Player’s Handbook 3 Class Reviews: Monk

March 18th, 2010 by Ed Grabianowski

The Monk class was previewed long before the other psionic classes were designed. As a result, they’re quite different from any other class with the psionic power source.

While monks draw their power from the psionic source, they don’t have augmentable abilities like the other psionic classes. Instead, they have full disciplines.

Full discipline is a new keyword for monk powers. Some monk powers (including all of a monk’s at-wills) have this keyword and offer the player two different ways to use the power. One is as an attack power that is generally not too different from any other striker attack. The other is a movement power. The movement powers take many forms — shifting several squares, leaping across the battlefield, and so on.

Since many of the monk’s attacks combine battlefield maneuverability with single-target attacks, the full discipline powers give monks unprecedented mobility. My favorite powers are the daily “dance” powers. For example, the level 15 Daily Dancer on the Sea of Battle lets the monk shift her speed and make an attack against every enemy she moves adjacent to. The attack deals 3d10 + Dex damage! Not too shabby. It seems like a monk would play very similar to the Drow barbarian I created.

Monks are more than basic strikers with fast feet. Their reliance on dexterity is aided by their awesome ability to fight without armor or a weapon. They get an inherent +2 AC bonus when wearing cloth armor or no armor and are not using a shield, and certain feats can increase a monk’s unarmored defenses even more. A monk’s “weapon” is the unarmed strike, which does 1d8 damage, and can be bumped to 1d10 with a feat. That ranks among the better weapons in the game, but is far less cumbersome. Imagine the smug grin on your monk’s face when you are granted an audience with the Scarlet Vizier, and his men-at-arms insist that the party leave all their weapons at the door.

Weapons are an option though, since monk attacks are implement powers. You could use a quarterstaff, or just wear a ki focus (a new type of magic item designed for monks) to boost your punches and kicks. Either way, monks travel pretty light.

My one disappointment is that monks didn’t get the augment abilities of the other psionic classes. It would be really evocative to have a monk “channel his chi” or something like that to unleash a more potent attack. I’m hoping the inevitable Psionic Power book will have a suite of augment abilities for monks.

Don’t forget to order Player’s Handbook 3 from Robot Viking sponsor TrollandToad.com.

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4 Responses to “Player’s Handbook 3 Class Reviews: Monk”

  1. Comment by Gavin O'Brien

    I started looking at the monk again earlier this week. Lacking the PHB3, my sources were limited to the Character Builder and the various guides available on the Wizards forums.

    I’ve come to like it A LOT more. Maybe even love. It definitely seems like a thinking-mans striker. I don’t think you’ll deal Sorcerer or Ranger damage numbers, but you can really mess with your enemies, some powers allowing you to shift around and hit nearly every enemy on the battlefield.

    The unarmed strike is interesting in that there are no Monk “weapon” powers. Every monk attack power (that I’ve seen) has the “Implement” keyword, so you don’t use that +3 proficiency or 1d8 damage. You’ll only ever use it during melee basic attacks (charging, opportunity attacks, etc.). For a Stone Fist monk (the brawler build), that’s fine. However, a Centered Breath monk requires the Melee Training (Dexterity) feat tax in order to have an effective basic attack. Not a big deal. Just seems a bit sad for a class primed to deal out opportunity and charge attacks.

  2. Comment by ggodo

    My up coming Pathfinder campaign will probably see at least one monk. Now if only I could get the rest of the team to put some effort into it.

  3. Comment by Nephelim

    A hybrid MonkSorcerer could be fun, or a hybrid MonkPsion, to get the more Eastern Mystic feel…

    Regardless, Monks look to have gotten as much, if not more, of a “Oh my god that’s actually COOL” makeover as the Bard did. One of my players is running a Dragonborn Monk who will be (now that the book is out) of the Stone Fist tradition… the leapy-smashy-dragonbreath goodness is sure to be epic, even at low levels.

    (WRT Pathfinder, the PF Monk also got some much-needed overhauls, too, but that’s probably a topic for a different post! ;) )

  4. Comment by Gavin O'Brien

    Hybrid Monk|Sorcerer could be a lot of fun, I agree. But, then again, I’m of the opinion that ANYTHING combined with Sorcerer could be a lot of fun.

    Dex-based sorcerers are rarely the type used for melee and blast combat, but with daggers serving as both ki focus and a sorcerer implement, I could see the class not only being full of flavor but also pretty powerful as well. Any Charisma/Dex race would work best: Drow, for instance, or maybe Githzerai. Though it pains me to say it, Halfling, with its “Lost in the Crowd” feat could be a defensively powerful choice as well. Sorcerous Blade Channeling would be a good feat to take at first level, but, since I don’t really know the Monk hybrid rules, you might need to take the Unarmored +2 AC feat in order to survive your first few levels.

    Hmm… once the character build gets updated with the new PHB3 rule set, I’ll have to play around with this concept.

    D&D is fun!