D&D 3rd Edition House Rules

The Monk

Yes, the 3rd Edition Monk rocks. It's much better and far more useful than any horrid, unbalanced version previously produced. The 3rd Edition Monk obviously focuses on perfection of the body and mind in order to transcend into higher spheres of reality-hence the progression from resistance to Enchantment all the way up to Ethereal Projection. However, as cool as this is, it wasn't quite what we were looking for, which has a bit more to do with Kung Fu powers and martial arts fighting. :)

Seriously, though, there was a bit of discomfort with the thought of playing a character whose whole goal is the quest for something so otherworldly. It leads to two problems, in my mind.

The first one is that it seems like the spiritual progression of the Monk leads to a narrow selection of personalities. I won't go so far as to say, "Play one Monk and you've played 'em all" but compared to the range of characters you could get with most of the other classes, 3rd Edition Monks would have to all be very similar. Have they no personal goals? I'm sure they do, but the abilities they gain seem to channel them more and more into one particular mindset as they gain levels. Perfection has been designated for them, and so they must sacrifice or at least de-prioritize personal interests that don't coincide with that, losing much of what makes them unique individuals.

The second problem is, the Monk's abilities sometimes seem to be raggedly explained. It's not that they don't make any sense, but it's just a general, vague 'oh, it's self-improvement' justification. To me, most of the Monk's abilities seem very physical, with a couple of planewalking things thrown in to demonstrate that it's all spiritual too. And then it up and becomes a supernatural creature? Granted, this isn't a wholly spontaneous leap, but it seems like quite a jump to go from the powers the Monk demonstrates up to 19th level, straight to Outsider creature at 20th. Why should the Monk do that? Because it can go Ethereal for a few minutes a day? Ethereal stuff aside, where are the signs of mental and spiritual development that would indicate such a change is taking place? We have three-ki strike, Diamond Soul, and Tongue of the Sun and Moon. Not to diss magic resistance and all that, but do these three things show the breadth of evolution in the Monk?

Besides these points, there is the simple fact that monks are supposed to be the pre-eminent students of the unarmed martial arts. While they certainly can't compete with a fighter for weapon prowess, how is one supposed to play a Monk in combat when the whole fighting style is being monopolized and channeled into Feats? How realistic is it that a Monk would know only three martial arts moves when they're so focused on such things?

To solve these problems, I have re-worked the 3rd Edition Monk's special abilities. I attempted to keep it relatively balanced-that is to say, the Monk gains many powers, but hopefully I kept a good mix between combat, general, and specialized abilities.

Obviously, I included the bonus feats to reflect the Monk's martial arts training. These slots, like the bonus slots a fighter receives, can only be used for certain feats. Among those are:

I increased the Armor Class bonus by 1, since I felt that it didn't make a huge difference at lower levels and yet would keep the Monk's AC up to speed at higher levels.

As for the rest, I rearranged the special abilities a bit to work in some other stuff that I felt would reflect a mindset for the Monk that's similar but a bit more expanded. Here, they're still after the same goal (perfection), but instead of what they had before-a dualistic approach that looked like perfection of mind and body were separate until 20th level-I tried to redistribute stuff and add in a few things that would reflect the fact that their quasi-magical physical abilities actually come from mental improvement.

Also, I feel like this distribution allows a Monk to incorporate self-perfection with other goals. I mean, after all, why should it be the only thing on their agenda? This way, the abilities a Monk gets can be usefully applied to things besides the primary point. Okay, I'm not trying to diss immunity to poisons and magic resistance, but I like the thought of them getting some non-passive powers that don't relate to combat. Maybe it'll help them, I dunno, take over the world or lead disciples to enlightenment. Doesn't it just help their mystique to be able to read minds, just a touch?

Finally, I figured that if a Monk turns into a supernatural creature, the Monk's abilities should reflect the increasing harmony with the universal vibe that's got to be going on there. Thus, the additional planewalking abilities they get toward the end, as well as some minor harmonizing abilities earlier on, like Body Equilibrium.

Monk Level Monk Special Abilities AC bonus
1 Bonus Feat Unarmed Strike, Deflect Arrows, Trip, Stunning Attack, Evasion, Feign Death, Monk Surprise +1
2 Bonus Feat Still Mind, Resist ESP +1
3 Slow Fall (20 feet), Self-Heal +1
4 Bonus Feat Purity of Body, including Haste and Slow spells +1
5 Body Equilibrium, Mind over Body +2
6 Bonus Feat Slow Fall (30 feet), Leap of the Clouds +2
7 +2 to Initiative rolls +2
8 Bonus Feat Slow Fall (50 feet) +2
9 Improved Evasion +2
10 Bonus Feat Ki Strike +1 +3
11 Diamond Body +3
12 Bonus Feat Abundant Step +3
13 Ki Strike +2, Tongue of the Sun and Moon +3
14 Bonus Feat Diamond Soul +3
15 Quivering Palm, Timeless Body +4
16 Bonus Feat Ki Strike +3, Slow Fall any distance +4
17 Empty Body +4
18 Bonus Feat Detect Thoughts +4
19 Astral Projection +4
20 Bonus Feat Perfect Self, Plane Shift +5

Feign Death (su): Through meditative training, the Monk can put himself in a state of suspended animation, for up to 1 hour/level each day.

Monk Surprise (ex): Because of training in alertness, the Monk's chance of being surprised is only 33% at 1st level, -2% for each level thereafter (so 31% at 2nd, 29% at 3rd, etc).

Resist ESP (ex): Along with Still Mind, this reflects the monk's training in resisting mind effects. If someone tries to use Detect Thoughts or similar magic on the Monk, the Monk has a 60% + 2% chance per level beyond 2nd to hold his mind closed against the invasive magic, so that the spell or effect does not work.

Body Equilibrium (su): At this level, the Monk is learning how to harmonize her own being with the flow of natural energy. The Monk can adjust the effective density of her body to correspond with almost any surface upon which she stands. Thus, using this ability, the Monk can walk on water, quicksand, or mud, for example. Also, with respect to falling, use of this discipline has the effect of the Wizard spell, Featherfall. The Monk can use this ability for up to 1 round/level as a Monk each day.

Mind over Body (ex): The Monk has enough control over himself to suppress his need for food, water, and rest or sleep. For each level as a Monk, the character can go for 1 day without such necessities with no penalty, but at some point afterward the Monk must spend an amount of time equal to his length of use of the power in complete rest. Until the Monk does so, he will not be able to use this power again.

Detect Thoughts (sp): The Monk has developed mental mastery to such an extent that he can now engage in a limited form of telepathy. He can Detect Thoughts, as per the Wizard spell, for a maximum total of 10 minutes per day. Except for duration, the ability works as if cast at a level equal to the Monk's.

Astral Projection (su): The Monk can now transcend the physical sphere to such an extent that, once a week, he can astrally project himself, as per the spell. However, he cannot affect anyone other than himself.

Plane Shift (sp): Along with the perfection of self attained by a 20th level Monk comes the complete transcendence of the Monk's physical reality. He becomes able to Plane Shift, up to twice per day, just as if casting the Clerical spell.