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Starting a Monk
Starting a Monk is more akin to building a spell caster than a melee character, as many stats and enhancements determine the course of the character, not the equipment they find over time.
While experienced players could build an effective 28 point monk build as long as you know what stats affect your play, in general is is not advised to create a monk without having access to 32 point builds first. A monk's STR, DEX, CON and WIS determine their ultimate effectiveness.
 How Statistics affect the Monk
STR: This stat affects your +damage and +hit chance if you do not take Weapon Finesse. It also is required for the regularly-taken feat Power Attack (requires 13 base Strength). Strength is also very useful to staff based monks as Weapon Finesse does not affect staves. Typically if a monk specializes in staves they pick up the Two-Handed Fighting feat line. Don't confuse Two-Handed Fighting with Two-Weapon Fighting.
DEX: This stat affects your armor bonus from dexterity (known as DEX bonus), governs Reflex saves and is the key stat which is a prerequisite for a few common monk feats including: Two Weapon Fighting (which affects unarmed fighting for monks), Weapon Finesse (if their dexterity is higher than their strength), Dodge, and some of the lesser used but still useful feats such as Mobility and Spring Attack. Two Weapon Fighting and its later upgrades greatly increase the off-hand hit chance, effectively scoring more attacks per round.
CON: This stat affects your overall health in addition to Fortitude saves. It also is your primary stat for maintaining your lifeblood for fighting, your Ki through the skill Concentration. A monk without a decent constitution score and decent Concentration will find it difficult to fight effectively and use monk abilities.
As a melee character, it is inadvisable to start with lower than 14 CON. Even if you think/are sure you wont get hit, any slight Cleave-style effect from enemies (such as Orcs) will most likely be deadly (especially at high levels/difficulty) Also, while monks do have Evasion, everyone eventually rolls a 1 sometime. It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED to pick up the Toughness Feat at least once on a monk. Humans and Half-Elves can add the Human Recovery enhancement in addition to the Monk Recovery enhancement to greatly aid in healing.
WIS: Wisdom governs a couple of secondary but critical abilities. WIS provides a bonus to armor (WIS bonus) when the monk is not higher than light encumbrance, wearing only a robe/outfit or docent and wielding only Monk weapons (discussed later). Wisdom also is used in calculating how much health is recovered per tick of Wholeness of Body, how high the various DC's are for some monk moves and finishers, and (with Concentration) a monk's maximum stored ki. Monks who want to specialize in Stunning Fist are advised to mind their WIS score. The higher the WIS, the more likely that Stunning Fist will succeed. (Handwraps with the Stunning suffix stack with this ability.) It should be noted that, in Epic difficulty, stunning is one of the few effects that remain useful against enemies that are no longer affected by paralyzing, banishing, crippling or similar weapons.
INT: Intelligence is generally a lower priority stat for monks as it only provides more skill points per level-up, as well as access to the feat Combat Expertise. While Combat Expertise helps Armor Class, most monks aren't built to stand up alone against most bosses and mass foes for very long ("tank"), due to a lower amount of HP. It's advisable to skip Combat Expertise and place the stat points into WIS or DEX to gain better saves, AC, stuns and the like. (In place of Combat Expertise, simply adjust your Monk stance to Earth stance for a more defensive posture.)
Intelligence also governs Repair and Search for monks. These skills are not particularly useful to most monks (especially when Detect Secret Doors items are available at very low levels and True Seeing is available later on several unique items.)
CHA: Charisma is another a low priority stat for monks. Only two moves in a monk's entire arsenal uses CHA in the slightest. One of these is Shining Star, a finishing move which mimics the effects of Otto's Irresistible Dance), at level 20.
Charisma also governs Intimidate, Bluff, Haggle, Diplomacy, and Use Magic Device. Of these, generally only Haggle and Use Magic Device are useful to a monk, as they are to most classes. Dominion-philosophy Monks may find UMD as a suitable direction in order to use less-expensive wands for healing.
 Monk Weapons and Attack Types
Monks are one of a handful of classes where multiclassing is a bad idea. Monks gain many more feats than other classes that help them survive. Bored players might create characters with a "splash" of two monk levels for some unarmed fighting, but they may miss out on the Evasion and saves from later levels. Further, multiclassing with monk levels without precise planning often "gimp" the abilities of the second class, rendering the fusion as an ultimately unplayable character.
For instance, say you take two monk levels, then try to continue as a wizard. A monk's offensive and defensive skills come primarily from STR, DEX and WIS--stats that a wizard rarely needs. Adding the necessary INT points for spellcasting means that any unarmed fighting will be very dangerous.
If you would really want to multiclass, consider other divine-based classes, such as Clerics or Rangers. But, even then, the overall strength of your character may be diminished. The monk is the ONLY class in DDO that, if built and used properly, can literally fight without any items on, whatsoever--and do so longer than other classes.
Monks initially rely on four types of simple or special weaponry.
- Handwraps (unarmed fighting)
- Kama (small bladed weapons)
- Shuriken for the occasional ranged attack
Inevitable Dominion Monks ("dark monks"--see below) can choose enhancements that allow shortswords as centered weapons, while all monks can take feats that allow longswords or longbows/shortbows as centered weapons.
Staff users generally use Strength as their primary attack stat and grab the Two-Handed Fighting line of feats. They are typically found in a Fire stance, building and using ki like there is no tomorrow. DEX-based monks using Weapon Finesse shouldn't neglect STR, as it adds in determining your damage per strike.
Handwraps and kamas can be used with Weapon Finesse to make DEX their primary attack stat. These weapons gain additional attacks from the Two Weapon Fighting chain. All Monks (except quarterstaff users) should aim for enough DEX to grab the Greater Two Weapon Fighting feat.
A monk's Constitution should be a minimum of 14. While it is possible to go with a CON of 12, it is ill-advised to drop any lower than that. Monks are on the front lines and do not receive as many baseline hitpoints on level-up as Fighters, Paladins and Barbarians do, making them a touch more "squishy". In addition, take at least one Toughness feat, add in Racial Toughness enhancements if available, and use Tomes to improve HP. Be aware that the popular Wind Stance (see below) will reduce your CON.
Intelligence is based purely on the build. Tanks will want to find a way to reach 13 INT to pick up Combat Expertise (Tomes count toward this number). For most other builds, 10 Intelligence is sufficient. Experienced players will often warn you that AC is far less important once a character attains Level 20 and plays Epic quests. For that reason, placing irretrievable points in INT just for Combat Expertise may be unwise. However, monks are among the only builds that can actually achieve a reasonable AC in epic. If you wish to create an AC build that can stand in epic, it can be done -but at the cost of almost everything else.
Wisdom, as stated before, governs a variety of things for a monk. It is never wise to neglect WIS. Saves, AC, DCs for many abilities are controlled with this stat. Experimentation is good, but the consensus is to boost this stat well if you want to make the most of the Monk's strongest abilities, especially Stunning Fist, which can work even in Epic play.
Charisma is purely based on the build of monk desired and specific choice of skills to be used with it. (such as a UMD based monk). In general, don't add any points to CHA until needed near level 20 for Shining Star, should you care to use it.
 Common Feats
The first feats in each category are recommended to take so that a monk can improve their chances to damage more effectively and survive longer, especially while they are at lower levels.
NOTE: Discussion on the DDO Forums suggests that the Deflect Arrows feat works, but rather weakly, in the game. You may find it more beneficial to use other feats or skills to add in saves against ranged attacks.
- Toughness (Remember, you can take this feat multiple times to help in HP)
- Power Attack (requires 13 Strength)
- Improved Critical for Bludgeoning: Needed attack improvement for unarmed and staff fighters.
- Stunning Fist ( you can only use this feat when fighting with handwraps)
 For Handwrap and Kama users
- Weapon Finesse (Only use if you make DEX your main to-hit stat)
- Two Weapon Fighting
- Improved Two Weapon Fighting
- Greater Two Weapon Fighting
 For Quarterstaff users
 Stances and Finishing Moves
Monks are a support based class who are only able to support their allies when able to be in the fray and build ki (pronounced "kee").
A stance is a posture that your monk uses that gives advantages to one statistic or skill at the expense of another. There are general stances available to all classes, such as Power Attack and Defensive Fighting. The Monk receives special stances of its own. How much ki you require, or how much damage you want to deal, often determines what stance you need.
In quests where dispensing of the trash mobs is easy and ki is in ample supply with little use to consume it, the Way of Air (Wind Stance) allows faster kills, but at the cost of lower CON.
When a Monk needs to provide better support, anticipating a heavy use of ki for buffs, healing or destruction, switching to the Way of Fire (Sun Stance) will rapidly generate ki. The STR boost this stance provides also means that attacks may have more damage per hit.
When on the defensive, the Way of Earth (Mountain Stance) provides a slower movement speed (although attack speed is not affected) but generates ki as mobs strike you. Also, in Earth stance your defenses are more effective (with DR and extra blocking DR) and you are able to make much more effective critical hits at 19-20, rather than at 20, when in upgraded Earth III or IV stances.
The Way of Water (Ocean Stance) offers increased saves when you're dealing with pesky casters or traps. At higher levels, your ki regeneration is increased by 1, allowing ki restoration to at least your stable pool. This stacks with other ki regeneration abilities, such as Monk Serenity.
Be mindful that Monk stances move your stats around. This is advantageous when you find STR, WIS or DEX runes or levers that need opening--you need only change to a stance and your stat gains a +2 advantage.
Most Monks use Wind stance for the faster attack speed most of the time; STR based Monks will switch to Fire stance when they have trouble hitting some monster. Dark Monks may also require the higher ki generation in Fire stance once they acquire Touch of Death.
A review on the basic functions of stances can be found on the Monk Enhancements page.
Finishing moves are the special attacks that a monk can make. A finishing move consists of making three attacks (often one of the elemental strikes available at level 1), combining it with a special move dependent on the Monk attack philosophy paths chosen at level 3 (see below). Finishing moves end with the selection of the Finishing move button to activate that move's ability--a buffing effect, a heal, or a debilitating attack or effect for enemies.
See the Monk tactics article for greater detail on finishing moves.
Monks can choose one of two paths: the Path of Harmonious Balance or the Path of Inevitable Dominion.
Most players simply refer to each as a "light monk" or a "dark monk," respectively.
The most significant differences between these two philosophies is the manner in which ki is used, particularly once a Prestige Enhancement decision is made. Light monks eventually specialize in party support and can become superior in fighting against the undead and aberrations such as Mindflayers. Dark monks can eventually specialize in using ki's negative energies most effectively against living creatures.
Neither path is necessarily "better" than the other. It's all a matter of play style, good builds and personal taste.
 The Path of Harmonious Balance: the Light Monk
Light monks gain spell-like abilities enhancements they level. By level 6 and 9 they can use their ki to remove curses, provide lesser restorations, perform mass healing, remove blindness and even raise the dead. While you can also cure those status effects by using potions on other players, ki has one singular advantage over potions: As long as you can fight and generate ki, you have an inexhaustible resource to perform these abilities.
A light monk can recharge their ki indefinitely and keep themselves healed and healthy when their defenses (AC) are very strong against the foes they are fighting. Monk are often standing quietly in a rest shrine while clerics and spell casters have to recharge their spell points. A light monk can perform some minor mass healing with the Healing Ki finisher.
A light monk's buffs do not last nearly as long as a healer's buffs do. Nor does the Healing Ki perform as strongly as a cleric's healing spells. Further. unlike spell points, ki slowly drains from monks, limiting the time to use ki to help a party. Therefore, a light monk is an opportunist. A coordinated player fights, hitting enemies to charge his ki while setting up mass heals through his Healing Ki strikes. A quick, coordinated monk can repeat this attack/heal cycle for as long as there are enemies to strike and ki to generate. (You can improve the effectiveness of heals by using Devotion/Potency items as part of your equipment, as well as using Monk Improved Recovery or racial healing opportunities.)
Light monks used to make create slightly less damage than their counterpart, the dark monk. That was before Update 9, when Mountain Stance critical modifiers improved the overall damage for all monks. The dark monk still has a few tricks up their sleeve in special attacks that light monks do not have (specifically, the Touch of Death).
Your allies greatly benefit from a light monk's buffs for saves, spell point conservation, blurring, immunities from stunning, and like. Although a light monk's buffs last for only ONE MINUTE, your buffs can NOT be dispelled by a beholder's anti-magic cone effect or other debuffing effects.
- Always be sure to use the finisher Aligning the Heavens when it is buff time for a group, to minimize healer and caster spell point usage by 25% for 1 minute. When possible, use Aligning the Heavens while fighting to save spell points.
- While your Dance of Clouds can be overwritten by Blur and Displacement, it has the distinct advantage of being able to affect friendly but un-targetable combat capable NPCs ("The Captives", "Ruins of Threnal" and "The Waterworks" quests, for example, have rescues that benefit from this, for instance).
- Walk of the Sun is useful overall as it helps with skills (finding and disabling traps, UMD), saves (useful against hostile casters and traps) and to-hit chances. Walk of the Sun stacks with all other bonuses since it is an untyped ability.
- Grasp the Earth Dragon makes you and your party immune from stunning attacks that will leave you most vulnerable to critical hits. Light monks are favorite party members in the Tower of Despair raid for this buff alone.
- Your Healing Ki finisher is also quite useful as it can save the healer some spell points to go further on in the mission and it can revive a player who is incapacitated but not yet dead. It functions as a level one spell and as such is affected by any effects on equipment you would expect--BUT NOT feats. That means multiclassed Cleric-Monks cannot use Empowered Healing feats to improve Healing Ki, to give an example.
You can fight and heal others and yourself by chaining Fist of Light attacks at an enemy. This has a triple-benefit: Hits with Fists of Light might create the Healing shield on a foe on a successful hit: your allies heal themselves a little as they strike the affected enemy. Lastly, a Healing shield flag above an enemy's head flags allows melees to direct their attacks on a single enemy. Release your Healing Ki after the third strike, and repeat until all foes are dead and/or all members nearby are healed.
A light monk's attacks, such as Fists of Light, are strong against undead. However, the light monk's Healing Ki finishers do not afflict damage on undead as a cleric's heals do.
When not wearing items to aid your STR, DEX, CON or WIS, you should wear items with Devotion spell power to maximize your overall Healing Ki mass heal numbers (the "Devoted Set" items Devoted Necklace and Devoted Goggles from the early Korthos starter quests give you this early on). Consider the use of Human and Monk Improved Recovery enhancements to stack your own improved healing spell numbers. Use this to your advantage and you may not require a healer for certain quests (provided everyone is self sufficient and knows what they are doing).
Harmonious Monks who choose the Shintao Monk enhancements line can greatly increase their ability to generate damage, especially against undead and outsiders. Shintao Monk I (Level 6) allows the character to bypass Byeshk damage reduction found on monsters such as Mindflayers. Shintao Monk II (Level 12) can bypass Cold Iron DR--that's Flensers and some demons. All monks will bypass Adamantine DR by Level 16, but the Shintao Monk III (Level 18) will bypass Silver DR unarmed, foregoing the need to hunt for the elusive and expensive metalline handwraps that drop rarely in the game.
 The Path of Inevitable Dominion: the Dark Monk
A dark monk is one of DDO's best DPS engines of destruction. They aren't buffing a party; their ki is geared towards debuffing the enemy, spewing curses that inhibit healing or attacks, or even attacks that paralyze enemies.
While they can be more dependent on having a healer nearby to keep their hit points from dropping in early levels, a dark monk's speed of destruction (especially while in Air stance) allow them to be "first strike" combatants, often able to critically hit, paralyze or even kill some enemies with a single blow.
Dark monks should aid your fellow caster party members by using the debuffing attacks you have to whatever elemental type they primarily use. While it may not raise your damage much, it raises the party's damage and you can accomplish a quest that much quicker and efficiently.
While a dark monk can be a suitable tank on many quests, it's better for the dark monk to be the master of annihilating the "trash mobs" or minions of a red-named boss that stymie the attacks of others.
Dark monks must pay specific attention to their targets. Dark monks are generally more damage oriented than their light counterpart. Don't waste ki on certain damaging moves unnecessarily when you know another is about to finish a monster off. Better to have a store of ki on the side for when you need it than to play "who can race to kill mob X first."
Don't neglect basic moves like triple elemental strikes (i.e. earth-earth-earth-finisher against casters that inhibit enemy spells.) You have a plethora of different moves: the catch is to learn when each is appropriate. Pay special appreciation to Curse of the Void. This can charm a foe for 2 minutes, and you can charm as many enemies as you'd like.
Train your enhancements so that you receive what many players consider the trademark attack of the dark monk, the Touch of Death--a single 500-point death-blow that could spell the difference between victory or death. Because the Touch of Death is a negative energy strike, it will have an opposite effect on the undead. The dark monk's repertoire of attacks are generally geared to destroy living targets, not the undead.
Halfling monks with Healing Dragonmarks may find healing less of a chore. Dark monks at Level 12 should seek out the Stonedust Handwraps and use the Sora Katra crafting process to augment them to the Vampiric Stonedust Wraps, allowing 1 HP recharges per hit.
Unlike a light monk, a dark monk's unarmed attacks will not innately bypass Silver damage reduction. Many of the bosses at endgame require Silver and Good to bypass their damage reduction (some require Cold Iron and Good or Adamantine and Good instead). The Good portion can be bypassed by crafting Holy Burst onto a ring from the Tower of Despair. There are a number of options to acquire handwraps that bypass metal-based damage reduction: the Devout Handwraps include the Metalline property, handwraps with metal studs or threads drop from Devil Assault and can be Cannith Crafted, Metalline handwraps occasionally appear as randomly generated loot, and Alchemical Handwraps can be crafted with Silver. Until a dark monk can acquire suitable handwraps, they may need to resort to using Silver kamas or shortswords for bosses with metal-based damage resistance.