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    Canonfire :: View topic - Monk variant: Monk of the Silver Hand (undead-slaying monk)
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    Monk variant: Monk of the Silver Hand (undead-slaying monk)
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    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 13, 2001
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    Thu Apr 30, 2020 11:52 am  
    Monk variant: Monk of the Silver Hand (undead-slaying monk)

    One of the players in my 3.5 campaign is new to roleplaying. She's a big fan of BtVS and wanted a Buffy-like character. I knew enough about the show to know that Buffy uses a lot of martial arts moves, so I thought I'd just use the monk class and tweak it a bit. I took inspiration from the proposed Undead Stalker class listed in the 3.5 DMG (p 175-176), and also looked at some of the things Buffy can do in the BtVS RPG.

    I wanted to avoid developing a PrC or having her take levels in a PrC, as nearly all of the anti-undead ones seem to require Turn Undead or spellcasting ability. And like I said, she's new to RPGs, so I didn't want to make running her character any more complicated that it had to be.

    Ergo, I reworked the standard monk into the Monk of the Silver Hand (that's what I'm calling it for now, at least). It's the same as the standard monk, with the following changes:

    Weapon and Armor Proficiency: club, crossbow (light or heavy), dagger, dart, handaxe, javelin, kama, quarterstaff, sai, scimitar, sling, and wooden stake.

    Note: I dropped the nunchaku as the first doesn't seem very effective against undead (other than skeletons), shuriken for pretty much the same reason, & the siangham because it's stupid. Instead, they get the scimitar (for beheading), the dart (silver darts seem better than silver shuriken), and the wooden stake (I use the Pathfinder stats, only it's considered an exotic weapon). As a house rule, I allow monks to flurry with any light, double, or thrown (1 lb or less) weapon in which they're proficient (this allows the standard monk to flurry with handaxes and daggers, so no biggie).

    Favored Enemy (Undead)
    At 1st level, the monk of the silver hand gains a +2 bonus on Bluff, Listen, Sense Motive, Spot, and Survival checks when using these skills against undead creatures. Likewise, he gets a +2 bonus on weapon or unarmed damage rolls against such creatures.

    At 5th level and every five levels thereafter (10th, 15th, and 20th level), the monk of the silver hand’s bonus against undead increases by 2. Unlike rangers, monks of the silver hand do not gain additional favored enemies at higher levels.

    Note: This ability effectively replaces the standard monk’s bonus feat at first level.

    Smite Undead (Su)
    At 2nd level, a monk of the silver hand may attempt to smite undead with one normal melee attack. She adds her Wisdom bonus (if any) to her attack roll and deals 1 extra point of damage per monk of the silver hand level. If the monk of the silver hand accidentally smites a creature that is not undead, the smite has no effect, but the ability is still used up for that day.

    At 6th, 12th, and 17th level, the monk of the silver hand may smite evil one additional time per day, to a maximum of four times per day at 17th level.

    Note: This ability effectively replaces the standard monk’s bonus feats at second and sixth level, abundant step at 12th, and tongue of the sun and moon at 17th.

    Resist Undead (Su)
    At 3rd level, a monk of the silver hand gains a +2 on saving throws against extraordinary and supernatural special attacks from undead creatures (a ghoul’s paralysis or ghoul fever, mummy rot, a vampire’s domination ability, saves to remove negative levels bestowed by undead energy drain, etc). Saves against spell-like abilities, or spells used by undead do not receive this bonus. Furthermore, this bonus only applies to special attacks that are the result of a creature’s undead status. Special attacks the creature possessed in life (such as a vampire medusa’s poison or petrifying gaze) or are the product of the creature’s subtype (such as the distraction special attack of a corpse rat swarm) are saved against normally.

    Note: This ability effectively replaces the standard monk’s still mind ability.

    Ki Strike (Su)
    At 4th level, a monk of the silver hand’s unarmed attacks are empowered with ki. Her unarmed attacks are treated as magic weapons for the purpose of dealing damage to creatures with damage reduction. Ki strike improves with the character’s monk level. At 10th level, her unarmed attacks are also treated as silver weapons for the purpose of dealing damage to creatures with damage reduction. At 16th level, her unarmed attacks are treated as adamantine weapons for the purpose of dealing damage to creatures with damage reduction and bypassing hardness.

    Note: At 10th level, the monk of the silver hand’s ki strike diverges from that of the standard monk, due to the undead-slaying focus of this variant.

    Silver Hand (Su)
    Starting at 15th level, a monk of the silver hand can focus his ki to instantly destroy an undead creature. She can use this attack once a week, and she must announce her intent before making her attack roll. This ability only affects undead creatures. Other creatures cannot be affected. Otherwise, if the monk of the silver hand strikes successfully and the target takes damage from the blow, the silver hand attack succeeds and the target must make a Will saving throw (DC 10 + ½ the monk’s level + the monk’s Wis modifier), or be destroyed. Targets with Turn Resistance get a bonus to their save equal to their Turn Resistance.

    Note: This ability effectively replaces the standard monk’s quivering palm ability.

    For further balance, I've reduced this variant's Fast movement ability to +5' at 3rd to 5th level, and 10' less than the standard monk at higher levels. The Slow Fall ability is also 10' less than the standard monk (with the exception of 20th level).

    A couple further notes:
    1. I'm not planning on running the players through a lot of undead-heavy adventures (my ultimate plan is to eventually run them through Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk).
    2. The party just hit third level and there are no clerics or mages. We have a half-elf ranger, two human rogues, and the monk. For healing, they rely on potions & a wand of CLW (used by the ranger, and sometimes one of the rogues who has maxed out Use Magic Device). If we can't find another player to play a spellcaster, I may occasionally support the group with an NPC cleric or mage.

    Any thoughts on this variant?


    Last edited by Robbastard on Thu Apr 30, 2020 1:57 pm; edited 2 times in total
    GreySage

    Joined: Jul 26, 2010
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    From: LG Dyvers

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    Thu Apr 30, 2020 12:56 pm  

    I like it! Well done, Robbastard.

    I did note what may be an omission, though. Ki Strike never allows the Monk of the Silver Hand to treat her unarmed attacks as cold iron. This may be helpful against fiendish undead types. You may have omitted it on purpose, though, as it is mostly focused on fiends, rather than undead.

    SirXaris
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    Adept Greytalker

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    Thu Apr 30, 2020 1:35 pm  

    SirXaris wrote:
    I like it! Well done, Robbastard.

    I did note what may be an omission, though. Ki Strike never allows the Monk of the Silver Hand to treat her unarmed attacks as cold iron. This may be helpful against fiendish undead types. You may have omitted it on purpose, though, as it is mostly focused on fiends, rather than undead.

    SirXaris


    Thanks!

    Yeah, I considered adding cold iron along w/ silver at 10th level, but there don't seem to be that many undead that have DR/cold iron. Plus, that might make it significantly more useful than the standard monk's 10th level ki strike, as creatures with DR/lawful seem to pop up even less often.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Thu May 21, 2020 10:47 am  

    What about access to an ability similar to Sever the Tie?
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    Black Hand of Oblivion

    Joined: Feb 16, 2003
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    Fri May 22, 2020 2:50 am  

    Interesting idea!

    You might have the class be slightly less undead specific, as BtVS, while about kicking undead butt, was also much about kicking pretty much anything supernaturally evil's butt. Instead of smite undead, you might want to keep that power more like that of a paladin and have it be smite evil. This makes the ability less monster type specific, and so imminently more useful. The only thing I would change is to make the ability function off of Wisdom instead of Charisma. Charisma is a true dump stat for a Monk, whereas a paladin gains many bonuses for having a good Charisma score. No need to tie a defining class feature to a dump stat.

    Sir Xaris' idea of silver, cold iron, etc. for unarmed attacks is good too.

    The monk could have charm/level drain/ability drain resistances instead of other usual monk powers.

    Also, being a bit less undead specific, you could have favored enemies for this monk just as a ranger does, but with a more limited list of supernatural (and usually evil) nasties: undead, demons, devils, yugoloths, slaadi, abberations/far realms critters, lycanthropes, etc. A ranger only gets 5 favored enemies up to the 20th level, and if this altered monk followed the same progression in this regard, you would really only need a list of maybe 8 types of nasties just so that there is some choice, and I've just listed seven choices above.

    If you really want to play up the the whole BtBVS thing, you could replace Quivering Palm with "Slayer." This ability doesn't cause instant death or anything, but any evil nasty the monk delivers a kill shot to using their Smite Evil ability suffers "True Death," meaning extra-planar nasties are not just banished, but annihilated. Perhaps even liches need to make a save of some kind or have their connection to the phylactery broken and so be truly slain if they fail their save. Really powerful nasties might only instead be banished, but for many times longer than usual, meaning they would really hate monks of this order and they would know of them. Kind of like in BtVS. Happy
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