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Quark's thoughts on the Monk

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Great Adventurer
Great Adventurer
Continuing the long and extended series of public notes for myself, here we have the Monk.

Comparison of Chained and Unchained

There's often the slightly odd complaint that unchained monk is actually weaker than chained. This is, of course, because Unchained *technically* can't take any archetypes because the manifold abilities become options instead. It's a simple matter to just look up when the appropriate ability would come along for the archetype and simply swap the ki power out there for the archetype's ability, so I'm not totally sure what the issue is there. It's a straight-up buff and simplification, with the only, slightly odd exception being the decrease in will save.

However, I'll go through both versions simultaneously just to compare. Things in bold you should try to keep when considering archetypes, in italics it's a shame to lose it, but no big deal, and just ordinary is something that is so pointless you don't need to worry about losing it.

The Basic Stuff: Notably, Unchained gets full BAB and more HP than Chained, at the cost of your good will save (so you don't have everything good anymore Sad ). Frankly, in my opinion, since Chained has so many abilities to give you full BAB anyway, on this front at least Chained is the better option. You do get slightly more weapon options with Unchained.
Regardless, your important stats are Wisdom (lots of abilities rely on this), Strength (to hit and damage), Dexterity (for extra AC, unless you don't care) and Constitution (because everyone needs HP). Dipping into Unchained Rogue for finesse training on unarmed strike is quite possibly worth it, given your impressive array of attacks and the possibility of be able to remove one stat as an important one (you're quite spread out)

AC Bonus: You get your wisdom bonus to AC and a further bonus based on level. Since you can't wear armour and are a close range combatant mostly, this is one of your most important abilities.

Flurry of Blows: Get extra attacks. Chained gives you effectively full BAB here, and ultimately one extra attack, but each attack is at a -2 penalty. Unchained has fewer attacks, but all the attacks are better. For comparison at level 20:
Chained: 18/18/13/13/8/8/3
Unchain: 20/20/20/15/10/5
Unchained wins here. Especially because there's an easy way to gets to add another attack anyway (which gives another +15 attack) :P

Unarmed Strike: While characteristic, it is by no means necessary to have this, since other weapons can give you flurry. Chained benefits from it much more, since otherwise their attacks become substantially weaker.

Bonus Feats: While they're nice, especially not needing to meet the pre-reqs, losing them isn't disasterous. Many archetypes swap them into things you want more than the limited selection anyway.

Stunning Fist: This is a strong feat, and getting it so much earlier is very attractive. That said, it works every bit as well if you get it later, and there are several feats in the same vein to do this sort of thing that are nice to swap for.

Evasion: make a reflex save, take no damage. Preventing damage completely is always a good thing

Fast Movement: I don't really care about this that much. So often you're in a position where it's just not necessary.

Manoeuvre Training: For Chained. It gives you full BAB for CMB/D. Just another thing that makes you wonder why it wasn't full BAB in the first place. Fighters are better at this than you anyway. by virtue of more feats.

Still Mind: At 3 for Chained, 4 for Unchained. A notable bonus against a particularly good school to save against. That said, you probably won't miss it, and practically all the archetypes lose it anyway.

Ki Pool: At 3 for Unchained, 4 for Chained. Practically all your monk stuff relies on this and is very good regardless. The trades need to be very, very good.

Ki Powers: For Unchained. Deserves a section of its own, but you get lots of them, so missing out on just one or two is no great loss.

Slow Fall: Urgh, it's terrible. Don't even blink if this goes. The Unchained version (available as a ki power) does the same as chained at level 20, right from the start, but you have to spend a point of ki to do it.

High Jump: Another dumb ability that can happily go pop. It's just a choice as a power for Unchained, and still a bad one.

Purity of Body: Immunity to all diseases is pleasant, especially if you use unchained Disease (which you should). Both get it free

Style Strike: Unchained only, so there's nothing that swaps it out. Just as well, because it's got some nice buffs to your flurry, including, handily, a little version of pounce.

Wholeness of Body: Oh good. Expending a large chunk of ki for a tiny heal. As a standard action. It's slightly better as the unchained power, but still a terrible choice.

Improved Evasion: Always pass reflex saves. If you actually pass them, then you take nothing. Losing this would hurt. Both get it free

Diamond Body: Become immune to poison. Especially good if you use unchained poison (which you should). Sadly, the Unchained power version of this is substantially less good (requiring ki and not a guaranteed success).

Abundant Step: Dimension Door, basically. Always nice. The Unchained version comes along 4 levels earlier and does the same thing.

Diamond Soul: Constant SR. Sadly, the Unchained power requires spending a chunk of ki and it's not permanent. That's arguably a good thing though. Comes a level earlier, too.

Quivering Palm: Once per day save or die attack with scaling DC. Unchained power comes a level later and instead costs 4 ki (which is unfortunately probably worse)

Timeless Body: You honestly are not the type of character who seriously needs to worry about aging penalties, unless your campaign goes for particularly long time frames. Both get it free.

Tongue of Sun and Moon: Both get this, but Unchained 4 levels earlier. It's just constant tongues for Unchained, but somehow Chained... doesn't have the ability to understand. Just speak. Of course, you could also just permanency that. Especially by level 17.

Empty Body: Become Ethereal for 1 minute at the cost of 3 ki and a move action. This is nice, but at level 19? Really? Unchained power comes in as early as 4th.

Flawless Mind: Unchained only. Roll twice on all will saves and get rerolls every hour against an effect, if it lasts that long.

Perfect Self: Become an outsider and get DR10/chaotic. Which, unfortunately, should be null and void by level 20 since everything has +5 weapons. Unchained also gets the (overdue) ability to regain ki with meditation.

Overall, that comparison is sort of challenging. I'd conclude that Unchained is definitely a stronger attacker, but Chained is better defensively. Some aspects are substantially better for Unchained, since they can take out some of the horrible early abilities to get actually good ones, and in some instances, ones that would come at substantially higher levels for chained. However, the few points where Chained is better, it really is a lot better (constant SR and poison immunity being the two big ones)


As before, Bold is great, italics are reasonable and normal is horrible. I'm assuming Chained, because Unchained really doesn't care at all about what powers it loses since it can take them later.

Contemplative: Dwarf only, and awesomely interacts with race traits. That is, it removes basically all the terrible ones. Effectively get 1 ki/level instead of every 2 levels. Works better for Unchained since more things use ki and aren't swift actions. Still works awesomely with Chained. Just as well Dwarves make great monks anyway.

Drunken Master: Get lots of ki by drinking. Only temporary, but it can still be a lot. Very, very useful for Unchained, where ki is a definite issue. For Chained? Ki isn't so useful anyway and the trade offs are terrible. Averages to okay, but does depend on which version you use.

Far Strike Monk: Do your monky stuff from a slightly longer distance. You lose purity of body, diamond body and stunning fist, in exchange for being better at throwing things. Luckily it's only the more circumstantial things that go.

Flowing Monk: Trip or move things that attack you. Ultimately throw spells back at people or cause attacks against you to hit someone else. You loose Stunning fist, a bonus feat, fast movement (this is a bad option this time around) and the disease and poison immunity. Better for chained this time, since the spell throwing thing works much less well for unchained. That said, it's still a nice option otherwise, especially with the various trip feats.

Gray Disciple: Duergar only (that is, deep under ground dwarf things. Don't ask me why they exist). Lose some of the more terrible abilities for use of some terrible spell-likes by using ki. You can walk through stone instead of abundant step, and quivering palm instead lets you pushing things into the ground to kill them. That last one is fun for comedy value, but it's a terrible archetype all around.

Hamatulatsu Master: You're restricted to LN or LE, but other than that it's basically all upsides. A couple of things that only alter things (and make them strictly better) and swaps immunity to disease for immunity to pain. Not common, true, but it's overall slightly better. Basically a full upgrade.

Harrow Warden: Swap Stunning fist for a bad luck effect. Stun is strictly better. Stop things getting morale or insight bonuses in exchange for improved evasion. Immunity to curses and polymorphs instead of poison, and turn things into tiny animals instead of killing them with quivering fist. Overall, that's not especially remarkable.

Hungry Ghost Monk: Punishing Kick instead of Stunning fist, which isn't a great trade, but not terrible. Get more ki when you kill things or get crits in exchange for disease immunity. Heal each time you kill something or get a crit, for exactly the same amount as wholeness of body which it replaces (great trade!). Can steal ki from anything in exchange for poison immunity (bad) and get temp hp on every hit in exchange for SR (bad). Of course, for Unchained this is great, since it's easy healing and extra ki, but Chained does lose two of its highlights.

Ironskin Monk: Hobgoblin Only. Decrease AC by a notable amount since wisdom bonus doesn't apply. Get DR/- in exchange for fast movement. Get basically evasion for fortitude saves as well as evasion. Can stagger things on a Crit in exchange for high jump. Only the AC drop makes this potentially not worthwhile. Worth at least considering.

Karmic Monk: Replace stunning fist with bonuses against things that hit first. Be very good against most outsiders and alignment effects, at the cost of basically only improved evasion. Capstone is DR10/anything non-aligned. Which, comically, means that it applies against most things at that level (that +5 weapon hinders now :P). Only average, but very good in high outsider campaigns. Oddly, works perfectly fine with unchained.

Kata Master: Get some blah swashbuckler deeds in exchange for some blah monk things. The basic monk stuff beats the swashbuckler stuff easily. Terrible.

Ki Mystic: Get 2 more ki in exchange for still mind. Gives rerolls, gets divination and bonuses to AC. Lose disease and poison immunity, SR and etherealness. It's a tough choice, all up. Possibly okay for unchained.

Manoeuvre Master: Get lots of Combat Manoeuvres and some bonuses to them in exchange for a bunch of your defensive bonuses. I'm split on how effective this is, but I guess quantity is okay. Rapid consecutive grapples are pretty nice. Vanilla Fighter is only maybe better.

Martial Artist: Can take fighter feats. Lose Ki in exchange for something where you can ignore DR or get a bonus on attacks. Be immune to getting tired and take slightly less ability damage in exchange for all your defensive things. You can, however be any alignment, so you could maybe do something fun with chained barbarian and rage cycle? Seems terrible.

Master of Many Styles: Replace flurry of blows with having many styles active at once, as well as getting very early access to style feats. This can be a tricky business, but pick it carefully and this could work out better than the flurry.

Monk of the Empty Hand: Make improvised weapons better (ie magical) and make flurries with them. You lose poison and disease immunity and still mind. I guess it's okay if you want to do this sort of thing. On the bright side, you can have a vorpal cupcake or a Brilliant Energy door, so that's always fun.

Monk of the Four Winds: Benefits pay off much later. Get Elemental Fist in place of stunning fist (which is a poor trade, but at least it's better than it would otherwise be). Spend enormous ki to get 3 standards in a round in place of abundant step. Get an extra movement speed or pounce in place of Timeless body. Eventually become actually properly immortal in place of the capstone. This is seriously very good. Less so at lower levels, but at higher ones... wow. Wand of enervation, anyone?

Monk of the healing hand: Use wholeness of body on other people (but it's still utterly terrible). Bring people back to life at no cost, which is nice, but in exchange for poison immunity and quivering palm. At 20th level, you can utterly remove yourself from reality as if you never existed to bring back all allies with true resurrection. It's potentially worth it for the revival things, but the capstone is possibly the worst ability in the game.

Monk of the Iron Mountain: Lose mobility to get bonuses. Good bonuses, but it's difficult to maintain the rigidity required in practice, which makes it less useful.

Monk of the Lotus: Another late bloomer. Use charm monster with no save in various conditions. Get Touch of Serenity in place of stunning fist, and get better at all knowledges in place of tongue of sun and moon. This is a poor choice at lower levels, but is very definitely a good choice for higher ones.

Monk of the Mantis: Replace bonus feats with Sneak Attack. Stunning Fist gets better in exchange for Wholeness of body, Diamond Body and Diamond Soul. Quivering palm can knock things out instead of killing them, but can still kill. With the sheer number of attacks you get, sneak attack is very nice. It's great for a more offensive monk, but losing Diamond Soul will hurt.

Monk of the Seven Winds: Get an extra attack as an immediate action in place of stunning fist (!). Get Endurance in place of Manoeuvre Training (which doesn't work well with Unchained) and is a poor option anyway. Swap Abundant Step and Quivering Palm to get a large bonus to Attack, Damage and AC, so long as you move and attack each turn. Happily it's easier for you to move the requisite distance to properly use it, but it's still easy to screw up. Very, very easy. Still, probably worth it. Grab stunning fist when it comes along anyway and you're good to go.

Nimble Guardian: Catfolk Only (yes, you have lower wisdom). Oddly, evasion is swapped out (although it comes later). Get bonus to all reflex saves instead of still mind, can use beast shape II and III instead of wholeness of body, and can give friends large bonuses on reflex saves (and also evasion). Curiously enough, this is actually a very good archetype, despite the odd race choice.

Qinggong Monk: Basically the unchained monk for chained, although still lacking certain other abilities. It also only interacts with things if you want it to, which is sweet. Even unchained can still benefit from it to get rid of stupid things like tongue of Sun and Moon and Timeless body. Always, always take this archetype.

Sensei: Get bardic performance in place of flurry, fast movement and improved evasion. Use wisdom in place of Strength of attack rolls in place of evasion and 2nd level bonus feat. Swap bonus feats for the ability to give your friends monk abilities. It's quite pleasant, but sadly you lose style strike for unchained. Otherwise, it's a great trade if you're going for that sort of thing.

Serpent Fire Adept: Be good at opening Chakras. Some of the benefits of this are okay, but many are terrible. It's tough (ultimately requiring DC 38 fort and will saves each round to keep up), but you can get nice things from it (such as rerolls on everything). This is something I'd really have to see put to use in practice, but it's currently the only way to make it even slightly useful.

Sohei: Give your mount (although you don't get a mount) your monk abilities by being near it. Get fighter weapon training in exchange for some of the more useless abilities (but some nice ones). Lose lots of unarmed strike damage anyway. I don't think this is worth it at all.

Spirit Master: Be good vs undead. Ignore penalties from negative levels. Can hit ghosts for full damage in exchange for manoeuvre training. If you're expecting lots of undead, it's possibly worth it, but otherwise a poor choice. Also doesn't work with Unchained.

Student of the Stone: Oread only (that is, half earth-genie). A variety of underwhelming earth themed powers in exchange for the two evasions, high jump and fast movement. Capstone is slightly improved in that you get tremorsense and a burrow speed. Overall very dull. Sort of like all the other element themed things.

Terra-cotta monk: Be sort of better in dungeons and vs traps. But stupidly, you lose evasion and stuff. Terrible.

Tetori: Get no choice with bonus feats: you get a selection of grappling feats instead. Guess what this class does well! Flurry Of Blows goes, instead letting you grapple things more easily and with fewer penalties, notably getting you grab (!). You lose a variety of a abilities, notably improved evasion and diamond soul, in exchange for being able to keep things grappled no matter what (if you spend ki). If you're going to grapple stuff, you can't do much better than this.

Treetop Monk: Vanara only (that is, monkey people). Climb faster than normal. swift-action freedom of movement in exchange for abundant step. Spend ki to ignore the broken condition of wooden things or lunge with wooden things. The better climb speed is nice, but the rest of it is rubbish.

Underfoot Adept: Halfling Only. Easier to avoid AoOs with acrobatics in exchange for high jump and the first bonus feat. Trip things much better in exchange for stunning fist. Halfling monk is an odd choice, but this is okay. You know what you're going to do, anyway.

Wanderer: Human only. Get extra languages or weapon proficiency in exchange for a bonus feat. Endurance instead of still mind. Hard to track or find out about in exchange for high jump and slow fall. Sort of bardic performance with ki cost. Can hide by standing next to people in exchange for abundant step. Constant Freedom of Movement in exchange for Diamond Body (at last something that's actually a decent trade for that). I'm not impressed at all.

Weapon Adept: Get Perfect Strike in place of Stunning Fist. Get weapon focus and specialisation in exchange for improved evasion and regular evasion comes later. Timeless body goes into an auto 20 on initiative. Perfect self instead gives you +2 Str, Dex and Wis, which is boring but arguably better than the base one anyway. Works perfectly with Unchained, and you have more weapon options if you do. It's probably worth it, but it's a shame that Perfect Strike doesn't work with anything good. Probably better at lower levels than the alternatives.

Wildcat: Bonus to initiative in exchange for still mind. Lose Ki for bonuses to Combat Manoeuvres (terrible for Unchained!). Get an ability that's redundant because of stunning fist (but it is better). All up, it's terrible.

Zen Archer: Be good at using a bow. Comically, you can sort of get away with low Dex. This is often a popular choice since Archery is quite good. Definitely the choice if you want to be a ranged monk. Works poorly with Unchained, sadly.

Ki Powers

This is something a little more important to consider with Unchained Monk. Or possibly Qinggong Monk. Same grading system as before. If it's an unchained power, I'll put UN in front of it.

Ki Powers:

4th level powers:
Acrobatic steps: 1 ki. Ignore 15 feet of difficult terrain for 1 round. But since you move so fast anyway this isn't much of an issue.
Augury: 1 ki. Obtain semi-reliable information about a single action performed in the near future.
Barkskin: 1 ki. Improve your AC for 10 min/level.
Deny Death: Don't bleed when you fail to stabilise. If you stabilise you can also heal yourself a tiny amount for 1 ki. So basically, you auto-stabilise. It's not terrible, but not great either, long term.
UN Empty Body: 3 ki. Become ethereal for 1 minute as a move action. That is, move through walls, be invisible and fly. Get yourself an amulet of mighty fists (ghost touch) and you'll be a monster. Of course, this also uses up a big chunk of your ki for the moment, but it's worth it at the moment.
UN Feather Balance: 1 ki. Swift action to auto nat 20 any acrobatics checks made to balance for a minute. This seems utterly pointless.
Feather Step
: 1 ki. Ignore difficult terrain for 10 min/level. I have absolutely no idea why you wouldn't take this over acrobatic steps.
UN High Jump: As the chained version, but you can get it earlier. Bonus on acrobatics to jump, and you can spend 1 ki as a swift action to get +20 on the check. Classic, but still pointless.
Hydraulic Push: 1 ki. Ranged bull rush attempt. Of debatable use.
Ki Arrow: 1 ki. Ranged attack that deals damage as if you'd punched it. Since you can't use a bunch of weapons this is pretty decent as a way of dealing ranged damage.
UN Ki Metabolism: So long as you have 1 ki, eat, drink and sleep less and can hold your breath for stupidly long lengths of time. Can also go into suspended animation for any length of time or until some trigger condition arises. It's cool, but ultimately useless.
UN Ki Range: 1 ki. Swift action increase range of thrown monk weapon by 20 ft. It... doesn't say how long it lasts. One throw? For your turn? Regardless, if you're throwing things this is good, otherwise (which is to say, usually) utter rubbish.
Ki Stand: Can stand up as a swift action so long as you have 1 ki. Spend ki to avoid AoOs. You're likely to get some use from this, doubly so if you sometimes trip things.
Message: 1 ki. literally a cantrip. Lets you whisper to a bunch of people from a distance. While useful, it's still 1 ki for a cantrip.
Power Attack: 1 ki. As the feat for one round. Are you really so feat starved you can't just get the feat?
Quick Draw: 1 ki. As the feat for one round. You're punching things, so why do you need to draw a weapon? If you're going to throw things you should get this feat anyway.
Scorching Ray: 2 ki. 4d6 fire damage on a ranged touch attack, with the same again at level 7 and 11. Costly, but worthwhile at lower levels.
Slow Fall: As the chained ability. If you're falling, take slightly less damage. Oh goody.
UN Slow Fall: 1 ki. Feather Fall on self if you're next to a wall. Much better than chained, but still not very useful. The spell hits multiple people, you know.
UN Sudden Speed: 1 ki. Increase your speed by 30ft. for 1 minute. Untyped, pleasantly, so it stacks with other speed boosts.
Throw anything: 1 ki. No penalties on throwing improvised weapons for 1 round. Compared to the other ranged options here, this is probably the worst.
True Strike: 1 ki. +20 on your next attack roll. Of course, the main advantage with this is that it's a spell-like, and consequentially can be altered with the quicken spell-like ability feat...
UN Wholeness of Body: 2 ki. Heal 1d8+level. Which is amazingly terrible. Heard of a wand of cure light wounds?

6th level powers:
Cloak of Winds: 2 ki. +4 AC vs ranged attacks and sort of immunity to attacks from tiny creatures for 1 min/level. And ignore wind effects on yourself. Potentially a useful defence.
UN Diamond Mind: 1 ki. Swift action to use Remove Fear on yourself. 1 extra ki to do it even when frightened or panicked. Fear is very, very obnoxious at times.
UN Elemental Fury: 1 ki. Swift action to gain 1d6 energy damage on all your attacks for a few rounds. Energy type is locked in when you take this. That's an awful lot of potential damage.
Gaseous Form: 1 ki. Turn yourself into a gas cloud. You get some defensive bonuses, but can't attack. Also you can move anywhere gas could, slowly. While a useful spell, it's not the greatest for a monk.
Heroic Recovery: 1 ki. Once per day as a standard action make a new fortitude save against an ongoing affliction. Failure has no ill effects. Shame it's not for everything, but okay regardless.
High Jump: 1 ki. As the monk ability. Oh good.
Hydraulic Torrent: 2 ki. Bull Rush everything in a 60 ft. line, and maybe beak through stuff. Not any better than Hydraulic Push, but sometimes you need to push more things around at once.
UN Ki Guardian: 1+ ki. Immediate action roll saving throws for adjacent friends for them, using your bonus, spending 1 ki for each person. Needs to be against an AoE you're both hit by. If you pass, they pass. If you fail, they fail (and also you fail). It's... okay. If you're near friends with abysmal saves in a category you're good at.
UN Ki Mount: 1 ki. Standard action to give the mount a bunch of temp HP for hour/level. Also the mount benefits from a bunch of your monk abilities. The question is, why do you even have a mount? You literally walk just as fast as a horse at this level, if you're medium.
Remove Disease: 2 ki. Make a caster level check against Disease's DC to remove it. Of course, you're immune to disease, unless you swapped that out, so it's not that great.
Sidestep: 1 ki. If an opponent misses you, take a 5 foot step as an immediate action, but you have to stay in range. Yeesh, this is terrible.
Snatch Arrows: 1 ki. Automatically catch an arrow, taking no damage. It's nice to get a feat early, but it is on your bonus feat list anyway. Also it doesn't stack.
Spring Attack: 1 ki. As a full round action, move and hit something at any point in your movement. Again, this is on your bonus feat list, but it's still an awesome ability.
UN Water Sprint: 1 ki. Swift action walk on water for 1 minute/level. About as useful as the ability to walk on water. Which is to say, very circumstantial in regular play.

7th level powers:
UN Formless Mastery: 1 ki. For one round, if you have no style feats, get either +4 AC, +4 to hit or damage bonus equal to level against foes using a style feat. Basically, if you don't take some very good feats, get bonuses against basically only monks. Yeah. Skip. If you do decide to take it, you can activate this and UN Furious Defence with the same action for 3 ki total.
UN Furious Defence: 1 ki. Immediate action +4 AC until end of next turn. Can't say no to more AC. If you for whatever reason think UN Formless Mastery is a good idea, you can activate it as well with the same action for 3 ki total.

8th level powers:
UN Abundant Step: 2 ki. Dimension Door as a move action. Teleportation is very nice.
Dragon's Breath: 2 ki. Deal 1d6 damage/level (max 12d6) in either a 30 ft. cone or a 60 ft. line. Damage type varies. It's always nice to have a reliable AoE damage, especially on a martial.
UN Diamond Body: 1 ki. Make a caster level check against a poison DC to remove it from yourself. It's worth comparing it to Neutralise Poison below. Also keep in mind that if you can hold on 4 levels you can get chained Diamond Body to be just immune to it.
Gliding Steps: 1 ki. Avoid AoOs on first square of movement so long as you have 1 ki left. Spend another ki to ignore all AoOs on that move. Lasts one round. Or you could use a class skill.
UN Insightful Wisdom: 2 ki. Immediate action give a friend a reroll on a saving throw or attack roll. Your friends will love you for this.
UN Light Steps: When using UN feather balance (a 4th level power), ignore difficult terrain and can cross any solid surface, even if it doesn't support your weight. But not liquids. Perhaps consider Spider Step instead? This isn't good enough to warrant taking feather step.
Neutralise Poison: 3 ki. Make a caster level check vs the poison's DC to remove it. That's a lot of ki for an effect that's not guaranteed to work. Only take if you get lots of poison.
Poison: 2 ki. Deal 1d3 Con damage for 6 rounds on a melee touch. Nasty. Also slightly more useful than normal since you have scaling DCs.
Restoration: 2 ki. Self only. Remove all ability damage, some drain, and a permanent negative level. Very, very useful. Also doesn't cost you stuff, which it normally would, which is a bonus.
Share Memory: 0 ki. View other people's memories or show them your own. A useful spell, and having it at will is excellent.
Silk to Steel: 1 ki. Turn a scarf into a shield or attack with it as a whip for 1 round/level. I'm assuming that you can still use all your monk abilities with the shield, otherwise this would be stunningly bad. And you're not proficient with the whip. This is atrocious.
Spider Step: 1 ki. I think it basically gives you a climb speed and the ability to walk over things that can't support your weight. For example, water. You need to end your turn on something that can support your weight though. Unfortunately, it uses your slow fall speed, so you need to take slow fall? Also unknown if how it works with unchained. It's sort of fun with its mobility.
UN Wind Jump: 1 ki. Move action. Fly at your base land speed for 1 minute. You need to end on solid ground  at the end of each movement, which makes this substantially less useful. Also you need high jump, and this simply isn't good enough to be worth getting that as well.
Whirlwind Attack: 2 ki. One attack against everything in reach as a full round action at your full BAB. It tends to be better if you've got reach. Which, unfortunately, you don't, because you're a monk. If you really want to do this, get someone to make you bigger.
Wholeness of Body: 2 ki. As the monk ability. Which is amazingly terrible. Heal 1 damage per monk level. The Unchained version is better and gets online earlier, but it's still terrible.

10th level powers:
Discordant Blast: 2 Ki. Small sonic damage and bull rush in 10 ft. burst centred on self or in a 30 ft. cone, no save. Nice as a panic button?
Greater Bull Rush/Disarm/Feint/Sunder: 2 Ki. As the feats for 1 round. They're rather worse without the improved version, and if you've got the improved version, you want the greater version all the time anyway.
Improved Blind-fight: 1 ki. Ignore concealment less than total concealment for a round and be better at dodging ranged attacks from invisible creatures. It's a nice feat, but would be nice to have it more permanently.
UN Ki Blocker: 1 ki. Free action before attacking. if the attack hits, ki costs increase by 1 for 1 hour. 2 ki makes this apply to any similar pool, such as Arcane Reservoir or Phrenic Pool. Multiple hits increase duration. This is almost stunningly bad. How often are you going to fight other monks? Most other classes don't have something similar either, just a few of the more recent ones.
UN Ki Hurricane: 1+ ki. Full round action move up to twice speed and hit something at any point with first hit of flurry of blows. Spend more ki to keep adding hits from flurry. Sort of like an upgrade on spring attack where, where, if nothing else, you're moving further, but can add more hits if you want. Seems reasonable.
Ki leech: 0 ki. So long as you have 1 ki, killing a living creature or getting a critical against a living creature gives you 1 ki. This is evil, so usage might be limited, but it's great, especially since it's basically constant.
UN Ki Visions: 2 ki. While sleeping, ask 1 question about something that will happen in the next week and get a probably accurate response, as Divination. Personally, I'd suggest letting someone else do that and take something better.
Lunge: 1 ki. Gives you 5 ft. more reach and -2 AC for a round. Again, it's probably better to just take the feat, since it's not hard to get (unlike the other feats of this level).
Shadow Step: 1 ki. Shorter distance dimension door, and you need shadows. It costs less ki than dimension door, so maybe worth it?
Spit Venom: 2 ki. Ranged touch attack to blind for 1 round (no save), also poisons for 1d2 Con for 6 rounds. No SR might make this okay?
Step up and Strike: When something takes a 5 ft. step, you follow them and attack them. Since you can activate this as an immediate action, it's worth it.
Wind Stance: 1 ki. When you move, get 20% miss chance vs ranged attacks for a round. Yeesh, terrible.

12th level powers:
Abundant Step: 2 ki. Basically dimension door as a move action. Keep in mind Unchained gets this as a level 8 power. It's very good regardless.
Battlemind Link: 4 ki. Pick a friend: you both roll twice for initiative. If you both attack the same target you get to reroll each attack twice. 1 min/level. It's an excellent spell.
UN Cobra Breath: When you use UN Diamond Body successfully, throw the poison as a ranged touch attack to inflict it at original DC. Cool, but you could do similar things by taking poison (which is good anyway) and take diamond body below instead.
Diamond Body: As the monk ability. Constant Immunity to poison. Unchained can take this instead of its terrible version?
UN Diamond Resilience: 1 ki. Swift action to gain DR2/-, increasing by 2 at 16th and 19th levels for 1 minute. It's not a bad trade off.
UN Diamond Soul: 2 ki. Swift action gain SR for 1 round/level. If your DM lets you, go for the Chained version instead in 2 levels instead, if you can hold on. It's still pretty nice.
Elemental Fist: 2 ki. Deal 1d6 energy damage on one attack. Oh good. Literally made completely redundant by UN elemental fury which comes 6 levels earlier.
Improvised Weapon Mastery: 2 ki. Deal extra damage with better crit range with improvised weapons for 1 round, and don't take penalties for doing so. Seriously, why not use an actual weapon or, you know, your fists?
Ki Throw: 2 ki. When you trip something, you can make it prone in any square you threaten for 1 round. Can spend ki to trip bigger things. Sort of nice, but since you can take it as a bonus feat anyway...
UN One Touch: So long as 1 ki left, standard action to make an unarmed strike as a melee touch attack with damage bonus of 1/2 level. Spend 1 ki to double that bonus. This is what you do when you can't flurry for whatever reason. Plus, it works with stunning fist/punishing kick, so you can use this for that if you're worried about missing.
Punishing Kick: 2 ki. Can push stuff away for free, or knock it prone on a single attack. Lame.
Shadow Walk: 3 ki. Monks can sort of teleport and plane shift with their friends. Who knew? Worth it.

14th level powers:
Blood Crow Strike: 2 ki. Make a flurry from long range. Very nice. Shame about it being fire/negative energy damage.
Cloud Step: 3 ki. Walk on air for a round at half your slow fall speed, but you have to end on a solid surface. Sadly not as cool as spider step.
Cold Ice Strike: 3 ki. !?!?! WHY IS THIS ON THE LIST!? THIS IS AN AWESOME SPELL! Swift action 1d6/level (max 15d6) cold damage in a 30 ft. line. Please note that you can take empower spell-like ability on this at level 16.
Diamond Soul: As the monk ability. Constant SR. Hope unchained uses it.
Disarming Strike: 2 ki. Free disarm attempt on a critical hit. Use your confirmation roll for the CM. Lasts one round. Sure, you get lots of attacks, but 2 ki on the chance you get a crit? Useless.
Improved Ki Throw: 2 ki. This is an awesome feat. When you trip something, you get to throw them at someone nearby, pushing them back and knocking them prone. It's actually probably worth the effort.
Ki Shout: 3 ki. Deal 1d6 sonic/level (max 20d6) and stun for a round at close level. Save to halve damage and negate stun. Sure, this is a good spell, but compared to cold ice strike?
Sonic Thrust: 2 ki. Throw large numbers of creatures or objects away from you, dealing damage at long range. It's largely the range on this that makes this a valuable option.

16th level powers:
Bleeding Critical: 3 ki. For one round, if you get a crit, the target takes 2d6 bleed. It's one of the better critical feats, but that's a lot of ki for a chance to do some bleed.
Greater Blind-fight: 2 ki. For one round, reduce concealment miss chance substantially and get full AC vs invisible attackers. The best bit about this is being able to just ignore all the many prereqs.
Improved Vital Strike: 2 ki. Standard action, deal 3x base weapon damage, then plus normal modifiers for one round. This is only ever useful if you move and attack or vice versa, otherwise you're better off flurrying.
UN Ki Volley: 2 ki. When a spell doesn't beat your SR, immediate action to shoot it back at them, as spell turning. Hopefully you can have the constant version to get this more regularly, but this is amazing regardless. Definitely, definitely worth it.
Lightning Stance: 3 ki. For one round, if you take 2 actions to move or withdraw, gain 50% concealment. As far as panic buttons go, this is amazingly terrible.
Penetrating Strike: 2 ki. For one round, attacks made with weapons with weapon focus ignore 5 points of DR (except for DR/-). The only flaw with this is that you need weapon focus, which isn't the best feat. Also, your attacks count as everything except good, chaos and evil now, so why bother?
Quivering Palm: 2 ki. As the monk ability. Hit something and cause it to die at a time of your choosing.
UN Quivering Palm: 4 ki. Exactly like the version on the line above. Check with your DM which you should use, but the one above is obviously better.
Strangling Hair: 3 ki. Concentrate and grapple something, dealing damage as your unarmed strike. It's at range. Also a 3rd level spell. I have to question the logic that gives you this at level 16 and cold ice strike at 14.

18th level powers:
UN Elemental Burst: 4 ki. 20d6 energy damage in a 30 ft. cone, same type as that of the elemental fury. Since this doesn't allow SR, this is pretty sweet.
Timeless Body: As the monk ability. Immune to ageing effects. Oh good. Go back and pick up one of the other, better ones.
Tongue of Sun and Moon: As the monk ability. Speak to any creature. Right. Can't understand, just speak. Like timeless body, go back grab something else instead.

20th level abilities:
Blinding/Crippling/Deafening/Tiring Critical: 3 ki. For one round, when you get a crit, Permanently blind/temporarily halve speed/Permanently deafen/fatigue a creature unless it saves. Oh yeah. What a capstone. Aren't you glad you got something so good?
Empty Body: 3 ki. Become ethereal for a minute. Keep in mind that this was available from level 4 for unchained. That said, it's not terrible.
Greater penetrating Strike: 3 ki. For 1 round, ignore 10 points of DR or 5 point of DR/- for a weapon you have weapon focus with. This is actually sort of nice if you're still struggling with DR at this stage, but as with all the feats, it would be much nicer if this was permanent.
Perfect Self: Normal monk capstone. Curiously, despite its relative uselessness, it's one of the better powers.

Style Strikes

Okay, so it's going to be a short section, but it's important for Unchained. They all rely on actually hitting. Since these are much more closely balanced since they come in at the same level, I'm going to use a star rating system instead.:

Defensive Spin **: Increase AC vs target until next turn. Not always useful, but great against other martials.
Elbow Smash ****: Make a second attack at a -5 penalty that does non-lethal. Extra attacks are always nice, and non-lethal is good for taking prisoners.
Flying Kick *****: Move up to your fast movement speed before or during your attack. This is effectively pounce, but you can move mid-way through as well.
Foot Stomp ***: Target can't move away from you for a turn. Since there are no other penalties, it's largely only useful against mages who wouldn't want to be next to you otherwise. Which is something you'll appreciate later on.
Hammerblow **: Sort of like vital strike on one attack in the flurry. I'm less fond of this since it doesn't include bonuses, but extra damage is extra damage.
Headbutt ***: Make a CM check. Success staggers the target for a round. Slows martials down significantly, but also stops metamagics, or if nothing else, the wizard from casting a spell next turn.
Knockback Kick *: Free not-quite bull rush on a successful hit. Yes, that's really going to help your flurry. Keeps multiple creatures out of your hair at least.
Leg Sweep ****: Free trip attempt on successful hit. This can use all of your feats (the only style strike to actually let you do so), so this is definitely one of the better ones.
Shattering Punch ***: Bypass DR and hardness with this attack. This will usually be useful, but as time goes on rapidly becomes less so.
Spin Kick ***: Attack is vs Flat Footed AC. Sweet if you have some sneak attack in there somewhere. Or if you're worried about your stunning fist &c. Missing.


Monks end up getting access to some pretty nifty things. Let's start off by pointing out things that monks get particularly good at:

FISTS: These are a series of feats that are limited use, but you get many uses if you're a monk. Curiously, they all stack.

Stunning Fist: Stun creatures on successful attack.
   Cornugon Stun: Use stunning fist with monk weapons.
Punishing Kick: Push or trip creatures on successful Attack
Perfect Strike: Roll twice on attack roll (oddly only with some weapons)
Elemental Fist: Deal extra damage on successful hit.

Feats based around Ki

Ki Diversity:
Pick from a number of effects. Notably, making a stunning fist attempt as a touch attack and temporarily replacing strength or dex with wis for attack and damage rolls. You can take this as a bonus feat. Some of the benefits are EXTREMELY GOOD.
Ki Throw: Move a creature into a different square when you trip it. You can take this as a bonus feat from 10th level. A very nice little feat.
  Enhanced: Spend 1 ki to also damage it when it falls. Seems good.
  Improved: Throw the target at other creatures to push and trip them. You can take this as a bonus feat from 14th level. Seems good.
  Spinning Throw: Swift action to also bull rush the target. With Improved, this means you get to push things even further. Funny and good.
  Binding Throw: Swift action to also grapple the target. You can take this as a bonus feat from 14th level. Seems handy.
Bewildering Koan: Gnome only. Swift action to bluff. Success lets you either deal +2 damage on each attack or it loses its next turn. Stupidly good.
Chakra Initiate: Get some ki only for Chakras. Might be good?
  Adept: Get more ki and can keep chakras open more easily. Might be good?
     Master: Get more ki and can spend ki to get multiple benefits. Might be good?
Chakra Mandala: Take half damage if you fail to open your chakra. Might be good?
Deep Drinker: Drunken Master only. Get double ki from drinking. Excellent.
Deny Death: Effectively autostabilise, eventually. Can heal yourself slightly when you finally do. Arguably better than diehard (although it does stack).
Extra Ki: Get 2 more ki. Very useful.
Fast Drinker: Drunken Master Only. Drink as a swift action. Yay?
Gliding Steps: Don't provoke when you move if you spend ki. Very harsh prereqs. Would be good if it wasn't such a pain to get.
Ki Stand: it's just a ki power, but okay.
Monastic Legacy: If you multiclass, your unarmed strike damage still increases.
Spiritual balance: Still mind also applies against possession, and you can increase the bonus with ki. Seems not very good.
Spider Step: Walk on walls, ceilings or on water for half your slow fall distance. Need to end on solid ground, which is the only sad thing.
  Cloud Step: And now you walk on air as well, subject to the same restrictions.

STYLE FEATS: Usually require unarmed strike, and so are doubly valuable to you. I'm going to give the standard bold/italic/normal rating system here.

Archon Style: Give friends bonus AC but lose some vs one target.
  Diversion: 1/round attack targets you instead.
     Justice: Don't take AC penalty, can use it more easily, and cause attacker to provoke when you redirect the attack.

Boar Style: Can also deal slashing damage with fists. Hitting with two attacks gives you 2d6 extra damage.
  Ferocity: Can also deal piercing damage with fists. Can intimidate on a hit.
     Shred: Demoralise as move action. Deal 1d6 bleed on a hit.

Crane Style: Halve fight defensively penalties and gain +1 AC when doing so.
  Wing: Get 4 more AC when fighting defensively until something misses because of it. Alternatively, auto-block one attack when using total defence.
    Riposte: Reduce fighting defensively penalty to -1. Can make AoO when something misses because of Crane Wing.

Cudgeler Style: Increase effective size of weapon on a charge, if you do non-lethal.
  Sweep: When Cudgeler style does its thing, get free trip attempt.
     Takedown: Size increase lasts a full round and trip can stun with very high likelihood.

Djinni Style: Get extra Elemental Fist uses and deal Wis mod extra damage. Also bonus AC vs AoO.
   Spirit: Elemental fist also deafens temporarily, and you get electricity resistance equal to monk level/BAB
      Spin: Hit all foes next to you with elemental fist. They get a reflex save to halve damage instead of using AC.

Dragon Style: Gain bonuses vs sleep stun and paralyse, ignore difficult terrain and use 1.5x str on first attack each round.
   Ferocity: Increase all unarmed strike damage by further 0.5x strength. Make foes shaken when you crit or use stunning fist on them. Can also qualify for Elemental fist and get lots of extra uses of it.
      Roar: Use stunning fist attempts to hit everything in a 30 ft. cone and make them shaken, reflex for half.

Earth Child Style: Dwarf/Gnome only. Get extra bonus AC vs giants. Add Wis to Str on damage vs giants.
   Topple: Can trip Giants more easily, and get wis bonus to confirm crits and trip vs giants.
      Binder: Trip any size of giant. When a giant tries to stand up, you can stunning fist the AoO with a +4 DC.
   (All of these are horrifically useless unless you're going to fight many, many giants.)

Efreeti Style: Deal extra fire damage with elemental fist, and always deal the fist damage, even if you miss.
   Stance: Get fire resistance as Djinni Spirit. Set things on fire with elemental fist.
      Touch: Hit everything in a 15 ft. cone with elemental fist, but with reflex save to halve instead of using AC.

Grabbing Style: Easier to grapple with one hand and don't lose Dex to AC when pinning.
   Drag: Move much further with one target when grappling.
      Master: Deal damage to or move both grappled targets.

Jabbing Style: Deal 1d6 more damage when you hit a target twice in one round or 2d6 when you hit thrice.
   Dancer: Move 5 feet around target when you hit.
      Master: Double damage from Jabbing Style.
   (Because of the prereqs, Boar style is much better. And is actually just better anyway.)

Janni Style: Halve AC penalties for being flanked and charging.
  Tempest: +4 on bull rush/trip attempts vs targets you've hit, and it doesn't provoke.
    Rush: Vital strike when you jump and charge. Oh good.

Kirin Style: Make knowledge check and gain AC vs AoOs and bonus on saving throws vs a specific creature.
  Strike: +2 bonus to identify creatures. 1/round add double intelligence to damage on identified creature.
     Path: Can take 10 on knowledge checks in battle. Can move around a creature you've identified in exchange for one of your AoOs.

Kitsune Style: Make a dirty trick at the end of a charge.
  Tricks: Apply two dirty trick penalties at once.
    Vengeance: Make Dirty Trick in place of AoO.
   (dirty tricks are the best Combat Manoeuvre)

Kobold Style: Bonus to CMB vs opponents denied Dex to AC.
  Groundling: Prone creatures don't get dex vs your attacks
    Flood: Grapple a prone creature to ride it.

Kraken Style: Bonus to grapple, deal extra damage when grappling.
  Throttle: Deal slightly more damage when grappling. Can suffocate grappled foes.
     Wrack: Deal slightly more damage when grappling. Can deal damage, bypassing hardness, to items held by grappled foe.

Mantis Style: Increase stunning fist DC by 2.
  Wisdom: +2 on attack rolls where you use stunning fist.
     Torment: Fatigue and either stagger or dazzle in place of stun with stunning fist. (WHY?)

Marid Style: Deal extra cold damage with Elemental fist and increase reach by 5 ft when using it.
   Spirit: Get cold resistance as Djinni Spirit and entangle with elemental fist.
      Coldsnap: Do elemental fist a 30 ft. line.

Monkey Style: Be more acrobatic and be prone with no penalty.
   Moves: Climb better and faster (Ditto crawl).
      Shine: Use stunning fist and you can share a space with the target, getting bonus to attack and AC.

Panther Style: Retaliate after you provoke by moving.
  Claw: Retaliate more often
     Parry: Retaliate before they attack.

Pummeling Style: DR applies only once to your attacks.
   Bully: Free Reposition or trip on a hit.
      Charge: Can full attack on a charge.

Shaitan Style: As Efreeti style, but acid.
   Skin: Elemental fist now staggers and you get acid resist.
      Earthblast: Elemental fist in a collumn.

Snake Style: Deal piercing damage with unarmed strikes, +2 sense motive, can use sense motive in place of AC/touch AC 1/round.
   Sidewind: Be harder to knock prone, and can use sense motive to confirm crits.
      Fang: When an attack misses you, it provokes.

Snapping Turtle Style: +1 shield bonus
   Clutch: Shield bonus also applies to touch AC. When attack misses you, you can grapple as an immediate action.
      Shell: Shield bonus increases to +2, Harder to confirm crits.

Tiger Style: Deal slight bleed on a crit, can deal slashing damage and harder to move with CMs.
   Claws: Full round action to get two hits on one attack and can bull rush on a hit.
     Pounce: Power attack penalty hits AC not accuracy. Swift action to move to a target you hit last turn.

Wolf Style: Decrease speed with an AoO. Decreasing it to 0 lets you trip.
   Trip: Basically Ki Throw.
      Savage: Swift action bestow curse on anything prone with scaling DC.

And while not technically style feats...
Scorpion Style: Standard action reduce speed to 5 if it fails a save.
   Gorgon's Fist: Standard action on a speed reduced creature. Save or be stagger for a round.
       Medusa's Wrath: When you full attack, get 2 extra full BAB attacks vs Dazed, Flat-footed, Paralysed, Staggered, stunned or unconscious foe.

Combat Style Master: Switch Style as a free action and auto start a fight in a style.

Other Notes:

3 levels of unchained rogue is probably worth it. You can completely ignore strength, and get 2d6 sneak attack. Considering the number of attacks you get, plus stunning fist...
This racial trait for Idyllkin Aasimars lets you be NG or N and still a monk. You can do interesting things like take levels in barbarian as well, which can lead to some interesting interactions. Particularly comic is combining Drunken Master with Drunken Brute to drink 3 things in one round (after getting it out). Potentially up to 6 ki per round! Or maybe just 1 net ki gain and a cold ice strike.
Combat Style Master can be intense! Lead with Boar to intimidate, then Mantis and stunning fist to maximise your chance of stunning, then swap to dragon for your remaining attacks for better damage, dropping into snake or snapping turtle style at the end of your turn for a nice defense.
You can apply empower/quicken spell like ability to a number of your ki powers.
Ki management is vital!
Ultimately, you can get stupid numbers of attacks. Really. Level 20, haste, 1 ki for an extra attack, medusa's wrath applicable, and using elbow smash, your effective base attack bonus is 20/20/20/20/20/20/20/15/15(non-lethal)/10/5. That's 11 attacks, 7 of which are at full BAB, and it's something that you can be able to do without referencing anything but unchained and the core rulebook.

Aaaand that's everything! Phew, that was comprehensive. I found some cool new feats and things monks can do thanks to this though. There's likely to be something I've missed, so if there is, please post it below!

Last edited by Quark on Sat Apr 09, 2016 10:21 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post on Sat Apr 09, 2016 10:50 am by Quark

This has now been updated to include everything I can think of. If there's something obvious I've missed, please post it!

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