View Full Version : [3.5/Pathfinder] Monk tweak: shifting the focus to combat maneuvers

2009-12-22, 01:44 PM
I've spent too many hours reading and thinking about threads such as What would fix monks? (http://paizo.com/paizo/messageboards/paizoPublishing/pathfinder/pathfinderRPG/general/whatWouldFixMonks), Do you hear the grasshopper that is at your feet? (http://paizo.com/paizo/messageboards/paizoPublishing/pathfinder/pathfinderRPG/general/doYouHearTheGrasshopperThatIsAtYourFeetOrDearPaizo PleaseGiveUsAMonkBaseClass) and Monks: A Treantmonk Guide (Optimization) (http://paizo.com/paizo/messageboards/paizoPublishing/pathfinder/pathfinderRPG/general/monksATreantmonkGuideOptimization) and from all of those threads and posts the main point I'm finding is that the monk is an "advanced" class within the range of base classes. You could play them for flavor, but to play them effectively in combat you probably need to spend more time optimizing and gaining more system mastery if you want to remain standing at the end of each encounter.

After reading all that, plus years prior of posts on many forums I lean into the camp that monks still need a bit more work, barring a complete overhaul I've been trying to pin down how best to elegantly tweak the monk so that it does its own thing really well and very clearly.

The biggest problem is that the flurry of blows is a bit of a distraction. They can't outperform other classes in sheer damage power and they can't remain standing as long as other martial classes, and yet their major feature is to stand still and do full attacks.

For years I've seen people start to play a monk and then be disappointed as they drop in almost every encounter. The response to that is "don't play them like a fighter" but the problem is that the flurry of blows mechanics scream at you to play as a fighter, at least until you've really sunk your teeth into the game system, become an advanced player and start massaging your tactics.

What really ought to be highlighted by the monk is being the masters of combat maneuvers. Reflexively people should be equating monks with the CMs.

To try and shift the spotlight, I'd suggest that the maneuver training monk class feature be shifted to first level and the wording change to:

Maneuver Training (Ex)

At 1st level, when a monk initiates a combat maneuver he does not provoke an attack of opportunity from the target. A monk 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.

Further, under the weapons and armor proficiency section:

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, flurry of blows, and Maneuver Training abilities.

Now, this does step on the toes off all of the "improved" combat maneuver feats, however it is just a small squish and doesn't negate the desire or need to take these feats if you really want to dominate in a particular combat maneuver.

What this tweak would do though is stress the versatility of the monk, which is ultimately what the monk is aimed at anyways, but it makes it more clear that if the party needs a certain kind of martial condition or effect done in the middle of a fight, the monk is the one that can most likely pull it off.

One thing I've seen consistently over the years has been that people have a near allergic reaction to provoking attacks of opportunity. They just don't want to take the risk, and so that essentially means that most of the combat maneuvers are written out of the game unless the player decides to make a particular maneuver their little trick. By waving away the provoking at level 1 with the monk it brings all of these moves right up front and encourages their use.

In that way the tweak isn't just a boring wisdom bonus to some core metric, but instead pulls out the more flavorful moves in the game and lets everyone see them in action far more often.

The issue of front loading and dipping is solved by the fact that the maneuver training is negated by armor, which greatly reduces the dipping factor, and honestly if someone who is playing a wizard or sorcerer wants to dip away from their full casting abilities, then by all means!