Nerd Watching: How to be a Monk in Five Minutes a Day
Image by WOTC – D&D Insider
The big news in the gaming world this week comes from WotC. The last hold out from the 3.5 PHB has finally arrived, in playtest format anyway. That’s right, D&D Insider subscribers have been able to enjoy the playtest version of the monk. I must say that personally the class is full of surprises. I was expecting a new ki powersource and monks to be controllers. I thought they would use sweeping attacks, forced movement throws and inflict status effects. While they do all of those things, they are also so much more. I’m not going to tease you non-insiders anymore, time to give you the summary versions of the class.
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Monks are strikers. Nothing too shocking there, a class that traditionally breaks faces with fists works quite well in the controller roles. The monk power source is psionic. I’ll pause so you can gasp.
That’s right, monks are psionicists now. When I first read that I was already mentally preparing a fire to burn to the heretics who completely wrecked monks. Unfortunately it started raining in my brain and ruined the whole angry mob, so I was forced to learn more about the thing that had enraged me so. It seems that psionics is being rethought a bit. Just because monks are psionic doesn’t mean they are going to be mentally bending spoons. Psionics essentially means an internal power source mastered through physical and pychological discipline. Sounds like the good old monks to me. Indeed, monks are much as you remember them…
Image by WOTC – D&D Insider
Old monks served many masters. They were front line combatants but lacked some of the damage output and hitpoints of their melee peers. That is still true. Monks are strikers, so they are light on hitpoints. They also lack a quarry or sneak attack ability and don’t deal the raw damage of a sorcerer or barbarian. Old monks also had used a minimum of equipment. Another aspect that WotC has perserved. Just like the old monk, the new monk gets bonuses for wearing no armor and fights only with his fists and a few monk weapons, such as the quarter staff.
Where the new monk is different is really enhanced versions of his old abilities. The old monk had a fair bit of special powers and unique attacks, like quivering palm. Now that every class has a suite of powers to go along with it, that isn’t very special anymore. The new monk maintains some of that old feel through its versatility. The new monk lacks the damage output of most strikers but he also leans a strong controller, as well as maintaining a high number of defensive abilities. Like the old monk, he’s hard to pin down in just one role. Where the new monk has really been juiced up is his mobility. Old monk offered up some straight speed boosts and safe-falling. With the new monk, nearly every attack power he has is a “full discipline” attack. A full discipline attack is an attack that offers a powered up move action which can be taken before or after the attack. The boost to your move might be extra speed, shifting, swapping places or making great leaps. In this way the monk can leap across the battlefield and deliver a flying kick at the end of it! Or a monk could shift into the middle of a group of enemies and deliver a whirlwind of blows! Both of these are at-will powers!
It is also worth pointing out that monks get an at-will level 10 utility power that allows for unlimited wall-crawling and limited ceiling running! If that doesn’t excite you then you and I have very different priorities in life. Psionic or not, the old monk is still in there and he is more kung-fu than ever.
One of the best things about monks going psionic is that is a strong indicator that the PHB3 is going to have a whole set of psionic classes. The possibilities have got me intrigued, how are psionics going to play into the new role system? Will we have seeing defenders who throw up force fields to protect themselves and block enemies from moving? How about a controller who tosses around minions with telekinesis. Psionic leaders could alter the physical makeup of their allies. It also wouldn’t surprise me a bit to see a second psionic striker wielding mind blades. Psionics has always been a very wide world in D&D, which often causes it problems. I think being forced to pin down psionicists into different roles could actually be a great help.
What do you think about the new monks? How about psionics? Do you love or loathe the spoon-benders who wil be coming in the PHB3.