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

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
'>_>


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

My point was that before 4e, Monks were considered an expert class. A thief class.

When 4e, every class had to become more than just combat capable. So the Rogue and Monk became ful fledged warriors.


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.
To me, the monk is more define be it lack of armor than their use of unarmed Strikes. Staff monk and and short sword monk training to be deadly and defended when in situations when they can wear even leather or padder armor hits the monk flavor to me.
 

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Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
My point was that before 4e, Monks were considered an expert class. A thief class.

When 4e, every class had to become more than just combat capable. So the Rogue and Monk became ful fledged warriors.
I know they appeared in Complete Adventurer, but even in 3e they were more a martial arts class than an expert or thief esque class. They just had too many other warriors to fit another into Complete Warrior and had to stuff the Monk somewhere. It's a reason why it's called as such and not Complete Expert, and it's also why we got the classic example in D&D mechanics of the weapon-based Monk-esque tropes later on in 3.5e -- the Swordsage in Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords. You don't get much more warrior than that.

To me, the monk is more define be it lack of armor than their use of unarmed Strikes. Staff monk and and short sword monk training to be deadly and defended when in situations when they can wear even leather or padder armor hits the monk flavor to me.
I agree.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I know they appeared in Complete Adventurer, but even in 3e they were more a martial arts class than an expert or thief esque class. They just had too many other warriors to fit another into Complete Warrior and had to stuff the Monk somewhere. It's a reason why it's called as such and not Complete Expert, and it's also why we got the classic example in D&D mechanics of the weapon-based Monk-esque tropes later on in 3.5e -- the Swordsage in Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords. You don't get much more warrior than that.
But the 3e monk didn't get Full BAB nor a D10 HD.

The designers of 3e saw the monk as a version of the rogue. Flurry or Blowswas its Sneak Attack. But as time went on the 3e designers saw the errors of their way and "replaced" the Monk with the Swordsage.

This is why in the survey I will downvote Martial Arts and state that the monk weapons is the cause.

Monks are weapon users to me. They are just not dependent on weapons.
 

Staffan

Legend
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?
At level 5, the 3.5e fighter has three additional feats over the paladin. These can be used for things like Power Attack and the fighter-exclusive Weapon Specialization, or possibly getting access to swanky exotic weapons.

The paladin has Smite Evil 2/day, +Cha to all saves, Lay on Hands for level x Cha hp of healing per day, immunity to fear and give nearby allies +4 to saves vs fear, immunity to disease, a low-power version of Turn Undead, and possibly a 1st-level spell per day (depending on Wis).

The paladin also has way more MAD than the fighter. The fighter wants high Strength and Constitution, and ideally an OK Dexterity to max the benefits of full plate and decent Intelligence to unlock the fairly sweet feats with Combat Expertise as a prerequisite (e.g. Improved Trip). The paladin wants the same Strength, Constitution, and Dexterity, but also need Charisma for their special abilities and a little bit of Wisdom for their spells.

The problem for the fighter is that feats are a fairly flat progression. At 5th level, the fighter probably has the edge on the paladin in an actual fight, since most of the paladin's special abilities would be irrelevant and the fighter probably has +1 AC (Dodge) and +2 damage (Weapon spec) over the paladin, and possibly access to shenanigans like Improved Trip. But there are very few feats with higher prerequisites than (effectively) 6th level. You have the continuation of the Weapon Specialization chain with Greater Weapon Focus at 8th and Greater Weapon Spec at 12th, Improved Critical at 8th, and there's Greater Two-Weapon Fighting and Improved Precise Shot at 11th. Oh, and technically Stunning Fist at 8th. But other than those, there's really nothing new happening for the fighter – they get bigger numbers, and if they have the stats for it they can expand into other feat chains, but there's nothing exciting happening. Admittedly paladins don't get much excitement either after 6th level, but they at least get access to higher-level spells.

Both classes get significantly better with more splatbook access. Partially because they offer prestige classes you can take instead of the lackluster high-level benefits these classes offer, and because they offer alternate options. Fighters get way more options for their feats, including some that are actually pretty fun, and paladins get divine feats they can take to actually get some use out of their otherwise useless Turn Undead attempts.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
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.

Okay, let us say you are correct about 4e, and there was no possible way to build a fighter who relied on Wisdom or something.

Can you build a straight paladin in 5e and dump strength and attack with Charisma? No. You can't. And you literally just stated that in 3e it would be dumping their combat stats. So the phenomena you are proposing ONLY happened in 4e.

But, here is an odd thought, is 4e representing that the Lil Suzy the Waif is bad at fighting and Lil Timmy the Fighter is good at it? Not really. Using Strength doesn't mean much. Barbarians use strength in 4e, and they are boosted by primal magics. Warlords use strength in 4e and they aren't supposed to be as good of warriors, right? And actually, is the 4e fighter a good warrior because they deal damage? Because if that is the case, then the Rogue and the Ranger are the superior warriors, and neither of them use strength (maybe the rogue thug does? I don't remember)

So, you are trying to state something that happened in 4e, make it apply retroactively to 3.X and claim it applies to 5e. And it doesn't even follow that it is true in 4e.


Again, here is a character's combat abilities at level 5

Extra Attack
Dueling Fighting Style
Proficiency in All Armor and All Weapons
A 1st level feat and a 4th level feat.

Am I describing a fighter or a paladin? Could even be a Battlesmith Artificer who took a feat with their racial ability. You are trying to draw a bright line here and say "Paladins are worse in combat because they rely on divine power" but the MECHANICS disagree with you. Yes, Paladins have divine Power and Fighter's don't. But that doesn't mean fighter's are BETTER at fighting. It is a false conclusion.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend


'>_>


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.

I will agree that the movement and unarmored are important. But if you FOCUS on their ability to use weapons... why aren't they a Barbarian whose battle trance allows them to avoid being hit by attacks? Barbarian's have increased movement and extreme physical abilities after all. Why aren't they a subclass of fighter who forgoes armor and focuses on dex and rapid movement?

You actually phrased it best "are equally proficient in unarmed strikes as they are with a swirling a sword or glaive". Unarmed strikes are EQUAL to the monk using weapons. This is not true of ANYONE else. No other class sees unarmed strikes as an equal, viable alternative. This is why they are the MASTER of unarmed strikes, because the ability to use their fists and feet and that be equally viable to grabbing a sword or an axe makes them the superior option for unarmed strikes.

I like monks that use weapons too. It is a cool concept and very fun. But it has to be the alternative. It can't be the focus. Because if it is the focus, then there is no class in the game that focuses on unarmed fighting. It is always the weird, odd choice that requires some special circumstances to make vaguely effective.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
At level 5, the 3.5e fighter has three additional feats over the paladin. These can be used for things like Power Attack and the fighter-exclusive Weapon Specialization, or possibly getting access to swanky exotic weapons.

They could also be used to gain access to spellcasting, skill focus, and being better at riding horses.

Feats =/= better at fighting. Feats = Options.

The paladin has Smite Evil 2/day, +Cha to all saves, Lay on Hands for level x Cha hp of healing per day, immunity to fear and give nearby allies +4 to saves vs fear, immunity to disease, a low-power version of Turn Undead, and possibly a 1st-level spell per day (depending on Wis).

The paladin also has way more MAD than the fighter. The fighter wants high Strength and Constitution, and ideally an OK Dexterity to max the benefits of full plate and decent Intelligence to unlock the fairly sweet feats with Combat Expertise as a prerequisite (e.g. Improved Trip). The paladin wants the same Strength, Constitution, and Dexterity, but also need Charisma for their special abilities and a little bit of Wisdom for their spells.

How does any of this mean "worse at fighting"?

The problem for the fighter is that feats are a fairly flat progression. At 5th level, the fighter probably has the edge on the paladin in an actual fight, since most of the paladin's special abilities would be irrelevant and the fighter probably has +1 AC (Dodge) and +2 damage (Weapon spec) over the paladin, and possibly access to shenanigans like Improved Trip. But there are very few feats with higher prerequisites than (effectively) 6th level. You have the continuation of the Weapon Specialization chain with Greater Weapon Focus at 8th and Greater Weapon Spec at 12th, Improved Critical at 8th, and there's Greater Two-Weapon Fighting and Improved Precise Shot at 11th. Oh, and technically Stunning Fist at 8th. But other than those, there's really nothing new happening for the fighter – they get bigger numbers, and if they have the stats for it they can expand into other feat chains, but there's nothing exciting happening. Admittedly paladins don't get much excitement either after 6th level, but they at least get access to higher-level spells.

Both classes get significantly better with more splatbook access. Partially because they offer prestige classes you can take instead of the lackluster high-level benefits these classes offer, and because they offer alternate options. Fighters get way more options for their feats, including some that are actually pretty fun, and paladins get divine feats they can take to actually get some use out of their otherwise useless Turn Undead attempts.

So, again, the entire premise of "fighters are better warriors than Paladins" comes down to "if fighters use their extra feats to get the correct feats that make them better at fighting, then they have more feats than the paladin and so are slightly better"

So, what happens when the Fighter DOESN'T take those feats? Are they still a better warrior?
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Again, here is a character's combat abilities at level 5

Extra Attack
Dueling Fighting Style
Proficiency in All Armor and All Weapons
A 1st level feat and a 4th level feat.

Am I describing a fighter or a paladin? Could even be a Battlesmith Artificer who took a feat with their racial ability. You are trying to draw a bright line here and say "Paladins are worse in combat because they rely on divine power" but the MECHANICS disagree with you. Yes, Paladins have divine Power and Fighter's don't. But that doesn't mean fighter's are BETTER at fighting. It is a false conclusion

My point was beyond that a Fighter gets martial features whereas a Paladin gets Divine.

A Fighter is that plus more Martial. A Paladin is that plus Divine. A Ranger is that plus Primal.

The issue with Monks is they are not that + X. Monks replace Fighting Style and martial weapons with Martial arts. Monks replace armor with unarmored defense. Monks get this instead of that. And this was not designed around being a tank

And their X is Ki. And Ki is a lot more limited than the other power sources.
 

Staffan

Legend
They could also be used to gain access to spellcasting, skill focus, and being better at riding horses.
No, they can't. 3e Fighter bonus feats are specifically limited to ones that make them better at fighting. I mean, they could use their regular feats for the other stuff, but not the fighter bonus feats.

Well OK, they can be used to get better at riding horses, but only in the context of mounted combat.
How does any of this mean "worse at fighting"?
It means that with the same starting resources, a paladin that's any good at paladinning will be less good at fighting, because the paladin stuff costs resources that could otherwise be used for fighting.
So, what happens when the Fighter DOESN'T take those feats? Are they still a better warrior?
They have to take those feats. I mean, they could do dumb stuff like taking widely disparate feats that don't synergize with one another or with their stats, but we usually assume that people don't actively aim for their feet when shooting.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
My point was beyond that a Fighter gets martial features whereas a Paladin gets Divine.

How are feats martial features? I magic Adept a martial feature? Elemental Adept? Telekinetic?

You said this happened in 3.5. Fighters have NOTHING other than feats in that game. Now, 5e does give them something else, second wind, action surge, but again that doesn't make them BETTER warriors. It makes them warriors with DIFFERENT abilities.

A Fighter is that plus more Martial. A Paladin is that plus Divine. A Ranger is that plus Primal.

The issue with Monks is they are not that + X. Monks replace Fighting Style and martial weapons with Martial arts. Monks replace armor with unarmored defense. Monks get this instead of that. And this was not designed around being a tank

And their X is Ki. And Ki is a lot more limited than the other power sources.

Except Martial Arts is basically the Two-Weapon Fighting Style + Dual Wielder Feat

Armor isn't a class feature, it is a proficiency.

Meanwhile, they have extra attack at level 5, same as the ranger, same as the paladin, same as the barbarian. Barbarian ALSO gets unarmored defense. Are we going to say Barbarians aren't designed to be tanks, becuase they are a melee class that gets increased speed and unamored defense? Are barbarians Martial + Rage or that + Rage to use your formating. Because many of the abilities and their entire playstyle revolves around that mechanic.
 

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