeless Body (Ex): At 17th level, a monk no longer takes penalties to his ability scores for aging and cannot be magically aged. Any such penalties that he has already taken, however, remain in place. Age bonuses still accrue, and the monk still dies of old age when his time is up.

Tongue of the Sun and Moon (Ex): A monk of 17th level or higher can speak with any living creature.

Perfect Self: At 20th level, a monk becomes a magical creature. He is forevermore treated as an outsider rather than as a humanoid (or whatever the monk’s creature type was) for the purpose of spells and magical effects. Additionally, the monk gains damage reduction 10/chaotic, which allows him to ignore the first 10 points of damage from any attack made by a nonchaotic weapon or by any natural attack made by a creature that doesn’t have similar damage reduction. Unlike other outsiders, the monk can still be brought back from the dead as if he were a member of his previous creature type.

Dynamic delivery

Insights

As a monk gains levels, he learns to use his meditations and insights in new ways. Starting at 2nd level, a monk gains an insight. He gains another insight for every two levels of monk attained after 2nd level. Unless otherwise noted, a monk cannot select an individual insight more than once. Some insights are named “Meditation of …”; a monk may only have one set of meditation insights.

Acrobatic Training (Ex): A monk with this insight adds his monk level to all Acrobatics checks, this does not stack with the high jump insight. A monk must have the high jump insight before selecting this insight.

Abundant Flurry (Su): After using abundant step a monk with this insight can take any actions that he still has remaining on his turn. A monk must have the abundant step insight before selecting this insight.

Abundant Step (Su): A monk with this insight can slip magically between spaces, as if using the spell dimension door. Using this ability is a move action that consumes 2 points from his ki pool. His caster level for this effect is equal to his monk level. He cannot take other creatures with him when he uses this ability. A monk must be at least 12th level before selecting this insight.

Bull Training (Ex): A monk with this insight gains Improved Bullrush as a bonus feat.

Combat Reflexes (Ex): A monk with this insight gains Combat Reflexes as a bonus feat.

Cloud Jump (Ex): When a monk with this insight makes a high jump, the DC for that jump is half the normal DC. A monk must be at least 6th level before selecting this insight. A monk must have the high jump insight before selecting this insight.

Deflect Training (Ex): A monk with this insight gains Deflect Arrows as a bonus feat.

Defensive Maneuver Training (Ex): A monk with this insight uses his monk level in place of his base attack bonus when calculating his Combat Maneuver Defense. Base attack bonuses granted from other classes are unaffected and are added normally. A monk must have the Maneuver Training insight before selecting this insight.

Deadly Versatility (Ex): A monk with this insight gains a +2 bonus to hit with his unarmed strikes, furthermore the DC to resist his Stunning Fist attempts increases by +2 (this increase does not stack with other increases). A monk must have the piercing strikes and slashing strikes insights before selecting this insight.

Diamond Body (Su): A monk gains immunity to poisons of all kinds. A monk must be at least 10th level before selecting this insight.

Diamond Soul (Ex): A monk gains spell resistance equal to his current monk level + 10. In order to affect the monk with a spell, a spellcaster must get a result on a caster level check (1d20 + caster level) that equals or exceeds the monk’s spell resistance. A monk must be at least 12th level before selecting this insight.

Disarm Training (Ex): A monk with this insight gains Improved Disarm as a bonus feat.

Dodging Monk (Ex): A monk with this insight gains Dodge as a bonus feat.

Drunken Brawler (Ex): A monk with this insight can consume a tankard of ale or strong alcohol as a standard action. For 2 rounds after consuming the alcohol his attacks are calculated using his monk level as base attack bonus, including gaining additional iterative attacks for having a high base attack bonus and affecting feats that are based on base attack bonus (such as Power Attack). Base attack bonuses from other classes are added normally. The monk also takes a -1 penalty to Will saves for a duration of 1 hour, this penalty stacks with each portion of alcohol consumed and the total penalty lasts until an hour has passed since the monk’s most recent drink.

Drunken Capacity (Ex): A monk with this insight benefits for 3 rounds rather than 2 rounds when he uses his drunken brawler insight. A monk must have the drunken brawler insight to select this insight.

Drunken Dancer (Ex): While a monk’s base attack bonus is increased from the drunken brawler insight, the monk also gains a dodge bonus to AC equal to the penalty to Will saves he experiences due to the drunken brawler insight. This bonus cannot exceed a +5 dodge bonus to AC. A monk must have the drunken brawler insight before selecting this insight.

Drunken Golem (Ex): While a monk’s base attack bonus is increased from the drunken brawler insight, the monk also gains DR /- equal to the penalty to Will saves he experiences due to the drunken brawler insight. This DR cannot exceed DR 5/-. A monk must have the drunken brawler insight before selecting this insight.

Empty Body (Su): A monk with this insight can assume an ethereal state for 1 minute as though using the spell etherealness. Using this ability is a move action that consumes 3 points from his ki pool. This ability only affects the monk and cannot be used to make other creatures ethereal. A monk must be at least 16th level before selecting this insight

Enhanced Ki Strike (Su): A monk with this insight may select silver or cold-iron. When he makes a ki strike, he overcomes damage resistance of the type he selected. A monk can select this insight twice to get both silver and cold-iron ki strikes. A monk must be at least 4th level before selecting this insight.

Faster Movement (Ex): A monk with this insight gains 5-foot enhancement bonus to his base speed. A monk can select this insight up to four times. Its effects stack. This bonus stacks with the increased speed of the monk’s Fast Movement class ability, as well as speed bonuses granted from other insights.

Flurry Versatility (Ex): A monk with this insight may use any weapon, including improvised weapons, when performing a flurry. A monk must be at least 4th level before selecting this insight.

Grapple Training (Ex): A monk with this insight gains Improved Grapple as a bonus feat.

Herbal Remedies (Ex): A monk with this insight gains Heal and Knowledge (nature) as class skills. He gains a bonus to Heal checks equal to half his monk level.

High Jump (Ex): A monk with this insight adds his level to all Acrobatics checks made to jump, both for vertical jumps and horizontal jumps. In addition, he always counts as having a running start when making jump checks using Acrobatics. By spending 1 point from his ki pool as a swift action, a monk gains a +20 bonus on Acrobatics checks made to jump for 1 round.

Improved Evasion (Ex): The evasion ability of a monk with this insight improves. He still takes no damage on a successful Reflex saving throw against attacks, but henceforth he takes only half damage on a failed save. A helpless monk does not gain the benefit of improved evasion. A monk must be at least 10th level before selecting this insight.

Improvised Training (Ex): A monk with this insight gains Catch-Off Guard and Throw Anything as bonus feats.

Insight Training (Ex): A monk with this insight may meet the Intelligence prerequisites of feats using his Wisdom attribute.

Lethal Strikes (Ex): A monk with this insight gains Improved Critical as a bonus feat. A monk must be at least 10th level before selecting this insight.

Maneuver Training (Ex): A monk with this insight uses his monk level in place of his base attack bonus when calculating his Combat Maneuver Bonus. Base attack bonuses granted from other classes are unaffected and are added normally.

Meditation of Beasts, Lesser (Ex): A monk with this insight gains a +10 feet enhancement bonus to his base speed. This bonus stacks with the increased speed of the monk’s Fast Movement class ability, as well as speed bonuses granted from other insights.

Meditation of Beasts (Su): A monk with this insight may spend 1ki as a standard action to gain the effects of beast shape I for 1 minute. A monk must be at least 6th level before selecting this insight. A monk must have the lesser meditation of beasts insight before selecting this insight.

Meditation of Beasts, Greater (Su): When a monk with this insight makes use of the meditation of beasts insight, the effect instead lasts for 1 hour. A monk must be at least 10th level before selecting this insight. A monk must have the meditation of beasts insight before selecting this insight.

Meditation of Fire, Lesser (Su): A monk with this insight adds +1 fire damage to his unarmed strikes as long as he can make a ki strike. A monk must be at leasth 4th level before selecting this insight.

Meditation of Fire (Su): A monk with this insight can spend 1 ki as a swift action to add 1d6 fire damage to his unarmed strikes for 1 round. A monk must be at least 6th level before selecting this insight. A monk must have the lesser meditation of fire before selecting this insight.

Meditation of Fire, Greater (Su): When a monk with this insight uses meditation of fire, he can spend a standard action to make a ranged touch attack against a foe within 60 ft to deal 4d6 fire damage. A monk must be at least 10th level before selecting this insight. A monk must have the meditation of fire insight before selecting this insight.

Meditation of Fire

Meditation of Fists, Lesser (Ex): A monk with this insight gains Two-Weapon Fighting and Double Slice as bonus feats.

Meditation of Fists (Ex): A monk with this insight gains Improved Two-Weapon Fighting and Two-Weapon Defense as a bonus feats. When he uses the full attack action he uses his monk level to determine his base attack bonus. A monk must be at least 6th level before selecting this insight. A monk must have the lesser meditation of fists insight before selecting this insight

Meditation of Fists, Greater (Ex): A monk with this insight gains Greater Two-Weapon Fighting and Two-Weapon Rend as bonus feats. A monk must be at least 12th level before selecting this insight. A monk must have the meditation of fists insight before selecting this insight.

Meditation of Mountains, Lesser (Su): A monk with this insight gains a +1 natural armor bonus to his AC.

Meditation of Mountains (Su): A monk with this insight gains an additional +1 natural armor bonus to his AC. He gains a +4 bonus to his CMD against bullrush, reposition and drag maneuvers and to saves to resist being forcibly moved. A monk must be at least 8th level before selecting this insight. A monk must have the lesser meditation of mountains before selecting this insight.

Meditation of Mountains, Greater (Su): A monk with this insight gains an additional +1 natural armor bonus to his AC. He can spend 2 ki as a standard action to cast stoneskin on himself. A monk must be at least 14th level before selecting this insight. A monk must have the meditation of mountains insight before selecting this insight.

Meditation of Night, Lesser (Ex): A monk with this insight gains 1d6 sneak attack, as the rogue class feature.

Meditation of Night (Ex): A monk with this insight gains 1d6 sneak attack and a single rogue talent or ninja trick. He must meet the prerequisites of this rogue talent or ninja trick. A monk must be at least 6th level before selecting this insight. A monk must have the lesser meditation of night insight before selecting this insight.

Meditation of Night, Greater (Ex): A monk with this insight gains 1d6 sneak attack and a single advanced talent or master trick. He must meet the prerequisites of this advanced talent or master trick. A monk must at least be 14th level before selecting this insight. A monk must have the meditation of night insight before selecting this insight.

Meditation of Presence, Lesser (Ex): A monk with this insight gains half his monk level as a bonus to Perception checks to perceive other creatures. Furthermore, he gains a +2 bonus to his initiative.

Meditation of Presence (Su): A monk with this insight can shake the resolve of foes. At the start of a foe’s turn, if he is adjacent to the monk, that foe must make a Will save (DC equal to 10 + half monk level + Wisdom modifier) or become shaken for 1 minute. Once a foe has been shaken by this insight, he is immune to this insight for 24 hours. A monk must be at least 6th level before selecting this insight. A monk must have the lesser meditation of presence before selecting this insight.

Meditation of Presence, Greater (Su): A monk with this insight extends the effect of his meditation of presence to all foes within 30 ft of the monk. Furthermore, a monk gains a bonus to his AC and CMD equal to his Charisma modifier (minimum 1) against attacks from foes that are shaken, frightened or panicked. Finally, a monk with this insight gains a bonus to confirming critical hits equal to his Charisma modifier. A monk must be at least 12th level before selecting this insight. A monk must have the meditation of presence insight before selecting this insight.

Meditation of Pressure, Lesser (Ex): For a monk with this insight the DC to resist his Stunning Fist attempts increases by +2 (this increase does not stack with other increases). Furthermore, the monk may chose the effect of his Stunning Fist attempts as if he were a monk 4 levels higher.

Meditation of Pressure (Ex): The unarmed strikes of a monk with this insight also deal 1 point of Strength or Dexterity damage, decided by the monk on each attack. A monk must be at least 8th level before selecting this insight. A monk must have the lesser meditation of pressure insight before selecting this insight.

Meditation of Pressure, Greater (Ex): A monk with this insight may, when using his unarmed strikes, automatically confirm a critical hit by expending 1 ki point as a free action. When he does so he increases his critical hit multiplier by 1 until the start of his next turn and the attack is resolved as if the monk had made a Stunning Fist attack (this does not count against his daily number of Stunning Fist uses). A monk must at least be 14th level before selecting this insight. A monk must have the meditation of pressure insight before selecting this insight.

Meditation of Seals, Lesser (Ex): A monk with this insight adds Knowledge (planar) to his class skills and adds half his monk level to checks made with that skill. He can make Knowledge (planar) checks untrained.

Meditation of Seals (Su): A monk with this insight can spend a ki point to make a touch attack as a standard action, if the attack hits a foe that foe is subject to a dismissal unless he makes a Will save (DC equal to 10 + half-monk-level + Wisdom modifier). A monk must be at least 6th level before selecting this insight. A monk must have the lesser meditation of seals insight before selecting this insight.

Meditation of Seals, Greater (Su): A monk with this insight may spend 4 ki points as a full-round action to create a sphere of dimensional anchor within 100 ft that has a radius of up to 100 ft. This action also manifests a physical representation of the seal where the monk is standing, typically a paper with the monk’s symbol of sealing on it. The dimensional anchor is permanent while the symbol of sealing exists and is undisturbed – if removed from its position relative to the dimensional anchor, or when other processes such as natural weathering deteriorates the seal sufficiently, then the dimensional anchor is lifted. A monk can only maintain one such seal at a time though it can last beyond his death. Should he choose to create a new seal, the old one is dismissed. A monk must be at least 14th level before selecting this insight. A monk must have the meditation of seals insight before selecting this insight.

Meditation of Shouts, Lesser (Su): A monk with this insight gains resist sonic 5.

Meditation of Shouts (Su): A monk with this insight can project his Stunning Fist with a shout as a standard action. When using this ability the monk makes a ranged touch attack against a foe within 30ft, if successful the foe is hit by the Stunning Fist attempt and must save or suffer the consequences. This ability does not deal damage to the foe. A monk must be at least 8th level before selecting this insight. A monk must have the lesser meditation of shouts before selecting this insight.

Meditation of Shouts, Greater (Su): A monk with this insight can spend 1 ki as a standard action to emit a deafening roar in a 30-foot cone. Everybody in the area of effect takes 1d6 sonic damage for every two monk levels and is deafened for 1 minute. A Fortitude save (DC 10 + half-monk-level + Wisdom modifier) halves the damage and negates the deafened condition. A monk must be at least 12th level before selecting this insight. A monk must have the meditation of shouts insight before selecting this insight.

Meditation of Transcendence, Lesser (Su): A monk with this insight gains a +2 dodge bonus to AC for 1 round whenever he spends ki to activate an ability. A monk must at least be 4th level before selecting this insight.

Meditation of Transcendence (Su): A monk with this insight may use his Wisdom bonus in lieu of his Strength or Dexterity on attack rolls and combat maneuver checks with unarmed strikes or monk weapons. Additionally, the monk gains a +2 bonus to hit for 1 round whenever he spends ki to activate an ability. A monk must be at least 6th level before selecting this insight. A monk must have the lesser meditation of transcendence insight before selecting this insight.

Meditation of Transcendence, Greater (Su): A monk with this insight is immune to the fatigued and shaken conditions. Furthermore he receives a +2 insight bonus to all saves. A monk with this insight may add his Wisdom bonus (minimum 1) to his damage for 1 round whenever he spends ki to activate an ability. A monk must be at least 10th level before selecting this insight. A monk must have the meditation of transcendence insight before selecting this insight.

Meditation of the Void, Lesser (Su): Whenever a monk with this insight confirms a critical hit with an attack that benefits from his ki strike (usually an unarmed strike, but some insights such as monk weapon mastery can extend that to other forms of attack) he regains one spent ki point. A monk must be at least 4th level before selecting this insight.

Meditation of the Void (Su): A monk with this insight adds his Charisma modifier to his Stunning Fist DC in addition to his Wisdom modifier (this increase does not stack with other increases). A monk must be at least 6th level before selecting this insight. A monk must have the lesser meditation of the void insight before selecting this insight.

Meditation of the Void, Greater (Su): The threat range of a monk with this insight’s unarmed strikes is increased to 19-20. Whenever a monk with this insight confirms a critical hit with an attack that benefits from his ki strike, the foe loses all his remaining ki points. A monk must at least be 10th level before selecting this insight. A monk must have the meditation of the void insight before selecting this insight.

Training

Monk Combat Training (Ex): A monk with this insight gains a +1 bonus to hit and damage to unarmed strikes and when wielding a weapon with the ‘monk’ quality. A monk must be at least 4th level before selecting this insight. A monk may select this once, and one additional time for every six monk levels (thus at level 12 a monk may have this insight three times), the effects stack.

Monk Weapon Mastery (Su): A monk with this insight applies the qualities of his ki strike enhanced unarmed strike (such as bludgeoning, magic, lawful and adamantine) to weapons with the ‘monk’ quality, furthermore all such weapons are treated as if they had the ki focus weapon enhancement. A monk must be at least 12th level before selecting this insight. A monk must have the monk combat training insight before selecting this insight.

Piercing Strikes (Ex): A monk with insight may use his unarmed strikes to deal piercing damage.

Powerful Strikes (Ex): A monk with this insight determines his unarmed damage as a monk 2 levels higher. A monk can select this insight up to two times. Its effects stack.

Quick Strikes (Ex): A monk with this insight gains Medusa’s Wrath as a bonus feat. A monk must be at least 10th level before selecting this insight

Sage (Ex): A monk with this insight can make knowledge checks untrained and may use his Wisdom modifier instead of his Intelligence modifier when making knowledge checks.

Slashing Strikes (Ex): A monk with this insight may use his unarmed strikes to deal slashing damage.

Style Training (Ex): A monk with this insight may select a style feat or feat in a style’s path that he qualifies for. He gains that feat as a bonus feat. A monk can select this insight up to three times.

Swift Target (Ex): A monk with this insight gains Mobility as a bonus feat.

Trip Training (Ex): A monk with this insight gains Improved Trip as a bonus feat

Vital Strikes (Ex): A monk with this insight gains Vital Strike as a bonus feat. A monk must be at least 6th level before selecting this insight.

Vital Strikes Mastery (Ex): A monk with this insight gains Improved Vital Strike as a bonus feat. A monk must be at least 12th level before selecting this insight. A monk must have the Vital Strikes insight before selecting this insight.

Vow of Poverty, Lesser (Ex): A monk with this insight may immediately select another insight that he qualifies for but he may count his monk level as 4 levels higher for this selection. A monk with this insight may never own more combined wealth than the wealth-by-level guidelines for a character half his level (should the monk exceed level 20, he may never have more total wealth than the wealth-by-level guidelines for a 10th level character). Should his wealth exceed the required maximum, he immediately and permanently loses all insights that he knows, though he can still learn new insights when he gains levels.

Vow of Poverty (Ex): A monk with this insight may immediately select another two insights that he qualifies for but he may count his monk level as 4 levels higher for these selections. A monk must be at least 6th level before selecting this insight. A monk must have the lesser meditation of poverty before selecting this insight.

Vow of Poverty, Greater (Ex): A monk with this insight may immediately select another three insights that he qualifies for but he may count his monk level as 6 levels higher for these selections. A monk must be at least 12th level before selecting this insight. A monk must have the meditation of poverty before selecting this insight.

Walk of Heaven (Ex): A monk with this insight can spend a standard action to air walk for 1 round. He must reach a solid, level surface by the end of his turn or he will fall. A monk must be at least 10th level before selecting this insight. A monk must have the Cloud Jump insight before selecting this insight.

Weapon Proficiency: A monk with this insight can select any two martial weapons, or any single exotic weapon. He is proficient in those weapons. A monk may select this insight more than once.

Well Voiced (Ex): A monk with this insight adds Diplomacy to his class skills and may use his Wisdom modifier instead of his Charisma modifier when making Diplomacy checks.

Wholeness of Body (Su): A monk with this insight can heal his own wounds as a standard action. He can heal a number of hit points of damage equal to his monk level by using 2 points from his ki pool. A monk must be at least 6th level before selecting this insight.

Wholeness of Body, Improved (Su): A monk with this insight can use his wholeness of body insight on others. Furthermore, he calculates his monk level as 4 levels higher when using the wholeness of body insight. A monk must have the wholeness of body insight before selecting this insight.

Wilderness Training (Ex): A monk with this insight adds Survival to his class skills. Additionally he gets a bonus to Swim and Climb checks equal to half his monk level.

Discussion

A few words to the redesign: the new flurry mechanic is built around the monk of the four wind archetype (APG); the purpose is to strengthen the strengths of a monk, maneuverability with exotic action. If you think a high-level monk, then you should be able to imagine this: the monk round-house kicks a bunch of minions (great cleave), jumps (move) to the boss character and delivers a powerful and debilitating attack (vital strike with stunning fist), then rushes (move) to beleaguered allies and in one fell swoop trips all the goons threatening the caster (great cleave, using trip on attacks). A level 15 monk in my version can do all that in one turn (his flurry gives 4 standard actions and 1 move action).

The remade monk essentially gains a great deal of versatility – which is increased considerably by having a large list of relevant insights to chose from.

Since the Flurry mechanic allows supernatural class abilities of the monk, it can significantly boost some of the traditionally weaker monk abilities. Consider for example “wholeness of body”: since it is used as a standard action, a monk could flurry at level 8 to use the ability three times. Sure this uses up a lot of ki, but when you really need to recover a lot of hit points quickly…

Likewise, “greater meditation of shouts” allows a standard action to deal a number of d6 sonic damage equal to half the monk’s level. But given a lot of ki and a flurry with a lot of standard actions, the shouts can quickly add up to very significant area-of-effect damage.

The question inevitably arises, how well does such a monk fare in a purely DPR sense (the olympics are calling). I’ve done a cursory examination of a focused damage monk build at level 10:

Str 20 (15 base, +2 racial, +1 level, +2 item)

Equipped with an Amulet of Mighty Fists +2 and Monk’s Robe.

Feats: Weapon Focus and Vital Strike

Insights: piercing strikes, slashing strikes, deadly versatility, monk combat training, monk combat training

Summary:
Attack +19: 7 bab + 5 str + 2 magic + 4 insight + 1 feat
Damage +17: 2d6 + 5 str + 2 magic + 2 insight
Vital strike: +25: 4d6 + 5 str + 2 magic

CR 10 foe typically has 24 AC meaning the monk has an 80% chance to hit.

Expected DPR: 3 * 25 * 0.8 * 1.05 = 63

63 DPR is not crazy – but respectable for pure damage dealing.

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Good Considerations for Archetypes

Posted in pathfinder, rpg by trashcondor on 6 January 2011

Round 2 of the RPG Superstar 2011 season will be the creation of an archetype (as presented in the Advanced Players Guide). In this post I will try to outline important considerations that may help to realize your own ideas for an archetype.

Perhaps the foremost aspect is finding a good concept to formulate as an archetype. The APG does a good job of covering a lot of general archetypes that one can expect (for example bard archetypes covered include arcane duelist, court bard, savage skald and street performer – all ideas that I’d associate as good character concepts for a bard).

So, if a sizable portion of good concepts are already covered, then what options are there for the prospective RPG superstar? I think the focus will be shifting a bit. On the one hand, there are still some good general archetypes that can be explored (and there are 6 new base classes from the APG that have no archetypes as of yet) – and on the other hand there is the possibility of pursuing specific archetypes.

The Inner Sea Primer demonstrates this nicely, by presenting 3 new fighter archetypes that illustrate some of the fighting styles found in Golarion: the Aldori Swordlord (Brevoy), the Dawnflower Dervish (Qadira) and the Rondelero Duelist (Taldor). Also 3 arcane options are presented: Arcanamirium Crafter (Absalom), Egorian Academy Infernal Binder (Cheliax) and Mage of the Veil (Qadira) – though these perhaps do not make good examples as Paizo specifically mentions that modifying schools, domains, and so forth does not constitute a valid new archetype. The point, though, still stands. Both Golarion and the real world (and its lore) offer a host of specific archetypes that clamor for your attention and that would make good candidates for implementation.

The next step, then, is to consider the design.

In my opinion it is an easy mistake to make, to define your archetype through a single important ability – and add other ideas only to decorate or improve that one ability. An archetype should cover more than one idea – it needs to form the basis of (and inspiration for) a diverse number of character concepts. To put it another way: an archetype should not be a character concept. Many character ideas should be viable with any given archetype. This means that one should generally avoid designing an archetype that imposes a specific moral or behavioral attitude on characters.

By the same token one should avoid designing abilities for an archetype that anchor it in a specific mechanical playstyle. Consider for example a potential archetype for the alchemist class. I shall call it “The Bomber” – it would be easy (and a mistake) to define such an archetype that gives up mutagens and extracts in favor of greater number and diversity of bombs. The problem is (other than lack of originality) that the archetype becomes highly restrictive in its playstyle and many players would get bored of their character by the 5th play session.

The trick then is to design your archetype with the overall concept in mind; but find innovative and preferably multiple ways of realizing and diversifying your concept. For example, The Bomber mentioned previously should not give up extracts but could benefit from options that allow him to be a demolitions expert as well. Including setting explosive traps. But one should try not to go overboard – the options and alternate abilities should still encapsulate a single archetype; rather than be a jack of all trades.

Finally, let us consider some implementation aspects. It is a good idea to limit changes to actual class abilities – things like BAB progression, save progression,  skill-points-per-level, hit dice and spell progression should be considered off-limits. Game balance is a very important consideration for judging an archetype – and fiddling with underlying assumptions like the BAB progression of a class can have a much bigger impact on the game than many appreciate.

Another important consideration is the effective use of feats for your archetype. If the ability to “throw anything” is relevant to your concept, then it probably is a good idea not to create it as a new mechanical concept, but use the existing feat from the core rules (Throw Anything). Additionally, if it is a sensible idea for the archetype, but not a crucial cornerstone, then it may be worth adding it through other means. For example, it is possible to add Throw Anything to the list of bonus monk feats rather than make it compulsory.

Lastly, it pays off to keep in mind that not every single ability of the archetype needs to encapsulate every aspect of your concept. It is sufficient for the sum of your archetype’s abilities to form a coherent whole.

Good luck everybody!

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