Monks are one of the 11 Classes in Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire, and in this Guide we’re going to take a look at how they work in order to not only help you make a better Monk, but also help you to determine if this is the class for you. If you are new to Pillars of Eternity 2 or just need a refresher when it comes to Class selection and Character Creation, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Let’s get started…
Monk Builds and How They Work
Monks in Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire are a martial class that specializes in hand-to-hand unarmed combat, which makes them unique (although they can use Weapons if they wish). Their ability, Transcendent Suffering, increases their Damage, Accuracy, and Penetration with Unarmed attacks. Monks have exceptional Attack Speed and excel at pummeling opponents with repeated strikes that leave them Stunned, Staggered or Knocked Down. They make excellent Multiclass characters because of their ability to receive Wounds, which can help many Classes.
Monks have two resources they use to buff themselves and attack enemies. The first is Mortification and the second is Wounds. Mortification is your standard resource pool that increases as you gain Power Levels, and is not unlike the Barbarian Class’s Rage or the Fighter’s Discipline. It recharges after encounters and you can replenish some of it during combat with the Empower feature.
Wounds are received when the Monk takes damage during battle and can be spent on another subset of Abilities, that do not cost Mortification. The rate at which you gain Wounds is affected by your Subclass, as well as various Monk Abilities. Some Monks can even gain Wounds from attacking, instead of taking damage. Using Empower on yourself will also grant you some Wounds.
Monks have a hard cap of 10 Wounds at a time, and any more received after this will be lost. This makes it important to manage your resources appropriately, so that you do not waste them. Players also begin combat with a certain number of Wounds, allowing them to use some “Wound Abilities” immediately. The number you begin with is also affected by your Subclass, which brings us to our next section.
Monk Subclasses, Which to Choose
Helwalkers are the high risk high reward version of the Monk, and deal incredible damage. Because Might also increases healing it is advised that they Multiclass with a class that can provide some.
Bonus: Begin combat with more Wounds. Helwalker monks gain Might for each Wound they have.
Penalty: Helwalker monks take more damage for each Wound they have.
Helwalkers take 5% increased damage for each Wound they have, in exchange for +1 Wound at the beginning of combat, and +1 Might per Wound. This means that the longer they stay in battle, the more damage they will deal, and the more damage they will take. Helwalkers will not only need to manage their Wounds by using Abilities that consume them, but also find a way to mitigate damage, or “out heal” it, or they will eventually be killed. Two good ways of doing this are by CCing enemies, which the Monk excels at, or by Multiclassing. You might also want to consider not taking the Lesser Wounds passive, so that it takes a little longer for you to gain Wounds.
If you’re playing a Single Class Helwalker you’ll want to select Abilities that Stun or Knockdown enemies, in order to prevent them from attacking you. Force of Anguish and Stunning Blow are both good choices here and will serve you well. You’ll also want Abilities that buff your Attack Speed because you’ll hit hard and you want to kill enemies before they kill you. When Multiclassing a Helwalker it’s a good idea to select a class that increase your defense, gives you heals, or both. Some solid choices are Paladin, Fighter, Priest, or Druid.
Paladins possess many good defensive Abilities as well as heals. Many passives just give you outright Defense, and they have Auras that are very effective. Retribution is also nice as it increases your damage the more you are hit, which synergizes well here. Consider taking the Shieldbearers of St. Elcga Subclass to gain access to a version of Lay on Hands that prevents you from dying for 5 seconds.
Fighters have Constant Recovery that heals you for the first 45 seconds of combat, which helps to offset some of the increased damage you will take. On top of that they have many defensive passives, and Stances that can keep you alive. Lastly, the skill Unbending will actually heal you for 50% of the damage you take. Higher damage taken + high Might = BIG HEALS. Note that Monastic Unarmed Training, while usually available to the Fighter, is replaced by the Monk’s Transcendant Suffering.
Priests have many healing spells that you will be able to use to great effect because of high Might. Consider Multiclassing with a Priest if you want to be more of a hybrid character and add some spells to your repertoire. Note that Monastic Unarmed Training, is also replaced by the Monk’s Transcendant Suffering.
Druids can not only increase the damage they do with Weapons, but they have an Ability called Taste of the Hunt which does extremely high Raw Damage over time while healing you. This synergizes really well with the high Might Helwalkers gain from Wounds, because the Might increases both the damage and healing of the Ability. Druids also have several other healing Abilities which can take advantage of the high Might.
Nalpazca Monks are dependent upon Drugs in order to succeed in combat, and take some more managing than other party members. They outperform most other Single Class Monks in combat, and can be used at range when Multiclassing, but are not recommended to new or inexperienced players.
Bonus: All drug effects last longer. Generate Wounds while receiving the Bonus of drugs.
Penalty: Crash penalties from drugs cause the monk to be unable to receive healing. Degenerate Wounds while not benefiting from drugs.
Nalpazca Monks benefit from increased Drug Duration and gain +1 Wound every 3.0 seconds when under the effects of a Drug (in addition to Wounds they would normally receive from damage). The downside is that they lose 1 Wound every 3.0 seconds when not under the effects of Drugs, and they have -100% incoming healing after it wears off (until they rest). This means that Nalpazca Monks will often need to rest between most encounters, but it’s not always easy to do that. They will also need a fresh supply of Drugs as well, so they can stay high, which might be taxing on your funds.
There are no particular synergies with Drug use and any other Class, so the ones mentioned in the Helwalker section are still good Multiclassing choices. Because ideally Monks should be getting hit, picking a defensive class to Multiclass with is always a smart move. However, Nalpazca Monks do have the option to Multiclass with ranged Classes because they can still gain Wounds, even if they are not hit. This allows the Monk to select buffs and passives from Monk Abilities and use the ranged damaging Abilities of another class.
Shattered Pillar Monks trade defense for offense and must strike targets to gain Wounds, much the way the Cipher needs to land hits to gain Focus. This must be done at melee distance, ruling out Multiclassing with ranged characters. This Subclass is ideal for DPS Monks who try to avoid being struck often.
Bonus: Gain Wounds by melee weapon damage inflicted.
Penalty: Cannot gain Wounds from damage received. Required threshold to gain Wounds is increased (to 20). Max Wound limit is decreased to 5.
Shattered Pillar Monks favor inflicting Wounds, and gain them by striking their enemies with melee attacks, making them different than other Subclasses. In addition, it takes them double the damage to gain a Wound. Because the Wounds they gain are based upon the damage they deal, Perception becomes much more important to Shattered Pillar Monks. You don’t gain any Wounds if you miss your target, so be sure to take passives that help with Accuracy.
Since Shattered Pillar Monks need to melee, their choices of Multiclasses are somewhat limited. Multiclassing with casting Classes is not recommended since you’ll be on the front lines, excepting the Cipher Class because their is a natural synergy with the Soul Blade. Classes I would suggest Multiclassing with are: Cipher, Fighter, Rogue, Barbarian or Paladin.
Soul Blade Ciphers need to connect with attacks to build up Focus, which allows them to cast Shred Abilities. These spells have near instant cast times and have short range, making them ideal for close combat. They also give a passive bonus to weapon damage, helping the Monk gain Wounds faster. The Soul Annihilation Ability doesn’t hurt either.
Rogues work well here because they hit hard, allowing for quicker Wounds. They also have some defensive Abilities that will help the Monk avoid damage, and have passives that help with Accuracy.
Barbarians have Carnage which adds some AoE damage to the Barbarian’s attacks, allowing for extra damage to be done and Wounds to be build up faster. Barbaric Blow also hits extremely hard and can be refunded if upgraded.
Paladins have the ability Flames of Devotion, which hits hard and gains +10 Accuracy when attacking with it. This means it will almost certainly land, granting you Wounds. In addition, they also have the ability Sworn Enemy, which increases the damage you deal to the target by 20% until it is killed.
No Subclass Monks are excellent for first time Monk players who want to learn the class, and they work well in the tank role. Consider Multiclassing with a Fighter or Paladin for best results.
No Subclass Monks have no bonuses or penalties, which means besides Nalpazca Monks, they are best suited to take damage. This generally places them into a tank-like role, as you need them to get hit in order to gain Wounds. This means you would ideally Multiclass them with a Fighter or Paladin for not only surviveability, but also for more enemies Engaged. You can still Multiclass them with Rogue, Barbarian or Cipher, they’ll just be a bit less effective than some of the other Subclasses. The upside is though, that you don’t have to worry about them as much.
Attributes and Races
The last thing we’re going to cover here is Attributes and Races and how they affect the Monk. The game recommends Might and Resolve, and highly recommends Constitution and Dexterity. Might increases your damage, and any healing you might do. Resolve helps protect you and reduce negative effects on you. Constitution gives you a large Health pool so that you can take the Hits necessary to gain Wounds. And Dexterity increases your Action Speed, allowing you to attack more often.
Just exactly how much of these you should have depends on the Subclass you selected, and I will make my recommendations along with Race below:
Helwalker – Prioritize Constitution, Dexterity and Might. Constitution will allow you to take a lot of Hits without dying, giving you time to heal up while you deal damage. Dexterity increases your Action Speed, allowing you to attack more often which helps interrupt enemies. Might increases your damage and any healing you do. Because you will gain Might from Wounds, you won’t need to put many points here unless you want super high damage. You may consider adding points into Intellect if you Multiclass with a class that could benefit from it as well. Consider Dwarf for the Attribute bonuses, or Moon Godlike for the healing.
Nalpazca – Prioritize Constitution, Dexterity and Might. Constitution will help keep you alive, Dexterity will increase your Attack Speed, helping you to keep enemies CCed and Might will increase your damage. Consider dropping points from Constitution and adding points in Perception if you Multiclass with a ranged character like a Ranger or Chanter. Dwarf works well here, or Aumaua for the pure Might bonus. Fire Godlike is also a solid choice for the extra Armor and damage when Bloodied.
Shattered Pillar – Prioritize, Dexterity, Constitution, Perception and Might in that order. Dexterity increases your Attack Speed, which also helps with Wound acquisition. You will need high Accuracy in order to gain Wounds, so Perception is important. Constitution will make sure you don’t die quickly and Might will increase your damage. Elves make a good choice here because of the Attributes they give.
No Subclass – Prioritize Constitution, Dexterity, and Might. Since you’ll most likely be playing as a tank, you’ll want high Health. You’ll also want to be able to have decent Attack Speed, which is hard to do in Heavy Armor, thus the Dexterity. Might will help with damage (and healing). Consider Intellect if you Multiclass. Dwarf makes a good choice here, as does Moon Godlike.
Monks have lots of interrupts and CCs, so they work well in general. Being able to prevent enemies from casting deadly spells or hitting you with disabling attacks can often save your life. Any class can benefit from adding these to their repertoire, so consider adding a Monk to your party if you are having difficulty, it might make it a bit easier.
Increasing your Stride helps a lot as a Monk because you can close the distance and interrupt an enemy easily in many cases. You also will be knocking a lot of targets back with Force of Anguish and it will allow you get to them quickly and strike again. It also allows you to engage enemies first and prevent party members from getting attacked.
Contrary to the impression given, you do not have to play the Monk as an Unarmed character. You can very much use the attacks of the class with Weapons with no negative effects. You simply don’t gain the benefit from Transcendent Suffering, which increases Damage, Accuracy and Penetration of Unarmed attacks. If you do play Unarmed, however, be sure to take the Two Weapon Style passive, as it does increase your damage if you aren’t using a Shield.
You’ll want to be sure to wear light or NO Armor so that you have the best Attack Speed you can get. This will allow you to attacking lightning fast, keeping enemies disrupted or knocked down.
Lastly, a few Monk Abilities reward you for not being Hit, which seems counter intuitive at first glance. However, no matter how your play your Monk, you will still get hit, even if some enemies Miss you. It’s in your best interest to try to avoid being Hit if you can, because staying alive is more important than gaining Wounds, especially if you’re tanking.
Stay tuned for more Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Class Guides as we cover all 11 Classes as well as Character Creation! What did you think of the Guide? Was it helpful? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.