I'm interested in making a zen archer monk and was wondering if I could actually build a zen archer unchained monk. Is it allowed? From the Pathfinder SRD on the unchained classes:

Finally, with the exception of the monk, these classes should work with any of the archetypes from previous books as long as the classes still have the appropriate class features to replace.

For example, a core monk at level 3 gets the class feature still mind and the unchained monk gets it at level 4, but the zen archer monk archetype replaces still mind at level 3 with the class feature point blank master. Would an unchained monk still get point blank master at level 3 and not still mind at level 4?

There's also the zen archer class feature trick shot which is gained at level 11 to replace diamond body, but the unchained monk only gets diamond body as a ki power. Would trick shot then replace the level 10 or level 12 ki power?

And now I noticed that the unchained monk doesn't even get maneuver training! This means the zen archer has nothing to replace for zen archery. Is the zen archer archetype simply not compatible with the unchained monk? It seems like a popular archetype; it'd be weird to have the unchained monk not qualify for it.


1 Answer 1


Previously published monk archetypes are largely incompatible with the unchained monk

And, yes, that kind of sucks. Paizo messageboard user Sellsword2587 probably sums it up best in a 2015 thread, saying

So while at GenCon this year, I was in a Q&A session with the Pathfinder Design Team and asked a very similar question [to whether the old monk archetypes would be updated or made compatible with the unchained monk].

Their response to me was that they plan on making most, if not all, future monk archetypes both Unchained- and classic-monk simultaneously compatible.

In terms of classic monk archetypes, they had no foreseeable plans of going back to retrofit classic monk archetypes into Unchained-compatible ones. Jason Bulmahn explained that you technically still could take classic monk archetypes as an Unchained monk, replacing Unchained class features at the levels indicated by the classic archetype's features, but it wouldn't be nearly as clean, wouldn't work in all cases, nor would it be legal in PFS.

Needless to say, I was a little bummed at that latter response.

Apparently, a few archetypes are (likely inadvertently) compatible with the unchained monk. (I think maybe the archetype hamatulatsu master is, for instance.) Also, 3rd-party publisher Rogue Genius Games has released Everyman Unchained Monk Archetypes that unofficially updates the archetypes to be unchained compatible.

Officially, though, unchained monks just can't take many of the older monk archetypes.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Wow thank you for the quick and clear answer. I hope the Zen archer is still an honest striker though. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kalissar
    Aug 29, 2016 at 7:30

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