Ki Foci and the LFR GM

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We had a thread about "Rules Issues DMs Should Know About" but can't find it to update it so I will post this here.  I have had this discussion more times than I care to remember recently, but I thought this should be brought to the attention of those who regularly judge LFR games now that the Monk is out (it seemed to be less of an issue with Assassins).

The gist of it is: The Ki Focus and a weapon can only be used together on weapon attacks, not implement attacks.

Many people seem to have the incorrect notion that you can utilize a weapon as an implement but utilize the Ki Focus for its magical properties on implement attacks, essentially allowing one to utilize the Ki Focus implement and benefit from things such as the Style feats or the Unarmed Mastery feat on the Monk's implement attacks.  However the rules only support the combining of weapon and Ki Focus on Weapon attacks, not implement attacks.

It is understood that this means that the style feats such as Crashing Tempest and Pointed Step are less useful for a straight monk if you are utilizing a Ki Focus as your primary implement as opposed to a weapon since you cannot use both in the same implement attack.  It is also understood that his makes the Monk Unarmed Strike nearly useless for a straight classed Monk.

Other than the obvious lack of rules supporting this incorrect stance, the dev notes in Dragon 381 make the intent very clear.  I have reposted the comments here for those who may not have DDI so you can have the design intent to back you up if needed to enforce a ruling.  I have bolded what I felt was particularly relevant.

Dev notes on the Ki Focus:

The biggest shift of the monk from the playtest version to our final version is that the monk now fully embraces his implement usage. His powers are now all implement powers, and his ki focus is his primary implement.
        The class still allows for the monk to use weapons for his implement attacks, essentially allowing him to get the weapon’s enhancement bonus and properties when he uses a magic weapon as an implement. But a monk with both a magic ki focus and a magic weapon would have to choose which one he uses with the attack.
        We eliminated the text regarding enchanting your unarmed strike, instead emphasizing the ki focus implement in PH3. The monk retains the ability to use improved unarmed strike [sic] as a weapon, providing an avenue for monks to use a reasonable unarmed strike for multiclass weapon attacks.



Commentary on the pointed step style feat:

We still think that weapon-wielding monks might be interesting for players. One way we’ll address that niche is through feats like this one, which might change the way the monk attacks when using a specific weapon or type of weapon.

Sorry WOTC, you lost me with Essentials. So where I used to buy every book that came out, now I will be very choosy about what I buy. Can we just get back to real 4e? Check out the 4e Conversion Wiki. 1. Wizards fight dirty. They hit their enemies in the NADs. -- Dragon9 2. A barbarian hits people with his axe. A warlord hits people with his barbarian. 3. Boo-freakin'-hoo, ya light-slingin' finger-wigglers. -- MrCelcius in response to the Cleric's Healer's Lore nerf
I suspect this is an area where I'll just let the player go with however they understand it to work until there's some type of FAQ.
Keith Richmond Living Forgotten Realms Epic Writing Director
That only works Dragon9 when you interpret the 1st paragraph to be establishing a limit on what focuses are allowed to do and that the 3rd paragraph is not clarifying.

"If you have both a magic ki focus and a magic weapon, you choose before you use an attack power whether to draw on the magic of the ki focus or the weapon. Your choice determines which enhancement bonus, critical hit effects, and magic item properties and powers you can apply to that power. "

Note it doesn't say feats or apparent weapon style. All that WotC devs are trying to do here is make sure that you don't double-dip on magical properties or enhancements.

Unarmed Mastery is an obvious what the rules are intended to do - i.e. you can use the weapon Monk Unarmed Strike, Crit on a 19-20 with Monk Powers, and enhance the Monk Unarmed Strike with your Ki Focus. There's nothing at all overpowered about that as every Monk can easily qualify for the Weapon Mastery feats, but the other result is stupid - Monks who use unarmed strike and want to crit like every other Epic level character have to use non-magical attacks. This happens again and again - want to be a Monk who uses Unarmed Strike to do as much damage as any other Monk who uses a weapon? Sorry, WF: Unarmed Strike isn't an option. But hey, why worry about it - you can pick up a bow, get WF: Bow and Bow Mastery and now you can do it anyway...

When supposedly RAW rulings involve the devs being complete idiots, odds are the RAW rulings are being too literal or aren't RAW at all...
Notice though, as I said, that there is no rule stating you can combine them on implement attacks.  The only language in the rules is for combining them on Weapon attacks.  What you quoted is the exact same thing I quoted in the dev comments but worded differently.  The 1st paragraph (I am assuming your are speaking of the Implement section of the Monk class) establishes that Ki Foci are an implement for Monks.  The second establishes that they can use weapons as implements and also mentions combing the Ki Focus and weapon on weapon attacks.  The third establishes that they must choose which to use on implement attacks.  That third paragraph could apply to any implement wielding class who has more than one implement.  Are you suggesting that any implement class can combine implements?

The Monk Implement section only specifically calls out combining them on weapon attacks.  The Ki Focus rules also only specifically call out combining them on weapon attacks.  There is no RAW support to combine them on implement attacks.  If you can find the rule language that allows it and that contradicts the dev comments, let me know.  You'd be the first to find it.  You can't even call it RAI since the Dev comments clearly establish their intent.

As for unarmed Mastery, you are incorrect there as well.  After the transition to implelement only powers they stated they left the MUS in to provide for a viable Mon kweapon to use on multiclass weapon powers and MBAs.  (it is also int he Dev comments) so they clearly did not intend for it to work with Monk powers.

Doing so steps outside the bounds of RAW.
Sorry WOTC, you lost me with Essentials. So where I used to buy every book that came out, now I will be very choosy about what I buy. Can we just get back to real 4e? Check out the 4e Conversion Wiki. 1. Wizards fight dirty. They hit their enemies in the NADs. -- Dragon9 2. A barbarian hits people with his axe. A warlord hits people with his barbarian. 3. Boo-freakin'-hoo, ya light-slingin' finger-wigglers. -- MrCelcius in response to the Cleric's Healer's Lore nerf
The Ki Focus rules also only specifically call out combining them on weapon attacks.  There is no RAW support to combine them on implement attacks.  If you can find the rule language that allows it and that contradicts the dev comments, let me know.  You'd be the first to find it.  You can't even call it RAI since the Dev comments clearly establish their intent.



Paragraph 3...it doesn't say weapon powers, it says attack powers. For that matter, if they can only be used on weapon powers, why have the paragraph at all? Why not make it part of Paragraph 1's note on using Ki Focuses on a Weapon power because that's the only time it can possibly come up. What you think of as being RAW is quite clearly RAI, because it can only be RAW if you assume that the Devs had to mean nothing by creating a separate paragraph.

But they meant something specific - they're talking about what happens when someone wielding both a weapon and a ki focus uses an attack power gaining the magical benefits of one or the other, not just a weapon power. They describe what benefits you specifically do not get.

And that leaves the benefits you do get. i.e. the benefit of feats.

Could they have worded that more clearly? Sure. But weapons as implements and vice-versa has always been a shaky area of 4e in terms of clarity.

As for unarmed Mastery, you are incorrect there as well.  After the transition to implelement only powers they stated they left the MUS in to provide for a viable Mon kweapon to use on multiclass weapon powers and MBAs.  (it is also int he Dev comments) so they clearly did not intend for it to work with Monk powers.



You honestly believe that the Devs clearly intended Unarmed Mastery to only be used by Monks(and maybe an oddball Brawler Fighter) using non-Monk powers? Do you think they hate the concept of monks being unarmed fighters?
This makes my head swim. . . 

. . . so it's going into the weekly report for the Rules Update team to hammer on.   
WolfStar76 Community Advocate (SVCL) for D&D Organized Play, Avalon Hill, and the DCI/WPN LFR Community Manager DDi Guide

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Paragraph 3...it doesn't say weapon powers, it says attack powers. For that matter, if they can only be used on weapon powers, why have the paragraph at all?



Sorry try again.  This says nothing of the sort (and it's actually the 4th paragraph).  Why does it say attack powers?  Follow me here on this... it's in a section for the class titled... Implements.  All Monk attack powers are Implement powers.  Why would it dwell on weapon attacks when the class doesn't make any?

Let's look at the paragraph in full:

"If you have both a magic ki focus and a magic weapon, you choose before you use an attack power whether to draw on the magic of the ki focus or the weapon. Your choice determines which enhancement bonus, critical hit effects, and magic item properties."

So on implement attacks, what do have from an implement other than an enhancement bonus, critical hit effect, and magic item properties?


Why not make it part of Paragraph 1's note on using Ki Focuses on a Weapon power because that's the only time it can possibly come up. What you think of as being RAW is quite clearly RAI, because it can only be RAW if you assume that the Devs had to mean nothing by creating a separate paragraph.



Incorrect again.  The mention of using it with weapons is in paragraph 2 where it speaks of using weapons as iplements and then mentions using the Ki Focus with a weapon on weapon attacks.  I'll ge tto the RAI/RAW issue in a moment.

But they meant something specific - they're talking about what happens when someone wielding both a weapon and a ki focus uses an attack power gaining the magical benefits of one or the other, not just a weapon power. They describe what benefits you specifically do not get.



Again, there is no wording to suggest what you are assuming.

You honestly believe that the Devs clearly intended Unarmed Mastery to only be used by Monks(and maybe an oddball Brawler Fighter) using non-Monk powers? Do you think they hate the concept of monks being unarmed fighters?



From the devs comments:

"We eliminated the text regarding enchanting your unarmed strike, instead emphasizing the ki focus implement in PH3. The monk retains the ability to use improved unarmed strike [sic] as a weapon, providing an avenue for monks to use a reasonable unarmed strike for multiclass weapon attacks."

Their words, not mine.

So on to the RAW/RAi issue.  We can pretty much establish that by normal rules, when you make an attack (implement or weapon) unless otherwise noted with an exception, you need to decide which implement/weapon you use in the attack.  And normally you cannot use an implement in a weapon attack unless the implement is allowed to do so (weapons as implements or implements with an exception such as a staff).

Rules that establish a Ki Focus can be used with a weapon on weapon attacks:

PHB3, page 63: "You can also add [the Ki Focus'] enchancement bonus to the attack rolls and damage rolls of weapon attacks you makke using a weapon with which you have proficiency."

PHB3, page 203: "Being able to use a Ki Focus as an implement means you can also use it with your weapon attacks.  You can add its enhancement bonus to the attack rolls and the damage rolls of weapon attacks you make using a weapon with which you have proficiency."

Text showing Dev intent: Commentary from the Dragon 381 Monk debut content article on Ki Focuses: "The class still allows for the monk to use weapons for his implement attacks, essentially allowing him to get the weapon’s enhancement bonus and properties when he uses a magic weapon as an implement. But a monk with both a magic ki focus and a magic weapon would have to choose which one he uses with the attack."

So when I say show me where it says they are combined on implement attacks, I mean show me where it explicitly says that you are considered to be using both in an implement attack.  It doesn't exist.  What you are pointing to is something where you are making an assumption.  The dev comment clearly shows their intent so you can't call it RAI.  RAI, or more like RAA (Rules as Assumed), is using them combined on an implement attack.  A thread on the Striker board even had a CS response someone got that backs up the no-combo position.  While I understand that many take CS with a grain of salt, here's the response copied from that thread:

Customer (****) 04/26/2010 04:29 PM
I'm asking this EXACTLY because Ki Focuses are implements: Monks no longer make weapon attacks with their powers, and instead do implement attacks... so unless you're telling me that I can treat my Ki Focus empowered weapon as an implement, and not be forced to choose between Ki Focus and the (mundane) weapon when making implement attacks, the very facts that the Monk would be making implement attacks, and is using the Ki Focus as an implement, is the very source of this confusion.

Response (Support Agent) 04/26/2010 04:49 PM
****,

Sorry for the confusion.

When you make an implement attack, you choose what implement you're using. That implement can be any weapon that the monk is proficient with, or the ki focus. You can choose your unarmed attack, a staff, a spear, or the ki focus. You cannot choose to use these together, however. You do have to pick which implement you're using, and only the benefits from that implement apply.

As such, feats like Pointed Step won't work in conjunction with a ki focus. You'd want to have a magic spear in that case.

To return to your first question, yes, ki focus is the implement used when that's what you're using. It completely replaces whatever item you may be using along with it, and so only things that benefit the ki focus attacks would benefit attacks made with it.


Thank you,

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Once you are able to show me specific language that allows it I will concede the point.  Until then, seeing the dev comments, combo on implement attacks isn't even RAI as we have their intent right in front of us.
Sorry WOTC, you lost me with Essentials. So where I used to buy every book that came out, now I will be very choosy about what I buy. Can we just get back to real 4e? Check out the 4e Conversion Wiki. 1. Wizards fight dirty. They hit their enemies in the NADs. -- Dragon9 2. A barbarian hits people with his axe. A warlord hits people with his barbarian. 3. Boo-freakin'-hoo, ya light-slingin' finger-wigglers. -- MrCelcius in response to the Cleric's Healer's Lore nerf
In character builder, it lets you choose as an implement, for example, "Magic Ki Focused Spear +1" if you have a magic ki focus +1 and a non-magical spear.  This let's you benefit from Implement Expertise Ki Focus for +1 to hit, and Weapon Focus Spear for +1 to damage, and would trigger the benefit from Pointed Stop Style when you hit with an attack using this implement.
If you have both a magic ki focus and a magic weapon, you choose before you use an attack power whether to draw on the magic of the ki focus or the weapon. Your choice determines which enhancement bonus, critical hit effects, and magic item properties."

So on implement attacks, what do have from an implement other than an enhancement bonus, critical hit effect, and magic item properties?



Again, when would this come up in game on a monk attack power. According to your interpretation, it simply can't. You either choose to use your Ki Focus or your weapon. You can't use two implements at the same time unless you can somehow choose to use the magic of one and the non-weapon benefits of the other.

Hmm...almost sounds like the sentence in that paragraph, doesn't it...

Again, there is no wording to suggest what you are assuming.

 

Because you've decided it is okay to assume something else. If you don't make that assumption, then yes, there is wording.

You honestly believe that the Devs clearly intended Unarmed Mastery to only be used by Monks(and maybe an oddball Brawler Fighter) using non-Monk powers? Do you think they hate the concept of monks being unarmed fighters?



From the devs comments:

"We eliminated the text regarding enchanting your unarmed strike, instead emphasizing the ki focus implement in PH3. The monk retains the ability to use improved unarmed strike [sic] as a weapon, providing an avenue for monks to use a reasonable unarmed strike for multiclass weapon attacks."



Let's see. No more actual enchanting of your fist is what the 1st sentence says. The 2nd sentence says it is still a weapon with damage so monks have an avenue for multiclass weapon attacks.

If my interpretation is correct, then that paragraph still makes perfect sense. You need the d10/+3 weapon because while it might work for a monk power to not have the d10/+3, it won't work for a multiclass power. And that's a problem that the paragraph resolves.

Once you are able to show me specific language that allows it I will concede the point.  Until then, seeing the dev comments, combo on implement attacks isn't even RAI as we have their intent right in front of us.



I don't need you to concede the point. I'm simply pointing out that it is more than possible that you're wrong. And believe me, just try pointing out to people playing unarmed Monks that the Devs intended them not to be able to use WF: Unarmed. You should get a good laugh out of them at how stupid that sounds. Poorly phrased questions to CustServ not withstanding.
In character builder, it lets you choose as an implement, for example, "Magic Ki Focused Spear +1" if you have a magic ki focus +1 and a non-magical spear.  This let's you benefit from Implement Expertise Ki Focus for +1 to hit, and Weapon Focus Spear for +1 to damage, and would trigger the benefit from Pointed Stop Style when you hit with an attack using this implement.



While it would be nice to use CB in such a rational way, the Dev in charge of it has said to not assume that CB is right.

 Which the literal minded RAW people have assumed meant to not consider what CB is doing at all.
Character Builder makes mistakes, same reason at level 1 my Hybrid cleric/battlemind was reporting he had 4 power points instead of just 2.
Blah blah blah
Character Builder makes mistakes, same reason at level 1 my Hybrid cleric/battlemind was reporting he had 4 power points instead of just 2.



My Avenger|Psion 2 is reporting that she has 2 power points, just like the rules say. It makes mistakes. They often fix mistakes.

I'm not saying people should treat what shows up on CB as RAW. But when someone thinks that something is RAW and CB clearly disagrees with them, they should strongly consider the possibility that they're misreading intent and/or RAW.
The error on the battlemind seems to stem from their mark being an at will augmentable power.
Blah blah blah
You should get a good laugh out of them at how stupid that sounds.



I'm not saying that it's not a bad situation for them, but it's what the rules state.

Poorly phrased questions to CustServ not withstanding.



That was only part of a conversation that the use posted after some back and forth and we didn't have the rest of it.

If you'd like a clearer one, the other user posted:






Discussion Thread
 Response (Support Agent)04/26/2010 04:45 PM

Let me copy and paste your questions so I can answer them more easily.

"I've got a +1 Ki Focus, a +1 Club, Weapon Focus (Unarmed) and Weapon Focus (Club).
1. I attack with a monk power with the implement keyword (99% of them) and use the Ki Focus while wielding only an unarmed strike, I only get the Ki Focus enhancement bonus. The unarmed strike has no bearing on the attack."

Correct. In that case, the Ki Focus is the implement you've chosen to use. It provides all the benefits.

"2. I try to be sneaky and use the unarmed strike as the implement, I get the +1 damage from weapon focus but implement mechanics deny me using the Ki Focus' enhancement bonus on the unarmed strike (although if I was using the unarmed strike as a weapon attack I could apply both the weapon focus and the enhancement bonus)"

Correct. If you choose to use the Unarmed Strike as your Implement, you do not get the benefit from the Ki Focus.

"3. I give up on flavor and use the club as an implement. I get both the enhancement bonus and the weapon focus damage."

Correct.

"Are all three of these scenarios correct? Knowing exactly which of these is right and which is wrong would answer all my questions on this."

Those are all correct.

"Again, thank you for your quick responses and thank you for putting up with these repeated requests for clarification. I'm just having difficulty with Ki Focus and unarmed strikes actually being inferior to a straight weapon for a monk."

You've got the rules correct. Unfortunately, all we can do is explain how the rules work, not why they are the way they are.


Thanks, and Good Gaming!

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Artoomis is also in "negotitations" with CS and they are still backing the non-combo stance even though, but his own admisison, he's trying hard to talk them out it.

And shame on you for ever thinking that I am wrong. ;)
Sorry WOTC, you lost me with Essentials. So where I used to buy every book that came out, now I will be very choosy about what I buy. Can we just get back to real 4e? Check out the 4e Conversion Wiki. 1. Wizards fight dirty. They hit their enemies in the NADs. -- Dragon9 2. A barbarian hits people with his axe. A warlord hits people with his barbarian. 3. Boo-freakin'-hoo, ya light-slingin' finger-wigglers. -- MrCelcius in response to the Cleric's Healer's Lore nerf
This makes my head swim. . . 

. . . so it's going into the weekly report for the Rules Update team to hammer on.   



I had sent a message to Trevor so they could (hopefully) chew on it.  We'll see.
Sorry WOTC, you lost me with Essentials. So where I used to buy every book that came out, now I will be very choosy about what I buy. Can we just get back to real 4e? Check out the 4e Conversion Wiki. 1. Wizards fight dirty. They hit their enemies in the NADs. -- Dragon9 2. A barbarian hits people with his axe. A warlord hits people with his barbarian. 3. Boo-freakin'-hoo, ya light-slingin' finger-wigglers. -- MrCelcius in response to the Cleric's Healer's Lore nerf
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