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Mike the 1st level Monk is in Monastic Archer Stance, so he can only make Strikes with a bow. It is his only stance.

A Skeletal Champion comes to an adjacent position, and Mike knows that they have resistance to piercing damage, and have Attack of Opportunity, so it would be a really good idea to just punch it in the face, instead of trying to shoot at it. However, it seems he just cannot stop it.

Stance (Core Rulebook p637):

A stance is a general combat strategy that you enter by using an action with the stance trait, and that you remain in for some time. A stance lasts until you get knocked out, until its requirements (if any) are violated, until the encounter ends, or until you enter a new stance, whichever comes first. After you use an action with the stance trait, you can’t use another one for 1 round. You can enter or be in a stance only in encounter mode.

He does not want to be knocked out. The encounter will end with his death if he cannot use another attack mode, and he does not have another stance. Dropping the bow would violate the requirement (wielding a bow), but it might not be a good idea in the middle of the fight, especially if the Skeletal Champion has archer buddies.

Can Mike change from wielding to holding the bow? Is there another way to stop a stance?

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This appears to be a gap in the rules and has not been covered by an FAQ. Paizo has not appeared to weigh in on the matter.

Most of the people posting on the Rules Discussion boards of the Paizo forums fall into 3 distinct camps:

  • The intent to take the action forbidden by the stance (in Mike's case a Strike made with an unarmed attack) violates the requirement of the stance, and thus it can be exited as a de-facto free action by attempting to perform an unarmed Strike.
  • This is a rules oversight, and there should be a house rule to add a free action that can be performed to exit a stance
  • This is a rules oversight, and there should be a house rule to add an action costing one action point that can be performed to exit a stance. An alternative to this approach is that there is a "normal" stance, that you can always activate

Generally, I have not seen an argument that a Monk should be forced to remain in a stance. It doesn't make sense from a thematic view, and as evidenced by this situation, it is too likely to cause a problem if the rules are so strictly followed.

If your GM is a real stickler, then you would probably just need to deal with dropping the bow as your way to exit the stance.

But I would advise you point out to your GM the sidebar on page 444:

Ambiguous Rules

Sometimes a rule could be interpreted multiple ways. If one version is too good to be true, it probably is. If a rule seems to have wording with problematic repercussions or doesn’t work as intended, work with your group to find a good solution, rather than just playing with the rule as printed.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Small terminology thought for your first bullet... I would describe it as "included in the action cost of the forbidden action \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Jul 9 at 19:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ Can Mike make an unarmed strike? Based on the wording of Monastic Archer, I think not, so the first bullet point might need to be changed \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Jul 10 at 7:20
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The only way you can voluntarily stop a stance is to violate the stance requirements.

Actually there are no other way to stop a stance other than those you listed but probably Paizo will release something about this topic.

Anyway, let's check how to violate some stance requirements:

  • Wolf, Crane, Dragon, Rain of Embers, Jellyfish → If you stop being unarmored you end the stance.
  • Mountain → Same as above or fly (or make an high/long jump if your GM accept it)
  • Peafowl stance → Sheathe your sword (or drop it)

In detail, your stance (Monastic archer), require this:

Requirements: You are unarmored and wielding a longbow, shortbow, or a bow with the monk trait.

So to stop this stance you need to stop being unarmored (not easily viable) or drop the bow or draw another weapon.

Simply put:

  • Draw a 1 handed melee weapon you want to use (in your example can be the nunchaku, or temple sword but a club will work just fine). Now you are automatically wielding it. [Cost: 1 action]
  • Since you are wielding a weapon you can no more wield the bow (it requires 2 free hands to be wield) therefore the stance automatically ends.

Hands rule

[..] A few items, such as a longbow, list 1+ for its Hands entry. You can hold a weapon with a 1+ entry in one hand, but the process of shooting it requires using a second to retrieve, nock, and loose an arrow. This means you can do things with your free hand while holding the bow without changing your grip, but the other hand must be free when you shoot. To properly wield a 1+ weapon, you must hold it in one hand and also have a hand free.

When you want to use again your monastic archer stance you need to drop or sheathe your melee weapon and you can use again your bow.

Of course you will need to reactivate the stance if you want to use it again.

Finally just for information's sake there are stances with problems like Gorilla stance or Cobra stance that have no clear requirements at all. If someone had taken one of those stances I suggest to decide with the GM what is required to enter it and therefore how to violate the requirements since there is nothing official from Paizo.

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