A Monk Barbarian That Rests More Often

Yes, I know the title is a bit of clickbait for those who know the contradiction.

To be any Monk, you must have a Lawful alignment. This means that, of the many classes in Dungeons & Dragons Online (which bars the player use of Evil alignments right now), a Monk multiclassed with the Barbarian class is impossible.

With the latest DDO update released in preparation of the “Fables of the Feywild” expansion, a new player race appeared. At first news of it, I was rather “meh” about it since my interests were elsewhere in building up a new Monk archer, among other projects.

But then, one of the acolytes in my new mostly-Monk guild, The Syncletican Monastery on Ghallanda, appeared with a Monk of the Shifter race.

At first, I admit that the appearance threw me off. The Shifter has a very primal, animalistic look, not unlike that of a werewolf (which, of course, is where the class is descended from).

But then I watched Kemai at work with his Shifter, which has unique movements to any other Monk.

I fell in love with it right away, and worked to clear out a character slot, occupied by a sad inactive Gnome Wizard in my list of characters, to build one of my own.

I find myself learning how Barbarians work without actually being one.

Meet Floracletica.

Right off, you can see how the Shifter race appears in attack mode. While all other Monks have clenched fists in fight stance, the Shifter’s long, clawed hands are in more of an open-handed slashing look.

The character building for a Shifter shows very different hair and facial features. These, of course, change nothing of the gameplay, but did put me off in terms of aesthetics at first (I find myself always gravitating to humanoids and less to the blends like Warforged) until I was able to find a Shifter face that looked placid and even lovely, as if she were of a regal line of humanoid lions.

Shifters, apparently, are always barefooted.

Having never played a Barbarian in class or kind, I decided to create Flora at level 1 (rather than L4 or higher Veteran options) to get a feel for what the class does and does not do from the very start. I am not at all disappointed so far.

From what I am able to interpret thus far from reviewing the racial enhancement trees and other info from the DDO Wiki, the Shifter specializes in enhancing attack and defense while also providing a stacking bonus via Rage.

Normally, I steer clear of using Rage through potions as this can negate other Monk attack or defense abilities, like the Combat Expertise feat. (I think I am wrong here as only the Barbarian version might prohibit spellcasting or the Combat Expertise to work.)

But these characteristics are innate to the Shifter, so if my Monk was to move forward, I needed to learn to embrace how Rage works.

The Barbarian use of Rage gives a morale boost to STR and CON with a decrease in AC. The Shifter’s racial version appears to have a stacking Rage bonus to any potion enhancement to this. So I can drink a Potion of Rage that will stack with the effect.

I did test whether the granted feat for all players, Defensive Fighting, a lesser version of Combat Expertise, would disable itself with the use of Shifter raging. Naturally, the feat disabled itself on clicking my racial raging.

Flora is, so far, a stock Shintao Monk, which should work well for a Shifter. There are, like Monks, two paths to consider on character build. The Wildhunt Shifter offers +1 WIS and a +4 Rage bonus to Wisdom and Dexterity, a +2 Morale bonus to Will saves, and a -2 penalty to Strength. The Beasthide Shifter contrasts with +1 CON and a +4 Rage bonus to Armor Class and Constitution, a +2 Morale bonus to Fortitude saves, and a -2 penalty to Wisdom.

I picked Wildhunt Shifter for now as lower WIS does not seem prudent to a Monk. This grants later improvements to Dodge, spellcasting while Raged, and giving Lesser Displacement automatically while in Shifter Rage. In contrast, the Beasthide Shifter path will later augment PRR, healing amplification, threat generation and a modest HP boost, which is equally compelling for a Shintao.

Looking at Flora’s claws, I was hoping to see innate slash damage added to the Monk’s inherent bludgeoning of unarmed attacks. While that damage isn’t automatically added, slashing damage is added through the Maul enhancement, giving a Druid-like bleeding attack for a few moments with this active attack.

Added Cleave early on for a good non-ki attack, which works nicely.

Other later enhancements look interesting. The Howls are mass debuffs to enemy saves and buffs to allies. Magic Fang is an old ability I used for my summoned or animal companions way back in my Neverwinter Nights games, adding +1 to weapon enhancement damage. As Shifters are both humanoid and animal for purposes of spells and and other uses, Magic Fang will raise her handwraps enhancement or when completely unarmed. (Still remembering that handwraps are now weapons because I’ve been playing that long now from when they were not.)

There are enhancements to augment the saves and abilities on summons, which isn’t something I will expect to do with Flora.

Even meditating on a Shifter is a treat, which I liked. While all other Monks meditate with hands clasped in front of them as if in prayer, the Shifter sits in a more Buddhist-styled open-armed meditative posture used in yoga.

I like this appearance that appears to be added by the devs as a purely cosmetic change. The Shifter, as a character, seems more in need of a deeper meditative state as a raging Monk, which seems counterintuitive to an otherwise traditionally contemplative class. Greater contemplation through raging, I guess.

This may have been added in some update that appeared during my hiatus, but thanks to the devs for correcting the cosmetic error where Monks armed with bows or other larger weapons would show the weapon in Meditation poking through the character’s head. Now weapons are temporarily hidden while in Meditation.

Because the Shifter’s raging powers are consumed action boosts in a sense, resting at a shrine, normally more of an option for a Monk since rests will deplete stored ki, might be more of a thing for Flora. There will be less use of shrines on completing the last core racial enhancement that regenerates the Rage boosts every 90 seconds.

Racial enhancements to natural armor are welcomed, which I assume stack with enhancement bonuses. And while I won’t be seeking joining raids where petrification is likely (sorry, almost no one plays “Ascension Chamber”), having that innate ability to be immune to petrification is a nice touch against medusas, although I wonder if it will also ignore the debuffing caused by the medusa’s initial attempts to petrify you. (Almost looking forward to trying this out if I have it unlocked in time for the level 12 quest, “Eyes of Stone.”)

Also nice is a special mass-paralyzing howl based on WIS DCs, which will come in handy for tougher fights.

Overall, I see an interesting future for Flora as my guild’s first effort at a tank (my oldest and most experienced tank, Lynncletica, is still around on my original guild and will likely stay there for some time as I complete some Legendary flagging on her and gather up some other items or abilities in Epic Destinies long neglected).

Now, off to get some Striding and melee alacrity items for her, as she slashes and moves in slower motions than I care to see.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. DDOCentral
    Nov 02, 2020 @ 19:15:34

    Reblogged this on DDOCentral.

  2. FuzzyDuck81
    Nov 03, 2020 @ 03:26:20

    They’re a fun race for sure, if you’re able to I definitely suggest trying to go for howl of terror since that gives some great crowd control. Haven’t tried them as monk yet though it’s on my list for the 3rd racial life on my completionist project.

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