The Pathfinder monk is widely considered imperfect – so much so that Paizo has created an alternative version of the class in Pathfinder Unchained. Monk Unfettered by Henri Hakl Games presents another take on the monk class. [Note: I won’t compare the unfettered monk to the unchained monk in this review as I’ve not yet had a chance to look at Pathfinder Unchained, but it sounds like the unchained monk is completely different from this one.]
Monk Unfettered is a 38-page PDF; 7 of those pages include the cover, credits and so on, as well as a reference for the new insights introduced in the product. The actual description of the alternative monk class take up 13 pages, with another 4 pages dedicated to new feats and magic items, plus 9 pages of sample monks. There are 5 more pages discussing the class and the reasoning behind the changes.
The unfettered monk retains the base attack bonus, hit die, skill points and saves of the core monk. There are some adjustments to the class abilities, most notably the flurry and unarmed damage aspects. Without giving too much away, these changes should lead to monks who can hit more consistently and do more damage per hit. The alternative class also does away with the monk bonus feats and a few other abilities in favour of ‘insights’, which are similar to rogue talents.
There are dozens of these insights, providing a wide range of abilities to choose from. Many of these remove the need for archetypes by providing abilities similar to those granted by archetypes like the zen archer or drunken master. Instead, you can combine insights to build just about any type of monk you can imagine. There are also deep insights, which are more powerful than normal insights, but these are limited by how many the monk can apply at one time.
The product includes several new feats to complement the new monk abilities, including one to allow you to take more insights. There are new magic items with flavourful descriptions. New favoured class options provide some interesting alternatives to the standard favoured class bonuses, however, these options have specific requirements that must be met in order to gain access to them.
There are 8 sample unfettered monks provided across a range of levels, from 1st to 19th level, making it easy for a game master to drop them into a game. Each sample monk comes with a detailed description of their character and motivations and potential use in a campaign. This, combined with the artwork for each monk, should provide GMs with a host of ideas.
Monk Unfettered finishes with a discussion on the use of the unfettered monk with existing monk archetypes, some suggestions of insight combinations, as well as a fascinating peek into the process of designing this alternative version of the class. Finally, there is a handy reference for all the insights and their requirements, much like the feat tree table found in most Pathfinder rulebooks.
The PDF is neatly laid out, with some inspiring colour artwork to add to the overall visual appeal of the product. The PDF is fully bookmarked and hyperlinked for quick navigation. There’s no complicated decorations on the page, making for easy reading on a tablet. The pages are slightly off-white, however, which is not ideal for printing. Overall, Monk Unfettered is very well-written, containing very few errors.
If you’re interested in a different and versatile variation of the Pathfinder monk, look no further than Monk Unfettered. The insight descriptions alone will probably give you lots of ideas for creating interesting monks, as well as the tools to actually create those characters. You can pick it up over at Paizo.com.