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I'm rolling up a character for a 20th level one-shot game I hope to get started at some point, as follows:
Blackscale Lizardfolk (3hd+3LA) Druid 10 with shapeshifter variant/(monk or ninja) 2/(full BAB) 2

Monk gets me 2 feats, WIS to AC, and unarmed strike, whereas Ninja gets me WIS to AC as well as ghost step and sudden strike, and 2 more skill points per level.

Which of these two classes would give greater benefits? With ninja I could turn invisible, but at that point everything will have see invisibility. With monk I get my unarmed attack routine (but not flurry) in addition to several attacks from the slayer form. I'm leaning towards monk.

my stats after point buy were 16 16 12 14 14 10, which will end up as:
Str 16 Dex 12 Con 14 Int 14 Wis 16 Chr 10

So the question I have is, what does vow of poverty give to this build? I don't want to hear about what it loses. Also, when would it be best to take? I'm of the opinion it's best taken early but I have read some people telling people now to rush into it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ To Clarify the question, I'm talking about the fact that he will spend any time in his non natural form except for when he is casting, so given he can't use magic items while in one of his shapeshifted forms is it worthwhile for him to invest in VOP \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHauda Dec 7 '14 at 7:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a bit difficult to read, which is why I imagine someone downvoted you. Seems a little over-harsh, personally, but you might try cleaning it up a little and that should go away. Anyway, +1 mostly because I don't like to see a new user with a negative score unless it's really bad. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 7 '14 at 7:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah I'm typically very bad at asking people online for help with this stuff so I get out of it socially :/ I could stand to be a better typer as well \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHauda Dec 7 '14 at 7:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, the monk or ninja issue shoud really be a separate question. \$\endgroup\$ – Zachiel Dec 7 '14 at 14:19
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None whatsoever.

There are no merits that a vow of poverty provides to this "build". With that said, if you simply must take vow of poverty, take it as early as possible to take advantage of the extra feats provided. (In the build indicated, that suggests that you'll need to take a flaw.)

Druids gain quite a lot of benefit from magic items, even going with the shapeshift alternate class feature. The shapeshift handbook notes:

  • You lose all spellcasting abilities while in an alternate form
  • You lose all equipment while in an alternate form
  • The natural weapons of your assumed forms gain enhancement bonuses equal to 1/4th your Druid level
  • The forms you acquire are derived from your base size and improve upon your base attributes

Which reveals the intention behind your question.

First, vow of poverty doesn't interact well: "Also, due to the fact that the forms offer enhancement bonuses to the original stats of the Druid instead of replacing the physical attributes entirely, the Shapeshift variant no longer allows for the Druid to be attribute-independent." fights with the enhancement bonuses given by vow of poverty.

The guide does say:

Vow of Poverty [BoED]:... Vow of Poverty is underpowered at high-levels and this is no exception. Between simple items, such as wands, staves, scrolls and rods of metamagic, you'll be able to buff yourself enough and still be able to get a lot more out of your spells to make Vow of Poverty a less appealing option.

However, it also states:

Therefore, the best way to optimize your equipment is to invest in spellcasting.

Therefore, you'll derive significantly more benefit from buying gear for your spellcaster (especially gear that helps buff spell durations) and inherent bonuses from wishes, than from vow of poverty.

To get high stats in both forms, druid buffs (like bite of the weretiger if you have 11 levels of druid) along with inherent bonuses from purchased wishes will go significantly further than a +8 enhancement bonus from vow of poverty.

Given that you want to make a dedicated melee feral brawler without any emphasis on the half-druid build here, I would recommend investigating the totemist instead, as it may fit your needs better, without requiring the sacrifice of all possessions.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @MichaelHauda Edited, does this answer your comments? \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Dec 7 '14 at 7:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ to a degree yes, I was trying to find a way to get a high dexterity and constitution in both forms and the bonuses in VoP appealed to me, the AC boosts are nice as are the save bonuses, I know the feat isn't perfect but I wanted to help keep those areas good in any form, \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHauda Dec 7 '14 at 7:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Totemist isn't a class I have personally read which means it likely isn't in our DM's approved collection, I acknowledge I could do better but this is what I have as of now \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHauda Dec 7 '14 at 7:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with everything here except for quoting anyone who would say that Vow of Poverty is a good choice, for anyone. It's not. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 7 '14 at 7:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ For me it's more about if it works, and doesn't fall over if applied here, I took shapeshifter as a variant so you know I'm not trying to make a powerhouse \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHauda Dec 7 '14 at 7:30

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