Monk Fighting Styles

When a monk reaches 2nd level, she must choose a fighting style, a method of unarmed combat in which she has been trained. Additionally, she can choose a focus – offense, defense, damage, or saves.

Each time she gains a new rank, she can choose to begin training in a new style; she must spend a week training under a master in the new style, whereupon her rank in the new style is automatically set to Initiate (due to the training she has already received in her first style). Each time she gains a new rank, she can choose an ability from either style (but not both). A monk cannot train in more than two styles, nor can she train in Mountain and Wind or Sea and Sun styles at the same time – they are sufficiently different that most monks cannot accommodate both styles in their training. The Martial Arts Grandmastery feat negates this restriction, however.

When calculating AC bonus from the Awareness of Self ability and fast movement, use the higher bonus. For example, a monk trained in both Mountain and Sun styles would use the Mountain style AC bonus and Sun Style movement rate.

Compass Points

The compass points represent different aspects of a given fighting style. A monk isn't limited to using just one; she can switch between them each round as a free action, going on offense for a few rounds, then switching to defense or concentrating on dealing more damage.

All bonuses are based on the rank the monk has achieved in her style: +1 for Acolyte, +2 for Initiate, +3 for Master, or +4 for Grandmaster.

North: The monk is focused on offensive maneuvers. When fighting unarmed, with monkish weapons, or with her chosen weapons, she gains an insight bonus to attack rolls equal to her rank.

South: The monk is focused on defense. She gains a dodge bonus to Armor Class equal to her rank.

East: The monk is trained to exploit her enemies' weaknesses and strike at vulnerable spots. When fighting unarmed, with monkish weapons, or with her chosen weapons, she gains a bonus to damage equal to her rank.

West: The monk is trained to focus her inner energies to protecting herself. She gains a bonus to saves equal to her rank.

Ki Pool

All monks have what is called a "ki pool" - a reservoir of energy they can draw from to power certain abilities. The number of points in this pool is equal to 3 + a certain ability bonus, which depends on the fighting style: Con (Mountain), Wis (Sea), Int (Shadow), Cha (Sun), or Dex (Wind). She also gains 1 point every three class levels.

If the monk trains in multiple styles, she adds only the bonus points from the second ability to her pool. For example: Jalya is trained in the Sun Style. She has 15 Charisma and 5 points in her ki pool. If she started training in Mountain Style as well, she could add her Con bonus (only) to the pool, but 3 + her Con bonus. All abilities from any styles she has draw from the same pool, though.

All abilities that are powered by the ki pool are noted ("The monk can draw upon her ki to…"); each use of an ability uses one point. Points are replenished after a monk sleeps for at least 8 hours. Drawing upon the ki pool is part of the action noted for the particular ability - it takes no action by itself.



Fighting Styles

There are five main monkish fighting styles: Mountain, Sea, Shadow, Sun, and Wind. Each is described below.


Mountain Style

The mountains are strong and unyielding. They have existed for thousands of years, enduring wind, water, sun, and even miners, and will remain for thousands more. This style emulates the strength of the mountains, their unyielding resolve, and their ability to withstand any kind of damage.

Monks who practice this style gain the strength and resolve of the earth – they have a +2 bonus to Fort and Will saves. The earth, however, is slow and ponderous – they suffer a -2 penalty to Reflex saves. Additionally, half the dodge bonus gained from the Awareness of Self ability (round down) is instead applied as DR x/-. The other half of the dodge bonus is rounded up and applied to Armor Class as normal. For example, a monk with a +5 AC bonus would instead have DR 2/- and a +3 AC bonus.

Bonus Feat List: Diehard, Endurance, Fighting Style Ability, Improved Critical, Improved Offense, Indomitable, Power Attack, Power Critical, Stunning Fist, Toughness.

Acolyte

Immovable (Su): Three times per day, the monk can use her ki energy to root herself in place, attaching herself to the fabric of reality. This only lasts for 1 round, but during that round she cannot be tripped, overrun, knocked down, or otherwise swept off her feet (though she can be snatched or picked up by a larger creature). While this means that enemies can't move her, neither can she move to let allies by – she cannot move at all during that round. This ability can be activated as a move action.

Iron Fist (Ex): The monk can can draw upon her ki energy to empower her unarmed strike. She makes a single attack as a standard action; if it hits, it deals +1d6 points of damage per rank in this style. If she is attacking a construct, she bypasses 5 points of DR per rank she has in this style; if an object, she bypasses 5 points of hardness per rank. If the attack misses, that use of the ability is wasted. Alternatively, she can channel her ki to give her immense strength - she gains a +10 bonus to her Strength check for one round; this is usually used to burst or break an item.

Initiate

Avalanche (Ex): The monk can rain down blows with her unarmed strike or weapon on an opponent, driving it back under the force of her strength. Treat this as a bull rush attempt, but the monk makes a check after each attack with a +1 bonus per 5 points of damage inflicted; a successful check drives the opponent back 5 feet. This ability is usable only as part of the full attack action, but the monk can follow her opponent, if she drives him back, as part of the attack. It can be used any number of times per day.

Temblor (Ex): The monk can draw upon her ki as a full-round action to make a strike against a solid object, channeling the force of the blow through the object to something behind it. When she strikes, she must state a target and distance (which can be up to 6 inches per level); if there is an object or creature at the stated distance that is touching the first object, it takes the full damage from the blow. If there is no target, the force travels the stated distance and explodes – most often, it blows a chunk out of the far side of the object (it deals full damage in either case, bypassing hardness for objects). For example, a monk could use this ability to break the ninth block in a stack of ten or damage a creature on the other side of a wall or door (assuming it is touching the wall or door).

The first object (the one through which the energy is being channeled) does not otherwise take any damage from the blow. This ability cannot be used against creatures – that is, the ki force cannot be channeled through a living or undead being. It can, however, be used against constructs or animated objects. If the stated distance is wrong (she has a margin of error of 1 inch per rank), the force is dissipated harmlessly and that use of the ability is wasted.

Master

Earthsense (Su): The monk can sense the presence of any creatures touching the ground, if they are anywhere within 5 feet per level (tremorsense). She can pinpoint their location to within 5 feet, and can determine their rough size (size category). She cannot sense incorporeal or ethereal creatures, or those in liquids or in the air. If the monk is in a building or other structure, she can only sense creatures on the same floor as she is, unless they are extremely large (DM's discretion, but Huge and larger creatures, or extremely heavy/dense creatures like golems, could be sensed on other floors). No creature moving along the ground can surprise her, as she can sense it coming. This ability is always active.

Rooted in the Earth (Su): The monk can enter a modified defensive stance, drawing upon her ki energy to gain the incredible endurance and strength of the mountains. She gains a bonus equal to half her monk level to avoid being bull rushed, grappled, overrun, or tripped, has DR 10/-, is immune to pain, including spells like symbol of pain, and gains a +4 bonus to her Strength. She can't move beyond making a combat stride each round, however.

Grandmaster

Earthquake Strike (Su): As a full-round action, the monk can draw upon her ki and strike the earth with a fist or foot. The resultant strike sends shockwaves through the ground around her in a 30-foot radius. All creatures in the area of effect who are in contact with the ground take 3d6 points of damage plus the monk's Strength bonus and must make a Reflex save (DC 10 + 1/2 monk's level + monk's Con modifier) or be knocked prone. They are free to rise on the next round.


Sea Style

The sea is vast and ever-changing, eternal and relentless. Water has little strength, but it has endurance and patience. Even the mightiest mountain can be worn down, eventually, by the constant passage of a river; the ocean surf pounds stone to sand. This style is designed to wear down an opponent's endurance by dealing small amounts of damage repeatedly over time; while the monk can be struck in return, he absorbs most of the force and bounces back, just as a body of water absorbs force directed at it and reforms.

Monks who practice this style are primarily trained in combat maneuvers. When performing any such maneuver (bull rush, disarm, trip, etc.), they gain a bonus to their attack roll equal to double their rank (+2 for Acolyte, +4 for Initiate, +6 for Master, and +8 for Grandmaster).

Bonus Feat List: Combat Expertise, Deflect Arrows, Dodge, Fighting Style Ability, Improved Finesse, Lightning Reflexes, Mobility, Spring Attack, Snatch Arrows, Weapon Finesse.

Acolyte

Flowing Waters (Ex): The monk suffers no penalties for fighting while prone and can regain her feet as a free action that doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity.

Riptide (Ex): If an opponent attempts to trip or disarm the monk, she can make a counterattack, even if the opponent has the Improved Finesse or Improved Unarmed Combat feats. The monk cannot be flat-footed and must be able to move to use this ability.

Initiate

Defensive Roll (Ex): The monk can roll with a potentially lethal blow to take less damage from it than she otherwise would. When she would be reduced to 0 or fewer hit points by damage in combat (from a weapon or other blow, not a spell or special ability), she can attempt to roll with the damage. To use this ability, she must draw upon her ki and attempt a Reflex save (DC = damage dealt) using her Wis bonus instead of her Dex bonus. If the save succeeds, she takes only half damage from the blow; if it fails, she takes full damage. She must be aware of the attack and able to react to it in order to execute her defensive roll - if she is flat-footed or otherwise unaware of it, she can't use this ability. Since this effect would not normally allow a character to make a Reflex save for half damage, the monk's evasion ability does not apply to the defensive roll.

Water Flows Over Rocks (Ex): The monk gains a +4 bonus to saves against spells and effects that restrict or prohibit movement – grease, entanglement, grapple, slow, trip, web, etc.; in addition, she can move through hazardous areas that restrict movement by up to half (spike stones, e.g.) without penalty, and gains a +4 bonus to saves to avoid taking damage. If the terrain restricts movement by more than half, the monk is reduced to half her movement speed.

Master

Relentless Waves (Ex): The monk's unarmed strikes can wear down her opponent's endurance, rendering it weaker. She can draw upon her ki, which powers her unarmed attacks for 1 round; any such attack that hits forces the target to make a Fort save (DC 10 + 1/2 monk's level + monk's Wis modifier) or suffer 1 point of Strength damage, +1 per 5 points by which it failed the save. Successive strikes are cumulative. The Strength damage can be recovered normally.

Ice Shatters Rock (Ex): A monk can, through repeated damage, actually wear down an object's hardness. When she hits with an unarmed strike and does damage that exceeds the object's hardness, the hardness is reduced by 1. She can reduce the hardness to half (round down) in this manner. Only one successful hit per round can be applied in this manner, though the monk can still make a full attack action. When used against a large object like a wall, the damage is inflicted on a 10-foot-square section only.

Grandmaster

Whirlpool (Ex): The monk can not only deflect an attack, but she can actually redirect it elsewhere. After an attack has been confirmed but before damage is rolled, she can draw upon her ki to redirect it to strike somewhere else (another target she is aware of). A melee attack can strike any other creature or object within 5 feet; a ranged attack can strike anything within 10 feet (the monk can't redirect a ray attack). The attack uses its original roll -2, for being deflected (a natural 20 is not affected, nor are critical hits); if it hits, it deals damage normally. If there is no target within 5 or 10 feet, the attack is simply deflected and misses. The monk can also choose a target behind herself; in this case, she and her attacker end up switching places, as she moves into the attacker's space and he moves into hers to attack the new target.

The monk must be aware of the attack and able to react to it in order to deflect it - if she is flat-footed or otherwise unaware of it, she can’t use this ability.


Shadow Style

The shadows are dark and mysterious, and often hide things best left unknown. Many creatures of cruel mien and questionable moral outlook inhabit the darkness.

This style is designed to hamper an opponent's ability to fight by reducing his ability to move or be effective in combat. Monks' use of these abilities vary depending on their ethics – good-aligned monks tend to disable opponents to avoid killing them, while evil ones cripple opponents, inflicting pain and torturing them before finishing them off. On the whole, Shadow Style monks tend toward neutrality or evil.

Due to their training in striking precise points, Shadow Style monks get a +4 bonus to attack rolls when attacking specific body parts that would otherwise incur penalties to the attack roll (an opponent's eyes, for example).

Unless otherwise noted, this style's abilities can be reversed by a monk of any style who is of equal or higher rank than the specific ability (for example, a Master can reverse the effects of a Serpent Strike). This requires a standard action and a Concentration or Heal check vs. the original Fort save DC. Shadow Style abilities cannot be used on constructs, elementals, incorporeal beings, oozes, plants, or undead. Some abilities have additional restrictions, as noted below.

Bonus Feats: Blind-Fight, Combat Expertise, Combat Reflexes, Fighting Style Ability, Improved Critical, Improved Finesse, Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Stunning Fist, Weapon Finesse.

Acolyte

Pain Touch (Ex): As a standard action, the monk can make an unarmed strike on a nerve cluster, inflicting great pain upon the target. It takes a -2 penalty on all rolls for 1 minute per point of the monk's Int bonus. Successive strikes on the same target extend the duration, but are not otherwise cumulative.

Silencing Strike (Ex): The monk can draw upon her ki and make an unarmed strike against an opponent. If the attack hits (she must be able to reach the throat to strike in the proper place), the target is rendered mute for 1d4 rounds, +1 round per rank the monk has in this style.

Initiate

Dazing Blow (Ex): The monk can draw upon her ki and make an unarmed strike against an opponent. If the attack hits and deals damage, the enemy must make a Fort save (DC 10 + 1/2 monk's class level + monk's Int bonus) or be dazed for 1d4 rounds (can't take any actions, but is not helpless).

Shadow Strike (Ex): The monk can draw upon her ki and make an unarmed strike against an opponent. If the attack hits (she must be able to reach the head to strike in the proper place), the target is blinded for 1 round per class level (a cure blindness spell, or another monk, can reverse it).

Master

Serpent Strike (Ex): The monk can draw upon her ki and make an unarmed strike against a living opponent. If the target fails a Fort save (DC 10 + 1/2 monk's class level + monk's Int modifier), it suffers partial paralysis - in effect, it is slowed (as the spell) for 1 round per class level. This applies even to spellcasting (unless the spell uses no verbal, somatic, or material components) – the monk is affecting the target's muscular control, including its ability to speak. Spell-like abilities, psionics, or anything that requires only the target's mind to activate can be used normally.

If the monk hits the same target a second time while the paralysis is in effect and the target fails the save again (at -2 this time), it is fully paralyzed for 1 round per point of the monk's Int bonus. Once that effect wears off, however, the target is free to act normally.

This ability has no effect on creatures immune to slow or paralysis effects. The Sea style ability Water Flows Over Rocks grants the normal bonus against this ability.

Scorpion Fist (Ex): As a standard action, the monk can make an unarmed strike against an opponent's nerve cluster, disabling a limb or dealing ability damage. If the opponent is up to one size larger, she can strike at a specific limb (arm, leg, wing, etc., but not the head) taking a -4 penalty; a successful hit disables the limb for 1 minute per point of her Int bonus.

A disabled leg reduces the creature's speed and imposes a -2 penalty to Dex-based checks (movement is reduced by half if it has two legs, or by one-quarter if it has four; creatures with more than four legs are not affected by the loss of a single leg); a disabled arm limits its ability to attack and/or defend and imposes a -2 penalty to Strength-based checks (it can't make attacks with that arm, loses the benefit of a shield if applicable); a disabled wing means the creature can't fly. Disabling another limb of the same type further inhibits ability to move or attack, but does not apply further penalties.

A monk of Master rank or higher can reverse the condition as a standard action by manipulating the nerve cluster – there is no check necessary.

This ability cannot be used on any creature two or more sizes larger than the monk.

Grandmaster

Quivering Palm (Su): The monk can set up vibrations within the body of another creature that can thereafter be fatal if she so desires. She can use the quivering palm attack once per day, and she must announce her intent before making her attack roll. If the attack hits and deals damage, the target must make a Fort save (DC 10 + 1/2 monk's class level + monk's Int modifier) or be affected (see below). If the saving throw is successful, the target is no longer in danger from that particular quivering palm attack, but it can still be affected by another one at a later time.

Upon being struck, the target takes 2 points of Con damage, which cannot be healed by any means unless and until the quivering palm is negated (see below). The quivering palm's effects last for 1 day per monk level; at any point during that time, the monk can inflict another 2 points of Con damage by making a successful touch attack against the target (there is no save to avoid further damage). If the target's Con score is reduced to 0, or its hit points to its death threshold through Con loss, it dies. If the target is still alive when the quivering palm wears off, it can regain lost Con points normally.

A quivering palm can be negated by the monk who first inflicted it by touching the target; it can also be removed by another monk with a successful Concentration or Heal check, as noted above.

Only one creature can be under the effect of the quivering palm at any given time.


Sun Style

Fire is a wild and destructive force; if left uncontrolled, if consumes all that it touches. This style centers around the use of rapid, overwhelming force – disabling and defeating an opponent before he can strike back.

Since monks who practice this style are more focused on offense versus defense, the AC bonus they gain from their Awareness of Self ability scales more slowly than normal (see Table 3), but they deal +1 point per die of damage when using unarmed attacks or their chosen weapons.

Bonus Feat List: Cleave, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Fighting Style Ability, Great Cleave, Improved Offense, Iron Will, Power Attack, Power Critical, Stunning Fist.

Acolyte

Dazing Blow (Ex): 3 + Cha bonus times per day, the monk can make an unarmed attack against an enemy. If the attack hits and deals damage, the enemy must make a Fort save (DC 10 + 1/2 the monk's level + monk's Cha bonus) or be dazed for 1d4 rounds (can't take any actions, but is not helpless).

Soul of Fire (Ex): The monk can draw upon her ki to enter a frenzied state similar to a fighter's rage. In this state, she temporarily gains +2 to Strength and Dexterity. Her speed increases by 10 feet, and she can choose to make a flurry of blows with a full attack action in melee, making one extra attack per round at her highest base attack bonus while suffering a -2 penalty on every attack.

While in a frenzy the monk cannot use skills or abilities that require patience or concentration, such as moving silently or casting spells. She can use any feat she might have except for Expertise, metamagic feats, and Skill Focus (if it's tied to a skill that requires patience or concentration). The frenzy lasts for a number of rounds equal to 3 + the monk's Constitution modifier, and she can prematurely end it. At the end of the frenzy, she is fatigued (-2 to Strength, -2 to Dexterity, can't charge or run) for 1 minute afterward. She can enter a frenzy as a free action, but only on her turn, not in response to somebody else's action, and not if she is already fatigued or exhausted.

Initiate

Improved Flurry (Ex): The monk's flurry of blows ability improves. In addition to the standard extra single attack she gets from her flurry, she gains a second extra attack at her full base attack bonus.

Rushing Flames (Ex): The monk can rain down blows with her unarmed strike or weapon on an opponent, driving it back under the force of her strength. Treat this as a bull rush attempt, but she makes a check after each attack with a +1 bonus per 5 points of damage inflicted; a successful check drives the opponent back 5 feet. This ability is usable only as part of the full attack action, but the monk can follow her opponent, if she drives him back, as part of the attack.

Master

Explosive Fury (Ex): The monk can draw upon her ki and make an unarmed attack against an opponent up to one size larger as a standard action. If the attack hits, it deals double damage and the target must make a Strength check (vs. DC 12 + monk's Strength modifier) as if defending against a bull rush attack. If the check fails, it is knocked back 10 feet and falls prone (if it hits a solid object before reaching the distance, it strikes that and takes 1d6 damage before falling prone). Amorphous or incorporeal beings are immune to being knocked back. At Grandmaster rank, she can knock her opponent back 15 feet.

The monk can also use this ability as the last attack in a flurry; it otherwise works as described above, but the base DC is 10 instead of 12.

Reflect Attack (Ex): The monk can draw upon her ki to cause a melee attack to bounce back on its source with no loss of momentum. In order to use this ability, she must be aware of the attack and able to react to it – she can't be flat-footed, helpless, or otherwise immobilized. Doing so uses up one of her attacks of opportunity for that round. If she has none left, can't use this ability.

Grandmaster

Fireburst (Su): As a standard action, the monk can draw upon her ki to unleash a massive burst of energy that drives anyone adjacent to her back 5 feet and staggers them for one round (can't take any actions, but suffer no other penalties). Treat this as a bull rush attack with a DC of 15 + the monk's Str modifier; a successful opposed check means the target is not knocked back or staggered.


Wind Style

The Wind style focuses around speed, mobility, and avoiding being hit by the enemy while making rapid attacks. A Wind Style monk can confound her enemies by slipping between and around them, sowing confusion while she strikes, vanishes, and reappears somewhere else to strike again.

Monks of this fighting style focus more on speed and evasion over dealing damage; as a consequence, they suffer a -1 point per die penalty to damage rolls with their unarmed attacks or chosen weapons (minimum 1 point per die), but the AC bonus they gain from the Awareness of Self ability is increased by +2 (see Table 3).

Bonus Feat List: Combat Expertise, Combat Reflexes, Deflect Arrows, Dodge, Fighting Style Ability, Improved Finesse, Improved Initiative, Mobility, Spring Attack, Weapon Finesse.

Acolyte

Rushing Wind (Ex): The monk can give herself a burst of speed, which lasts for 1 round per class level. The speed increase is equal to 10 feet per rank she has achieved in this style, and can be split up as the monk sees fit (i.e., she could move faster for 1 round, then later for 5 rounds, etc., as long as the total time in a given day doesn't exceed her class level in rounds).

Leap of the Clouds (Ex): A monk's jumping distance (vertical or horizontal) is not limited by her height.

Initiate

Improved Evasion (Ex): The monk’s evasion ability improves. She still takes one-quarter damage on a successful Reflex saving throw against attacks, but henceforth she takes only half damage on a failed save. A helpless monk does not gain the benefit of improved evasion.

Into Thin Air (Ex): The monk can attempt to avoid an attack before it lands. She must declare her intent to use this ability before the attack is made; if she makes a Reflex save (DC = opponent's attack roll) the attack misses her as she dodges out of the way, but she uses up her combat stride (or her move action, if she has already made a combat stride) for the round. She can move up to 10 feet in any direction as part of the action. She must be able to see the opponent and not be flat-footed or otherwise prohibited from moving in order to avoid the attack. If she does not have a move action or combat stride available, she cannot use this ability.

Master

Cloudwalk (Ex): As long as the monk is running (move x4 or greater), she can move over areas that wouldn't normally support her weight – rotten boards, thin tree branches, even water (but not clouds or fog).
Whirlwind (Ex): The monk can draw upon her ki to make a single attack at her highest base attack bonus against all opponents within her reach. She can make a combat stride before or during this attack. She does not gain the benefit of extra attacks from feats like Cleave or spells like haste.

Grandmaster

Aspect of the Wind (Su): As a standard action, the monk can draw upon her ki to assume the aspect of the Wind – her form blurs and becomes misty (she gains concealment - a +2 deflection bonus to AC). She must remain moving while using this ability – if she stops or is stopped for any reason, she loses her concealment, but the ability's duration doesn't end; if she starts moving again, she regains her concealment (if she is moving or has made a move during her turn, she is considered to be in motion until her next turn; if she moves again at the beginning of her next turn, she retains her concealment). She cannot make a full attack action (unless she has the Improved Combat Movement feat, but she can make a single attack or any other action that requires a standard or move action. She can remain in this form for a number of rounds equal to 3 + her Dex bonus.

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