D&D (2024) Monks Are Not Tanks And Shouldn’t Be

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
And you triggered my trap card. I have a serious problem with Feat chains in 3.5 and the effect on the Fighter on Feat design in general. And while this isn't the thread for this derail, I'm not about to make a new thread on the topic 20 years later, so here we go.

So Feat chains are terrible. Why? Because you're forced to take a lot of Feats you normally would not in order to eventually get something good. There's unnecessary bloat, and the Fighter is the reason. Because the Fighter gets extra feats, anything good that you want to be a Fighter exclusive is locked behind a bunch of Feats that, frankly, are terrible. Let's start with the poster child, Whirlwind Attack.

So we start this chain with Combat Expertise, a generally pointless Feat. It's an improved version of fighting defensively (sort of) that requires you to have a BAB of 5 to get the full benefit of, by taking a -5 to hit (as opposed to the -4/+2...or +3 with 5 ranks of Tumbling you get from Fighting Defensively). Given the way iterative attacks work, this is really only useful if you're making a single attack in most circumstances. And rather than being an upgrade to fighting defensively, it's its own mechanic which could stack with fighting defensively?

Oh and it's the cornerstone of a lot of feat chains that (like Whirlwind) have nothing whatsoever to do with it's benefit. Like, say, improved combat maneuvers. And you need a 13 Intelligence on your Fighter or you'll be locked out of most feat chains.

Next we have Dodge. Need a 13 Dex for a situational +1 to AC. Wow, be still my heart. Next, Mobility, a Feat that gives you a +4 bonus to AC when you do something you shouldn't be doing, that is, giving enemies a free hit. I can't tell you how many times I provoked with mobility and the DM rolled a 20, lol.

But wait! With a BAB of 4+ now you can get Spring Attack, a feat that lets you make a single attack and dash...err...slowly walk away! It's not useless, as you can use it to get inside superior reach and not need to rely on Mobility, or avoid taking a full attack, but unless you get some serious speed, it's usually just turning a fight from "stand still and trade full attacks" to "move and trade single attacks".

Then from here, we get the super amazing ability to attack everyone adjacent to you one time. A Human Fighter can pull this off by level 6. Any other class? Well a Human Barbarian could get it by level 9. Non-Human? Level 12.

Whirlwind Attack is not a level 12 ability. But thanks to the Fighter, it technically is. Most classes are so Feat-starved that they can master one Feat chain before the game ends.

And then, as if that wasn't bad enough, books like the PHB2 add more top end Feats to make sure that a Fighter never masters a Feat chain, because it just gets more links! Double Strike, Karmic Strike, Robilar's Gambit, Combat Reflexes builds so you can, by top level, get the super amazing ability to attack twice whenever someone provokes from you, which they do by having the nerve to attack you in melee...all while Barbarians are charging for 300 damage and everyone else is just not attacking you in melee and using spells or ranged attacks.

Of course, all this did was make sure that if you really wanted to get the most mileage out of feat chains you just played a human, dipped 2 levels of fighter (or Feat Rogue from UA or both) and acquired the abilities of some other class to make them really shine.
Feat chains allow things like GWM PAM Sentinel etc while making a build with all or most of those difficult enough to not be much of an issue till it's a level appropriate combo.
 

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Gorck

Prince of Dorkness
Feat chains allow things like GWM PAM Sentinel etc while making a build with all or most of those difficult enough to not be much of an issue till it's a level appropriate combo.
Are those Feat Chains or Feat Combos? I thought Feat Chains were more like Two-Weapon Fighting -> Improved Two-Weapon Fighting -> Greater Two-Weapon Fighting, where Feat B requires Feat A and Feat C requires Feats A & B.
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
Are those Feat Chains or Feat Combos? I thought Feat Chains were more like Two-Weapon Fighting -> Improved Two-Weapon Fighting -> Greater Two-Weapon Fighting, where Feat B requires Feat A and Feat C requires Feats A & B.
That's my definition, at least. Weapon Focus to Weapon Specialization with Fighter 4 to Greater Weapon Focus with Fighter 8, and so on.

What tetra is describing is more like "spiked chain proficiency, combat reflexes, improved trip" working together (oh and combat expertise because you can't get away from it in 3.5).
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
That's my definition, at least. Weapon Focus to Weapon Specialization with Fighter 4 to Greater Weapon Focus with Fighter 8, and so on.

What tetra is describing is more like "spiked chain proficiency, combat reflexes, improved trip" working together (oh and combat expertise because you can't get away from it in 3.5).
They went much deeper than those short ones. Chains & combos are different things, Feat combos may or may not be made of feat chains. I went looking for a particularly in depth feat chain based build & found several examples. Here is a common well known one(with prereqs):

Power Attack (str13)→ Improved Sunder (str 13, power attack)→ Combat Expertise(str13)→ Improved Trip(int13, combat expertise)→ Improved Bull Rush(str13, power attack)→ Combat Brute(power attack, improved sunder, BaB+6)→ Shocktrooper(power attack, improved bull rush, BaB +6)*

Some of those in the example were very powerful feats but through the application of feat chain requirements they are more like a secondary subclass(then called a PrC) but built via feats with some input on the order of parts.

I seem to recall somehow qualifying a changeling rogue for mystic theurge using racial feats & PrCs without ever taking a level in a caster class that probably used combos that I'm not going to hunt for. There were some combos that probably didn't make use of chains but I can't think of any great combos that didn't include some level of chain. My suspicion & hazy memory is that they involved things like multiclass bingo to meet a bunch of "## in X skill" "must be specific race" & "ability to cast Y spell/do Z"

*I think a pure fighter could get all of that by around level 6 or 7 while almost any other class & most PrCs had a bunch of class features rather than bonus feats galore.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
His point was Paladins were never depicted as lesser warriors than Fighters... and I kind of agree? I think they shared a BAB in 3e, and the only difference was fighters got feats while paladins got class abilities and feats.

Even in games, you don't see them often depicted as being bad warriors, they are warriors PLUS divine power. Not Warrior - skill + divine power.

Not at all, I played both and here's what I noticed:

In 3.x, the Paladin had the same base attack, hit points, armor and weapons as the Fighter. The Fighter had bonus Feats, but only a few Feats specially designed for them that were really worth taking. Everyone had Feats. In addition, Paladins had a...not very fantastic Smite, but they did have it. Immunity to disease. Charisma to all saves. Limited spellcasting. Special Mount as a class feature. Lay on Hands. Turn Undead (which could power Divine Feats). And Holy Avengers, while you weren't ever going to see one, totally still existed.

Given that most people who played 3.x felt the Fighter as a class was lacking because it's only special ability was Feats, the Paladin had a significantly better chassis, and more options for Prestige Classes. It was, Fighter+.

When it comes to 4e, both the Paladin and the Fighter were Defenders. The Fighter was better at marking and punishing, but the Paladin had healing powers and could do things the Fighter could not, due to their Divine power source. While their mark punishment was weaker, it didn't require the Paladin to be next to the target. With the addition of Divine Sanction, the Paladin got better at multi-marking. And again, both classes used the same weapons and armor, and were equals in durability. Once Essentials landed, the Blackguard was no less durable or offensive than the Slayer (once you solved getting Combat Advantage reliably), and the Cavalier was actually better than the Knight, once you were able to get their special mounts at higher level.

Despite being called a Knight, the Fighter variant was not a mount class; they could purchase one, but the Tiger and the Pegasus were top tier options, granting far greater mobility and combat options.

So yeah. If not Fighter+, then not really weaker than the Fighter.
The 3e Paladin is not as good at pure combat than the 3e Fighter unless they used a Divine feature.

The same with 4e because the Fighter scores lined up with because combate stats as well.

I said the classes were Warrior+, not Fighter +.

The monk was not consider a Warrior class until 4e.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
The 3e Paladin is not as good at pure combat than the 3e Fighter unless they used a Divine feature.

How do you figure?

Both are proficient with all armors, all shields, and all weapons.

Lv 1 -> Both get +1 BAB and +2 Fort
LV 5 -> Both get +5 BAB, +4 Fort, +1 Ref, +1 Will
LV 11 -> Both get +11/+6/+1 BAB, +7 Fort, +3 Ref, +3 Will
Level 18 -> Both get +18/+13/+8/+3 BAB, +11 Fort, +6 Ref, +6 Will

Where is the fighter outperforming the Paladin? They seem to have the exact same pure combat stats. So where is this idea coming from that Paladins can only keep up by using Divine Features?

The same with 4e because the Fighter scores lined up with because combate stats as well.

4e was build so that all scores were equally useful in combat. Fighter's didn't have "better scores for combat" than paladins. Where are you getting this idea from?

The monk was not consider a Warrior class until 4e.

What were they considered then?
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
How do you figure?

Both are proficient with all armors, all shields, and all weapons.

Lv 1 -> Both get +1 BAB and +2 Fort
The fighter has a bonus Fighter Feat
The Paladin has Smite Evil 1/Day that is only good if the Paladin sacrifices his Dex or Con to have a better Cha.

AND the paladin wanted 14.Wis.

Maybe I can explain it better in 4e/5e term.

The Fighter is 100% Martial.
The Paladin is 50% Martial 50% Divine.
The Monk is 50% Martial 50% Ki.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
The fighter has a bonus Fighter Feat
The Paladin has Smite Evil 1/Day that is only good if the Paladin sacrifices his Dex or Con to have a better Cha.

AND the paladin wanted 14.Wis.

So, it isn't that they are better at fighting, it is that they had different abilities.

Fighters could have better dexterity... but that doesn't make them better at fighting. And what if they used that Bonus Feat to get Skill Focus. It was an OPTION after all, so there was no guarantee that the fighter wouldn't pick bad options.

And, I'm sure the Fighter wanted a 16, 16, 14 too. So, again, the paladin isn't worse at fighting, they just have a more obvious path, because they got actual abilities instead of a massive pool of options.

Maybe I can explain it better in 4e/5e term.

The Fighter is 100% Martial.
The Paladin is 50% Martial 50% Divine.
The Monk is 50% Martial 50% Ki.

By level 5, how is a Paladin worse at fighting than a fighter? Both have fighting styles, both have extra attack, both have weapon masteries, both have the same number of feats. You are making a distinction without meaning.

Also, what is 50% ki even mean? Ki is only used for COMBAT abilities. That is like saying you are 50% fighting and 50% tussling. Those are basically the same thing.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
So, it isn't that they are better at fighting, it is that they had different abilities.

Fighters could have better dexterity... but that doesn't make them better at fighting. And what if they used that Bonus Feat to get Skill Focus. It was an OPTION after all, so there was no guarantee that the fighter wouldn't pick bad options.

And, I'm sure the Fighter wanted a 16, 16, 14 too. So, again, the paladin isn't worse at fighting, they just have a more obvious path, because they got actual abilities instead of a massive pool of options.
I think you are not getting what I'm saying.

This is a statement about narrative and how narrative is supposed to be reflected in mechanics.
So I'll use 4e which makes it easier to see sue to the extremes.

In 4e, a paladin can dump and go hard on Cha.
In 4e, you can make a 80lb 12 year old child into a powerful paladin. Youngster Jimmy and Lil Suzy if blessed enough with Divine magic can attack with their 16 CHA instead of their 8 STR.

Bolstering Strike
Enfeebling Strike
Fearsome Smite
On Pain of Death

Lil Suzy doesn't have to touch their Str to attack as those are all Charisma based attacks.
Until they have to make an oppy attack. Then you have to go back to their 8 STR.

The Divine Magic supersedes their feeble body. This waif of a girl can wallop a hill giant. But it is a lot of divinity not her own muscles and skill as the damage was radiant and Cha based. When Pelor is not guiding her blade or Athena taking the wheel, she goes back to being a little skinny human who studied a holy book instead of the blade. The 3e Paladin was similiar but dumping combat stats and not taking combat feats wasn't an option in a semi-optimized serious game as the frequency of divine power was much lower.

And it's the same for the Monk. Ki becomes their sword and Discipline their Armor. But historically, the numbers were not big enough to display the fantasy if even there.
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
The monk was not consider a Warrior class until 4e.


'>_>


Monk was considered a Psionic class in 4e, not a Martial class.


In any case, I agree with Mephisto. The mechanics have to surround and sustain a pre-existing flavour. The flavour does NOT flow from the mechanics; the flavour pre-exists the mechanics in the history of the fiction it's trying to capture like lightning in a bottle, to let the player enjoy being that sort of fiction.

Of course Monks have a place in D&D. D&D is heroic fantasy. Monks are, in my opinion, best represented at their core by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. That includes no-armour billowing-cloak martial artists who can fly from bamboo to bamboo and are equally proficient in unarmed strikes as they are with a swirling a sword or glaive, who can leap into battle and slice through hordes of fully armored soldiers without getting a stratch. They're artsy in their martialness. They do things that Fighters can't do because they capture the fiction of flowing movement in superhuman ways. Fighters are more Die Hard determinators who make it through despite the odds.

There's room for weapon users in the core Monk class, but the superhuman movement features, and the lack of armour are the critical mechanics that support this genre of fiction that the Monk brings to the table. The unarmed fists are not the core of the story they tell. But they are a good fair big part of the story told.

Put another way, think Hyrule Warriors: Link is a medium-armored (usually) sword and board and bow-wielding Ranger, Ganondorf is a heavy-armored Eldritch Knight, Zelda is a medium-armored Rapier & Bow Paladin (another archetype sorely missing from this game because screw-you divine archers), Impa is a greatsword and glaive-wielding Monk, who really should be a Warrior of the Elements given her focus on fire and water Avatar-esque attacks, but is forced to be a Way of the Kensei Monk because other Monks aren't allowed to use greatswords or glaives.
 

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