Monks changed rapidly over the last couple of years since their release. Initially they were super suck and basically only worth having around for the cool factor. Most were 97-pound weaklings. This build help popularized an alternative method, which was a wisdom-focused striker who can achieve the most reliable stuns and debuffs possible. Having played many monk builds both for leveling and TRing, Rockan Robin has adjusted to meet the changing game but still remains a specialty/tactics monk build that sometimes plays more as a tactical fighter than a monk-barbarian.
The following have made monks one of the premier melee classes in ddo:
- Uber alchemical handwraps
- Everything is Nothing is totally overpowered
- Other methods of mob incapacitation (wounding of puncturing, mass hold) were nerfed down to equal the rest of killing styles
- Tons of great monk gear, including easy-to-obtain starter items like brawling gloves, frozen tunic, sun-soul set, Grave Wrappings, Calomel handwraps
- Tower of Despair launched dual bursting rings, applying to any handwraps you choose
- The advent of metalline/cold iron handwraps for bypassing important damage reduction
- Improved evasion and DR/10 along with good saves
- The expansion of monk finishers, enhancement lines, and PrEs
- Epic difficulty, which rewards stunning, instakills and survivability
- Quivering Palm instakills!
- High fortification raid bosses that can and should be debuffed
- More self-healing availability through half elf and healing amplification
Now, one of the things that I feel has been left out of all of the monk discussion is gear trade-offs. There is a time and place for armor class, and a wisdom build has great AC potential. However, monks are often played as untouchable AC builds that win out against mobs through attrition. However, every point of armor class beyond a certain level is coming at a significant DPS (damage per second) loss. The longer the fight, the more the whole party will need to spend its mana resources, negating whatever was saved from having a weak offense. A monk should figure out where his AC is needed and useful and skip it the rest of the time.
On the other end of the spectrum is the strength-based monk that fits in every DPS item. These are evasion barbarians with half the HP. Great offense -- really the top of the pack -- but this can be a very difficult character to play. For my personal purposes, it's not quite worth being a mana sponge. There's a few downsides to the monkbarb idea: A few points of damage per swing and beefier HP comes at the expense of weakened stuns, charms, dances, and armor class. Don’t gimp your DPS, but be willing to lose just a little for the big gains that high WIS gives you.
A long time ago, I threw away the idea of either purely AC gear or purely DPS setup in favor of a balance and tactics. I want to mow through monsters stunning and quivering palm. As an endgame raider, I will always care about my single-target boss DPS, but I know that the party depends not only on DPS but on the big-picture things: ability to dispach trash mobs quickly, debuff raid bosses, stay alive, and throw scrolls when needed.
Presenting Rockan Robin, the balanced punchy new age monk!
Half-elf Monk Base Ability Scores (32 point build):
- STR: 15
- DEX: 15
- CON: 15
- INT: 8
- WIS: 15
- CHA: 8
[28 point: 14 STR, 14 DEX, 14 CON, 8 INT, 16 WIS, 8 CHA]
[34 point: 15 STR, 15 DEX, 15 CON, 8 INT, 16 WIS, 8 CHA]
[36 point: 16 STR, 15 DEX, 15 CON, 8 INT, 16 WIS, 8 CHA]
I am Lawful Neutral – allows usage of Litany of the Dead without a negative level penalty (Raid item trinket, +1 to all stats, +1 hit/damage). Neutral is generally a good alignment. Remember that all monks can use pure good handwraps without penalty. Those who would prefer to be good aligned have access to Devotion (holy handwraps in Delera’s graveyard) and Rings of the Ancestors (level 11 raise dead clickie rings from Shrieking Mines). You can now unlock litany of the dead using seals of the Abbot, so you won't get a penalty if you want to use this item and be another alignment.
The idea behind getting some use magic device is so you can give yourself basic buffs like Shield and whatnot, and bypass the race restrictions on items. If you've got access to gear, you can get to the point where you can use a greater variety of scrolls.1 rank tumble
23 ranks concentration
11 ranks use magic device
10 ranks jump
Remainder in Balance
Alternately, for an assassin approach (stealth+quivering palm), dump Balance and Use Magic Device for Hide and Move silently.
Enhancements (Action Points)Level 1: Two weapon fighting
Level 1: (half elf) Cleric Dilletante (Can switch to Rogue Dilletante at cap for 3d6 sneak attack if desired)
Level 1: (monk) Toughness
Level 2: (monk) Stunning fist
Level 3: (monk) Path of Inevitable Dominion (dark monk) or Path of Harmonious Balance (light monk)
Level 3: Dodge (dark monk) or Precision (light monk)
Level 6: Toughness or Past life: Monk/Paladin/Rogue
Level 6: (monk) Power Attack
Level 9: Improved Two Weapon Fighting (requires 17 DEX including base and tome)
Level 12: Improved Critical: Bludgeoning
Level 15: Greater Two Weapon Fighting
Level 18: Improved Sunder
Level 21: Vorpal Strikes
Level 24: Improved Martial Arts
Ninja Spy, Void IV
Hit PointsEnhancement: Monk Serenity
Enhancement: Improved Cleric Dilettante III
Enhancement: Human Improved Recovery I
Enhancement: Monk Improved Recovery I
Enhancement: Racial Toughness II
Enhancement: Improved Jump II
Enhancement: Improved Tumble II
Enhancement: Way of the Faithful Hound II
Enhancement: Monk Ninja Spy II
Enhancement: Static Charge
Enhancement: Winter's Touch
Enhancement: Porous Soul
Enhancement: All-Consuming Flame
Enhancement: Touch of Death
Enhancement: Human Versatility I
Enhancement: Void Strike IV
Enhancement: Unbalancing Strike
Enhancement: Grandmaster of Oceans
Enhancement: Master of Thunder
Enhancement: Master of Stone
Enhancement: Master of Bonfires
Enhancement: Master of the Sea
Enhancement: Monk Wisdom I
Enhancement: Human Adaptability Wisdom I
[update 16 breakdown to follow]
Tactics DC Breakdowns
Improved Sunder10 base + 10 levels + 27 wis modifier + 10 stunning + 6 legendary tactics + 3 grandmaster of flowers + 5 spare hand = 70 DC stun
Quivering Palm, Touch of Death, Touch of Despair, Curse of the Void, Unbalancing Strike14 base + 16 strength modifier + 6 undying gaze + 5 spare hand + 6 legendary tactics + 3 grandmaster of flowers = 50 DC sunder
How do I figure out my armor class?10 base + 10 (20 monk/2) + 27 wis modifier = 47 DC in Water (Before sunder and Touch of Despair)
Healing Amplification10 base
5 monk centered bonus
X wisdom modifier
X dexterity modifier
8 armored bonus
4 insight Alchemical handwraps/Superior Parrying
1 ritual robes on
5-7 protection item
3 epic abishai set
1 haste potion
4 shield wand
4-6 natural yugoloth potion (+2 wis, +4 natural armor) or natural armor item
1 dex yugoloth potion
2 airship buffs
x epic destiny abilities
x outside party buffs, like paladin aura or recitation
20% boost if in Grandmaster Mountain Stance
Shintao vs. Ninja Spy (ie light vs dark)1.3 Epic Gloves of the Claw or Purple Dragon Gauntlets
1.1 Monk Improved Recovery I
1.1 Human Improved Recovery I
1.1 Airship buff
- The Ninja Spy PrE (dark-monk-only) is extremely powerful and would mesh well with a wisdom-based character, as most of the Inevitable Dominion attacks are based on wisdom DCs. The additional DPS from 3d6 sneak attack and the punch of pwnage (Touch of Death) really brings your numbers up. If you're looking for a purely damage approach, this is clearly the route to go. Shadow Fade's 25% incorporeality is a lifesaver and should remain up. Finally, you get a few tactical/debuffing attacks that I spam like crazy: dark punch (-2 saves, to-hit), dark-dark-dark (-25% fortification and vulnerability to negative energy), and void-dark-void (charm).
- Shintao Monk PrE (light-monk-only) lets you bypass all forms of monster damage reduction very easily. They also have party buffs and small heals. For a tactics person, there's a lot to love: ranged stun, banishment, and a debuff that gives bosses vulnerability to all physical damage. The real centerpiece for a new player with the Harmonious Balance path is the healing ki/fists of light attack, which you put on an enemy and it will heal any person who strikes that monster. Light monk buffs (Earth+Positive+Earth, specifically) are often demanded by groups in the Tower of Despair and Lord of Blades raids, because they are one of the easiest ways to prevent Horoth’s area stun and Lord of Blades' headchop attacks.
- The cool thing is that it is very easy to re-spec now. A lesser reincarnate or even a simple feat swap can change the same build from wis to strength or ninja spy to shintao. Explore and find what you like -- monks are awesome!
What Stance is right for me?
All of the stances have their place, and have been used to great success with this build. The best monks will playtest these for themselves and discover how they can use them to complement their playstyles and goals.
- Grandmaster of the Sun. Ultimate Sun Stance: The consuming flame focuses on an aggressive offense. Ultimate Sun Stance grants +4 Strength at a cost of -2 Wisdom. While in Ultimate Sun Stance you gain 'Hit Effect: Gain 1 ki.' and 'Critical Effect: Gain 5 ki.'
Fire stance is the brute force stance. Fire stance is strong for those wishing to spamming attacks, because you will be unrivaled in ki generation. In Grandmaster of Flowers, you gain an additional +3 hit, +3 damage and .75[W] when in fire stance.
Additionally, the Sun Soul Set gives you constant small heals whenever you roll a 20 on your attacks.
Fire has the ability to get some of the highest healing amplification available in ddo, with Jidz-Tet’ka bracers.
The disadvantage is that wisdom is this build’s key stat. For those focused on eking out every DC on quivering palm, fire stance is a step in the wrong direction. Over time, the +4 STR has eroded in value, because there are so many other bonuses to strength and to-hit.
At minimum, consider Fire Stance for leveling to take advantage of Jidz-Tet’ka and to have plenty of ki for your special abilities until you get a Ki +1 item.
- Grandmaster of Mountains. +4 Constitution, a 20% boost to AC, 15 physical resistance, a +70% Insight bonus to melee threat generation, and the critical multiplier of all weapons you use is increased by 1 on rolls of a natural 19 or 20, at the cost of -2 Dexterity and -10% movement speed.
If you’re a player who is going into difficult epic quests and you’re scared that you won’t be accepted, Mountain is the safest way to go. It’s naturally very powerful. You’ll get more hit points, a bunch of armor class, you’ll see big numbers (x3 critical multiplier), and 15 physical resistance (plus another 15 from your epic destiny) will reduce incoming damage. The ki strikes granted with mountain are untyped, so they work on everything. For many, this stance shores up monks’ weak points and makes them much harder to stop. After all, dead monks don’t stun.
If you ever tank, this is the stance for you. Remember to change into another stance if there is another tank who needs to keep a boss’s attention because this stance gives +70% hate. For example, this is not the stance for epic elite Lord of Blades if you are not the tank.
- Grandmaster of Oceans. The eternal ocean focuses on redirection and the supernatural. Greater Ocean Stance grants +3 Wisdom, +3% dodge, +4 to all Saving Throws, and your passive ki generation when centered is increased by 1, at a cost of -2 Strength.
Generally considered the weakest and most unloved stance, water is a niche for those trying to achieve the maximum effectiveness of Quivering Palm and other DC-based monk abilities.
The extra ki generation means that you will have a higher resting ki, so you can begin fights with more ki. The saves and dodge are quite nice, as well: up to +6 dodge if you include Walking With Waves in Grandmaster of Flowers.
Many people will tell you, “anything but Ocean,” but I believe that it has a place for tactic-focused players looking to be the best at quivering palm. It could certainly use a boost. It is the only stance that does not directly increase your damage in any way.
- Grandmaster of Storms. The relentless storm focuses on movement and speed. Ultimate Wind Stance grants +4 Dexterity, a 15% Enhancement bonus to melee and thrown attack speed, and grants a 10% chance to doublestrike with melee weapons, at the cost of -2 Constitution.
Wind stance is probably the best damage per second, especially if you consider that every time you hit ki strikes like Quivering Palm, Touch of Death, or Stunning Fist, your doublestrike may double these attacks. When combined with “Running With the Wind” in Grandmaster of Flowers, the stance actually gives +13% doublestrike. If you opt for Sun-Soul Set, your doublestrike periodically rise to 16% total, before other items, buffs, or abilities. Wind stance stacks fully with items like Antipode (6% doublestrike, Caught in the Web raid loot) and abilities like Hail of Blows (3% doublestrike, Tier 2 Grandmaster of Flowers).
Monks are a class that has a lot of added damage on each attack, along with the highest attack speed, so the more you hit, the more those items are multiplied.
While in Ultimate Wind stance, you won’t need haste for attack speed. If you don’t like to constantly drink potions or rely on others for buffs, this is the stance of you.
-2 CON sucks if you’re really worried with how people react to your hit points in your group, but the extra striking may well be worth it if you don’t mind losing 25 hit points.
Rockan can heal with cure potions, cure wands (light at 1, moderate at 3, serious at 5, and critical from guild vender at 7), and heal and mass cure moderate scrolls. I love cleric dilletante because it allows me to use resurrection scrolls and heal scrolls to help my party in a pinch.
Using vampiric handwraps like Vampiric Stonedust Handwraps, Cannith Crafted handwraps or Ivy Wraps can significantly drop their need to heal yourself.
Because all stats are above 10, Rockan can easily use Silver Flame favor potions without becoming incapacitated. Silver flame potions, attainable with 400 Silver Flame faction favor, provide huge healing boosts at the cost of a short-term -10 to STR, DEX, INT, WIS, and CHA.
New player information:
- Alchemical Handwraps (air/water/water) (Lord of Blades). There are many ways to make a good alchemical handwrap, but I prefer the stunning 10, heightened awareness 4, shocking burst, cushing wave, corrosive salt, +2 wis, and energy blast version, slotted with +7 enhancement bonus. This is a trash mob killer, with +2 WIS for landing quivering palms that stacks with everything. A word of warning: don’t use it in big raid bosses where you have casters spamming Niac’s Biting Cold, because the crushing wave and corrosive salt unfortunately break the cold DoT spells.
- Alchemical Handwraps (earth/earth/water with metalline) (Lord of Blades). These are fantastic all-around boss beaters, and double as trash mob crowd control any time you are fighting low-save monsters you can stun without stunning +10 (or you’re using another item to get your stun 10). Earthgrab procs often, disintegrate is the best DPS proc, and the AoE effect and DR bypass on tier 3 is excellent. I use them for trash, for red nameds, and for demons raid bosses.
- Grave Wrappings (Uniquiet Graves). For a brand-new monk looking to twink out, this is the easiest-to-get and most-effective endgame handwrap. On vorpals, it gives negative levels to your enemy, and also comes with increased base damage and stunning +10. It’s not strictly a DPS handwrap, but for epic elites, a negative level will drop a lot more hit points than almost any other damage proc. Use this on trash mobs without deathward and against orange nameds minibosses.
- Antipode (Caught in the Web). This item fills a great niche for neutral monsters or monsters immune to elemental damage. On their own, they could be a nice all-around handwrap, since they haev stunning +10 and good damage effects.
- Greater Construct Bane. It’s now possible to randomly loot some crazy Greater Construct Banes for running Lord of Blades, Shroud, and other construct-oriented raids. Maybe you’ll be the lucky monk who pulls a Cosmic Handwraps of Greater Construct Bane. I also keep a set of Improved Cursespewing of Greater Construct Bane, to help drop saves against the Lord of Blades and other raid bosses, making it easier to land Touch of Death and Touch of Despair.
- Wraps of Endless Light (Mabar Festival). The epic undead killer handwraps, which can be obtained from the yearly Halloween festival.
- Ivy Wraps (Druid's Curse). These are the most popular high-damage handwrap with vampirism. Especially good when paired with a stunning ring. Very popular with soloists.
- A solid shuriken. Good play means you never know when you need to do a little ranged damage.
- Spider-Spun Caparison, Armor Bonus +9, Resistance Save +6, Enhanced Ki +1, Reinforced Fists, Concentration +15, Toughness, +3 exceptional WIS
- Red Dragonscale Robe (Velah): blue slot, colorless, flaming burst, fire guard, incineration guard, superior fire resist, superior fire lore, +8 armored bonus
- Epic Frozen Tunic Armor Bonus +8, Superior Glaciation IX, Epic Glaciation VI, Superior Ice Lore, Freezing Ice, Fire Shield (Cold), Enhanced Ki +1, Empty Colorless Augment Slot, Empty Blue Augment Slot
- Bracers of the Sun Soul . Wisdom +7, Insightful Constitution +2, Superior Parrying, Way of the Sun Soul
- Bracers of Wind (Level 16 +3 dodge, craftable +1 dodge)
- Epic Jidztetka Bracers +8 armored bonus, +1 wisdom, yellow slot, stance bonus
- Epic Bracers of the Claw (Heavy Fort, +2 con, set bonus: +4 damage)
- Tharne's Goggles (True Seeing, +15 Spot, +5 backstabbing)
- Green Steel
- +8 Wisdom
- Litany of the Dead (+1 to-hit, +1 damage, +1 to every stat. Gives a negative level if you are not neutral)
- Planar Focus of Prowess (with Antipode, fist of the Horizon)
- Pale Lavender Ioun Stone (survive rain of blades, dragon fire, and other nasty stuff by swapping this on)
- Oremi's Necklace (+6 con, +1 ki on hit)
- Shintao Cord and set bonus
- Grim's Bracelet (7 strength, +3 dodge, green slot)
- Alchemist's Pendant (+1 action boost, +1 ki, +6 con)
- Silver flame amulet (Deathblock, absorbs 10 negative levels)
- +8 Wisdom of Natural Armor +6
- Purple Dragon Helm, +7 con, +2 STR
- +5 sneak attack hat (Crystal Cove)
- Greensteel helm
- Undying Gaze +6 shatter for improved sunder
- Wretched Twilight, backstab 5, stealth +5, ghostly
- Adamantine Cloak of the Wolf
- Adamantine Cloak of the Bear
- Green Steel Weave Cloak
- Treads of Falling Shadow, +8 DEX, +3 exceptional DEX, ghostly
- Epic Rock Boots (for slots)
- Crafted: Mobility of Resist 5, Dodge 2, Luck 2, or Greater False Life (large Guild Augment)
- Kundarak delving boots (Static freedom of Movement)
- Green Steel
- Epic Gloves of the Claw, 6 STR, 30% healing amplification, set bonus 20% hate and +4 damage
- Epic Charged Gauntlets, 6 STR, yellow slot, ~5 damage per swing lightning strike
- Epic Brawling Gloves, Spike-studded, +7 STR, Backstab +4, yellow slot
- Purple Dragon Gauntlets, +7 STR, +2 con, +30% healing amplification
- Knost's Belt 6 con/Greater False Life (set bonus: +2 damage on every attack)
- Epic Spare Hand (Riposte, Exceptional Combat Mastery +5, Staggering Blow, Disable Device +15, Open Lock +15, Use Magical Device +3, Doublestrike 3%, Empty Blue Augment Slot)
- Encrusted Ring (FB set) 6 str, +1 str acid burst
- Epic Ring of the Stalker, +6 seeker, +3 exceptional backstab, manslayer, ghostly, colorless and yellow slots
- Seal of House Avithoul, +7 WIS or +2 exceptional WIS, Backstab +5, +3 Exceptional backstab, Improved Deception
- Seal of House Dun'Robar with +10 stunning
- Shintao Ring: 6 wis, +1 str, holy burst
I firmly believe that enhancements should be adjusted as each character levels. What is appropriate for a level 10 or a level 20 may not be available at level 2. Experiment with the animal paths – enhancements can be reset easily for a reason. Taking the stances, toughness, healing amplification, wisdom and dex, and sneak attack/cleric dilletante feats will never lead you astray. Use the enhancements to get your stats to an even number and update your enhancements if you find an item that would make you odd – this way you will always get the best for your points.
Helpful links:Level 1
Feat: (Half elf) Cleric Dillteante
Feat: Two weapon fighting
Skills: 1 rank in Tumble
Possible gear: Black Widow Bracers (Waterworks), Detect secret doors clickie, Anger’s set (Korthos), Trapblast goggles (Halls of Shan-to-Kor), Garzard’s helm (Bonebite Hideout), Devotion +1 holy handwraps, good align only (Delera’s Graveyard)
Consumables: lesser restoration, blindness removal, curse removal, remove fear, disease removal, and poison removal, cure serious potion, cure light wounds wand
Feat: Stunning Fist
Granted abilities: Evasion, Meditation
Feat: Path of Harmonious Balance (Light/Shintao Monk) / Path of Inevitable Dominion (Dark/Ninja Spy)
Consumables: Resist energy 10 potions, cure moderate wounds wand
Ability raise: WIS
Possible gear: moderate fortification or invulnerability robe
Consumables: Haste potions, Heroism potions, Protection from energy potions
Possible gear: Tangleroot named items, Visors of the Flesh Render Guards (Tangleroot), Voice of the Master (Delera's Graveyard), Ioun stones, Goggles of Intuition (Bloody Crypt), Tangleroot named +3 stat items (Tangleroot Gorge), Abishai set (Chronoscope)
Consumables: Shield of faith +3, Barkskin potions
Granted abilities: Immune to disease
Feat: Power Attack
Feat: Toughness or Past Life Monk/Paladin
PRE: Shintao Monk I and Ninja Spy I become available
Enhancements: Tier 2 stances become available
Possible gear: Moderate fortification item, +3 stat items, Beholder optic nerves, Mantle of the Worldshaper (Threnal), Mask of Comedy (Good Hope clickie, The Carnival), Red Fens sets (Claw, Siren's, and Raven's sight).
Consumables: Resist 20 potions (The Twelve)
Granted abilities: Wholeness of body
Ability raise: WIS
Possible gear: Devout Handwraps (Shadow Crypt), Robe of Heavy Fortification
Feat: Improved Two Weapon Fighting (requires +1 dex tome)
Possible gear: Chaosguardes (Xorian Cipher), Ancient vulkoorim robe (Desert), Golden Greaves (Desert: CoF), Nightforge Gorget (Relic of a Sovereign Past), Bloodstone or dusk heart (Desert), Planar Gird (Xorian Cipher), Reaver’s ring (Xorian Cipher), Silver flame talisman (Cursed Crypt), +4 stat items
Granted abilities: Improved Evasion
Possible gear: Disruptors, weighted 5%, vorpal kamas, Stonedust handwraps
Possible gear: Minos Legens (Orchard: tattered tapestries turn-in), Boots of the innocent (Orchard: Vol), Necropolis DR/5 trinket (Cursed series), Silver flame amulet (Cursed Crypt), +5 stat and armor bonus items, Backstabber’s gloves (Crucible), Greater False Life, Greater resistance items
Granted abilities: Immune to poison
Ability raise: WIS
Feat: Improved Critical: Bludgeoning
Enhancements: Tier 3 stances become available
PRE: Shintao Monk I and Ninja SpyI become available
Possible gear: Garments of Equilibrium, Frozen Tunic (can be dropped to level 10)
Granted abilities: Abundant step
Possible gear: Spectral Gloves (Desert: Offering of Blood), +6 stat items
Granted abilities: Innate spell resistance
Possible gear: Icy Rainments (Subterrane: Garamol)
Feat: Greater Two Weapon Fighting
Granted abilities: Quivering Palm
Possible gear: Tharaak Bracers)
Ability raise: WIS
Possible gear: Dragontouched robes (Reaver Refuge), Tier 1 Alchemical Air Handwraps
Granted abilities: Ki strike: adamantine
Feat: Improved Sunder
Possible gear: Tower of Despair rings, Shavarath belts, Shintao cord and Henshin necklace, Nyoko’s necklace, Draconic necklace, Jump belt, Tharaak Handraps (Hound of Xoriat)
Enhancements: Tier 4 stances (Grandmaster) become available.
Ability raise: WIS
Granted abilities: Perfect self DR/10
Enhancements: Monk Serenity Capstone
- How to: Add Finishing Moves to your hot bars
- The Definitive Static Reward and Unique Loot thread
- Ron’s Character Planner
Alternate monk build reference:
- Thaarock Hound (18 fighter/2 monk Legendary Dreadnought)[/url]
- The Original Rockan (finesse halfling)
- Funk Puncher (Warforged STR build stunner monk)
- Rockan the Boat 12 fighter/8 monk, strength build
- The Horcrux, Robin' and Cursin' (wis/str build)
- 32 pts, vorpal strikes, and Void IV?
- Wisdom based light path stunner finesse build