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So, I'm making an Unchained Monk for a campaign I'm jumping in to at level 5. I'm reading the Ki Pool class feature, and I just can't fully understand the meaning. I've Googled for the answer, and I must just be really dense because I can't find anyone else misunderstanding it.

Ki Pool (Su):

At 3rd level, a monk gains a pool of ki points, supernatural energy he can use to accomplish amazing feats. The number of points in a monk’s ki pool is equal to 1/2 his monk level + his Wisdom modifier. As long as he has at least 1 point in his ki pool, he can make a ki strike.

At 3rd level, ki strike allows his unarmed attacks to be treated as magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.

At 7th level, his unarmed attacks are also treated as cold iron and silver for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.

At 10th level, his unarmed attacks are also treated as lawful weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.

At 16th level, his unarmed attacks are treated as adamantine weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction and bypassing hardness.

By spending 1 point from his ki pool as a swift action, a monk can make one additional unarmed strike at his highest attack bonus when making a flurry of blows attack. This bonus attack stacks with all bonus attacks gained from flurry of blows, as well as those from haste and similar effects. A monk gains additional powers that consume points from his ki pool as he gains levels.

I am confused because the first one specifies "Ki Strike", while the others do not. Now, is this implying that your Unarmed Strikes are only treated differently for overcoming DR when you use this extra attack by spending 1 point? Or is it implying that all Unarmed attacks are treated with these special properties? Is a Ki Strike just any attack you make while you still have a Ki Point, or is it that one specific type of attack?

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It's not a special action. But it must technically be declared.

The ability says:

At 3rd level, a monk gains a pool of ki points, supernatural energy he can use to accomplish amazing feats. The number of points in a monk’s ki pool is equal to 1/2 his monk level + his Wisdom modifier. As long as he has at least 1 point in his ki pool, he can make a ki strike.

Making a ki strike doesn't require the monk to spend a ki point; he just says "I'm making ki strikes" and then gains all the abilities he qualifies for. Ki strikes can be combined with a flurry of blows, an attack of opportunity, and anything else that involves an unarmed strike. Most monks (and most GM's) simply handwave this, and assume that all the monk's qualifying attacks are ki strikes unless otherwise specified.

Where this distinction is important is if the monk, for whatever reason, didn't want his unarmed strike to gain all the ki strike abilities. Maybe a 7th-level monk is being told to attack a fey ally; even if he has 1 ki point in his pool, he has the option of not allowing his unarmed strike to count as magic, cold iron, and silver. By contrast, a character wielding a cold iron longsword doesn't have this option and would deal full damage to her fey ally.

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All the monk's unarmed attacks benefit from ki strike while he has ki points left. It's not a special action or attack type.

So for example at third level all the monk's usual unarmed attacks bypass DR/magic unless they've run themselves out of ki points. All the subsequent statements just modify that same basic mechanic - at level 7, all unarmed attacks when you've got a ki point left overcome DR/magic, DR/silver, and DR/cold iron, for example.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is this the same for the level 7, 10, and 16? Or because they do not mention ki strike that means that they are independent of your ki points? \$\endgroup\$ – Jonathon May 6 '17 at 3:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JonathonWisnoski The intent is that as long as the monk has 1 or more Ki points, all unarmed attacks are "magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction" (MWFTPOODR). The remaining level descriptors add additional DR types the monk ignores when using Ki Strike, but do not change the basic mechanic. If you took the text literally, you'd notice that 16th level removes magic, cold iron, silver, and lawful attributes in exchange for the adamanatine attribute ("also" is not in this sentence). This would clearly be a downgrade. It's simply lazy writing. \$\endgroup\$ – phyrfox May 6 '17 at 4:32

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