I am passionate about monks and their class – since playing the pen and paper original box set 40 years ago. Since joining DDO almost two years ago I have exclusively been monk focused with its variations – though most preferring the pure monk.
At the end of my soliloquy I may have a few bugs to report on the monk screens, but I will address the larger issues first. Let me begin with praising the new tree format – despite some of the naysayers that I have read in these forums, the tree system is visually easier to read and follow. It may seem more complicated only because there are now many more differentiations and path choices – which is no doubt one of the major purposes and benefits of changing the enhancement system. They have succeeded. Also I praise the wisdom in putting the monk elemental stance improvements as a naturally earned feat (Master of Forms, Grandmaster of Forms, etc.). This seems reasonable and is a great boon to the monk as so many points can be spent elsewhere. Thank you for all these changes.
Now as to what may still need some help (and thanks for asking for it DDO ?) I shall offer my two cents – okay twenty cents worth – of advice for tweaking the Monk Enhancement Trees.
The number of stars before a concern denotes my relative importance of the issue.
***Unarmed Enhancements. There needs to be better unarmed enhancement options. While there is a good path for the staff or for chi “magic” under the Henshin tree, and under the Ninja tree two weapons have many bonuses, for a monk to improve their most natural means of fighting –unarmed – they have few slots. The Shintao tree does have a defensive fighting path with the defensive striking – but it only buffs defense and at a fairly steep cost – minus 40% to offhand attacks. The only true gift to the unarmed monk is “empty hand mastery” which is tier 5. Otherwise one has to dual class to be kensai- monk. Why should a fighter monk know more about unarmed combat than a pure monk devoted its own craft? One should not have to leave the pure monk dream to fight better unarmed. I won’t ask why there are so many benefits to the unarmed kensei -monk – improved dodging, improved hit and dmg all up the tiers, double strike, vorpal capability, improved criticals, even meditation and concentration benefits – as well as numerous others. The kensei tree should be one of the monk trees. Why should a monk have to leave the monk path to be better at unarmed fighting? The fighter – monk dual class already has many benefits by dual classing – more feats, more help to dc techniques, more dmg and ability to hit etc. Now almost alll monks of the future will likely be torn from the pure monk path to receive such incredible fighting enchancements the kensei tree offers. And they will take the few fighting enhancements of the monk tree and then devote themselves for 18 levels to kensei. What advantage is there is being a pure monk anymore? (note sadness in voice).
At the very least there needs to be for the pure monk such a path for unarmed offense as well -- probably under the shintao tree. Something for each tier at least. Examples would be for tier 1 – unarmed specialization (+1 hit, +2 dmg). Tier 2 (you already have the elemental ki strikes available). Tier 3 (+1/2 die unarmed dmg increase) Tier 4 Monk Flurry (an action boost for 20-30 secs that doubles the attack speed) and then cap it with the Tier 5 Empty Hand Mastery which you already have available.
*Ps and by the way if you make an unarmed offensive path along the same same path up as where the elemental strike option and dismissing strike option is, then get rid of dimissive strikes (it should if anything be in the tainted creature path line if anywhere). It is redundant of the jade striking path line for tainted creatures – why go up that whole path when dimissing strike is good as the first 3 tiers of that line, including jade strike – they both end the creature’s existence for the same ki and same dc. But as a summary please add more unarmed enhancement benefits in the trees.
***Pure Monk Capstone As eluded to before there should be a much stronger capstone to choosing to be a pure monk to level 20. If the best offer is a couple attributes with some nominal ki improvements or some other slight benefit (like improved DCs against tainted creatures – hey monks already have good saves so not really needed), then it will be so much preferable to make a dual class where I can now find many of those same benefits early in a tree without even waiting to get level 20! More attributes are easily attainable a mid levels on every tree. And even Kensai monk has a power surge at level 12 to help generate ki at +2 for 60 seconds and this is repeatable! Now shouldn’t a pure monk devoted to perfection be able to generate a +1 ki way before level 20 (besides being limited to Sun stance)? If a fighter can opt that, why not the monk on its path?
Get rid of Exempler (why should a monk get heal and intimidate bonuses – they are not even part of their natural skill set, so they will help very little – i.e. waste of tree points). Substitute it with the same option the Kensai has (the monk should have even sooner) -- +1 ki generation per strike or more. Some where at least on each monk tree it should exist – because with all these new and wonderful opts they all use ki and the monk needs to have a larger base and to remake it faster (I’m sure you have heard from many frustrated monks at heroic levels trying to maintain ki).
Now back to the capstone. All monk tree capstones should be more like a +2 Wis and +2 dex (both) along with all of them having a +10 concentration and +1 ki generation (especially if not making it an opt earlier in the tree) along with some other special gifts unique to the trees which you would already have with the exception of the Henshin tree – but I’m sure you will find something along the lines of ki magic for them.
*Get rid of explemper and replace it (see notes above)
**Provide Ki generation bonus (see notes above). In addition make the ki pool bigger to begin with than just the concentration score. Much more ki will be needed with all the new options to use (though noted that you have provided more opts to get concentration built – even with that it is really not enough). The beginning pool should be something like base Wisdom + Concentration score. Or if you prefer base Constitution + Concentration score which is inline with what DDO has concentration tied too. This leads me to my next idea presentation / concern…..
***Rise of the Phoenix. 100 ki or above? Really? Okay I admit I love the concept as drawn up with 2 exceptions. No one is going to maintain 100 ki unless they decide never to use all those beautiful monk ki options. So they just sit on their ki for a “get out of death-jail free” card? 50 ki is reasonable. But who has a 100 ki lying around during a fight even at level 20? -- and even less at levels 8-9 when you could first get this enhancement potential (tree point wise) -- really? Note also that without the diehard feat the whole rise of the phoenix becomes essentially useless. Most deaths (especially at higher levels) will take you to -9 instantly. If you don’t stabilize you die anyway even with Rise of the Phoenix. I tested this several times. You get one roll to stabilize and then poof you die before the Phoenix can bless you with 1000 hit point heal. Therefore please also change this enhancement to automatically stabilize you so you get to rise….
Keep also in mind to get this enhancement a player must essentially spend 8 points on enhancements that everyone can get with a potion at level 1 or 2. In addition to remove said curse or blindness or whatnot, 3 healing ki attacks have to be made and then triggered with a finisher… which is like, um, 25 ki spent later and probably 30 seconds of real time before I can send the heal to anyone. Instead, I think I will drink or give a potion away whis is much faster and easier….
Make those earlier “Monk Curatives” more welcoming to spend points on. For example Tier 1 could offer those curatives (up to 4 points could be spent to get all four – but at least have one to continue up the path). Tier 2 healing amps (like the monks used to have as on live – so 2, 4 or 6 points spent on tier 2 – a little better than the human racial offerings – but hey they are monks and can heal their bodies better! Besides, better to spend points in the monk tree to help achieve those top tiers. Tier 3 Remove Negative Levels. Tier 4. Commune with Spirit (or Raise Dead). This was the original Rise of the Phoenix as it is now on live (raising the dead to 10%) that monks could do at level 9. My young daughter loves playing a monk that can help others thusly in a pinch (remember monks don’t get to use UMD magic devices and scrolls – so this is still a good fit for the healing monk). Please make my daughter and other such monks happy by restoring this heal ability. Then the final of the chain would be Rise of the Phoenix as you have it but with only 50ki necessary in the bank. Really.
**Meditation of War do you intend this to be a stance toggle that turns off defensive striking stance? I thought the meditation of war stance benefits would build off of what ever a person is using at the time. If it is a whole separate stance with benefits then it is not so great – especially as a level 5 tier. I have to lose all my defensive striking benefits for a small plus in any stance (and with a drawback unless I’m level 20 in the tree). Either increase the benefits or make it stack with defensive striking (which I would think be a reasonable tier 5 add).
*Shintao Core Deflection Bonuses do these deflection armor bonuses against tainted creatures stack with other deflection bonuses -- such as wearing a cloak of protection +5 for example? If not then they are totally worthless, because most characters have deflection bonus up to +5 even at mid-level. Perhaps they should be a different category than deflection such as Ki bonus or competence bonus.
*Please note that it may be a bug but taking Agility in the ninja tree (tier 2) did not increase my dodge cap – at least not as it shows when you hover the cursor over your AC under the inventory.
*Side note also on the human racial tree that fighting styles shows 3 points you can spend on it, but on the inside only raises you 1 point attack bonus for the ambidextrous, fighting style regardless if you spend 1, 2 or 3 points on it.
**Finally let me suggest that there be a monk enhancement to revive ki quickly (like in the epic level) but not as powerful. It is still needed in the early levels and it could expend a meditiation as one of its costs. A simple clickie for emergency chi. Make it a level 5 tier if you wish and it might only give you as much chi as equal to your wisdom or constitution. But it would be something useful for monks in lower levels. At epic level it is 25 – 125 instant ki. Here at the heroic levels even half that possibility would be nice.
*Level Requirements. Why even bother with saying that 4th tier means you can be fourth level or 5th tier you have to be 5th level, because at the same time you have tree point requirements of 20 and 30. No one can get 20 points sooner than 5th level or 30 points sooner than 8th level anyway. Not unless DDO plans to change point requirements or add more points. Speaking of which I recommend that level 1 characters all start with 4 enhancement points to reflect their work as an initiate from 0-1 just like they start with a number of feats and skills at level 1. This would make 80 enhancement points total instead of the 76. With the new enhancement system I am hoping that epic levels also continue to receive enhancement points.
Okay I think that is all I have for now. I will continue doing more research and exploration of the monk trees. Hope this is helpful. And thanks for listening.