I have relatively recently teamed up with some high school buddies, joining an ongoing 3rd edition campaign. In the past we have played many 2nd (and even 1st edition) campaigns. Because the campaign was ongoing I have inherited a couple of pre-existing characters.

The party consists of the following characters:

  • Fighter 10

  • Wizard 10

  • Ranger 5/Bard 5

  • Rogue 8

  • Cleric 10

  • Monk 10

The last 2 are mine.

Now, I have no trouble with what to do with the cleric but the monk is … a monk. That is, he is underpowered when compared with everyone in the party.

I have carved out a niche for him in combat as a mobile combatant; with his great speed, maximum jump and tumble he can penetrate the opposing front line and either threaten spell casters behind the lines or flank the front line to allow sneak attacks from the rogue or flanking bonuses to the tanks. I find that he is better off moving around from round-to-round to keep the opposition off-balance. If he can manage to land a Stunning Fist or two; so much the better. On occasion, he has greatly benefited from an Air Walk spell from the cleric.

My question relates to what to do with him over the next few levels. I am inclined to take 11th level as monk to get Improved Flurry notwithstanding what happens next. Following that, I have the following ideas:

  1. Stick it out as a monk
  2. Take 3 levels of wizard (Int 14) with a view to becoming an Enlightened Fist (Complete Arcane). This would allow “buffs” like Expeditious Retreat, Jump, Mage Armour and latter any of the stat enhancing spells to enhance the current role.
  3. Take 4 levels of sorcerer (Cha 13) with the same goal (This is more because I have never played a spontaneous caster than because I think its better)
  4. Take some levels of Cleric (with a Magic domain) with an eye towards Sacred Fist (Complete Divine). The Magic domain would allow use of wands with the above mentioned “buffs”, the divine spell casting would give healing spells to keep in the fight longer.
  5. Something else?

Any advice would be appreciated.


Thanks to @SimonGill & @KRyan for their comments but they rather miss the point. I like this character and enjoy playing him; the challange is to maximise his usefulness, not replace him with somebody more useful.

Hanz Gurderien said that the engine of a tank is as important as its gun; and the monk has a phenomenal engine. He can distract, harrass and disrupt the opposition in ways that no one else can.

With a base speed of 60 (90 with Expeditious Retreat) +19 tumble (so tumbling past oponents is a certanty and through them is a 75% chance) and +31 jump, virtually no one in an encounter is out of reach.

While the monk may not be able to do much damage directly he acts as a force multiplier; flanking gives the rogue sneak attack and the fighters (as well as the rogue) a 10% better chance of a hit, Stunning Fist is particularly effective against arcane casters becuase they have (relatively) low AC and (relatively) low Fort saves, against divine casters trip is OK, if only a 50/50 shot. With Spring Attack the monk can usually stun an arcane caster AND position himself to give someone a flanking bonus in the same round; and then do it again next round.

So, given that I want to keep playing this character, what is the best way to maximise his contribution?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I would like to see some information about this Monk's current feats, ability scores, magic items, gold status, and how much of this can be changed. Snarky comments about unsalvageable Monks aside, this is highly important for the given situation. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ernir
    Commented Feb 10, 2013 at 0:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ I wrote an answer for this question, but it is somehow missing. To summarize: you can go divine or psionic, but there are also great opportunities in one level dip into a martial adept (mostly for boost and stances) and in ability to use arcane wands of warious self-buffs (especially those swift and personal-only). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 10, 2013 at 4:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would look into Fist of the Forest from Complete Champion if I was you. AMAZING 3 level dip for a Monk. \$\endgroup\$
    – dphil
    Commented Oct 29, 2014 at 14:38

2 Answers 2


The best choice to stay in a monk-role would be to use the "Tome of Battle" class Swordsage for all monk levels, specifically the "unarmed variant".

Otherwise, Monk is one of the worst classes in the game. The best choices are to get out of it as soon as possible... unfortunately a Monk 10 is pretty hard to fix. The best choice is probably grabbing some levels of Psionic Warrior, and using the "Monastic Training(Psionic Warrior)" as well as "Tashalatora" feat from Secrets of Sarlona. This will allow you to continue gaining the AC bonus, flurry of blows, and unarmed damage from Monk, while abandoning the horrible class. You would end up a 4th level manifester at level 20, which isn't great, but better than monk 20. The Psionic Warrior powers would give valuable buffs that might make you marginally useful.


There are no ways to make the best of this character, only ways to lessen the pain.

If you're cool with accepting that, then let's talk. Of the options you mentioned, Sacred Fist is going to end up being the best for you, though frankly you're entering heinously late and are going to be playing catch-up for your entire career. Still, you can make some limited use of Divine Metamagic (Persist) [Complete Divine] to get those buffs up 24/7, 365. When you can, focus on methods of defense that don't involve armor class, with spells like Entropic Shield, Obscuring Mist, or Darkness to limit the enemy. Monster and/or spellcaster mobility is going to be much better than yours, and melee brute/fighter saving throws are going to be too high for your spells, so try to focus on self buffs, party buffs, and then battlefield control spells that'll hit sections of the field instead of trying to get your enemies directly - that gambit is doomed to fail.

Sadly you're not going to have the spellcasting to get some of the resources you will desperately need. Purchase (or ask a party member to craft) magic items that'll give you access to flight and/or swift action movement (Anklets of Translocation are great for this). You'll want a Necklace of Natural Attacks if you're fighting unarmed, and a Fanged Ring as well; both are part of the price of entry if you're fighting with your fists. Remember that since you don't need to use your hands to make Unarmed Attacks, you can hold a dagger (or two!) with beneficial weapon properties on them such as Eager or Warning, though this option does cost more gold and you've precious little to spend.

However, even after all of this effort your character is going to be lagging well behind CR-appropriate challenges, which frankly he already is/should be unless your DM either legtimately doesn't know how to play his monsters or is playing with kid gloves on. This gap will only continue to grow, and will become more and more pronounced when facing enemies like outsiders, dragons, spellcasters, and aberrations. In all, the best option is to kill or retire the Monk, and roll up a new character.


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