How do I build a Vow of Poverty Monk for damage and mobility?

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Hi everyone, I'm fairly new to D&D but I need to build an effective level 7 monk with vow of poverty. Just looking through the PHB, some feats that appeal to me are Spring Attack (move before and after melee attack), Combat Reflexes (extra attacks of opportunity), Stunning Fist (stuns an opponent for 1 round), Improved Trip and Improved Grapple. However, I really don't know how well any of these feats would work...they just appealed to me at first glance. I'm open to using any feat from any book since 3.5 books can be downloaded anywhere online nowadays. Here are my primary goals for this character (in rough order of priority):



  • Damage output - I want to be dealing as much damage as I can to ONE creature at a time

  • Defense - I want to be able to avoid attacks and stay alive

  • "Debuffs" - I want to be putting negative effects on creatures, such as knocking them prone or stunning them to hinder them from acting

  • Mobility - I want to be able to move from place to place very quickly, preferably without getting hit by too many attacks of opportunity


Taking the Vow of Poverty is also important to me, for roleplaying reasons and because I DON'T want to rely on items in my build. I want to be able to be robbed of everything I own and then still go and hold my own on the battlefield.

So what ability scores, feats, etc. should I aim for? Keep in mind I'm only building a level 7 monk, but I would appreciate a complete build so I can plan for the future.

Thanks for your insight! 
Try a druid? Monks don't benefit THAT much from Vow of Poverty actually. It seems like they do at first, but the classes that REALLY do are the ones that use abilities like Wild Shape or Polymorph. Everyone else tends to lose a bit overall unless you think you'll be BUSNSIS'd

Bear Warrior's the best "martial" character for VoP, and come on at that point why not be a Fist of the Forest too? No real loss.


Have a look at threads related to Swordsage if you like the flavor of Monk and want to be optimized. If you want to be a VOP fighty dude, consider Bear Warrior. 
Thanks for the suggestion, but I really do want to stick with Monk. My question was how can I optimize my build WITHIN the constraints of Vow of Poverty and the Monk class. I'm not looking to build the BEST Vow of Poverty character of any class, but the best Vow of Poverty Monk, with the priorities I listed in the original post.
Frankly, you won't be able to do this, I'm afraid. The monk isn't well-designed, and depends on equipment to hopefully bypass some of its flaws. Vow of Poverty isn't that good, and deprieves the monk of even this.

The easiest way is to realize there are more ways to make a monk than to make a Monk. Other classes, most notably swordsage, work a lot better in general and will dovetail with the vow a lot better without being any different thematically.

BUT if you're absolutely fixed on taking one fo the most problematic feats in the game with one of the worst-designed classes in the game, then your best bet is actually to use the Tome of Poverty trick. This only works at the really high levels, but you go without VoP until your last feat. You invest EVERY last bit of gold into permanent benefits - things like Tomes on every ability score you can use as a monk. Then, once those can't be taken away from you, take the vow. Even THEN you'll still suck, because frankly pure monk sucks even with proper equipment, but that's probably the best you can do.

CORRECTION: I mean that's the best you can do that you wouldn't already be doing on a monk anyway (Intuitive Attack, for instance.) You still will not actually be able to solve your goals given what the Vow gives you and what gets taken away, and what you're working with as a pure Monk in the first place (i.e. not much).

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

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These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style))

[TS] Assassin's Speed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

[RT] Something for Everyone: A.K.A. The Last Sorcerer RT Will Ever Build (Caster, Damage, Trapscout, Takedowns)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

As Andarious is indicating, the classes that actually benefit most are those that are likely to operate without any gear at times.  The monk may not use regular armour and often relies on her unarmed strike rather than manufactured weapons, but she tends to have plenty of magical gear of all the other types (ability enhancers, bracers of armour, items that improve their unarmed strike, and so on).  The most common ones are sort of covered by the benefits of the Vow of Poverty, but other, more specialized functions are not.

If you're really determined to make a Vow of Poverty monk (or monk-like character of some other class; NeueRegal and I recently had a thread about our Houseruled Monks due to the standard monk's shortcomings), make sure that you can cover all the sort of things that a character would normally cover with gear or spells.

One of the most critical (which serves as a good example of the general problem) is flight.  At higher levels, even characters that don't have class abilities granting flight can get items to use so that they're not useless against flying enemies; even the most straightforward melee fighter will eventually want to get himself a pair of winged boots or something similar (you won't always have a spellcaster around to buff you with a fly spell, and spending time on that kind of easily-replicated buff isn't a good use of their time in the first place).  If you're doing something like playing a raptoran or becoming a dragonborn of Bahamut, this might not be a problem, but for most races it's a significant issue when making a monk with Vow of Poverty.

You do also generally lose a lot of flexibility by not being able to obtain different items for handling different circumstances.

EDIT:
BUT if you're absolutely fixed on taking one fo the most problematic feats in the game with one of the worst-designed classes in the game, then your best bet is actually to use the Tome of Poverty trick. This only works at the really high levels, but you go without VoP until your last feat. You invest EVERY last bit of gold into permanent benefits - things like Tomes on every ability score you can use as a monk. Then, once those can't be taken away from you, take the vow. Even THEN you'll still suck, because frankly pure monk sucks even with proper equipment, but that's probably the best you can do.

Grafts are another permanent item that can help to broaden your abilities, though the buffeting wings from Races of the Dragon are probably the only one to help with flight when you don't want fiendish grafts.

The kraken stirs. And ten billion sushi dinners cry out for vengeance. - Good Omens

Co-Author of the Dreamfane, Euralden Eye, Fulminating Crab, Gajuisan Crawler, Gruesome LurkerIronglass Rose, Sheengrass Swarm, Spryjack, Usunag, and Warp Drifter, and author of the Magmal Horror from Force of Nature.

My most popular campaign item; for all your adventuring convenience.
Zauber's Mutable Rod: This rod has a number of useful functions that make it easier to live in the wilderness. It is made of polished wood, with five studlike buttons on one end. Each button produces a different effect when pressed. Unless otherwise noted, the rod’s functions have no limit on the number of times they can be employed. When button 1 is pressed, one end of the rod produces a small flame, equivalent to a candle. When button 2 is pressed, the rod unfolds into a two-person tent, complete with bedrolls and warm blankets. When button 3 is pressed, the rod becomes a one-handed hammer, suitable for pounding pitons into a wall. When button 4 is pressed, the rod becomes a sturdy iron spade. When button 5 is pressed, the rod becomes a wooden bucket able to hold 2 gallons of liquid. Once per day, it can be commanded to fill with fresh water. If the rod is seriously damaged or broken in any of its alternate forms (button 2, 3, 4, or 5), it reverts to its basic rod form and cannot be activated for 24 hours. Moderate conjuration; CL 9th; Craft Rod, minor creation; Price 375 gp; Weight 2 lb.
Alright, thanks for your disappointing yet helpful advice. I'll decide on another character archetype.
Alright, thanks for your disappointing yet helpful advice. I'll decide on another character archetype.


You missed one of my critical lines.

You can play a monk without playing a Monk.

Although the Vow isn't a good feat and tends to make awful characters, and the rare character type it supports isn't really a monk-type (it works best on shapeshifters with access to Polymorph), there ARE ways of making monk-types which depend on equipment less.

The classic example is swordsage - martial adepts generally don't care about their gear all that much. You give them a decent weapon and decent protective abilities, and the rest is go for launch. The unarmed swordsage variant + the Vow of Poverty boosts gets just that.

You'll still need to pick your maneuvers adeptly - don't be afraid of some of the Shadow Hand or Desert Wind maneuvers that enable flight at higher levels (Searing Charge, Balance on the Sky, etc.) - but by and large, you can take that with VoP and make it work.

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

Weekly Optimization Series

Show
These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style))

[TS] Assassin's Speed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

[RT] Something for Everyone: A.K.A. The Last Sorcerer RT Will Ever Build (Caster, Damage, Trapscout, Takedowns)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

If you insist on giving us an 87 Pinto and some paint and saying "Make me a Hot Rod" I'll give it a go.


Human Monk

Ability score priorities
STR>WIS>CON>DEX>INT>CHA

Why?
Str is your to hit AND, this is important, DAMAGE. Without multiclassing you're not going to be able to use Dex or Wis for damage, well you CAN with Dex but it's a huge feat investment and adds to damage rather than just replacing, so Str primary's still preferable. Wis is a stat you get extra from Will saves (failing these sucks) , AC (Getting hit's not fun), and Stunning Fist DC (Make it work? OK.) Con, everyone needs Con, period, see Captain Con. in Tempests sig (designed for this reason). Dex, you kinda need to not get hit, and failing reflex saves hurts (a bit, at higher levels). Int for Skills (number of ranks and levels of some skills). Cha you just flatly don't really need.


Feats to take.

1 Sacred Vow, Vow of Poverty (Getting them at 1 is good, even though there are not a lot of bonus feats you'll make good use of), Stunning Fist (Not enough BAB or buffs to be a SOLID grappler)
2 Deflect Arrows (You don't have the dex to support Combat Reflexes, probably)
3 Power Attack (if you CAN hit something easily, you'll want the bonus damage)
6 Improved Trip (Doesn't take BAB into account, YAY, you can do this, fairly well), Martial Study (Mighty Throw) (This lets you get +4 to a trip once per encounter, and throw your foe 10' away if you succeed)

There are a fair number of character archetypes that can be made to perform adequately without equipment. Note that, without vow of poverty, you can have equipment but still be prepared for situations where you're separated from it for whatever reason.


Psionic characters can use all their powers without any items. For weapon-using characters, psychic warrior has the call weapon power and the soulbound weapon alternative class feature.


Warforged (Eberron Campaign Setting) have built-in armor that can never be removed and can still be enhanced as normal. If you take the adamantine body feat (Eberron Campaign Setting), the armor bonus from this is +8, the maximum dex bonus is +1, the armor check penalty is -5, it counts as heavy armor, and you also get DR 2/adamantine.


The dragonscale husk alternative class feature (Dragon Magic) is another way to have built-in armor.


A cleric who worships the Sovereign Host can take the worldly focus feat (Faiths of Eberron) to gain the ability to cast his spells without a divine focus. The ancestral speaker variant (Dragon 311, p47) for cleric provides the same benefit, but you give up domains, turn undead, and spontaneous casting. A warforged might be able to get his composite plating engraved as per sanctified (Dungeonscape, p34), but you'd have to ask the DM.


Arcane casters can take the eschew materials feat to remove the need for a spell component pouch. The embed focus feat (Draconomicon, p69) allows you to store spell focuses within your body, but the feat requires the dragon type, so you'd need to be a kobold with the dragonwrought feat (Races of the Dragon). For wizards, the eidetic spellcaster alternative class feature (Dragon 357, p89) removes the need for a spellbook, but you give up your familiar and scribe scroll.

You can play a monk without playing a Monk.

Although the Vow isn't a good feat and tends to make awful characters, and the rare character type it supports isn't really a monk-type (it works best on shapeshifters with access to Polymorph), there ARE ways of making monk-types which depend on equipment less.

The classic example is swordsage - martial adepts generally don't care about their gear all that much. You give them a decent weapon and decent protective abilities, and the rest is go for launch. The unarmed swordsage variant + the Vow of Poverty boosts gets just that.

It's what you might called the "Trabusa" option, since it's a monk in appearance, but all the mechanics have been replaced with something that works better.

There's a certain amount of improvement that can be performed on the standard monk through alternative class features (invisible fist is a surprisingly worthy alternative to evasion/improved evasion), but it's not a very good long-term base in its normal form.  The houseruled "spirit monk" is something I've tinkered with on and off for quite a while now, and trying to fix things without completely changing the class makes a lot of the shortcomings very obvious.

One problem with the Vow of Poverty itself is the complete lack of support in the form of any additional exalted feats.  If you get to higher levels with it, the chances are that you'll run out of any bonus exalted feats that you truly want and just fill in with anything for which you qualify.  It makes the prospect of investing in grafts, tomes, or manuals and picking up the vow later on a much more attractive prospect.

The kraken stirs. And ten billion sushi dinners cry out for vengeance. - Good Omens

Co-Author of the Dreamfane, Euralden Eye, Fulminating Crab, Gajuisan Crawler, Gruesome LurkerIronglass Rose, Sheengrass Swarm, Spryjack, Usunag, and Warp Drifter, and author of the Magmal Horror from Force of Nature.

My most popular campaign item; for all your adventuring convenience.
Zauber's Mutable Rod: This rod has a number of useful functions that make it easier to live in the wilderness. It is made of polished wood, with five studlike buttons on one end. Each button produces a different effect when pressed. Unless otherwise noted, the rod’s functions have no limit on the number of times they can be employed. When button 1 is pressed, one end of the rod produces a small flame, equivalent to a candle. When button 2 is pressed, the rod unfolds into a two-person tent, complete with bedrolls and warm blankets. When button 3 is pressed, the rod becomes a one-handed hammer, suitable for pounding pitons into a wall. When button 4 is pressed, the rod becomes a sturdy iron spade. When button 5 is pressed, the rod becomes a wooden bucket able to hold 2 gallons of liquid. Once per day, it can be commanded to fill with fresh water. If the rod is seriously damaged or broken in any of its alternate forms (button 2, 3, 4, or 5), it reverts to its basic rod form and cannot be activated for 24 hours. Moderate conjuration; CL 9th; Craft Rod, minor creation; Price 375 gp; Weight 2 lb.
To elaborate some more on why reaching all your goals is nigh-impossible:
- the Monk is supposed to deal damage via a full-attack action (Flurry of Blows) or a full-round action (the Decisive Strike ACF (PHB2)). That is largely incompatible with mobility, since it only allows you a 5ft step.
There are fixes for that, but they belong to other classes: Barbarian 1 can get you Pounce (via an ACF in Complete Champion), whereby charging provides mobility; Travel Devotion allows you to move each turn as a swift action but you need turn attempts (hence Cleric 1) to fuel it.

The Swordsage fixes that from the start, since it relies much more on standard-action strikes.

- the Monk is MAD (Multiple-Attribute Dependent). For attack & damage you need Str, for defense you need Dex & Wis (AC, saves) and Con (HPs, saves), for debuffs you need Str (trip) & Wis (Stunning Fist). It's exceedingly hard to have 4 high attributes.
Though if you play a VoP Monk you could request a 50 pts point buy when the rest of the group gets a 28/32 PB!

The Swordsage fixes that by being able to wear armour (less need for Dex/Wis) and/or to use Dex for damage (you can dump Str).

OoP's characters
My current character in Real Adventures Play-by-Post games:

 

  • Maeve in The Lost History of Istar


 
There are fixes for that, but they belong to other classes: Barbarian 1 can get you Pounce (via an ACF in Complete Champion), whereby charging provides mobility; Travel Devotion allows you to move each turn as a swift action but you need turn attempts (hence Cleric 1) to fuel it.


Of course, monks must be lawful, and barbarians must be nonlawful, so you have to rely on any of the dozens of other methods of getting Pounce.

...Exactly zero of which come easily to a monk without relying on particular races - most of them involve non-monk-compatible PrCs, so if you dip out to get them, you lose the ability to advance more monk.

It's for these reasons that I generally say no more than 6 levels of Monk, and even then more commonly stop at 1 or 2 (or, very rarely, 3 or 4, if you need monk speed or have a swap for Slow Fall (Aquatic Monk is actually pretty good)).

The Swordsage fixes that by being able to wear armour (less need for Dex/Wis) and/or to use Dex for damage (you can dump Str).


Swordsages also get counters, so they can reduce their need for Constitution as well - anything that bypasses their defenses has a chance of being deflected in assorted counter-heavy ways (Setting Sun has rather a lot of these), while a Monk simply has to tank it with their hit points.



A good summary of the general problems with the monk can be found here. They go over some of the same points but also raise some new ones.

Cancer prognosis: I am now cancer-free.

Weekly Optimization Series

Show
These are NOT all my creations! The lead authors are identified as follows: [TS] Tempest Stormwind, [AR] Andarious Rosethorn, [RT] Radical Taoist, [SN] Sionnis, [DH] DisposableHero_, [SH] Seishi.

[TS] The Pinball Brothers: Large And In Charge (Melee, Lockdown, Charge, Juggling)
[TS] Ashardalon Reborn: I Will Swallow Your Soul (Melee, Fear, Negative Levels, AoE, Theme)
[AR] "A"-Game Paladin: Play That Funky Music, Knight Boy! (Team Support, Melee, Theme, Single-Class)
[RT] Uncanny Trapsmith: Get in, make it look like an accident, get out. (Skillmonkey, Stealth/Scout/Infiltration, Unorthodox Methods, Theme)
[AR] Wizsassin: *Everything* is permitted. (Spellcaster, Support, Sneak Attack, Utility)
[TS] Phantom Rush: General Gish Gouda. (Gish, Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Early-Entry PrC)
[TS] Storm Knight: Another kind of gish. (Melee/"Gish", Theme, Setting-Specific(Eberron), Unorthodox Methods)
[TS] Inevitable Nightmare: The weapon you only have to fire once. (Melee, "Unorthodox" Methods (no charging), Reliability)
[AR] Captain Constitution: The number one threat to America. (Melee, TOUGHTOUGHTOUGH, Defense, Theme)
[AR] Nuker: I casts the spells that makes the peoples fall down! (Spellcaster, damage, blasting, damage)
[TS] Dread Lord of the Dead: Let the Reaping Begin! (NPC-only, Variable (combat/casting/leadership), Iconic Villain, Theme)
[AR] Heavy Crusader: No Rest. No Mercy. No Matter What. (Melee, Damage (No charging), Variable, Theme).
[TS] Gun Fu: It's bullet time (Ranged, THEORETICAL, Twin weapons, Theme)
[RT] Face First: We should talk. (Psionic, social, mind-control, info-management)
[SN] Chaingun Porcupine: Never Enuff Dakka. (Ranged, Skirmishing, Spike Damage, Incarnum)
[RT] Always On Edge: The Mortal Draw deals death. (Melee, Generalist, Dungeoneering, Stunt)
[AR] Feral Druid: Real feral taste. Zero druid calories. (Melee, offense, damage, murder)
[RT] Rusty!: Man's Best Friend (Sentry, Support, Backup, Rearguard)
[RT] The T3 (Tashalatora Triple Threat): My Kung Fu is More Powerful (Hybrid, Flex-Function, Melee, Caster)
[RT] The #1 Snoipah: Boom. 'Eadshot. (Caster, Theme, Spike, Trapscout)
[AR] Dreamblade: Rest in Pieces. (Melee, Damage, Single-Class, Combo/Momentum)
[AR] Evasion Tank: “When fighting angry blind men, is best to stay out of the way.” (Melee, Tank, Unorthodox Methods (attack negation), Theme)
[DH] Psycarnum Warrior: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA Start (Melee, Tank, Psionics, Incarnum, 1337 h4x)
[AR] Heavy Weapons Elf: WHO TOUCHED MY BOW? (Ranged, Cohort, Damage, Unorthodox Methods (ranged ToB))
[RT] Gnowhere Gnome: A little man who wasn't there (Caster, Stealth, Single-Class, Elusive)
[AR] Uberflank: I got your back. (Melee, support, stunt, teamwork)
[TS] Flip the Bird: Everyday I'm shuffling (Ranged, harrier, unorthodox methods (ranged ToB / off-turn movement), support)
[DH] Eat Sleep Gank: Real Ultimate Power (Stealth, Assassination, Spike, Magic Versatility)
[AR] Slash and Burn: Mind, Body, Blade, Flame / Aspects of a greater whole / which delivers death. (Melee, Theme (flex-style), Damage, Stunt)
[RT] Edge of the Light: Cut, Fade to Black (Melee, Defense/Offense, Momentum, Tactical)
[RT] Quiet Murder: Cut throats, not corners. (Melee, Stealth, Harrier, Tactical)
[TS] Wand Overdrive: Say Hello to my little friends. (Caster, support/artillery/variable, wand specialist)
[RT] God Hand: What did the five fingers say to the face? (Melee/Gish, Unarmed, SAD, Theme)
[AR] Zero Buff Time Gish: Try to keep up! (Gish, Speed, Movement, Opportunity)
[TS] Robo Tackle: I Am Iron Man. (Melee, setting-specific (Eberron), positioning, theme, stunt)

[TS] Holy Fire: Just getting warmed up! (Casting, damage, theme (fire), theme (sacred), blasting)

[TS] Groundhog Mage: ♪Let’s do the time warp again♪ (Casting, stunt, setting-specific (Faerun), spell stamina / versatility, spontaneous wizard)

[RT] Captain Charisma: All she wants to do is dance (Hybrid (melee/support), SAD, Theme (criticals), Theme (flex-style))

[TS] Assassin's Speed: A blade in the crowd (Melee (technical), iaijutsu, SAD, theme (Assassin's Creed), tutorial)

[RT] Something for Everyone: A.K.A. The Last Sorcerer RT Will Ever Build (Caster, Damage, Trapscout, Takedowns)

 

Want to see how the entire group rolls?
[All] Party Optimization Showcase: Dead for Nothing
[TS/RT/AR] Optimization Article: The Flash Step
[RT] Optimization Article: Kung Fu Witchcraft

 

Seishi: I think it might be fun to have a one-off [game] tuned fairly, but with the intention of wiping the party. 

DisposableHero_: if [my campaign] has taught me nothing else, it is that with this group, nothing tuned fairly will ever wipe the party

RadicalTaoist: I've been throwing **** at this group that's 5 levels over CRed in DFN, and have yet to wipe the party.

A good summary of the general problems with the monk can be found here. They go over some of the same points but also raise some new ones.


Indeed. I focused on the targets the OP set.

OoP's characters
My current character in Real Adventures Play-by-Post games:

 

  • Maeve in The Lost History of Istar


 
Of course, monks must be lawful, and barbarians must be nonlawful, so you have to rely on any of the dozens of other methods of getting Pounce.

As long as you don't care about raging, you can simply become an ex-barbarian and pounce all you like.

The kraken stirs. And ten billion sushi dinners cry out for vengeance. - Good Omens

Co-Author of the Dreamfane, Euralden Eye, Fulminating Crab, Gajuisan Crawler, Gruesome LurkerIronglass Rose, Sheengrass Swarm, Spryjack, Usunag, and Warp Drifter, and author of the Magmal Horror from Force of Nature.

My most popular campaign item; for all your adventuring convenience.
Zauber's Mutable Rod: This rod has a number of useful functions that make it easier to live in the wilderness. It is made of polished wood, with five studlike buttons on one end. Each button produces a different effect when pressed. Unless otherwise noted, the rod’s functions have no limit on the number of times they can be employed. When button 1 is pressed, one end of the rod produces a small flame, equivalent to a candle. When button 2 is pressed, the rod unfolds into a two-person tent, complete with bedrolls and warm blankets. When button 3 is pressed, the rod becomes a one-handed hammer, suitable for pounding pitons into a wall. When button 4 is pressed, the rod becomes a sturdy iron spade. When button 5 is pressed, the rod becomes a wooden bucket able to hold 2 gallons of liquid. Once per day, it can be commanded to fill with fresh water. If the rod is seriously damaged or broken in any of its alternate forms (button 2, 3, 4, or 5), it reverts to its basic rod form and cannot be activated for 24 hours. Moderate conjuration; CL 9th; Craft Rod, minor creation; Price 375 gp; Weight 2 lb.
As has been pointed out, there are better ways to be a Monk than to use the actual Monk class.  It took me almost two months to finally show and convince a fellow player of mine this sad but true fact.

To shamelessly self promote, I came up with a fun Monk-esque build utilizing Warblade as the main chassis:

Monk 2 (Pick up Stunning Fist and trade Flurry of Blows for Decisive Strike) / Fighter 2 (Bonus Feats needed) / Warblade 16.

As one of your feats, pick up Carmendine Monk, as this will let you use your Intelligence bonus instead of Wisdom for Monk goodies, Stunning Fist included.  Then, pick up a slew of the Stunning Fist "line" of feats: Pharaoh's Fist, Weakening Touch, Pain Touch, Ring the Gold Bell, Extra Stunning, Ability Focus: Stunning Fist.  

As with all that being keyed off Intelligence now, you see how nicely and smoothly Warblade fits in.  Incredible synergy and plenty of maneuvers to help flavor your Monk in the style you wish to play.

Combine the Stunning Fist feat chain with a Decisive Strike while using a whirlwind type attack and watch how quickly clusters of baddies drop.  
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