Talk:Ultimate Monk (3.5e Optimized Character Build)

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What's New[edit]

I've added two new subpages, one on rebalancing the Ultimate Monk (which has a nifty combat example in which the Ultimate Monk takes on Ares, god of violence) and one on class level selection for the Ultimate Monk.

Added a new set of Ultimate Monk progressions which will ultimate be the main progression for the Ultimate Monk, with the others relegated to sub-variants. I'm very excited about these Monks of the Fivefold Path. All the things I've learned in the course of this process, both in terms of building the best monks possible under the 3.5e rules, and about the philosophical, cultural, and symbolic underpinnings of what eventually becomes the cinematic and literary tradition of the martial arts.S1Q3T3 21:40, 26 January 2009 (MST)

I am officially ashamed to call myself an optimizer[edit]

Well, dip me in butter and call me a biscuit, folks. How did I miss this for so long? From the distinguished Institute of Min/Maxing in Springfield, IL (where we share office space with Rod Blagojevich) comes word of a simple finesse that saves five levels off the 3.5E progression, whilst restoring much of the glorious brokenness that belonged to the UM of old, before the Darkness claimed Oriental Adventures.

New feat (15th level): Expanded Knowledge

The Expanded Knowledge feat allows one to chose a psionic power, no more than one level less than the maximum level you can cast, from ANY power list. Our choice, of course, is Metamorphosis, an Lvl 4 Psion power (requiring 9 levels of Psionic Fist (aka Fist of Zuoken) which gives access to Lvl 5 Psychic Warrior powers). Combine it with Hustle and/or Expansion, and enjoy your choice of virtually any alternate form up to 15HD (or your HD, whichever is less.) With a Dire Lion, these would be the critical changes:

Str: +14

Dex: +4

Con: +6

Claws/Bite: 1d6/1d8


Improved Grab

Pounce (full attacks with charge)

Rake

Note that this particular choice makes Psionic Lion's Charge redundant (both figuratively and literally). I don't know what creatures will be optimal yet, I'll have to work on it. But regardless, it beats the heck out of taking 5 levels of Bear Warrior. To illustrate, one more example:

Dire Bear form:

Str: +20(!) Dex: +2 Con: +8

Claw/Bite: 2d4/2d8

Improved Grab


Or go bigger:

Megaraptor (Size H)

Str: +10 Dex: +4 Con: +10

Talons/Claws/Bite: 2d8/1d4/2d6

Pounce (full attacks after charge)

Some people might find the idea of a monk transforming into a giant dinosaur a little silly (depends on the tone of your campaign, I guess -- and there's no way it's not impressive.) In game terms, the advantage is striking. Combined with +2 Expansion, the monk strikes as a Colossal creature, with Improved Natural Attack increasing the damage still more.


New Progression[edit]

Added Expanded Knowledge at ECL 15. Updated progression tables, without Bear Warrior.

Obviously there are a great many things one can do with those five additional levels. Starting the character out with a quick F2/PsyW2 is attractive for the four bonus feats that come with those levels. One could take a few levels in a monster class before starting out in monk, so as not to have to wait for ECL 15 for Large (or Huge) size. One could also take a few levels in one or two of the classes which can take feats allowing the monk to stack those levels to determine unarmed strike damage (a couple levels of ranger would be particularly useful.)

For now, I kept it very simple: I finished the Psionic Fist progression, where Lvl 10 gives a bonus psionic feat, an additional psionic power, and additional power points; and I took the base monk all the way up to Lvl 11, for the greater flurry ability, an additional attack, and Improved Evasion. (Having it both ways forced me to dip my toe into the Epic rules with 21 levels and one Epic feat If one can live without the extra psionic feat, I'd recommend leaving the Psionic Fist at 9 and keeping eleven levels of monk, giving four attacks per round, five with an off-handed strike. This keeps it a 20-level build.)

New 3.0E Progression[edit]

I've reworked the Oriental Adventures (3.0E) progression to reflect the use of the Metamorphosis power (no more Bear Warrior!) Besides the levels of Bear Warrior, I ditched the Sohei levels, with the thinking that magic/psionic transparency ought to apply to the Blade Warrior requirement that the character by able to cast spells (i.e., I read it that in a campaign with psionics, a Blade Dancer must be able to cast spells or manifest powers.) Several feats were ditched whose primary purpose was fulfilling the requirements for Foot and Fist Mastery (after a commenter helpfully pointed out that the Jump, Balance, and Tumble bonuses provided by Foot and Fist Mastery do not stack with the Blade Dancer bonuses). I added a level of Weapon Master, for the damage maximization power. The feat requirements of that prestige class (Weapon Focus, Dodge, Mobility, Spring Attack, and Whirlwind Attack) are all things on the Ultimate Monk's wish list anyway.

Although the magic-psionics transparency rule treat psionics the same as magic, it does not mean that psionic powers are the same as spells. It just means that psionic powers are just another type of magic, like the warlock's invocations, soulmelds from the Magic of Incarnum, the binder's vestiges, the truenamer's utterances, the shadowcaster's mysteries, some of the blade adepts' stances and manuevers, spell-like abilities, psi-like abilities, and supernatural abilities. Like spells, all these things are magic, but only spells are spells. —Sledged (talk 12:42, 11 February 2009 (MST)

Also, several feats were added to reflect what was learned in designing the 3.5E progression (Expanded Knowledge, Overchannel, Beast Strike, Improved Natural Attack). The differences between the 3.0E and 3.5E variants are now more a matter of flavor and less a matter of raw power -- they're both pretty unstoppable.

I also made a point of removing the last references to the OA version of Flying Kick, which doubled unarmed strike damage. The Complete Warrior feat supersedes it.

Ideas & Questions[edit]

Looking at the power Expansion. I do not think you can use Expansion to enlarge a Dire Bear Metamorphosis, "Other psionic or magical properties are not affected by this power" So the effect of Metamorphosis can not be changed by Expansion, and you are stuck with a large bear.

Sign your posts, please. What the description is saying is that properties other than size and weight are not affected by Expansion -- so you can't, for example, expand a healing potion and turn it into several healing potions. It does not say you can't expand someone who is in an altered form. You can. That doesn't affect the form's "psionic or magical properties" -- just its size.

Claws of the Beast and iterative attacks[edit]

Looking at the power Claws Of The Beast. It looks like it do not give you extra attacks, but replaces your normal attacks "You can make an attack with one claw or a full attack with two claws at your normal attack bonus, replacing your normal attack routine." (Expanded Psionics Handbook, pg 83) What do you say, it would be nice to have more attacks, but how do I convince my DM? -- R03ask

Show him this article, from Wizards of the Coast; http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/rg/20070410a. Skip Williams, in an article published by WotC, should be authority enough for anybody. You do have to give up flurry on rounds when you also strike with your natural weapons. If you can get Beast Strike, from Dragon magazine, you can add your claw damage to your unarmed strike damage as well. There's no arguing on that one, it's a Dragon Magazine feat, all you can do is wheedle. You might point out that it is logical that martial artist, who have often modeled their styles after animals, would be able to make use of a animal's natural weapons.S1Q3T3 08:41, 5 February 2009 (MST)
Hadn't seen that article before. Looks like Skip changed his position on the issue of combining two-weapon fighting, unarmed strikes, and flurry of blows from his FAQ entry (pages 19 and 20). I like the article interpretation better. It's more in-line with the PHB/SRD wording.
As far as combining unarmed strikes with natural weaponry, Skip is simply reiterating what the general rules say by pulling together sections from different parts of the core rules (specifically, the rules here, here, and here). The article doesn't change the fact that you can't combine other attacks with claws of the beast, because it's explicitly written into the power's description. Only another explicit exception (such as form of doom) can allow the claws to be used with other attacks. —Sledged (talk 12:42, 11 February 2009 (MST)
I understand where you are getting that, but I don't agree with your reading. "Your claws work just like the natural weapons of many monsters." In other words, they can be combined with other attacks just like natural weapons. "You can make an attack with one claw or a full attack with two claws at your normal attack bonus, replacing your normal attack routine." Well, naturally. But consider. Can you expand upon your normal attack routine by use of the Two-Weapon Fighting feat? Yes, you can (provided you are using an appropriate weapon, etc.) That's the whole point. So if you can use TWF to modify your normal attack routine, you can also use it to modify your claw attacks, which replace it. Which is reinforced by the statement "Your claws work just like the natural weapons of many monsters." I think the difference in our readings is that you are treating the effects of TWF as part of the character's normal attack routine, which the power's description rightly does not say. TWF modifies your "normal attack routine" -- allowing additional attacks and imposing penalties. What the power description is saying is that the claws become your primary weapons (which would make your unarmed strike a secondary weapon).S1Q3T3 17:23, 14 February 2009 (MST)
The problem is that the sentence that reads "Your claws work just like the natural weapons of many monsters" is too vague because the term "many monsters" isn't qualified in the power's description. So I can interpret that sentence in a number of different ways. It could (a) refer to the monsters that are able to combine natural and manufactured weaponry, (b) refer to the monsters that cannot combine natural and manufactured weaponry (because there are "many monsters" that can't), or (c) just be a general statement to serve as an introduction to the paragraph—which continues on to expound on exactly how the "claws work just like the natural weapons of many monsters."
By contrast, in a couple paragraphs below, the sentence that reads "If you attack with a manufactured weapon or another natural attack, you can’t make any claw attacks in that round." is very specific. In fact, no matter how you interpret the other sentence, you have to completely disregard this one in order to come to the conclusion that the claws can be combined with other attacks.
Ultimately, the real question is "How will a typical DM interpret it?" There's not much point to putting together an optimization based on a specific interpretation of the rules if very few, if any, share that view. When I'm putting together an optimization and unsure about whether or not a particular element works within the rules, I typically go to the WotC forums, or ENWorld forums and try to get a consensus of what they think.
On a side note, I noticed you mentioned two-weapon fighting in the context of combining attacks with natural and manufactured weaponry. In actuality, the rules for two-weapon fighting have nothing to do with natural attacks. They only deal with combining attacks from two different manufactured weapons (or the opposite ends of a double weapon). However, TWF can be combined with natural attacks, and the kicker is that the penalties for TWF only apply to the manufactured weapons.
For example, from Skip's article if we take the lizardfolk monk from the first example (BAB +7 and +3 from a Str 17), and give it the longspear from the second example, it can make two attacks with the longspear as a primary-hand weapon (+6/+1), make an attack with an unarmed strike as an off-hand weapon (+10), and make a bite as a secondary natural attack (+5). Taking this a few steps further, let's replace the longspear with a morningstar, give it the feats Prehensile Tail (Savage Species), Multiweapon Fighting, Multiattack, and Improved Multiattack. It can now make two attacks with the morningstar as a primary-hand weapon wielding it with its tail (+8/+3), make an attack with an unarmed strike as an off-hand weapon (+10), and make two claw attacks and one bite attack as secondary natural attacks (+10/+10/+10). Disclaimer: I don't have my SS in front of me so I don't know if a lizardfolk actually qualifies for Prehensile Tale. —Sledged (talk 21:30, 15 February 2009 (MST)
Thanks for your detailed and careful argument; I'll go over it in detail after work and respond.S1Q3T3 07:12, 19 February 2009 (MST)
Sorry to be so tardy in responding. I agree that the sentence "If you attack with a manufactured weapon or another natural attack, you can’t make any claw attacks in that round" is very specific. However, implicit in all the rules, even the very specific ones, is the assumption that other rules, governing spells, feats, class abilities, or whatever, can modify what is asserted there.
I agree with that statement, and by that logic, the rule information in claws of the beast can modify the rules that assert how natural and manufactured weaponry interact. If that weren't the case, it would be pointless to have that sentence there in the first place. It would never apply to any scenario, and thus make it highly contradictory. —Sledged (talk 10:53, 1 March 2009 (MST)
For example, how many places in the spell descriptions and elsewhere in the rules do we read "The character can still make no more than one attack of opportunity per round." Of course, we know that that doesn't apply to characters with Combat Reflexes. If a spell says that a target becomes flat-footed and loses their Dex bonus to AC, we know that is not intended to apply to a character with Uncanny Dodge. And so on.
Again, I agree. Likewise bite of the wolf reads "You gain one bite attack each round, instead of or in addition to any other attacks you have." But the "in addition" part doesn't apply to characters that make attacks with claws of the beast. —Sledged (talk 10:53, 1 March 2009 (MST)
Essentially, what we have here with Combat Reflexes, uncanny dodge, and claws of the beast, are specific and explicit exceptions to the general rules.
  • The general rules state that you can only make one AoO per round. Combat Reflexes is an exception to that rule.
  • The general rules state that you lose your Dex bonus to AC when flat-footed. Uncanny dodge is an exception to that rule.
  • The general rules state that attacks with manufactured and natural weaponry can be combined. Claws of the beast is an exception to that rule.
Rule information from feats, spells, powers, special abilities, etc... trumps the general rules. —Sledged (talk 10:53, 1 March 2009 (MST)
You allude to monsters that cannot combine attacks with natural and manufactured weapons, but I don't know of any who can use manufactured weapons that can't. There are many examples of those that can.
Claws of the beast doesn't narrow its reference of "many monsters" to just those that can use manufactured weapons, only those with natural attacks. Some monsters with natural attacks can use weapons (e.g. trolls) and some can't (e.g. behirs). By virtue of not being able to use manufactured weapons means they can't combine natural and manufactured weaponry. —Sledged (talk 10:53, 1 March 2009 (MST)
You could be right on the RAW; I'm notoriously weak on the literalist interpretation of the scriptures. Of course, I agree that it's DM interpretation that matters. It makes sense to me both from a story point of view and a balance point of view that creatures with natural weapons would derive some benefit from them whilst using martial arts. A rough-scaled, razor-clawed lizard man does not lost those natural advantages when he trains in unarmed combat.
Given that a number of martial arts focus on using everything at your disposal, and using your body as a weapon, I agree that natural weapons should mesh seamlessly with the unarmed strikes of a monk. I thought 3E had the best rules for unarmed strikes and natural attacks (in Savage Species on page 106). It allowed you to use mix and match. You could use your natural attack damage with your monk attack routine (when monks got an extra attack at +4 BAB and every 3 bonus increases afterward), or use your monk damage with your natural attack routine.
However, when you throw magic (and/or psionics) into the mix, anything can happen, and it doesn't have to make sense. That's from where many concepts of magic came. In many early cultures, if it couldn't be explained logically, it was magic (or otherworldly intervention, or both). So effects from spells and powers are not obligated to makes sense from any point of view. —Sledged (talk 10:53, 1 March 2009 (MST)
From a balance point of view, claw damage will eventually be dwarfed by unarmed strike damage (as you know well). You cannot flurry and add other attacks, so in most cases you will gain, at most, one other attack.
None-the-less, I've seen a couple of optimizations around claws of the beast. I've figured out how to modify this one to get 10 attacks per round plus rend damage at cost of 1 PP per round plus the up-front PP cost for claws of the beast. Throw in powers like expansion, claws of the vampire, and metamorphosis, and you got a fairly impressive melee optimization. —Sledged (talk 10:53, 1 March 2009 (MST)
As far as TWF vs Multiattack vs Multiweapon Fighting, I was sloppy in my terms. Your lizardman is a cool example, exploiting the fact that Improved Multiattack (like many powerful creature feats) has no BAB prerequisite. Good to talk to you.S1Q3T3 07:45, 25 February 2009 (MST)
Sadly, the flaw in my example is that a lizardfolk does not qualify for the Prehensile Tail feat, because it requires a tail natural attack. —Sledged (talk 10:53, 1 March 2009 (MST)
Reading the power description again, I think you're right. What finally convinced me was this sentence: "If you attack with a manufactured weapon or another natural attack, you can’t make any claw attacks in that round." With manufactured weapons, one could argue (as I did) that this does not take into account the effect of feats, but the addition of "another natural attack" makes the meaning clearer; under the normal rules (i.e., if we treated the claws as natural claws in every way) the character should be able to add another natural weapon to his or her attack routine as a secondary attack at -5. No feat needed. That the power description forbids this suggests to me, as I read it now, that the intent is clearly to prevent all additional iterative attacks.

Feats[edit]

maybe this is stupid but how do you get so many feats at the first level?

Short answers: flaws (UA), human race (sometimes), classes with bonus feats.

Suggestions[edit]

Hey -- cool build! Here are some suggestions that may be worth mentioning in the build:

  • Figure out a way to put Improved Natural Attack in! It works for monk's attacks [1].
  • Suggested magic items besides the monk's belt would be nice.
  • Perhaps you should figure out a way to get Monk level 2 in. It gives +1 to saves, an extra feat, and +1 BAB.

And my questions:

  • How are you getting +20 strength from bear warrior without progressing to level 10 in the class?
  • Are the divine spells really necessary? I don't know the class well enough.

--Aarnott 17:55, 16 December 2007 (MST)

Wow, great comments!
  • I would love to put in Improved Natural Attack. I'll find one more feat slot, somewhere. That will give the M-sized monk 6d8 striking, 12d8 with a Flying Kick, and going up from there.
Weapon-wielders. In my weaker moments, I almost pity them.
  • I'll make a list. I am very skimpy with magic items, and this build really doesn't need them to be powerful. But a "would be nice" list is no problem.
  • Monk 2 happens at ECL 4, if I remember. Do you mean, get it in sooner? Whether that is optimal or not depends on your house rules. If you use fractional BABs from UA, you avoid the multiclasser's +0/+0/+0 BAB. Three levels in +3/4 nets you BAB +2, just as if they were all in the same class. I think that's common sense. Without that rule, since BAB is so important, you'd be absolutely right to want Monk 2 and even Monk 3 before multiclassing (although the Sohei 1 level does not give you BAB, it does give you ki frenzy (+1 to hit from Str) and Weapon Focus (+1.) So it's a tough call.
  • As to the Bear Warrior, in the OA prestige class, you get the dire form at 8th level. I understand CW has Bear Warrior, which may have a different progression. As an aside, the real scandal in that the brown bear form, which gives +16 Str and large size, requires only four levels of Bear Warrior. Is it worth it to go four more featless levels to get another +4 Str? Probably not, but an extra ki frenzy at level five is nice, and most of all, the dire bear is just so damn cool. But if I were trimming back, the last four levels of Bear would be the first to go. --S1Q3T3 10:12, 17 December 2007 (MST)
You might want to note that the bear warrior is the OA version, not the CW version. By WotC's policy, the latest version of a PrC is the official and updated version. It's like errata in a different form. —Sledged (talk) 12:21, 19 December 2007 (MST)
The source book is noted after the name of the class: Bear Warrior (OA). I think that's clear. I don't own Complete Warrior (nor do I much like it as a book) so I'm not in a good position to use their version, but thanks for pointing that out. It's silly, but I always think of "Complete Warrior" as the older book, because the cover and the art are so shoddy compared to OA, which looks fresh and sharp and as if it just rolled off the press. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by S1Q3T3 (talkcontribs) 13:20, 19 December 2007 (MST). Please sign your posts!
I can't pretend that the class doesn't need rebalancing. -- S1Q3T3 13:23, 19 December 2007 (MST)
  • The source book is noted after the name of the class: Bear Warrior (OA).
Actually, it's at the end at the end of the sentence: the Sohei, Bear Warrior, and Blade Dancer classes (OA).
  • I think that's clear.
Aarnott's response would suggest otherwise. —Sledged (talk) 14:11, 20 December 2007 (MST)
That's "classes," plural, clearly referring to the three classes preceding the parenthesis. Owner accepts no liability for careless readings. -- S1Q3T3 15:32, 20 December 2007 (MST)
Indeed, and apparently the three classes preceding those, as well. Does the owner accept liability for careless writing? —Sledged (talk) 16:09, 22 December 2007 (MST)
Nope, that's your reading again: "This build uses the Monk (PHB v3.5), the Fist of Zukoen (EPH) and the Psychic Warrior (EPH), the Sohei, Bear Warrior, and Blade Dancer classes (OA)." If I refer to Tom (from Germany), Dick (from France), and Mona, Jane, and Lisa (from Russia), the sentence means that the latter three are from Russia and the others are not. That's grammar 101. If you're going to nitpick, at least find some real nits. Better yet, find a better way to buff your ego. You clearly are not trying to improve the content, but win an argument. You've accomplished neither. 'Gnight. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by S1Q3T3 (talkcontribs) 18:58, 22 December 2007 (MST). Please sign your posts!
You're absolutely right. I concede, and I recant my statements; The source book was, in fact, noted after the name of the class, as you said, and not at the end of the sentence, as I claimed. And "classes" does not apparently refer to "Monk," "Fist of Zukoen," nor "Psychic Warrior."
You may carry on. —Sledged (talk) 22:23, 22 December 2007 (MST)
  • Are the divine spells necessary? It depends. The ability to cast divine or arcane spells is required to take a level in the Blade Dancer prestige class. That is a great level, because you get to double your base move, get +10 on acrobatics, and take 10 on acrobatics (meaning you won't be tripped up by rolling 1 on a Tumble check to avoid AofO, or a Jump check to leap a 90-foot chasm.) If it were my campaign, I'd houserule it to say manifester levels count -- that is certainly in the spirit of the genre. Then you wouldn't need them. Or you could lose Blade Dancer, but then your Ultimate Monk is not Ultimately acrobatic, as I think he should be. --S1Q3T3 10:12, 17 December 2007 (MST)

Another Tiny Short Cut[edit]

My dear fellow, your build has revived my interest in the monk. thank you. Incidentally, I think I've found two little tricks that may aid your monk.

First of all, In Races of the Wild, a halfling racial substitution level gives your monk skirmish damage, like a scout. Considering that your fast and acrobatic Ultimate monk will move around so much that may come in handy. Adding rouge will give you another 1d6 sneak attack damage. Compared to the way your monk already is, that's pretty lame. However, the feat Swift Ambusher in Complete Scoundrel allows rouge and scout levels to stack when determining their class features, and if you get skirmishing from monks, the feat could theoretically be re-done.

Your monk levels could wind up giving you sneak attack damage.

Yikes! (A more direct method than this that I have heard about is the Ascetic Rouge feat. Unfortunately, I do not own the book it's in. I'm assuming it does something for multiclass rouge/monks.) --Sir Milo Teabag 13:55, 20 December 2007 (MST)

I looked into this. Apparently everyone is confused about this feat, because there is a conflict between the summary in some table and the full description. Long story short: no stacked levels for SA. Feat gives stacked levels for monk's unarmed strike, which makes less sense, but is better from a balance point of view. -- S1Q3T3 16:07, 20 December 2007 (MST)

Second, the reason most people do magic weapons with the monk is to jack up their attack bonus. To pass this problem, an unarmed monk must pay 150,000 gp for a decent +5 amulet of mighty fists. That's ridiculously expensive.

However, you can use two NPC spellcastings to get the same effect: greater magic fang and permanance. Together, the cost would be only 9,100 gp. --Sir Milo Teabag 13:55, 20 December 2007 (MST)

Speaking of yikes; +5 to hit and damage forever, with nothing to lose or steal, for less than 10,000gp. Cheaper to enchant a weapon? "Asked and answered" as they say in the law. I'm putting that in the build. --S1Q3T3 11:28, 25 December 2007 (MST)

These things may be flawed. Still, if you think they would aid your monk in any way, use them. Another cool thing: the feat Epic Speed or Epic Run or something... in the SRD... adds +30 to your base speed. --Sir Milo Teabag 13:55, 20 December 2007 (MST)

Great feedback! I haven't made a study of the Epic feats, but I should. Maybe the Blade Dancer can go bye-bye, at least with a 30 level build.
As to the magic items thing: the idea of buying magic items is really weird to me, although I know it has become a huge part of the game in many circles. But even given the specific situation of the magic-item-buying player on a budget, I think the monk wins out, unless the game is extremely generous, and then only at the lower levels. Let me crunch the numbers and see what I come up with.
Greatsword +5 = 50,000 gp
Monk buys: Aml. of Fists +2 (24,000), Belt of Giant Str +4 (16,000), Gauntlets of Ogre Power (which stacked with the belt when I was I kid, not sure now) (4,000)
--S1Q3T3 16:18, 20 December 2007 (MST)
Since 2e, (maybe even before) they only stack if using a hammer of thunderbolts. If you've got the Magic of Faerun there's a set of bracers that enhance unarmed strikes similar to AoMF, and it's about 2/3 the price. It's cheaper because it doesn't enhance natural attacks, only unarmed strikes. —Sledged (talk) 16:09, 22 December 2007 (MST)
Thanks for that info. Drop the mittens and instead add Boots of Speed (haste gives a +1 to hit) and Ring of Blinking (+2 to hit). You still have the ioun stone of +2 Str. (that stacks, I hope) and with your +2 AMF you have +9 to hit for 107,000 gp. Not bad. The sword guy could do +10 for 106,000gp. So there's a difference, but not a huge one. But there are a host of other things on the magic items table to spend your money on, AC buffers and save buffers and misc. magic, and I'd say the monk is better positioned to take advantage of those.
Of course, if you can buy magic items, you can buy spells. If you can buy spells, you can buy the 1-2 combo suggested by Sir Milo. If you can buy that, it's the swordsman that's getting screwed on the magic prices. -- S1Q3T3 11:40, 25 December 2007 (MST)
Same 50,000 gp, same +5 to hit and damage. If the swordswain had those too, you might be hard pressed to match him, but that only becomes a problem when you have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of gold pieces with which to max out every conceivable item. In my campaigns, that happens at approximately half-past Never. Even in a magic-rich campaign, the characters should be what -- 10th? 15th level? -- by the time this happens, and by that point, your pikeman or what have you is simply outclassed, and no amount of pluses to his magic sword will save him. -- S1Q3T3 16:18, 20 December 2007 (MST)
This is a kinda fun thought experiment. Suppose this freelance came back to you, having bought everything you bought (sans the amulet of fists, or course) and challenged you to match his +10 (5(sword) + 3(belt) +1(gauntlets) + 1(ioun stone, which I should have added earlier). The budget: 98,000gp. How would the monk answer? I'll post my ideas later tonight. -- S1Q3T3 16:58, 20 December 2007 (MST)
I'll take a serious look at the rogue and racial feats, because I am thinking of phasing out the Gentle Ben angle. From a numbers point of view, he's great, but the shapeshifting-into-a-four-ton-monster thing kind of takes the focus off the monk's skills. It's almost too powerful to be interesting, too. -- S1Q3T3 15:43, 20 December 2007 (MST)

Featured Article Nomination[edit]

No mark.svg.png — This article did not become a featured article. --Green Dragon 12:56, 29 March 2008 (MDT)
Please feel free to re-nominate it once it meets the FA criteria and when all the major issues brought up in this nomination have been dealt with.

I am nominating this character optimization because, although it needs formatting work, it really is a good optimization, possibly the best CO on D&D Wiki. I feel it should be recognized for this. --Green Dragon 21:11, 9 March 2008 (MDT)

Comment—Any way we can update the outdated components without compromising the build? A number of the 3.0 feats used have been updated to 3.5. The same is true for the bear warrior PrC. —Sledged (talk) 11:56, 10 March 2008 (MDT)

The author mentions on the talk page that he used 3.5 are you sure those feats are 3.0? Once it is finished I'd support it I think. What is the result column for? --Hawk 19:02, 11 March 2008 (MDT)
Unless he omitted a reference, the feats Flying Kick, Fists of Iron, Ki Shout, Eagle Claw, Roundabout Kick, Greater Ki Shout, and Freezing the Lifeblood used in the build are from Oriental Adventures which is 3.0. They're not in any of the other listed sourcebooks (PHB, UA, and XPH). I believe a number of these feats have been updated to 3.5 in the Complete Warrior as has the bear warrior PrC. They may be in other 3.5 books as well. —Sledged (talk) 20:24, 11 March 2008 (MDT)
Oh that makes sense didn't think of OA don't mind me --Hawk 20:41, 11 March 2008 (MDT)
Feat selection also needs to be fixed. (See below.) —Sledged (talk) 14:11, 12 March 2008 (MDT)
I've made a lot of improvements, including but not limited to the 3.5E progression, major formatting improvements (links to the SRD, markup corrections, etc.), half a dozen combat examples, revised feat selection, and subpages on emulating cinematic martial arts, the highlights of the build, and (DMs may want to jump straight to this page after reading the former) on rebalancing the Ultimate Monk if you find him too powerful. I feel the major issues that kept the article from becoming a featured article have now been addressed and I'd like to put it forward for consideration again.S1Q3T3 11:04, 18 January 2009 (MST)
There's a lot of supplimental information in this page. I recommend rearranging it, by picking a flagship optimization to showcase the build. Present only the elements used in that one build at the top of the page. Then add the suplemental information afterwards, such as alternative options (e.g. feat, class, race, template, etc...), and any abilities (spells, powers, and such) or items that are useful but not essential to the showcased build. —Sledged (talk 12:42, 11 February 2009 (MST)
Good suggestion. Even I get a little lost in the variations. I'll work on that. If you see an obvious change, and you're so inclined, make it: I trust you (and I know, from your "Yet" page, that you have forgotten more about wiki formatting than I will ever know.)S1Q3T3 07:32, 2 March 2009 (MST)
Moved all the variants off the main page and onto subpages; replaced them with one 20-level Kalashtar build. Also moved the feats section to a sub-page. Next up, I plan to re-work the spells and items section to focus on ideas for the sample build, and move the more general ideas to the Buffing the Ultimate Monk page.

Odds and Ends[edit]

Feats[edit]

The feats need to be reevaluated a bit:

  • The first level of psychic warrior (at the 3rd character level) lists the feats Flying Kick and Fists of Iron. This build can only have one of those feats at this level, the other must be a psionic feat or fighter bonus feat.
  • Eagle Claw Attack at 2nd psychic warrior level (16th character level) has the same problem as Flying Kick/Fists of Iron.
  • Psionic Charge has a prereq of Speed of Thought.
  • A shintao monk has a specific list of feat from which he may select his bonus feats. Psionic Fist is not one of them (which removes the possibility of selecting Greater Psionic Fist at 30th level). The easiest fix is to swap this feat with Fists of Iron taken at 3rd character level, or Eagle Claw Attack at 16th character level.
  • Just like sneak attack damage or fire damage from a flaming weapon, the damage dealt by (Greater) Psionic Fist does not change with size. A puppeteer and a great wyrm prismatic dragon would both do 2d6 (Greater 4d6) with the feat.

Since this build focuses on charging, it might be worth while to see if Powerful Charge and Greater Powerful Charge (Miniatures Handbook) can be worked into this build. They do extra damage with a charge and the damage scales with size. —Sledged (talk) 14:11, 12 March 2008 (MDT)

Unarmed Damage[edit]

Calculation of base unarmed damage (not including magic items):

  • 2d6—Medium, monk 3/fist of Zuoken 10/shintao monk 2 (effectively monk 15)
  • 3d6—Large, bear form
  • 6d6—Gargantuan, augmented expansion (2 size categories)
  • 8d6—Colossal, Improved Natural Attack
  • 12d6—Colossal+, Empty Hand Mastery
  • 24d6—Flying Kick

If the DM rules that damage by effective size caps at Colossal, then the damage is 16d6. —Sledged (talk) 14:11, 12 March 2008 (MDT)

Regardless of whether the DM caps damage by effective size at Colossal, the damage doesn't change. The benefit of Empty Hand Mastery is "unarmed damage increases by one die type, as if you were one size larger." It is not a size-dependent benefit; it is merely illustrated using the example of an increase in size. Improved Natural Attack uses exactly the same language. They are no more related to creature size than a +2 insight bonus to AC is related to a +2 shield bonus. They are different effects that provide the same benefit, and as such, they always stack.S1Q3T3 22:11, 7 January 2009 (MST)
Understand when I say "effective size," it's in the same context as "as if you were one size larger" (or smaller for that matter). Ignoring Colossal+ for the moment (which is only briefly mentioned under advanced and epic dragons), the issue is not whether or actual size changes stack with virtual size changes damage. It's whether or not sizes beyond Colossal exist under the core rules. If not, then a Colossal creature who increases its size to the next size category is still a Colossal creature (even though its volume and mass have been multiplied by 8) and it's melee attack damage doesn't change. So logically, effects that increase damage as though the creature were one or more sizes would not affect its melee damage either. From what I've seen on the WotC boards, there's no clear consensus, and you're just as likely as not to find a DM that allows uncapped sizes and/or damage by size. —Sledged (talk 12:42, 11 February 2009 (MST)

Bonus Stacking[edit]

  • The bonus from Scent, Foot and Fist Mastery does not stack with the blade dancers bonus because they're both competence bonuses (boni?).
Fixed. Foot and Fist Mastery is 86'd. S1Q3T3 20:26, 12 January 2009 (MST)
  • The monk's fast movement bonus does not stack with the bonus from burst, because they are both enhancement bonuses.
Good catch. I'm going to take burst off the recommended powers list. S1Q3T3 20:27, 12 January 2009 (MST)

In general, bonuses only stack if they are of different types of bonuses, untyped bonuses from different sources (e.g. having two lenses of detection still only grants a +5 bonus, but it does stack with the bonuses from the various skills that have synergy with Search), circumstance bonuses from different circumstances, dodge bonuses, or racial bonuses. This is why belts of giant strength do not stack with gauntlets of ogre power. They're both enhancement bonuses. So check the bonus types of the suggested magic/psionic items for the build. —Sledged (talk) 12:29, 14 March 2008 (MDT)

It is bonuses -- your instinct was right. The rest of this paragraph is a rant because I'm both an English student and technical writer, so I care... Boni, bonii, and and other permutation are made up constructs littering the internet. Internet usage and literacy are mutually exclusive concepts :). If you want a lengthly explanation of "boni", you'd have to look up information on "regularization of language" as well as Latin roots. Basically, people apply the idea that if a word like cactus becomes cacti or octopus becomes octopi (which is under debate mind you, American preferred is octopuses now I think), words like bonus should become boni. I don't even know where the second "i" comes from in some forum posts I see. The whole argument here also centers around larger issues such as the past tenses of words like "sneak" (sneaked or snuck?). Both are legit depending on your locale. The general agreement in academic communities is that words should be like "bonuses" rather than "cacti" and slowly shift over in usage. Actually, I can't think of another word besides cacti that pluralizes in that manner in the current American standards. --Aarnott 13:42, 14 March 2008 (MDT)
"Foci" and "fungi." There's also similar issue (although minor) with "indexes/indices." —Sledged (talk) 13:52, 14 March 2008 (MDT)
Have you considered learning Esperanto? —Sledged (talk) 13:55, 14 March 2008 (MDT)
Heres a good one for you goose = geese so my friend is adamant that moose = meese I love that meese. --Hawk 21:58, 14 March 2008 (MDT)
I know someone who says that EXACT same thing. Of course, living in Canada makes that less notable I suppose. From Pinky and the Brain: "if the plural of mouse is mice, shouldn't the plural of spouse be spice"? And to answer Sledged, I have considered learning it, but nobody really uses it. It would be a good exersice to understand good language creation though. Also, you are right with indexes/indices -- the problem crops up when you include things like matrixes/matrices. From math, I prefer matrices, yet it really should just become matrixes. At least dictionaries admit that the language is constantly changing. I hope that because more people are using English with technical writing, it will become more and more regularized. It is stupid that we have to correct our children when they say "runned". I'm all for a more intuitive language usage (if only in writing, but hopefully in speech too). --Aarnott 23:24, 14 March 2008 (MDT)

Miscellaneous[edit]

XP Penalty: A nezumi is going to suffer an XP penalty starting at 5th level. It will decrease at 12th level, but it'll still be there. A human will have a penalty starting at 13th level, but it will disappear at 16th level. —Sledged (talk) 14:11, 12 March 2008 (MDT)

FAQ—What is the point of this build?

It is a rebuttal to those who say the monk is underpowered, and an example of how to buff him via multiclassing.

This is a horrible rebuttal. If anything, the fact that you have to multiclass so heavily instead of taking more levels of monk supports the concept that the monk is underpowered. Out of thirty levels, there's only three levels of monk. If "still mind" entry requirement could have been avoided, would this build even have those levels of monk?

It's worse than that. The fact that it takes 30 levels to do so...and a Wizard 30 still outclasses it. Surgo 18:20, 19 October 2008 (MDT)

That being said, this build does, however, increase the attractiveness of monk abilities in general. —Sledged (talk) 14:11, 12 March 2008 (MDT)

A horrible rebuttal? Um . . . OK. You take this very seriously, I see. Perhaps the best rebuttal, if we're being absolutely serious, is "Because it's fun." We aren't curing cancer here.
The 3.0E and 3.5E progressions have 15 levels of monk and monk prestige classes. Further levels would be wasteful redundancy, assuming a Monk's Belt. If your move, AC, and unarmed combat damage are advancing on the monk table, then as far as I'm concerned you're a monk. The rest is semantics.
I see. Just understand that some who complain about the monk being underpowered aren't complaining about the individual abilities, per se, but the class itself. Taking all 1 through 20 levels of monk is, at best, sub-optimal. The same can be said about a variety of other classes as well, which has been a reoccurring complaint about 3.5. —Sledged (talk 12:42, 11 February 2009 (MST)
I think the objection to the 30 level progression is fair. Going back to do the 3.5E progression, I only did 20 levels, because I realized that I don't have any experience with the Epic character rules and no time to educate myself right now. So I can't speak to what an ECL 30 Wizard is like. I think the 3.5E progression would stack up well against arcane spellcasters, although as everyone knows, there's a curve: arcane spellcasters, if they survive the early levels, become exponentially more dangerous. Even so, if I were an ECL 20 Wizard, I'd want to stay away from the Ultimate Monk. He has great saves; he's going to be very resistant to mind-altering magic; the Evasion ability makes him hard to hurt with area-effect damage; and he's very fast. Wizards, like monks, are comparatively vulnerable characters who need to act before they are acted upon. Could an ECL 20 Wizard plan and execute an assassination of the Ultimate Monk? Probably. Would they fair as well in a spontaneous brawl, or if the monk came after them? I think not. S1Q3T3 08:15, 5 January 2009 (MST)

FAQ—Your damage dice are calculated as if you will be charging... yadda, yadda, yadda.

...Spring Attack (move before and after charging).

Spring Attack says When using the attack action... Making an attack is not the same as using the attack action. An attack action is a specific kind of standard action. Making a charge is a full-round action. —Sledged (talk) 12:48, 14 March 2008 (MDT)

Good catch. I don't rely on Spring Attack in the 3.5E progression. The Ultimate Monk will not be able to charge every round (and that isn't as important with the new Flying Kick rules), but I am sure someone as rules-savvy as you are, Sledged, can find ways to let him charge most of the time.S1Q3T3 08:35, 5 January 2009 (MST)
For example, the monk can use his Hustle power, which gives him an extra move action. He can then charge (a full round action) then move (a move action). S1Q3T3 22:01, 7 January 2009 (MST)
Then you only need to figure out how to avoid the attack of opportunity from the opponent. —Sledged (talk 12:42, 11 February 2009 (MST)

Power Points[edit]

Here's my one question: where is this character getting enough Power Points to actually USE the psionic powers? Based on my observation a 1st level Psionic warrior with 10 wisdom receives exactly 0 power points. At level 2, this rises to a measly 1 power point and I don't see ANY feats taken to increase this number. -- Draco18s 70.16.137.16 23:59, 18 October 2008 (MDT)

Starting Wis is 14, not 10. —Sledged (talk) 10:55, 19 October 2008 (MDT)
Ok (must have miss-read something), so you have 1 and 3 power points respectively. That's still not a whole hell of a lot to do anything ever. If you use Expansion and then you can't use Lion’s Charge. -- Draco18s 144.118.58.108 18:17, 19 October 2008 (MDT)
Ah, yes. I read "Int: 10 Wis: 14 Dex" as "10 wis, 14 dex" heh. -- Draco18s 144.118.58.108 18:19, 19 October 2008 (MDT)
The Psionic Fist (Fist of Zukon) prestige class also has power points (you will need those levels to use Lion's Charge or anything of the sort, anyway). The Wild Talent feat brings a power point or two along with it, as does the Half-Giant.S1Q3T3 08:27, 5 January 2009 (MST)

Page Length[edit]

Alot of good information and I can see you're still working hard. This is going to be a great article. Just one note. For users with slow net access, longer pages will take a while to load. You may want to consider breaking some of this into subpages in the article's name space (for an example see: Races of War (3.5e Sourcebook)). This allows the information to still be easily accessed and navigational for all users while the pages load faster. Just a thought. If you want to do this but need help with the page creation/formatting just let me know.   Hooper   talk    contribs    email   08:48, 9 January 2009 (MST)

I was thinking of doing something like that, but as you discerned, it's beyond my skill at this point. Breaking up the page would also be helpful in granting some of the more broadly useful content (especially the monster class progressions and the metamorphosis forms) as well as allowing some deserving variants their own space (I'm thinking of the Drunken Master, as well as the forthcoming SRD(only) Ultimate Monk.
Any help you can offer on page creation/formatting would be very welcome.S1Q3T3 13:01, 11 January 2009 (MST)
Here are a few subpages I see are necessary, if I had the skill to weave them back into the main page with links:
Anthropomorphic animal monster classes.
Pixie Ninja, Drunken Master, and Eight Flying Fist variants (a note on page philosophy; as the number of variants has grown, I've thought a lot about what makes something an Ultimate Monk variant vs. a separate optimization (like my Survivor Monk, Armed Monk, and Foundling Monk optimizations). For me, the essential features of this optimization are that the character eventually attains the ability to assume great size, and inflict superhuman damage, while demonstrating superhuman agility.)
Choosing a Metamorphosis/Polymorph/Wild Shape form.
Ultimate Monk (SRD rules only).
Calculating unarmed strike damage and iterative attacks (trickier than I would have imagined when I started).S1Q3T3 14:17, 12 January 2009 (MST)
With much gnashing of teeth and muttered cursing, I have simplified the "Monster to Abbot" progression and moved the monster classes to their own subpage. Hopefully this helps with the length issue.S1Q3T3 21:57, 13 January 2009 (MST)
Did the same with the suggested Metamorphosis forms -- they now have their own subpage.S1Q3T3 22:05, 13 January 2009 (MST)
The Pixie Ninja now have their own subpage. None too soon; those guys scare me.S1Q3T3 10:38, 14 January 2009 (MST)
FAQs now have their own page. First draft of the SRD Ultimate Monk is finished, separate page. Wrote an article on emulating cinematic martial arts feats in the D&D game, also its own page. Still 76kb. Sigh.
With some trepidation, I've moved the Highlights section to its own page. The Highlights section has all the combat examples, which are my favorite part of the page and certainly took the most work to compose, even more than the damned progression tables. Will anyone see them, away on their own page? I miss them already.S1Q3T3 06:32, 16 January 2009 (MST)

Kind of Like a Death in the Family[edit]

I've just removed Beast Strike from all the progressions, on the grounds it's a Dragon Magazine feat. Quite disappointing. Updating the examples will take a little longer (a few days, maybe). The Ultimate Monk's per-hit damage will not be as crushing, as a result, but should still be daunting.S1Q3T3 19:46, 20 January 2009 (MST)

Quori Shards[edit]

Quori shards can be used by any character, not just Kalashtar, though they must have Use Psionic Device (or use magic device if your DM uses psionic/magic as the same), since they are magic/psionic items you can emulate race (DC 25). -- Sleaker 07:56, 31 January 2009 (MST)

True, but depending on the PrCs used and their skill requirements, skill points may be at a premium with an Int 10. —Sledged (talk 12:42, 11 February 2009 (MST)
As you know, Sledged, you can also use the Racial Emulation feat, the 3rd-level Artificer infusion Suppress Requirement, or build (much more expensive) shards with the suppression built in.S1Q3T3 14:43, 29 September 2009 (MDT)

Ectoplasmic Armor Quori Shard negates Monk AC because it counts as 'wearing armor' I know it doesn't seem like it would but just with the RAW it says that it does.. So monk + Ectoplasmic armor doesn't really work... -- Sleaker 09:52, 18 February 2009 (MST)

Another Twist[edit]

Instead of the amalgam of classes, couldn't you just make this a Monk 2 / PsyWar X (can substitute Ardent for PsyWar if you don't need the extra feats) along with Tashalatora? (From Secrets of Sarlona, makes the Monk and one psionic class's level stack for Monk AC bonus, unarmed damage, and flurry.) Much simpler, and possibly more effective due to the ability to cast more higher-level powers. (Greater Metamorphosis? Yes please!) --Ghostwheel 05:24, 11 July 2009 (MDT)

I've looked hard at that, and while it is simpler I don't think it's more effective. For one thing, PWs gain power points and higher-level powers much more slowly than the Psionic Fist prestige class. That's one problem. Also, Tashalatora doesn't allow the monk's speed bonus to continue to advance, and that mobility can be really powerful. You also miss out on the monk abilities from 3-6, and this in turn limits your access to other monk prestige classes.
As to getting access to higher-level powers, there are a half-a-dozen work-arounds that get the UM to ninth-level powers; see the "more and better powers" link on the main page.
There's a build around here -- if I could remember what is it was called (Ah -- "The Psionic Monk" @ http://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/The_Psionic_Monk_%283.5e_Optimized_Character_Build%29) -- that does exactly what you suggest. It's Monk 1/Ardent 19 or something like that. It's a fine option, but the result is different, not better, than this build.S1Q3T3 14:31, 29 September 2009 (MDT)

Doesnt work...[edit]

looking at the 3.5 progression

no dodge to qualify for drunken master. also trading away flurry of blows trades away drunken master qualification. you need furry of blows to be a drunken master.

also isn't decisive strike a full round action. NOt a full round attack. i dont think you can use snap kick with it

ANd does decisive strike double the extra dice damage? normally things that double damage don't double extra dice of sneak atteck, flaming, ect, so why would the fist feat get doubled?

I dont think you could expanded know. an egoist power. it says psi warriors can only pick psy warrior powers. they get a psy warriors power list.. its a gray area.

things that give +1 effective size dont stack. not sure about the ectoplasmic fist..

Where the hell are tou gettin a 88th level manifester to make a Ring of Godly Vigor (Vigor power, continuous, ML 88)?

Deep crystal weapons: +2d6 damage (via a modified gauntlet, for example). monks are not proficient with gauntlets, and if they use them they dead gauntlet damage (d3) not Unarmed damage. maybe argue for an exotic weapon?

when you change shape all your magic/psionic items get absorbed and don't work. also you gain the animal (or whatevers) stats, not just a bonus. so all the tome for dex is wasted.

damage caps at colossal. there is no bigger (even collassal+ deals same damage)

--Name Violation 15:55, 29 September 2009 (MDT)

There are some good points scattered here and there but about half of these assertions are simply wrong. Damage doesn't cap at Colossal, Expanded Knowledge specifically includes powers not on the manifester's list, and all the rules for what damage die increases stack have been carefully worked out. The Snap Kick feat can be used in conjunction with a full-round action as long as that action includes an attack, and so on. Your criticism is sloppy both in form and content and if you want to be taken seriously, try approaching other people's work with a scalpel instead of a shotgun.S1Q3T3 15:57, 1 October 2009 (MDT)
I'll give you i was wrong on some things. i screwd up a little. for that, i'm sorry. i still think the rules on stacking are off. (the group i play with don't agree with it so thats my bias) basically the argument of since +2 str enhances dont stack, why should +1 effective size? (not my argument but i had no answer to give)

and yes i criticize harsh. not tryin to piss people off, i just come off mean sometimes. nothing personal (we all took flaws for extra feats IRL :P)--Name Violation 23:58, 1 October 2009 (MDT)

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