Guide to Monks

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Guide to Monks


IMAGE(http://wizards.com/dnd/images/oa_gallery/Foot_and_fist.jpg)



This guide will display my take on character optimization and hopefully provides tools and ideas regarding monk optimization for CO community. As a firm believer of "practical optimization", I'll strive for elegance, clear rulings and practicality as well as making the most of the class that is monk. This guide is not meant to be the end of all unarmed combat (since there are other ways to do it besides monk), nor this is a monk dipping guide.





You may want to check out the original monk minmax creation guide by mean_liar.
Thanks to Dictum Mortuum and his many works for idea how to make good looking handbook.


This guide is currently under construction, a lot of content is to be added.

Monk's life in D&D

First let's take a look at monk's class features so we can start to think how take advantage of them.

d8 HD
Medium BAB
All good saves
4 skill points/level from good list


  • Flurry of blows: Up to two extra attacks at variable penalty to attack, depending on level. Yeah, it's good.
  • Unarmed damage: Base damage isn't very impressive but with little work monk's can do good damage.
  • Wisdom and class bonus to AC: Nice to have since you can't wear armor.
  • Speed bonus: After actions, mobility is the next most important factor in combat.
  • Bonus feats: Always good, I'll talk about the specifics later.
  • Evasion & Improved Evasion: You know they are good.
  • Slow fall: Meh, ring of feather fall is better than 20th level version of this ability
  • Still Mind: Nothing to get excited about.
  • Ki Strike (magic/lawful/adamantine): Magic is almost useless because your unarmed strike still isn't an actual magic weapon, which is very relevant when you're facing incorporeal enemies, for example. Lawful is randomly usefull. Adamantine is actually good because constructs aren't rare at all, too bad you don't get it before level 16.
  • Purity of Body: Not very useful since it doesn't take care of diseases like mummy rot, which actually may come to pass during campaign.
  • Wholeness of body: Yawn.
  • Diamond body: Immunity to all poisons is very handy.
  • Abundant Step: Good for all the reasons dimension door is.
  • Diamond Soul: SR is nice. It is important to remember that while your SR is up friendly spellcasters won't be able to cast beneficial spells on you without caster level check. So you need to act accordinly or invest feat in reactive resistance.
  • Quivering palm: Might kill a bad fort save critter once in a while.
  • Timeless body: Gives free mental stats if you are starting a very high level game.
  • Tongue of sun & moon: Permanent tongues is useful.
  • Empty body: Almost an at will get-out-of-tight-spot ability, very good.
  • Perfect self: Not so hot.


Alternative class features:

Monk's have quite a few variant class features avaible to them and some of them are actually notable.
  • Holy strike (CC): This one is a no brainer. Unarmed strike and monk weapons are considered good aligned and deal extra 1d6 damage against evil creatures. Lose ki strike [magic].
  • Dark moon disciple substitution levels (CoV web): These are all good and flavorfull. Shadow blend is ridiculously good.
  • Halfling monk substitution levels (RotW): These are good enough to make halfling monk viable option.
  • Decisive strike (PHB2): Lose flurry, get single full-round action attack that deals double damage. Affects AoOs. Good for AoO builds, crap otherwise.
  • Prayerful meditation (CC): Bonus to saves versus pretty much everyone. Definitely better than still mind.
  • Kalashtar monk substitution levels (RoE): 2nd level is good for psionic monk.
  • Wall walker (DS): Anything is better than slow fall


Here's a complete list of monk alternative features by Dead_Weasel (edits and corrections by me):

Show

Aquatic monk (SW): Walk across water at slow fall speed. Lose slow fall.

Broken one substitution levels (CoV):
Add heal and survival to skill list.
3rd level: Get lay on hands. Lose still mind.
6th level: Get tenacious tracker. Lose bonus feat.
7th level: Get locate creature. Lose wholeness of body.

Dark moon disciple substitution levels (CoV, web):
Levels have d6 HD.
3rd level: Get darkvision 60ft. Lose still mind.
7th level: Shadow blend: Gain total concealment in less than full daylight. Lose wholeness of body.
12th level: Walk the shadows: Gain ability to dimension door from shadow to shadow. Lose abundant step.

Decisive strike (PHB2): Gain decisive strike, a full-round action attack that deals double damage and affects AoOs you make before the start of your next turn. Lose flurry of blows.

Draconic fist (DM): Your attacks deal bonus energy damage, usable number of times equal to class level per day. Lose 1st level bonus feat.

Durable (UA): Gain damage reduction as barbarian. Lose speed enhancement bonus and bonus to AC (but not wisdom to AC).

Halfling Monk Substitution Levels (RotW):
Levels have d6 HD.
1st level: Get skirmish ability that goes up to 2d6 dmg/+2 AC. Lose flurry of blows.
2nd level: Weapon finesse instead of normal bonus feat.
7th level: Size matters not: Get +4 bonus to grapple (only if you already have improved grapple) and stunning fist DCs against creatures that are two or more size categories larger. Lose wholeness of body.

Hin disciple substitution levels (CoV, web):
Levels have d6 HD, halfling only.
1st level: Choose stunning fist or underfoot combat as bonus feat.
2nd level: Choose combat reflexes or improved trip as bonus feat.
6th level: Blur of motion: Gain ability to attack a large or larger foe while using total defense. Requires 5 ranks of tumble. Lose bonus feat.
9th level: The harder they fall: Nearby allies can attack a foe you trip if you are occupying its square. Lose improved evasion (and the ability to gain it from other sources).

Holy strike (CC): When hitting an evil creature, your unarmed strike is considered good aligned and does extra 1d6 damage. Evil monks can reverse this, applying it to good creatures instead. Lose ki strike [magic].

Kalashtar monk (RoE):
Add autohypnosis and knowledge [psionics] to skill list.
1st level: Psychic insight: Can spend power points to improve grapple and stunning fist attacks. Lose flurry of blows.
2nd level: Can select psionic feat as bonus feat instead of normal monk bonus feat.
7th level: Wholeness of body: Can spend power points to augment wholeness of body healing.

Phoenix disciple substitution levels (CoV):
Must be lawful good.
1st level: Purifying flame: Add 1d6 fire damage to unarmed attack 1/day per monk level. Lose 1st level bonus feat.
3rd level: Gain fire resistance 5. Lose still mind.
12th level: Gain ability to use fire stride. Lose abundant step.

Planar monk (PlH):
Add knowledge [planes] to skill list.
5th level: Resistant body: Gain energy resistance. Lose purity of body.
13th level: Axiomatic soul: Gain spell resistance (class level +15) against chaotic outsiders. Lose diamond soul.
16th level: Get ki strike [cold iron]. Lose ki strike [adamantine].

Prayerful meditation (CC): Gain bonus on saves vs spells and effects of chaotic creatures and of creatures who's moral alignment is opposite to your own. Lose still mind.

Skarn monk substitution levels (MoI):
Add intimidate to skill list.
1st level: Spine strike: Use arm spines instead of normal unarmed attacks. Lose normal unarmed strike feature.
5th level: Defensive insight: Gain +1 insight bonus to AC for each point of essentia invested. Gain one point of essentia. Lose normal class bonus to AC.
10th level: Gain ability to shape a single soulmeld and chakra bind [arms]. Lose ki strike [lawful].

Soulwarp strike(CM): Make living creature nauseated (sickened if it makes the save) for one round, usable number of times per day equal to class level. Lose 1st level bonus feat.

Spell reflection (CM): Gain ability to reflect missed spells targeted at you. Lose evasion.

Standing jump (DS): Reduce fast movement ability to improve jumping ability.

Wall walker (DS): Gain the ability to run up and down walls. Lose slow fall.

Variant fighting styles (UA): Exchange the normal monk bonus feats for select styles of learning.


Now it's clear monk's greatest advantages are mobility and excellent defenses against non-physical threats, namely spells. At higher levels when character wealth is not an issue they can have a very good AC too. Monk also has good skills and natural talent for being party scout.
Monk also has some serious drawbacks. Medium BAB and difficulty in upgrading unarmed strike result in low total attack bonus. Damage reduction keyed to cold iron or silver is painful. And last but not least they suffer from MAD (Multiple Attribute Dependency).

With the all the WotC 3.5 books avaible there's four ways to make monk character and they are:

Traditional monk
This is where majority of monk builds belong to. Requires greatest amount of forethought in character creation.

ToB enabled monk
As with every melee class Tome of Battle gives monk loads of new tactical options, ways to do notable damage with single attacks and increases their mobility even more. It also brings about the best monk prc to date, Shadow Sun Ninja.

Divine monk
Divine power, righteous might, GMW....cleric's spell list is good for monks. Key this monk type is Sacred Fist, of course .

Psionic monk
Tashalatora. This feat single-handedly makes psionic monk actually good. Typical strategy is to self buff and proceed to kick ass.

At this point some may ask where's the "Arcane monk"? Well, it doesn't exist because the prc enlightened fist is so bad. It makes your already mediocre attack bonus non-existant and you will have serious trouble hitting anything. Your spellcasting will also suck because of too many lost caster levels and low DCs. Unarmed arcane character can be certainly made but it consists of battledancer/sorcerer/swiftblade/abjurant champion and has no place in this thread.


Stats & races for monk

Monk needs Wis, Str, Con, Dex, Int in that order, Cha is dumb stat. Wisdom is important to every single one of the monk types outlined above, it affects everything, I wouldn't start with less than 16. Strength is important for attack and damage, plus it needs to be high if you want to be doing any tripping or grappling. 16 would be nice here also. Constitution is required for hp and fort save, 14 is a good start. Dexterity is nice but unless you're doing an AoO build this is the stat you can decrease in favor of others, 14 is the maximum I'd put here. You want to have intelligence of at least 10 in order to avoid skill point penalties. Charisma is irrelevant.

Human is nice for a race because of the extra feat and skill. It's also the most multiclass friendly race.
Dwarves make decent monks, they have a bonus to useful stat (con) and penalty to useless one (cha). They also have darkvision and save bonus versus spells.
Half-orc, however, is the best of the PHB. Their bonus to strength is more than welcome and penalties to intelligence and charisma don't hurt much. Like dwarves they have darkvision.
Halflings with their small size are rather counter intuitive race for a monk but RotW provides very interesting substitution levels for them.
Half-ogre (RoD) is a good choice if the campaign starts higher level. They are large size and have big bonus to strength. Half-ogres have LA +2.
Kalashtar (ECS) is a very good race for a psionic monk. They get nice amount of bonus power points and have racial monk substitution levels.
Goliaths (RoS) have powerful build racial feature and +4 bonus to strength, which makes them good candidate for grapple heavy monk. They also have LA +1.
Catfolk (RotW) have +4 bonus to dexterity and access to limited form of pounce via feat catfolk pounce. A viable choice for a charger monk. Catfolk has LA +1.
What is there for monk to do?

Unarmed strike and how to improve it is the first question every aspiring monk needs to address. The two things you want to do here is to increase your attack bonus and base damage.

Besides having a high ability score, the best ways to increase your attack bonus are spells (GMW!) and some choice piece of equipment. Feats like weapon focus are not worth the cost without an access to weapon mastery.

Unarmed damage can be improved by increasing your effective monk level or size. Whatever your build might be, always make sure to have lvl 20 unarmed base damage because it is fairly easy to get. The best ways of increasing effective level are monk's belt (item, DMG, +5 lvls) and superior unarmed strike (feat, ToB, +4 lvls). Should you take both of these you have nine levels, which is plenty, to play with classes/prcs that don't advance monk abilities.

Now that our base damage is 2d10 we can start to apply size increases and the massive damage bonuses that come with them. After effective lvl 20 monk damage progresses as follows (assuming medium character):

2d10 -> 4d8 -> 6d8 -> 8d8 -> 12d8 -> 16d8 (colossal+)



As you can see, being effectively large increases your average damage by 63%, make it huge for 145%! Effective huge size is the baseline of optimized monks for it's very easy to achieve. Just for kicks compare 6d8 (27 average) to greatsword 2d6 (7 average), that difference calls for some serious power attacking. Here are the tools for monk damage extraordinaire:

  • Improved natural attack (feat): Every single monk has this, period.
  • Potion or use activated item of enlarge person (item): Fill your handy haversack with these.
  • Expansion (power): Two size increases for the price of one. Psionic monk's #1 power.
  • Initiate of draconic mysteries (prc, Drac): Gives increases at levels 4 and 8.
  • Righteous might (spell): Makes your divine monk large among other great benefits.
  • Earth hammer (spell, RoS): Increases weapon's effective size by one category, short duration.
  • Battlefist (item, ECS): For the grey fox builds out there.
  • Greater mighty wallop (spell, RotD): Have the party wizard cast this on you and proceed to enjoy that colossal+ unarmed damage (you have INA, don't you). Effect lasts for hours. This spell is bordering broken and should be only used in the most hardcore games.


Stunning fist is one the monk's 1st level feat choices along with improved grapple but in reality you should always take SF because it's good and your next chance to take it doesn't come before level 12, on the other hand, improved grapple can be taken any time. The fortitude save DC against stunning is 10 + ½ character level + wis modifier and in order to make this work I recommend taking feat ability focus [stunning fist] and buying ki straps (MIC). These two combined increase the DC by four, which is a very significant boost.

Complete warrior and some later books have provided feats to augment SF and I want discuss two of them here, you can read my judgment on the others in the feats section. First is pain touch (CW), which nauseates everyone who fails the fort save against stunning attack for the round after the stun condition ends. This practically doubles the time you and your party can take free shots at the disabled enemy. I highly recommend this feat, it's almost mandatory. The other notable feat is pharaoh's fist (SS), which allows your SF to affect all creatures adjacent to the primary target. Nice crowd control option for a monk. It's bit unclear to me if these two feats can be combined for seriously awesome total effect, clarification would be appreciated.

NOTE: One often forgotten thing about stunned condition is stunned creatures drop everything they are holding. This is worth remembering when you want to disarm someone or are being outgrappled.

Tripping is something monks can be pretty good at. They can get improved trip as a bonus feat at 6th level and should always take it instead of improved disarm. Besides the feat, having a good strength score and being as large size as possible are keys to successful trip attempt. Fortunately we have these things covered since they are already required for being good at unarmed combat. Whenever you manage to trip someone use stunning fist with the follow through attack in order to make sure the enemy stays prone for the duration of your next turn. This way you maximize your attack bonus and can easily flurry bash him to death. Sometimes you will fail your trip attempt and will get tripped instead, for those times skill trick "back on your feet" is golden.

Disarming in traditional sense is not for monks even if they can take improved disarm as a bonus feat at level 6. Disarming is an opposed attack roll, which you will most likely lose because of your medium BAB and the fact you're unarmed (-4 penalty) plus the enemy is very likely wielding weapon two-handed (+4 bonus). It's glaringly obvious the odds are heavily stacked against monk. This is not say monk can't disarm someone, they just use disarm++ that is stunning fist.

Grappling is another viable option for monk. Improved grapple is available as bonus feat at first level but don't take it. Instead use the regular first level feat slot for improved grapple. Normal monks are decent grapplers but should consider grapple tactics only when they have clear advantage. For example, target is of smaller size or target is a spell caster. Psionic monks, however, make excellent grapplers and should always include this tactic in their repertoire. Powers like expansion and crushing grip give you bear hug from which there's no escape. When you have the enemy nicely staying still commence the beating with unarmed strikes or drag him around for AoOs from other party members, this is amusing tactic I saw in recent thread and monks excel at it due to high speed.


Pounce is one the most sought after ablities among melee classes and monk is no exception. The ability to execute flurry of blows after charge is just good, especially when it also mitigates hitting difficulties. Add in skill trick "twisted charge" for extra maneuverability. Here's how to get this great ability:
  • Lion totem barbarian (variant class feature, CC): The easiest way for permanent pounce. Requires rp management because monks are incompatible with barbarians by default.
  • Psionic lion's charge (power): All psionic monks must have this.
  • Pouncing charge (maneuver, ToB): Fairly easily obtainable but isn't avaible all the time.
  • Telflammar shadowlord (prc, UE): Shadow pouncing is a sub-category of pouncing that involves full attack after teleporting. I'll try to provide a build for build section for more details.
  • Catfolk pounce (feat, RotW): For catfolk monks this is really easy way to get pounce. Getting multiple uses of this feat per encounter is hard because the target has to be flat-footed.

If you do get pounce somehow, it's time look at feats battle jump (UE) and leap of the heavens (PHB2). Battle jump let's you execute a charge action, that deals 2x damage by the way, if you can drop on the enemy from at least 5ft above. Leap of the heavens allows standing jumps without penalty. The plan is to jump into air, 10ft and 15ft required for medium and large creatures respectively, and then drop on the enemy executing charge with pounce. Battle jump also allows trip and grapple attempts with a nice bonus to the check.10ft high jump is DC 40 and 15ft high jump is DC 60, luckily monks are very good at jumping 23 [ranks] + 24 [speed] +10 [item] + 2 [synergy] + 7 [strength] = 66. This is kind of weird strategy but very powerful. Even if you don't go the battle jump route pounce is good, very good.


Spring attack, about this one I have mixed feelings. The feat itself is good but it's requirements put serious strain on your total feats (monks are feat hungry) and to make things worse dodge & mobility themselves are worthless pile of crap. It is possible to get the whole chain through cobra strike variant (UA) but then getting improved trip is almost impossible and even stunning fist has to wait until level 12. In short, if you want have to versatility in combat before late game, don't take spring attack. If you do take spring attack chain, being a halfling is highly recommended because of the substitution levels available to them (skirmish ahoy!) and follow up with feats like elusive target and bounding assault for maximum effect.

Vow of poverty is fairly popular in monk builds. This feat from Book of Exalted Deeds seems extremely powerful at first viewing and lures many monks who are unaware of its limitations to their doom. Vop provides a bunch of bonuses (AC, stats, resistances, saves, etc..) in exchance for all of character's wealth, both current and future. Vop, however, doesn't give any ability to fly, which is a HUGE disadvantage in higher level play. Monk capable of spell casting, such as sacred fist, can overcome the flight issue easily but even they can't help the fact that in high levels (15+) normal characters are so rich they can buy everything vop offers in items and more. Thus, the vop character will experience an inflation.

Vop isn't all bad, though. At low- to mid-level play, when characters are relatively poor, vow of poverty offers solid bonuses that combine well with monk's class features. This may even cause some players to view your vop powered monk overpowered.

Recap:
  • Levels 1-10: At these levels vop is a strong option.
  • Levels 10-15: Non-vop characters start to catch up fast. Vop isn't particularly strong or weak.
  • Levels 15-20: Non-vop characters' items will overpower the benefits of vop.


Examples of vow of poverty monk can be found in builds section.
Skills & tricks

The monk’s class skills are balance (dex), climb (str), concentration (con), craft (int), diplomacy (cha), escape artist (dex), hide (dex), jump (str), knowledge [arcana] (int), knowledge [religion] (int), listen (wis), move silently (dex), perform (cha), profession (wis), sense motive (wis), spot (wis), swim (str), and tumble (dex).

Always keep listen/spot maxed! They are by far the most used skills and monk's senses are second only to druid. High tumble has plenty of use, most notably it keeps you safe from AoOs. Hide/move silently are obviously good places to put ranks in if you want to be stealthy. I'd also put five ranks in balance and climb each. Jump sees plenty of use and some ranks here wouldn't hurt either, the more, the merrier because monks have potential for mega jumps.

Complete scoundrel introduced skill tricks, a few of which are useful for monk.
  • Clarity of vision: Allows you to see invisible enemies for one round.
  • Back on your feet: In case you get knocked prone this is a lot easier way to get up fast than the DC 35 tumble check.
  • Extreme leap: Speed boost for one round.
  • Twisted charge: Make one direction change during charge.



Feats

Take care when selecting your feats as they make huge difference in monk's performance. Plan ahead, preferably all the way through. I won't list the "ascetic x" line of monk multiclassing feats since they are all about adding a bit of monk to other classes and not the other way around.

Core
  • Blind-fight: This feat is not bad by any means. There's usually just feats that are more important.
  • Combat Expertise: If you want improved trip and didn't choose it as a bonus feat, you have to take this. Too bad expertise isn't very good for monks and it increases MAD (int 13 required)
  • Improved disarm: You will suck and die...alone if you take this.
  • Improved trip: Strong combat option in D&D 3.5 and monks are good at this. What's not to like?
  • Combat reflexes: Available as a bonus feat at second level. Take this if you're planning a AoO build, otherwise skip it.
  • Dodge: Urgh.
  • Mobility: Argh.
  • Spring attack: Good feat but is expensive to get.
  • Improved critical: With base threat range of 20/x2? Yeah, right.
  • Improved initiative: Same as blind-fight
  • Deflect arrows: Alternative to combat reflexes as a second level bonus feat. Gets bonus points for being very monk like.
  • Improved grapple: Very good feat for any monk with good strength score. Just don't take this at the expense of stunning fist.
  • Snatch arrows: Perhaps you can collect the arrows and bolts and sell them for extra cash?
  • Stunning fist: Your single most important feat. Take this at level one.
  • Power attack: Perhaps the best feat in the whole game but not for monks as they don't have high enough attack bonus to take full advantage of it. Will be occasionally useful versus low AC mooks and is required for some other feats.
  • Cleave: Had monk more feats to spare this would be worthy pick.
  • Great cleave: This sucks.
  • Improved bull rush: This isn't hopeless. Required for shock trooper.
  • Improved overrun: Have ever used overrun action? That's what I thought too.
  • Improved sunder: I suppose you could destroy loot with adamantine fists.
  • TWF-tree: Remember what I said about monk's attack bonus.
  • Weapon finesse: With shadow blade this let's you dump str. Remember, by taking this feat you are also dumping your ability to trip and grapple.
  • Weapon focus: This alone isn't enough.
  • Expanded knowledge: Can be useful for psionic monk.
  • Ghost attack: Roll twice for miss chance against incorporeal enemies, if at least one roll indicates a hit your unarmed strike is treated as ghost touch weapon for that attack. You must be psionically focused to use this feat.
  • Psionic fist: Meh
  • Greater psionic fist: Meh^2
  • Unavoidable strike: Effect isn't horrible but the cost in other feats and skill points is way too much.
  • Speed of thought: Move even faster.
  • Up the walls: For extra style points at the table.
  • Ability focus: Nice boost for stunning fist DC
  • Improved natural attack: Grade A stuff


Completes
  • Death blow (CV): Coup de grace as standard action. Not very good but combine this with freezing the lifeblood for very Mortal Kombat'esque character.
  • Deft opportunist (CV): Excellent with AoOs.
  • Leap attack (CV): Charging builds should always have this one.
  • Quick reconnoiter (CV): With high spot/listen this feat is neat.
  • Axiomatic strike (CW): Your next attack is axiomatic, burns stun attempt.
  • Clever wrestling (CW): Bonus for escaping grapple against bigger opponents.
  • Close-quarter fighting (CW): An old stand by anti-grapple tactic. Requires combat reflexes to be truly useful.
  • Defensive throw (CW): Make an AoO trip attempt against foe that misses attack against you.
  • Earth's embrace (CW): Deal 1d12 damage/round against pinned enemy, sucktacular.
  • Extra stunning (CW): 3 extra stunning fist/day.
  • Fists of iron (CW): Your next attack deals extra 1d6 damage, burns stun attempt.
  • Flying kick (CW): Unarmed attacks deal extra 1d12 damage on charge. Nice with pounce.
  • Freezing the lifeblood (CW): You can attempt to paralyze humanoid target instead of stunning. Not very good due to high BAB requirement, target has to be humanoid and the attack deals no damage.
  • Improved toughness (CW): HPs good.
  • Karmic strike (CW): Robilar's gambit is way better.
  • Pain touch (CW): Practically doubles the effectiveness of stunning fist. Outstanding feat.
  • Rapid stunning (CW): Can use SF one extra time/round.
  • Roundabout kick (CW): Critical hits and unarmed combat don't mix.
  • Weakening touch (CW): Take pain touch instead.
  • Elusive target (CW): Provides very good life saving options.
  • Shock trooper (CW): If you have power attack, you should also have this one.
  • Sun school (CW): Useful monk themed tactical feat.
  • Law devotion (CC): Gives insane attack or defense bonus for one minute/day.
  • Travel devotion (CC): Allows move + full attack for one minute/day.



PHB2 & ToB
  • Acrobatic strike: You want to full attack not to make single attacks.
  • Bounding assault: If you have spring attack, might want to take this one too for the extra attack.
  • Rapid blitz: Can't have this before epic levels.
  • Brutal strike: DC is never going to be even close to good.
  • Combat acrobat: DC 15 balance check to ignore four squares of difficult terrain or DC 20 balance check to avoid falling prone, sign me in! An excellent feat.
  • Cometary collision: Ready action to charge into charger. Some pouncing build may find this useful.
  • Fiery fist: Burn stunning fist attempt to get 1d6 extra damage until end of turn. Can be taken as a monk bonus feat at second level. Cool flavor.
  • Fiery ki defense: Burn stunning fist attempt to get very minor fire shield for one round. Can be taken as a monk bonus feat at sixth level.
  • Ki blast: Burn two stunning fist attempts to shoot ball of force. Not very damaging but is ranged touch attack and gives monks something to do against incorporeal creatures. Can be taken as a monk bonus feat at sixth level. Very flavorful.
  • Leap of the heavens: Negates the penalty for standing jumps. Very good for battle jumpers, useless for anyone else.
  • Robilar's gambit: AoO builds should take this.
  • Versatile unarmed strike: Cool but useless because DR keyed to bludgeoning/piercing/slashing is so rare.
  • Vexing flanker: If the party has a flank happy character, such as rogue, this is a decent way of getting extra attack bonus.
  • Water splitting stone: Helps with DRs you can't penetrate.
  • Combat focus: Required for the other combat form feats. Gives bonus to will save. At least three combat form feats are required to make their effects useful.
  • Combat stability: Massive bonuses against trip, grapple, bull rush etc...
  • Combat defense: Dodge sucks so bad it can't be redeemed.
  • Combat vigor: Fast healing 4, nice.
  • Combat awareness: Knowing adjacent creatures hp and 5ft blindsight aren't very good.
  • Combat strike: End combat focus mode, gain bonus to hit/damage until end of turn.
  • Martial stance: Good for almost any character.
  • Martial study: As above.
  • Shadow blade: Weapon finesse's partner in crime. Get dexterity modifier into weapon damage with shadow hand weapons.
  • Snap kick: Make an extra unarmed attack, all attacks at -2 penalty. Works even on standard action.
  • Superior unarmed strike: Separate unarmed damage progression or +4 effective monk levels.


Random books
  • Reactive resistance (DotU): Lower your SR as a immediate action. For pure monk this is great feat to have.
  • Pharaoh's fist (SS): Area effect stunning fist is nice.
  • Rattlesnake strike (SS): Expend stunning fist attempt to deliver poisonous strike [1d3 con/1d3 con]. The poison has same DC formula as stunning fist.
  • Intuitive strike (BoED): Wis modifier to attack instead of str, way better than weapon finesse. This is an exalted feat, which may cause complications during gameplay.
  • Vow of poverty (BoED): Value ranges from strong to suck, see previous post for more info. Exalted feat.
  • Battle jump (UE): See the pounce section for more details.
  • Flensing strike (ECS): This feat is way cool. As a full-round action make a special attack with kama. If the target fails its fortitude save, it takes -4 penalty to attacks, saves and checks for one minute. 2nd level bonus feat option for evil monks.
  • Monastic training (ECS): Allows multiclassing with one class without losing the ability to progress as a monk. Required for tashalatora.
  • Tashalatora (SoS): Stacks one psionic class with monk levels for unarmed damage, flurry of blows and AC bonus. Awesome.
  • Broken one's sacrifice (CoV): Suffer an attack that was meant for an adjacent ally. Any defenses you might normally have against this attack are inoperative, become fatigued for your trouble. This feat is so bad I can't even find the words to describe how bad it is. Even dodge is better.
  • Carmendine monk (CoV): Use int modifier instead of wis for AC, stunning fist and quivering palm DCs. In addition you can study your thesis for minor bonuses. Excellent choice for skillful monk.
  • Silver fang (CoV): Unarmed strike counts as silver weapon.
  • Sun soul monk (CoV): Pick undead turning strike, fascinating strike or unarmed strike counts as silver weapon and deals one point of extra cold damage.
  • Earth sense (RoS): Gives 20ft tremorsense. Required for earth fist.
  • Earth fist (RoS): While touching ground, unarmed strike counts as cold iron weapon. Dwarf, gnome, goliath only.
  • Catfolk pounce (RotW): You get pounce against flat-footed enemies. Catfolk only.
  • Jotunbrud (RoF): Gain powerful build feature as human. Useful for grapples and tripping.
Equipment & spells/powers
Prestige classes & builds

Atavist (RoE)
Enlightened fist (CA)
Disciple of the eye (RotD)
Disciple of the word (ToM)
Dragon descentant (DM)
Drunken master (CW)
Fist of the forest (CC)
Fist of zuoken (XPH)
Initiate of draconic mysteries (Drac)
Kensai (CW)
Monk of the long death (PGtF)
Sacred fist (CD)
Shadow sun ninja (ToB)
Shou disciple (UE)
Tattooed monk (CW)
Telflammar shadowlord (UE)
Warmind (XPH)
Zerth cenobite (CP)
Disciple of the Word is a decent 1/4/7 level dip for a monk.
Don't forget to talk about the Fighting Styles (or whatever they're called) in Oriental Adventures and Tome of Magic.
Can't forget to talk about Fist of the Forest.

JaronK
As for prcs there's also the Initiate of Draconic Mysteries, Enlightened Fist and Fist of Zouken.
Enlightened fist = suckage
Enlightened fist + Wraithstrike = pwnage

Also even if you don't loose Wraithstrike, but fractional BaB it might not be so bad... ok, it still sux.
There should be a section for Pouncing; I find it invaluable on any flurry-based monk. In a similar vein, Teflammer Shadowlord.

There should be a section on boosting the DCs of Stunning Fist, and some mention of the Deathblow feat (or whatever: coup-de-grace as a standard action).

Likewise, a section on grappling would be useful.

One thing that seems to be missing from similar handbooks is common buff spells. Monks need one in particular: Greater Mighty Wollop.

I look forward to this fleshing out!
What does CV stand for? Champions of Valor?

In addition to the shadowpouncing Monk, checking out the Jaunter might be worthwhile in a build like that.

Edit: Initiate of Draconic Mysteries (sp?) is worth nothing too.
Likewise, a section on grappling would be useful.

Seconded.

A Monk makes an OK grappler. A Monk 1 or 2 / Psychic Warrior X with Tashalatora makes an excellent grappler. Even though this build is mostly PsyWar, Tashalatora turns the flavor into a Monk that manifests (IMO).
The Scorpion Kama (MIC, the Item Sets section) should be in the equipment section when you get it posted. It's a +1 Kama that deals your Unarmed Strike damage.
Here's a build I made not long ago that's as "Monky" as I go:

Utterance of the Setting Sun:
Lawful Good Human Monk 2/Swordsage 3/Shadow Sun Ninja 8/Disciple of the Word 7

Progression: Unarmed Swordsage 1/Monk 2/Unarmed Swordsage +2/Shadow Sun Ninja 2/Disciple of the Word 4/Sun +3/Word +2/Sun +1/Word +1/Sun +2

BAB: +14
Saves: Fort +15/Ref +17/Will +17

Feats:
Human - Dodge
1st - Shadow Blade
Swordsage 1 - Weapon Focus (Setting Sun)
Monk 1 - Stunning Fist, Imp. Unarmed Strike
Monk 2 - Combat Reflexes
3rd - Combat Expertise
6th - Mobility
9th - Spring Attack (Word Given Form - ToM 218)
12th - Sun School
15th - Adaptive Style
18th - Robilar's Gambit

Other Feats Wanted (grab them with Flaws if you can):
Elusive Target
Snap Kick

Without Monk's Belt:
Unarmed Damage as Monk 20 (2d10)
AC Bonus as Monk 17 (+3)
Flurry of Blows as Monk 17
Unarmored Speed Bonus as Monk 17 (+50')
Stunning Fist 17/day

Maneuvers (6 Ready):
1st - Burning Blade, Stone Bones, Mighty Throw, Counter Charge, Wolf Fang Strike, Sudden Leap.
2nd - Cloak of Deception, Shadow Jaunt
3rd - Feigned Opening
5th - Shadow Stride
7th - Hydra Slaying Strike

Stances:
1st - Island of Blades, Flame's Blessing
5th - Shifting Defense
Here's mine. It doesn't have any size alterations, yet.
Pouncing Raging Monk of Doom
LN Human
Druidic Avenger 1 (1), Monk (Cobra Strike Variant) 7 (2-5, 11-13), Shou Disciple 5 (6-10), Shiba Protector 1 (14), Blade Dancer 6 (15-20)

optional feat progressions:
1 Two Weapon Fighting, Snow Tiger Berserker
2 Dodge, Imp Unarmed Strike
3 Mobility, Weapon Focus Unarmed Strike
6 Iron Will
7 Combat Expertise
9 Power Attack, Leap Attack
12 Spring Attack, Alertness
15 Neraph Charge or Battle Jump
17 Blindfight
18 Imp. Trip

abilities
1 Fast Movement +10', Rage 1/day, Druid Spells 1st lev, Wild Emp -4
2 Flurry
3 Evasion, Fast Movement +10'
4 Still Mind
5 Ki Strike (Magic), Slow Fall 20'
8 Martial Strike (Light)
10 Martial Strike (Any)
11 Purity of Body
12 Fast Move +10'
13 Wholeness of Body
14 No Thought
15 Acrobatics, Leap of the Clouds, Double base movement (+30', or a flat 60'x2=120')
16 Enchanted Blade I
18 Ride the Wind, fast movement (+10', or a flat 60'x2.33=140)
19 Acrobatics (+20), acrobatic attack
20 Enchanted Blade II

I'm assuming in this build that Monk / Prc's that progress together advance 100% with respect to unarmed and flurry progression on the Monk table (this is suggested it in UE p33). I'm also assuming that the flurry ability and greater flurry progress.

End result:
A monk that can charge up to double his move (either 90' or 120', depending on how you rule the bladedancer ability) and full flurry with any weapon, adding his Wis to attack and damage. If you can jump from 5' above (using tumble check of 50, this is doable if 2 objects are w/in 10' of each other, i.e. your target and the wall or an ally) you can double damage, and from 10' across, double power attack damage. Plus, a ton of crazy abilities, including lev 1 Druid spells, insane jump and tumble, and rage 1/day.

bab +16, unarmed strike bab +10, 12th level monk unarmed abilities... BUT since you can flurry w/ melee weapons, I think you can count your full BAB of +16, for 16/16/16/11/6/1 when using a weapon. Jump, tumble, and balance: 43, pre-ability adjustments (now your 5' step can be a 10' step, for free, and you don't provoke due to movement, move at full speed, move through enemies).

Please let me know if something here isn't kosher; I've been trying to get a charging monk build for a while that doesn't lose too much monk damage, and doesn't have to take a barbarian level that is useless later. I know Shiba Protector is cheesy, but here you lose 2 feats for the ability, so it's pretty balanced in this build, I think; regardless, it's easy to remove in favor of another level of blade dancer.
Looks good just two things why is perfect self red, It didn't seem very good or bad to me (the free martial weap pro is nice if a bit late). Also Diamond Soul kinda sucks because most healing and buffs are affected by SR and it is a standard action to lower or activate. This can be quite a problem if your hurt or unbuffed and the have to waste a turn to turn off your SR. Besides that it looks pretty good.
Looks good just two things why is perfect self red, It didn't seem very good or bad to me (the free martial weap pro is nice if a bit late). Also Diamond Soul kinda sucks because most healing and buffs are affected by SR and it is a standard action to lower or activate. This can be quite a problem if your hurt or unbuffed and the have to waste a turn to turn off your SR. Besides that it looks pretty good.

Perfect self should be red because of the level you attain it it (i.e. lvl 20 monk). Straight monk is just bad. By the time you get to this feature, it wont be worth it because the opportunity cost is too high.

Diamond Soul is good due to the fact that it resists save-or-(lose,suck,die,barrel roll) spells. Sure, you can't heal until after a standard action, but healing should be done out of combat and as a monk, you should excel at not getting hit.
Yeah your right about the perfect self, but isn't diamond soul the reason why very few monk builds (I can't think of any besides VoP ones) on CO never go past 12.
You should mention Leap Attack under the pouncing section, too.
Incarnum can really help out a monk. The sphinx claws soulmeld, when bound to the hands chakra, grants pounce. And the totem avatar soulmeld bound to the shoulders chakra increases the size of a monk's unarmed strikes.

If the monk is psionic or a cleric, he doesn't even need the Open X Chakra feats, due to the Open X Chakra spells and powers.
Argent Fist and warshaper(for changeling monks) probably deserve to be listed in the prestige class area a decent build that combines them both would be
changeling
monk 4/ paladin 4/ warshaper 2/ argent fist 10.
Thanks for all the suggestions so far, I'll address as many as I can, I'll also add the builds posted to the builds section. Everyone else feel free to post more builds. The two requirements are: build is legal and it has at least 10 levels in monk base class and/or in monk prcs.

@Cyrocloud: Perfect self isn't bad but it's rather useless at those levels (that's why it is red). Every enemy either punches through DR/magic or ignores it entirely with some other kind of attack. Outsider status allows for some polymorph trickery but I don't advocate that particular line of spells.

SR has its drawbacks but I feel the protection it provides is worth the cost, therefore blue text. Your point about it is valid, though, I'll mention it in the text.
Also, skarn makes a good monk race because of spinemeld warrior.

Warmind is an excellent prestige class for a psionic monk, but you'll either have to be a kalashtar or have the Education feat to get in in a timely manner.

And we need a ruling about whether a class that advances flurry would advance decisive strike.
There's the Reactive Resistance (?) feat in Drow of the Underdark that lets you lower SR as an Immediate Action. If I ever get a decent SR, I'd be sure to take it.

We also need a ruling on whether you can use Decisive Strike as Flurry for requirements, like for Sun School (which would need some tweaking to work with it perfectly, anyway).
nice guide.... good to see monks Updated


here is some stuff from a Psionic Perspective


Monks and Psionics:

Although there is a Natural affinity for each other.....the way they are combined can greatly effect the overall performance of the character. In general one starts with at least 1 level of Monk to start(many times more levels), and then adds Psionic Classes or PrCs to it. Which Classes or PrCs is very important. For the sake of discussion we will always assume 10 levels of Psionic classes(as many Psionic PrCs are that long and we can also compare them to 10 levels of Base Classes). Monks also have a tendency to MAD(Multiple Attribute Dependancy)..but for the most part are Wisdom Based,so....

Since Monk is Wisdom Based it is normal to look first at :NOTE assume main attribute = 16:

Wisdom Based Psionic Classes:

Psychic Warrior 10..................... 27 PP / 10 powers known (PW list) 4th lvl
Ardent 10................................. 88 PP / 11 powers Known/ 5 mantles (6th lvl with Practiced Manifester)
Divine Mind 10........................... 14 PP / 4 powers known...2 mantles 2nd lvl
Fist of Zuoken(Psionic Fist) 10...... 71 PP / 10 powers known (PW list) 5th lvl
Warmind 10 .............................. 70 PP / 6 powers known (PW list) 5th lvl
Zerth Cenobite 10 ..................... 27 PP / 5 powers known (PW List) 4th lvl

Intelligence Based Classes:
Psion 10 .................................. 88 PP / 21 Powers Known 5th lvl
Erudite 10 ................................ 88 PP / 6 unique(23 Powers Known) 5th lvl
Lurk 10 .................................... 27 PP / 10 powers known (Lurk List) 4th lvl

Charisma Based Classes:
Wilder 10 ................................. 88 PP / 6 powers Known 5th lvl


Prestige Classes that advance Previous Classes:

Cerebremancer
Elocator
Slayer
Thrallherd
Psychic Weapon Master
Cognition Thief
Constructor

Feats of Note:

feats from Core/XPH:
[indent]
IMPROVED NATURAL ATTACK [GENERAL]
Prerequisite: Natural weapon, base attack bonus +4.
Benefit: Choose one of the creature’s natural attack forms. The damage for this natural weapon increases by one step, as if the creature’s size had increased by one category: 1d2, 1d3, 1d4, 1d6, 1d8, 2d6, 3d6, 4d6, 6d6, 8d6, 12d6.
A weapon or attack that deals 1d10 points of damage increases as follows: 1d10, 2d8, 3d8, 4d8, 6d8, 8d8, 12d8.
Special: A creature can gain this feat multiple times. Each time it applies to a different natural attack.
[/indent]



Feats from Secrets of Sarlona:
[indent]
Ascetic Psion...............req:Narrow Mind....allows you to freely multiclass with Psion and Monk, also use Int to AC instead of Wis, and lets you re-Focus as a Standard action, as well as progresses unarmed Damage

Tashalatora..............req:Monastic Training(psionic class)(ECS)....progresses AC, Unarmed Damage, Flurry of Blows


[/indent]
feats from Champions of Valor:
[indent]
Carmondine Monk.........req:Int 13, member of special organization(which allows you to freely multiclass with Cleric and Monk)
gives: Int to AC and the DC for Stunning fist and Quivering Palm are based on Int instead of Wis, also +2 monk lvls for one of the following(each day you pick one):
[indent]1)Unarmed Damage
2)Speed
3)AC[/indent]

Silver Fang................Base fort save +4, member or ally of special organization
Natural Weapon or Unarmed Strike considered Silver vs DR

Sun Soul Monk............ Monk 6, member of special order
patron= Selune= +1 point cold damage with unarmed strike and considered Silver vs DR, also +3 monk lvl for Speed bonus

[/indent]
Feats from Tome of Battle

[indent]
Superior Unarmed Strike.........+5 monk lvls for Unarmed Damage
[/indent]
Feats from Eberron Campaign setting book:
[indent]
Double Steel Strike...Req: Exotic Weapon Prof(2 bladed Sword), Weapon Focus(2 Bladed Sword), Flurry
Allows you to treat 2 Bladed Sword as Special Monk Weapon and can Flurry with it

Whirling Steel Strike...Req: Martial Weapon Prof(Long Sword), Weapon Focus(Long Sword), Flurry
Allows you to treat Long Sword as Special Monk Weapon and can Flurry with it

Serpent Strike...Req: Simple Weapon Prof(Long Spear), Weapon Focus(Long Spear), Flurry
Allows you to treat Long Spear as Special Monk Weapon and can Flurry with it

Flensing Strike ....... Req: Exotic Weapon(Kama), Weapon Focus(Kama)
as a Full round action,..1 attack..if hits do normal damage and enemy must save(Fort DC 10+1/2 Character lvl+Wis mod(+2 if using Kama)) or -4 penalty to Attacks, Saves, Checks for 1 min

Powerful Charge ....... Medium or Larger, BAB+1
when charging....do extra damage....+1d8 Med,+2d6 Large, +3d6 Huge, +4d6 Gargantuan, +6d6 Colossal

Greater Powerful Charge ......Powerful Charge, BAB+4
considered +1 size larger

[/indent]

Feats from Dracominicon

[indent]Endure Blows ..... Req: Con 19, Dragon Type, Toughness
gives DR 2/- stacks with existing

Rapid Strike .......req: Dex 9, pair of Natural weapons, Type=Aberation,Dragon,Magical Beats,Plant,BAB+10
gain 1 extra attack with natural weapon @ -5

Imp Rapid Strike .......req: Dex 9, pair of Natural weapons, Type=Aberation,Dragon,Magical Beats,Plant,BAB+15,Rapidstrike
gain 1 extra attack with natural weapon @ -10

Sense Weakness ......req:Int 13, Combat Expertise, Weapon focus(type of weapon)
Ignore 5 points of DR or Hardness
[/indent]

Feats from Complete Warrior:

[indent]
Flying Kick ........ req: Str 13, Jump 4 ranks, Imp Unarmed Strike, Power Attack
+1d12 damage on charge(with unarmed strike)

Improved Toughness ...... req: +2 Base Fort save
+1 hp/ HD

Combat Brute(tactical feat)
Elusive Target(tactical feat)
Giant Bane(tactical feat)
Raptor School(tactical feat)
Shock Trooper(tactical feat)
Sun School(tactical feat) ....req: Flurry, BAB+4
1)Hit foe with first 2 unarmed attacks in Flurry..and move foe 5'(you can also move 5')
2)stun foe 2 rounds in row....they are Confused 1d4 rounds also
3)Make attack after instantaneous move(Dimension Door,Teleport,etc)[/indent]


Other feats:
[indent]
KNOCK-DOWN [GENERAL]
Prerequisites: Base attack bonus +2, Improved Trip, Str 15.
Benefit: Whenever you deal 10 or more points of damage to your opponent in melee, you make a trip attack as a free action against the same target.

HOLD THE LINE [GENERAL]
Prerequisites: Combat Reflexes, base attack bonus +2.
Benefit: You may make an attack of opportunity against a charging opponent who enters an area you threaten. Your attack of opportunity happens immediately before the charge attack is resolved.
Normal: You only get an attack of opportunity against a character that exits a square you threaten.

FLEET OF FOOT [GENERAL]
Prerequisites: Dex 15, Run.
Benefit: When running or charging, you can make a single direction change of 90 degrees or less. You can’t use this feat while wearing medium or heavy armor, or when carrying a medium or heavy load. If you are charging, you must move in a straight line for 10 feet after the turn to maintain the charge.
Normal: Without this feat, you can run or charge only in a straight line.[/indent]

Feats from Races of Stone:
[indent]Earth Sense .........req: Con 13,Wis 13
while you touch the ground....you can sense # creatures in 20' rad also touching ground

Earth Fist(racial) .......... Req: Dwarf, Gnome, Goliath, Earth sense, Imp Unarmed Strike
while you touch ground...Unarmed Strike = Cold Iron vs DR


Feats from Mini Handbook:
[indent]
Double Hit

Deft Opportunist

[/indent]
[/indent]

Build Combos:

Core+XPH:

Monk 11/ Warmind 9
[indent]
BAB +17
9th lvl Manifester
4th lvl powers(5 powers known)
58 Power points

benifits:
Greater Flurry...can be combined with 2 weapon fighting to get even more and with Sweeping strike, to further boost effectiveness[/indent]


Monk 11/ Psion 1/ Slayer 8

[indent]
BAB +16
8th lvl Manifester
4th lvl Powers(17 powers known)
58 Power points

benifits:
Greater Flurry

drawbacks:
requires more feats
[/indent]
IMAGE(http://media.collegepublisher.com/media/paper803/stills/757p13v3.jpg)
Use SBLOCKS, man!
KNOCK-DOWN [GENERAL]
Prerequisites: Base attack bonus +2, Improved Trip, Str 15.
Benefit: Whenever you deal 10 or more points of damage to your opponent in melee, you make a trip attack as a free action against the same target.

What book is this from?
Hmm, are you counting Argent Fist as a monk PrC? If so, I've got a build to contribute.
I think it was originally in Deities and Demigods. But it's been moved to the "Divine" section of the SRD.
For the kalashtar monk, the atavist (races of eberron) might be work looking at.
Hmm, if Decisive strike can progressed as if it were Flurry of blows, it could very well be worth it for Monk/War minds with Tashalatora and Snap kick. that'd be three attacks at full BAB -2 all applying against two adjacent opponents, each hit dealing double damage. Though it's Robilar's gambit that makes this fun, as all your attacks of opportunity are against two opponents and deal double damage.
Ectoplasmic Fist (ECS 264) also gives an effective size increase for US damage for Kalashtar monks.
Just wanted to mention that I think you left out the variations and alternate class features from Unearthed Arcana (www.d20srd.org).

Also, for anyone that cares, the expanded unarmed damage table looks a little something like this:

4d8>6d8>8d8>12d8>16d8>24d8>32d8>48d8>64d8>96d8>128d8>192d8>256d8>384d8>512d8
I must protest the labeling of Combat Defense as "bad". It lets you switch your Dodge-buddy, which, when paired with Elusive Target (a "good" feat), lets you employ Elusive Target's abilities multiple times in a round.
You may want to mention goliath as a viable race for grappler monk builds. Powerful build never hurts when grappling.

Also, you may want to at least mention the aligned attack and ghost attack feats for psionic monks. Feats that only have BAB prereqs and let you overcome alignment DR or give your attacks the ghost touch ability, respectively, are not terrible choices for a monk. Ghost Attack, in particular, doesn't even require psionic focus expenditure.
You may want to mention goliath as a viable race for grappler monk builds. Powerful build never hurts when grappling.

Also, you may want to at least mention the aligned attack and ghost attack feats for psionic monks. Feats that only have BAB prereqs and let you overcome alignment DR or give your attacks the ghost touch ability, respectively, are not terrible choices for a monk. Ghost Attack, in particular, doesn't even require psionic focus expenditure.

Along the same vein, Jotenbrud does the same thing for humans.

Also, still no mention of Leap Attack, which is invaluable for pouncing shocktrooper styled monks.

Catfolk is a viable monk race due to Catfolk Pounce, which is another method of gaining Pounce for unarmed strikes. The +4 Dex bonus also makes ToB enabled Monks slightly more powerful with the Shadowblade feat.

There should be a mention of drop points and the Ascetic chain of feats.

Overall, it seems to be shaping up nicely: nice formatting, pretty colors. Good jorb!
I know you folks probably have your reasons for discounting the Arcane Monk concept, but I felt like I had to put in my 2 cents (so much so that this is only my second post and my first in about a year so if I muss up some rules of etiquette or if this is a little messy please forgive me).

As far as I can see, there are a few ways to make it at least somewhat effective, relying on the Enlightened Fist class.

1) Shift the main att from Wis to Int via Carmendine Monk
-or-
1) Shift the main att from Wis to Cha via Ascetic Mage

Yeah, you lose BAB, but Arcane Strike boosts your power level nicely and makes up for it. If you go the Sorceror road and use RAW (unless errata states otherwise) you can stack Arcane Strike with Ascetic Mage's benefit spend 2 spell slots for +total spell levels to hit & ( + first sp lv in d4's & + second sp lv direct to damage).

As long as you can still make it to +11/+6/+1 you get 3 attacks + Flurry; add on Snap kick for one more.

Also, you can add "Mighty Wallop" to crank up the effective size level... Jeez, what a crap name for a spell, eh?

Add on VoP and any slots you'd normally spend on spells with expensive materials become downright nasty.

This would probably work best with an Illumian, such as Uurnaen, Vauluurr, or Vaulaesh.

After the obligatory monk & (wiz or sorceror) levels, there's always the few levels of Swordsage or Warblade to jump into the Jade Phoenix Mage or starting with a Raging Monk to work into Rage Mage, normally not so great but this makes it at least funny, if not effective; whichever you want but Abjurant Champion (possible because monks have Handaxe proficiency) I think to be the best of the options to crank up the BAB and Caster Level simultaneously.

I mean, that is about all I can think of... except, of course, for "Giant Size," a 7th Level Wu Jen Spell, which can boost your size up to Huge (15 CL) -> Gargantuan (17 CL) -> Colossal (19+ CL), not too bad with Practiced Spellcaster. (Also hilarious in a Spellsword's hands). This looks best with a build of Illumian Vauluurr - Wu Jen 3 / Monk 2 / Enlightened fist 10 Abjurant Champion 5 (rounding out CL @ 20 with Practiced Spellcaster). Throw on Imp. Natural Attack, Superior Unarmed Strike, a scroll of Mighty Wallop with a monks belt: and ditch two 8th level spells to crank up the d4's and you're looking at a 5-gallon bucket full of dice and a pallet full of pluses to hit and damage.

So, I lose a few points of BAB, and I all have to show for it is:
1) a +32 strength mod,
2) Arcane Strike,
3) a 30 ft natural reach for AoO goodness, (and Decisive Strike for double damage)
4) and Colossal++ Unarmed Damage

I'm sure I'm mucking up these calculations, but it should come out to something like
32d8 (Unarmed) + 8d6 (Vauluur) + 8d4 (Arcane Strike)
Thanks for replies everyone, keep 'em coming. I'm bit busy with school at the moment but I will try to get this guide done by the end of the this week.

Hmm, are you counting Argent Fist as a monk PrC? If so, I've got a build to contribute.

As long as it's clearly a monk build and not unarmed paladin, go ahead. I'll add it to the builds section when I get there.

The question "Can decisive strike be progressed with prcs that progress flurry?" has been brought up. Unless some very convincing rules quotes are presented, my answer is no. The issue is pretty similar to the abjurant champion & mage armor thing but even errata didn't change it.

Ectoplasmic Fist (ECS 264) also gives an effective size increase for US damage for Kalashtar monks.

I'll check this out.

Just wanted to mention that I think you left out the variations and alternate class features from Unearthed Arcana (www.d20srd.org).

They are mentioned at the very bottom of the sblock. I'll add link to SRD, easy enough to check the details from there.

I must protest the labeling of Combat Defense as "bad". It lets you switch your Dodge-buddy, which, when paired with Elusive Target (a "good" feat), lets you employ Elusive Target's abilities multiple times in a round.

Elusive target is good but it isn't so good it justifies taking three more feats (always take at least three combat form feats or don't take them at all) to enhance its effects. On its own, combat defense is just a bad feat, period.

You may want to mention goliath as a viable race for grappler monk builds. Powerful build never hurts when grappling.

Also, you may want to at least mention the aligned attack and ghost attack feats for psionic monks. Feats that only have BAB prereqs and let you overcome alignment DR or give your attacks the ghost touch ability, respectively, are not terrible choices for a monk. Ghost Attack, in particular, doesn't even require psionic focus expenditure.

I think you're right, goliath deserves to be mentioned.

Aligned attack is bad because it comes with strings attached. First, it is very slow to use because you need to regain psionic focus over and over again, which eats precious actions during combat. Second, you practically need the feat psionic meditation too for the move action refocusing. Third, the only aligned damage reduction with real importance is DR/good and the holy strike variant class feature is superior way of getting good aligned attack.

Ghost attack isn't bad, I'll add it to the feats section.

Along the same vein, Jotenbrud does the same thing for humans.

Will be added.

Also, still no mention of Leap Attack, which is invaluable for pouncing shocktrooper styled monks.

I have plans of adding a section about charging, leap attack will be there along with the other usual suspects.

Catfolk is a viable monk race due to Catfolk Pounce, which is another method of gaining Pounce for unarmed strikes. The +4 Dex bonus also makes ToB enabled Monks slightly more powerful with the Shadowblade feat.

Good find.

There should be a mention of drop points

This is on my to do list.

Ascetic chain of feats

Every single one of these encourages only dipping into monk, something that is very low on priority from the viewpoint of this guide. When everything else is done, I may eventually add a section about dipping.

Overall, it seems to be shaping up nicely: nice formatting, pretty colors. Good jorb!

Thanks

Defends arcane monks valiantly.

If you could provide a detailed & well formatted example build and some discussion about tactics etc, I will happily discuss more about this topic.

For starters here are my main issues with arcane monks:
-Low attack bonus
-Dependency on questionable spells like, wraithstrike, greater mighty wallop, polymorph...
-Builds tend to be awful mess of random abilities that don't have good synergy with each other. This leads to inelegance, which is not good in my book.
-Swiftblade builds perform better
Quick question:

When taking Shou Disciple along with Monk, your first level of the PrC gives you a minimum of 6 effective Shou Disciple levels, but the unarmed damage progression only goes up to 2d6. How do you handle further progression from Monk levels?
Wishlist: -Alternate ability bonuses for pre-PHB3 races -Lots more superior implements or an official customization rule -Monk multiclass feat that grants Unarmed Combatant