The moonlight fight between Yoshitsune and Benkei on the Gojobashi, KyotoThere have been a variety of joke names for a monk’s flurry of blows class ability. “Flurry of misses” is a common one, and so is “death of 1,000 whiffs.” Sacrificing accuracy for additional attacks is a gamble, and it becomes an even bigger one if you’re combining the ability with Power Attack to try to do more damage. However, an alternative strategy might just make your windmilling monk a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield.

The flurry of blows writeup in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook covers some familiar ground. Monks may make a flurry of blows attack as a full round attack, gaining one additional attack. For the purpose of this ability, your base attack bonus is equal to your monk level, and you treat the attack as if you have the Two-Weapon Fighting feat. You may use any combination of unarmed attacks or special monk weapons during the attack.

However, the last section points out that you can substitute a trip, sunder, or disarm combat maneuver for any of your flurry of blows attacks…

The Way of Superior Asskicking

This small change in the ability, which was left vague in 3.5E, gives monks a great deal more latitude on the battlefield. For instance, say you created a human monk with the Improved Disarm feat. If two enemies were threatening you, you could use your quarterstaff or your bare hands (for dramatic effect) to take their weapons away, rather than attempting to pummel them into submission. Then your enemies would either have to draw new weapons to attack you, pick up the weapons you slapped out of their hands (provoking an attack of opportunity from you), or attack you barehanded (also provoking an attack of opportunity from you).

This bit of strategy could also be used for a sunder attack to destroy your enemies’ weapons or a trip attack to flip them flat on their backs. If successful, you’ve put your enemies in a very precarious position that can be taken advantage of by both you and the rest of the adventuring party.

Character Building

Beyond simple strategy, using the alternative attacks that are possible with flurry of blows can play right into character story and personal honor codes.

Say for instance that your monk is a peaceful warrior. It would make much more sense for him or her to disarm opponents or to pull their legs out from under them than it would to just beat them to death with fists. Or say that your monk was trained by a military or gladiator school in the arts of disciplined combat. Putting your enemy into a disadvantageous situation, such as being disarmed while you are not or flipped prone where you can give a curb stomp for the enjoyment of the crowd, is the way that sort of monk would handle the battlefield.

So not only have you turned a monk, generally thought of as a backup combatant, into a much greater force, you’ve also enriched the potential backstory through careful thought and some number crunching. A win-win situation for everyone!

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