View Full Version : monks and stunning fists: flurry of questions

2009-05-19, 05:43 PM
Hi guys,

I know that the monk is one of the more interesting classes out there.

However, the monk class does lend itself to a nice little feat called Stunning Fist. You get to use it a lot more, and you can qualify for it nice and early so you can get related feats.

If one optimizes Stunning Fist, does it make monk more viable? Is Stunning Fist optimization a good idea to begin with?

As for optimizing SF, I like that feat in CW that puts a strength penalty on instead (AFB), the Pharaoh's Fist from Sandstorm (AoE stunning fist), and Ability Focus. Am I missing something I should know about?

And is monk (and PrC derivatives thereof) the best way to go about this, or is a completely different area of classes superior in this regard?

2009-05-19, 05:51 PM
Ability Focus adds to the DC and there is a feat in BoED that can add to the DC as well. Freezing the Lifeblood from Complete Warrior lets you Paralyze for 1d4+1 Rounds, which leaves it open to Coupe de Graces though CDG against Helpless creatures breaks Vow of Peace and Nonviolence. I hope that helps.

Best of luck

2009-05-19, 11:31 PM
If one optimizes Stunning Fist, does it make monk more viable? Is Stunning Fist optimization a good idea to begin with?

Most folks optimize Stunning Fist by not taking it or using it to activate some other ability (such as Fiery Fist, Fiery Ki Defense, or Ki Blast). The save DC doesn't scale up fast enough to keep pace with the Fort saves of most CR-appropriate opponents. Freezing the Lifeblood may help a little bit on the save DC, but by the time most monks qualify for it (ECL 15), most monsters are immune to stun or have a Fort save of +ROFL, and wizards are tossing around irresistable dance, power word stun, and acid fog forcecages.

And is monk (and PrC derivatives thereof) the best way to go about this, or is a completely different area of classes superior in this regard?

White Raven Hammer FTW. But for the sake of everyone's sanity, it's probably best not to ask if there are classes that can do better what the monk is supposed to do.

If you want to optimize Stunning Fist... I suppose I'd start with an Anthropomorphic Bat (+6 Wisdom, 0 LA). You're still small, but maybe take Human Heritage so you can use potions of enlarge person until you can afford a Fiendring or Phylactery of Change. At ECL 6, take Leadership for a Hexblade Cohort that can debuff enemy Fort saves for you. Then just stand behind your cohort until he tells you it's safe to come out.

2009-05-19, 11:42 PM
If one optimizes Stunning Fist, does it make monk more viable? Is Stunning Fist optimization a good idea to begin with?

The problem with stunning fist is 1) Its not usable against anything thats immune to crits. That means no undead, oozes constructs, plants.. almost half the monster manual. 2) Things with good fort saves will be almost immune to it.

2009-05-20, 12:42 AM
Sandstorm has some nice feats that require Stunning Fist. Pharaoh's Fist stuns your target and all creatures adjacent to it, you have to take Ability Focus separately for it but once you have it you won't need to use your normal Stunning Fist ever again. Rattlesnake Strike allows you to inflict Con damage with your unarmed strike at the cost of Stunning Fist uses, it functions like poison but never says it is poison so it bypasses poison immunity, but not immunity to Fort save effects. The DC is separate from Stunning Fist and Pharaoh's Fist so you have to take Ability Focus separately for it. Rapid Stunning from CW will allow you to deliver these attacks more frequently. A Human Monk can get Stunning Fist, Pharaoh's Fist, and Ability Focus: Pharaoh's Fist at level 1. Rattlesnake Strike requires Improved Initiative, so you can still take it at level 1 with a Human Monk but Ability Focus would have to wait until level 3, and 1d3 Con damage a few times/day isn't as significant as stunning a whole group of opponents.

For a completely different Monk build, try going with a grappler using the Aberration Blood feats in Lords of Madness. Go Human Monk 6/ Psionic Fist 10/ anything 4, with Improved Grapple, Aberration Blood: Flexible Limbs, Inhuman Reach, Deepspawn, Warped Mind (instead of Wild Talent), Practiced Manifester, Starspawn, and possibly Power Attack and/or Knock-Down. Your powers known should include Expansion, Grip of Iron, Inertial Armor, and whatever else you want. That gets a 10 ft. natural reach with Combat Reflexes and Improved Trip, +8 to grapple from feats, and can use Expansion and Grip of Iron. It's a capable tripper, an extraordinary grappler, and gets an array of psionic powers with a nonmagical fly speed, all before level 10.

2009-05-20, 04:32 AM
With the Pharoah's Fist feat mentioned above, it can become decent, but I've toyed with this idea myself (on these boards, no less), and come to a single conclusion :

Limited to Fort saves isn't going to work.

We (that is, the boards) tossed around other ideas; We never did come up with a decent Will-save effect, but a Dragonborn Monk can take the breath weapon option and pick up reflex-save debuffs for that. As a nice side effect, it also means you aren't setting your Stunning Fists on fire and watching them burn in a single combat.

The idea was to push your defenses, con, and wis as high as you can (for survivability, hit points/breath DC, and Fist DC respectively), use alternate bits for Stunning Fist like Pharoah's Fist, and annoy things with Entangle Exhalation or whatever that feat is. You'd be weaker than a wizard doing the same things, but you'd ... well... have a higher foot speed? After level 12, anyway...

There were also a couple alternate-stunning-fist feats from the Oriental Adventures book that could blind a target on a failed fort save, or apply a -6 penalty to Strength (No save, I think, but touch attack/no damage). These required a higher base attack to access, though.

2009-05-20, 07:16 AM
It depends on your DM, style of foes, etc. The monk in my campaign is maxing out his stunning fist (Intuitive strike to attack, so his wisdom is also his attack stat) and is doing fine. Embarassingly fine. He's dropped several baddies, including a big bad with his stuns.

If you face casters? It rocks. Humanoid opponents tend to be good.
After all, 10+1/2 level+your strongest stat will keep up with even a strong fort save character, especially once you add an ability focus and an item or two (Ki Straps add +2 Enhancement to the DC; the Garyn's monastic array adds a typeless +1 DC).

Big monsters tend to have strong fort saves, so it's never going to be certain - but you just dump out one per round and you might well get a round or two advantage; it's not like you are using an action to use it either. There's a feat that causes your stunning fist to cause a round of nausea after the stun, it's awesome. Honestly, given that you're getting to try to stun essentially for free, you can't go wrong. you were going to punch anyway, at worst you deal damage and don't manage to stun, at best you gain a round or two advantage.

2009-05-20, 08:29 PM
Monk needs to have a Ki pool like the Ninja. Maybe be allowed to deliver a REALLY powerful Stunning fist by spending Ki points or something.

And they need to be able to do more than one Stunning Fist per turn.