Monk, Retooled (3.5 Class)
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A retooling of the Monk that addresses some of its main problems while making it mechanically distinct to the Unarmed Swordsage 20
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Unlike their more martially-inclined cousins the Swordsages (particularly those who eschew the use of weapons and strengthen their fists), Monks do not practice flashy maneuvers and relish only within combat. Vanquishing mundane obstacles as they travel and gaining awareness of their medium are techniques that all Monks learn, but that transcend the field of battle. It is said that all Monks once followed a similar set of teachings, but those masters that truly achieved enlightenment found that those were only the common practices between all monasteries, and thus sought to refine their teachings by mimicking the traits of the elements, the beasts and the alignments.
One clear aspect of Monks is how they seem to be prepared for anything. Their fists are more powerful than any weapon, but they are capable of turning any simple, unassuming weapon and turn it into a deadly weapon (woe to one who dares mock a Monk wielding only a sling and carrying a bag of stones). Monks do not find that belongings hinder their path towards true enlightenment: instead, they figure that depending on them creates stumbling blocks, but not depending on them creates others. Thus, they are not above strengthening themselves with magic items, but they are still capable of fighting well even when the odds stack against them.
Making a Monk
Depending on its choices during training, the Monk can fulfill a wide variety of rolls. Their choice of Martial Style defines their main method of combat, their elemental Path defines which aspects of their body and mind they will cultivate, the ways of the Beasts define the skills in which they focus whenever combat is not a solution, and their choice of Philosophy defines how they use these abilities in relation to the world. This ensures that no two Monks are similar; while one monastery teaches their fellows to be serene as Water, graceful as the crane, and never drawn towards conflict, another school may teach their initiates the might of Fire, the savagery of dragons and badgers, and the will to conquer.
Abilities: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution and Wisdom remain important, but the class has been built to depend on no more than three stats, and more often than not usually on one. Monks following the way of Fire will want high Strength to cement their offensive, with Dexterity and Constitution as defensive stats. Followers of the way of Air will prefer Dexterity as a catch-all stat, with Constitution and Wisdom working for their defense. Followers of the way of Earth will prefer Constitution, with some Strength for offensive. Finally, followers of the way of Water will seek Wisdom as their primary stat, with Dexterity and Constitution as complementary stats.
Races: Because of the change on how stats work, all classes are fit, but some work better than others. Humans work well with any elemental way, and are usually the go-to race. Dwarves and gnomes work well as monks following the way of Earth (because of their high Constitution), elves and halflings work well if they follow the way of Air because of their Dexterity, and the rare lawful half-orc will gravitate towards the way of Fire.
Amongst the savage races, hobgoblins are fit for monk training despite their level adjustment, excelling equally in the way of Air or Earth. Lawful giants, because of their size and Strength bonuses, make formidable monks of the way of Fire, relying on their Strength for virtually anything.
Alignment: Lawful Good, Lawful Neutral or Lawful Evil. Followers of the Path of the Riddle of Equilibrium may qualify through the True Neutral alignment because of the closeness of the philosophy, but this isn't enforced or particularly allowed.
Starting Gold: 5d4 gp (12 gp, 5 sp).
Starting Age: Complex.
|Saving Throws||Special||Slow Fall distance4||Unarmed Damage2||AC Bonus||Speed Bonus3|
|1st||+0||+2||+2||+2||Ki power, martial training, unarmed strike||—||1d6||—||—|
|2nd||+1||+3||+3||+3||Evasion, way of the elements (primary), wholeness of body||—||1d6||—||—|
|3rd||+2||+3||+3||+3||Fleeting step, touching the ripples (blindsense 30 ft.), way of the beasts||—||1d6||—||+10 ft.|
|4th||+3||+4||+4||+4||Art of the deadly wind, ki strike (magic), slow fall||20 ft.||1d8||+1||+10 ft.|
|5th||+3||+4||+4||+4||Purity of body, unburdened path (1/round)||20 ft.||1d8||+1||+10 ft.|
|6th||+4||+5||+5||+5||Bonus feat, philosophy, still mind, way of the beasts||40 ft.||1d8||+1||+20 ft.|
|7th||+5||+5||+5||+5||Resilient body (10)||40 ft.||1d8||+1||+20 ft.|
|8th||+6/+1||+6||+6||+6||Deadly weapons, ki strike +2 (lawful), walk the river and the clouds||40 ft.||1d10||+2||+20 ft.|
|9th||+6/+1||+6||+6||+6||Improved evasion, the way between the ways, way of the beasts||60 ft.||1d10||+2||+30 ft.|
|10th||+7/+2||+7||+7||+7||Finishing move, way of the elements (secondary)||60 ft.||1d10||+2||+30 ft.|
|11th||+8/+3||+7||+7||+7||Bonus feat, diamond body, resilient body (20/10)||60 ft.||1d10||+2||+30 ft.|
|12th||+9/+4||+8||+8||+8||Abundant step, ki strike +3 (adamantine), way of the beasts||80 ft.||2d6||+3||+40 ft.|
|13th||+9/+4||+8||+8||+8||Diamond soul, touching the ripples (blindsight 30 ft.)||80 ft.||2d6||+3||+40 ft.|
|14th||+10/+5||+9||+9||+9||Unburdened path (1/2 class level)||80 ft.||2d6||+3||+40 ft.|
|15th||+11/+6/+1||+9||+9||+9||Resilient body (30/20/10), the ways unite, way of the beasts||100 ft.||2d6||+4||+50 ft.|
|16th||+12/+7/+2||+10||+10||+10||Bonus feat, ki strike +4||100 ft.||2d8||+4||+50 ft.|
|17th||+12/+7/+2||+10||+10||+10||Timeless body||100 ft.||2d8||+4||+50 ft.|
|18th||+13/+8/+3||+11||+11||+11||Diamond mind, way of the beasts||Any||2d8||+5||+60 ft.|
|19th||+14/+9/+4||+11||+11||+11||Empty body||Any||2d8||+5||+60 ft.|
|20th||+15/+10/+5||+12||+12||+12||Ki strike +5, mastery of ki, perfect self||Any||2d10||+6||+60 ft.|
Class Skills (4 + Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
1: A monk using unarmed strikes or special monk weapons uses a good BAB instead; see Martial Training
2: Table shows unarmed damage for Medium creatures.
3: Monks that follow the way of Water move 10 feet more; monks that follow the way of Earth move 10 feet less.
4: Monks that follow the way of Air have a distance increase of 10 feet.
All of the following are class features of the Monk.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Monks are proficient with all simple weapons plus the handaxe, kama, kukri, nunchaku, sai, shortsword, shuriken, siangham and spiked chain. Monks are not proficient with any armor or shields.
When wearing armor, using a shield, or carrying a heavy load, a monk loses her AC bonus, as well as her fast movement, slow fall, and all her ki abilities.
AC Bonus (Ex): When unarmored and unencumbered, the monk adds her Wisdom bonus (if any) to her AC; monks who follow the path of Earth use Constitution instead. In addition, a monk gains a +1 bonus to AC at certain intervals, as shown on the table above. The bonuses are not cumulative.
These bonuses to AC apply even against touch attacks or when the monk is flat-footed. She loses these bonuses when she is immobilized or helpless, when she wears any armor, when she carries a shield, or when she carries a heavy load.
Unarmed Strike: At 1st level, a monk gains Improved Unarmed Strike as a bonus feat.
A monk’s attacks may be with either fist interchangeably or even from elbows, knees, and feet. This means that a monk may even make unarmed strikes with her hands full. Exception: a monk may not use unarmed strikes if she holds a weapon in each hand (or a double weapon) if she is using the Two-Weapon Fighting feat. She may, however, use unarmed strikes with the Two-Weapon Fighting feat if she holds only one weapon or none (in the case of none, treat each unarmed strike as a separate weapon for purposes of qualifying). There is no such thing as an off-hand damage penalty for a monk striking unarmed, she may thus apply her full Strength bonus on damage rolls for all her unarmed strikes.
Usually a monk’s unarmed strikes deal lethal damage, but she can choose to deal nonlethal damage instead with no penalty on her attack roll. She has the same choice to deal lethal or nonlethal damage while grappling.
A monk’s unarmed strike is treated both as 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 her unarmed strikes than a normal person would, as shown on the table above. The unarmed damage on the table above is for Medium monks. A Small monk deals less damage than the amount given there with her unarmed attacks, while a Large monk deals more damage; see the following table.
|Small Monk||Large Monk|
|1st - 3rd||1d4||1d8|
|4th - 7th||1d6||2d6|
|8th - 11th||1d8||2d8|
|12th - 15th||1d10||3d6|
|16th - 19th||2d6||3d8|
Martial Training: When unarmored and either unarmed or wielding special monk weapons (including darts, slings and shuriken), a monk fights as if her base attack bonus was equal to her class level. Thus, a 7th level monk fights as if she had a base attack bonus of +7 and may make a second attack as a full attack action, as usual. If the monk gains levels in another class, her base attack bonus when using unarmed strikes or special monk weapons is equal to her class level plus her base attack bonus with the other classes (thus, a 7th level monk/2nd level rogue would be considered as having a base attack bonus of +8).
Furthermore, the monk can choose to specialize in a specific style of combat. The monk must be unarmed (or wielding a special monk weapon) and unarmored to gain the bonuses from the combat style, but she needs not meet these requisites to use the granted bonus feat. The styles of combat are shown as follows:
- Cobra Strike: followers of this style of combat prefer to move over the battlefield delivering solid strikes rather than remaining still. A monk learning the Cobra Strike style gains the Spring Attack feat as a bonus feat, even if she does not meet the prerequisites. At 5th level, the monk deals an extra 1d6 points of damage on the first attack whenever she charges or uses the Spring Attack feat; this damage increases by 1d6 for every five levels afterwards. At 10th level, if the monk has the Bounding Assault (see Player's Handbook II) feat or the ability to make an extra attack while using Spring Attack or charge, she may spread her damage dice between attacks.
- Denying Stance: followers of this style of combat focus on denying the advantage of enemies whenever they use combat maneuvers, or move too nearby. A monk learning the Denying Stance style gains Combat Reflexes as a bonus feat, even if she does not meet the prerequisites. At 5th level, and every five levels afterwards, the monk gains a +1 bonus on opposed disarm or trip checks. At 10th level, if the monk succeeds on the attack of opportunity, it may elect to deal no damage but instead daze the opponent for 1 round. A Fortitude save (DC=damage dealt) negates the effect.
- Empty Hand: followers of this style of combat focus on their unarmed strikes to the exclusion of other weapons. A monk learning the Empty Hand style gains Improved Natural Attack as a bonus feat, but applying only to her unarmed strike. At 5th level and every five levels afterwards, the monk deals 2 extra points of damage when making unarmed strikes. At 10th level, if the monk makes a single attack as a full-round action, she deals double damage if successful, as well as with all attacks done until the beginning of the next round.
- Flurry of Blows: followers of this style of combat deliver hits at blazing speeds, delivering two hits where one would suffice. A monk learning the Flurry of Blows style gains Snap Kick (see Tome of Battle: the Book of Nine Swords) as a bonus feat. At 5th level, and again at 15th level, the penalty for using the Snap Kick feat is reduced by 1. At 10th level, the monk may make an extra attack at her highest base attack bonus when making a full attack action.
- Invisible Eye: followers of this style fight with no problems even within the darkness. A monk learning the Invisible Eye style gains Blind-Fight as a bonus feat. At 5th level, and every five levels afterwards, the monk gains a +1 bonus on attack and damage rolls when blinded. At 10th level, whenever a monk is forced to roll for concealment, she rolls three times and chooses the best result: if the monk bypasses concealment on all three rolls, the creature becomes outlined for 1 round (only once per round).
- Meditation of War: followers of this style fight battles in their mind, seeking the correct course of action to land a devastating strike that ends the battle in a single blow. A monk learning the Meditation of War style gains Stunning Fist as a bonus feat, even if she does not meet the prerequisites. At 5th level, and every five levels afterwards, the monk gains a +1 bonus to the Stunning Fist DC. At 10th level, a creature that succeeds on the saving throw against the use of Stunning Fist by 5 or more still remains dazed for 1 round.
- Overwhelming Assault: followers of this style go in all-out offense, pressing the advantage delivered by a brutal offensive. A monk learning the Overwhelming Assault style gains Power Attack as a bonus feat even if she does not meet the prerequisites, which may be used with unarmed strikes or special monk weapons. At 5th level, and every five levels afterwards, the monk gains a +1 bonus on all bull rush and overrun checks, and ignores 1 point of hardness when making a sunder attempt. At 10th level, for every point of BAB sacrificed while using the Power Attack feat, the monk deals 2 points of damage (effectively, a monk deals double damage when using Power Attack) when using an unarmed strike or a special monk weapon (regardless of being a light, one-handed or two-handed weapon); furthermore, she is treated as if having BAB equal to her monk level plus her BAB from other classes (as if the monk had full BAB) to determine the maximum penalty to attack rolls.
- Passive Way: followers of this style of combat fight defensively, preferring counter attacks to be their most devastating technique. A monk learning the Passive Way style gains Combat Expertise as a bonus feat. At 5th level, and every five levels afterwards, the monk gains a +1 insight bonus on AC when fighting defensively, using the total defense maneuver or the Combat Expertise feat. At 10th level, if the monk following this style fights defensively, uses the total defense maneuver or the Combat Expertise feat, any creature that attacks her provokes an attack of opportunity.
- Vicious Grip: followers of this style of combat prefer to hold their opponents into a grapple, halting their movement and slowly defeating them. A monk learning the Vicious Grip style gains Improved Grapple as a bonus feat even if she does not meet the prerequisites. At 5th level, and every five levels afterwards, the monk gains a +1 bonus on all opposed grapple checks and damage dealt while grappling. At 10th level, the monk is treated as one size larger when making a grapple check (gaining the appropriate bonus on opposed grapple checks), which stacks with any other ability that increases size (such as the enlarge person spell).
At 10th level, the monk may decide to follow a second martial style. If she chooses to, she gains the bonus feat related to the style and gains the indicated bonus as a monk of 10 levels lower, but does not gain the specific 10th level benefit of her primary style.
Ki Power (Su): A monk can channel her ki to enhance her mobility, defense, and special attacks through a variety of powers. She can use her ki powers a number of times per day equal to her class level plus her Wisdom bonus (if any); monks that follow the way of Earth or Fire (see below) add their Constitution or Strength bonuses instead, respectively. Ki powers can only be used if the monk is wearing no armor or shield and carries no more than a medium load. As long as a monk’s ki pool isn’t empty, she may use all of her supernatural abilities (except Slow Fall, Ki Strike and Diamond Soul which are always active). A monk’s ki powers are described under separate entries below. Unless indicated, all abilities that require an expenditure of ki power are done as swift actions.
Way of the Elements: At 2nd level, a monk must choose a style of martial arts that represents her perspective upon the world, based upon one of the four elements. Her choice of element determines the ability score in which she will focus, as well as which combat maneuvers she has preference for. The elements are described as follows:
- Air: the monk that chooses the way of Air is fleet like the wind, developing a swift and deadly style. When attacking with unarmed strikes or special monk weapons, she may use her Dexterity modifier instead of her Strength modifier for her attack rolls and damage rolls. She may also use her Dexterity modifier instead of her Strength modifier when making a disarm or trip check.
- Earth:: the monk that chooses the way of Earth is strong like stone, developing a deadly style that allows for greater resilience. The monk may use her Constitution modifier instead of her Wisdom modifier to determine her bonus to AC, her ki pool and other monk abilities that depend on Wisdom (including the Stunning Fist feat, if she so chooses). She may also use her Constitution modifier instead of her Strength modifier when grappling.
- Fire:: the monk that chooses the way of Fire focuses on overwhelming her enemy through sheer force, consuming her opponents as she passes. The monk adds 1-1/2 times her Strength modifier to the damage rolls with her unarmed strikes or special monk weapons (twice her Strength modifier if using a quarterstaff or another two-handed special monk weapon). She may also use her Strength modifier instead of her Wisdom modifier to determine her ki pool and the DC of various monk abilities (including the Stunning Fist feat, if she so chooses).
- Water:: the monk that chooses the way of Water is constantly in motion, receding back and striking with greater strength once she returns. When attacking with unarmed strikes or special monk weapons, she may use her Wisdom modifier instead of her Strength modifier for her attack rolls and damage rolls. She may also use her Wisdom modifier instead of her Strength modifier when making bull rush, overrun or trip checks.
By expending a daily use of her ki power, the monk may sheathe her fists in elemental energy. For a number of rounds equal to half her class level (rounded up), all attacks the monk makes with her unarmed strikes deal an extra 1d6 points of damage of an energy type related to the path she has chosen (air=electricity, earth=acid, water=cold). The monk may expend daily uses of her Stunning Fist feat (if she has them), but this effect lasts only for 1 round; at 5th level it lasts for 2 rounds and at 10th level it lasts for 3 rounds.
Evasion (Ex): At 2nd level or higher if a monk makes a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, she 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.
Wholeness of Body (Su): At 2nd level or higher, a monk can heal her own wounds with nothing but a thought. As a swift action, the monk can heal a number of hit points of damage equal to her current class level times her Wisdom modifier (Constitution for Earth monks, Strength for Fire monks); she may choose to spend all points at once or spread them on several uses, but she replenishes her pool of healing at the beginning of a new combat encounter.
If the monk expends a daily use of her ki power when activating the wholeness of body ability, she gains an increased benefit based on her choice of element. This benefit lasts for 1 round, plus 1 round for every five class levels:
- Air: +5 dodge bonus on AC and Reflex saving throws
- Earth: damage reduction X/adamantine, where X is equal to the monk's class level (minimum 5)
- Fire: +5 competence bonus on attack rolls and damage rolls
- Water: +5 bonus on all saving throws
Way of the Beast: At 3rd level, a monk expands her vision of life by emulating the traits of animals. Her chosen way teaches her skills of great utility in her path towards perfection.
The monk may choose between one of the following animal-related abilities. Each way provides certain bonuses which can be improved by expending daily uses of ki. At 6th level and every three levels afterwards, the monk may choose the same ability to improve her bonus or choose a new ability. The monk may gain further benefits if she progresses through the same path more than once.
- Clever Monkey: As the monkey leaps amongst trees to evade ground hazards, so does the monk leaps her way from hazards and seeks the upper ground. The monk gains a +2 bonus on all Climb checks and the trap sense ability as a rogue. Every time she chooses this ability, her bonus to Climb checks increase by 2 and her trap sense bonus increases by 1. By expending a daily use of ki, the monk gains the benefit of the spider climb spell cast by a sorcerer of half her class level, but her climb speed is equal to half her base land speed instead.
- Devious Predator: The best hunters never reveal themselves until their prey is already within their grasp, or dead; the monk focuses her training into becoming undetectable. The monk gains a +5 bonus to Hide and Move Silently checks, but only to cancel the penalties for movement; if this path is chosen three times or more, the bonus applies to attacks as well (including charges). By expending a daily use of her ki power, she gains the benefit of an invisibility spell cast by a sorcerer of half her class level; if she chooses this ability three times or more, she may remain invisible after attacking for the first few rounds of activation (as if a greater invisibility spell had been cast by a sorcerer of half her class level).
- Elegant Crane: The crane's natural elegance reinforces the monk's poise, instilling strength upon her words and weakening the mental resolve of her opponents. The monk gains a +2 bonus on Diplomacy checks when speaking as a full-round action (instead of a minute); for every time this ability is chosen, the monk learns to speak, write and understand a new language of her choice (as if she had spent a rank on Speak Language; once this choice is made, it is permanent and may not be changed). By expending a daily use of her ki power, the monk may make a suggestion as the spell cast by a sorcerer of her class level, except the saving throw DC is equal to the result of her Diplomacy check minus 10.
- Faithful Hound: Much like the dog or the wolf, the monk's senses are capable of catching the most minuscule detail to alert her allies. The monk gains a +2 bonus on all reflexive Listen and Spot checks (those checks done as part of a free action). If she chooses this ability two times, she gains uncanny dodge; if she chooses this ability three times or more, the monk gains improved uncanny dodge instead, except a rogue must be four levels higher than her monk level plus levels in any other class that grants uncanny dodge. By expending a daily use of her ki ability, she gains the scent quality for a number of minutes equal to 10 times her class level, and she may apply her bonuses to Listen and Spot on her Survival checks; as well, she is considered as if having the Track feat (if she already has it, she gains a further +2 bonus on Survival checks to track the enemy).
- Graceful Swan: The swan masters air, water and even ground with incomparable grace; the monk likewise masters combat and grace whether in firm ground or in flowing water. She gains a +2 bonus on all Swim checks for every three class levels. When holding her breath, the monk adds her ranks in Concentration, any bonus to Concentration checks, and twice the bonus to Constitution checks; may make Concentration checks instead of Constitution checks after said period, and she may battle underwater without losing rounds of air. By expending a daily use of her ki power as a swift action, the monk gains the effect of a water breathing spell cast by a cleric of her class level and a swim speed equal to half her base land speed for the same amount of time.
- Leaping Dragon: The dragon does not leap, but when taking flight, it impulses towards the air with unearthly grace, and soars upon the air as a lance thrust towards the heavens; in such way, the monk emulates the dragon's supremacy over air. A monk gains a +2 bonus on Jump checks and is always considered as making a running leap, even if she does not run; if she does, she gains a +10 bonus on the Jump check. If she chooses this ability three times or more, when making a Jump check for a high jump, the number of feet she may leap is equal to twice the result of her check (instead of four times her result) and has no maximum reach; if she uses a quarterstaff or a polearm with reach (such as a ranseur), she adds 5 feet to her leaping distance. If she makes a Jump check as part of a charge she adds 2 points of damage for each time this ability is chosen. By expending a daily use of her ki power as a swift action whenever she is 10 ft. over the ground, the monk gains the benefit of the levitate spell as a sorcerer of her class level, except she cannot move vertically or horizontally except as part of a Jump check or allowing herself to fall. A monk following the way of the Leaping Dragon that gains the ability to walk in air (see Walk the River and the Clouds, below) may activate her levitating ability and her air-walking ability by expending only 1 daily use of ki (instead of two).
- Patient Tortoise: The tortoise moves at its own pace and allows nothing to distract it from moving forward; in the same way, the monk moves slowly but surely upon her path, drawing upon the resilience of the tortoise whenever afflictions hinder her way. The monk gains 3 hit points and a +1 bonus on her Concentration checks each time she chooses this ability. By expending one daily use of ki as a swift action, the monk may make a Concentration check instead of a Fortitude or Will save once per round for the remainder of the encounter.
- Sagacious Owl: The owl is a symbol of wisdom for it sees beyond the veil of reality and into the mists of the unknown; the monk draws upon the reserves of knowledge of the owl to find solutions to her questions. The monk may make Knowledge checks as if she had 1 rank in them (even if she has no ranks) and gains a +2 bonus on all Knowledge checks. The monk may use her Wisdom modifier instead of her Intelligence modifier (if higher) to make Knowledge checks. If the monk chooses this ability three times or more, she gains the lore ability (as the loremaster class ability) except the bonus on her rolls is equal to her class level plus her Wisdom modifier. By expending a daily use of her ki power she may duplicate the effect of a legend lore spell cast by a sorcerer of her class level, but you must have the object or person at hand (thus, it always takes at least 1d4x10 minutes) and you may gain knowledge of creatures with an effective character level or Challenge Rating equal to the monk's class level -4 or 11, whichever is higher.
- Tenacious Badger: The badger suffers no fool that dare enters its territory; at the cost of patience, the monk can draw incredible reserves of strength and ferocity. The monk gains a +2 bonus to her Intimidate checks for every three class levels to demoralize her enemies; if her hit points reach 50% or lower, she applies this bonus to all her damage rolls until she receives healing that takes her above this amount. By expending a daily use of her ki power as a swift action, the monk may enter a rage (as the barbarian's class feature) for a number of rounds equal to half her class level; she is treated as a barbarian of three levels lower to determine the bonuses of her rage and class features that augment her rage (such as indomitable will).
Fast Movement (Ex): At 3rd level, a monk gains an bonus to her land speed, as shown on the table above. A monk in armor or carrying a medium or heavy load loses this extra speed. A monk that follows the way of Air or Water gains a further +10 bonus to land speed, while a monk that follows the way of Earth has a movement bonus of 10 feet less (and thus gain this ability at 6th level).
Fleeting Step (Su): At 3rd level, a monk may expend one daily use of her ki power as a swift action to move up to her land speed. A monk that follows the way of Air may move an extra 10 ft. A monk that follows the way of Fire also gains concealment for 1 round.
Touching the Ripples (Su): At 3rd level, a monk gains a supernatural awareness that allows her to feel the emotions of her opponents, sensing their presence even at the loss of sight. The monk gains blindsense to a distance of 30 feet (defeated by sound), which can be activated or deactivated as a free action (by closing her eyes). If the monk already has blindsense (by means of a racial ability, for example), the range of her blindsense increases by an extra 30 feet. By spending a daily use of her ki power, she may instead gain blindsight (also defeated by sound), but limited to 30 feet (regardless of whether she originally has blindsense or not), for a number of rounds equal to half her class level. A monk that follows the way of Water may sense creatures even within an area of silence; a monk that follows the way of Earth also gains tremorsense (and she may detect enemies touching the ground or any wall with her blindsight).
At 13th level, a monk gains permanent blindsight (defeated by sound) to a distance of 30 feet, and her blindsense (and tremorsense) extends to a distance of 60 feet. If she already has blindsight (by means of a racial ability, for example), her blindsight instead increases by an extra 30 feet. If she had blindsense by any means other than this class ability (such as a racial ability, her range doubles instead. If she expends a daily use of her ki power, her blindsight extends an extra 30 feet (this replaces the original ability).
Art of the Deadly Wind (Ex): At 4th level, the monk’s expertise with martial arts improves. When she uses seemingly weak ranged attacks, her strikes are much more lethal and reach a greater distance than usual.
When the monk uses a dart, a sling, or a shuriken, the monk deals damage with the weapon as if she was using an unarmed strike, but of a monk of her level -3 (thus, she deals 1d6 points of damage if Medium at 4th level). These weapons are not treated as if they were unarmed strikes for purposes of the ki strike ability (see below). As well, her range increment is equal to 50 ft. if it doesn’t have that range increment already; at every 4 levels after the 4th, the range increment of the weapon increases by 10 ft.
Depending on the elemental way she follows, the monk may gain certain extra abilities:
- Air: the range increment of the weapon increases by a further 10 feet every 4 levels. She adds her Dexterity modifier to her damage rolls. She may draw sling bullets, darts and shuriken as if she had the Quick Draw feat, but only for these weapons.
- Earth: the monk may deal damage with darts, sling bullets, shuriken and stones (if used with a sling) and use her full unarmed strike damage. In the case of stones thrown from slings, she gains no penalty to attack rolls and she deals damage as if the stone was of a creature her size.
- Fire: the monk adds 1-1/2 times her Strength modifier to damage rolls with these weapons, and may use her Strength modifier instead of her Dexterity modifier for attack rolls.
- Water: the monk uses her Wisdom modifier instead of her Strength or Dexterity modifier for attack and damage rolls with these weapons.
If the campaign has the following available, the monk may provide the benefits of this ability to the following weapons: blowgun, greater blowgun.
Ki Strike (Su): At 4th level, a monk’s unarmed attacks are empowered with ki. Her unarmed attacks are treated as magic weapons for the purpose of dealing damage to creatures with damage reduction. Ki strike improves with the character’s monk level. At 8th level, her unarmed attacks are also treated as lawful weapons for the purpose of dealing damage to creatures with damage reduction. At 12th level, her unarmed attacks are treated as adamantine weapons for the purpose of dealing damage to creatures with damage reduction and bypassing hardness.
Furthermore, starting from 4th level the monk’s unarmed attacks are more accurate and strong. A 4th level monk gains a +1 bonus on attack rolls and damage rolls when attacking with an unarmed strike; this bonus increases by 1 every four levels. Treat this bonus as an enhancement bonus for purposes of which abilities stack with it (thus, a 4th level monk wouldn’t benefit from magic weapon or magic fang, but it could take benefit from greater magic weapon or greater magic fang if it so desires).
By expending several daily uses of her ki power, a monk’s ki strike temporarily improves. At 4th level, the monk may spend one daily use to increase the bonus on attack and damage rolls from her unarmed strikes by 1 (but the bonus cannot exceed +5 until 20th level). At 8th level, the monk may spend two daily uses to grant her unarmed strikes gain the axiomatic weapon special ability, and at 12th level she may spend three daily use to grant her weapons ignore all kinds of damage reduction. These enhancements are cumulative (a monk need only spend two daily uses to gain the enhancement bonus and the axiomatic special ability, and three daily uses for all effects), and last for a period of rounds equal to half her class level. If the monk gains the axiomatic special quality or the ability to ignore all damage reduction as an enhancement, she need only spend one or two daily uses of ki and gain the remaining enhancements.
If a class progresses ki strike, levels in monk stack with levels in that class to determine the effective enhancement bonus with unarmed strikes, but not with the other provided abilities (such as bypassing DR or ki expenditures). A monk cannot extend her ki strike ability to her natural weapons (unarmed strikes are not considered as natural weapons for these purposes, nor slam attacks).
Slow Fall (Ex) or (Su): At 4th level or higher, a monk takes damage from any fall as if it were shorter. The amount of distance reduced by this ability is shown on Table: The Monk. As well, a monk may expend one daily use of her ki pool as an immediate action to gain the effect of a feather fall spell; this latter ability is a supernatural ability. A monk that follows the way of Air adds 10 feet to the distance she may fall safely; a monk that follows the way of Earth takes one less dice of damage while falling.
Unburdened Path (Su): At 5th level, a monk may spend one daily use of her ki power as a swift action to ignore any effects that hamper or impede movement, as if having a freedom of movement spell cast upon itself, until the next round. At 14th level, the effect lasts instead for a number of rounds equal to half her class level. A monk following the way of Air or Water doubles the duration of this ability.
Bonus Feat: At 6th level and every 5 levels, a monk gains a bonus feat. The monk may choose from the list of fighter bonus feats. A monk is considered as a fighter of her class level -2 for feats that have a fighter level prerequisite.
Philosophy (Su): At 6th level, the monk chooses a philosophy to follow. This philosophy grants her the ability to harness her power to advance her cause. Once a philosophy is chosen, the decision is permanent and may not be changed.
- Path of Harmonious Balance: a monk that follows the Path of Harmonious Balance seeks peace with the world. Normally, only lawful good monks and a group of lawful neutral monks choose this path, but the path is not tied to a specific alignment (aside from the monk's lawful alignment); a lawful evil monk may find the utility of peace with the world to further her own means. A monk that chooses this feat exudes an aura of peace, forcing all creatures that make melee attacks against the monk to make a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 the monk's class level + the monk's Wisdom modifier; Earth monks use Constitution, Fire monks use Strength) or fail to proceed with the attack and deny the opponent the ability to make melee attacks against it (as the sanctuary spell, except it is constantly active). A successful Will save negates the benefit, and the benefit is negated for the remainder of the encounter if the monk engages in combat (by making a melee or ranged attack, casting a spell if it knows any, or executing any special combat maneuver except grappling or tripping, and the monk may not deal damage during or immediately after grappling or tripping). By expending a daily use of her ki power as a standard action, the monk may emit a burst of healing that cures all allies within 30 feet a number of hit points equal to 1d4 for every two class levels after the 5th (2d4 at 7th level, 3d4 at 9th level, and so forth).
- Path of Ineffable Dominion: a monk that follows the Path of Inevitable Dominion seeks to unify the world upon her discipline. Normally, only lawful evil monks and a group of lawful neutral monks choose this path, but the path is not tied to a specific alignment (aside from the monk's lawful alignment); a lawful good monk may seek to unify the world within a fair and just discipline and is generally accepting of those who dissent with her. A monk that chooses this path gains the frightful presence ability (as that of a dragon), but the save DC is equal to 10 + 1/2 the monk's class level + the monk's Wisdom modifier (Earth monks use Constitution, Fire monks use Strength), and affects all creatures of a Challenge Rating equal or lower than the monk's level +2. By expending a daily use of her ki power as a swift action, whenever the monk makes a successful attack, the enemy must succeed on a Fortitude saving throw (DC equal to her frightful presence ability) or become fatigued; if the target becomes fatigued or exhausted, the monk gains a number of temporary hit points equal to 5+the creature's Hit Dice, that last for a number of rounds equal to half her class level. These temporary hit points do not stack, but overlap. This benefit lasts for a number of rounds equal to half her class level.
- Path of the Riddle of Equilibrium: a monk that follows the Path of the Riddle of Equilibrium follows an inevitable axiom of the universe; good and evil cannot exist without each other. A great deal of lawful neutral monks follow this path, but the path itself is not tied to alignment (aside from the monk's lawful alignment); lawful good or lawful evil monks may recognize this fundamental axiom and reach peace with the unusual understanding they receive. A monk that chooses this path is treated as if it were both good and evil for purposes of spells and effects that target alignment, regardless of actual alignment; in the case a spell varies based on alignment, the monk is treated as if it were of the most beneficial alignment (thus, a monk that follows this path may use weapons enchanted with the holy or unholy special quality without receiving negative levels). By expending a daily use of her ki power as a swift action as part of an attack, the target of the attack is subject to a targeted dispel magic effect as if cast by a cleric of the monk's class level, except there is no limit to the dispel check bonus.
Still Mind (Su): A monk of 6th level or higher may expend a daily use of her ki power as an immediate action to become immune to spells and effects with the fear or mind-affecting descriptor until her next round. A monk that follows the way of Earth instead becomes immune to spells and effects with such descriptors for a number of rounds equal to half her class level. A monk that follows the way of Fire not only becomes immune to fear or mind-affecting effects, but also reflects the effect back to the caster or user (thus, if a Fire monk were to be affected by a phantasmal killer spell, she returns it to the caster)
Resilient Body (Su): At 7th level, a monk is capable of strengthening her mind to partially ignore the effect of the elements in her body, but at a very limited scale. She gains resistance 10 to the energy type related to her choice of elemental way (Air= electricity, Earth= acid, Water= cold). By expending a daily use of her ki power, her elemental resistance increases by 10 points for a number of rounds equal to her class levels.
At 11th level, her resistance with the energy type related to her elemental way increases to 20, and she gains resistance 10 against all other energy types except sonic and that which opposes her elemental way (Air opposes Earth, Fire opposes Water, and viceversa). Expending a daily use of her ki power increases the energy resistance of her choice by 10 points instead of only the energy type related to her elemental way, but this does not allow her to increase her energy resistance with her opposing element. This increase applies to any type of energy resistance, not just the one gained from this ability.
At 15th level, her resistance with all energy types except sonic increase by 10 (including the energy type related to her opposing element), and spending a daily use of her ki power increases her resistance with all energy types except sonic by 10.
Deadly Weapons (Ex): At 8th level, a monk can use certain weapons with such grace, that she can deliver far deadlier blows than others who pursue her arts.
When using a club, kama, nunchaku, quarterstaff, sai or siangham, the monk deals damage with the weapon as if she was using an unarmed strike, but of a monk of her level -3 (thus, she deals 1d8 points of damage if Medium). These weapons are not treated as if they were unarmed strikes for purposes of the ki strike ability (see above). As well, she gains a special ability when using any of these weapons:
- Club: a monk may use a club to deliver daily uses of her Stunning Fist feat (if she has it).
- Kama: upon a successful trip attempt, the monk may deal damage with the kama as if she had succeeded on a melee attack, but she only deals half the damage she would have usually dealt. This applies even if she has the Improved Trip feat.
- Nunchaku or Sai: when using a disarm attempt, the monk may decide to “lock” the weapon instead of merely disarming. She may make this special disarm attempt even when her enemy uses natural weapons, but it applies only to one such natural weapon (thus, if the enemy has two claws, she may apply this effect only to one of the claws). Until the creature attempts to move away from the monk, the creature may not use this weapon, nor the monk may use her nunchaku or sai (but she may still use her unarmed strikes if she so desires); if the creature wields a manufactured weapon and attempts to move away, the monk may force another disarm attempt to remove the weapon from the creature’s hands.
- Quarterstaff: the monk may use a quarterstaff as a reach weapon if she so desires. If she has the Two-Weapon Fighting feat, she may not fight with the quarterstaff as a double weapon and apply the reach; only one or the other. However, her damage with both ends of the weapon increases as indicated above.
- Siangham: the monk may use a feint attempt with a siangham. She may use her (modified) base attack bonus plus her Wisdom modifier or her Bluff check plus her Wisdom modifier for the feint, whichever is higher (Earth monks use Constitution, Fire monks use Strength). She may use this special feint with the siangham as a swift action, and the loss of the creature’s Dexterity modifier to AC applies to all attacks she makes until the end of her turn (thus, she may apply this to a single attack, or to a full attack action).
Walk the River and the Clouds (Ex) or (Su): At 8th level, a monk is capable of leaping and moving with such grace that she seems to move through the air.
The monk may float above 1 ft. above the ground, gliding as she walks along, unconcerned by difficult terrain. While she remains within 1 foot of a flat surface of any solid or liquid, she can take normal actions and make normal attacks, and can move at her normal speed (she can even “run” at four times her normal speed). However, at distances higher than 1 foot above any surface, her speed diminishes to 10 feet per round. While she remains within 1 foot of a surface, she can make melee and ranged attacks normally, but if she moves any higher, she incurs the penalties on melee and ranged attack rolls as if she were the subject of the levitate spell or the psionic levitate power.
A monk choosing the way of air ignores the combat and movement restrictions when floating higher than 1 ft. She must use another way to reach higher altitude (such as the levitate spell or the way of the Leaping Dragon (see above).
By expending a daily use of ki, the monk gains the benefit of the air walk spell for a number of minutes equal to 10 times her class level. She may ignore the combat and movement restrictions when using this ability.
Improved Evasion (Ex): At 9th level, a monk’s evasion ability improves. She still takes no damage on a successful Reflex saving throw against attacks, but henceforth she takes only half damage on a failed save. A helpless monk does not gain the benefit of improved evasion.
The Way Between the Ways (Su): At 9th level, the monk's choice of elemental way and philosophy merge, granting her an unusual ability which she may activate by expending one daily use of her ki power (unless otherwise indicated). The monk needs only to follow the indicated element (either primary or secondary) and/or the indicated philosophy to use these abilities; if the monk follows the path of Harmonious Balance or Ineffable Dominion, she may not use an ability of the opposite path regardless of the element chosen. All abilities last for a number of rounds equal to half her character level (unless the effect is of instantaneous duration). All saving throw DCs are based on saving throw DC of the Stunning Fist feat (10 + 1/2 the monk's class level + the monk's Wisdom modifier: Earth monks use Constitution and Fire monks use Strength) and are modified by spells or effects that improve Stunning Fist.
- Aligning the Heavens: all casters within 30 feet of the monk gain a +1 bonus to their caster level. This applies to manifesters, meldshapers and users of mysteries, but not to creatures that use spell-like or psi-like abilities. Martial adepts that use maneuvers or stances that depend on initiator level are treated as if their initiator level was one higher instead. To use this ability, the monk must follow the way of Water or the Path of the Riddle of Equilibrium.
- All-Consuming Flame: as part of a melee attack or when activating the benefit of the Path of Ineffable Dominion, the monk may force the enemy to succeed on a Reflex save or catch on fire, except the damage increases by 1d6 points of damage for every 3 class levels. This ability works regardless of whether the target can catch fire or not. To use this ability, the monk must follow the way of Fire or the Path of Ineffable Dominion.
- Dance of the Clouds: all allies within 30 feet of the monk gain concealment, as if they were under the effect of a blur spell. To use this ability, the monk must follow the way of Air or the Path of the Riddle of Equilibrium.
- Difficulty at the Beginning: the monk can remove fatigue, exhaustion and ability damage as if using a lesser restoration spell on all allies within 30 ft (or as part of the healing burst ability of the Path of Harmonious Balance). To use this ability, the monk must follow the way of Water or the Path of Harmonious Balance.
- Grasp the Earth Dragon: all allies within 30 feet of the monk gain immunity to daze, stun and sleep. To use this ability, the monk must follow the way of Earth or the Path of the Riddle of Equilibrium.
- Lifting the Veil: the monk can remove blindness or deafness as if using a remove blindness/deafness spell on all allies within 30 ft (or as part of the healing burst ability of the Path of Harmonious Balance). To use this ability, the monk must follow the way of Air or the Path of Harmonious Balance.
- Porous Soul: when activating the benefit of Path of Ineffable Dominion, a failed save also causes the target to take a -1 penalty to Armor Class and Fortitude saves for every 3 class levels. To use this ability, the monk must follow the way of Earth or the Path of Ineffable Dominion.
- Restoring the Balance: the monk can remove curses afflicting the target as if using a remove curse spell cast by a cleric of her class level on all allies within 30 ft (or as part of the healing burst ability of the Path of Harmonious Balance). To use this ability, the monk must follow the way of Fire or the Path of Harmonious Balance.
- Static Charge: when touching an enemy or activating the benefit of Path of Ineffable Dominion, a failed save also causes the target to take a -1 penalty to all attack and damage rolls, as well as all saves against stun, for every three levels. To use this ability, the monk must follow the way of Air or the Path of Ineffable Dominion.
- The Receptive Earth: the monk can remove poisons and diseases as if using a remove disease or neutralize poison spell on all allies within 30 ft. (or as part of the bealing burst ability of the Path of Harmonious Balnace). To use this ability, the monk must follow the way of Earth or the Path of Harmonious Balance.
- Walk the Sun: all allies within 30 feet of the monk gain a +2 bonus on all attack rolls, saving throws and skill checks as if they received the benefit of a heroism spell except the bonus is untyped. To use this ability, the monk must follow the way of Fire or the Path of the Riddle of Equilibrium.
- Winter's Chill: when touching an enemy or activating the benefit of Path of Ineffable Dominion, a failed save also causes the target to take a -1 penalty to all damage rolls and Reflex saving throws for every 3 levels. To use this ability, the monk must follow the way of Water or the Path of Ineffable Dominion.
Finishing Move (Su): At 10th level, if the monk has expended a daily use of her ki power (or daily use of her Stunning Fist feat) to deal elemental damage with her weapons, she may elect to end this benefit as a swift action. If she does so, she may activate the following abilities, based on her choice of elemental way:
- Air: the next melee attack deals 1d6 points of electricity damage per two class levels and the target must succeed on a Will saving throw or become paralyzed for 1 round.
- Earth: the next melee attack deals 1d6 points of acid damage per two class levels and the target must succeed on a Fortitude saving throw or become nauseated for a number of rounds equal to half her class level.
- Fire: the monk unleashes a cone of fire that deals 1d6 points of fire damage per two class levels on a 15 ft. range, as if using the burning hands spell. If the affected creatures fail their Reflex saves, they catch on fire.
- Water: the next melee attack deals 1d6 points of cold damage per two class levels and the target must succeed on a Reflex saving throw or become slowed for a number of rounds equal to half her class level.
Diamond Body (Ex) or (Su): At 11th level, a monk’s skin becomes unnaturally resilient. She gains damage reduction 10, which can only be bypassed by magic or chaotic-aligned weapons. As well, may expend a daily use of her ki power to gain temporary increased resiliency to damage. The monk increases her DR to 15/magic and chaotic for a number of rounds equal to half her class level plus her Wisdom modifier (Strength for Fire monks); this increase is treated as a supernatural ability. At 20th level, this changes to DR 20/epic and chaotic. A monk that follows the way of Earth gains DR 10/chaotic and adamantine at 11th level, increases her DR to 15/chaotic and adamantine by expending a daily use of her ki ability (and uses Constitution instead of Wisdom), and at 20th level she increases her DR to 20/epic, chaotic and adamantine.
Abundant Step (Ex) or (Su): At 12th level or higher, the monk can move to half her land speed as a free action once per round. She may not use a 5-foot step in the same round she uses this ability. Her movement while using this ability is affected as usual, except she does not provoke an attack of opportunity when moving out of a threatened space. She may also use the Balance, Jump and Tumble skills as part of this movement.
As well, a monk may expend a daily use of her ki power to slip magically between spaces, as if using the spell dimension door, except she uses it as a move action and can act her remaining actions afterwards. Her caster level for this effect is one-half her monk level (rounded down). A monk that follows the way of Fire releases a 5 ft. radius burst of flames on the spot where she teleports from, dealing damage as if using her finishing move (1d6 fire damage/2 class levels). These latter abilities is a supernatural ability.
Diamond Soul (Ex): At 13th level, a monk gains spell resistance equal to her current monk level + 10; monks following the way of Water gain spell resistance equal to her current monk level +15 instead. By spending one daily use of her ki pool, the monk may add her Wisdom modifier to her spell resistance for a number of rounds equal to half her class level; Earth monks add Constitution and Fire monks use Strength instead. Beneficial spells (those with the [harmless] descriptor) are not affected by this kind of spell resistance, even if the spell is originally subject to it.
The Ways Unite (Su): At 15th level, the monk reaches a pinnacle of understanding regarding her pathways towards enlightenment that allows her to surpass seemingly impossible obstacles and achieve impossible tasks:
- Path of the Conqueror: the monk ignores resistances to energy types, and deals half energy damage to creatures immune to that energy whenever she deals energy damage.
- Path of Denial: the monk ignores immunities to various conditions (such as daze, energy drain, instant death and so on), but the creature holding immunity to such moves gains a bonus to the saving throw equal to 10 - the monk's Wisdom modifier (monks of Earth or Fire use Constitution or Strength, respectively), up to a minimum of +0.
- Path of Embodiment: the monk gains immunity to the energy type related to her primary elemental way. Whenever she would receive energy damage, she instead heals one-third of the damage she would have otherwise taken (thus, a monk that chooses the Way of Fire that takes 18 points of fire damage would heal 6 points). If the monk gains an elemental subtype, she may ignore any weakness from said subtype (thus, a monk with the fire subtype following the Way of Fire ignores weakness to cold damage).
Timeless Body (Ex) or (Su): Upon attaining 17th level, a monk no longer takes penalties to her ability scores for aging and cannot be magically aged. Any such penalties that she has already taken, however, remain in place. Bonuses still accrue, and the monk still dies of old age when her time is up.
As well, by spending three daily uses of her ki power as an immediate action, a monk may ignore the effects of any spell that affects the passage of time, but only for herself. For example, a monk that uses this ability may ignore the effects of temporal stasis, and may act as normal while under a time stop spell cast by another. The use of this ability is considered a supernatural ability.
Diamond Mind (Su): Upon reaching 18th level, a monk becomes immune to all mind-affecting spells and effects. She may gain the benefit of mind-affecting abilities such as inspire courage, or positive morale effects.
Empty Mind (Su): At 19th level, a monk may expend one daily use of her ki power to gain the ability to assume an ethereal state, as though using the spell etherealness, for a number of rounds equal to half her class level. While ethereal (through this ability or similar effects), a monk may attack creatures on the Material Plane using her unarmed strikes or special monk weapons.
Perfect Self: At 20th level, a monk becomes a magical creature. She is forevermore treated as an outsider with the native subtype for the purpose of spells and magical effects, but retains any other subtype (such as elf or orc, for example). The monk also gains a special ability based on her choice of philosophy:
- Path of Harmonious Balance: fast healing equal to 5 plus her class level. Any lost limbs or body parts reattach instantly when pressed against the wound in the body.
- Path of Ineffable Dominion: whenever the monk succeeds on a natural 20 roll, the creature must succeed on a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 the monk's class level + the monk's Wisdom modifier; monks of Earth or Fire use Constitution or Strength, respectively) or die. Creatures immune to instant death instead take an extra 100 points of damage.
- Path of the Riddle of Equilibrium: the monk is equally healed by positive or negative energy, and is treated as having the most beneficial alignment whenever a spell or effect depends on one.
Mastery of Ki (Su): At 20th level, a monk’s mastery of ki reaches a pinnacle. She may reduce the cost of all abilities that require daily uses of her ki power by one, up to a minimum of one. As well, she does not lose her supernatural abilities if her daily uses of ki power are completely expended.
A monk who becomes nonlawful cannot gain new levels as a monk but retains all monk abilities.
Note: the author offers this progression in accordance to the Epic Levels rules as presented in the Epic Level Handbook. The author does not endorse a great deal of the things in the book, and may offer a different progression in the future.
|Level||Special||AC Bonus||Speed Bonus|
|21st||Bonus Feat, Way of the Beasts||+6||+70 ft.|
|24th||Ki Strike +6, Way of the Beasts||+7||+80 ft.|
|26th||Bonus Feat||+8||+80 ft.|
|27th||Way of the Beasts||+8||+90 ft.|
|28th||Ki Strike +7||+8||+90 ft.|
|30th||Way of the Beasts||+9||+100 ft.|
4 + Int modifier skill points per level.
Unarmed Strike: An Epic Monk does not progress its unarmed strike after 20th level.
AC Bonus: An Epic Monk gains a +1 bonus to AC at 23rd level, and every six class levels afterwards
Fast Movement: At 21st level, and every three levels afterwards, an Epic Monk gains a +10 ft. increase to its base land speed.
Way of the Beasts: An Epic Monk may progress one of its existing ways of the beasts or acquire a new way of the beast at 21st level, and every three class levels afterwards.
Ki Strike: At 21st level, the Epic Monk's unarmed strikes (and special monk weapons) are treated as Epic weapons for purposes of bypassing damage reduction. At 24th level, and every four class levels afterwards, the Epic Monk's unarmed strikes are treated as if having an enhancement bonus 1 higher than the norm. An Epic Monk may expend one of its daily uses of ki power to temporarily increase its unarmed strike enhancement bonus by 1.
Bonus Feats : The epic Monk gains a bonus feat (selected from the list of epic <-class name-> bonus feats) at 21st level and every five levels after the 21st.
Epic Monk Bonus Feat List: Armor Skin, Blinding Speed, Damage Reduction, Energy Resistance, Epic Prowess, Epic Speed, Epic Toughness, Exceptional Deflection, Fast Healing, Improved Combat Reflexes, Improved Ki Strike, Improved Spell Resistance, Improved Stunning Fist, Infinite Deflection, Keen Strike, Legendary Climber, Legendary Wrestler, Reflect Arrows, Righteous Strike, Self-Concealment, Shattering Strike, Vorpal Strike.
Dwarf Monk Starting Package
Skill Selection: Pick a number of skills equal to 4 + Int modifier.
Feat: If Dexterity is 15 or higher, Two-Weapon Fighting. If Dexterity is lower, Weapon Focus (unarmed strike)
Martial Training: Vicious Grip.
Gear: Backpack with waterskin, belt pouch, bedroll, flint & steel, 50 ft. of hempen rope, 2 sunrods, 6 days of trail rations.
Special Monk Weapons
Some weapons, such as the kama, nunchaku, sai, siangham and shuriken are considered “special monk weapons”, which allow the monk to wield them with proficiency and use them as part of their flurry of blows. This retooling grants more utility to such weapons, as well as other weapons that may not seem much use (darts and slings as simple ranged weapons, and quarterstaffs as a simple melee weapon). All of these are located in the Player’s Handbook, while the blowgun is located in the Asian Weapons section of the Dungeon Master’s Guide.
In other supplements, several other monk weapons have appeared, which are not part of the core weapons. If the campaign has access to the following weapons, treat them as special monk weapons; thus, the monk automatically gains proficiency with them, and depending on whether they are ranged or melee, they increase the amount of damage they deal. In the case of melee weapons, the monk also has special features that apply exclusively to them by means of the Deadly Weapons class feature:
- Butterfly Sword (Oriental Adventures p19): a monk may apply the benefits of special abilities and/or enhancement bonuses to attack and damage rolls when using a butterfly sword’s guard to make unarmed strikes (the monk does not actually make an unarmed strike, but uses the weapon’s guard as a knuckle duster and uses a punching motion). Using the butterfly sword in this way allows the monk to deal bludgeoning damage, and deals damage as if using an unarmed strike.
- Cutting Wheel (Secrets of Sarlona p135): a monk treats the cutting wheel as an unarmed strike for purposes of determining damage (thus, a monk deals 1d10 slashing damage with this weapon instead of 1d8). If the monk makes a successful disarm attempt with this weapon, she is treated as if she had succeeded on a melee attack, but she deals only half damage.
- Jitte (Oriental Adventures p19): when fighting with a jitte, the monk gains a +2 bonus to Armor Class while fighting defensively, and a +4 bonus to AC if using total defense. This is in addition to bonuses to Armor Class gained by using these abilities, and stack with any other feat or ability that grants a similar bonus. A character with Improved Disarm may immediately make a disarm attempt with a successful block while using this ability; treat as if using an attack of opportunity, except the monk makes a disarm attempt instead.
- Hook Sword (Secrets of Sarlona p136): a monk is treated as if having the Two-Weapon Fighting feat when using two hook swords, and her hook swords are treated as light weapons for purposes of determining penalties to attack rolls exclusively. If she has the Flying Tiger weapon style feat (see Secrets of Sarlona page 117), she is instead treated as if having Improved Two-Weapon Fighting for purposes of determining extra attacks.
- Lajatang (Oriental Adventures p19): as quarterstaff, but the monk deals slashing damage instead. Also, a monk gains a +2 bonus on disarm attempts when using a lajatang.
- Longstaff (Complete Adventurer p116): as quarterstaff, but a monk using this weapon also gains a +2 shield bonus to Armor Class when fighting defensively, using the total defense action, or using Combat Expertise with a penalty of at least -2.
- Monk's Cane (Secrets of Sarlona p135): this weapon is treated as a throwing weapon for purposes of determining damage when thrown, and as a melee weapon to determine damage when making a melee attack. If she has the Ranged Disarm feat and makes a ranged disarm attempt, the monk is treated as if she had succeeded on a ranged attack, but she deals only half damage.
- Monk's Spade (Secrets of Sarlona p136): as a full-round action, a monk using this weapon may make two attack at all creatures adjacent to her by spinning her weapon, as if she was using the Whirlwind Attack feat. Both attacks are dealt at her highest base attack bonus, but the monk takes a -2 penalty on the attack. The first attack deals the weapon’s slashing damage, while the second attack deals the weapon’s bludgeoning damage (use this to determine which damage type and critical multiplier applies).
- Nekode (Oriental Adventures p19): a monk treats the nekode (or baghnak) as an unarmed strike for purposes of determining damage (thus, a monk deals 1d10 damage with this weapon instead of 1d8). A monk may use the nekode to deal either bludgeoning, piercing or slashing damage (even if the weapon normally allows only piercing damage).
- Steel Flute (Secrets of Sarlona p136): as club.
- Three-Section Staff (Oriental Adventures p19): as quarterstaff. Also, a monk gains a +2 bonus on disarm attempts when using a three-section staff.
- Tonfa (Oriental Adventures p19): when fighting with a tonfa, the monk gains a +2 bonus to Armor Class while fighting defensively, and a +4 bonus to AC if using total defense. This is in addition to bonuses to Armor Class gained by using these abilities, and stack with any other feat or ability that grants a similar bonus. As well, if the monk has the Two-Weapon Defense feat, the shield bonus to AC gained with this feat (and improved versions, such as Improved Two-Weapon Defense) when fighting with two tonfa increases by 2 (but only when using two tonfa). Finally, the monk treats the tonfa as an unarmed strike for purposes of determining damage (thus, a monk deals 1d10 bludgeoning damage with this weapon instead of 1d8).
Monks and Equipment
One particular benefit that most monks may not benefit from is the ability to enchant their unarmed strikes with weapon special qualities, or the ability to benefit from armor or shield special qualities. This is because monks are not proficient with any kind of armor or shield, and because they are better suited to use unarmed strikes. This fact makes monks usually dependent on allies for abilities that they would otherwise gain from a weapon, and causes them to lose their edge very quickly against other martial characters (of particular note the swordsage, whose unarmed adaptation as defined in the Tome of Battle: the Book of Nine Swords is often considered a clear replacement to the monk). Monks may benefit from items such as amulets of mighty fists and bracers of armor without losing their combat abilities (such as their AC bonus or their slow fall), but these are often costlier than wearing light armor.
One way to address this trouble is to allow some equipment to improve unarmed strikes. The deadly weapons class ability of the retooled monk grants a measure of power with special monk weapons, but it still leaves the monk’s signature weapon (her body) without benefit. One way is to allow gauntlets to count as unarmed strikes for purposes of determining damage and whether the monk may use special abilities with them (such as flurry of blows); that way, the monk may “enchant” her unarmed strikes with existing weapons. For purposes of armor, bracers of armor and robes that grant armor bonuses may be enchanted as if they were masterwork armor, with the cost of enhancements added to the general cost of the item (but this latter option is also quite expensive, even more than wielding armor).
Another option is to allow certain items to be enhanced as if they were weapons or armor which may be used by the monk. As a recommendation, a monk may wield special handwraps which may contain special enhancements and which cost is negligible; in this case, treat the handwraps as if they were masterwork weapons for purposes of enchanting them, but do not add the 300 gp cost. Similarly, treat monk outfits as if they were masterwork armor for purposes of receiving armor special enhancements, using the rules for handwraps. It is the DMs decision whether only the monk, or classes that have skill with unarmed strikes as the monk, may benefit from these special items or whether they are usable by anyone; in the former case, only monks, ninja, samurai, sohei and swordsages may benefit from these items (the latter regardless of whether it is adapted to gain the unarmed strike progression of a monk or not).
Finally, albeit a difficult method, is to directly enchant the monk’s body with the special enhancements, allowing the monk to gain weapon and armor special enhancements with the added benefit of always having them, instead of gaining them through a weapon or suit of armor. The way to do this requires a ritual in which the monk must meditate while the crafter imbues the arcane (or divine) energies to create magic items into the body through a series of unguents and etchings. Treat the ritual as if enchanting a masterwork weapon or armor (or improving an already magical item), except the monk and the caster must both be in the area, and both must refrain from making any other activities while the ritual is in place. Once finished, the monk gains the benefit of the weapon or armor special enhancement. A monk may have its unarmed strikes and body directly enhanced with special abilities after 4th level (when the monk gains the ki strike class ability and her first bonus to AC), and she is treated as if a weapon (or armor) with a +1 enhancement bonus. The DM may determine whether a monk’s body may be enhanced directly, albeit the former methods to provide monks with weapon and armor special abilities are recommended over this method.
|Allowed Alignments||Lawful Good +, Lawful Neutral + and Lawful Evil +|
|Article Balance||High +|
|Author||T.G. Oskar +|
|Base Attack Bonus Progression||Moderate +|
|Class Ability Progression||Full +|
|Fortitude Save Progression||Good +|
|Identifier||3.5 Class +|
|Reflex Save Progression||Good +|
|Skill||Balance +, Climb +, Concentration +, Craft +, Diplomacy +, Escape Artist +, Hide +, Intimidate +, Jump +, Knowledge +, Listen +, Move Silently +, Open Lock +, Perform +, Profession +, Sense Motive +, Spot +, Swim + and Tumble +|
|Skill Points||4 +|
|Summary||A retooling of the Monk that addresses some of its main problems while making it mechanically distinct to the Unarmed Swordsage +|
|Title||Monk, Retooled +|
|Will Save Progression||Good +|