I'm gearing up for a 2-person campaign (my wife and myself, with myself as DM). The party will be two characters, with occasional hirelings/NPCs. One of the characters will be a DMPC (we've run one similar game in the past, but with 3 DMPCs, and it turned out well).

I don't want to run 3/4 of a party as the DM - even though it worked in the past, I had to struggle to give the PCs definite personalities, keep DM/character knowledge separate, and keep from railroading my player.

To simplify things, I'm going to limit the 'core' group to two characters, each of them a Gestalt. I'm going to try to encourage my wife to pick up the primary melee role, with my character filling in healing/secondary combat (ranger/cleric possibly).

To this end, and for stylistic/storyline reasons, I'd like my wife's character to be a gestalt containing a monk.

This will leave our party somewhat weak in combat.

To counteract this, I'd like to change the monk for her gestalt to have full BAB. I don't want my wife to get the opinion that monks are horribly powerful. What can I take away from the class to maintain it's balance? My going-in position is that the removal of flurry of blows would be a big step, but I'm not certain.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Why are you excluding the option of including Something that has a full BAB as the second half of the Monk Gestalt? Monk/Fighter mayhap. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cthos
    Commented May 20, 2011 at 15:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not, but I know my wife. She's likely to pick rogue or bard. A bard would be a horrible monk gesalt, but I'd help her make it work. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jeff
    Commented May 20, 2011 at 15:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jeff I see you're still active. How did this work out for you? What solution did you end up with? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 12, 2014 at 3:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BrianBallsun-Stanton: Wow, this is an old question :-D Honestly, the campaign got derailed by IRL stuff and never got off of the ground. She liked her character build, though. I believe she went Bard/Monk and I simply gave the Monk full BaB. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jeff
    Commented Nov 12, 2014 at 14:20

3 Answers 3


It wasn't gestalt, but I was in a game where a monk was given full BAB. He behaved like a proper melee character. I would give them full BAB in the future and not bother imposing a penalty.


There are a number of options, here.

From her "usual" classes, the stretch to "primary melee" class is actually quite significant, there is always the option of summoned monsters to act as big dumb fighters while the PCs control them from behind.

Option 1) That which is called "monk" does not have to be the class "monk." Order of the stick illustrates this beautifully with Miko. Therefore, she can gestalt with basically any combination and simply call it "monk." This would be the course I'd suggest.

Option 1a) An excellent "front lines" scoundrel is the Malconvoker summoner. I would absolutely suggest making a gestalt malconvoker the primary character in what amounts to a solo game. For monk flavour, it's hard to beat Archivist || Wu Jen for the cloistered western/eastern monk feel versus the wire-fu feel. Making Archivist || Rogue would be an interesting twist on the theme, but would represent a monk who's rather more world-aware than her fellow monks.

Option 1b) As @Ace notes, Monk is a Tier 5 ("Capable of doing only one thing, and not necessarily all that well, or so unfocused that they have trouble mastering anything, and in many types of encounters the character cannot contribute.") class from the power scale. When considering a gestalt, the monk adds so little that the power level will be the level of the other class chosen. This is an issue because it would be so easy to overshadow the primary character with, for example a Ranger||Cleric (Tier 4, Tier 1). In a 2 player game, Having a Tier 5||whatever and a Tier 1||4 character presents a difficult challenge in scaling challenge difficulty. Call the swordsage a monk.

Option 2) To "balance" the monk with full BAB, give the monk tome of battle bonus feats. This will improve the monk's combat performance to that of a fighter, making it a slightly less horrible choice. From the perspective of the options, a monk with full BAB and an extra feat or two may be the equivalent of a ranger. It is likely that a monk thus enhanced would not be a completely forgettable part of a character. Remember, you're trying to match tiers with your character, to make it easier to have the "monk" take the forefront.

Option 3) If you like the power level of monk, and don't want to substitute other classes for it, eliminating either the free feats or the flurry of blows would be a way to adjust for the increased attacks or chance to hit with the BAB.

I personally recommend options 1a or 1b.


Pathfinder addressed the issue of Monk's BAB in an elegant fashion (IMO).

A Monk keeps her medium progression BAB (3/4 level) but, when she uses Flurry of Blows, she applies her entire class level as BAB albeit a penalty for using the equivalent of Two-Weapon Fighting.

So, at 1st level, she has BAB pf +0. But if she takes a full-round action to flurry, she can make two attacks at -1/-1 (+1 for the Monk level, -2 for the two-weapon penalty).

Penalties never reduce with level, but additional attacks are gained as per Two-Weapon Fighting feat tree. In detail:

Level 5: BAB +3, Flurry: +3/+3 (+5 -2 plus additional attack)
Level 6: BAB +4, Flurry: +4/+4/-1 (+6/+1 -2 plus additional attack)
Level 8: BAB +6/+1, Flurry: +6/+6/+1/+1 (+8/+3 -2 plus two additional attacks)
Level 11: BAB +8/+3, Flurry: +9/+9/+4/+4/-1 (+11/+6/+1 -2 plus two additional attacks)
Level 15: BAB +11/+6/+1, Flurry: +13/+13/+8/+8/+3/+3 (+15/+10/+5 -2 plus three additional attacks)
Level 16: BAB +12/+7/+2, Flurry: +14/+14/+9/+9/+4/+4/–1 (+16/+11/+6/+1 -2 plus three additional attacks)
Level 20: BAB +15/+10/+5, Flurry: +18/+18/+13/+13/+8/+8/+3 (+20/+15/+10/+5 -2 plus three additional attacks)

I think you could apply this rule as is, substituting the whole 3.5 Flurry of Blows mechanic.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Elegant and "plugs in" trivially without having to bend other rules, and also avoids the "then just be a fighter with Improved Unarmed Strike" syndrome. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented May 21, 2011 at 13:05
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Ugh, this solution is the worst of both worlds: needlessly confusing and inconsistent, and an utterly unnecessary drawback to an already-massively-weak class. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Nov 12, 2014 at 2:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan ok, but is there anything the author should do or an alternative you can suggest? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 12, 2014 at 3:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener I’ve upvoted valadil’s answer, though I think “proper melee character” is a (big) stretch. A full-BAB monk is an imbalanced class, but only in that it is still underpowered. It needs absolutely no further drawbacks. It, in fact, needs more advantages. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Nov 12, 2014 at 5:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Uhm... which drawbacks are you talking about? :O \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 17:00

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