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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Default Re: What is a high level monk like?

    At level 14, naked, alone, without racial or subclass powers, and *without* spending any ki point, a Monk can:

    - have more AC than a knight in plate armor

    - drink a barrel of any poison without being affected. Same with being exposed to any disease.

    - kill a Ghost or an Allip in two turns.

    - run 110ft in a turn, including on water or on a sheer vertical surface.

    - nullify the average damage of such a 200ft fall (or more than half the *maximum* damage of such a fall).

    - punch (or headbut, or chew) through a solide adamantine door in two turns (as a conservative average).

    - have at minimum 50% chances of succeeding any save with a DC of 14 (if using the standard stat array or point but).

    - deflect and be 100% unarmed by a ballista bolt fired at them (assuming the bolt's damage is average, the Monk wouldn't even have to roll) or a rock thrown by an Hill Giant (assuming average rolls on both side).

    - understand and be understood by any sapient being with a language

    - endure and survive the breath of an Ancient Blue Dragon, even if the breath did max damage.


    That's at lvl 14. Without spending ki. And naked.


    Monks are awesome.


    Quote Originally Posted by HPisBS View Post
    ... And it just really, really irritates me that tripping/sweeping/throwing isn't a part of the Monk's "martial arts" lol
    I agree the Monk should have more wrestling options, but what you're talking about is part of the Open Hand Monk's martial arts.
    Last edited by Unoriginal; 2021-01-21 at 03:21 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #32
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    Default Re: What is a high level monk like?

    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
    When people say things like this I always wonder what kinds of encounters their DMs construct at high level. Not saying it's not true, just saying it's not inevitable, and there are plenty of high-level monster fights that monks are highly effective in.
    Well made points. Yes, it is not inevitable. It comes down to whether a monk has a big pile of key of Ki to burn through to beat that tough encounter. Perhaps it is not difficult for a high level monk to hoard 8-10 Ki for those big moments. I concede that I lack the experience to offer a strong opinion on that.

    What I do know is this is not a problem most PCs have to really think hard about. A high level cleric can achieve similar results to what you describe by simply upcasting Banishment and targeting two nasties at what is likely to be a weak save. That is one measly high level spell, and there are many more where that comes from, at these high levels.

  3. - Top - End - #33
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    Default Re: What is a high level monk like?

    I've gotten a monk up to about 15th level.

    The monk was... Oppressive. It was a constant, buzzing threat throughout the game.

    The entire fight was the monk attempting to isolate targets, disrupt formations, save party members from attacks. Constantly running between the front and back lines applying conditions and status effects to enemies.

    The monk was a disruptive force, picking away at targets over the course of the game removing the skirmisher scouts from play. Or rushing down the mages.

    They have mobility, good saves, and strong disruption options that strip away defenses.

    However, straight combat they always lost. Trying to hammer and tongs with any of the straight combat classes was a no go.
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  4. - Top - End - #34
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    Default Re: What is a high level monk like?

    Quote Originally Posted by BoutsofInsanity View Post
    However, straight combat they always lost. Trying to hammer and tongs with any of the straight combat classes was a no go.
    Would you mind explaining what you mean by "straight combat", please?

  5. - Top - End - #35
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    Default Re: What is a high level monk like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Snails View Post
    Well made points. Yes, it is not inevitable. It comes down to whether a monk has a big pile of key of Ki to burn through to beat that tough encounter. Perhaps it is not difficult for a high level monk to hoard 8-10 Ki for those big moments. I concede that I lack the experience to offer a strong opinion on that.

    What I do know is this is not a problem most PCs have to really think hard about. A high level cleric can achieve similar results to what you describe by simply upcasting Banishment and targeting two nasties at what is likely to be a weak save. That is one measly high level spell, and there are many more where that comes from, at these high levels.
    By "most PCs" you seem to imply "most primary spellcasters," because a Rogue, Ranger, Fighter, Barbarian, or even Paladin cannot upcast Banishment as casually as a monk can Stunning Strike - - and if course the cleric may have better things to concentrate on, like Silence, whereas Stunning Strike doesn't take concentration. The Cleric also had to worry about the Beholders' Antimagic Field, the Nalfeshnee's Magic Resistance. When Banishment is unsuccessful it does nothing, whereas if the Monk hits the lich and fails to stun it, he still does damage. He also burns through the lich's Legendary Resistance at a higher rate than the Cleric does. He's not subject to Counterspell. If he Stuns the lich, the rest of the party can kill it with advantage, instead of having to fight it anyway after Banishment wears off.

    Considering all those downsides, I don't think it's fair to call Banishment comparable to Stunning Strike. It's worse in seven different ways by my count. (Better in one way: usable at range.)

    Am I arguing that monks can compete with high-level spellcasters? Not really. I agree with those who say that warriors including monks are basically linear in power scaling, whereas spellcasters have the potential to be superlinear by abusing the most powerful, long-lasting spells. It's always painful to contemplate the idea of including a monk in the party instead of a druid because you get more bang from the druid, at least on paper. But my experience in play is also that monks are surprisingly good in non - obvious situations if you know how to use them, and competitive with spellcasters who aren't abusing spells like Polymorph, Conjure XYZ and Simulacrum. They also happen to synergize well with spellcasters who are using those abusively-strong spells. E.g. if you're a Diviner who wants to Wish (Planar Binding) on Sul Khatesh, you'll be glad to have a high-level Monk and your Simulacrum of that Monk too, in order to eat up her Legendary Resistances and/or fight her in the antimagic zones and drag her outside of them, so that you CAN bind her with magic.

    If a Wizard 20 is a 10 for power, roughly speaking, and if a Fighter 20 is a 7, and a Barb 20 is a 4 (6 if Zealot), I'd call a (Shadow, Long Death, or Elemental) Monk 20 something that looks like a 5 on paper but is actually a 7-8 depending on campaign style. (Monk 17 is only a 5-7 though. 18th level is HUGE for monks.)

    P.S. In a Combat As Sport campaign Wizard 20 would only be an 8.
    Last edited by MaxWilson; 2021-01-21 at 03:54 PM.

  6. - Top - End - #36
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    Default Re: What is a high level monk like?

    Quote Originally Posted by HPisBS View Post
    It's always bugged me how the Monk's "Martial Arts" doesn't actually feel like martial arts at all. How is it that a Fighter can trip and disarm people with "maneuvers," but "martial arts" is just punching harder and more often?

    Martial Arts should give you some special way to trip (or "throw") people, disarm people, and eventually intercept attacks. Sure, Shove prone and Disarm are already things anyone can (try to) do, but Battle Master gets Maneuvers to do it. Martial Arts should let a Monk be the best at it. Or at least equal to a Battle Master.
    Just allow monks to pick battle master as a subclass and move the powers from 3, 7, 10, 15, 18 to 3, 6, 11, 17. That gives them martial arts moves and something to do without ki.

  7. - Top - End - #37
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    Default Re: What is a high level monk like?

    Hi,

    Quote Originally Posted by dmhelp View Post
    Just allow monks to pick battle master as a subclass and move the powers from 3, 7, 10, 15, 18 to 3, 6, 11, 17. That gives them martial arts moves and something to do without ki.
    Oh, *that* is a clever idea!

    And then let them spend 1 pt of ki to use a maneuver when they run through their default number of uses they get for free.

    Anyway,

    Ken
    Last edited by Ovarwa; 2021-01-21 at 07:22 PM.

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    Default Re: What is a high level monk like?

    Honestly, the best role I see for a high-level monk is as a mage killer.

    Hear me out. They have insane mobility, generally good initiative bonuses, and they hit decently hard. The question is is that enough to reliably isolate and remove evil wizards or what have you. I think so. This is a niche they should fit into well and if you play it strategically enough, you could basically annihilate the biggest threats in an encounter

    I mean, think about it. At a high level, you really aren't that worried about many things, but spellcasters sure as hell are one of them.
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  9. - Top - End - #39
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    Default Re: What is a high level monk like?

    A high level monk is whatever the DM allows it to be.

    Monk effectiveness is so DM dependant. If your DM likes to throw more attacks at you than saves and more brutish tough guys then delicate wise guys then the monk is weak. On the other hand if casters are common (monks wreck concentration and casters tend to be weaker vs stunning strike than things like giants, also a lot of spells force saves - something monks are pretty awesome at dealing with) then you will have a field day. And asymmetry is important - if every enemy is identical to every other enemy, then there are no weak points to exploit using monk mobility.

    Monks can be really, really powerful - certainly one of the most powerful martial characters, but only in the right campaigns.


    The value of monks also depends on who else in in your party. If there are a lot of attack rolls to hit stunned enemies then they rock. If the wizard can just cast fly on the party and obviate your mobility advantage then they suck.

    I also believe that at high levels your monastic path matters more and more. If you play a wizard the different schools tend to play pretty much the same in practice, even as you get to high levels. Likewise with fighters - its still all about damage and the attack action. Clerics even get more similar (with a couple of exceptions) at high levels when the new domain spells dry up. But monks - their mid and high level path abilities matter and have a pretty big impact on play.
    Last edited by MrStabby; 2021-01-21 at 07:43 PM.

  10. - Top - End - #40
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    Default Re: What is a high level monk like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon talks a lot View Post
    Honestly, the best role I see for a high-level monk is as a mage killer.

    Hear me out. They have insane mobility, generally good initiative bonuses, and they hit decently hard. The question is is that enough to reliably isolate and remove evil wizards or what have you. I think so. This is a niche they should fit into well and if you play it strategically enough, you could basically annihilate the biggest threats in an encounter

    I mean, think about it. At a high level, you really aren't that worried about many things, but spellcasters sure as hell are one of them.
    I mean you're 100% correct but the "hear me out" and "think about it" aren't really necessary, it's a known fact that Monks can do that and are great at pummeling back row casters.

    Hard to find a kind of target more suited for Stunning Strike, too.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrStabby View Post
    If your DM likes to throw more attacks at you than saves and more brutish tough guys then delicate wise guys then the monk is weak.
    Monks are great against brutish tough guys, though. Watching a Monk jackhammering a Golem into scrap with their hands is quite a spectacle.


    What most Monks struggle the most against is several powerful mooks ganging on them while the rest of the group is busy.
    Last edited by Unoriginal; 2021-01-21 at 07:54 PM.

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    Default Re: What is a high level monk like?

    Currently playing a lvl 17 shadow monk/lvl 1 light cleric (cleric mainly for warding flare and ranged cantrips). My AC is 23 or 24 and we are in Mad Mage. Team consists of life cleric, barbarian, gloomstalker/assasin, wizard and sorlock.

    Would not change a thing. I have done things the other characters could not have done. Solo'ed a high level vampire with legendary resistances? Yes. Tank Fire Giants in order for the team to re-group? Yes. Scout a gythaky (sp?) base and listen in and understand their attack plans? Yes. Rarely fail any saving throws? Yes.

    The tools and fluff of the class and subclass result in coming up with mulitple solutions to practically anything the DM can throw at you.

  12. - Top - End - #42
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    Default Re: What is a high level monk like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Unoriginal View Post
    What most Monks struggle the most against is several powerful mooks ganging on them while the rest of the group is busy.
    That right there is a big reason I think the Elemonk is underrated: they're the monk that has a good answer (besides running away) to this weakness of the core chassis.

    Long Death and Sun Soul have answers too, but Elemonk's answer is more reliable (save-for-half) than Sun Soul's and more permanent than Long Death's.
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  13. - Top - End - #43
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    Default Re: What is a high level monk like?

    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
    How about a lich, a nalfeshnee, and a couple of air elementals? (Deadly x2 for a 20th level party.) A DC 19 monk has a 40% chance per hit of stunning the Lich (+10 Con), a 35% chance per hit of stunning the nalfeshnee (+11), and an 80% chance per hit of stunning an air elemental (+2). With up to five attacks per round (e.g. Flurry + Opportunist for a Shadow Monk), a monk has excellent odds of stunning the lich on any given round (will stun the lich 1.13 times on average without advantage on attacks, 1.69 times per round if it's already prone or stunned or in some other way giving the monk advantage) even if the lich Shields instead of Counterspelling. Or it could nullify both air elementals if the lich isn't in range. Even the Nalfeshnee, while not the best target, is certainly worth stunning and will get stunned 1.4 times per round on average. (74% chance of stunning the Nalfeshnee each round, even if the Monk doesn't have advantage, or Bless, etc.).
    Isn't that in the realm of 6 ki a turn to keep that up, less if your successful stuns are frontloaded. A level 20 monk only has 20 ki, and you may need to make that ki last multiple combats depending on how your short rest schedule is.
    Also by level 20 things like wall of force and force cage are on the table which could take enemies out of the fight with a 100% success rate.
    Sidenote: I am skeptical that the air elementals have an effect on the combat much at all, the have low enough HP and AC a level 20 party might be able to kill them in a round with straight damage.

    Edit: I think trying to stun the lich would be a poor decision, given that you are very unlikely to stun it past legendary resistance. you would probably need at least 3 rounds to stun it and that would be most of your ki gone after that.
    Last edited by Witty Username; 2021-01-22 at 03:12 AM.
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  14. - Top - End - #44
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    Default Re: What is a high level monk like?

    probably low level early episode Tien Shinhan from Dragon Ball/Dragon Ball Z.

    You are looking at Warlock Damage, but at melee only range, with a 10d10 attack - something some warlocks can also do (hurl through hell).

    Monk: 4d10+20
    Warlock: 4d10+20

    5e characters at 17-20th level are potent, roughly building destroyers using 8th-9th level spells. It's not as bad as 1e characters that could solo Tiamat, but its roughly 3 mages: 1 ancient dragon ratio, which you can convert to whatever anime you like.

    Knowing that, you can then divide by 2.5 to 3, to get how powerful your optimized monk will be. Needless to say, monks in 5e are roughly equal to "that guy in the front 2 rows of kung fu monastery scene",

    but NEVER "that guy" who does crazy things in Grappler Baki, or explodes boulders, etc. There's no boulder exploding level power for 5e monks. If you want to get into the 200+ damage, you need a wizard.
    Last edited by anthon; 2021-01-22 at 03:41 AM.

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    Default Re: What is a high level monk like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Witty Username View Post
    Isn't that in the realm of 6 ki a turn to keep that up, less if your successful stuns are frontloaded. A level 20 monk only has 20 ki, and you may need to make that ki last multiple combats depending on how your short rest schedule is.
    Also by level 20 things like wall of force and force cage are on the table which could take enemies out of the fight with a 100% success rate.
    Sidenote: I am skeptical that the air elementals have an effect on the combat much at all, the have low enough HP and AC a level 20 party might be able to kill them in a round with straight damage.

    Edit: I think trying to stun the lich would be a poor decision, given that you are very unlikely to stun it past legendary resistance. you would probably need at least 3 rounds to stun it and that would be most of your ki gone after that.
    A Monk can burn through a Lich's Legendary Resistances in one turn. That alone is huge.

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    Default Re: What is a high level monk like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Unoriginal View Post
    A Monk can burn through a Lich's Legendary Resistances in one turn. That alone is huge.
    Aye. It's often over looked that a monk can basically burn LR off a NPC in the first round leaving them vulnerable for the big spell or effect that can end the encounter.

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    Default Re: What is a high level monk like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Waazraath View Post
    A shadow monk maybe like Zeratul, from StarCraft?
    I like the comparison. (Man, I played way too much Starcraft ...)
    Quote Originally Posted by mistajames View Post
    I wouldn't choose to play one in a high level campaign.
    I have played them in Tier 3 and Tier 4 one shots. Having all of that ki (which regenerates on a short rest) was a real joy; stunning the enemy means that they are stunned until after my next turn; so I get advantage on the attack to re apply stun: stun lock. The party then shreds the foe.
    Quote Originally Posted by stoutstien View Post
    All monk party of water walking pirates.
    Sounds like fun.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon talks a lot View Post
    Honestly, the best role I see for a high-level monk is as a mage killer.
    Yep; even better if the monk has a ring of jumping and gauntlets of ogre power. I call that my Boing Boing monk.
    Quote Originally Posted by MrStabby View Post
    The value of monks also depends on who else in in your party. If there are a lot of attack rolls to hit stunned enemies then they rock.
    I have found this to be true.
    But monks - their mid and high level path abilities matter and have a pretty big impact on play.
    Quivering Palm is pretty nice, yeah.
    Quote Originally Posted by Unoriginal View Post
    Monks are great against brutish tough guys, though. Watching a Monk jackhammering a Golem into scrap with their hands is quite a spectacle.
    They clean clock on Rakshasa's as well (After that sixth level magical attacks feature kicks in).
    Quote Originally Posted by Unoriginal View Post
    A Monk can burn through a Lich's Legendary Resistances in one turn. That alone is huge.
    And if the party wizard hasted the monk, can also begin the stun lock.
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  18. - Top - End - #48
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    Default Re: What is a high level monk like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Unoriginal View Post
    A Monk can burn through a Lich's Legendary Resistances in one turn. That alone is huge.
    That seems highly optimistic doesn't it? Monks have at most 4 to 5 attacks a turn at these levels having to burn 1 Ki for flurry, then have to land at least 3 of those attacks plus the target has to fail on all 3 of those saves burning another 3 Ki for the stun. So that's 4 Ki burned in the most optimal outcome. More realistically you're probably looking at burning 5-7 ki to make this happen and usually taking 2 to 3 turns. So basically you burned through 1/3 to 1/2 your Ki. Hopefully you'll be getting a short rest after every encounter or 2.

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    Default Re: What is a high level monk like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tzun View Post
    That seems highly optimistic doesn't it? Monks have at most 4 to 5 attacks a turn at these levels having to burn 1 Ki for flurry, then have to land at least 3 of those attacks plus the target has to fail on all 3 of those saves burning another 3 Ki for the stun. So that's 4 Ki burned in the most optimal outcome. More realistically you're probably looking at burning 5-7 ki to make this happen and usually taking 2 to 3 turns. So basically you burned through 1/3 to 1/2 your Ki. Hopefully you'll be getting a short rest after every encounter or 2.
    I suppose Unoriginal might have meant "can" in the same sense as "a Paladin can Smite the luck to death" or "a pair of Wizards can trap it in a Sickening Radiance / Forcecage" combo. This means "it's a potential outcome worth aiming for", not "this will happen with 100% probability".

    In any case, the monk is burning off the lich's legendary resistance faster than any spellcaster can, even without advantage and even if the lich Shields instead of Counterspelling. If the lich does Counterspell instead of Shielding, burning off all three resists in one round is not that unlikely for a Shadow Monk (5 attacks per round), I'm guessing somewhere around 20-35% probability.

    Of course, Silence + two attacks (Ki-fueled Strikes + Opportunist) is even better against a lich than five attacks, for a Shadow Monk.
    Last edited by MaxWilson; 2021-01-22 at 12:57 PM.

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    Default Re: What is a high level monk like?

    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
    I suppose Unoriginal might have meant "can" in the same sense as "a Paladin can Smite the luck to death" or "a pair of Wizards can trap it in a Sickening Radiance / Forcecage" combo. This means "it's a potential outcome worth aiming for", not "this will happen with 100% probability".

    In any case, the monk is burning off the lich's legendary resistance faster than any spellcaster can, even without advantage and even if the lich Shields instead of Counterspelling. If the lich does Counterspell instead of Shielding, burning off all three resists in one round is not that unlikely for a Shadow Monk (5 attacks per round), I'm guessing somewhere around 20-35% probability.

    Of course, Silence + two attacks (Ki-fueled Strikes + Opportunist) is even better against a lich than five attacks, for a Shadow Monk.
    Smite the luck to death has a good ring to it.

    Agreed. The monk having a potential to burn LR in a turn is usually enough to influence the NPCs course of action.
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    Default Re: What is a high level monk like?

    Quote Originally Posted by stoutstien View Post
    Smite the luck to death has a good ring to it.
    Yeah, but it's really, really unlikely. You'd basically need triple crits in one round.
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    Default Re: What is a high level monk like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tzun View Post
    That seems highly optimistic doesn't it? Monks have at most 4 to 5 attacks a turn at these levels having to burn 1 Ki for flurry, then have to land at least 3 of those attacks plus the target has to fail on all 3 of those saves burning another 3 Ki for the stun. So that's 4 Ki burned in the most optimal outcome. More realistically you're probably looking at burning 5-7 ki to make this happen and usually taking 2 to 3 turns. So basically you burned through 1/3 to 1/2 your Ki. Hopefully you'll be getting a short rest after every encounter or 2.
    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
    I suppose Unoriginal might have meant "can" in the same sense as "a Paladin can Smite the luck to death" or "a pair of Wizards can trap it in a Sickening Radiance / Forcecage" combo. This means "it's a potential outcome worth aiming for", not "this will happen with 100% probability".

    In any case, the monk is burning off the lich's legendary resistance faster than any spellcaster can, even without advantage and even if the lich Shields instead of Counterspelling. If the lich does Counterspell instead of Shielding, burning off all three resists in one round is not that unlikely for a Shadow Monk (5 attacks per round), I'm guessing somewhere around 20-35% probability.

    Of course, Silence + two attacks (Ki-fueled Strikes + Opportunist) is even better against a lich than five attacks, for a Shadow Monk.
    I mean at lvl 14 level most Monks will hit the Lich on a 12 if the Lich uses Shield, so it's not unlikely to have 4 attacks land 3 times. And Liches do have good CON save, so it's true that overall it's much more likely to take 6 attacks.

    Regardless, as MaxWilson said, even if it takes two turns it's still faster than anyone else.

    And we're talking about a lvl 14 fighting against a CR 21 legendary creature.

    Quote Originally Posted by stoutstien View Post
    Agreed. The monk having a potential to burn LR in a turn is usually enough to influence the NPCs course of action.
    Yeah, can't just ignore the threat the Monk represents.

    Smite the Luck sounds like a Paladin ability that makes the targets of their Smite unable to have advantage for a given amount of time.
    Last edited by Unoriginal; 2021-01-22 at 01:09 PM.

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    Default Re: What is a high level monk like?

    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
    If a Wizard 20 is a 10 for power, roughly speaking, and if a Fighter 20 is a 7, and a Barb 20 is a 4 (6 if Zealot), I'd call a (Shadow, Long Death, or Elemental) Monk 20 something that looks like a 5 on paper but is actually a 7-8 depending on campaign style. (Monk 17 is only a 5-7 though. 18th level is HUGE for monks.)
    Thank you, MaxWilson. I do appreciate your reasoned opinions. I concede that a savvy player will probably be able to tune in to the campaign style, and hoard 8-10 Ki to be fun enough to play in the big fight.

    I, personally, very much dislike the design of the Monk class. It is tied by the apron strings to Ki to be effective, and it is just nickel and dimed for Ki all day long (e.g. Step of the Wind). Furthermore, it is not fundamentally different than the "mighty" Monk that was so "esteemed" in 3e. I am not (entirely) trying to rubbish the Monk when I make that comparison. The high level 3e Monk had great Saves and Spell Resistance, so it had the not small virtue of being likely to survive the 1st round and capable of rescuing friends if things were going very badly. And it, too, could get into the right place at the right time to flurry away with Stun attacks.

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    Default Re: What is a high level monk like?

    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
    When people say things like this I always wonder what kinds of encounters their DMs construct at high level. Not saying it's not true, just saying it's not inevitable, and there are plenty of high-level monster fights that monks are highly effective in.

    How about a lich, a nalfeshnee, and a couple of air elementals? (Deadly x2 for a 20th level party.) A DC 19 monk has a 40% chance per hit of stunning the Lich (+10 Con), a 35% chance per hit of stunning the nalfeshnee (+11), and an 80% chance per hit of stunning an air elemental (+2). With up to five attacks per round (e.g. Flurry + Opportunist for a Shadow Monk), a monk has excellent odds of stunning the lich on any given round (will stun the lich 1.13 times on average without advantage on attacks, 1.69 times per round if it's already prone or stunned or in some other way giving the monk advantage) even if the lich Shields instead of Counterspelling. Or it could nullify both air elementals if the lich isn't in range. Even the Nalfeshnee, while not the best target, is certainly worth stunning and will get stunned 1.4 times per round on average. (74% chance of stunning the Nalfeshnee each round, even if the Monk doesn't have advantage, or Bless, etc.).

    The monk is definitely pulling his weight in that fight even though the monsters have truesight.

    What about a pair of death knights (Deadly for 20th level)? A DC 19 monk has a 65% chance of stunning a Death Knight with each hit. With Empty Body he can have advantage for an 84% chance to hit, times 65% chance per hit, equals 54% chance of attack of stunning the Death Knight. (1-0.54)^5 ~= 0.02, so there's only 2% chance for the Death Knight to avoid stunning. There's a pretty good chance the monk can stun both Death Knights every round for as long as his ki holds up.

    3 Beholders is also a Deadly fight for level 20 PCs, and they're even more vulnerable to Stunning Strike than Death Knights: +4 to Con saves, AC 18.

    Honestly the problem IMO with high-level monks is exactly the opposite: they have trouble with swarms of lower-CR monsters (if they're not Elemonks). A dozen Wraiths (Deadly for 4 level 20 PCs) will be a harder fight for four monks than 3 Beholders.

    One of these days I'd like to run an all-monk party...
    Having played at high levels, I can pretty much guarantee that our party could effectively beat each of those encounters in between 1 and 2 rounds, using minimal resources.

    CR breaks down completely at high levels. High-level casters are insane. When we ran our campaign, I remember that one of our encounters (level 18, not level 20) had us facing off against a Mind Flayer Lich (CR22), 2 beholders (CR13 each), and 4 Iron Golems (CR16 each). I mean, it wasn't a cakewalk (you had to think carefully about what you were doing), but it wasn't actually *hard*. And this was a part of a dungeon where we'd go through 5-6 of these encounters in a day.

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    Default Re: What is a high level monk like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Snails View Post
    Thank you, MaxWilson. I do appreciate your reasoned opinions. I concede that a savvy player will probably be able to tune in to the campaign style, and hoard 8-10 Ki to be fun enough to play in the big fight.

    I, personally, very much dislike the design of the Monk class. It is tied by the apron strings to Ki to be effective, and it is just nickel and dimed for Ki all day long (e.g. Step of the Wind). Furthermore, it is not fundamentally different than the "mighty" Monk that was so "esteemed" in 3e. I am not (entirely) trying to rubbish the Monk when I make that comparison. The high level 3e Monk had great Saves and Spell Resistance, so it had the not small virtue of being likely to survive the 1st round and capable of rescuing friends if things were going very badly. And it, too, could get into position to flurry away with Stun attacks.
    Huh. I'm an AD&D player, so the only things I know about 3E come from video games (Icewind Dale II and The Temple of Elemental Evil). I do remember that taking 1-2 levels in Monk was common on ultimate-AC builds for IWD2, but that more investment than that was counterproductive (better to just pump Banite cleric levels, plus be a Deep Gnome for the spell resistance).

    5E monks don't give me that feeling at all, partly because 5E magic is relatively weak (and mostly doesn't stack) and partly because 5E monks aren't so frontloaded. Also because of the changes to the combat system (high-level 5E clerics don't get to make five attacks per round).

    ================================================

    Quote Originally Posted by mistajames View Post
    Having played at high levels, (A) I can pretty much guarantee that our party could effectively beat each of those encounters in between 1 and 2 rounds, using minimal resources.

    CR breaks down completely at high levels. High-level casters are insane. When we ran our campaign, I remember that one of our encounters (level 18, not level 20) had us facing off against a (B) Mind Flayer Lich (CR22), 2 beholders (CR13 each), and 4 Iron Golems (CR16 each). I mean, it wasn't a cakewalk (you had to think carefully about what you were doing), but it wasn't actually *hard*. And this was a part of a dungeon where we'd go through 5-6 of these encounters in a day.
    (A) Well, yeah. That's kind of the point of the example. The monk invests minimal ki to disable a large chunk of the opposition, and the rest of the party cleans up the Deadly x2 encounter. Party winds up spending only short-rest resources to beat the Deadly x2 fight, maybe takes a short rest, and moves on while still being basically at full strength.

    (B) That sounds like an encounter where monks would have been extremely useful, to neutralize the beholders. Beholders are glass(ish) cannons, and out of everything in that fight, they both hit the hardest and are the most vulnerable to Stunning Strike (AC 18, +4 to Con saves). The Iron Golems are also easy to stun (AC 20, +5 to Con saves). If you're trying to persuade me that monks are bad because monster Con saves are too high, it isn't working.
    Last edited by MaxWilson; 2021-01-22 at 01:41 PM.
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    Default Re: What is a high level monk like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Snails View Post
    Thank you, MaxWilson. I do appreciate your reasoned opinions. I concede that a savvy player will probably be able to tune in to the campaign style, and hoard 8-10 Ki to be fun enough to play in the big fight.

    I, personally, very much dislike the design of the Monk class. It is tied by the apron strings to Ki to be effective, and it is just nickel and dimed for Ki all day long (e.g. Step of the Wind). Furthermore, it is not fundamentally different than the "mighty" Monk that was so "esteemed" in 3e. I am not (entirely) trying to rubbish the Monk when I make that comparison. The high level 3e Monk had great Saves and Spell Resistance, so it had the not small virtue of being likely to survive the 1st round and capable of rescuing friends if things were going very badly. And it, too, could get into position to flurry away with Stun attacks.
    I think you're ignoring all what a Monk can do even without spending ki.

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    Default Re: What is a high level monk like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Unoriginal View Post
    I think you're ignoring all what a Monk can do even without spending ki.
    They're not contributing much. Unarmed strikes don't get magic weapon mods. Magic weapons are generally a given at these levels. 1d10+5 damage at level 20 is generally below the curve in terms of damage. They're basically a crappier Valor Bard at that point.

    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
    (A) Well, yeah. That's kind of the point of the example. The monk invests minimal ki to disable a large chunk of the opposition, and the rest of the party cleans up the Deadly x2 encounter. Party winds up spending only short-rest resources to beat the Deadly x2 fight, maybe takes a short rest, and moves on while still being basically at full strength.

    (B) That sounds like an encounter where monks would have been extremely useful, to neutralize the beholders. Beholders are glass(ish) cannons, and out of everything in that fight, they both hit the hardest and are the most vulnerable to Stunning Strike (AC 18, +4 to Con saves). The Iron Golems are also easy to stun (AC 20, +5 to Con saves). If you're trying to persuade me that monks are bad because monster Con saves are too high, it isn't working.
    Maybe you're right, and I am underestimating things here. If we expect Monks to drop 4 stunning strikes/round at these levels to incapacitate 1-2 mobs (which, at 5 ki/round, they can keep up for 4 rounds every short rest), it would seem that they are contributing. You need someone else to contribute damage to the mix, but stunning 2 CR-13+ mobs is still a pretty reasonable contribution if the fight only lasts 1-2 rounds.

    Odds are, the monk is stunning both beholders every turn, assuming DC19. Provided that you choose your targets wisely, it would seem that Monks can contribute somewhat via Stunning Strike. I think that Way of Mercy also helps a lot to help the monk contribute.

    Ki is still a concern though. Empty Body is great, but it costs an Action and 4 ki and only lasts for a single fight, meaning you're taking away Ki that could be spent on Stunning Strike. Diamond Soul is great too, but it also eats Ki. I've never played a monk in T4 or T3, but I know that my T2 monk ran out of Ki constantly. This is a class that benefits a lot from a Cleric, Druid, Sorcerer, or Warlock dip for a way to boost their damage (via Hex/Hunter's Mark).

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    Default Re: What is a high level monk like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Unoriginal View Post
    I think you're ignoring all what a Monk can do even without spending ki.
    My experience with ki-free monk features:

    1.) Sharpshooter Crossbow Expert Kensei is fun, not bad at all. Ranged DMG Disarms, throw nets, use mobility to kite while shooting. This is the Action Hero monk. If you want to walk away from explosions without a scratch, get in gunfights crossbow fights that turn into fistfights (after you disarm each other or run out of ammo), jump off of buildings, scale the outside of a skyscraper (fantasy Burj Khalifa), catch bullets boulders before they can hit you, and shoot bad guys right between the eyes--if you want to be James Bond/John Wick/the Last Action Hero--you can be a Kensei and do all of that without spending any ki. (If you're not a Sharpshooter Crossbow Expert Kensei you can do some of that anyway, but mechanically the playstyle works best with good ranged attacks.)

    2.) Mobile Shadow Monk is obviously awesome for Shadow Jumping and Minor Illusion plus 11th level Invisibility. Plinking away with a longbow is kind of boring though in Tier 3+, and melee kiting can get old, so after Tier 2 this monk is more fun out of combat than in combat, when hoarding ki.

    3.) Long Death 6th level fear is quite good, gives you a nice AoE to go with your nice single-target stuff. Getting to suck temp HP off enemies (or even chickens) is also nice and thematic. Mastery of Death rarely costs ki but radically changes all of your RP in an extremely fun way (lets you be very casual about danger, which is kind of the opposite of my normal RP tendencies).

    4.) Defensive Duelist Prodigy (Athletics) Elemonk is fun, very different from a Mobile monk. Good against solos, small groups, and large groups. I acknowledge that the ki-free stuff is not coming from Elemonk, but I would actually feel a little bit uncomfortable going all-in on grappling and single-target attacks on a different monk like a Shadow Monk or Kensei because they lack the Elemonk's anti-mob AoEs.
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    Default Re: What is a high level monk like?

    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
    My experience with ki-free monk features:

    1.) Sharpshooter Crossbow Expert Kensei is fun, not bad at all. Ranged DMG Disarms, throw nets, use mobility to kite while shooting. This is the Action Hero monk. If you want to walk away from explosions without a scratch, get in gunfights crossbow fights that turn into fistfights (after you disarm each other or run out of ammo), jump off of buildings, scale the outside of a skyscraper (fantasy Burj Khalifa), catch bullets boulders before they can hit you, and shoot bad guys right between the eyes--if you want to be James Bond/John Wick/the Last Action Hero--you can be a Kensei and do all of that without spending any ki. (If you're not a Sharpshooter Crossbow Expert Kensei you can do some of that anyway, but mechanically the playstyle works best with good ranged attacks.)

    2.) Mobile Shadow Monk is obviously awesome for Shadow Jumping and Minor Illusion plus 11th level Invisibility. Plinking away with a longbow is kind of boring though in Tier 3+, and melee kiting can get old, so after Tier 2 this monk is more fun out of combat than in combat, when hoarding ki.

    3.) Long Death 6th level fear is quite good, gives you a nice AoE to go with your nice single-target stuff. Getting to suck temp HP off enemies (or even chickens) is also nice and thematic. Mastery of Death rarely costs ki but radically changes all of your RP in an extremely fun way (lets you be very casual about danger, which is kind of the opposite of my normal RP tendencies).

    4.) Defensive Duelist Prodigy (Athletics) Elemonk is fun, very different from a Mobile monk. Good against solos, small groups, and large groups. I acknowledge that the ki-free stuff is not coming from Elemonk, but I would actually feel a little bit uncomfortable going all-in on grappling and single-target attacks on a different monk like a Shadow Monk or Kensei because they lack the Elemonk's anti-mob AoEs.
    And I think this is why the Monk class comes from a design space that is completely at odds with the rest of 5e.

    The idea of a mobile monk ducking and weaving away from monsters while attacking intermittently is a really cool idea in theory, but the reality of the situation is that you're giving up tons of damage to be able to skirmish, and skirmishing is completely irrelevant when a monster's response to your antics is to attack your teammates instead.

    If the rest of your party is skirmishing too... well I think that gets kind of interesting.

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    Default Re: What is a high level monk like?

    Quote Originally Posted by mistajames View Post
    Maybe you're right, and I am underestimating things here. If we expect Monks to drop 4 stunning strikes/round at these levels to incapacitate 1-2 mobs (which, at 5 ki/round, they can keep up for 4 rounds every short rest), it would seem that they are contributing. You need someone else to contribute damage to the mix, but stunning 2 CR-13+ mobs is still a pretty reasonable contribution if the fight only lasts 1-2 rounds.

    Odds are, the monk is stunning both beholders every turn, assuming DC19. Provided that you choose your targets wisely, it would seem that Monks can contribute somewhat via Stunning Strike. I think that Way of Mercy also helps a lot to help the monk contribute.

    Ki is still a concern though. Empty Body is great, but it costs an Action and 4 ki and only lasts for a single fight, meaning you're taking away Ki that could be spent on Stunning Strike. Diamond Soul is great too, but it also eats Ki. I've never played a monk in T4 or T3, but I know that my T2 monk ran out of Ki constantly. This is a class that benefits a lot from a Cleric, Druid, Sorcerer, or Warlock dip for a way to boost their damage (via Hex/Hunter's Mark).
    Ki is always a concern, but when 1 point of ki has a 70% chance of saving you from six beholder eye zaps, you go ahead and spend the ki, which you have 18 of anyway. I'm not generally a fan of Flurry of Blows (I suspect that your Tier 2 monk experience probably overused Flurry of Blows for damage, which would explain why you were running out of ki constantly) but this is actually a situation where I would use it until at least one of the beholders was dead, unless I got lucky and stunned both Beholders with my first two attacks that round. (Once they are both stunned, it's not THAT unlikely--will happen 40% of the time--but it's still more likely than not that it won't, and I'll wind up Flurrying just in case.)

    After the first round I wind up paying ~1.4 ki per Stunning Strike, plus a ki for Flurry of Blows 60% of the time, so about 3.4 ki per round while both beholders are alive. Since this is saving the party from literally hundreds of HP of damage and possible perma-death I think it's a good deal. I'm also inflicting ~35 HP of damage each round if I'm a Shadow Monk (because Opportunist). If the rest of the party does their jobs right, one or two rounds of Stunning the Beholders should be enough and then they'll be dead and I can move on to other targets which may or may not deserve a Stunning Strike (depends on situation). After combat, one of the casters can throw up a Rope Trick if I need to regain some ki, and then we're back at full strength, ready to take on more beholders and golems and liches.

    Is this as brokenly strong as an 18th level Divine Soul who has spent a month conjuring up Couatls Wishing to Planar Bind them? No, although the Couatls won't work in a beholder's antimagic field like a Stunning Strike will. But maximally-abusive spells trump well-played warrior-types including monks. The thing is, maximally-abusive spells also kill campaigns because they kill tension: at a certain point you get tired of playing the game on easy mode and you stop, unless the DM knows how to change the game into something else (the infamous High Level Play problem). Monks are powerful enough to be fun at high levels, and not powerful enough to turn everything into an exercise in Already Solved Problems.

    Quote Originally Posted by mistajames View Post
    And I think this is why the Monk class comes from a design space that is completely at odds with the rest of 5e.

    The idea of a mobile monk ducking and weaving away from monsters while attacking intermittently is a really cool idea in theory, but the reality of the situation is that you're giving up tons of damage to be able to skirmish, and skirmishing is completely irrelevant when a monster's response to your antics is to attack your teammates instead.

    If the rest of your party is skirmishing too... well I think that gets kind of interesting.
    Yeah, increasing defense (including but not limited to skirmishing) is generally more cost-effective than increasing offense in 5E, but it also requires more teamwork because as you say, the monsters will attack the weakest link. An all-Mobile party is amazing**, and likewise a party of all-Goblin Skulkers, especially if someone in the party has Pass Without Trace. (E.g. Goblin Skulker Paladin, Goblin Skulker Bardlock, Goblin Skulker Evoker, Goblin Skulker Moon Druid = fun.) ** Skirmishing monks also work well if the rest of the party are summoners and ranged attackers. They can hide behind the conjured meatshields (snakes or whatever) and shoot or blast, while the Monk stuns key targets to give all the snakes advantage, almost doubling the summoner's damage output.

    But if you can't rely on cooperation from your teammates, a less cost-effective but simpler alternative is just kill the monsters before your teammates can make enough mistakes to die. This is why a Fighter 2/Evoker X is a good addition to any party, even a party of half-witted Barbarian 4/Bard Xs.

    Also it depends on how skilled your DM is at pacing and running split parties. The other PCs can't get themselves killed if they're offscreen.
    Last edited by MaxWilson; 2021-01-22 at 02:45 PM.
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