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Monk: Looking for ways to improve my AC

Discussion in 'Dungeons & Dragons + Other RPGs' started by Master of Nuhn, Jun 13, 2011.

  1. Master of Nuhn

    Master of Nuhn Wear it like a crown Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    [​IMG] I recently joined a party of dungeon crawling fools. This is decent dungeon crawling: Hardly any room for role playing. You beat the challange, you go on with the next. Don't get too attached to your character, cause the DM doesn't do fudging of rolls: If you roll poorly, you can roll again... for a new character, that is.

    For that reason, I wanted a nice all-round character with good saves, so I chose a monk. But my problem with monks is that they don't deal a lot of damage. So I chose a Goliath, who is a fair bit stronger than the average monk and can wield a large longspear. I always wanted to play a Goliath some day anyway...

    Problem is: It appears we have no decent tank in our party of 7. We have a powerhouse, but no tank. Seemingly my monk's AC of 20 (dodge included) is the highest AC around. And so I tend to get to the front to get hit. I need higher AC for that.
    My "role" in the group might be a little tactical/neutralizing opponents: Grappling, stunning fist, Trip attacks (once I get to monk lvl 6). I also want to become the "Decoy" (good saves, evasion etc), for that I need better AC as well.

    My question: How can I improve my AC?
    I don't want my Goliath Monk to become too munchkin (Goliaths are prone to that), but any tips are welcome.

    The current situation:
    Party of 7 consisting of a powerhouse, a spellthief, a summoner, a wizard, some cleric-ish type, me (goliath monk) and some character in the making (died again), probably healer type.

    My characterbuild for a Goliath Monk 5:
    (point buy 28)
    Str 18
    Dex 14 (16 with gloves of dex)
    Con 14
    Int 12
    Wis 14
    Cha 8

    Skills (8 ranks in all mentioned here)
    Climb 12 (+4 Str)
    Jump 18 (+4 Str, +4 speed, +2 synergy tumble)
    Listen 10 (+2 Wis)
    Spot 10 (+2 Wis)
    Tumble 13 (+3 Dex, +2 Synergy jump)

    Racial Traits:
    Monstrous Humanoid (prof with simple weapons)
    Powerful Build (+1 weapon size, considered large if advantageous, like swallow whole, Trip, Grapple etc)
    Mountain Movement (standing jumps as running jumps, no penalty on accelerated climbing)
    ...

    Class specials:
    Impr Unarmed Strike, Flurry of Blows (-1), Stunning Fist (bonus feat), Combat Reflexes (Bonus feat), Evasion, Fast Movement (+10), Still Mind, Ki Strike (magic), Slow Fall (20ft), Purity of Body.

    Feats: Dodge, Impr Grapple

    Gear: Large Masterwork Longspear (reach and combat refl is nice), Quiver of Ehlonna (to put my spear when I need both hands), Gloves of Dex +2, Cloak of Resistance +1, Bracers of Armor +1, Amulet of Natural Armor +1, Ring of Prot +1, Some healing potions and a few potions of Mage Armor. I got some other stuff like kama's, sling with bullets, rope etc, but nothing worth mentioning.

    My AC is 19: 10 + 3 Dex +2 Wis +1 Monk +3 gear. I can add Dodge for a single opponent and drink a potion of Mage Armor for an other 3 points of armor because it doesn't stack with the bracers.

    Any peops got any idea? I'm mainly looking for tips to improve my AC, but some other tips are welcome too. "All splatbooks (Complete, Races, etc) available" says the DM, "but don't be a douchebag".

    Thanks!
     
  2. LKD Gems: 31/31
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    I have a thought, but the damn thing takes time, so I apologize. I also don't have the source for the prerequisite feat, so it's likely of no use to you, but here we go anyhow:

    In the now defunct Crystalkeep lists, I saw a feat entitled "Kung Fu Genius". 1st level only, monk only, and it replaces Wisdom with Intelligence in terms of AC, Quivering Palm saves and Stunning Fist saves. It doesn't replace your Will midifier, though. However, you could then place your INT score higher up, get some more skill points, and then take Combat Expertise, which would let you boost your AC if things got too dicey for you.

    Barring that, the Combat Focus feat from PH2 has a feat in its tree that improves your bonus from the Dodge feat. Those ones all have a Wis 13 requirement, so it wouldn't likely work with the one above, though it may be more accessible.

    Also, I may be reiterating the obvious, but with all those ranks in Tumble, you get a bonus to AC when you fight defensively or use total defense. You could charge into the middle of some people, and then go into defensive mode while they all try to hit you. That'll give your teammates a round or two to prep, then when the opponents get tired of trying to hit such a difficult target, they go after your friends, at which point you flank them and beat the living bejeezus out of them with some hard hitting Flurries. Especially if at 2nd level you take Combat Reflexes, as they move to engage your allies, you can b**** slap them. If you are wielding a longspear, then the poor fools can't even withdraw. Later on, you can get a feat from the Ebberron book, Serpent's Tooth, which lets you flurry with that longspear. Ohhhh, yeah, stick that oversized spearhead right into their testicles before they close to standard melee range, that's what I'm talking about.
     
  3. Master of Nuhn

    Master of Nuhn Wear it like a crown Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Nice stuff, LKD. :)

    I plan to take Combat Expertise at level 9 (if he survives long enough), after I increased my Int at level 8. This stacks with Fight Defensively, I hear (but not with total defense, of course). Include the tumbling for an extra dodge bonus, et voila. I had forgotten about the tumble bonus, so thanks. :)

    I'm looking into these Combat Focus feats. They might be interesting. You get the dodge bonus when you have 3 Combat Focus feats. I'm not sure if I'll do that, but there are few other feats, it seems, that I can use to improve my AC. Many are for shields, special weapons, armor types etc.

    I can't take Kung Fu Genius, though, cause I'm already above level 1. Btw, that feat seems quite overpowered. Any prerequisites for it, other than Monk only and level 1 only?

    I could pick Heavy Lithoderms (goliaths only) for a +1 natural armor. I'd have to trade in my amulet for something else then, cause it won't stack, I suppose.

    That Serpent Strike feat is a nice one! Only one prereq to go: Weapon Focus (Longspear). Thanks! That's a "Great Tip". :D OotS' Elan would be proud of me. :p
     
  4. Cap'n CJ

    Cap'n CJ Arrr! Veteran

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    Taking a spear is wasting Monk.

    Grab Improved Unarmed Attack for a feat (Monster Manual), and get your hands on a Monk Belt if possible.
     
  5. Master of Nuhn

    Master of Nuhn Wear it like a crown Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Actually, I'm dealing 2d6+6 damage on a hit with that large longspear, in stead of the 1d8+4 unarmed damage now. And I get pretty much AoO's. Also, if enemies are adjacent, I can still hit them with unarmed strikes. Got me thinking: At some point my unarmed damage is more than most manufactured weapons. Investing feats in weapons can be tricky or wasteful. I think I'll have to do some maths to see if the reach and combat reflexes pays up for that. Still, I like that spear. I guess because not too many monk use one and I stick out. :)

    IIRC, A monk with Impr natural attack deals damage with the next die in the monk list and not the "large" die, right? A level 6 monk's unarmed attack (d8) would become a d10 and not a 2d6, like large creatures would do. I can't find anything about that in the books, though I swear I've read it somewhere. Someone knows?

    Monk's belt is a nice one. But I don't have much gold to spend now.
    Thanks for the tips so far. :thumb:
     
  6. LKD Gems: 31/31
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    Please define "munchkin" as you used it in your first post?
     
  7. Master of Nuhn

    Master of Nuhn Wear it like a crown Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Good question, LKD. My understanding of Munchkin is this:

    A overly pimped up character build with (many) exploited features.

    Perhaps I just mean "cheese" or "roll-playing". A combination of racial and class features, combined with feats and trinkets to play a build, not a role.

    Some feats and races are easily exploited. Goliaths are one of such races, imo. My character might be (or become) cheesy, especially if I circumvent the -2 dex penalty and exploit the heavily build racial feature.
    I'm quite sure the Kung Fu Genius feat is often used in such a manner as well. :D

    In the current setting, it is not too much a problem, cause the focus lies in surviving and beating the challenge, not in role-playing.

    I might be mixing up munchkin/cheese/roll-playing or not have a decent understanding of the words, though.
     
  8. LKD Gems: 31/31
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    Actually, I'm not sure why you think that Kung Fu Genius is that overpowered. If a monk were to take it, he would likely put his best score into Intelligence, because of the importance that key ability in terms of AC, Stunning Fist Save, and Quivering Palm save. I'm going to just use the standard array here:

    INT: 15

    The next thing any monk needs is Dex, because of it's value in terms of AC and, should Weapon Finesse be chosen, most attack rolls. So

    DEX: 14

    Now, I tend to do the obvious and just dump Cha. How many monks take ranks in Diplomacy? I mean, unless you are aiming at a particular Role playing concept, it's just not fricking likely. So

    CHA: 8

    Now comes the tricky part. If you want to access Power Attack and its myriad descendants, then you'll want to put the 13 with Str, but really, a monk doesn't have the feats to spare for that nonsense, and, IMHO, also doesn't have the BAB to spare either. This leaves us with Con and Wisdom. The monk gets a bonus on will saves against enchantment, as well as a good Will save and Spell resistance at later levels. His odds of being dominated are already lower than those of most other characters. I don't really see the need for a 13 Wis when you have other saves to think about. For me, I'd put the 13 into Con, to shore up the Fortitude saves.

    CON: 13

    Now, given the monk's propensity for hand to hand combat, I don't think lowballing Str is a great idea -- You'll want that +1 bonus. So

    STR: 12

    Which leaves us with:

    WIS: 10.

    Now, without the Genius, I'd hazard the INT and WIS scores would be reversed. So what are you really sacrificing? And gaining?

    Gain: 2 more Skill Points per level, and a greater chance of succeeding at Appraise, Decipher Script, Disable Device, Forgery, Search, Knowledge, Spellcraft, and Craft checks. None of these are really things that the average Monk does a whole lot of.

    Lose: 2 point bonus on your Will save, and your less likely to succeed on Sense Motive, Heal, Listen, Spot, Survival, or Profession checks. Some of those skill checks are unimportant to the monk, but a hit to Spot and Listen is never good. However, losing 2 of your Will save (or 1 if you decided to give it 12 or 13) is a significant hit. Is it worth it fo get the Will save back to a +2 bonus from Wisdom by putting it in at 14? I think not, as you lose out on other saves if you do that, not to mention AC and possibly even hit points if you really like to live dangerously and put your CON at 10.

    So unless I'm missing something in this analysis, I don't really see it as being as unbalanced as you think.
     
  9. Drew

    Drew Arrogant, contemptible, and obnoxious Adored Veteran

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    I think is was suggested that you avoid the long-spear because you can't flurry with it. If your DM allows you to flurry with the damn thing, that's a different story. If you can't flurry with the spear, you'll probably be better off with a nice quarterstaff -- at least short-term. Your build seems pre-dispositioned to damage over defense. Have you considered asking if you can use the variant rules that allow a monk to gain damage reduction.

    In my experience, damage reduction is a much more dependable means of reducing damage received. While you're at it, you can add in a fighting style if you're DM is open to letting you ret-con just a smidge.

    You do have to sacrifice a good number of feats to get the variant fighting style, so it may not be worth it, and you'd need to bump your intelligence so you can use Combat Expertise, but the end result would be a damn sturdy monk. There are other fighting style options, too. All of them, of course, do require some degree of sacrifice, and may not be worth it depending on your build.

    Linky
     
  10. LKD Gems: 31/31
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    I referenced that Eberron feat Serpent Strike (Fang) that DOES allow a monk to flurry with the longspear. In my mind, I coupled it with the Sun School tactical feat from Complete Warrior and the knockback special ability (can't remember the splatbook offhand) for the longspear. I envisioned a scenario like this:

    Monty the Monk is fighting Fred the Fighter. Fred comes charging in, swinging his greatsword. As he exits the square 2 squares away from Monty, Monty gets an AoO. Now, if he hits, he damages Fred and also possibly pushes Fred back, which depending on how far Fred travelled might keep him away from Monty for the full round. Even if he misses or Fred doesn't get knocked back, it was worth a shot and is no skin off Fred's nose.

    Fred enters 1 sqare range and makes his single attack. Maybe he hits, maybe not, whatever. Then Monty flurries unarmed. With any luck, he hits with the first two unarmed strikes, which pushes Fred back 1 square (no save). He can then continue to flurry with the longspear, possible pushing Fred back even more, and forcing the guy to walk through AoO territory again as well as denying him the ability to make a full attack. Pretty sweet deal, IMHO.

    Couple that with Crystalkeep's Improved Combat Reflexes and Greater combat reflexes, and this monk has a pretty good chance of keeping his opponents away from him most of the time.
     
  11. Blackthorne TA

    Blackthorne TA Master in his Own Mind Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    I haven't looked at the details, but I don't think you can switch weapons in the middle of a Flurry of Blows.
     
  12. Blades of Vanatar

    Blades of Vanatar Vanatar will rise again Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    It comes down to Actions. Depends on the DM, but if you flurry unarmed in the 1st round, can you draw a weapon and flurry in the next? Sounds like someone is stretching the rules as written to me, but if the DM is good with it and the players agree, it shouldn't be a problem.
     
  13. Blackthorne TA

    Blackthorne TA Master in his Own Mind Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Not even in the next round; as described, LKD seemed to say that in between attacks in the same round the monk would switch to the longspear. Or did I misunderstand?
     
  14. LKD Gems: 31/31
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    PHB says the following:

    She may attack with unarmed strikes and special monk weapons interchangeably as desired.

    Serpent strike says:

    You can treat a longspear as a special monk weapon, . . .
     
  15. Blackthorne TA

    Blackthorne TA Master in his Own Mind Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Hey, now that's pretty sweet! :)
     
  16. Blades of Vanatar

    Blades of Vanatar Vanatar will rise again Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    What I was referring to is your actions and what type of actions you can take in a round or from round to round. I would think that drawing a weapon is a partial action. Can you make a partial action and then do a Flurry of Blows in the same round? I thought FoB was a full-round action?
     
  17. Blackthorne TA

    Blackthorne TA Master in his Own Mind Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Apparently to a Monk, being unarmed and armed with a Monk special weapon is the same thing and they can be used interchangeably for attacks.
     
  18. LKD Gems: 31/31
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    Flurry of blows is a full round action. Drawing a weapon is a move action, though you can couple drawing a weapon with moving your speed if your base attack bonus is over +1. However, the underrated Quick Draw feat allows you to draw weapons with a free action. Therefore, if a monk were to take the aforementioned feat, a monk could theoretically draw a special monk weapon in the middle of a flurry and use it on his target.
     
  19. Rawgrim Gems: 21/31
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    The Monk class is pretty much a munchkin class by default though. that being said, spend all your cash on ring of protections + amulets of natural armour. Maybe some boots that gives dodge AC as well. And stuff every bonus point into DEX (because of evasion).
     
  20. Blackthorne TA

    Blackthorne TA Master in his Own Mind Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    I took the PHB quote you gave above to mean that you can have your special Monk weapon drawn and yet still attack either unarmed or with the weapon interchangeably. Which makes sense if you think about all those kung-fu movies. Those guys are always using both the weapons and their hands and feet.
     
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