Yes, I know this is better than basically every published monk prestige class. However, in my defense, I refer you to the fact that monks are awful, and monk prcs other than the casters are nearly as bad. So hopefully this brings them up to respectability.
Plus, it should be fun. >:D
I have achieved Nirvana in flesh.
Deep in the heart of Mechanus lies the Order of the Gear. The monastery is a perfectly circular tower, and the rooms within are concentric rings, with metallic walls laid out at geometrically regular intervals. Each room has exactly the same area, and though the dimensions vary, they do so in a clear progression which is both exact and aesthetic.
In the central courtyard train the Clockwork Cenobites (or Metal Monks, as some like to call them), a sect of militant meditants who have achieved the understanding that the vagaries of flesh can never truly represent the perfection of self that others of the same persuasion seek. No, to achieve true order and enlightenment, flesh must be replaced with the rigidity and constancy of metal.
Through training, meditation, and strictly-adhered-to ritual, initiates to the Order are taught to transform the outer layers of their skin into protective metal, fashioned after the perfection of Nirvana, and then (when their training is complete) to unleash their will upon the world, infusing rigid order into chaotic situations.
BECOMING A CLOCKWORK CENOBITE
To become a clockwork cenobite, a character must have training in unarmed combat, and must have the correct mindset to enter as an initiate. While non-monks can enter the class, only characters with training and background in the search for personal and physical enlightenment will unlock the full benefit of becoming a clockwork cenobite.
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
Skills: Concentration 8 ranks
Feats: Improved Unarmed Strike, Stunning Fist
Special: Must undergo the Rite of Gears, supervised by a Clockwork Cenobite of at least 3rd level.
Rite of Gears
This extremely formalized ritual must be undertaken upon acquiring enough experience (and meeting the prerequisites) to take the first level in Clockwork Cenobite. It involves several days of fasting and meditation and 1000 gp in specially-prepared mineral oils. At the end of the Rite, the initiate enters the prestige class, growing the Mechanus Skin for the first time.
The Class Name's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Balance (Dex), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Hide (Dex), Jump (Str), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Spot (Wis), Swim (Str), and Tumble (Dex).
Skills Points at Each Level: 4 + int
Hit Dice: d10
1st|+1|+2|+2|+2|Clockwork Style, Mechanus Skin
2nd|+2|+3|+3|+3|Infinite Gyre, Refined Musculature +2
3rd|+3|+3|+3|+3|Inevitable Strike, Initiation
4th|+4|+3|+3|+3|Mechanus Motion, Synchronicity
5th|+5|+4|+4|+4|Refined Musculature +4, Ordered Flight
6th|+6|+4|+4|+4|Great Gear of Nirvana
7th|+7|+5|+5|+5|Improved Inevitable Strike
8th|+8|+5|+5|+5|Refined Musculature +6, Immutability
Weapon and Armor Proficiencies: A clockwork cenobite is proficient with unarmed strikes, monk weapons, and natural weapons, and with Mechanus Gear Armor.
Clockwork Style: The Order of the Gear teaches enlightenment through absolute perfection, achieved via meditation, transformation, and physical prowess. A clockwork cenobite's class levels stack with his monk levels for the purpose of determining his unarmed damage, bonus to Armor Class, unarmored speed bonus, slow fall distance, and uses of the Stunning Fist feat. His class levels do not apply to other monk abilities such as flurry of blows, etc. If he does not have any actual levels in monk (effective levels gained from feats or items don't count), then he gains no benefit from this ability.
Mechanus Skin (Ex): Upon undergoing the Rite of Gears, a clockwork cenobite learns to alter his body towards physical enlightenment, to become more than he was. He gains the ability to grow an array of cogs, gears, plates, and other metal parts on top of his skin, forming a suit of Mechanus Gear armor (Planar Handbook, pg 69-70). The suit requires 8 hours to grow, but this process can take place at night while the clockwork cenobite is sleeping. The cenobite can sleep in his Mechanus Skin without penalty.
While wearing his Mechanus Skin, the clockwork cenobite counts as unarmored for the purposes of his monk abilities (if any). While the armor reduces his base speed as normal, the cenobite's unarmored speed bonus is applied after the reduction (so a human monk 5/clockwork cenobite 4 would have a speed of 15 + 30 = 45 feet).
The clockwork cenobite cannot take off his Mechanus Skin, but can choose to shed it. Doing this requires 10 minutes of concentration and results in sloughing off a pile of cogs, gears, and scrap metal that crumbles to dust if handled. The mechanus skin can be enchanted just as other armor can, using the Craft Magic Arms and Armor feat. The clockwork cenobite must be present for the entire time it takes to enchant the Skin, and each time he sheds and regrows it, the Skin is identically enchanted. In addition, spells and infusions that normally target armor, such as magic vestment, can be cast with the Mechanus Skin as the target, just as for any other suit of armor.
Finally, a clockwork cenobite learns to use his Mechanus Skin to improve his unarmed strikes. Any unarmed strikes he makes while wearing his Mechanus Skin ignore damage reduction and hardness as if made of adamantine. In addition, if the clockwork cenobite has the Ki Strike (Magic) ability, he can enchant the Mechanus Skin as a weapon, just like as armor (or affect it with infusions and spells intended for weapons). In this case, any enhancement bonus or weapon properties apply to any unarmed strikes he makes while wearing the Mechanus Skin.
Infinite Gyre (Ex): Starting at 2nd level, a clockwork cenobite learns to move with the endless rotation of the Gears of Mechanus, which tends to cause disorientation in his opponentes. Whenever a creature misses the clockwork cenobite with an attack, that creature suffers a cumulative -1 penalty to all attack rolls until the end of the encounter. In any round where the creature does not attack the clockwork cenobite, the penalty is reduced by 1 (to a minimum of no penalty).
Refined Musculature (Ex): Beginning at 2nd level, the a clockwork cenobite integrates his Mechanus Skin more closely with the underlying muscles and joints. He increases the max Dex bonus by +2 and reduces the armor check penalty of his Mechanus Skin by +3, increasing by +2 and +3 respectively every 3 levels after.
In addition, if he has the Purity of Body class feature, the clockwork cenobite gains a 25% chance to negate critical hits and precision damage while wearing his Mechanus Skin. This chance increases by 25% every 3 levels, to a maximum of 75% at 8th level.
Inevitable Strike (Ex): At 3rd level, a clockwork cenobite achieves the next level in his training, learning to attack like an inexorable force of order, an unstoppable Inevitable. When making an unarmed strike, the clockwork cenobite can spend a daily use of Stunning Fist as a free action to make an inevitable strike. He must choose to use this ability before making his attack roll. If the attack misses, as long as the attack roll was higher than a natural 1, the target of the inevitable strike takes damage equal to the clockwork cenobite's base unarmed strike damage (not including Strength or any other damage bonuses). If the attack hits, he instead deals maximum damage. This ability can be used a maximum of once per round.
Initiation: Upon achieving 3rd level, a clockwork cenobite is considered versed enough in the Order's lore to assist new initiates in the Rite of Gears.
Mechanus Motion (Ex): Beginning at 4th level, a clockwork cenobite moves with the same regularity and immovable purpose as the gears of Mechanus, and no one else will change that without extreme effort. Whenever an effect (other than a teleportation effect) moves the cenobite against his will, reduce the distance he is moved by 10 feet + his slow fall distance (if any).
Synchronicity (Ex): A clockwork cenobite of 4th level or higher has begun to understand that every event in the Multiverse has been planned and predetermined. By predicting the inexorable progression of events, the clockwork cenobite can place himself in the best possible position. A number of times per day equal to his Wisdom modifier, the clockwork cenobite can spend an immediate action be in the right place at the right time, intercepting an attack, targeted spell, or similar effect which was intended for an ally adjacent to him. The attack or effect targets him instead, and if an attack roll is required, it must beat his AC as normal. If the clockwork cenobite has the Slow Fall ability, he may intercept any attack within his Slow Fall distance, without moving from his position.
Ordered Flight (Su): Upon reaching 5th level, a clockwork cenobite gains an intuitive understanding that true motion occurs in all three dimensions; such is the natural order of the Universe, and to oppose it is incomprehensible. He gains a flight speed equal to his unarmored speed bonus, with good maneuverability. If he has the Slow Fall ability, the clockwork cenobite's maneuverability improves to perfect whenever he is within his slow fall distance of a surface (a wall, the ground, etc.). This speed is not reduced by the Mechanus Skin, though fly speeds or other movement modes gained through other ways might be.
Great Gear of Nirvana (Su): At 6th level, whenever he makes a successful unarmed strike attack, a clockwork cenobite may spend a use of Stunning Fist as an immediate action to conjure an enormous gear from Mechanus, which binds the struck opponent. The opponent must make a Reflex save (DC equal to Stunning Fist save DC) or be grappled by the gear for a number of rounds equal to the clockwork cenobite's Wisdom modifier. Each round, a grappled character can attempt to escape the grapple as a standard action with an Escape Artist check at the same DC. The gear may also be destroyed, freeing the individual inside. It has an AC of 10, hardness 20, and 100 hit points.
Unlike a normal grapple, neither the gear nor the bound opponent need make grapple checks. A bound creature can move up to half their speed with a move action by making a Strength check at the same DC.
Wonderful image by Keynub:
Improved Inevitable Strike (Ex): Beginning at 7th level, whenever a clockwork cenobite uses his Inevitable Strike ability, he may instead spend two uses of Stunning Fist to do normal damage on a missed attack (as long as the attack roll was not a natural 1) or double maximum damage on a successful attack.
Immutability (Ex): A clockwork cenobite of 8th level or higher achieves a form of magical enlightenment, in understanding that most magical effects are anathemic to the natural, perfect order of the Universe, and thus ignorable. The clockwork cenobite gains spell resistance equal to 10 + character level + Wisdom modifier, which he can raise or lower as a free action.
Greater Synchronicity (Ex): Beginning at 9th level, a clockwork cenobite has become one with the machinery of existence, moving exactly as he has been predestined to move. The clockwork cenobite can enforce adherence to this gracefully-choreographed dance of fate and perfection. As an immediate action, the clockwork cenobite can spend two uses of his Synchronicity ability to change the target of an attack, spell, or similar effect. An effect which originally targets an ally can be redirected at any valid ally within range of the effect, while an effect which originally targets an enemy can be redirected at any enemy within range of the effect. The new target is allowed a Will save, if it wishes, at a DC of 10 + 1/2 character level + Wisdom modifier; on a successful save, the effect continues to target the originally intended subject.
The clockwork cenobite must be aware of an attack, spell, or similar effect to use this ability, and it must occur within a distance of 10 feet times the cenobite's Wisdom modifier.
Perfection: Upon reaching 10th level, a clockwork cenobite completes his transformation, becoming the most perfect possible version of himself. He is a paragon of the Order, and gains a morale bonus to Charisma-based skill checks equal to his Wisdom modifier when used against other clockwork cenobites. His type changes to Construct, with the Living Construct subtype. He also becomes immune to critical hits, precision damage, and mind-affecting spells and effects.
In addition, you can enter a state where no event, no creature or god, can mar your perfect self. While in this state, your body ignores all harmful (and helpful) effects for 1 round, during which time you are invulnerable to all attacks, spells, powers, and similar effects. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to your Wisdom modifier, as a swift action.
PLAYING A CLOCKWORK CENOBITE
A clockwork cenobite is a mithril monk, an adamantine adept, a titanium ninja. He recalls the inevitables and other enlightened beings of Mechanus, seeking to achieve physical, mental, and magical enlightenment. Training alone or with others of the Order, he refines his mental, physical, and spiritual essence until he has reached Nirvana in all ways.
Combat: As this class is built off of a monk base, it is primarily a melee combatant. It should have significantly more potent offensive and defensive capabilities compared to a standard monk, due to increased base attack bonus, several class features using Stunning Fist, and of course the Mechanus Skin. At high level, it also gains spell resistance and a number of immunities.
Advancement: This class pairs well with monk and unarmed swordsage, and with other classes and abilities which improved unarmed fighting.
Resources: Clockwork cenobites can sometimes inspire others by leading through example, but can also have problems with folks who find their single-minded dedication to personal perfection to be overly narrow.
CLOCKWORK CENOBITE IN THE WORLD
I just don't understand... I thought it was some sort of golem, at first, but it moved so fast! It punched that dragon right in the nose, somehow avoided the fiery breath, flew into the air, and then there was this enormous gear, right around the dragon's midsection! I think I need to quit drinking before noon...
A clockwork cenobite does not seek to push others toward enlightenment -- he understands that most creatures do not possess the capacity for perfection that he does. His expectations are more internal and introspective. A cenobite will often be amused by (and sometimes condescending toward) others who do not understand their own inconstancy and imperfections. He stands as a gleaming example of what is possible, though most choose to set less lofty personal goals.
Daily Life: A clockwork cenobite's day begins with meditation and exercise, whether or not he is adventuring. He spends time polishing and maintaining his Mechanus Skin, and works through his rigorous training routine. Then, if he is in residence at the Order, he may take some time to instruct initiates and evaluate hopefuls. More meditation, along with individual and group training, follows. In contrast, an adventuring clockwork cenobite meditates on the road, and practices his clockwork style upon the bodies of his enemies.
Notables: The founder of the Order of the Gear is a being known only as Axiom, whom it is said resides deep within the gear upon which the monastery is built, in a state of perpetual meditation. Legend tells that Axiom was once a human man, but in discovering and mastering the Rite of Gears, he became something much, much more.
The current head of the Order is Ellera Song, originally an elf maiden who forsook her people's independent and chaotic ways to achieve a unity of being unparalleled in the current generations of the Order.
Organizations: The Order of the Gear is the foremost organization of clockwork cenobites. There is at least one chapter house of the Order on most planes, though they tend to be stashed away in remote places away from prying eyes and minds. Each is architecturally styled to match the original cylindrical monastery, and built on a gear-shaped platform of metal.
At a chapter house, a prospective can begin training in the techniques of physical enlightenment, and be evaluated for promise and dedication. The very best are sent directly to Mechanus to be taught by the foremost members of the Order.
Well, y'see, there's this metal man who comes round ever' now 'n 'gain. Puts th' hurtin' on any folk what wants ter break th' law, real graceful-like. At first I thought 'e were just wearin' armor, but 'e don't move like a knight... Never seen 'is like afore, nor heard stories. Not sure what 'e is, ter be right honest. But 'e always asks permission o' the Mayor, so 'e can't be all bad, and it ain't like we never seen stranger. Maybe some kind o' golem sheriff...? 'E's real polite, too.
CLOCKWORK CENOBITE IN THE GAME
The clockwork cenobite is that rarest of commodities, an effective monk tank. It's primarily a melee character, with greatly enhanced offensive and defensive capabilities compared to the standard monk.
Adaptation: In one campaign, the Order of the Gear could be a group of magical experiments created by infecting elite soldiers with golem-parasites which slowly take over their biological systems. In another, the Order could instead be associated with dryads, growing wooden armor and eventually becoming living plant-people. In a sci-fi setting, the clockwork cenobite can easily be refluffed as a crew of cyborg or genetically-engineered martial artists whose outer skin and flesh have been replaced with robotics or some sort of carapace, respectively.
Encounters: An NPC Clockwork Cenobite would likely belong to the local chapter house of the Order, as an initiate or full member. Alternatively, one could be traveling, to carry out a mission furthering the Order's interests as determined on Mechanus.
EL 12: Soria Gendry was raised at the Order of the Gear on Mechanus. She has spent her entire life training with the higher echelons of the Order, and is a shining (or, more appropriately, gleaming) example of their teachings. Soria is now a trusted agent and enforcer of the Order, and is sent on missions, particularly to aid chapter houses throughout the planes which are having difficulties.
The party encounters Soria as she examines the spoor of a medley of slaadi which recently ransacked the nearby Order chapter house. She's attempting to track the slaadi and mete out justice. She's willing to hire the party to aid her, since she's not much of a tracker.
Female LN Axani Martial Monk 6/Clockwork Cenobite 5
Init +8, Senses Listen +12, Spot +12, Low-light vision
AC 31 (+3 Dex +4 Wis +2 monk +12 armor), touch 23, flat-footed 28
hp 86 (11d8+33 HD)
Fort +12, Ref +12, Will +13
Speed 45 ft. (9 squares), fly 30 feet (good/perfect)
Melee Unarmed strike +14/+9 melee (2d10+5,20/x2)
Base Atk +9, Grp +13
Atk Options Snap kick, decisive strike, inevitable strike, stunning fist
Combat Gear Monk's belt
Abilities Str 18, Dex 16, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 18, Cha 8
SQ Evasion, still mind, slow fall 30 feet, purity of body, ac bonus, unarmored speed bonus, clockwork style, mechanus skin, infinite gyre, refined musculature +4, initiation, mechanus motion, synchronicity, ordered flight
Feats Improved Unarmed Strike, Snap Kick, Combat Reflexes, Superior Unarmed Strike, Expeditious Dodge, Elusive Target, Stunning Fist, Improved Trip
Skills Tumble 14 ranks, Concentration 8 ranks, Spot 14 ranks, Listen 14 ranks, Diplomacy 6 ranks
Possessions Mechanus Skin (+2 nimbleness ghost ward; +1 warning), monk's belt