That's wrong though. WBL is the wealth that's supposed to be available to you at a given level, not the total market value of what you're supposed to have. Spending that wealth more or less efficiently can make that wealth more or less effective. For example, if I spend my entire WBL on partially charged wands to start the game at level 10, then use them all trying to fight until I've used them up, the DM is not expected to just hand me more free wealth to make up for what I've wasted. Surely you don't think that a PC could start a level 10 game with all his wealth spent on scrolls of Gate, summon Solars to deal with every single problem, and then expect to have the DM just give him back his wealth so he can do it again? Likewise, if I have 6kgp due to WBL and purchase a mundane suit of armor that costs 3kgp then I have 3kgp left... but if I instead craft that armor for 1kgp, I have 5kgp left. Thus, crafting doesn't change your WBL... but it does change what you get with that WBL, just as wasteful spending does.
Anyway, other people have done a decent job of pointing out the flaws in Giacomo's nonsense... I'm AFB right now so I can't refute it properly at this time, but I'll hit the "double standard" bit. Though doesn't Skill Prodigy require being level 1? If so, what's the point of the +2 Int item, which doesn't give skillpoints either?
[quote author'"Giacomo"]First, on the double standards.
There are several, and some have already been mentioned by others – but here’s a comprehensive list:
You cry foul when I post monk builds where a certain template choice (necropolitan) or permanent buff (PaO) takes a dominant part in a (6th-level) build, but you do exactly the same. In fact, I came up with these dominant effects only when I copied your necropolitan expert idea to show you that with exactly the same choices, the monk can be as good – and still have his class abilities on top.[/quote]
I did not cry foul on you using Necropolitan... I was handing that to you as a gift, since you needed it due to MAD issues. It is completely reasonable to be a Necropolitan at level 6 (level 3 is the optimal time to take the template, due to increasing costs as you level). Permanent PAO on a level 6 character, however, is insane and obviously TO, and if you're permanently another creature then I'd expect most DMs to give you appropriate LA for that creature, making you completely worthless.
Closely related, you intend to show how MAD the monk is by demanding a 22-pt-buy-build, but circumvent actually having to face the consequences of such a low pt buy on ANY character by getting an undead template and thus getting rid of putting your points into CON. Really. And of course, you refuse utterly to acknowledge that, also, the monk can focus on less stats by the choice of some feats (like carmendine monk), or taking the undead template or PaO.
Except I fully expected you to use Necropolitan as well, so it actually helped you. 22 point buy was just showing that Experts can get away with lower point buys safely enough (even more so if they just do their skillmonkey thing without worrying about combat at all). But the fact that you can't differentiate between an appropriate level 6 template (Necropolitan) and getting a level 8 spell on a level 6 character for a permanent buff (PaO) says a lot about you.
Furthermore, I know Monks can reduce their stat dependency via feats (though note that Carmendine Monk requires being a member of the Zealots of the Written Word monk order, and is thus quite setting specific), but you're already burning tons of feats anyway. You spent a very long time talking about Monk feat advantage, but now to catch up you're using Skill Prodigy (specific to one setting), Carmendine Monk (very specific to another setting), Weapon Finesse (using up a bonus feat), as well as two other feats... what happened to that feat advantage?
To illustrate how much the expert uses his class abilities you say it is way less item-dependent than the monk, but the whole point is not about magic item dependence, but how much additional stuff (mundane items, rituals, magic buffs and magic items) in total you need to perform.
What buffs? For magic items, I got a single +2 Cha item... hardly insane at level 6. For rituals, I purchased a ritual that any arcane caster can do at extremely low levels, at an appropriate time.
And here, your necropolitan expert was dependent on way more stuff outside his class abilities to perform. It is in particular showcased by your breaking of wbl for getting any useful poisons in sufficient doses at all. Your whole expert necropolitan build concept COMPLETELY depends on getting more poison than allowed y wbl, which illustrates the item-dependancy of that expert build.
I see you don't know what "Item Dependency" means. It means you depend on the DM making certain items available to you. If you generate them yourself (as the Expert does), it's not item dependency. The Expert makes his own poison (which is temporary only, it has nothing to do with WBL) and uses it to attack. This is really no different than a Wizard casting Orb of Acid to attack someone... do you think the Wizard is Item Dependent because he needed that ball of acid to attack? Should we count the cost of the acid against him? Please. Nor does it COMPLETELY depend on that, since it also uses intimidation and Iaijutsu Focus in combat, along with the attacks of his mount, and doesn't use poison at all for other stuff (like social situations, which he is also decent at).
By comparison, you made a Monk that's worthless without the aid of a level 15+ Wizard. Check the DMG... they're not actually that easy to find. You're lucky to find more than 1 in a metropolis. So now your Monk only works if he's both a member of a specific campaign setting, who's also got access to feats from a second campaign setting, who also has access to a Metropolis that happens to have a Wizard who feels like helping him. Oh yeah, that's great. By comparison, the Expert works if he's got access to a single campaign setting's material, can buy a level appropriate mount from somewhere, and can find an arcane caster of any sort for the ritual. Which one's more likely to work in a campaign?
What confuses me in particular is that you deny completely to my monk builds the use of monk class abilities in synergy with other game aspects like race, templates and items/buffs, yet you claim you have done so with your necropolitan build.
What Monk abilities? You tanked your Wis score. Only in your most recent build (using too many settings) did you use your Monk AC. You made a mobile flyer character using a mount (so, run speed doesn't matter so much), but that doesn't syngerize with Flurry or Decisive Strike (full round actions). So no, you didn't use your abilities.
Of course a necropolitan using a craft poison skill is a great synergy of an expert class skill, but so is the monk’s class forte to fight in melee with a PaO effect, or even better: with any size-increasing effect due to his good unarmed strike synergy (enlarge person, mighty wallop, etc).
I thought you were trying to be as good as an expert? Getting larger = losing stealth abilities. Furthermore, PaO? Silly.
This also where you fail completely to understand (after so many years) what my joker monk guide is about: it is NOT about the monk being better at UMD than other classes or “begging” the DM for partially charged wands (which are RAW btw),
What if you're not running around in town all the time, but are instead on a LotR style journey? Where are you buying things from then? THAT is what Item Dependency means... it means your build fails if there's not a shop offering what you want or monsters dropping what you want when you need it. You need it ALL THE TIME with your laughable build, meaning that's yet one more campaign variable that must be dealt with.
but: It is about using the synergy of certain spell buffs with the monk class abilities that so many overlook, and which make LESS sense on other classes, even within just a core rules environment (like enlarge, mage armour and divine power etc). It shows four ways to get it: fellow pc casters, npc casters, permanent magic items and wands/scrolls with UMD. WHAT THE HECK IS SO DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT THIS?
I'll give you a sample campaign, one I've played in recently: we're running about in the underdark as drow outcasts. The drow mostly hate us, and we're forced out into areas with smaller settlements. But there's a major threat coming... a creeping shadow invasion that only we can stop. The party started as Beguiler, Ninja (a homebrew class much like a Swordsage), Swordsage, Dread Necromancer, Paladin of Tyranny/Hexblade. DMG demographics, so most folks are lower level. Now, how precisely would you get PaO or your endless wands in that campaign?
Even more confusing is that you criticize me for trying to show with the monk how easy the class can emulate most of the expert’s skill strengths and still use its monk abilities on top as “trying to be an expert” (which is the only way to compare the classes imo), while actually also trying to enter the monk’s turf of melee combat via expert class skills to show that the expert is better or as strong at BOTH his skill shticks AND combat. Huh?
"Trying to be an Expert" doesn't mean "trying to use skills." A Monk who uses skills he's good at (Spot, Listen, Move Silently, Hide) or ones he at least has in class (Diplomacy) is still a Monk, and a reasonable one. But a Monk who makes his build ridiculous (requiring multiple settings) and destroys his own abilities (tanks his scores so he can't use his class abilities), and spends his feats on stuff like Skill Prodigy instead of useful feats that actually do synergize with is Monk abilities is a joke.
Meanwhile, an Expert who deals with his problems using his class abilities (obscure skills) is just being an Expert. He'd be "trying to be a Monk" if he were spending his WBL to get a Monk's Belt so he could have Wis to AC and unarmed attacks... neither of which suit him at all. He'd be "trying to be a Monk" if he were spending his feats on Lightning Reflexes and Superior Unarmed Strike instead of feats like Imperious Command and Master of Poison that actually work for him.
This is not helped by your objection to my monk using half of his free feats to emulate the expert’s skill power as “spending FAR to much to do it”, while your expert uses up half of his skill points to get near the monk’s combat power (and btw fails completely imo)
Again, the Monk's class isn't "Combat Power." The Monk class is just the specific abilities that Monk gives you, which you generally use to achieve combat power.
You say that of course my monk can be powerful when “optimized” in such a way and pulling bits from multiple sources – but you do the same with an expert build using underdark material, a (dragon 3.5 update iirc)
You know, neither the hunting bat nor Imperious Command are that critical. Would you prefer I said Dire Bat and used Master of Poisons instead? Does that solve your setting issue? It certainly doesn't make the Expert any weaker... he trades his combat Intimidation abilities for poison every round in melee (earlier he could only use poison every round with ranged attacks).
Now let's see you make your build without Carmendine Monk or Skill Prodigy.
Finally, you did not object when some of the … let us say more trolling-inclined pro-expert posters in this thread suggested the comparison of monks built only with core material and the many non-core expert build ideas tossed around.
I wasn't talking to them. Obviously, a fair comparison requires the same rules for both.
And now let's tear apart your build:
Human level 7 monk with 22 pt buy
STR 14, DEX 8, CON 14, INT 18 (+2 INT item), WIS 8, CHR 8
FEATS: Carmendine monk, skill prodigy, knowledge devotion and improved initiative. Monk: Stunning fist, combat reflexes, improved trip.
Two settings required in the feats, and they're critical to the build. And what's Combat Reflexes doing on a Dex 8 character?
SKILLS: all monk class skills plus knowledge- the planes (planar monk ACF, lvl 5) and knowledge-nature (knowledge devotion), PLUS four more class skills of your choice. This should equate almost completely what your necropolitan expert has on the skill side.
You can max 8 skills with this build. To use Knowledge Devotion, you'd be maxing out Arcana, Religion, The Planes, and Nature (meaning KD doesn't work on Humanoids or Aberrations, but that's not too horrible). That leaves 4. The Expert had 8 skills other than that maxed. So, no, that's not going to keep up. Why don't you tell us which skills you plan to max instead of saying it "should equate?" It doesn't. I can tell from later that you want UMD maxed... what are your remaining 3?
ITEMs of note: +1 spiked chain, +2 INT item, ki straps, torc of the titans (both from MiC), UMD some enlarge and mighty wallop. When activation time is awkward, get yourself permanent enlarge for 3,100 gp.
At most you have 10 ranks in UMD, so that's a total of 9 (you tanked Cha). Half the time your UMD activations fail. If you roll a 1, you can't use the item for the rest of the day. And it takes a standard action to do this. So, you can't combat buff with this. Better get the permanent enlarge person, but now you can't do stealth very well at all (and a single Dispel Magic would really suck).
ACFs: decisive strike, invisible fist, planar monk.
At least Invisible Fist is solid.
ATTACK bonus: +6 (+8 invisibly), +10 vs tripped* foes (+12 invisibly). Add around +3 vs most creatures via knowledge devotion. *Trip mod: +16 with torc (enough to beat most CR 7 creatures).
DAMAGE with carmendine monk choose unarmed damage of 2 levels higher (1d10 base), pumped with enlarge and mighty wallop to huge size, or 3d8 damage – with full round attack a total of 6d8 +12 (doubled +3 STR/+3 knowledge devotion; not counting the torc effect).
Okay, so you have a single full round attack at +6 or +8 to hit (up to +11 against things you can use Knowledge Devotion on). You can't use mobility well due to needing to make single full round attacks. Normal AC for a CR 7 is around 16-18 anyway, so you hit about half the time... on half the rounds you don't do anything, and just stand there swinging.
SAVES: +7 fort, +4 refl, +4 will (+6 vs enchantment)
Not bad for level 7. Not a lot better than the bat though, so I don't see why you were complaining about the bat dying all the time.
AC: 14 (INT, monk AC, DEX penalty) 18 with mage armour, 21 when fighting defensively, 25 vs tripped foes
Wait, you want Mage Armor too? You said nothing about having a wand of that, so no, you're Int 14, a bit higher when making yourself worthless (Fighting Defensively... why?).
So, I did exactly as required by JaronK – an INT 18 monk with 22 pt buy and no dominant non-class feature.
You rely entirely on UMD!
It performs better almost everwhere than JaronLs necropolitan expert (like my other two monk builds):
Its class abilities all synergise with the items and free feats chosen
the saves, hp, attack bonus, damage, even AC (when using monk class abilities like tumble and improved trip) are all better than the same categories of the expert,
all of this while being almost equal in the skills section – the expert’s focus.
On top, the monk has some unique features like invisibility ability, energy resistance from planar monk (say, to fire), and a stunning fist of DC 21 on a full round attack – beating most poison DCs (at least the non-wbl-breaking kind). And due to combat reflexes and the spiked chain can trip/stop an ambushing foe (even without spiked chain proficiency since trip is a touch attack) within the surprise round from 20ft away, before AC even matters (also in regular combat).
Actually, your AC is lower (can't rely on that Mage Armor, and you tanked Dex and can't wear normal armor). You're not "almost equal" in skills, as you have only have the free maxed skills (though Knowledge skills can be nice). You lack ranged abilities and have far lower mobility, making it hard to actually get to your opponent. You're relying on single attacks that take a full round to do anything... and you're not even proficient with spiked chains so I'm not sure where you're going with that one (your attack bonus isn't exactly that hot, so even with a touch attack you're not doing so great).
But let's look at how well you do against some random CR7-9 opponents.
Against an Aboleth for example (just picking the first CR 7 in the MM) you hit on an 8 or 10, can't trip (he's swimming), and you'd take about 4 rounds to kill him... if he does decide to stick and fight. But since these guys prefer to stay back and launch illusions at you, he's unlikely to do so, preferring to open at range (which you can't fight at) and probably use a grapple to take you out when you do get up to him. Since you have little chance against his +22 grapple mod (yours is, what, +6?) he grapples and kills you, and you basically have no chance. Expert, by comparison, isn't doing so hot either... he'd be riding an aquatic mount for this and just hoping to land some poison. Fighting under water is not good for the expert, who'd really prefer to just shoot dangerous enemies from long range. So both of us are pretty useless here.
Against a Gargantuan Animated Object, it has a hardness score (most likely stone, so hardness 8, and remember that bludgeoning damage is halved). You can't trip it at all, and it can just grapple you (as AOs are want to do) and you're screwed. Expert... also pretty screwed, since intimidation and poison won't work, and he just wouldn't survive up close against that thing. However, it can't fly, so he's not in danger either.
Against a Hound Archon, you could kill him in two hits... but you only hit with about half your attacks. If you trip it, he can just teleport away, and you're unlikely to hit with the second attack because you're not proficient with the Spiked Chain anyway and you can't one hit kill him with that weapon. And in a stand up fight, the Archon can full attack you for serious damage. The Expert can just fly overhead shooting the archon, who fails the save against poison 50% of the time (via Black Lotus) and will fail future saves if he fails the first, so the Expert can easily handle the Archon. So, probable win for both, the Expert just does it safer and without taking damage due to being able to use a poisoned crossbow to get the job done.
Against an Elder Arrowhawk, you can't even hurt it because it flies and you don't have range. And it can just shoot at you. You're useless. The Expert can shoot at it, and the bat is fast enough to catch it, but it would be an ugly fight that the Expert REALLY doesn't want to be in. Probably loss for the Expert.
Against an Athach, the Monk gets destroyed. At range it hits you with rocks. Up close it's Huge and Str 26, so tripping's not an option, and it would absolutely tear that Monk to pieces. The Expert just flies out of range of the rocks and fires crossbow bolts (with a gnomish crossbow sight, he's got up to three Crossbow range increments to work with without penalties) and when his poison lands the Athach is screwed. Definite win for the Expert.
The Avoral flies and has ranged attacks. Monk looses. The Expert is in trouble, but a lucky poison shot could seriously screw the Avoral, and because of the Expert's massive range he might be able to take out the Avoral before it fights back... if he can keep out of range, which is unlikely. His bat actually has a decent shot at tripping the Avoral though, which against a non perfect flier causes it to drop for a while, allowing the Expert another shot. Poison landing twice is almost certainly going to kill that Avoral... the first landing is hard (it only needs a 6 on its save) but after the first the fort save gets much harder, so there's a definite chance here. So... maybe.
So that's the As in the SRD, and it looks like the Monk never has an advantage and is more likely to lose. That total lack of mobility and pathetic AC really hurts, as you've forced yourself to stand and take hits to defeat anything, and your complete lack of range was a bad plan too. So where's this great combat ability?