It’s wild to me how different things play out in-game compared to how the forums say things will go.

We’ve been playing in Pedro’s new pathfinder game for a few sessions now. Our party consists of a fighter, a rogue with a great axe, a witch (focused on healing), and a monk. The consensus on the forums (or rather how the forums would rank the usefulness of each class), is that the witch will be of the most value in this group (magic > everything),  the rogue’s job should have been replaced day one by a wand of summon monster 1, the fighter is the guy who drives into the iceberg, and the monk is the titanic itself.

It is quite the opposite, my friends. The monk is probably our most valuable member. The monk has saved our asses at least 5 times throughout this game so far, as we’re not even out of the first area we started at. Our rogue gets us out of all the crazy traps that my brother throws at us (that he made up), and the fighter is a monster who doesn’t stop unless killed. The witch? Funny enough, the witch has not been the one who imposes her will on reality and led us to victory. She’s good, no doubt, but she has not trivialized the game in any capacity.

What are we doing different, I wonder?  Specifically with the monk, which is generally considered one of the worst classes out there. Why is our monk such a beast? And it’s not just our monk, either. The player of the witch had a monk in the game he ran that was an absolute monster, and that game went on into the higher levels (at least 12+ levels). I think it’s because we’re doing stuff that isn’t exactly standard.

First off, only the base monk is ever considered. The plethora of archetypes and feats available in the official pathfinder books are never accounted for. 15 point buy standard is also used to generate the monk, which goes right out the window as soon as you roll your stats. People freak out about DR as well, but at the same time never boosting their strength to where DR gets pushed through with ease. Sure, they’ll always lose a little bit of damage, but everyone has to deal with that (keep in mind that it’s not guaranteed that you’ll always have a weapon that will break through DR on other classes either, so the fighter’s right there in the same boat).

Secondly, it always comes down to the kind of game the Gm runs. In a vacuum, the monk probably doesn’t fare too well compared to others also built in the same vacuum. Outside of that vacuum? It’s anyone’s game. Maybe the game that your monk ends up in will have a lot of NPC characters to fight in, with monsters used sparingly, or maybe the GM, I don’t know, tailors his game to the group makeup and decides “maybe I shouldn’t throw them against those three iron golems”.

I just think that it’s not always cut and dry. I used to lurk the paizo pathfinder forums a lot about a year and a half ago, and they were bitching about monks. Recently I started following one poster in particular that I like, and his post history is filled with stuff about monks (talking about how bad they are). I was flabbergasted. People are still bitching about monks, who have gotten more love in the last couple books than a hooker on buy “one get one free” weekend. If fighters got that much love, I’d be ecstatic.

Just remember that you should play what you want, regardless of whether or not it’s considered bad (so long as you’re taking your group into account). It’s better to crash and burn than to give up on a character you’re excited for, especially because some dudes told some other dudes on a message board somewhere that your idea was bad because math.

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