I was putting together an unarmed type for an upcoming Wrath of the Righteous campaign. I wanted to see if there was anything significantly wrong with the Champion of Irori character I'm creating.

Chargen rules: No Ultimate Combat or Ultimate Magic. All other sources are fine. We rolled stats, and I got a pretty lucky (11, 14, 10, 17, 14, 13). I was thinking about a monk/paladin combo called the Champion of Irori.

The campaign will go to level 20 plus Mythic. I need to actually live through each level, though, so builds where I suck at e.g. level 6 are off the table. I'm just going to build to level 12 as a touchstone. Opponents will be largely demons and we'll be in a demi-Abyss plane most of the time, so it's a hard decision as to when to stop in monk and/or paladin because those immunities to disease, poison, etc. will probably come in handy... I'm not as interested in gear as in the core build so I've included no gear. I'm concerned about my AC; also, I'd love more smite evil uses. No "bronze gong infinite ki cheese" either.

The rest of the party is life oracle, melee paladin, ranged paladin, sorcerer, one TBD.

Are there any significant improvements to make for a vs. demons campaign with this or a very similar character? I am pretty tied to the build concept and don't want to change way outside it (alchemists, summoners).

Holy Brawler
Human (Tian-Shu) Champion of Irori 6/Monk (Monk of the Sacred Mountain) 3/Paladin 3 (Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player's Guide 0)
LG Medium humanoid (human)
Init +2; Senses Perception +11


AC 18, touch 17, flat-footed 15 (+2 Dex, +1 natural, +1 dodge, +4 untyped)
hp 93 (3d10+9d8+27)
Fort +12, Ref +11, Will +13; +2 vs. enchantment spells and effects
Immune disease, fear


Speed 40 ft.
Melee sansetsukon +16/+11/+6 (1d10+7/19-20) and
   unarmed strike +17/+12/+7 (1d10+6+1d4 bleed)
Special Attacks flurry of blows, sweeping smite, smite chaos, smite evil, stunning fist (5/day, DC 19)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 12th; concentration +14)
   At will—detect chaos, detect evil


Str 20, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 14
Base Atk +11; CMB +17 (+21 grapple); CMD 33 (35 vs. grapple)
Feats Belier's Bite, Demon HunterISWG, Dodge, Extra Ki, Greater Grapple, Improved Grapple, Improved Unarmed Strike, Power Attack, Stunning Fist, Stunning Fist Adept, Toughness, Weapon Focus (unarmed strike)
Traits quain martial artist, stolen fury
Skills Acrobatics +17, Climb +9, Diplomacy +8, Escape Artist +6, Heal +6, Intimidate +6, Knowledge (arcana) +7, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +7, Knowledge (engineering) +7, Knowledge (geography) +7, Knowledge (history) +7, Knowledge (local) +7, Knowledge (nature) +7, Knowledge (nobility) +7, Knowledge (planes) +12 (+14 to know the powers and abilities of demons), Knowledge (religion) +11, Perception +11, Sense Motive +7, Spellcraft +4, Stealth +10, Swim +10
Languages Common, Tien
SQ ac bonus, aura of courage, aura of good, fast movement, ki pool, lay on hands, maneuver training, mercies (mercy [sickened]), shield the weak, skill mastery, stunning fist (stun), unarmed strike, valiant stand
Other Gear sansetsukon, 142 gp

Special Abilities

AC Bonus +4 The Monk adds his Wisdom bonus to AC and CMD, more at higher levels.
Aura of Courage +4 (10' radius) (Su) You are immune to Fear. Allies within aura gain a morale bonus to saves vs Fear.
Aura of Good (Ex) The paladin has an Aura of Good with power equal to her class level.
Belier's Bite When you damage an opponent with an unarmed strike, you deal an extra 1d4 bleed damage.
Demon Hunter Gain Knowledge and combat bonuses vs. demons
Detect Chaos (At will) (Sp) You can use Detect Chaos at will (as the spell).
Detect Evil (At will) (Sp) You can use detect evil at will (as the spell).
Fast Movement (+10') The Monk adds 10 or more feet to his base speed.
Flurry of Blows +10/+10/+5/+0 (Ex) Make Flurry of Blows attack as a full rd action.
Greater Grapple Maintaining a grapple is a move action, allowing you to make 2 checks a round.
Greater Sweeping Smite (Ex) Keep smiting additonal adjacent targets as long as you hit.
Immunity to Disease You are immune to diseases.
Immunity to Fear (Ex) You are immune to all fear effects.
Improved Grapple You don't provoke attacks of opportunity when grappling a foe.
Improved Unarmed Strike Unarmed strikes don't cause attacks of opportunity, and can be lethal.
Ki Pool (Su) You have a ki pool equal to 1/2 your monk level + your Wisdom modifier.
Lay on Hands (7d6, 3/day) (Su) You can heal 7d6 damage, 3/day
Maneuver Training (Ex) CMB = other BABs + Monk level
Mercy (Sickened) (Su) When you use your lay on hands ability, it also removes the sickened condition.
Power Attack -3/+6 You can subtract from your attack roll to add to your damage.
Shield the Weak (2 allies) Give up your save against area effect to grant allies +4 Ref. and improved evasion.
Skill Mastery (Acrobatics, Stealth, Perception) You can always take 10 with (3 + int modifier) skills.
Smite Chaos (Su) +2 to hit, +9 to damage, +2 deflection bonus to AC when used.
Smite Evil (2/day) (Su) +2 to hit, +9 to damage, +2 deflection bonus to AC when used.
Stolen Fury +2 trait bonus to CMB vs. Demons
Stunning Fist (5/day, DC 19) You can stun an opponent with an unarmed attack.
Stunning Fist (Stun, Fatigue, Sicken) (Ex) At 1st level, the monk gains Stunning Fist as a bonus feat, even if he does not meet the prerequisites. At 4th level, and every 4 levels thereafter, the monk gains the ability to apply a new condition to the target of his Stunning Fist. This conditio
Unarmed Strike (1d10) The Monk does lethal damage with his unarmed strikes.
Valiant Stand +3 (Su) Bonus to attack and AC if adjacent to multiple opponents but no allies.

When all jacked up on Power Attack and smiting and ki, he gets +14/+14/+14/+9/+4 for 1d10+23+1d4 bleed vs evil opponents, and he can pull 4 smites a day easy. And an extra +2 to hit vs demons specifically from his Demon Hunter feat and a DC 19 stunning fist.

He'll go Champion mythic path given that no one else was going to do it in the party, to my surprise.

I did an alternate Iroran Paladin build, who when jacked up on "personal trial" (non-vs-evil-smite), Power Attack and ki, pulls +18/+18/+13/+8 for 1d8+18+1d4 bleed. He can also divine bond that for another +3/+3 or specials. So a better to hit but lower damage; it also doesn't bypass DR unless you spend 1 ki/round, which is a significant hindrance in this campaign. He has 108 hp and AC 24 with nonmagical elven chain, and equal ki. It seems "better" except inasmuch as Wrath of the Righteous is going to be vs evil things all the time, and it has less random special doodads (hard to quantify).

  • \$\begingroup\$ Which mythical path you plan to chose? Or will mythic levels be awarded after 20th lvl? \$\endgroup\$
    – merando
    Jul 4, 2014 at 8:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Character build updated. Will be going Champion instead based on party negotiation. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Jul 9, 2014 at 4:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you are interested, I can post the wis/monk that I used for Wrath here. 20pt buy, went MotSM, Flowing, Qinggong. It was surprising how rediculous a wisdom monk can go, it inspired me to make a CoI Pala/Monk using the same build but making Cha a secondary stat. Str works just as well, I prefer either over dex for monks. \$\endgroup\$
    – DanceSC
    Dec 17, 2021 at 2:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ We plated the campaign and the session summary page has my real build by level. No problems with my character, things were fairly easy mode because of the mythic. With gear I was AC44 at level 16/mythic 10. geek-related.com/session-summaries/wrath-of-the-righteous \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Dec 17, 2021 at 3:19

1 Answer 1


Level 12 Analysis

Your AC is very low. At level 12, AC 18 is essentially a death sentence. I'm going to assume you have a source of Mage Armour from a party spellcaster, giving you an AC of 22, and a further Ring of Protection or Amulet of Natural Armour or Barkskin or something to up that by +2 to 24. 24 AC is still incredibly low.

The lowest attack bonus I found with a quick peruse of CR 12 monsters is +18, the secondary Bite of an Athach. That hits you on a roll of 6. The most common number I found was +23, which would hit you on a 2. I saw lots of +26, +28 and even a +33. Those all hit you on everything but a natural 1.

In other words, your AC is too low if anything targets you for you to survive. The DM will have to pull punches not to kill you.

Valiant Stand improves this. By not by enough. Enemies are still going to autohit you. Best case is +4 stat boosters on dex and wis, mage armour, nat armour/deflection bonuses, and valiant stand - 18 base, +4 from enhancement to stats, +4 armour, +2-+3 nat armour/def, +3 valiant stand = 32. That's a hit on a 9 from the lowest common attack bonus I found on CR 12 monsters.

Your Attack Bonus Is Pretty Decent, For a Monk. You have +16 to hit without Smite. With Amulet of Mighty Fists +2, that's +18ish to hit. With Belt of giant Strength +4 or Bull's Strength, that's +20 to hit. Everything that has AC that is supposed to be a defense has 26+, which is good - you hit most of the time. Power Attack and Flurry are counterbalanced by Valiant Stand, which you should be endeavouring to have always active by use of Stealth, which you don't have maxed out, uh, why? Popping up out of nowhere for a flatfooted smiting power attacking flurry should be your opening round action in every combat. Even your iteratives have a decent chance to hit, with this hit bonus. Only decent, though.

Your Damage Isn't Great. 1d10+1d4+5 (where is that errant +1 damage coming from?) averages out to 13 points of damage per strike. With Power Attack, that's 19 damage. With Smite, against evil or chaotic outsiders/dragons, you get /+18/, so 34 damage per strike, which is actually level 12-worthy. Too bad you get 3 total attacks per day with that damage. Sweeping Smite carries the Cha-to-hit bonus, but not the damage from the 'first hit'. It's kind of like a really terrible whirlwind attack that way.

Most of the time you'll be attacking for 19, on average. Some stuff is immune to bleed, or has DR/cold iron and good, etc, so it might be less. If you move, you only have one attack, so your first round barring stealth will nearly always be one attack at best. Rounds after that, you can flurry for four attacks, each which might hit for 19 damage.

So a max damage on an ideal round of around 34+19+19+19 damage, or 91 damage in 4 hits. That's not terrible. It relies on getting a full round action, though. It also relies on hitting with iteratives, DR of the kind you can get past, no miss chances etc. Most monsters at this level have at least 150hp, so you won't be winning in hp races. But you will be able to contribute a bit at least to the usual team of four on one beatdowns.

Your HP gets eaten in a round. With your AC, most CR9+ melee monsters are going to kill you to dead in a round. 11 Constitution on a melee combatant isn't a great idea, but then, you're a monk and need wis and and dex and str and also cha for being a paladin, so eh.

Your Saves are decent. They could be better, but they could also be worse. Most DCs seem to hover around DC 23 at this level, going up as high as 28 but also as low as 21. With your +11/+11/+13, you should have a 50% shot at most saving throws, and although fear and poison aren't exactly the most common life-threatening things to save against, it's still nice.

Power Level: Fighter.

This character can be relied upon to be roughly as good as an unoptimized fighter. The DM will have to pull some punches, and tough encounters (CR +2 or greater) will have a good chance of one-shotting this character by accident. In a party with Rogue or better power levels, this character will feel notably weaker than the rest of the group.


Evaluating something without gear is hard, because at the lower end of the scale, gear can have more effect on your ultimate spread of numbers than the classes chosen. If your gear is random stuff, you will be weaker. If you plug it all into boosters for your FOUR necessary stats (dex, wis, str, cha), rings of deflection and other stuff that helps boost your melee stats to make you 'great' at that rather than 'mediocre to good', which includes buffs from friendly spellcasters, you will be stronger.


This build is stronger at lower levels, where a handy Mage Armour plus your defensive stats can put you out of reach of opponents attack bonuses, and things are easier to hit and easier to kill. Level 12 is definitely where things are starting to go 'downhill', and they will likely get worse as enemy AC and AB increase and every enemy has flying or spells and abilities.


The build has no movement capability other than skills-based climbing, swimming, jumping. I'm assuming again allied spellcasters will be patching that hole with buffs, especially since with the other gear i've assumed in your build you don't have the money to buy gear to get flight or teleport or whatnot.


Your main problem is that you're playing a monk. Without serious optimization, monks are very weak. You've done a bit of optimization here, and pushed it up to unoptimized fighter level, but fighter is still not great if you're planning to be in a party with casters. Or if you're fighting caster-style enemies like many demons are.

Most of the tricks I know to make melee characters more competitive are in 3.5e. I'm assuming there's no backward compatibility in your group. So that's all out the window.

Paladin isn't giving you much other than flavour, either. You've got a decent Flurry and Attack Bonus, but you're way too fragile to make good use of it, unless your enemies come in the 'always attack the guy using the full defense action with the tower shield' variety.

In this case, i'd recommend Summoner. Synthesist Summoner. It slices, it dices, it buffs, it has level appropriate abilities, natural attacks, the works. It is, in fact, so good that you could mix it with a Paladin dip and still be relatively awesome.

Evangelist lets you keep advancing as a Summoner while also adding a divine feel to the class. It's also the only prestige I can find that advances your eidolon aka living armour, so.

Other. than. that... there's a good rogue-based fear build, but I don't know how relevant that is to your concept.

I feel like there's some way, between Fighter archetypes and the Hungry Ghost Monk monk archetype, to create kama-wielder who reaps ki from his opponents and uses it to chain-stun them with a huge Wisdom and Dex, just whittles them away with flurries of weak, ki-reaping attacks and then spends the ki on stuns. There's too many damned archetypes though.

Even if you're taking summoner, it's kind of worth dipping monk as well. You have to be unarmoured to use your synthesism, so you could benefit from a high wisdom score to your AC. Not worth going Hungry Ghost, because the ki-drain only comes at level 5. Just a one, or at max 2-level dip. Probably after you have 1 or 3 levels of synth summoner.

Yeah I cannot find anything that is about punching people that isn't just a Fighter or Barbarian with a 2-hander sword that is any good. There's some rogue stuff that is nice, there's an alchemist archetype that gets sneak attack and would make a murderously effective hand to hand combatant with the mutagen and the buffs. But nothing based around jumping on things and punching people except synth summoner. Yeah. That's my advice.

Synthesist Summoner 20.

Optional; Monk 1.

Optional; Evangelist.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The other +1 damage is from the quain martial artist trait. I'm not sold on Stealth being all that helpful if only because this GM has let us surprise opponents approximately never, I planned on Acrobatics to get me to where valiant stand would proc. For gear, since we'll be trapped in the Abyss I assume we'll get a good bit of loot but not have the opportunity for custom loadout too much. Above that, I agree with the weak points in your analysis - any ideas on what to do about them? \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Jul 4, 2014 at 14:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah. I don't know that I want to go summoner, and I can't use synthesist (Ultimate Magic). This is why we ban the Ultimates, to avoid the worst abuses :-) Same with Vivisectionist Alchemist. Maybe with the other pallys in the party I should instead purely focus on defense so I can tank, go get into dangerous flank positions to let them pound on people... Without the styles from Ultimate Combat the monk options are somewhat limited, but I definitely want to go core pugilist. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Jul 4, 2014 at 17:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Synthesist is still weaker than a core druid, so it's not really an 'abuse'. It's just one of the more powerful melee options in pathfinder. The other is straight cleric. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2754
    Jul 4, 2014 at 17:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also do note that smite doesn't just last one round, and the CoI can turn two ki points into another smite. So there's definitely some heavy-smiting potential. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Jul 4, 2014 at 17:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ The 2x bonus is only on the first strike, but you add paladin level in damage for every attack against that target. I see. @mxyzplk. Can you elaborate on the kind of party and playstyle you'll be playing this character in, and your goals? I think I can see a build that focuses on taking down big demons, but it depends on your goals. Otherwise, we can focus on improving AC. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2754
    Jul 5, 2014 at 7:41

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