Friday, June 12, 2009

Point Buy and the MAD Monk

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about monks lately, mainly because I just rolled one up for a new campaign that started a couple of weeks ago. I know that monks generally get a bad rap with the enlightened community of roleplayers; they have weird skills that don’t synergize, they depend on too many attributes (they are considered MAD- Multiple Attribute Dependent) , other characters are better at the things they are supposed to be good at. I suppose that there is some truth to that, but I find monks to be excellent characters and among the most well rounded in the game. But it is true that they are dependent on just about every attribute, and I think that is why many people don’t like them. I was thinking about this the other day and it occurred to me that most people use a point buy system for scores, rather than rolling for them. Using a point buy effectively eliminates the chance of creating a good monk, which is why many people (and when I say many people I am referring to most posters on message boards) think that they are crap. On the other hand, I always roll for scores and I got some really awesome ones with my last go around for character creation. Monk wasn’t even on my radar but when I saw what I had (17, 16, 16, 14, 13, 12 before racial adjustments) I felt it was my obligation to go and create a good monk, which I think is absolutely one of the coolest classes around.

This is yet another reason to stay away from a point buy system (also see here). It takes a truly exceptional individual to be a monk; they are disciplined, agile, skilled martial artists. Not easy to do. They use their fists to battle people with swords and smite powerful wizards. Not everyone should be one. A point buy does not create an exemplar of human (or gnome or dwarf) achievement, but rather an individual who excels at one or two attributes and is wretched at the rest of them. It is great for making the intelligent but feeble wizard, or the learned druid but a monk requires a special type of person who only comes along every once in a while.

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