Yet Another Monk Build (3.5e Optimized Character Build)
From D&D Wiki
If you've looked at the number of monk optimizations (foundling, hex, survivor, ultimate, and wand user), you'll find this one pretty much follows a similar concept as all the others. Optimize that unarmed damage.
System Reference Document, Complete Adventurer (Ascetic Hunter 105), Complete Champion (fist of the forest 80), Complete Warrior (warshaper 89), Draconomicon (initiate of the draconic mysteries 131), Dragon Magic (fanged ring 101), Eberron Campaign Setting (battlefist 268, changeling 12, ectoplasmic fist 264), Faiths of Eberron (mighty arms graft 158), Races of Eberron (changeling 41, Racial Emulation 110), Races of the Dragon (greater mighty wallop 115, mighty wallop 114), Tome of Battle (Superior Unarmed Strike 33)
Game Rule Components
Spells, Powers, Soulmelds, Stances, etc...
Spells: (greater) mighty wallop.
- mighty arms graft
Starting Ability Scores: 14, 14, 14, 8, 14, 9.
Starting Racial Traits:
- +2 against sleep and charm.
- +2 on Bluff, Intimidate, and Sense Motive.
- Speak Language is always a class skill.
- minor change shape.
|1st||ranger 1||+1||+2||+2||+0||Power Attack, TrackB||1st favored enemy +2, wild empathy|
|2nd||monk 1||+1||+4||+4||+2||Improved Unarmed StrikeB, Stunning FistB||flurry of blows||1d6 unarmed damage|
|3rd||monk 2||+2||+5||+5||+3||Ascetic Hunter, Combat ReflexesB||evasion|
|4th||ranger 2||+3||+6||+6||+3||Two-Weapon FightingV||combat style||1d8 unarmed damage|
|5th||ranger 3||+4||+6||+6||+4||EnduranceB||1d10 unarmed damage|
|6th||monk 3||+5||+6||+6||+4||Superior Unarmed Strike||still mind, fast movement +10 ft.|
|7th||monk 4||+6/+1||+7||+7||+5||ki strike (magic), slow fall 20 ft.|
|8th||ranger 4||+7/+2||+8||+8||+5||animal companion, spells||2d6 unarmed damage|
|9th||warshaper 1||+7/+2||+10||+8||+5||Great Fortitude||morphic immunities, morphic weapons||3d6 unarmed damage as Large (2d6 Medium base)|
|10th||fist of the forest 1||+8/+3||+12||+10||+5||AC bonus, fast movement, feral trance 1/day, primal living, unarmed damage||3d8 unarmed damage as Large (2d8 Medium base)|
|11th||fist of the forest 2||+9/+4||+13||+11||+5||uncanny dodge, untamed strike|
|12th||fist of the forest 3||+10/+5||+13||+11||+6||Alertness||feral trance 2/day, scent, unarmed damage||4d8 unarmed damage as Large (2d10 Medium base)|
|13th||initiate of the draconic mysteries 1||+10/+5||+15||+13||+8||evasion|
|14th||initiate of the draconic mysteries 2||+11/+6/+1||+16||+14||+9||claws of the dragon|
|15th||initiate of the draconic mysteries 3||+12/+7/+2||+16||+14||+9||Improved Natural Attack||keen senses (darkvision 60 ft. and low-light vision)||6d8 unarmed damage as Huge (2d10 Medium base)|
|16th||initiate of the draconic mysteries 4||+13/+8/+3||+17||+15||+10||increased unarmed damage||8d6 unarmed damage as Huge (4d6 Medium base)|
|17th||initiate of the draconic mysteries 5||+13/+8/+3||+17||+15||+10||frightful presense|
|18th||initiate of the draconic mysteries 6||+14/+9/+4||+18||+16||+11||Weapon Finesse||improved evasion|
|19th||initiate of the draconic mysteries 7||+15/+10/+5||+18||+16||+11||spell resistance|
|20th||initiate of the draconic mysteries 8||+16/+11/+6/+1||+19||+17||+12||increased unarmed damage||8d8 unarmed damage as Huge (4d8 Medium base)|
This build works by increasing unarmed damage beyond the damage-by-monk-level cap—which is 2d10 for a Medium creature. This is done in two ways. The first is by effects that increase damage as though the creature were of larger sizes—specifically, Improved Natural Attack and the warshaper's morphic weapons. The second is by taking levels in initiate of the draconic mysteries. The class increases unarmed damage using the same pattern as the monk, but the damage increases are independent of monk damage, so they're not subject to the 2d10 damage cap.
Normally, you have to have 20 levels of monk (or rather 20 levels of "monk abilities" class feature) to reach the cap, but there are some short cuts to hit the cap sooner. The first short cut used is the Superior Unarmed Strike feat which let's monks deal damage as though they were four levels higher. The second shortcut is to take levels in fist of the forest. It grants two monk damage category increases in three levels. So the soonest the cap can be reached is 11th level, but the build uses Ascetic Hunter so that the levels of ranger stack with monk levels for determining unarmed strike damage, and so the build can multiclass between the two without ending monk advancement. So with a 20-level build, that leaves eight more levels to take initiate of the draconic mysteries, granting two more increases beyond the cap.
The level of rangers are for getting a base attack bonus of +16 by 20th level, and so that there is enough skill points to meet the entry requirements for fist of the forest and initiate of the draconic mysteries (have to work around that 8 Intelligence score), and the Two-Weapon Fighting virtual feat doesn't hurt.
There are some nice additional benefits to this build, the first is the outstanding base saves (+19/+17/+12). The second is that three different stats contribute to the AC—Dexterity, Constitution, and Wisdom—they all apply to the touch AC, and since this build also get uncanny dodge, they also apply to the flat-footed AC. Also, note that boosting any stat to increase AC also increases the corresponding save bonus. Other side benefits include (but are not limited to) improved evasion, spell resistance 23, and immunity to critical hits and stunning.
A mighty arms graft allows you to use warforged arm components such as a battlefist which increases your unarmed damage by another size (Gargantuan 12d8)
If you have a friendly sorcerer or wizard, migthy wallop will increase your damage to Colossal (16d8, 72 average). If your DM doesn't impose a damage-by-size-cap greater mighty wallop will increase it even further, provided you apply it before other effective size-increasing effects. Base 4d8 Medium; greater mighty wallop 16d8 Colossal; Improved Natural Attack 24d8 Colossal+; morphic weapons 32d8 Colossal++; battlefist 48d8 Colossal+++.
As always, there's a slew of magic items to enhance this build. However, neither a monk's belt (better off with a belt of giant strength; monk's belts are made for other Wisdom-based builds anyway) nor a fanged ring (grants Improved Natural Attack) are one of them. However, see Miscellaneous.
The DM can always rule that multiple effects that increase damage by size without increasing size don't stack.
A modification of this build is to take only four levels of initiate of the draconic mysteries and take three more levels of warshaper, (and one level of any class of your choice). The trade-off is that the character receives a +4 to Strength and Constitution, +5-foot reach, and fast healing 3 in exchange for higher damage, improved evasion, and spell resistance. Also, since there is one more level with which to play around, the base attack bonus could potentially be one point higher. Regardless, though, the level must be in a prestige class or rogue, otherwise there's an XP penalty applied.
Another modification is instead of taking Weapon Finesse to take the Wild Talent feat at 6th level, hold off taking Superior Unarmed Strike until 18th level, replace the 4th level of monk with a level of psionic fist, and replace Improved Natural Attack with Racial Emulation. This will reduce your damage by one size category, but you can use a fanged ring which grants Improved Natural Attack (unarmed strike), and you can emulate a kalashtar in order to use an ectoplasmic fist. Base Medium damage 4d8; greater mighty wallop Colossal 16d8; morphic weapons 24d8 Colossal+; fanged ring 32d8 Colossal++; ectoplasmic fist 48d8 Colossal+++; battlefist 64d8 (288 avg) Colossal++++. If this is combined with the previous mod, damage is 64d6 (224 avg).