Monk Discussion

Share an idea or post some constructive criticism for the server.
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Ataraxia
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Monk Discussion

Postby Ataraxia » Tue Feb 02, 2016 10:02 am

I’ve been playing on the server for a month now and while I’m only level 3 I’ve had time to gather an understanding on how the Monk class is supposed to function in TER as well as how mechanical encounters tend to happen. I get that I should probably wait until level 8 to have better personal experience with it but it’s far on the road ahead so I’ll try to think of the bigger picture rather than my level 3 character.

From what I’ve gathered, the monk’s primary use is against spellcasters, which makes sense due to their high saves, stunning fist ability that spellcasters have higher chances of being hit with, spell resistance, damage penetration and movement speed. Sure, spellcasters are more powerful on the server due to their “authentic” behavior when it comes to using their spells properly against a group of players but basing a class on defeating a rare type of opponent feels a little too specific especially because a little strategy between players can overcome the need for a monk. Most of the other classes are relevant most of the time, and no one is ever going to be able to replace the need for a heavy armor/tower shield fighter, or the need for the vital buffs of a wizard, or the divine magic of a cleric.

Basically, monks are expendable when it comes to fighting spellcasters, their favored enemy.

Secondary they’re supposed to function correctly as flankers from what I’m told. Flurry of blows, high damage, extra unarmed attacks and circle kick help a lot with that, which is great. But there’s some things that make flanking very difficult. Attacks of Opportunities are a big problem. You can shift-walk in position but character pathfinding often makes your character run toward an opponent who suddenly became out-of-range, which triggers an AoO from literally every hostile monster around you. Without uncanny dodge (other classes that have access to it have a level requirement varying between 2 and 3. Monk is the only class with it that only gets access to it at level 8) your AC is terrible against people flanking you because since you cannot use armor, your AC comes from DEX and WIS. Without uncanny dodge, there is no DEX added against characters flanking you. There’s two ways to overcome this drawback of flanking, and that’s using two-three feats to achieve Mobility or Spring attack if you’re really dedicated or investing in improved expertise (which requires a lot of intelligence for a class that already has two primary stats and contradicts the use of being a flanker).

This sheds some light on the bigger issue that monks have. The class is simply too static in its playstyle and in character builds. In example, a tank can always switch to a two-handed weapon if their tower-shield isn’t needed anymore to get extra damage. And even without it they would still be capable of dishing out a lot of damage. A ranger can always switch reliably between ranged and melee, even in spite of their choice of combat style at level 2. But the monk is always going to be using 0 AC armor, and doesn’t benefit much from using anything other than unarmed or a crossbow. And with few feats, there’s not much room to customize the class.

You can build a monk to tank but he will never compete with heavy armor.
You can build a monk to flank but he will never compete with a sneak attacks and won’t deal with missteps as well as a warrior-type character that isn’t flanking.
You can’t build a monk to use stunning fist reliably because even with a 16 wis mod and max level, your DC is at an average 17 which makes it very situational.

Feel free to agree or disagree, and I’d love to hear what anyone else thinks, but the tl;dr version is that monks are made on TER to fulfill an expendable roll and lack the options of customization that the other classes have. They’re an expendable one trick pony.

My main suggestion would be lowering the level at which they acquire Uncanny Dodge, because it’s a vital part of their defense. I’ve come across the Quintessential Monk sourcebook that has a lot of ideas regarding monk-feats and I think it could be interesting to create a bundle of them that monks can pick and choose from every other level or so, just like a fighter, to allow more freedom over character builds.


Some suggestions of monk-specific feats, directly from the Quintessential Monk book that could be modified for the sake of NWN mechanics:
  • Break the breath: Your stunning attack is particularly potent.
    - Prerequisites: Wis 15+
    - Benefit: You add 2 to the save DC for your stunning attack.
    Crowd Fighting: Your combat savvy and dexterous footwork makes you difficult to pin down in combat.
    • Prerequisites: Dex 15+, Dodge, Mobility or Circle Boxing, BAB +4
    • Benefits: You are not considered flanked unless you are within the threatened areas of three or more foes. To be considered flanked, the attackers must meet the normal requirements for flanking, however an additional opponent must be threatening you for you to be considered flanked. If three or more opponents threaten you, only those who would normally be considered flanking gain the benefits for flanking, including Sneak Attack opportunities. An exception to this are rogues of at least four higher levels than you, who can flank as normal.
    Elusive Grappler: You rely on quick techniques, rather than powerful ones, when grappling.
    • Prerequisites: Dex 13+
    • Benefits: You can apply your Dexterity bonus, rather than your Strength, in all grappling checks.
    Iron Body: After years of diligent practice and great hardship, you have boosted your body's pain tolerance to an incredible degree.
    • Prerequisite: Great Fortitude
    • Benefits: You reduce the damage from critical hits and sneak attacks by 1 point per damage dice. Additionally, when reduced to 0 hit points or less, you have a 20% chance to stabilize each round, rather than 10%.
    Source: http://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/The_Quinte ... Monk_Feats

I’m not an expert on mechanical balancing and I’m not asking for the class to simply be buffed because it’s too weak. I know others have mentioned that they think the class is simply underpowered because of its item dependency that cannot be fulfilled on TER but that’s not the point here.

Thanks for bearing with me through this wall of text but I thought it was necessary to understand the reasoning behind these suggestions. Any comments or additional suggestions are welcome so I’d welcome everyone to share their point of view.

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EventHorizon
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Re: Monk Discussion

Postby EventHorizon » Tue Feb 02, 2016 2:00 pm

At first it's going to seem like I'm tearing you down and attacking you. The first part is only partly true, but it's only to help you gain some relief!

My quotes come from NWN wikia.

>"Monk is the only class with it that only gets access to it at level 8) your AC is terrible against people flanking you because since you cannot use armor, your AC comes from DEX and WIS. Without uncanny dodge, there is no DEX added against characters flanking you."
For various reasons, some players think of the AC bonus due to monk levels and the monk AC bonus (due to wisdom) as being similar in some ways to dodge and dexterity bonuses to AC. However, this association is misleading with respect to the flat-footed condition, as neither source of monk AC is lost while flat-footed.
>Concerns about attacks of opportunity

Attacks of opportunity are possibly the single most infuriating part of NWN. Unfortunately, that is universal, and ancient, and something everyone suffers from (melee classes moreso, but all classes to severe detriment). Most servers I've seen don't go out to address AOOs because they are just such an integral flaw of NWN. However, there are some CLUTCH strategies to avoiding them, which I will list at the bottom.

Also, AOOs occur under the circumstances listed here - http://nwn.wikia.com/wiki/Attack_of_opportunity

And flat-footedness occurs as described here - http://nwn.wikia.com/wiki/Flat-foot

But thankfully, from what I can tell, AOOs on their own do not consider the target flat-footed by default. If you've misclicked or NWN has dragged your PC incomprehensibly three feet away at full running pace, and you've provoked AOOs against you, it shouldn't be considering your AC as flat-footed. However, if after your movement your PC has no immediate actions, and there's a moment where your PC is just standing there (as happens often enough), then for that moment you'll be flat-footed. Most of the time, you immediately click something, which fills your action queue, which puts you back in combat properly.

Finally, on that point, being flanked does not render you flat-footed against that attacker. It merely gives the attacker a +2 bonus to hit, and of course makes you a valid target for sneak attacks. However, this is not absolutely explicitly stated on the wikia and I am not absolutely positive - but I'll bet on it. The Dodge feat does apply to only the one opponent you're facing, but that's just that feat, and not all Dodge AC applies only to your target. Thus, a monk with +10 AC from dodge bonuses (plus whatever else she's got, including wisdom monk AC) can defend against a squadron of seven giant spiders and not be torn to shreds instantly by six of them. (That one's for you, Mentfrost.)

So that's enough information and corrections and such. Now that you hate me, I'll tell you that I totally agree that monks are designed aa anti-spellcasters - most specifically anti-arcanists. They have the best consistent saves in the game (Paladins have to manage their Charisma; Monks just get a Luck of Heroes feat every level), they have high movement speed to quickly get them in the face of Robes, they have Spell Resistance to further ward off magic, they have Evasion feats which further protect against vs Reflex evocation spells - which they are likely to save against - they have a stun against fortitude, and they have knockdowns, the latter two of which are highly likely to land as long as the Robe isn't already AC buffed to the max.

And all that jazz, right? Well, the problem is vanilla NWN is that they take until well into the double-digits to fully come into this role, notably with their Spell Resistance feat. TER seems to address this by giving monks a lot of these feats early on, VERY early on in comparison to vanilla levels. But where you'll find agreement with me is that a monk really isn't adequately effective as an anti-spellcaster until he has all of those abilities, which he can then use together to kick mage butt, while wizards - who also have to come into their own after a long and arduous period of suck - become viable and useful in their role much earlier on (once you get Circle 2 spells, you're as golden as it gets), and are at less risk in general given what is expected of them.

Furthermore, Stunning Fist is just about as reliable as a coin toss. The only thing you can do to increase your chances is weigh your stats heavily toward Wisdom, and as it is, going further than 15 wisdom to begin with is costly by design - and if you want to keep up with Robes' saves against your stun (their fortitude increases as they level no matter what), you have to invest your 4 and 8 points into wisdom. So, yeah, stunning fist is a coin toss that puts the onus and effort on the monk to keep barely viable. Diamond Soul (Spell Resistance = 10 + Monk Level) is also a total coin toss, but instead weighted in favour of the Robe, because the only thing that can make it anything other than 50/50 is the Robe taking Spell Resistance.

Now that I've finished writing all this, my lazy conclusion is, "Man wow monks suck."

Thus, I will provide those tips for NWN combat, particularly in avoiding the dreaded EVERYONE PLEASE HIT ME WITH ATTACKS OF OPPORTUNITY scenario!

_

Go into your menu, into your settings, into your keybindings, and do two things:

Remove the "rest" keybind from R. Have nothing on R.
Set the "walk forward (driving)" key to T.

Whenever you want to just walk forward, use T. It is conveniently close to the wasd area on the keyboard, and you can have your fingers on both the T and the W at the same time so you can immediately eitherwalk or run at any point. While walking forward with your index finger on T, you can steer by using your other fingers on A and D.

Walking forward with Driving movement is BETTER than clicking. Let me say it again. THERE IS A SUPERIOR WAY, AND IT IS THE LETTER T.

Shift-clicking requires aiming, which can be extremely messy in combat, especially when, depending on how your camera is angled at any time (which changes constantly - for me at least) you might try to shift-click NEXT to an enemy but end up attack-clicking a totally DIFFERENT enemy. Thus, when you want to get into combat with an enemy without running in and getting AOOd, just walk in with T.

Exiting is just as important. In that case, you can still use T and turn with A and D. But since you're probably facing your enemy, you want to turn around - the quickest way to do that is to shift-click away from the enemy and then immediately start pushing T, so you can precisely control where you walk away. That way, the shift-click turns you around, but you can override any possible changes to your pathing with the driving mode movement of T.

Using S to back away (the opposite of T) should also work, best accompanied by a simultaneously A or D push (so that you're backing away at angles or in crescent patterns). Good for getting out of combat for a couple of rounds, but avoid abusing the crescent pattern to "kite" the AI at walking-speed, which can happen on some servers. (The AI will keep trying to catch you and get into combat, but will sometimes be confused by your movements.)

T also works when you want to simply walk in a straight line without stopping to respond to any attacks. Driving mode movements override any reactive actions you might make as long as you're consistently holding down the button.

There is also the side-stepping Q and E, which can also be accompanied by the simultaneous pressing of A or D for a similar crescent pattern, also good for getting out of otherwise AOO-rife situations.

tl;dr manuever with T. It's also a much less jumpy, frustrating way to walk forward in character than to have to constantly select little waypoints for a shift-click walk.
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Silver Snow
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Re: Monk Discussion

Postby Silver Snow » Tue Feb 02, 2016 3:57 pm

Jumping in..gotta agree. "Wow monks suck." Now, it isn't that hard to explain why. In regular DnD, they were also the mage-killer concept but also had a very appealing addition to gameplay in that they had -mobility-. They could jump, slowfall, they could do cool, flavorful things that NWN does not allow. NWN took the same abilities and put them in the game, but until you start getting well up there in levels monks have always felt to me like a subpar..everything. They never approached the good AC of a fighter in armor, and hardly outdistanced even rogues because unlike rogues, they had to divide their focus between practically all of their attributes. So, near to the same defensibility as rogues, perhaps a little more hp..but then you go in with less functional DPS (again, at low levels, flurry eventually picks up to compete, sort of), and none of the very valuable rogue utility.
I think it's a great step in the right direction to offer monks the feats and class abilities early on, that certainly helps, but having seen monks in action here I can still very confidently say that, no, they don't have a place. They are fragile, and can never take the brunt of an attack even without AoOs involved, and the enemy feature that seems to scale quickest is Attack Bonus. Monks in core nwn rely on a good amount of magic items, specialized robes and dex/wis gear, which isn't available here (except maybe rare drops at high levels). They can certainly try to flank and unleash some damage, but the numbers and frequency I have seen come up haven't been competitive to rogues and fighters of the same level. I have even been counselling Ataraxia to multiclass into fighter just to be able to get some viable defensive capability and enough feats to get to spring attack (which, despite feeling very much like a dex class feat, and even requiring dex, isn't attainable unless it's someone's whole focus).
I don't know what improvements can be offered, though Ataraxia had a few neat ideas, and EventHorizon definitely speaks truth with in-combat manuevering, but in my opinion, and that of apparently a good amount of others, monks' jobs are done better by most everything else. They run aground into the very awkward space of attempting to be a jack of all trades and being competitive in nearly none of them.

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Re: Monk Discussion

Postby Vogelens » Tue Feb 02, 2016 6:12 pm

Many things are wrong with monks, and I personally do not think they are the spellcaster counters. Spellcasters can counter other spellcasters much better, and rogues have more of an edge too here, with Feint and bluff being a skill they want to pick up anyway. Interrupting spellcasting, and dishing out more damage. Fighters can get knockdown as well, to neutralize casters. Paladins generally have better saves, as charisma is an important stat they are bound to invest in, and they have good wisdom and likely good con, to boost saves more. Spellresistance is nice but not a foolproof defense.

Monks are mobility fighters. The freefell, leaping, movement, this all comes into play, in pnp what they are based on. In nwn it is poorly translated and they really do not quite fit in.

I do not really have suggestions myself (One I would have suggested, would be a fix to Wholeness of Body. To have it function like Lay on Hands, monk level times wisdom mod, in healing. But this is already done on TER so there we go :P), but from what I have seen and know of monks, they do seem to be suffering quite a bit compared to other classes.
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Kerstman
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Re: Monk Discussion

Postby Kerstman » Tue Feb 02, 2016 6:23 pm

I agree that monks are the class that is the first to deserve some extra love. I am not in agreeing with stating that 'they have no place' as that to me implies they also rp-wise have no place. IMO monks can be very awesome characters to play. I'll immediately admit that one quote may have been pulled a little out of context, but I'd like to address it anyway. As for their general playstyle. They shall never be as tanky as fighters, they shall not be of a same flanky kind as some other classes.

The cool stuff
- I have seen very few +1 and absolutely no +2 weapons yet. Monks basically get them from free. +1 at level 4 and my rough estimate is that 90% of the PC's of around that level doesn't have such an item.
- A lot of martial feats and versatility
- As mentioned before : killer saving throws in all fields
- Maybe something else I am forgetting from a mechanical perspective. However, my brain cannot yet compute all the endless rp possibilities for monks. I love their style in general.

The room for improvement. Ergo: my suggestions. I'd like to add that these do not all have to be implemented, but these are the products of my brainstorming.
- Give Uncanny Dodge a few levels earlier. Possibly level 4
- Give monks DR similar to barbarians, but do not increase it with any ability like the barbarian can do with rage. +1 DR at 3, +2 at 6. For all I care +3 at 8.
- Make a monk robe available IG. Or maybe two. Allow it to be sold by a specific merchant of some kind. +1 or +2 to AC would help them a lot. Some variation in gloves may be very great too. I have always liked it if monks got some extra magical item love. Restricted to class, ofcourse. These items do not have to be very cheap. It makes sure that monk characters will have a goal to save up money for.
- I would not mind giving them 10 hp per level instead of 8. Just for the sake of survivability.

Conclusion. It should not be forgotten that on TER they have gotten a lot of extra love already when compared to vanilla, but I agree it may not yet be enough.
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Silver Snow
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Re: Monk Discussion

Postby Silver Snow » Tue Feb 02, 2016 6:31 pm

Kerst, good points! I obviously didn't mean that they have no place in RP, simply that in a dungeoning purely mechanical sense they are, as they stand, a black sheep. They get some neat benefits and abilities, definitely good saves, and a lot of rp flavor that can still go with them. I'm in agreement with pretty much all those buff suggestions. I think they'll be sitting in a more even place if a good set of those come to pass.

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Re: Monk Discussion

Postby Toros » Tue Feb 02, 2016 7:22 pm

it is not surprising to me that monks feel rather lacking at lower level, as many of their features are specifically to counter mid-high level threats that don't involve some big guy with a battleaxe.

DR, fear, spellcasters are the main threats at higher level, and against a fireball a monk has two strong sources of mitigation that can completely stop the damage.

Their AC is a few points behind what a fighter or paladin gets, but they also can benefit from the long duration AC boosts from owl's wisdom and cat's grace, both of which I believe last roughly half an hour at max level and stack completely with other AC boosting spells.

It shouldn't be hard to get AC similar to a fighter with minor buffing (and monk gets other advantages from buffed wis), and buff support is pretty important for all high-level content.

On the other hand, they'll never need magic weapon and can do impressive damage.

The other thing with monk is they have a lot of what I call "internal scaling". SR, movement, AC, damage dice, self-heal all scale with monk level.

This gives them a power curve that is more quadratic like casters vs linear like fighters. They also specialize against foes that are not only more common but extremely dangerous at higher levels.

With that in mind I would fully expect monks would feel weak at lower levels, and levels 4-6 would be the turning point.


However, I am not suggesting monks don't need buffs, or would benefit from getting their power earlier, simply that the difference in power and effectiveness of a monk 8 and a monk 1 is far greater than a fighter 8 and a fighter 1.
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Ataraxia
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Re: Monk Discussion

Postby Ataraxia » Thu Feb 04, 2016 7:34 am

In RP there's endless ways to make Monks. I've seen Nietzschean monks function as much as traditional oriental monks or others inspired by Greek philosophy. And I've personally had a lot of fun with the spiritual side in character but mechanics are a whole different thing.

I think we established a few problems with them and I like the suggestions that have been brought up. The DR reminded me a bit of the level 20 perfect self feat but brought down to a fair level. While having AC clothes would be nice, I'm not sure how I feel about it being sold in stores. I've seen other servers go down the path of just making gear updates to patch up some mechanical imbalances between classes and it's always been a band-aid that got out of hand.

I used to play on a server that had custom Stunning-Fist variants that used the Stunning Fist charges but had different effects. And they were techniques that you could learn from hidden Monk NPCs scattered around the world but they were grossly useless and were mostly fun because of the collection of technique RP. Combat techniques that use Stunning Fist charges could be a suggestion that might be of use so I'm throwing it over here. Can just slice off the chasing down NPCs part because that's work that extends further than class balancing.

I think the DMs have been working already on some changes but I don't know what they're currently considering.
Any word from them could help the discussion a bit.

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Feronius
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Re: Monk Discussion

Postby Feronius » Thu Feb 04, 2016 11:26 am

Not sure if it has been mentioned yet, but I thought you could pick attack of opportunity evading feats like Spring Attack and Mobility on this server, without having to pick Dodge or other prerequisite feats first?
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Re: Monk Discussion

Postby OldBear » Thu Feb 04, 2016 3:46 pm

PER WIKI and experience--SPRING ATTACK requires:

Prerequisite: Dex 13+, Mobility, base attack bonus +4 or higher.


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