Weekend Kung-Fu Classes for my other Characters

Sing it..you know you want to. "Everybody was kung-fu fighting...HA!"

Sing it..you know you want to.
“Everybody was kung-fu fighting…HA!”

Something to read while the DDO gets another update this morning.

With my entry into a multiclassed Rogue with Monk training, I’ve been thinking a bit on doing the same for many of my other non-Monk characters since, if you haven’t caught on, I like the Monk class.

This can be tricky stuff, especially since I’ve only made a few WIS-based casters (Rangers and Clerics). I’ve never gotten the hang of arcane casters in DDO, and have only one sword-and-board melee, a lonely Paladin that rarely gets any air time.

My Monk guide is designed to help people build and play an non-multiclassed Monk, and I enforce this training preference in not discussing blends in great detail in the guide. But the gloves are off in this article as I seriously reconsider not only multiclassing one or two more of my characters, but ALL of them.

I imagine each of my non-Monks journeying one day to the dojo, being helped out of their armor and weapons, handed a pair of monkly pajamas and a straw mat to sit on during their weekend kung-fu seminar, beefing up their unarmed fighting skills with Teachers Syncletica, Lynncletica and Ryncletica before returning back to their dominant occupations of their primary class.

I expect many of them to get a fine schooling and a lot of bruising. For a couple of them, the trip might be worth it.

Arcane Archer Monk

Pynthetica is my human Arcane Archer that I loved to play before Monk fever took me completely.

The first idea in returning Pyn to the game in her 2nd life is to create a Zen Archer, or “Monkcher” as it’s known on the forums. Uses a bow and Zen Archery (use WIS rather than DEX for attack rolls) but be ready to punch it up if things become too close. I envision a Ranger 14/Monk 6, adding in some Arcane Archer power combined with Ninja Spy I for some negative energy attacks and natural invisibility.

I’d lose some ranged alacrity this way with the loss of the Ranger capstone but I’d try to compensate by adding a lot more STR than in her first life for greater damage. One advantage is getting the Two-Handed Fighting line for free with Ranger levels, saving several feat slots if she went all-Monk in her training.

Rogue Monk II

Allysen is my weary Thief-Acrobat II halfling Rogue. Being my first Rogue, she has some issues that make her not as adequate at trapping or fighting as I’d want her to be. Cassie is my first Rogue with Monk levels, so Allysen would be my second effort.

After playing this Acrobat for a bit now, I suspect that I’m missing overall attack power: STR. Quarterstaff fighting is also a bit slower. Rather than pitch the staffs, I could keep the Acrobat and add just two Monk levels. Normally people just do this for the Evasion, but Rogues get that, too. What I’m adding is the unarmed fighting option for more attack variety with elemental ki attacks, which also work with the staff. From there, add far more STR.

It’s AC that becomes a problem in the build since Allysen would have to wear robes or outfits to stay centered. That means that Allysen will need to subscribe to the Dodge/Mobility/Spring Attack/Combat Expertise/Whirlwind Attack blend that Cassietetica will have, and that Ryncletica and Quintessica the Avatar have for superior Dodge, AC and a special attack option. Still can’t neglect DEX for the AC and Reflex but STR will be the damage dealer here. With only 2 Monk levels Allysen should be able to disarm and spot as a good Rogue should.

Cleric Monk

A fitting and common multiclass for many players since WIS powers both classes. I’ve tried this before with unfavorable results, likely because I couldn’t make that toon “fit in” with parties as well as run solo as well as I wanted.

For me, Cleric dilettantes for Half-Elves were far easier to utilize with Cassie and Ryn while keeping their roles straight–and thus not losing any offense or defense in the build. I do so want to make a better party aide with improved fighting prowess than a typical Cleric. Perhaps a look at wielding kamas is worth it, as they do well against zombies, leaving Turn Undead uses to weaker skeletons. I have a halfling cleric I could use for this but the joy of doing this is not there for me. For now, I’m leaving this blend on the back-burner.

Paladin Monk

I must admit that I haven’t studied enough for this one. This blend would have the strongest saves in the game (Pallys and Monks rank #1 and #2 here). Attack power, a few spells to help buff others and self isn’t a bad thing. The information I lack involves what Prestige Enhancement to use. I’d imagine a Paladin Monk as an advanced beholder slayer, so going Light Monk would be the direction if I took up to 6 levels.

Perhaps that’s redundant since Paladins also have a distaste for undead and may have more resources than Shintao Monk I. It can’t be Ninja Spy as that specializes in negative energy and complicates things.

There’s also the matter of CHA, which will sap points for other abilities needed for unarmed fighting. AC is the big loser here since many Paladin defenses/abilities are done through shields–something an unarmed blend like this can never do. If the shield is on, I still have Evasion in place to help but that disables most other monastic effects. Don’t know if I’ll get to trying out this idea. I’ve just not been inspired by the Paladin class.

Druid Monk

Not much time devoted to studying this one, either, but on the surface there is much potential. Druid spell points come from high WIS–perfect for a build whose animal forms effectively fight unarmed, which synergize with a monastic fighting style. The piercing and slashing damage additions are worthy, too. I wasn’t initially sure which way this should go: Minor as a Monk or as a Druid?

Looks like (based on the limited DDO Wiki class article that’s still being fleshed out) that minoring as a Monk gives the best benefit. Two levels for Evasion, and Stunning Fist with additional elemental damage at early levels, and the rest of the attack power is supplemented by the druid forms. STR again defines the damage.

With a few fresh new character slots from buying the new expansion pre-release, this just might be my new experiment in the coming days. Might ask a couple of the hosts on DDOCast: Seems they’re a little bit country, a little bit rock-and-roll when it comes to some Monk/Druids or Druid/Monks they play.

Classes That Don’t Synergize

There are several classes that can’t work as a unarmed fighter with two or more Monk levels.

You can’t make Bard or Barbarian Monks: These classes must always be non-Lawful while Monks must be Lawful. Doesn’t mean you can’t use Epic Destinies to add a little something extra that reflects these classes, but that’s much later in the game.

Sorcerers and Wizards could benefit from the two-level splash of Evasion but otherwise should never be on the front lines where their low hit points mean certain death, Monk Evasion or no. Their reliance on CHA or INT also lessens what monastic prowess they’d have, and thus their odds at survival. Not saying it’s impossible–there are certainly a few crazy players that have surely rolled one up. I’m just not going to be one of them, for now.

As with the Sorcerer, the Favored Soul isn’t a good fit for a Monk blend since CHA is used by that class–almost entirely a dump stat on a Monk.

A definite no-no would be the Artificer. Half of their fun and abilities literally extend from the rune arm, and, as a dev said, rune arms damage one’s calm. It requires INT for spell points. A two-level Monk splash for Evasion would certainly help a traditional Artificer, but I’m not sure how an unarmed Artificer would be practical. (UPDATE: See the comments for a reconsideration: One poster enlightened me to my class bias that would make an Artificer Monk a very enticing option, rune arms be damned.)

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A Death in the Family

I’ve seen much of death. But when it comes to a close friend, death seems all the most closer to you.

A few weeks ago, the cleric that called herself Arcangela was found alone and lifeless in her quarters we gave her, here in my dojo. She never overcome the distress in what she believed was a futility of saving the ungrateful, the hostile, even those who were evil. Despite our talks, it appeared that the cleric simply appealed to her god to cease fighting. My physicians found no marks, no poisons, no traces of magic foul play. She simply surrendered her will to live.

The cleric was buried in a solemn service. Many of my acolytes and a few from the city come to bid their respects. I picked a quiet location under a large, sturdy oak, near a small stream with a pleasant trickling sound.

After the burial, one of my acolytes, a young halfling named Krena, remained standing  by Arcangela’s grave.

“I don’t understand. Why was it so hard for her?” the halfling asked.

I took a moment to consider before I spoke. “Clerics have much to manage. Few other adventures consider the innate stress of gathering and channeling divine magic.”

“Is it…painful…to heal people?”

I nodded. “In a sense. You sacrifice your ability to fight, sometimes, in order to ensure that your mission is a success. But some adventurers, ill-tempered, ill-trained and ill-equipped, often take advantage and abuse a cleric’s power. They see them as little more than a walking healing potion vendor.”

“I see,” the halfing said. I could see my answers had only generated more questions. I stood in the quiet and waited.

“You said that clerics sacrifice their ability to fight in order to heal. But could they improve on their fighting skills?”

“Yes,” I said. “An adventurer could train in multiple schools, one in fighting, and one in the divine arts. The downside to this is that the adventurer can ultimately not attain mastery in either school and thus be unable to perform the highest abilities that either class could attain.”

Krena’s face began to blush, her mouth opening slightly to show her clenched teeth.

“It wasn’t fair what those…pick-up groups did to her,” she said, her voice shaking.

“No. No, it wasn’t.”

“Master…I feel that…I feel I could learn the fighting essentials and begin study of the clerical arts.”

I knew this was coming. “What could you offer that Arcangela could not?” I asked bluntly.

Krena’s posture straightened in response to my challenge. “I know that even the basic unarmed attacks and evasive training will make me faster and more durable than some clerics I have read about. I won’t need heavy armor. I can heal myself through ki and perform more damage through ki. At the same time, the clerical arts will improve my skills in fighting as well as serving others in their healing.”

“But aren’t you worried that others will take advantage?”

She shook her head. “I think that Arcangela let herself become consumed.”

“How so?”

“As you have taught us, there is a difference between aiding during battle and contributing to an adventurer’s weakened state. It would be better, for both healer and adventurer, if mistakes in training or preparation are not disguised through temporary treatments.”

I smiled. “How would you say this in a less formal tone?”

Uh…stop healing the stupid?

“Better,” I said. “So what can the dojo do for you?”

“I need to complete my unarmed training. I need two more things: The name of a healer trainer in House Jorasco and permission to choose a name based on my new profession.”

I began walking back towards the compound. “I can help you in both. What name do you choose?”

“Gwencletica,” she said, after a beat.

The young halfling just became our first Cleric Monk. I plan to watch her progress with great interest.

A Test of Faith

We found the cleric, half-dead, in a recessed hallway inside the tomb of Delera Omaren I.  She told us (after some rehabilitation) that she had survived alone after her party abandoned her only through her ability to periodically turn the hordes of undead that would amass by the door she had locked.

The strain of so defending herself  had greatly and steadily weakened her. By the time I and Lynncletica had arrived (and by accident–I was reviewing Lynn’s skills in eliminating undead), she said she had perhaps one turn ability left before she would have succumbed or became one of the undead.

The cleric called herself Arcangela.

That was about as much explanation as we were able to get from the woman before she collapsed into unconsciousness for three days. We returned her to the dojo to recuperate.

On day four, I found myself out in the meadow. Seated along our pond was the cleric. I approached and sat, but Arcangela seemed to barely notice me.

After several minutes, she asked, “If I cannot defend myself, how can I do as my faith asks?”

I thought a moment and said, “What do you wish to know?”

Arcangela sighed. “I want…I need to know something beyond armor. Yet I need to be the best destroyer of the undead hordes. You’ve heard of the terrors in the old necropolis. And yet, I cannot manage the filth that has corrupted Delera’s tomb.”

“You could join the Path of Harmonious Balance,” I said.

“I know of it,” she replied. “It isn’t as effective in controlling many mobs of undead.”

“It isn’t,” I admitted. “But you become extremely good at destroying them one at a time.”

The cleric shook her head. “There must be a better way.”

I stood up. “Perhaps for you the path must fork. Perhaps a…fusion 0f the skills of martial art with the divine art.”

Arcangela didn’t answer for several heartbeats. “But I may never live up to my full potential in a single vocation.”

“And yet, you may be the stronger cleric for it. What you cannot outgun, you may outrun,” I said.

The cleric stood up, shakily. “What would I have to learn?”

“It’s what you would have to unlearn that may be more important,” I answered. “For one, the heavy armor slows you greatly. Your protection would come from agility. While the martial arts would be very helpful in direct defense, your powers of destroying undead would not be greatly diminished.”

“And what might be the disadvantages?”

I shook my head. “Highest level spells may be forbidden to you. Healing spells may not be as robust as you would like. Your martial arts skill may be too weak in some places. I know of a few in Stormreach that have learned the fundamentals of the martial art–perhaps only two levels of training–and then continue in their primary vocation.”

I sat back down. “I challenge you to consider the third level, to accept two paths, that of Harmonious Balance as well as your clerical path. Many of my skills are similar to yours but not as potent. And yet, I will survive longer, for the monk renews herself through ki, which doesn’t require rest or potions to renew.”

The cleric nodded but said little else except, “I will consider what you said.”

I left for my quarters to think a bit more about Arcangela’s plight. She seemed–angry that other adventurers sometimes saw her only as a tap to survive themselves but cared little else for her skills. For my part, I wish I knew more on how to fuse the realm of cleric and monk. How much training in one may weaken the other training?

Perhaps Arcangela and I will learn together, once she decides.