Iconic Design: Nobody Makes a Monkey Outta Me!

Welcome to Guidance, Private Sanctuary’s source for tips and techniques for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, written by Everyman Gamer Alexander Augunas. Today, we’re going to looking at an Iconic Design for making a monkey out of nearly anyone.

Welcome to Harrow Month!

Ever hear the phrase, “Make a monkey out of me?” I love puns so one of my favorite things to do on my sorcerer is baleful polymorph people who say that around me. Of course, there’s not really a good way to do this without being a sorcerer. That is, until the Harrow Handbook rolled around….

Build Concept

I want to punch things so hard that I make a monkey out of them. This is how I’m going to do it.

  • Monk (Harrow Warden): This awesome, all-important archetype can be found in the Harrow Handbook.
  • Dirty Tricks: This build focuses a lot on dirty tricks and it uses very similar mechanics to my dirty player, dirty tricks build. We, however, will be working towards allowing that build to punch people into monkeys. Or rabbits. Or other small, hapless critters.
  • Demoralize: Yup, a monk that demoralizes people. With Charisma! I’ve really gone off the deep end, folks.

Early Levels (1–7)

  • Classes: Monk (Harrow Warden) 7
  • Feats: Combat Reflexes (Monk), Combat Expertise (1st), Dodge (Bonus), Improved Dirty Trick (3rd), Weapon Focus: unarmed strike (5th), Improved Trip (Bonus), Dazzling Display (7th)
  • Abilities: AC Bonus (Wis +1), Evasion, Fast Movement +10, Flurry of Blows, High Jump, Idiot Strike, Ki Pool (Magic), Maneuver Training, Purity of Body, Slow Fall (30 ft.), Still Mind, Unarmed Strike 1d8, Wholeness of Body

I like this build because it has a lot of really nasty stuff that it can do relatively quickly. You will either need to invest in Charisma as a monk (gasp!) or grab a trait that changes Intimidate’s key ability score to something else, but this is one of those builds that ends up being pretty good over the course of a longer fight, especially against multiple enemies.

Harrow Warden’s signature attack, idiot strike, is nasty. Really, really nasty. Forcing your target to reroll virtually every type of d20 roll is awesome. Getting to do it a number of times per day equal to your monk level is even better. Having it last additional rounds as you level up is just icing on the cake. This special ability is great, so in order to get it off we want to soften up our opponents’ saving throws.

Enter demoralize and dirty trick.

Between these two, you can inflict shaken and sickened onto your enemies, which gives them a –2 penalty on saving throws each. Now, you likely won’t need both most of the time, but having both is nice as it lets you set yourself up a little bit better. You should always go for at least –2 before using idiot strike, especially at lower levels when your save DC is low.

Many of the feats we’re grabbing at this stage of the game are building to something bigger and better, but the build isn’t quite there yet. This build is more than able to hold its own in this bracket, though. However, things get more fun as we level up further.

Mid Levels (8 –14)

  • Classes: Monk (Harrow Warden) 14
  • Feats: Combat Reflexes (Monk), Combat Expertise (1st), Dodge (Monk), Improved Dirty Trick (3rd), Weapon Focus: unarmed strike (5th), Improved Trip (Monk), Dazzling Display (7th), Shatter Defenses (9th), Medusa’s Wrath (Monk), Quick Dirty Trick (11th), Greater Dirty Trick (13th), Improved Critical: unarmed strike (Bonus)
  • Abilities: Abundant Step, AC Bonus (Wis +1), Big Sky Stance, Diamond Soul, Evasion, Fast Movement +10, Flurry of Blows, High Jump, Idiot Strike, Ki Pool (Magic), Maneuver Training, Mute Hag Stance, Purity of Body, Slow Fall (70 ft.), Still Mind, Unarmed Strike 2d6, Wholeness of Body

And now the fun abilities from the Harrow Warden start to trickle in! Big Sky Stance gives the monk immunity to curses and polymorph effects, which can be a double-edged sword if you’re in to being transformed into animals by your friendly neighborhood druid. Otherwise, it’s neat but not amazingly powerful. The real winner at this point is Mute Hag Stance, which nullifies all insight and morale bonuses that allies within your threatened area gain. Barbarians loose their raging bonuses. Investigators loose their studied strike and inspiration bonuses. This ability is wicked nasty against PC classes, without a doubt!

On the feat aspect, the build immediately grabs Shatter Defenses so it can take Medusa’s Wrath at 9th level. In this way, the monk can spend round 1 demoralizing via Dazzling Display and after hitting with its best attack on round 2, the monk immediately gets two more attacks via Medusa’s Wrath because the target has been made flat-footed by Shatter Defenses. Things get even more hectic at 11th level when the monk gains the ability to make a dirty trick maneuver during a full attack, meaning that the monk’s tactics will end up looking something like this:

  • Round 1: Demoralize target.
  • Round 2: Use Quick Dirty trick during a flurry of blows to sicken target. Spend ki point to make another attack, triggering Medusa’s Wrath. Immediately gain 2 more attacks at highest bonus.

You later get Greater Dirty Trick and Improved Critical, which make this strategy even better. You’re living up to the build’s name by making a monkey out of your foe rather nicely, wouldn’t you say? However, there is still one more piece to the puzzle, the ultimate way to “make a monkey out of someone.”

Endgame (15+)

  • Classes: Monk (Harrow Warden) 20
  • Feats: Combat Reflexes (Monk), Combat Expertise (1st), Dodge (Monk), Improved Dirty Trick (3rd), Weapon Focus: unarmed strike (5th), Improved Trip (Monk), Dazzling Display (7th), Shatter Defenses (9th), Medusa’s Wrath (Monk), Quick Dirty Trick (11th), Greater Dirty Trick (13th), Improved Critical: unarmed strike (Bonus), Enforcer (15th), Ki Throw (17th), Improved Disarm (Monk), Cockatrice Strike (19th)
  • Abilities: Abundant Step, AC Bonus (Wis +1), Big Sky Stance, Diamond Soul, Eclipse Strike, Empty Body, Evasion, Fast Movement +10, Flurry of Blows, High Jump, Idiot Strike, Ki Pool (Magic), Maneuver Training, Mute Hag Stance, Purity of Body, Slow Fall (any distance.), Still Mind, Timeless Body, Tongue of the Sun and Moon, Unarmed Strike 2d10, Wholeness of Body

Oh, eclipse strike. You make a monkey out of me every time. Literally.

The Harrow Warden’s 15th level ability is insanely good. Essentially, whenever you hit someone with an idiot strike you can choose to baleful polymorph them. Please note that this ability is a bit on the vague side: as written, you need only to hit a target with an idiot strike to baleful polymorph your target. Your GM may want to change this ability so that it replaces the usual effects of your idiot strike, because as written it currently doesn’t; you get your usual idiot strike effect plus anything hit by your idiot strike has to save or become baleful polymorphed. That is extremely, extremely good. Too good, even, so you should assume that eclipse strike was meant to replace idiot’s strike’s usual effects.

That said, up to this point this build has been designed to make baleful polymorphing someone with this archetype easier. Don’t believe me? Let’s watch how things go down at 1st level, when you get eclipse strike.

  • Round 1 – Flurry of Blows. Give up first attack (full bonus –2) to make a Quick Dirty Trick. Sicken target. Use second attack (full bonus –2) to strike the target for nonlethal damage, triggering Enforcer. Instant demoralize attempt. Spend a ki point as a swift action to make another attack at full bonus –2, triggering Medusa’s Wrath. Use first Medusa’s Wrath attack to use idiot strike to force the target to reroll d20s. Use second Meduda’s Wrath attack to trigger the baleful polymorph effect.

Please not that ALL of those attacks use the monk’s full BAB, so you are actually fairly likely to pull this rather insane combo off. Chances are your target will be sitting at a –4 penalty on saves with forced rerolls, and if it fails it gets taken out of combat permanently. And all it cost you was 1 ki point and 2 of your 15 uses of idiot strike. Remember that you don’t have to do all of this in one round; this build is just designed so you can if you absolutely have to.

After 15th level, there isn’t much to look forward to. Ki Throw lets you throw just about anyone if you want to. Improved Disarm allows you to knock people’s weapons away if you want to. Cockatrice Strike lets you turn casters to stone. (Just in case you really wanted a stone bunny for your garden or something.) But all the while, you are literally punching people so hard that you are literally making monkeys out of them. And that’s pretty awesome.

Mythic

I’m not sure what I would take path ability wise for this build—trickster feels right to me, personally. I would also take some Mythic versions of my favorite feats: Mythic Dirty Trick is an important one. Titan Strike for more damage and Improved Unarmed Strike for more damage seem cool too.

And that’s my build for punching people into monkeys. I think that this is a build that I am going to have to try in order to see if I like it. What do you think? Leave your questions and comments below, and I’ll see you next Friday for another Iconic Design.

Alexander “Alex” Augunas has been playing roleplaying games since 2007, which isn’t nearly as long as 90% of his colleagues. Alexander is an active freelancer for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and is best known as the author of the Pact Magic Unbound series by Radiance House. Alex is the owner of Everyman Gaming, LLC and is often stylized as the Everyman Gamer in honor of Guidance’s original home. Alex’s favorite color is blue, his favorite Pathfinder Race/Class combination is kitsune harrow warden, and he flipped out when he found out that there was a class that would let him punch people so hard that they turned into monkeys. Gotta love Pathfinder!

Alex Augunas

Alexander Augunas lives outside of Philadelphia, USA where he tries to make a living as an educator. When he's not shaping the future leaders of tomorrow, Alex is a freelance writer for esteemed Pathfinder Roleplaying Game publishers such as Paizo, Inc, Radiance House, Raging Swan Press, and more, and also acts as a co-host and blogger on the Know Direction Network, where he has earned the nickname, "The Everyman Gamer." Recently, Alex has forayed into the realm of self-publishing through his company, Everyman Gaming, LLC.

1 Comment

  1. Darrell Vin Zant Reply to Darrell

    Oh god… Oh God… OH GOD…. This is, without a doubt, the most hilarious build you ever made on here. Damned effective too!

    I need to find some way to work this into a game somehow… maybe a Bounty Hunter? Or… oooh…. a Collector! He hunts down famous warriors to add them to his menagerie of Martial Monkeys!!!

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