Since I have nothing better to write about.
Anyway, Gabe was talking about how cool this would be. In theory, a monk/sorcerer is a cool idea. Sorcerers don’t have to worry about selecting and preparing spells ahead of time and cast upon memorization. If enemies get too close, they can use their hands to fight and not waste a move action drawing a weapon.
Gabe’s build also suggests a creature that’s strong against magical attacks. Both monks and sorcerers get a bonus to their will saves. The result is a very mentally strong character. A high wisdom score also benefits a monk’s AC, which applies even when the monk is caught off-guard. Add evasion, which monks get at 2nd level, and monks take (at most) half damage from anything they save against.
A monk/sorcerer would be really fast too. Monks get a bonus to speed starting at 3rd level, a bonus that sticks as long as a monk doesn’t carry more than a light load or wears any kind of armor. Sorcerers are “forbidden” to wear any armor, since it interferes with their spell-casting abilities. Add the monk’s speed and you’d have a character that could move up to 60 feet per round, allowing a character to move about combat with efficiency.
Now for the weaknesses. A monk/sorcerer build would be incredibly tricky to set up.
For one thing, monks and sorcerer don’t particularly mesh well together. Sorcerers bend towards the chaotic end of the alignment scale, whereas monks are strictly lawful. Sorcerers are also more fit for a “kick in the door” style of gameplay. This doesn’t suggest sorcerers should be played like fighters, but if a player knows what spells they’re going to pick (say, if they’re only going to pick attack spells), than sorcerers fit that idea quite nicely.
This contrasts with how a monk should be played, with caution. I remember Nick’s first (and to date, last) foray in D&D, when he played a monk. The first thing he did was charge a group of pirates wielding crossbows, as a first level monk.
This leads into the next problem. Monks and sorcerers take a long time to mature into usefulness. Even though they cast more spells than wizards, sorcerers will still burn through spell-casting at early levels. Monks also really suck at early levels (they don’t start to shine until level 3).
Also, the player trying this build better roll some awesome dice rolls. Monks alone need a healthy amount of Strength (for hand-to-hand fights), Dexterity (improve their pitiful AC), Constitution (so they can take more damage when they do get hit), and Wisdom (improve their AC). Sorcerers need Dexterity and Constitution (same reasons why a monk would need them), but also Charisma to enhance their spell-casting power.
Then there’s the sorcerer’s main weakness: their limited spell-casting ability. Sure, they can cast one spell more times a day than a wizard, but wizards have more spells to choose from. Example, at 1st level, sorcerers know 4 cantrips and 2 1st-level spells, though they can cast any of those cantrips 5 times per day and those 1st-level spells 3 times per day. Wizards can only prepare 3 cantrips and 1 1st-level spell a day, but can know learn to cast any of them.
Sorcerers can offset this problem by using lots of scrolls/wands/staffs but buying them would cost lots of money (which would probably piss off the party. “Hey, we need to go back to town and get more scrolls for the sorcerer who can only know three of that level!”). Creating them yourself would require a feat, something sorcerers don’t get an abundance of.
Lastly, the player needs to find a way to balance these classes. This all depends on the player’s tastes on whether they want a monk with sorcerer support, a sorcerer with monk support, or have both classes balanced equally. Personally, I’d rather have more monk levels than sorcerer levels, but here’s my opinion on what’s best…
To start off, race… Human, all the way. Humans get many small benefits and don’t have to bother with the headache known as “Favored Class”. A half-elf monk/sorcerer could also work, but they’re not as good as humans. All other classes in the PHB have penalties to attributes that are valuable to a monk/sorcerer build. Outside of the PHB, most (if not, all) races have level adjustment. While a drow monk/sorcerer would work wonders, it’d make leveling up a pain.
I’d always start out as a sorcerer, then multi-class to monk. Multi-class monks can never raise their monk level again if they were to raise a level in another class. It’s probably easier to explain if I were to use an example. Say I started out as a monk and leveled up in that class until 4th. Then I want to play sorcerer and level up as a sorcerer. My monk level would be permanently stuck at 4 and I could never raise it to monk 5 (though I keep all my monk 4 benefits). Some DMs change this rule but I wouldn’t, so I’m playing by my rules.
One last thing before I go any further, I didn’t bother going into epic levels. Instead, there’s an imposed cap of 20th level here.
Monk 16/Sorcerer 4: Monk/Sorcerers should always have at least 4 levels in sorcerer. This is also the earliest drop-off point for sorcerers who want to go straight into monk levels.
At level 4, sorcerers gain the ability to cast 2nd level spells. Most useful of these spells are the ones that allow the player to buff his character. At this level, a player only gets 1 2nd-level spell (but can cast that 1 spell up to three times a day), so choose that spell wisely. Personally, I’d choose a buff spell (Owl’s Wisdom being my favorite) but I can see people choosing Blur (making a character even harder to hit) or Touch of Idiocy (useful in reducing the power of those pesky mages).
16 levels of monk also allow you to enjoy the most of the monk class. By the time you reach 16th level, your hands really are lethal weapons, equal to magical adamantine weapons.
Monk 15/Sorcerer 5: Same as above, only you get another 2nd level spell to pick, as well as casting another spell per day. Again, I’d pick another buff spell (this transmutation list is great here), Blur, or Touch of Idiocy.
Monks are slightly less powerful here, though they still keep the useful (and quite awesome) quivering palm ability.
Monk 12/Sorcerer 8: Another good stopping point for prospective monk/sorcerers. At 8th level, you get the ultimate buff spell known as stoneskin. Stoneskin is one of those spells every mage shouldn’t leave home without. Not having stoneskin is like a wizard not having magic missile. Laaaame… You only get 1 spell at this sorceror level, but stoneskin is all that’s really needed. Sorcerors also have up to three 2nd-level spells by now. Again, same choices are above.
Monk 11/Sorcerer 9: Same as above, only less-powerful monk but sorcerers get another 4th-level spell and 2nd-level spell. Another 2nd-level means more buffs! The 4th-level spell is the player’s choice, nothing really noteworthy for me (I’d suggest dimension door, since you’re not a 12th level monk who gets the spell as an ability for free).
That’s probably where I’d stop. 5th level spells allow for teleportation magic, so a balanced sorcerer 10/monk 10 build would be my limit. Any higher for a sorcerer and the player will be getting the option to pick tons of damage-dealing spells. Those spells will deal more damage than a monk’s hands and the result is a sorcerer with a monk’s combat ability to fall back on should he run out of spells (which would be unlikely). If that’s appealing, however, a sorcerer 14/monk 6 (or even sorcerer 15/monk 5) build wouldn’t be too bad.
Still, any higher and people not focusing on the sorcerer’s spell-casting power are going to be considerably weaker. Remember, monks don’t shine until they reach 3rd level, and sorcerer 17/monk 3 build is just one sorcerer level shy of 9th-level spells. Also, you’ve probably got some useful magical weapon by this point. Said magical weapon will probably do more damage than a monk’s fists.
So there. My (lengthy) thoughts on a sorcerer/monk build. Good idea, but one I have many problems with. Still, it’d be a cool character idea if it could be played right.
Now, a wizard/monk build on the other hand…
“Mind, of destructive taste
I choose…to stroll amongst the waste“