Alright, so I had the recent and unique insight that the Duelist prestige class synergies with the Monk. Behold what can be done when you put these two powerful character options together, for it shall make even the mightiest wizard quake in his boots!
The thought occurred to me when I realized that the Duelist was the only other core class than the monk which received a mental stat to AC, namely Int. Obviously, if you made a character focused on Dexterity, Wisdom, and Intelligence, you could get sky-high AC and be nigh-invulnerable in combat. Thus I propose the following build for anyone who enjoys swashbuckling combat in a high-stakes environment.
Class progression: Monk6/Fighter2/Paladin2/Duelist10
Monk bonus: Stunning Fist, Combat Reflexes, Improved Trip
Fighter Bonus: Dodge, Mobility
Character: Improved Initiative, Combat Expertise, Weapon Finesse, Improved Natural Attack, Two Weapon Fighting, Spring Attack, Improved Two Weapon Fighting, Greater Two Weapon Fighting
With this setup, you will have +18 BAB, which is only 2 less than that of an 20th level Fighter, meaning you won't have any trouble when it comes to hitting. Moreover, your defense will be outstanding. Not only is your regular AC high, but your touch AC will be phenomenal.
Assuming a total score of 26, 22, 22 in Dex, Int, and Wis respectively, AC when fighting defensively can be as high as:
8 (Dex)+ 6 (Int) + 6 (Wis) + 2 (Monk AC bonus) +1 (Haste) +5 (Bracers of Armor) + 5 (Deflection) + 1 (Ioun Stone) + 5 (Defending) +5 (Combat Expertise) +3 (fighting defensively with 5 ranks in Tumble) + 10 (Duelist class bonus when fighting defensively) = 57 (Touch 52)
Assumed equipment: Monk's Belt, Boots of Speed, Bracers of Armor, Ring of Deflection, Ioun Stone, +5 Defending Kama, various Tomes.
When you compare this to high level monsters such as a Balor
or Pit Fiend
, with attack bonuses of +33 and +30 respectively, we can see that they are simply unable to be hit by either of them except on a natural 20. This is an incredible asset in combat because it makes you nearly invincible.
Now, a Duelist won't be able to deal much damage, but you're not playing a Duelist to kick ass in the same way a Barbarian does, you're doing it for the roleplaying potential. Besides, there are so many other roles in battle to fill; a Duelist's main strength is mobility, so it would be a good idea to capitalize on that. Spring Attack, tumble, and Mobility allow you to run around the battlefield at top speed thanks to your unarmored status, dealing damage wherever it is needed to support the main melee combatants and providing a critical flanking bonus so that the rogue can sneak attack should he wind up in an unfavorable position. In addition, you can stun enemies with your Stunning Fist attack, whose DC will be through the roof since Wisdom is an important stat for this build. This is truly a superior supporting character for the battlefield that not even a Bard can rival.
Since your reflex saves would be through the roof, you will never fail a reflex save. Since you have evasion, that means a wizard could cast Fireball at you all day without you breaking so much as a sweat. If he chooses to cast ray spells, he'll miss horribly, since not even True Strike would enable a ray to hit. Fortitude saves will be a cinch to make due to getting a great fortitude progression from the fighter, paladin and monk, as well as Cha to saves; likewise, the monk's good will saves coupled with high wisdom and the paladin's save bonus means that will saves will be trivial to pass as well. Anything else can obviously be handled by a simple Mantle of Spell Resistance combined with a Ring of Blinking, so you aren't even there half the time!
Admittedly, a Magic Missile spell can still target you if you're on the Etheral Plane, but a simple wand of Shield can solve that problem. Due to your high Int, you will have more skill points than you know what to deal with, so having cross class ranks in UMD is entirely possible. Combined with the Charisma you have for saves, you'll easily be able to make the DC20 UMD check to activate a wand.
It's worth noting that since activating a wand has a flat DC, you could use wands of other spells to augment your fighting capability. If you find that there is not enough cash in your coffers after boosting your Dex, Int, Wis, and Cha, then a few partially charged wands may make for a good investment, like buying used cars.
This is how you make a truly fearsome magekiller! Wield carefully this power you now hold in your hand, for knowledge is a double edged, two bladed sword with spikes on the handle.