Monk Dipping for Pathfinder Druids: A Mini Guide
The druid and the monk- in a lot of ways these classes could not be further apart. One is all about martial fighting; another is casting and wild shape. The monk is generally regarded as one of the worst classes in the game, while druids are one of the best. The conventional wisdom is “never multiclass a full caster”, but I firmly believe that if built right, a druid19/monk1 is a very strong choice on par with a level 20 druid. The three key things gained by dipping monk (in order of importance) are 1. Wisdom bonus to touch AC and CMD 2. Bonus feats/abilities and 3. A boost to saves/improved unarmed strike. A second level dip gets evasion and an extra feat, which might be OK depending on your build. A 3rd level dip cuts into your spellcasting progression and wild shaping without any major bonus, so avoid going more than 2 levels into monk.
I would like to greatly thank Treatmonk for his guide on Druids and guide to Monks, which can be found here https://docs.google.com/document/d/1xrMC87TpmdfjB9xorkhY3_xWz3guOunTaotgWhoKYMA/edit?pli=1 and here https://docs.google.com/document/d/1B4FiQnqdfX9-nIDhV7FHlq-__R7w_F7YmWKXA6iYY0k/edit?pli=1, respectively. They are a bit dated, but still solid. I strongly suggest reading both to optimize your druid/monk, and because I am taking a lot of his wisdom (no pun intended) presented there and building on the ground he has set. Monk dipping for druids takes into consideration the style of druid. As Treatmonk said, Druids fall into a “Wild Mystic” or “Spirit of the Beast” build; dipping monk offers different things to each druid style, and these choices often are only good for one style.Therefore I will be giving rating for “Wild Mystic” with a separate colored rating for Spirit of the “Beast” (SotB) in parentheses next to each.
Color code for the guide
Red: An almost negligible bonus to dipping monk, if any. These choices are bad, usually even for regular monks and druids
Orange: There are decent bonuses here, but are lucky to break even against going straight druid/there are better choices.
Black: A decent choice, often breaking even against straight druid or being situationally better.
Green: A good choice. You are gaining something that will often be useful.
Blue: The best choices for your monk/druid combo. You will probably make extensive use of this gain.
Purple: This is too campaign/table specific to be rated. In some cases, this can be incredibly powerful, but unless they fit your campaign theme, pass on these.
Note: The ratings in this guide are rated assuming a Druid19/18 Monk1/2 build. However, much of this advice stands fairly true for monks and druids. While this is not a druid or monk guide, mixing the two means rating factors that would apply to each individually. However, these ratings vary when not factoring in that a character will have ranks in both classes. So while this guide can and should help provide insight on druid and monk building, it is not its purpose and not gospel when it comes to doing so.
Why even dip?
Let’s look at the Druid 20 vs the Druid 19/Monk 1 vs Druid 18/ Monk 2.
A 20th level druid vs a 19th level druid, or what you lose by multiclassing.
-Wild Shape at will vs 8x a day (SotB). This is fairly minor, 8 shapes and 19 hours per shape at level 20 should be enough to cover you here.
-An additional 8th and 9th level spell (SotB). This is a notable loss, but you already have 3 a day+wis of these levels, which is already godlike in its own right. Sure, you could be MORE godlike but I think most savvy players will manage. Spirit of the Beast druids feel this the most as their wisdom is usually lower.
-No armor or shields (SotB). This is also fairly minor, because at higher levels armor won’t do much in the way to protect you. Wild is a fairly expensive armor enchantment(and based on the armors you can wear, it is almost always better to have wis to AC), but not having armor or a shield does mean you need bracers of armor to put things like fortification on, and no price specific bonuses on bracers of armor. At lower levels you are limited to leather, hide and padded, all of which are fairly minor bonuses that the monk can beat out.
-Delayed spellcasting/caster level/wild shapes (SotB). This is the biggest loss, but with a 1 or 2 level dip you won’t be far behind. This is one of the big reasons a 3 level dip into monk is too far.
A level 1 monk/19th level druid, or what you gain by mutliclassing.
-Wisdom bonus to AC (SotB). If you have a 14 in wis, this is going to be on par better than any light armor you can wear at lower levels. This bonus is also not to armor, but to touch and flat footed AC, which is far more important at later levels. It also adds a bonus to your CMD; casters hate being grappled, and frontliners will see these kind of attacks most. Slightly less good for Spirit of the Beast but only slightly.
-Extra class skills (SotB) Some of which are very good, and others you might put ranks in even if they were not class skills.
-A bonus feat (SotB). Although none of the choices are overwhelmingly good. Melee druids are likely to take improved grapple and/or combat reflexes anyways. Deflect arrows and dodge are not terrible if they are free.
-Stunning Fist/Flurry of Blows (SotB). Neither are great, but it gives you something to do when/if you run out of spells/wild shapes, or need to save them or whatever. With feral combat training you can make use of both in wild shape. Stunning fist is a good candidate to trade in a monk archetype.
-A +2 bonus to saves (SotB). Reflex is very important because that is your weak save, although getting a bonus to fort and will (just fort for unchained monks) is also welcome.
When to Dip
But first, a note on alignment. For a character to take ranks in monk, a character must be any lawful alignment. However, a character who becomes nonlawful does not lose any monk abilities . A druid is restricted to neutral alignments only, and if they take a non neutral alignment(LG,LE,CG,CE) they lose all their powers. This means that to take monk levels after you already have druid levels, you need to be lawful neutral. I can’t really rate this as it matters from table to table, but this could mean a drastic alignment shift-say from neutral good to lawful neutral. Going about this depends on your table and DM, so keep this in mind when dipping monk after you have druid levels. However, once you have your monk levels, you can go back to being any neutral alignment. You could even start 1st level lawful good or lawful evil; both being able to find middle ground at lawful neutral, or “breaking free” of the monastic traditions to be neutral good or neutral evil. The easiest way to avoid this is take monk as your 1st level, stick around for 2nd level if you want, then druid the rest of the way. Or just be lawful neutral and stay that way.
Note: The ratings I provide factor in wealth by level, feat progression etc. Overall, it is better for Wild Mystics to multiclass early, and Spirit of the Beast to Multiclass late.
Level 1 (SotB) In addition to avoiding a lot of the alignment problems (unless you are LN) monk is a frontloaded class that grows bad with age. Likewise, level 1 greatly favors martials in both enemy potential and caster weakness. There is a downside as your spell progression and wild shape will fall behind from the get go, but you will always have monk abilities to carry you until you get your better level spells. Wild Mystics are pretty meh at level 1, while a SotB can handle themselves far better. But having monk abilities to help fight is still great.
Levels 2/3-5/6 (SotB) These are probably the worst levels to dabble in the monastic ways. You are jonesing for your 3rd level spells and wild shape, at level 5 and level 6, respectively. Wild shape is just too useful to either druid style, and 1-3 level spells are your workhorses for a good part of the game. These are the levels where both druids can shine decently well, without any monk
Level 7 (SotB) Not only do you have wild shape, but you also have the money to afford a decent headband of wisdom and a druids vestment. So you will still have decent wild shapes, and damn good armor. A +1 wild suit of armor is going to cost more than a +4 headband of inspired wisdom, which nets you better AC since you should have a wisdom score of at least 14. 4th level spells are a bit underwhelming and can wait, particularly when you have a lot of options.
Level 8-10 (SotB) These are the golden years for the Spirit of the beast-you are going to be bashing face, but soon your buff spells won’t have the same luster, and both you and your animal companion are going to struggle to keep up. Monk can breathe some new life into your class later on, but enjoy these levels of ripping people apart as just a druid. Wild mystics are still riding the spell levels and some defensive wild shape, still saving money against that dang wild armor(its a rip off, seriously)
Level 11-15 (SotB) For casters, you are missing the boat for monk benefits and are likely stuck in a magical arms race- a dip now can provide some use, but falling behind at this point can leave you high and dry- you need all the magic you can get. Spirit of the beast is running out of gas, but several of the monk benefits will bring you back up to snuff.
Level 16-20 (SotB) This is a lot of what 11-15 was, but even more extreme. Spirit of the beast is looking for any way to stay relevant in melee, while Wild Mystics are playing rocket tag with arcane casters.
Ability scores for your Druid Monk
Strength (SotB) A SotB needs this as a prime stat to beat face, while a Wild Mystic is dipping into monk for mostly defensive reasons and will rarely use melee.
Dexterity (SotB) A solid ability for both styles of druid (as well as most classes in the game), as it impacts reflex saves, initiative, AC, and several useful skills. Particularly important because you won’t be wearing armor or carrying a shield.
Constution (SotB) This boosts your HP and fortitude saves. You are a d8 hit die (unless you dip unchained monk for a d10) so you need every point you can get. Fortitude is one of your good saves so less important, but still good. Personally, I never go below 12 Con on any character I build. 10 is probably fine if you are going to be an evasive spellcaster, but you can’t afford a negative modifier.
Intelligence (SotB) The only thing you get out of a high intelligence is extra skill ranks and a bonus to knowledge checks. Both druid and monk have 4 skill ranks/level, so you can max out 2 or 3 skills (perception, nature and maybe spellcraft) with some extra to throw around. I would say a 10 is sufficient. You can go 12 if you really like skills and 8 if you only care about perception and nature.
Wisdom (SotB) This synergy between classes is one of the main reasons you are here. The wisdom boost to AC (including touch AND flat footed) is going to be on par or better than most armor you can wear throughout the game. SotB gets this bonus off the bat before they can afford the wild enchantment on armor. Armor is less important at higher levels but touch AC remains valuable, and you can get bracers of armor to add to your AC and pick up some nice armor enchantments like fortification. Not being able to put some of the costed bonuses on armor hurts, but I think the wisdom bonus is more than worth it. Not to mention it is your casting stat as a druid.
Charisma (SotB) Throw this so far down a well that even Lassie can’t find it. The only use a druid has of this is wild empathy, which can be useful but is often not. It gets a bonus based on your druid level anyways.
Dwarf (SotB) A good choice as it boosts 2 key stats and further dumps Charisma. Hardy is a great racial ability, the rest are situationally good, and the slow speed can be countered by wild shape and spells like longstrider. Contemplative is an okay monk archetype.
Elf (SotB) Bonuses to dex are always welcome, although the hit in con is not. Elven immunities are great, and elven magic helps your spells connect through spell resistance. Keen senses and weapon familiarity can be swapped out for fleet, which gives you run but more importantly +2 initiative. Treesinger is bad as a druid, worse for a druid monk.
Gnome (SotB) Stats are not great, although being small generally helps casters. Most of the stock racial traits are situational, although academician is okay and eternal hope is amazing. Fell magic also gives you some spell like abilities that cast off wisdom and not charisma, but neither that or gnome magic is all that great.
Half-Elf (SotB) Flexible stat, elven immunities and free skill focus are all pretty good. If heroes of the wild is allowed, throw out multitalented for fey thoughts-you can pick up some other decent class skills, even though the best ones are either monk class skills or charisma based.
Halfling (SotB) Same boat as gnome with stats. Take fleet of foot over sure footed, with wild shape you can gain a climb speed and monks have acrobatics as a class skill. Halfling luck is really good, and the underfoot adept archetype has potential for a trip based SotB.
Half-Orc (SotB) Flexible stat, and orcish ferocity meshes well with anybody able to cast cure spells. Wild mystics can consider a sacred tattoo instead, depending on playstyle. The +2 to intimidate can be useful as monks have it as a class skill, even with bad charisma. If you don’t plan on putting ranks into intimidate then take unflinching valor. Weapon proficiency is nice for SotB, but can be swapped for Wild Mystics.
Human (SotB) Is there any class that humans are bad at? Flexible +2 ability score, bonus feat, extra skill point for level, need I say more? I will; the Feral Child druid archetype is not great, but wanderer is solid for your monk archtype and very thematic.
Aasimar (SotB) A wisdom bonus, some resistances, a spell like ability and bonuses to 2 useful skills makes the Aasimar a fantastic druid choice. If variant heritages are allowed Archon-Blooded and Garuda-Blooded are even better.
Catfolk (SotB) A dump to wis and boost to cha? Pass. The cat’s luck ability is about the only thing going, and SotB can make slightly better use of sprinter but still a poor choice. The monk archetype is also pretty bad.
Damphir (SotB) Dumping con is never a good thing, and when it comes with a cha boost and no real useful racial abilities, this is a very poor choice.
Drow (SotB) Ability mods are bad, but spell resistance is a pretty big deal. Stalker is a good trait to swap for spells, and most will probably consider taking surface infiltrator.
Fetchling (SotB) Another wis dump cha boost, but there are some decent racial traits.
Goblin (SotB) A +4 in dex is great, even the SotB taking a -2 to str, and nobody is missing the cha dump. With small size and +4 racial to stealth you can be really stealthy. Or take +4 to perception with big ears and notice everything ever.
Hobgoblin (Sotb) +2 to dex and con is fantastic. +4 to stealth is always welcome, but nothing else to swap it out with. You can take scarred and lose darkvision for +1 natural armor, as you can get darkvision through beast shape. Stay away from the ironskin monk archetype though.
Ifirit (SotB) Another dump wis boost cha, but why orange? If you take the fire domain, you treat your domain spells and powers at +1 caster level, great for a multiclass. You can also toss burning hands to get enlarge/reduce person once a day, which is great utility. The best part is tossing your fire resistance (which fire domain gives) for +4 initiative, which is outright amazing.
Kobold (SotB) Bad modifiers and not much race wise going for them. +1 natural armor and a +2 to perception are not exactly great. None of the archetypes are of much help.
Orc (SotB) A great candidate for SotB with ferocity and +4 strength. You won’t be the smartest or most likeable druid/monk, but you will hit like a truck in combat. Keep a cureX wounds prepared so you can heal yourself to maximize ferocity synergy. Greataxe and falchion are great weapons for your pre wildshape smashing days.
Oread (SotB) An all-around winner. Boost wisdom to dump charisma, and SotB will use that +2 strength. While the Spirit of the Beast does not need it, they get a +1 bonus to the earth and plant domains, both decent choices for your druidmonk. SotB can get crystalline form for some extra defense against ray spells. Both strategies want to replace magic stone with any of the other powers. Student of stone is bad for the druid dip monk build and should be avoided.
Ratfolk (SotB) Not the best ability modifiers in the game, but certainly not bad. Tinker gives bonuses to three very useful skills, although 2 are not something you will be using often. Both styles benefit from cornered fury, which is a must take racial trait. Both builds can get use from rodent empathy or unnerving depending on your setting and playstyle.
Slyph (SotB) Elf ability mod’s, but some interesting racial traits. Both styles want to take +4 stealth over feather fall 1/day. Wild Mystics will love the boost of air affinity, while SotB get’s breeze kissed for +2 against ranged and a bull rush/trip effect. I strongly suggest the Sky Druid archtype, which is fantastic for the wild mystic and decent for the SotB.
Tengu (SotB) Good racial mods, even at the expense of con. +2 to perception and stealth is never bad. Gifted linguist makes you the polyglot of the group unless there is a wizard, and even then you can know more languages in the long run unless they are also Tengu. The alternate racial traits and swordtrained are all good, but will be replaced by wild shape at higher levels.
Tiefling (SotB) Decent racial mods, but nothing spectacular. Resistances are always nice, +2 to bluff won’t matter but +2 to stealth will. Darkness is a decent spell, fiendish sorcery will be swapped for a tail, or maybe swap it and darkness for at will deathwatch. If variant heritages are allowed, the Asura-Spawn is a decent choice for both, as is the Demodand-Spawn. Devil spawn is a great choice for wild mystics and good for SotB. Oni-Spawn and Qlippoth-Spawn are great for SotB, good for wild mystics.
Undine (SotB) Perfect stats for the Wild Mystic, and +1 caster level to water domain abilities and spells is fairly useful. Most of the racial traits and alternate traits are situational, useless, or eventually replaced by wild shape. The Undine Adept is a great choice if your campaign is aquatic themed.
Changeling (SotB) Wisdom boost is good, but a charisma boost and hit in con is not. Claws are useless once you get wild shape, but +1 to natural armor is never bad. SotB benefits from hulking changeling, none of the other hag powers are great for the wild mystic. The main redeeming power of changelings is spell resistance through a feat-even if its pretty weak.
Duergar (SotB) Perfect racial mods, slow and steady helps the wild mystic carry a lot at early levels. Immunities to several nasty things, +2 to saves against spells and SLA’s, and they are hard to trip. SotB will love the spell like abilities, while the wild mystic will gladly take deep magic. All and all, a fantastic choice.
Gillmen (SotB) A bonus to con is not worth a hit to wisdom and bonus to cha. The water dependency problem is not a huge deal as you can just create water and soak everyday. Riverfolk removes this annoyance but then you gain vulnerability to fire. If you’re going to take throwback might as well play a human, which is what you are but not as good. The enchantment resistance is nice, as aboleths don’t come up very often. Overall, there is very little here that helps a druid, but a lot that hurts.
Grippli (SotB) It should not be surprising that a bunch of frogs living in the swamp are good druids. Great racial modifiers, net proficiency and benefits from being in forests and swamps. Druids don’t need swamp stride, so take toxic skin or glider. Agile tongue is a fun feat, but most of the racial abilities will become useless once you can wild shape. The druid favored class bonus is fantastic for wild mystics, possibly worth maxing.
Kitsune (SotB) The racial mods are passable at best, horrible at worst. Being a shapechanger is laughable to a druid, and while druids don’t get a lot of enchantment spells but you still have a +1 bonus which is nice. None of the racial feats or favored bonuses are worth it. Not much else to say here.
Merfolk (SotB) Nice boosts to stats, the slow speed is negated with strong tail and eventually wild shape. Immunity to trip and natural armor bonus are nice, but not that special. Certainly not bad, but there are better choices.
Nagaji (SotB) Terrible stats for the wild mystic, but the str bonus is useful for SotB. Natural armor and +2 to mind affecting things is solid, and a +2 to perception is never bad. The Naga Aspirant druid archetype is solid, although you lose out on spontaneous casting of summon nature’s ally.
Samsaran (SotB) Decent racial mods, and +2 to saves against death effects, negative levels, energy drain and stabilization at negative hp. It’s unlikely your charisma will ever be 11 or better so the spell like abilities won’t get any use. Shards of the past is OK, but mystical life past gives you access to some pretty useful spells for either druid style.
Strix (SotB) Near perfect racial mods, and a base fly speed alone makes the Strix a great choice. +1 to attacks against humans and resistance to illusion spells is icing on the cake. I would probably take dayguard for a +2 to perception all the time, unless you plan on frequently using stealth at night. Reflex is probably your weakest save, so nimble is a better candidate than superstitious, although tough is not bad either. Even once you have wild shape, you won’t be dependent on it for a fly speed so you will be using your normal wings most of the game.
Suli (SotB) The racial mods are killer for the wild mystic, but combined with the elemental assault they are decent choices for SotB. Do check with your DM on elemental assault, it says “Unarmed strikes with the arms or hands, or attacks with weapons held in those hands” so make sure it will work on natural attacks. This race becomes an okay choice for Spirit of the Beast if they say no. Resistance 5 to the 4 elements is very nice; +2 to diplomacy and a cha boost still won’t make you a face, but +2 to sense motive is handy.
Svirfneblin (SotB) Great racial mods and a ton of awesome racial abilities, even with a hit to strength they are still a decent choice for SotB. +2 dodge to AC, +2 to ALL saving throws, spell resistance 11+level. +2 to stealth (+4 underground), perception and craft alchemy. Constant nondetection and a bunch of useful 1/day spell like abilities. Druids don’t have much illusion magic, so most casters will take +1 to earth spells instead. Overall, one of the best races you can choose.
Vanara (SotB) Absolutely perfect racial mods, a bonus to 2 very useful skills, and the ability to trade your climb speed for all knowledge skills as class skills…wow! The tail is useful to snag wands on the quick, SotB might want to take whitecape instead, but it’s up to you. Even with the cha penalty, the favored class bonus for druids gives +1/2 to handle animal and wild empathy checks and gives you a decent chance to succeed.
Vishkanya (SotB) Bad racial mods, and no other racial traits that matter. Poison does not come up all that often, and when it does you are likely to pass the save. Unless you swap it out druids become immune to poison at level 9 anyways. Bonuses to perception and stealth are decent, you will never need the weapon proficiencies and the poison is situational. If you take sleep venom it becomes slightly more useful but still not great. A fantastic race for a bard or rogue, not a druid or a monk.
Wayang (SotB) Another hit to wis, combined with slow speed and bonuses/resistances to shadow magic. Druids don’t really have shadow spells, they are fairly uncommon, and with a good will save they usually are not a problem anyways. You won’t have the charisma to get the 1/day spells which are meh at best. You could swap them out for the ability to become “invisible” for 1-5 rounds a day, but you are still a shadow and detectable. Being able to count as undead once a day for the purposes of positive and negative energy can be a handy combat trick, but it does not make up for the rest of the race.
Class skills gained from monk dip
Note*I am not covering skills that both classes have or that are druid only class skills. See Treatmonks guide to druids for shared and druid-only class skilles.
Acrobatics (SotB) A great skill with plenty of uses, it is hard not to put at least a few ranks here. I always like 3 ranks for the bonus to fighting defensively.
Escape Artist (SotB) This is an all or nothing skill; most of the time your CMB will do fairly well to break you out of a grapple. SotB is wasting points as they will have decent strength. If you want to have this max it, otherwise pass.
Intimidate (SotB) A great skill, but it is based off your dump stat. SotB can make it viable with the intimidating prowess feat and certain races, but unless no other character in the party can do this better off leaving it alone.
Knowledge: History (SotB) Comes up sometimes. Put a rank in it for class bonus and call it a day.
Knowledge: Religion (SotB) One of the “big 4” knowledge skills. Always put a couple ranks in this, consider maxing it.
Perform (SotB) Put a few ranks in if you want it for fluff. You are better off using profession for money during downtime.
Sense Motive (SotB) A useful skill AND it’s based off your key stat. Worth at least a rank, and a good candidate for maxing.
Stealth (SotB) Another great skill, and with wild shape it becomes even better. A clever player can make excellent use of this skill.
Ancient Guardian (SotB) A great archetype if you want to use your wild mystic as a buffer/debuffer/controller. The domains you gain are clearly focused in those directions; the SotB won’t gain much and loses the companion. Patience of Nature is going to come up more often than wild empathy, and ancient ways giving you +10 to any move speed is fantastic. A leveling calm emotions is OK, but you lose spontaneous casting. Unimpeachable is far better than resist nature's lure, undo artifice is handy but not gamebreaking at level 13.
Feral Shifter (SotB) Over the course of the game, losing your nature bond to shift into 1 or 2 animal aspects for a few minutes a day is horrible. Certainly the enhancement bonuses to strength and dex are welcome to the SotB, but eventually gear will replace that. Boosting stats every now and again is OK but losing out on spells or an animal is not worth it. Okay for SotB for a low level campaign, otherwise pass.
Goliath Druid (SotB) An archetype that is focused on face smashing brutality. A dino or megafauna companion is great for the SotB, but some of the domains are very combat focused so there is merit there as well. Enlarge person is just icing on the cake, and both styles get some new dino monsters to summon.
Green Faith Initiate (SotB) A bonus to diplomacy and sense motive, while gaining some other great out of combat support abilities. Losing a wild shape per day hurts, but if you’re going for a more support focused character this is a good choice. Path to refuge is great but highly dependent on your campaign.
Leshy Warden (SotB) Trade your nature bond for a small plant spirit you can just grow by level 5. Oh, and you can summon them now, but you count as two levels lower for the purposes of wild shape. Eventually you can always speak with plants, not like that is a big deal at level 13 when it’s not a burden on your spellcasting…pass.
Menhir Savant (SotB) The detect spirits as an at will ability is pretty amazing. Throw on the ability to boost your caster level as a free action and now were talking. Transport via plants is also pretty handy, as is empty body.
Mooncaller (SotB) Trades a bunch of situationally good druid abilities for a different set of situationally good abilities. The DR is minor and at higher levels most things will overcome it but it is something. Extra vision is never bad, and resist call of the wild does help against some very nasty things. Disease is never that common or difficult to beat, but immunities are never bad. This almost gets a purple rating for werewolf/lycanthropy based campaigns.
Nature Fang (SotB) Studied target is great for the SotB, but losing wild shape is a huge hit to both styles. Most of the slayer talents are meh, although some are decent. Combined with sneak attack the SotB can fight decently well with their companion and a weapon, but at that point just play a ranger.
Pack Lord (SotB) Why have one flanking buddy when you can have multiples? Or grab multiple animal companions-one to ride, one to fight, one to scout. With improved empathetic link you can focus on any companion within a mile-great for a bird scout. If you start combat by summoning monsters, you can get a flat out swarm going!
Reincarnated Druid (SotB) Great for the player that likes a mysterious character that looks death itself in the face and laughs. Losing out on wild shape still hurts, but the ability to shrug death is a fairly even trade. Hell, you might gain a stat boost when you reincarnate if you’re lucky.
Storm Druid (SotB) A blaster/controllers dream! The domains don’t fit SotB, and windwalker, stormvoice, and eye of the storm are very situational. However, getting a second domain at level 9 is fantastic. Combine air and weather for a nice combo of spells and abilities. Immunity to deafness and wind, plus a bonus against sonic effects is icing on the cake.
Survivor Druid (SotB) Forced animal companion, less spells, losing out on wild shape? This alone is garbage, and all you gain are a couple of ranger traps. While a ranger/monk could be pretty good, particularly a zen archer, this is not the point of this guide. I doubt I would take this archetype even for a straight druid.
Wild Whisperer (SotB) Losing out on the ability to become an elemental is big, as is losing 2 uses of wild shape. However, inspiration to a lot of your key skills is BIG, as is having some extra dice to throw around just in case. Some of the investigator talents really help both builds, depending on what you are trying to do. Certainly fits a support and out of combat build better than a combat monster.
World Walker (SotB) Favored terrains are useful, but highly campaign dependent. I would still probably take them over resist nature's lure and trackless step, particularly if the campaign is in 1 or 2 major terrains. Tree stride is a good spell, but it’s on the druid spell list so nothing too special.
Aquatic Druid (SotB) Even more than the previous archetypes, this is almost entirely campaign dependent. If you are playing an aquatic campaign this becomes very useful. If you are playing a non-aquatic campaign this is near useless..
Artic Druid (SotB) See Aquatic Druid.
Blight Druid (SotB) This archetype replaces a lot of situational abilities with some very awesome powers. The wild mystic gets access to some useful domains, which unfortunately causes the SotB to lose the animal companion. Immunity to sickened and nausea is fantastic, and while Misasm and Plaguebearer favor SotB, they are handy abilities.
Cave Druid (SotB) Unless your entire campaign is an underground dungeon crawl, pass. Even then, probably pass.
Desert Druid (SotB) Not needing to eat or drink is kinda handy, but probably won’t come up. Most vermin are not worth wild shaping into, so you lose out on the lower wild shape level. Immunity to blinding and bonuses to saves against illusions is about the only thing else worth mentioning here.
Jungle Druid (SotB) Even in a jungle campaign, I would not take this.
Mountain Druid (SotB) Being able to wild shape into a giant is cool for SotB. A bonus to CMD is good for both, could be more useful depending on the campaign.
Plains Druid (SotB) A free bonus to land speed is always nice, as is the ability to gain concealment while prone in any natural surroundings. Canny charger is great for SotB but still better than venom immunity for the wild mystic. Since you get evasion at level 13, you don’t need more than a single monk level here (unless your monk archetype replaces evasion.)
River Druid (SotB) You get diplomacy as a class skill with a +2. The rest of the abilities are also pretty useless; the class seems designed for an NPC who is a riverboat captain.
Swamp Druid (SotB) Most of the abilities are situational or meh, but constant freedom of movement is no joke.
Tempest Druid (SotB) This is a blaster’s dream. The benefits are still pretty useful for SotB as well.
Urban Druid (SotB) Access to some decent domains and bonuses to several skills. You lose out on a lot of wild shape power, but gain early disguise self at will and immunity to charm and compulsions.
Ape Shaman (SotB) Apes are not terrible animal companions for a frontline druid, and the domains are useful to both archetypes. The totem transformations are all useful, as is the bonus to summoning apes. The bonus feats and ape wild shapes work best for a combat maneuvers focused build. Do note that apes have hands so they can carry/open/perform other hand based things.
Bat Shaman (SotB) Bats are great familiars but horrible companions. Unless you can get a dire bat and ride it, which is good at low levels. The totem transformations are okay but not great, and bats are not usually something you want to wild shape into. The bonus feats are either garbage, or improved initiative, which you probably already took by this level. Some of the domains are not terrible for a caster…
Bear Shaman (SotB) Basically the same things I said about Ape Shaman apply here, just replace ape with bear. They have minor differences and each can be tailored to be slightly better here and there, but it more or less evens out.
Boar Shaman (SotB) Like ape/bear shaman but crappier.
Dragon Shaman (SotB) Some good domains and feats for wild mystics, and some good transformations and bonus elemental damage for Spirits of the Beast. Wild shape -4 for non-lizards is a real pain.
Eagle Shaman (SotB) Eagles are horrible animal companions, but great things for a caster to shape into. The totems are meh, as are the bonus feats. The summons can be good at mid-level.
Lion Shaman (SotB) The domain unlocks are good, as are the totems. Feats are not great but still better than venom immunity.
Saurian Shaman (SotB) This is what dragon shaman wants to be. Dino’s are great to ride, fight alongside and shift into. You probably will have the bonus feats you want by the time you get them, but they are still pretty good.
Snake Shaman (SotB) A crappy dragon/saurian domain for Spirits of the beast. However, trickery is an amazing domain and should not be overlooked for casters, particularly social ones.
Shark Shaman (SotB) Decent domains, but most of the powers are too campaign specific. In an aquatic campaign this archetype is fantastic, otherwise never take it.
Wolf Shaman (SotB) Access to some of the best domains in the game, and wolves are good companions. Great totem transformations for both builds, and great feats for the spirit of the beast.
Note: I am only going to rate archetypes that have mechanics that affect a 1st or 2nd level monk. 3 levels in monk is not worth the dip to a druid, so archetypes that only affect this level or higher are useless and not listed.
Far Strike Monk (SotB) You don’t really lose out on anything here, but you don’t really gain anything either. Extra weapon proficiencies you will never use and flurry with thrown weapons only. Quick draw is useless because it does not draw magic items, although point blank/precise shot is of some use to a druid that will focus on spells that require ranged touch attacks (there are not many). You lose out because you could have taken another archetype.
Flowing Monk (SotB) A great feat selection for both druids, and replaces stunning fist with a reactive defense ability. If you are going for an AoO build with your spirit of the beast/animal companion, a second level dip in this archetype lets your AoO’s make opponents flat footed if they connect. Gusta.
Hamatulatsu Master (SotB) All you get here is a slightly worse selection of bonus feats.
Harrow Warden (SotB) Gain some weapon proficiencies, and trade out stunning fist for another meh ability. You can do better, you can do worse.
Hungry Ghost Monk (SotB) Punishing kick is situationally better than stunning fist, but more or less even.
Kata Master (SotB) Sure, it is charisma based, but derring-do and dodging panache will probably see more use than stunning fist over the course of the game.
Maneuver Master (SotB) Great for combat maneuver druids, otherwise skip it.
Master of Many Styles (SotB) Hands down the best archetype you can take. A style feat at level 1 without prerequisites, and the ability to have 2 styles going at once is pretty ace. The 2nd level dip gets another style if you need to sneak by prerequs, but I suggest using your normal feats to get it. Most styles work while in wild shape, so both druid styles can make extensive use of them. There are a lot of combinations of styles, and an entire guide could be written on the Master of Many Styles alone. I discuss the style feats in greater detail at the end of this guide.
Monk of the Empty Hand (SotB) A single level of this loses you the few weapon proficiencies you gained. Pass.
Monk of the Four Winds (SotB) Elemental fist is situationally more useful than stunning fist. RAW, elemental fist does not require the use of an unarmed strike (while stunning fist does) but if your DM rules that it does, bump this down to black for Sprits of the Beast.
Monk of the Iron Mountain (SotB) Requires 2 levels of monk to see a result. All you get is toughness as a bonus feat and +1 to natural armor, at the cost of evasion. Even with reflex being a weak save, this is garbage.
Monk of the Lotus (SotB) If you don’t want to kill, that is totally fine. However, monks are perfectly good at using nonlethal damage to KO enemies, and druids get spells that can end encounters without violence. Hitting somebody to make them not act for a round is crap compared to stunned. Also, you can’t do this all day, meaning you will either have to resort to force, run, die, or win them over with some other means. This is a garbage archetype, and touch of serenity is a terrible feat (although the concept is cool).
Monk of the Seven Winds (SotB) Lose out on key bonus feats, only to gain the ability to make extra attacks against an enemy you hit with weapons you will never use. Next.
Sensei (SotB) Trade out flurry and some later gained class abilities for inspire courage bardic performance. Also gain every knowledge and diplomacy as a class skill. The 2nd level dip is tempting, but only works on unarmed and monk weapons(if you take feral combat training it can apply to natural attacks). Plus, Spirit of the Beast probably has more strength than wisdom, and Wild Mystics don’t need the attack roll boost.
Sohei (SotB) Martial weapon proficiency is good and all, although you still can’t wear light armor; it will negate your AC bonus. Being able to always act in the surprise round is great; this archetype goes up a level for both druid types if your DM rounds up and you get +1 initiative for a 1 level dip.
Terra Cotta Monk (SotB) Trade a situational knowledge, useless skill and skill you get for being a druid for- two situational knowledge skills and a useful skill. Getting trap sense at 2nd level is great if you don’t have a rogue in the party and like to speed run dungeons.
Tetori (SotB) A decent choice for grapple druid builds, terrible for everyone else.
Weapon Adept (SotB) You won’t be using a weapon after the first couple levels anyways, and none of the weapons are things you will even bother with. Stunning fist and evasion are better.
Zen Archer (SotB) Good weapon proficiencies; and flurry with arrows can do a lot of damage. This is an archetype that shines in early game, and even higher level druids can use a level of this as a solid backup.
Unchained Monk (SotB) I am rating this with archetypes because it does not allow you to use archetypes, so you either choose classic monk, archetype, or unchained. A bigger hit dice is welcome, and the hit to will saves is not as critical because you are wisdom based. The full BAB and flurry without penalty benefit the Spirit of the Beast the most, but are still not terrible.
Master of Many Styles/Style Feat Ratings
This is where the tables turn, and monk dipping becomes a very powerful upgrade for the Spirit of the Beast. Since most of these feats improve your ability to kick butt and take names in melee, it is primarily rated for Spirit of the beast. If there is any use to a Wild Mystic, the rating will be listed at the end of the style. Note that being a master of many styles means that you can have 2 styles going at once, and many of the styles are synergistic.
Note:Many of these styles do require using an unarmed strike, so these do require you to get feral combat training for your unarmed strikes to be viable. I have noted these with a (FCT)
Note: Some styles require “a free hand” to be used. If your DM does not rule that this applies to wings/paws/whatever elementals have, you can get around this by ape shaping, but this limits your wild shape. They are marked with a *, and the rating goes down by 1 if the DM says a hand must be a humanoid/primate hand. Negate this is you have feral combat training to use your animal limb as a hand.
Note: Elemental fist can be taken as a bonus feat through MoMS, and several styles require it, indicated by**. Now RAW, it does not say elemental fist requires you to use an unarmed strike.
Archon Style A good style for frontline druids wanting to tank. Requires combat expertise though…
*Archon Diversion Lower AC penalty, block as a move action so you can still get an attack, and parry an attack against an ally to provoke an AoO. A very solid choice.
Archon Justice Now you have no penalty, and regardless of who your opponent attacks, there is going to be an AoO. Gusta.
Boar Style(FCT) Requires ranks in intimidate and the damage is not that easy to pull off with a claw/claw/bite, but doable. Also gain another damage type for when it matters.
Boar Ferocity(FCT) Free intimidate check when you rend is getting better, but still not that easy to pull off.
Boar Shred(FCT) Intimidate as a move action is pretty good, but there are better things you could do, and adding bleed damage is nice, but not a game ender.
Crane Style A solid choice for frontline tanking, and a good option for a caster if the chips are down and you need some extra defense. This style pairs well with archon style. This style has some merit for a Wild Mystic
*Crane Wing Even more AC, and the ability to outright negate an attack is very handy. This style has some merit for a Wild Mystic
*Crane Riposte A tank druids dream. Wild mystics probably won’t get as much use from this, but it is a great defense.
Cudgler Style (FCT)The prerequisite feat is useless as monks can already choose to do nonlethal damage without penalty. Also, dealing a slightly larger damage dice is not anything special, considering it has to be nonlethal. It also only provides the bonus on the 1st attack, so pouncers don’t even gain much.
Cudgler Sweep(FCT) A free trip attack with a +2? If you have multiple attacks, some improved trip and the like, and are a pouncer this is easily blue.
Cudgler Takedown(FCT)Now you can get bigger damage dice on all of your attacks in your charge round, and if you trip them they might be stunned! Even worth it if you do lethal damage.
**Djinn Style The +2AC to AoO’s is kinda handy, rest is useless.
Djinn Spirit Electricity is not a common damage type, and you have protection from energy AND resist energy as class spells. Deafened is also a pretty mediocre condition.
Djinn Spin A neat little blast if you're surrounded, but you have plenty of other things you could do. Again, deafened is pretty weak for a status effect.
Dragon Style (FCT)Bonuses to saves against very nasty status effects is big; the ignoring difficult terrain and charging through allies is fantastic for melee druids, particularly those with pounce. Adding 1.5 strength on your first melee attack is icing on the cake. Even without the damage, it can be okay for Wild Mystics
Dragon Ferocity (FCT) More strength bonus, and the ability to give shaken to enemies on a critical hit. Granted, most enemies become immune to fear at higher levels, but still nice.
Dragon Roar A really underwhelming capstone. By this level, you have better AoE effects, even if they allow saves. Or you could just win fights with your hands/paws/claws/whatever damage...
Earth Child Style Gnome or Dwarf only. Giants are a fairly uncommon enemy, but if they are plentiful in your campaign setting this deserves a look.
**Efreeti Style The possibility of getting some damage even if you miss is not terrible. However, fire is the most common resistance.
Efreeti Stance Even with resist energy and protection from energy, fire is a common damage type, so it’s worth something. Also, the ability to light enemies on fire is kinda good.
Efreeti Touch This is comically underwhelming.
*Grabbing Style Good for grapple builds to save free limbs, and keeping your dex bonus while pinning is handy.
Grabbing Drag I can’t think of any situations where this would be useful, but this does make you better at dragging a grappled enemy.
Grabbing Master Grapple and damage two enemies at the same time-fantastic!
Jabbing Style (FCT) The first feat in the tree is kinda like boar style-the rest require more levels in monk then you should be getting. Pass
Janni Style Charging becomes safer and flanking is slightly less effective, but requiring 3 ranks in dance is a buzzkill. It also requires acrobatics, so its going to eat at your skill points.
Janni Tempest (FCT) If you like to charge and like to trip, this is a good choice.Again, the skill points in dance are a turn off.
Janni Rush (FCT) Can be good if you have a big damage dice, but 9 ranks in dance is a hard pill to swallow.
Kirin Style You have nature and religion as class skills, 2 of the big four used for identifying monsters. All of the kirin style feats are equally rated for the Wild Mystic
Kirin Strike Helps you pass knowledge checks to identify monsters, and adds some extra damage to your attacks. You probably don’t have high intelligence, but it adds a minimum of two, which is never bad.
Kirin Path Taking a 10 when your knowledge is maxed and a class skill will usually identify the monster. Your intelligence modifier is not high enough to make use of the movement, and you probably would not trade your AoO’s for that anyways.
Kobold Style Must be small size only. If you have a steady way of denying an opponent a dex bonus, this is great. It requires combat expertise, which sucks. If you use a lot of spells that have combat maneuvers, this is also decent for a Wild Mystic. Although unrelated to the guide, I will note this feat tree does not require being a monk/improved unarmed strike, and should be considered for other melee classes-fighters, rogues, barbarians etc.
Kobold Groundling Trip builds-eat your heart out.
Kobold Flood In addition to being hilarious and insulting, this is brutally effective.
Kraken Style The martial style for grapplers, pair it with grabbing for extra brutality.
Kraken Throttle You probably won’t kill anybody by suffocating them, but it totally shuts down spellcasters. Even if they have silent spell or the spell has no verbal component, they still have to deal with being grappled.
Kraken Throttle Often times you will want to kill the enemy but leave their stuff intact so you can loot it. It would be better if you could sunder anything on your opponent, but since it can only hit armor or items in hand, this rules out spell component pouches, evil mind control necklaces, etc.
Mantis Style (FCT) An additional use of stunning fist, and +2 to the DC. Its good if you're into that kind of thing.
Mantis Wisdom (FCT) Since the majority of your levels are not in monk, this really up’s the amount of stunning fists/day that you get. Being able to undo the effect is kinda cool, although probably won’t come up very often. The +2 to hit with stunning fist helps since your BAB is garbage.
Mantis Torment (FCT) This is basically a save or die. If they survive till the effects wear off, they are still fatigued.
**Marid Style The standard elemental bonus of the genie styles, but +5ft reach is nice.
Marid Spirit Same problem as the other elemental resistances, and cold is fairly uncommon. The ability to entangle opponents is okay.
Marid Spirit A decent chance to entangle multiple enemies, still not great.
Monkey Style Wisdom bonus to acrobatics is fantastic, doubly so when you can stand up from prone as a swift action so long as you pass a dc20 acrobatics check. However, you also don’t take penalties for attacking or being attacked while prone, so in a fight with ranged enemies you will want to drop prone once you’re in position. If you need to crawl or get back up-no AoO’s either. This whole tree does require a lot of ranks in climb(bleh), but even then it is worth it. This is one of the best styles you can choose, and it is almost as good for a Wild Mystic.
Monkey Moves (FCT) This would be a lot more useful if you could not simply wild shape into something that can fly or climb, or cast a spell to do so. That said, it will prevent you from having to waste a spell or wild shape to do this. Being able to take a 5 foot step is kinda cool
Monkey Shine (FCT) Use stunning fist to get a free move into their space? Heck yes! You get some nice bonuses, and an AoO if they move away, even if they tumble/use magic!
Panther Style (FCT) Get a swift action unarmed strike by provoking an AoO. Can be dangerous, but also very effective with some creativity.
Panther Claw (FCT) If you are going to move anyways, you can get a lot of free attacks with multiple opponents. Against an enemy with combat reflexes, this becomes very awesome. Your DM might get smart to this and stop Making AoO’s, but that is kind of a benefit in itself.
Panther Parry (FCT) Now you can run around bashing face, but you swing first and lower their chances of striking back. This tree favors wildshaping into something fast, and juicing your movement speed so you can pinball around the battlefield.
Pummling Style (FCT) It’s clustered shots for melee attacks. This is pretty important as magic fang will only cut through so much, and obscure DR’s become very common at higher levels.
Pummeling Bully (FCT) A free trip or reposition check if a single attack hits? Yes please.
Pummling Charge (FCT) Its pounce, but with a free trip attempt and a cheeky way to bypass DR. This is amazing.
**Shaitan Style Score some acid damage even if your attack misses, not bad since acid is not a common resistance.
Shaitan Skin Uncommon damage when you have resist energy etc etc. However, you can inflict staggered, which is a devastating condition.
Shaitan Earthblast Decent AoE blast to inflict staggered, but as a full casting class you have much better and zanier blasts.
Snake Style A bonus to a wisdom based class skill, and you can use it to attempt to dodge attacks! Absolutely fantastic! And you can deal piercing damage with your unarmed strikes, if you ever need to for some reason. Probably the best style for Wild Mystics
Snake Sidewind (FCT) +4 against trip, acrobatics checks and saves to be knocked prone. Some spells/effects that knock prone also do damage or inflict other statuses, so getting a +4 helps prevent those things too. Getting to use sense motive to confirm a crit with an unarmed strike can be really good-it is likely your sense motive check is better than your attack roll. If you took monkey style, you don’t give a flip about being prone, so this goes down a notch. Wild Mystics still get decent use of the CMD bonus.
Snake Fang (FCT) You get free AoO’s every time an opponent misses you, and with combat reflexes this gets scary. Plus, you can use snake style to attempt and dodge one attack. Sweet!
*Snapping Turtle Style Some extra AC is nice, and you won’t be using a shield. Wild Mystics like this too, but requires improved grapple.
Snapping Turtle Clutch Boosting touch AC and CMD is hard to come by, so always welcome. Grappling SotB’s will love the ability to immediate action grapple, and Wild Mystics don’t mind the defensive boons.
Snapping Turtle Shell More AC/CMD, and you are less likely for a critical to confirm against you. Less good for Wild Mystics since it required improved grapple to get here, but still not bad.
Tiger Style +2 CMD to a few combat maneuvers, the only one that matters is trip. If you took monkey style, this goes down one.
Tiger Claws (FCT) This is pretty good. It requires power attack to unlock its full potential, but you probably took that anyways. A free bull rush with a +2 is free, even if you did not take improved bull rush.
Tiger Pounce (FCT) Take the power attack penalties to AC for when you absolutely must connect. Being able to move up to half your speed as an immediate action is also pretty boss.
Wolf Style A fantastic style for trip builds. Pair it with combat reflexes, lunge and maybe longarm bracers/reach weapon for maximum battlefield control. Meshes with kobold style.
Wolf Trip Bonus to AoO trips, and then you can throw them into any space nearby.
Wolf Savage Dealing 10 damage is pretty easy at level 9+, and bestow curse is fantastic.