A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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    Default Retiering the Classes: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife

    In this thread, we will cover those weird mediocre melee classes with a bunch of supernatural abilities that range from terrible to kinda decent. The monk is the classic class along these lines, with its wonky once/day or even once/week abilities alongside standard punch power. The battle dancer is patterned after the monk somewhat, except with dance theming, the mountebank has a bunch of infernal supernatural abilities running around, and the soulknife has a crappy supernatural weapon. This is also a weirdly dragon compendium based thread, given the battle dancer and mountebank both come from there, but whatcha gonna do? I realize only in this late hour that I should have done this yesterday, for monkday, but such is the way of the world.

    Battle Dancer (DC, 26): On the upside, you get full BAB, which is nice. On the downside, your abilities are probably even worse than the monk's. You get some decent ones eventually, but it's not enough to make up for most of your levels being super crappy.

    Monk: I think that the true defining quote for the monk comes from the dead levels web enhancement, "Players always have something to look forward to with the monk, which boasts the most colorful and unique special abilities of all the character classes." As much derision as that quote gets, it's not entirely wrong. The monk has a lot of really cool and really interesting abilities, and it is this fact that drives much of the interest in the class. But, of course, those abilities suck. There's a reason the quote calls these abilities colorful and unique rather than, y'know, good and useful. Still, the monk does have some optimization potential to it, between its potent ACFs, kinda wonky unarmed strike mechanic, and occasionally useful monk specific thing.

    I think that there's going to be a lot of weirdness to untangle with this class, if my experience with monk discussions is any judge. At the outset though, I think it's fair to discount the proficiency with unarmed strikes issue. I personally think that it's a weapon you can lack proficiency in, and that the monk lacks said proficiency, by the rules at least, but I can't imagine anyone actually plays that way, except for some ridiculous exception. Thus we should probably just assume they have the proficiency, or that the proficiency is unnecessary, for the purposes of this thread.

    Mountebank (DC, 42): This one is pretty interesting. You don't actually hit all that good, with deceptive attack as a mediocre at best source of extra damage, but some of the supernatural abilities on offer here are pretty good. Alter self at fourth level in particular, along with some teleportation and stuff. Not much that lets you take a super meaningful role in combat, but they're more worth note than most of what the battle dancer or monk gets access to. Also, your 20th level ability is to be removed from the game in a way that's particularly difficult to reverse, so that's a thing. The interaction between this and our current no dipping policy is problematic, but I think it's fair to assume that mountebanks can avoid that fate through the application of some variety of dip if they so choose. We're still assessing the base class here, so no particular dip abilities should be used or assumed, which means this would essentially take the form of a commoner dip, or perhaps something that roughly matches the mountebank chassis without adding much, but assuming that players that don't want to get their characters consumed by hell fire are forced down that path by way of a no dipping dictate seems really wonky.

    SoulKnife (XPH, 26): You get a free supernatural weapon. It really doesn't do much. It has the occasional trick to it, and you get the rare somewhat unrelated ability, but this class is mostly just a halfway decent weapon that you don't have to pay for.


    What are the tiers?

    The simple answer here is that tier one is the best, the home of things on the approximate problem solving scale of wizards, and tier six is the worst, land of commoners. And problem solving capacity is what's being measured here. Considering the massive range of challenges a character is liable to be presented with across the levels, how much and how often does that character's class contribute to the defeat of those challenges? This value should be considered as a rough averaging across all levels, the center of the level range somewhat more than really low and really high level characters, and across all optimization levels (considering DM restrictiveness as a plausible downward acting factor on how optimized a character is), prioritizing moderate optimization somewhat more than low or high.

    A big issue with the original tier system is that, if anything, it was too specific, generating inflexible definitions for allowance into a tier which did not cover the broad spectrum of ways a class can operate. When an increase in versatility would seem to represent a decrease in tier, because tier two is supposed to be low versatility, it's obvious that we've become mired in something that'd be pointless to anyone trying to glean information from the tier system. Thus, I will be uncharacteristically word light here. The original tier system's tier descriptions are still good guidelines here, but they shouldn't be assumed to be the end all and be all for how classes get ranked.

    Consistent throughout these tiers is the notion of problems and the solving thereof. For the purposes of this tier system, the problem space can be said to be inclusive of combat, social interaction, and exploration, with the heaviest emphasis placed on combat. A problem could theoretically fall outside of that space, but things inside that space are definitely problems. Another way to view the idea of problem solving is through the lens of the niche ranking system. A niche filled tends to imply the capacity to solve a type of problem, whether it's a status condition in the case of healing, or an enemy that just has too many hit points in the case of melee combat. It's not a perfect measure, both because some niches have a lot of overlap in the kinds of problems they can solve and because, again, the niches aren't necessarily all inclusive, but they can act as a good tool for class evaluation.

    Tier one: Incredibly good at solving nearly all problems. This is the realm of clerics, druids, and wizards, classes that open up with strong combat spells backed up by utility, and then get massively stronger from there. If you're not keeping up with that core trio of tier one casters, then you probably don't belong here.

    Tier two: We're just a step below tier one here, in the land of classes around the sorcerer level of power. Generally speaking, this means relaxing one of the two tier one assumptions, either getting us to very good at solving nearly all problems, or incredibly good at solving most problems. But, as will continue to be the case as these tiers go on, there aren't necessarily these two simple categories for this tier. You gotta lose something compared to the tier one casters, but what you lose doesn't have to be in some really specific proportions.

    Tier three: Again, we gotta sacrifice something compared to tier two, here taking us to around the level of a swordsage. The usual outcome is that you are very good at solving a couple of problems and competent at solving a few more. Of course, there are other possibilities, for example that you might instead be competent at solving nearly all problems.

    Tier four: Here we're in ranger/barbarian territory (though the ranger should be considered largely absent of ACF's and stuff to hit this tier, as will be talked about later). Starting from that standard tier three position, the usual sweet spots here are very good at solving a few problems, or alright at solving many problems.

    Tier five
    : We're heading close to the dregs here. Tier five is the tier of monks, classes that are as bad as you can be without being an aristocrat or a commoner. Classes here are sometimes very good at solving nearly no problems, or alright at solving a few, or some other function thereof. It's weak, is the point.

    Tier six: And here we have commoner tier. Or, the bottom is commoner. The top is approximately aristocrat. You don't necessarily have nothing in this tier, but you have close enough to it.


    The Threads

    Tier System Home Base


    The Fixed List Casters: Beguiler, Dread Necromancer, and Warmage


    The Obvious Tier One Classes: Archivist, Artificer, Cleric, Druid, Sha'ir, and Wizard



    The Mundane Beat Sticks (part one): Barbarian, Fighter, Samurai (CW), and Samurai (OA)


    The Roguelikes: Ninja, Rogue, and Scout



    The Pseudo-Druids: Spirit Shaman, Spontaneous Druid, Urban Druid, and Wild Shape Ranger


    The Jacks of All Trades: Bard, Factotum, Jester, and Savant


    The Tome of Battlers: Crusader, Swordsage, and Warblade



    The NPCs: Adept, Aristocrat, Commoner, Expert, Magewright, and Warrior


    The Vaguely Supernatural Melee Folk: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife



    The Miscellaneous Full Casters: Death Master, Shaman, Shugenja, Sorcerer, and Wu Jen



    The Wacky Magicists: Binder, Dragonfire Adept, Shadowcaster, Truenamer, and Warlock

    The Rankings

    Battle Dancer: Tier five

    Monk: Tier five

    Mountebank: Tier five

    Soulknife: Tier five

    And here's a link to the spreadsheet.
    Last edited by eggynack; 2018-06-10 at 09:27 PM.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife

    Soulknife: T5

    They get into T5 by virtue of the Hidden Talent ACF at early levels, mental ability damage at late levels and Psychic Strike outpacing full attacks for a significant portion of the middle.

    Other perks include easier access to psionic feats, a good reason to sword-and-board and the ability to bypass DR/magic from level 1. Their ability to bypass DR/magic inside a wide-area AMF is extremely rare.

    Cons:
    Medium BAB hurts, although the free bonus feats almost make up for it for a while.
    None of their class features work with reach weapons.
    Their 'free' weapon enhancements come online slowly compared to actual magic weapons, and they can't golf-bag alternate weapons to deal with exotic DR.

    Ultimately, their late game kills them as a T4 candidate. Their ability damage isn't strong enough to disable most enemies in one round, they stop getting bonus feats to compensate for the missing BAB, Mind Blank effects get more common and the Psychic Strike vs Full Attack math stops favoring Psychic Strike so much.
    Last edited by Bucky; 2017-03-28 at 01:42 PM.
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife

    Monk is a 5, but gets up to 4 if you pick good ACFs, particularly Wild Monk, Chaos Monk, Invisible Fist, and/or Dark Moon Disciple. I think you can reasonably call it a 4.8 or so with all the splatbook support it has.

    Battle Dancer is a straight 5 though. It is just bad without much room for improvement.

    Mountebank gives up a ton of stuff compared to a Rogue, and in return it gets Alter Self and basically nothing else. Alter Self and nothing else does not a class make. It's in T5, although at the high end of it, probably like a 4.6 or so.

    Soulknife is arguably the worst standard class in the entire game (fighting Swashbuckler and Samurai for the title). Easy T5. Probably more like a 5.3, even.
    Last edited by Troacctid; 2017-03-28 at 02:58 PM.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife

    Battle Dancer gets Pounce! And Flight! If only they had those 10 levels earlier, they might look competent.
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife

    Hey Eggy what about things like wild monk and other class variants? Are they separate or included? Based on ACF features I'm giving monk Tier 4. Without Tier 5.

    Soul Knife Tier 5 - It just doesn't really have anything good at struggles at what it's supposed to do. I'm not familiar enough with the other two to say one way or another.
    Last edited by Rhyltran; 2017-03-28 at 02:53 PM.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife

    Quote Originally Posted by Rhyltran View Post
    Hey Eggy what about things like wild monk and other class variants? Are they separate or included? Based on ACF features I'm giving monk Tier 4. Without Tier 5.
    Depends on whether the ACF is individually tier increasing. Wild monk probably is, which would make it not considered. Invisible fist is likely not, so that should be accounted for. Decisive strike is definitely not, so that should definitely be accounted for.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife

    Quote Originally Posted by eggynack View Post
    Depends on whether the ACF is individually tier increasing. Wild monk probably is, which would make it not considered. Invisible fist is likely not, so that should be accounted for. Decisive strike is definitely not, so that should definitely be accounted for.
    Alright, I still stand by with ACF's tier 4 (low end of tier 4.) without Tier 5. Maybe we'll compare wild monk to itself like wild ranger in the future.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife

    I think the Soulknife gets a generally bad rap. It's not good by any stretch of the imagination, but it's not as bad as all that. A free magic weapon translates to a large effective jump in WBL. That can't be ignored-- a Soulknife will have better armor and utility items than another character of equal level. Knife to the Soul is... admittedly worse than Ray of Stupidity, but that doesn't mean it can't still one-or two-shot things even at 13th level. Bladewind is a mediocre feat for free, but it's still worth having in a lot of situations. Plus, you're got Autohypnosis, Hide, Move Silently, Spot, Listen, and Tumble, plus a d10 HD and 4 skill points. Medium BAB, but free (Greater) Weapon Focus does a lot to help make up for that. It's not a bad chassis at all. To say nothing of the ACFs, both of which help significantly-- you can pick up a few neat options with Hidden Talent, and you can drop the near-useless Psychic Strike for a whole bundle of bonus feats.

    I'd call the base Soulknife lowish T5 largely by virtue of "solid chassis + enhanced WBLmancy," with the Mind's Eye augmented Soulknife makes for a pretty high T5 any way you slice it.
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife

    What is the Wild Monk variant exactly, by the way? Gain a limited Wild shape in exchange for Slow fall? It's from DragMag, isn't it?

    By the way, it just hit me that tiering the Mystic Ranger and the Wild Monk establishes a precedent for ranking DragMag-but-not-Dragon Compendium stuff. Are there any other such well-known (among the dozens that DragMag contains) and powerful variants that we should account for?
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife

    Soulknife is 5; for comparison, it's a lesser version of the hexblade, which in itself is a lesser version of the duskblade.

    Monk is 6, as repeatedly shown in the done-to-death monk threads on this forum.

    No opinion on the other two.
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    Soulknife is 5; for comparison, it's a lesser version of the hexblade, which in itself is a lesser version of the duskblade.

    Monk is 6, as repeatedly shown in the done-to-death monk threads on this forum.
    Putting monk behind soulknife seems odd. Monk gets so much support, and is quite likely better at the baseline too.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife

    Quote Originally Posted by remetagross View Post
    By the way, it just hit me that tiering the Mystic Ranger and the Wild Monk establishes a precedent for ranking DragMag-but-not-Dragon Compendium stuff. Are there any other such well-known (among the dozens that DragMag contains) and powerful variants that we should account for?
    http://www.minmaxboards.com/index.php?topic=9028.0

    Trickster Spellthief, Mystic Ranger, Wild Defender Ranger, Wild Monk, Chaos Monk, and Evangelist Cleric all strike as me tier-altering.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    Soulknife is 5; for comparison, it's a lesser version of the hexblade, which in itself is a lesser version of the duskblade.

    Monk is 6, as repeatedly shown in the done-to-death monk threads on this forum.

    No opinion on the other two.
    Most of those done to death threads only take into consider base monk and many were based on JaronK's tier system which also didn't factor in feats/optimization. In this case Monk has quite a few splat book support, acf's, and many ways, features, and feats that they can get size increases to increase their damage. Putting it at Tier 6 does it a gross disservice here as that's putting it together with the likes of samurai, commoner, etc. Being able to take Tashlatora, ACF's, Ectoplasmic Fist, and more.. should easily make up for the class's many short comings.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife

    Tashalatora in this case is not useful as we are only tiering the single-class Monk.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife

    Quote Originally Posted by Troacctid View Post
    Tashalatora in this case is not useful as we are only tiering the single-class Monk.
    Good point. Still, I'll stand by my argument that between feats, acf's, and etc it isn't hard for someone to pick up monk at this point and be able to do something with it. Getting size increases also isn't a real difficult feat either. In combat the monk, especially with access to ACF's, is going to contribute far more than the likes of the samurai, commoner, warrior, and expert. Monk has good saves, decent AC, has versatility in the skill department by even being a stand in for the party scout, and more.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife

    See, I agree with you, but most of the best stuff is in obscure sources, so I don't want to put too much weight on them? I think the average Monk is still more of a 5, even if some of them make it to 4.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife

    Quote Originally Posted by Troacctid View Post
    See, I agree with you, but most of the best stuff is in obscure sources, so I don't want to put too much weight on them? I think the average Monk is still more of a 5, even if some of them make it to 4.
    I agree with this as well but my problem here is that if anyone googles "Monk optimization" or "How to build a good monk" or "Monk ACF's" they'll probably find it being the age of internet and all. The fact is these things do exist and can be found without some deep meta level of research, though I'll be honest and say that your argument is a fair point. I don't know where I stand on that argument as a whole. Truth is most people aren't going to do that so hm..
    Last edited by Rhyltran; 2017-03-28 at 04:06 PM.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife

    Baseline Monk gets to treat its unarmed strikes as manufactured weapons. This is hilariously vague and therefore ripe for RAW abuse, especially given monks' whole-body unarmed strikes.
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife

    Quote Originally Posted by Bucky View Post
    especially given monks' whole-body unarmed strikes.
    Monks have no such thing.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife

    Monk: tier 5, it can reach tier 4 with enough optimization but most of the ACF and substitution levels were designed to try and fix a terrible class.

    Soulknife: tier 5 The problem is that your main class feature, a free weapon, is strickly worse than a psychic warrior ACF. If you had full BAB, free action bladeshaping and the ability to do multiple throws much earlier (say level 5) then it might be worth the trouble. Like a monk enough op fu might bring this to tier 4.

    Mountebank tier 5, worse than a scout in every aspect of his class features

    Battledancer ... I say tier 4

    you get:

    -a monk's unarmed strikes
    -pounce at level 11
    -CHA to AC if you don't wear armor or shields
    -full BAB
    -x4 skillpoints
    -eventually flight

    and

    -you don't lose much from wearing armor, if you gain the right proficiency dumping CHA for armor makes sense (say a warforged with adamantine body)

    -unlike a monk you can do the TWF routine
    -snap kick and shadow blade are very nice additions for you, you can use ToB very effectively

    Personally I have a really hard time rating a class as less than tier 4 when it gets pounce and flight. You also get pounce without any ACF.

    Are you as good as an ubercharger barbarian? No but you always get pounce he doesn't

    You can use a reach weapon and threaten your immediate squares with unarmed strikes.

    You have all the right skills to move around the battlefield and tumble into the right position

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife

    The Sacred Path of Wee Jas seems great too, Improved Initiative, UMD as a class skill, Focus Skill:UMD and half monk level as UMD bonus...
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife

    Monks: Tier 6. I would rather have a warrior or an expert most of the time, or a CW samurai even. ACFs can get you 5, as can variants, and both combined (ACF and variants assuming they apply) can get you 4 maybe. I am not super familiar with variant monks so I cannot say but I'd take a herculean effort to get outta 5 IMO. You are very MAD, have major issues with DR, terrible defenses, minor mobility that is mostly useless, inability to easily make use of your signature feature, DR destroys you, the options for enchanting your strikes are generally horridly overpriced, 3/4 BAB for a melee combatant, average HD with mediocre con generally, no armor, no good weapons, give me anything else. Most of your class features are just trash.

    Not super familiar with the rest, I will look into them later and possibly vote then. I'm tempted to go tier 5 for now but I do not know until I look over them a bit.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife

    Battle dancer: Tier five. There's just not much here. The early abilities are bad, and the late abilities are late. Flight at 17th level is emblematic of a lot of the problems with this class. Full BAB is nice, at least.

    Monk: Tier 4.5. Votes on this one have been surprisingly low. The baseline version of the class seems tier five to me. You hit things kinda mediocre, and do other things kinda mediocre. A couple of the abilities on offer are pretty decent, especially early on. The optimized version seems around tier four. Dark moon disciple is great, decisive strike is quite good, invisible fist is great, the sparring dummy of the master is pretty good, and wonky unarmed strike stuff is of variable put positive quality. It's a lot. This strikes me as a running theme of the core classes. They are supported, more than most, and that means higher marginal utility from optimization. Even for higher tier classes, this is one of the core reasons why an urban druid is a full tier below the standard one, why the death master may get the same treatment.

    Mountebank: Tier 4.5. When I originally tiered this class, I went with four but was unsure. Five makes some sense, but alter self has so much arbitrary utility, and some of the other abilities are good as well. As I noted in the description, this class really needs some offensive heft. The awful deceptive attack does not make up for the average BAB and bad proficiencies. The skills are pretty important to the tiering here as well. 6 is quite good, and the list is long.

    Soulknife: Tier five. I could see this dropping to 5.5 or six, but it seems roughly comparable to a CW samurai, or maybe even a bit better. It's not a good class, in either case.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife

    Both Soulknife and Monk are T5s in my opinion, even with most ACFs I can think of right now.

    I have no opinion on the DC classes.
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife

    Quote Originally Posted by DEMON View Post
    Both Soulknife and Monk are T5s in my opinion, even with most ACFs I can think of right now.

    I have no opinion on the DC classes.
    The ACF's get the monk invisibility, walk in shadows, full concealment, and more.

    Let me provide an example of what monks get because I think some people are unaware:

    Dark moon disciple substitution levels (CoV, web):
    Levels have d6 HD.
    3rd level: Get darkvision 60ft. Lose still mind.
    7th level: Shadow blend: Gain total concealment in less than full daylight. Lose wholeness of body.
    12th level: Walk the shadows: Gain ability to dimension door from shadow to shadow. Lose abundant step.

    Invisible fist gives invisibility at will with a short cooldown.

    For those that don't like furry of blows there's decisive strike to replace it.

    Sparring dummy of the master gives you a 10 foot step instead of a five foot step.

    They have good saves across the board and honestly getting decent AC with a monk is easy.

    They have access to escape artist, diplomacy, move silently, listen, and hide. The monk can be the party scout, they can be built to disrupt enemy forces via trip, improved trip, stunning fist, or can focus on damage via ways to increase unarmed damage sizing through feats like improved natural attack and more. They have the scorpion kama which lets them keep the best of both worlds. They can do their unarmed damage and enchant the kama for additional bonuses. With the above ACF's they have invisibility and teleport on top of what they already have. For survival they have evasion and improved evasion. They do have ki-strike which does help them overcome damage reduction so they're not helpless there (not to mention they have the scorpion kama listed above). Immunity to poison (not the greatest), and more. Since we're focusing on pure classes here their capstone at the end isn't bad. DR10

    I agree with eggy's sentiment.

    P.S. I don't know where the whole "Monk is tier 6 coming from." I can see an argument for five but not six. It's much easier to build a monk that can contribute at least in the damage department vs anything the Samurai or warrior can do. With the ACF's the monk has far more utility than either of them have as well. No idea how a warrior, an expert, or a samurai competes with the above in any capacity.
    Last edited by Rhyltran; 2017-03-28 at 08:00 PM.

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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife

    Monk: What a difference splat support makes here. There are enough options to let monks be okay at a lot of things or even good at some, so with a potentially horrendous floor, I still vote T4 (absolutely dependent upon on ACF choice), if on the lower end. I agree that Wild Monk should be considered separately - and I would vote it T4.

    Battle Dancer: Hey, some of your flavorful abilities are actually useful! You miss out on some saves and random fluffy powers, but pounce and full BAB are yummy. More powerful than a core monk, but without all the options of splat-support monk, I'd put this between the two. T4.5

    Mountebank: Akin to Troacctid's thoughts, I compare it to a rogue sans several abilities, but not without so much that it becomes wholly incompetent. T4.5

    Soulknife: The only good thing about the chassis is "not commoner", and you have class features to be almost okay at doing one thing. T5.

  27. - Top - End - #27
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife

    Monk: It's hard to call the Monk anything but T5. I listed the Fighter as T5 and the Barbarian and the Rogue as T4. There's no way that a Monk is on par with a Barb or a Rogue, so T4 is out.

    Now that I think about it, though, it's possible that T5 is too high when we're considering an actual Monk 20 build instead of a dip here and there. The Monk's AC problems are seriously nontrivial, and it only gets worse as they level (since they can't easily add magic pluses to armor—Bracers of Armor are way more expensive than +X Armor, after all—and they tend to need more and more expensive items than similar mundane classes, thereby giving them less room in the budget for that sort of thing). Invisible Fist helps, but it's not likely to be enough alone. Squishiness was part of what kept me from putting the Rogue in T3, and I'm kind of feeling like a Monk's squishiness (combined with its overall ineffectual nature) might dictate that I keep it below the Fighter.

    That said, I think that kicking it into T6 may be too harsh. The Monk does have enough splat support to do some unusual things, at least. Stunning Fist is almost halfway decent if you have lots of uses per day, assuming you can hit at all. Invisible Fist is helluva fun, especially with Spectral Skirmisher. I rank the Monk below the Fighter in T5, but I don't think they're probably so ineffective that they slip below T5 proper. We can keep them there for now.

    Battle Dancer: If the Monk is T5, then I think the Battle Dancer is T5 as well. I don't think it's far enough above or below the Monk to change their tier. Pounce and full BAB are clear advantages. Spending a standard action on making your unarmed strikes magical is a clear disadvantage. The capstone is hilariously underpowered, but I won't count that against them too much. (I will say that I'm curious if that capstone has ever actually seen play in a live game. The class is pretty dang obscure, after all, and very few games get to level 20. Even fewer people would take this class without multiclassing at all, and I'm skeptical that the devs actually tested the class at 20.) The loss of cool defensive abilities like Evasion/Invisible Fist is a little weird, but I suppose it is what it is. Overall, though, a Battle Dancer has full BAB and Pounce. I think that's enough for T5. It's not enough for T4, but I think it puts them in the same neighborhood as a single-class Monk.

    Soulknife: I think I've finally found a class that I feel comfortable sticking in T6. Soulknife is just such a trap option that it's not even funny. It's a bad idea to spend an action in combat recharging Psychic Strike basically 99% of the time, so you get ONE attack per encounter with bonus damage. Which is likely to be less than what you would get if you had full BAB and Power Attacked for the difference. As countless others have said before, "has a weapon" is less of a useful class feature and more of a baseline assumption of the system, though I never get tired of phrasing it that way. It can't contribute meaningfully to combat, it can't contribute meaningfully out of combat, and it doesn't even have enough unique support to bring it up to the level of the Monk. We're doing this. It's T6. Fight me.

    Mountebank: God, this class is weird. Decent skills with a decent list, so that's nice. As has been mentioned, Alter Self is about their strongest ability, so I guess that's also kind of nice. The nice things stop there, though—I'm having a hard time coming up with anything else good to say about the class. The fact that their bonus damage requires set-up actions is bad enough, but then the bonus damage had to be insultingly low, and that's not cool. The fact that you can only try to beguile any given target 1/day (and then even succeeding only gives you the effect for basically one round) is really annoying, though I appreciate that they didn't go Hexblade (by which I mean I'm happy that the class's signature ability on which everything hinges is, at least, not constrained with a horrifyingly low daily use limit). The Infernal Patron abilities other than Alter Self seem pretty weak for the action cost by the time most of them come online. I can't really see a compelling use for this class for, well, much of anything. I guess there's a mild leader-style ability in that other allies can benefit from your beguiled targets being easier to hit? I'm really reaching for that one.

    So basically, are good skills and Alter Self enough to overcome the fact that they seem less combat-capable than the Monk? Because that's what we're looking at here. I'm not convinced that they are, to be honest. I guess the Infernal Patron abilities are noticeable, but only barely. This one's right on the borderline. Are non-integer votes still kosher? If so, I'm thinking T5˝.
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife

    The base Monk is a solid Tier 5. Its best abilities involve it punching stuff in melee combat and it's not all that great at that, thanks to 3/4 BAB, trouble getting AC, problems enchanting its weapons, abilities that have poor or non-existent synergy, and multiple attribute dependency. It doesn't have any abilities that help outside of punching things and it doesn't get enough skill points to overcome that.

    Quote Originally Posted by remetagross View Post
    What is the Wild Monk variant exactly, by the way? Gain a limited Wild shape in exchange for Slow fall? It's from DragMag, isn't it?

    By the way, it just hit me that tiering the Mystic Ranger and the Wild Monk establishes a precedent for ranking DragMag-but-not-Dragon Compendium stuff. Are there any other such well-known (among the dozens that DragMag contains) and powerful variants that we should account for?

    Wild Monk is from Dragon Magazine #324, page 97. You trade away all your bonus feats and Slow Fall for the ability to use Wild Shape (and you get Resist Nature's Lure at 3rd level). Your Wild Shape progression is slightly delayed compared to that of a Druid, but still quite nice, giving you 6/day at 20th level with a maximum size of Huge (starting at 16th level). Level 19 unlocks Elemental Wild Shape and level 20 gives you a second use of it per day.

    It's an improvement over the base Monk but it's still a Monk. Your ability to punch stuff until it dies increases, you become less MAD, and your forms increase your combat versatility. Various Wild Shape feats will allow you to pick up some nice forms and their (Ex) and (Su) abilities. You still can't do much outside of that. So, you do one thing kind of well? Tier 5

    Edit: '6 a day' changed to '6/day' for style reasons.
    Last edited by SirNibbles; 2017-03-29 at 06:33 AM.

  29. - Top - End - #29
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife

    Wild Shape is totally legit. It makes the Monk easily better than the Barbarian, no contest, although probably still worse than Wild Shape Ranger. Solid T4, with outs to T3 at high-op.

  30. - Top - End - #30
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    Default Re: Retiering the Classes: Battle Dancer, Monk, Mountebank, and Soulknife

    There's also the Chaos Monk (Dragon #335), which is a kind of crazy variant.

    To whit, here's the unique features:
    Flailing strikes. Rather than Flurry of Blows, you get a random number of extra attacks. All at full BAB, -2 at level 1 and -0 at level 9. You get 1d4-1 (min 0, av. 1.5) at level 1, 1d6 (av.3.5) at level 15.
    Erratic advances. On a charge, you get a WIS/day DC 10+level Will save-or-daze with a one-round duration. This kinda-sorta replaces Purity of Body, in that weird way class variants do.
    Displacing stance. For a number of rounds equal to half your Chaos Monk level, you get a 20% miss chance. At level 12 that becomes a 50% miss chance. The stance takes a standard action to activate. This kinda-sorta replaces Purity of Body and Abundant Step.
    Freedom of Thought. 1/day reroll on will saves against mind-affecting effects. Replaces Diamond Body, I think.
    Also Perfect self makes 'em (Chaotic).

    The sad thing, though, is that even if you permit stacking variants it still doesn't work with Wild Monk - they disagree on what to do with Abundant Step (Wild Shape(Large), Displacing stance (50%)) and Empty Body (Wild Shape (Elemental 1/day), Empty Body).

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