Vow of Poverty

The “Vow of Poverty” feat from the Book of Exalted Deeds makes it feasible to play a character without magic items or equipment. In theory, at least - unless you’re a monk or cleric, you actually rely quite heavily on one or more items, such as a wizard’s spellbook. In this article I’m going to try and explain the best way to handle these characters who don’t use equipment.

There’s a general consensus among the online Dungeons & Dragons community that the Book of Exalted Deeds (BoED) was, for the most part, an underwhelming addition to the game. In my own opinion, it had some very usable material but much of the content felt like the book had been created as an overly exact counterpart to the much better Book of Vile Darkness (BoVD). Where BoVD invented poisons, BoED copied them but called them “ravages” because only evil people poison. Where BoVD statted up some fantastic demon princes, devil lords and beautifully lethal monsters, BoED gave us furries and naked people.

Among BoED’s better content was the occasionally controversial Vow of Poverty. The idea is that by sacrificing magic items or expensive gear of any kind, your character gains numerous inherent abilities to compensate.

Is it broken?

Several DMs have prohibited Vow of Poverty due to the massive amounts of abilities granted by a single feat, which include damage reduction, armor class bonuses and even several free feats. At very least it’s far more powerful than any other feat, and gives more abilities than even some character classes. This raises the question, is it inherently broken?

The answer is no - at least, not too badly. We take it for granted, but the amount of power characters usually gain from equipment and magic items is astounding. At twentieth level, your character has the equivalent of 760,000 gp in magic items. Less than one third of that will get you +6 to every single ability score. Throw in a suit of +5 heavy fortification armor, a +5 vorpal sword, +5 animated shield and a Tome to put your Strength up permanently by five points, and you’re still about 35k under budget. Consider also the potions, helpful ability-granting items, high-powered weapons and various armour/weapon enhancements you can own. Don’t take magic items for granted - this is what you’re giving up with Vow of Poverty.

So how do I use it with my class?

Barbarian: The first and most important thing you give up as an ascetic barbarian is armor. It’s not such a big loss since you don’t have heavy armor proficiency so you only lose up to breastplate, and by level 3 your VoP armor bonus matches that - higher, if you had a particularly high Dexterity. Losing shield use is irrelevant as long as your fighting style is two-handed, two-weapon or ranged. You’re definitely going to miss martial weapons, so you can go two-handed with a spear (1d8 x3) or two-weapon style with a quarterstaff (1d6/1d6) - in any case you’re basically limit to heavy sticks and pointy sticks. If your DM allows variants you can play a ranged barbarian who uses the Rapid Reload feat with a light crossbow - permissible, because you can carry simple weapons.

Bard: A bard is relatively easy to make Vow of Poverty, perhaps as a wandering preacher or orator whose speeches and hymns inspire the populace. A bard who sings rather than plays an instrument, relies on no items at all. He only loses the use of light armour, which the VoP armor bonus makes up for from level 1, and it’s not too much of a step down for him to use simple weapons. There’s a particularly fitting Divine Bard variant, if your DM allows.

Cleric: Technically, a cleric who has taken a Vow of Poverty can’t even own a holy symbol, which prevents him from turning undead or even using a sizeable number of his own spells. It’s a ridiculous situation that even the official FAQ can’t solve (between you and me, I think Andy Collins won’t admit it when something flat-out won’t work). Fortunately, some clever thinking gets around this limitation. Your cleric might have a holy symbol tattooed on his hand as a permanent symbol of faith, or he might have whittled one himself out of wood or stone. The lack of heavy armour and shields is a big loss until later levels when your armor bonus improves, but spells like greater magic vestment can mitigate this to some extent.

Druid: The druid fits Vow of Poverty extremely well - almost too well. One particularly powerful character build sees a high level druid walk around all day in the form of a Celestial Triceratops thanks to the Exalted Wild Shape feat, casting spells even in triceratops form with the Natural Spell Feat. A druid relies very little on armour and weapons.

Fighter: The fighter is hit hard by Vow of Poverty because he typically relies so heavily on full plate armor and either shields or greatswords. The best solution to this is to avoid playing a “heavy” fighter, instead going the two-weapon fighter route with a quarterstaff and putting a higher ability score into Dexterity.

Monk: The monk is perhaps the best class for Vow of Poverty, or at least it’s the one class most people associate with non-reliance on equipment. Absolutely no changes need to be made.

Paladin: A paladin’s special mount doesn’t count as property, making him the only mounted combatant who can use Vow of Poverty. However, he has all of the drawbacks of the fighter and cleric, since he can’t own armor, shields, martial weapons or (without some creativity) a holy symbol. You might take the opportunity to offset your lower armor class by making the longspear your primary weapon in order to have greater reach, while specialising almost entirely in mounted combat using the longspear. Alternatively you can go two-weapon with the quarterstaff or ranged with the crossbow, as described in the barbarian section. In that case, you may be more effective by playing a ranger with favoured enemies such as Outsider (evil) and Undead.

Ranger: Light armour and no shields means you’re not missing much in the way of defence, but the ranger’s combat style typically relies heavily on weapons. The simple solution to this is to wield a quarterstaff if you’ve picked two-weapon combat as your style, or a light crossbow with the Rapid Reload feat if you’ve chosen archery - crossbows are simple weapons, so you’re allowed one. A drawback of archery style is that you don’t get to make use of the free Manyshot feat. Outsider (evil) and Undead are likely to be your first favoured enemies.

Rogue: The rogue is in the same boat as the ranger, above. The +4 armor bonus at level 1 is as good as chain shirt armour but with none of the armor check penalty to Move Silently. Since you want to play the rogue as a two-weapon fighter to get as many sneak attacks as possible, a quarterstaff is your best weapon.

Sorcerer: The sorcerer relies on no items in particular, and the +4 armor bonus granted by Vow of Poverty at first level means that he doesn’t have to spend a valuable “spells known” slot on Mage Armor. You are permitted a spell component pouch, but remember not to take any spells with a costly material requirement, since you’ll either waste a lot of XP casting them or never use them at all (a waste of a “spells known” slot). Remember also that you can’t use a scroll, wand or staff.

Wizard: Similar to the sorcerer, with one notable exception. By the standard rules, a wizard is impossible to play since he requires an expensive spell book. Having the group’s fighter technically own your spellbook is almost a ridiculous a situation as the cleric who whittles his holy symbol out of a bar of soap each morning. Again, this is where some creative thinking comes to the rescue. Simply have the wizard keep his spellbook in the form of tattoes on his body. This means you need to think long and hard on which spells you want, since you don’t have the luxury of keeping a main spellbook separate to your travelling spellbook. The inability to use scrolls is a notable drawback to the wizard, since a good wizard always keeps a stock of scrolls for emergencies. The easiest solution may be to play a sorcerer instead!

Psionic classes: With the exception of psychic warrior, none of the basic psionic classes really rely on items. If playing a psion, you may need to check with your DM before he will let you take a psicrystal, since it might be construed as equipment. The psychic warrior may be slightly weaker if he can only use simple weapons; as usual, specialising in two-weapon combat is the way to offset this limit.

Prestige classes: Take care before planning to enter any prestige classes which may require specific equipment or gold. Guildmage, for example, has an entry fee in gold pieces and requires the character to carry an expensive token at all times. Vassal of Bahamut requires specific armour, and a duelist is a lot weaker if you can’t wield a rapier. (In a related anecdote, I’ve been in a game where one player decided to play a duelist who dual-wielded longswords, which is about as effective as a monk who tries to wield a greatclub.)


In short, vow of poverty can

Comments (31)

Dragon_Child (December 6th, 2006)

First of all, your opening paragraph is pure bullshit. Sorry, but it’s the truth. I mean,you even admit later on that the druid is the best class, but then say that the monk may be too? Monks are only associated with VoP because of flavor, and because of idiots who quite frankly can’t figure out how the rules work. It’s a popular opinion that’s WRONG.

Monks DO use items. If anything, they are one of the most item dependent classes - a monk needs MORE gold worth of items to be able to do the same thing that a fighter can do. Now, you can claim that the VoP solves many of these issues, but really, it doesn’t. Sure, you don’t have to buy stat-boosters, amulet of mighty fist, and bracers of armor. You save cash there. But you have no ranged attacks, and no ability to fly on your own, ever. That’s right. If a manticore, a simple, basic manticore comes along, you are worthless. The VoP monk is a one-trick pony who’s abilities are too weak, and stats too low to even do what he’s supposed to be good at.

I can maybe buy clerics being non-item dependent. But what about druids? These are the people who fight unarmored and unarmored, AND don’t need massive items to do stuff the fighter can (like monks), so getting the VoP bonuses are usually stuff they don’t have in the first place. You say “Almost too well”, and then call monks “prehaps the best fit” ? Please - druids are the only class that can use VoP to its full power.

I dare say, however, Vow of Poverty is one of the most broken feats in the game. Not because it’s too strong - no, any character with Vow of Poverty is going to end up significantly WEAKER in a normal game. It’s broken because it removes the DM’s primary balance modifier. If your monk or fighter sucks ass in a campaign, the DM will often hand you magical items to help out (think about any ‘cool’ monks or fighters you’ve seen in groups of smart players - you’ll immediately note that this almost always happens). If the DM can’t hand you magical items… well, you’re screwed, quite frankly. There’s nothing you can do to ever catch up with the other players that may be stronger than you.

In addition, VoP breaks stories. A VoP character just can’t participate on some storylines, for no good reason. That’s lame to the extreme.

Binx (December 8th, 2006)

I like your analysis overall.

IMHO, VoP is a troublesome but attractive feat. But it only works well in a mature campaign, as does the entire exhalted angle. I wouldn’t allow it in tournament play or regular dungeon busters, only in a developed campaign storyline that deal with the kind of moral themes it tries to address.

But this isn’t the only thing like this. Skills are something that works or not in a campaign depending on how it’s run. Standard games and DM’s hand out XP based almost exclusively on kills.If you want a sneaky campaign run around rogues, then the DM will make most of the XPs from CRs for various challenges - sneaking past gaurds, cracking locks, leaving no trace, finding clues. You know, rogue stuff.

That’s a digression. My point is that VoP has it’s possibilities in the right campaign. Otherwise it’s clunky. It is NOT a feat appropriate for munchkins. I will say I happen to like it because my fantasy mind is inspired by heroes with nothing but a sword or faith, and not all gadgeted out.

Vagabond (December 17th, 2006)

In your assessment of the wizard, I’ve also considered a type of wizard who donates all his magical stuff to the local church or a guild order who, in turn, keep it safe with others of the same in a library and equipments storage. Thus, while in town (and some campaigns for high level wizards can be done out of the one town in a day), the wizard has all the same access to spells as any other wizard. In 3.5, the feat Spell Mastery improves greatly, allowing for the wizard to master not just one but up to his or her intelligence modifier worth of spells. Thus, a highly intelligent wizard (and who isn’t, with VoP) can get up to 9 spellls memorized for one feat taken at 18th level (or more with other races, magical increases over the campaign setting if your DM allows it and etceteras). My third solution would involve one word: Permanency. The wizard can enchant himself to have spells constantly affecting him (which begs that other question of broken abilities, Time Stop, anyone?). The other DMs I’ve talked with consider this one of the most broken feats for any character with access to a sorcerer or wizard and that spell. Reconsidering, magic in 3.5 seems to be far overpowered (again, an all physical warrior merely is not well suited to combat any creature with access to magic, at the comprable level, unless augmented by magical counterparts, but that’s another question). All in all, I do like your commentary, but I still disagree by saying its capable of being used as a very broken feat in the campaigns involving skilled players to whose campaigns this feat is well suited.

Greg (January 15th, 2007)

That’s interesting…I’ve played druids who have taken a vow of poverty (in one case in protest against a DM who was a little too Monty Haul for my tastes), but never thought much about it for more than that.

The real problem is that for other than druids and monks, so many depend on their equipment for bare survival. My LifeShaper Prestige Class may be a little easier to orient this way, since he’s working with (and warping) nature. A cleric with a nature diety may have the same connection however.

Jonathan Drain (January 16th, 2007)

I just realised that I never finished this article. I suppose I shall leave it as it stands.

greg: That’s basically the situation, classes other than a monk and wildshaping druid require equipment and rely heavily on it. Luckily, most classes can be played equipment-light to some degree.

RJM Whittaker (May 17th, 2007)

Recently I’ve been thinking of adding Monk levels to my Sorceress character so as to better defend herself in certain situations (say, anti-magic field); not only that, but a number of abilities given to Monks (such as becoming an Outsider at Lv20) fit perfectly with her single desire to become a “goddess”. I’ve become familiar with some of the basics of VoP due to a player who often gives it to his Monks, and being free from sleeping/eating/breathing is also perfect for emulating the gods.

Of course my Sorceress is Lawful Evil, so the difficulty comes in rationalizing the need to cast away her material possessions for such a path. VoP is perfect for your average Mother Theresa-type, but could it be possible for one to needlessy sacrifice such things because the desire for such power is even greater than one’s want of material goods? After all, what is a +6 Cloak of Charisma compared to being one with the universe and using your god-like abilities to sway the wills of an entire populace in believing that you are a powerful deity from beyond the planes and not just some human with funky abilities (note, a Cloak could probably help that as well, but then if they see you go months without food or water I tend to think they’d be more likely to believe you then than any Bluff or Suggestion could ever do).

Playing a Sorcerer (or Bard or Wizard, I suppose) with VoP doesn’t seem so difficult especially with the Eschew Materials Feat ability to negate the need for cheap material components, and since Sorcerers can replace old spells with new ones every even level, I can easily replace her old Focus/expensive Material-needed spells with spells that require nothing but her own, innate power.

So the biggest problem isn’t so much with physical gameplay mechanics, but merely role-playing her reasons for taking VoP in a convincing manner (especially since she did start off as a material-loving person; why the change of the heart all of a sudden, right?). After all, if VoP requires one not only to cast aside material possessions but to give back to the poor and stricken, why, she could merely be giving such gifts to her loyal worshippers!

At the moment I’m not really seeing VoP as being broken, although my knowledge is still limited; if anything, it just all depends on how one plays the character with VoP. (note, had I known anyone could use it (at first I assumed it was Monk-only), she probably would’ve had it at Lv1 instead getting it at Lv24).

Wil (November 29th, 2007)

Sorry for the necro here, but in response to RJM: Since VoP is an Exalted feat, one of the additional requirements to take it is being of a good alignment (BoED, 39), so LE is right out. It also states that gaining an Exalted feat occurs as a gift from powerful good outsiders - what’s your Bluff check? ;)

Of course, there’s nothing to stop the character from acting like they took a vow of poverty without actually taking the feat (and without gaining any of the benefits, obviously) if there are rp reasons.

Rick (December 2nd, 2007)

VoP was designed to generally follow the same item based power progression of characters as layed out in the standard D20 concept. Thus when you kill monster x you get y treasure, bla bla bla. What VoP does not take into account is both low magic campaigns and the inherent vulnerability of magical items. Where magical items can be easily destroyed with a decent sunder attack, or even taken away with disarm, the benefits of VoP can not be eliminated as easily. So when comparing the numbers the feat should have been evaluated with this in mind, which it was not.

VoP is, IMHO, a broken feat which takes away a DM’s ability to balance a party by hand picking items gained and thus their benefits. It soon becomes necessary to give the rest of the party more items to keep up with the VoP character and in the view of a long time D&D fan who has seen everything from boxed set to 3,5ed, more items means less wonder which equals bad RP. VoP perpetuates the “nickle and dime store” magical item atmosphere inherent in D&D under the D20 rule set by forcing DM’s to “balance” the party with extra items for the rest of the party.

It also seems that somewhere along the line the basic idea behind feats got lost when VoP was created, that all feats should be more or less balanced against each other. I don’t see many feats out there that grant a long list of special abilities, bonus’, and extra feats, meaning VoP is far beyond the original spirit of “balanced feats”.

Jonathan Drain (December 3rd, 2007)

Rick: It’s rather that D&D third edition encourages DMs to stick to a certain level of magic items, and game balance is thrown out of whack if you give out too much or too little. Magic item power commensurate to their level is the player’s right, rather than the player’s reward, and that’s something that I’ve complained about before. It’s also something that is being toned down in fourth edition.

It’s inaccurate to say that VoP is unbalanced simply because it grants a long list of bonuses. It must be kept in mind that the player trades a significant amount of magic item power for his Vow of Poverty gains. While the magic item power can and will vary with luck and DM preference, it’s a core rule that it remains reasonably constant with level. So it’s partially 3e’s fault for making that rule, and partially the BoED’s fault for not realising that many DMs don’t stick to it.

Jimmy Nids (July 31st, 2008)

Hi, VoP is easily destroyed. You must be EXALTED! If your party isn’t all exalted, they are free to kill hostaged enemies that have surrendered. Any good DM will put you in this position. If something surrenders then you CANNOT kill it nor can you allow it to be killed as it’s surrender signifies even the slightest regret of its actions. This in turn shows a tiny 0.0001% possibility that the being can be reformed to the lawful good path. This means you lose your ALL of your Exalted feats unless you are completely willing to put your life on the line to save, oh i don’t know, say the sadistic mass murderer who killed all your party members entire families lines but says, “I give up.” That is how exalted feats work, period. So if you want to spare the life of the man who just murdered your best friends wife and son, be exalted and take those feats, otherwise you are S.O.L. and will lose everything the moment a party member says “That’s it, this guy must die!” There are exceptions, like if your church or faith decrees this person an unholy menace that must be slain on sight(note if they say “dealt with” or some other equivalent, where capture is an option, then killing is out), but otherwise you mustn’t take a life if it can be avoided. Now once you capture this man and in the eyes of the justice of the land or in the eyes of the heavens is decided, and they say kill him, go for it.

Alchmst (September 5th, 2008)

Jimmy, while you make a good point, and I agree with you, your argument is slightly skewed. While I was thinking to bring up the argument of additional feats like Vow of Nonviolence and Vow of Peace, you added them without mentioning them.

jim (September 29th, 2008)

i have a question, if i progress into epic levels, would this feat’s bonuses also continue to increase at their usual rate or does it simply end at level 20?

Ryan (October 9th, 2008)

As far as I know, there is no epic progression in the BoED for VoP, but I did find one on a post: http://forums.gleemax.com/wotc_archive/index.php/t-554563

Matt (November 9th, 2008)

VoP, IMHO, can be overpowered and broken if not carefully monitored… Exempli Gratia: Having a monk take the VoP at 1st level, and then take the Kensai prestige class (CW) as soon as he can. By 16th level or so, you have a monk with stupidly high AC, and fists that are treated as +10 magical weapons.

Yes, VoP can be broken, but there always going to be power gamers out to geek the system. Which is why the DMs have to step up and be in control of their game. :D

Average Joe (November 20th, 2008)

Matt: that is true, yes; however, I have found that in general it is much easier to break new rules when players are allowed to mix and match non-Core material as they please. IMHO, any DM who wants to use non-Core material should carefully consider not only the books in question but their relation to one another - there are lots of things out there that aren’t overpowered by themselves, only in combination.

Paul (December 9th, 2008)

A friend of mine is playing a Druid and I’m playing a Warlock in a Ravenloft campaign. We just started as 1st level characters and my friend has decided to take the VoP. He suggested that I may want to take it as well, but I’m not sure if a chaotic neutral character would do something like that. I could take up a cause of slaying all undead creatures and probably make it work. It definately works for the Druid, but part of being a Warlock, to me, is looking fabulous.
Taking VoP would do away with that. Comments are welcome. Please be gentle.

Lhurgyof (March 22nd, 2009)

Dragon_Child, I find your comment to be bullshit, at least the part about monks.
Who needs ranged attacks when you can just take snatch arrows and throw stuff back, or better yet, reflect arrows. And who needs to fly when you can vastly abuse the jump skill?
I mean, when you get an epic monk it doesn’t matter, let’s take mine for example. His jump score is ridiculous, being largely in excess of 100, and his normal jump distance is always doubled, that’s just using the jump skill (He can just jump anywhere he can see, do to some life-shaped tendons), and that’s another thing, there are no rules on life-shaped items, since they are technically part of you, so my monk can just line-attack jump-attack through and army dealing 32d6+64 damage to anyone in that line.

If you ask me, that’s a hell of a ranged attack. And does it draw attacks of opportunities? Of course not, I can make the tumble check (even with the -20 penalty for “running”) every time, and if worse comes to worse, I’ll use my “level” ability and quivering palm everything I can see in a mile radius (I have true sight and all-around vision). This is all done with a Yuan-ti Pureblood level 20 monk/ level 20 psion/ level 20 custom pretiege class.
If you need to know, without magic items, his unarmed strikes are considered: Magic, Lawful, Adamantine, Epic, Silt-Bane, Keen, Vorpal, Dehydrating, Exhausting, Blinding, Confusing, Wounding, Axiomatic, Unholy, Good, AND +20.
Spellcasting? Reflective spell resistance.
Attacks? 100 AC.
That character could top any 60th level fighter in my opinion.

Kenshin (August 1st, 2009)

From my opinion, the consideration before a character to take the Vow of Poverty is not only its power.

As a D&D player, I enjoy the uncertainty and exciting rewards from treasure through adventures. You will never know what will you get from the dungeons. It means your path is uncertain, like life.

My monk takes the Vow of Poverty at 6th level and now he is at 16th level. I would say he is the most invulnerable character among the party. However, his improvement path is expected. I can imagine what will this character looks like when he is at 20th. The enjoyment from this character is decreasing. I love playing my 10th level Archivist (the weakest character among our party) even more than him.

Actually, the most critical draw back from this feat should be, it reduces the part of the fun of this game.

MrRosesred (November 1st, 2009)


I take it you dont face a single flying unit untill lvl 60? well then your a lucky dog :)

PS: Druids for VoP no doubt.

J Newbs (November 17th, 2009)

I wanted respond to Rick’s post:

"What VoP does not take into account is both low magic campaigns and the inherent vulnerability of magical items. Where magical items can be easily destroyed with a decent sunder attack, or even taken away with disarm, the benefits of VoP can not be eliminated as easily. So when comparing the numbers the feat should have been evaluated with this in mind, which it was not."

A valid point, but a clever DM could find vulnerabilities and figuratively “sunder” VoP. VoP states that actions taken by the player against their will, under the mental control of a spell, for example, violate VoP and cause them to lose its benefits until they can atone (which would be difficult in the middle of a battle or even between battles in a dangerous dungeon). This is the equivalent vulnerability to sundering or stealing a magic item and it was included in BoED. To say that they didn’t consider this vulnerability at all is inaccurate, although I concede that the vulnerabilities of magic items are more common than those of VoP.

An even more mischievious DM could try to write scenarios where a VoP character is extremely tempted to take a powerful item, which only he can use for some reason (MAGIC!-Rule 0), to save the rest of his party. This second suggestion doesn’t exactly fix VoP, but it would be fun IMO to remind the character what they have given up and balance VoP in more of a RP sense.

J Newbury (November 18th, 2009)

After making that last post, I re-read the feat desrciption in BoED. I was mistaken. VoP’s description doesn’t address what happens if it is broken against the character’s will or accidentally, though several other Vow of _______ feats do, which is where I think I got the idea in my head. VoP seems to be all or nothing; no atonement is possible.

Kevin (December 11th, 2009)

This was an amazing post and really opened my eyes to a lot. I have not looked at TBoED very much at all until now.

I had a week long back and forth conversation with a fellow player about how it is not possible to have character who is NOT equipment dependent.

I thought it was possible and have set my mind in that direction. We just started a game, still first level playing together and little does he know this is the character I am going to test my theory out on. And now I think I am also going to test VoP out on this character too and see how it works.

The DM started us as non-heroic classes but next game we should gain out first real level and I have about a week to decide what class to play.

Thanks for the great post and to everyone for the great comments too.

Chuck (December 13th, 2009)

Lhurgyof: Using a level 60 character as a defense for a build is ridiculous. Especially when you use a custom, ridiculous prestige.

Dragon_Child: You’re also not taking into account the fact that most characters travel in A PARTY. You don’t always have to make YOURSELF fly. No ranged attacks? Seriously? Think.

Aryl (January 12th, 2010)

Chuck, just thought I would comment. You posted about Dragon_Child’s not being able to fly comment. (S)He did comment “But you have no ranged attacks, and no ability to fly on your own, ever” So, he was saying what about the times you are alone? Because in every campaign I’ve ever played in, I ended up alone fairly often, whether it be because we had gotten split up, or because we were ambushed while shopping at the market or whatever.

Lhurgyof: As for the line “If you need to know, without magic items, his unarmed strikes are considered: Magic, Lawful, Adamantine, Epic, Silt-Bane, Keen, Vorpal, Dehydrating, Exhausting, Blinding, Confusing, Wounding, Axiomatic, Unholy, Good, AND +20.” This is possible, (I assume you’re a Lawful Neutral Character) but I doubt that everybody would want to go with the same 60 levels you did, making it still highly unlikely. If I want to make something linear and just like the thing before me, I’ll play a video game. I want to play something with more options. So you may have proved it possible, but I think the OP was intending to give a helpful guide to what was favorable.

Omar (March 14th, 2010)

Hi, sorry for the minor thread Necromancy here, but this is a response to the 3 year old post on VoP Monks being beaten by a Manticore.

First, CR 5, so lets assume 5th level.

You have an AC of say 20. Total defensive action for at least 3 rounds brings that to 24 (average 23). (Wis+Dex+VoP+Monk bonuses). You have deflect arrows.

A Manticore has 24 shots at you.
You ignore 4.

That’s 20 +8 attacks remaining. The Manticore hits on a 15+, so that suggests, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20. 2 possible crits accounted for.

Total damage: 6.5*6 + 6.5*0.3*2 = 43

The average Monk would have: 38hp. He is still alive, but needs to be stabilized. The Manticore can no longer do anything except come down to attack.

Now, what are the other 3 players doing?

The manticore deals approx 9 damage per turn. The remaining party should deal 18 damage per turn. They will kill it in 3 turns.

Assuming a party of ALL VoP monks, the Manticore is now either going to fly away, or lose. Thus a CR 5 Manticore, hand picked to be as inconvenient to the party as possible, has succeeded in costing a level 5 party little over 1/4 of their resources.

This is the exact definition of a CR5 monster.

(P.S. Slings? Crossbows? Cover? Why can’t we use them exactly? What exactly was the Monk going to do at level 5 anyway with any reasonable Wealth by Level that has been removed by VoP?)

Sure, in a beating your head against it scenario, 1 on 1, where you’re basically pitting quadruple the expected amount of Monster on a single character in the most inconvenient way possible, he will lose. Why are we in this scenario? Why not use your in class hide skill for example?

The game contributes the rules, you contribute the thinking. Not vice versa.

Anon (May 4th, 2010)

Well to add to the monk thing or rather any class, rp will save you, mostly because it states that you are not allowed to “own” however a character buying an item for you and still laying claim to said item and allowing you the use isn’t technically a violation of the feat as you do not actually own the item but are allowed to keep it in your possession simply because you are borrowing it.
Wizards with spell books, more rp do favors for the church you’re character follows and ask only that you receive a spell book on lend.
Now about combat, as a monk there are feats in other books that allow them to project their unarmed attacks from a ranged, one example of such is ringing the golden bell from the dragon compendium 1, I believe, which allows the monk to do so once per-day, however I believe, in the phb2 it gives a variant monk which can do this pretty much every round anyway, so in a nutshell you turn your monk in a poverty based Goku and kamehameha win the day against the flying foe.

Anon (May 4th, 2010)

Oh and to add to my last comment.
Vow of Mercy and non Violence are the feats that make it so you can’t outright kill people, raging bloody war as a guy in rags is still very possible and even killing a surrendering enemy likewise if they have performed overly evil acts to promote such, again it comes down to the rp.

Anon (May 4th, 2010)

Oh and again another add on, you can’t borrow magical items per-say, you can use potions with let’s say a cure serious wounds on it, but not a cloak of resistance or a wand of fire balls.
Now about the spell book, the book it’s self isn’t intentionally magical but rather what you yourself do with it is, so it would classify as an item you would be able to technically own it just couldn’t be masterwork otherwise that would in fact violate the terms, as the feat states that you are not allowed to have anything of any real value, so if the value comes from your own abilities is it realistically considered a violation of your vow as you are technically making this so, to be honest it would be up to your DM about such a thing and also as to what you were allowed to record spells on.

Mark (June 9th, 2010)

1 thing I noticed, that everyone is forgetting, who said that VoP is too powerfull. Is thar you have to use up 2 feat slots to take Vow of poverty. Soo not only are you sacraficing magic items and such, but also using up 2 feat slots you could use elsewhere. Yes, it is best suited for the base monk and druid, but, this is a game … just have fun with it

Also, on a side note, I dont think you ever “NEED” to fly. Flyinf is nice, I will grant you that, but many times, I have not been able to fly. Just imptovise, or .. hitch a ride.

Steve (August 26th, 2010)

I used VoP with a SoulKnife/Illuminated Soul and found it quite stimulating. Sure you don’t have all the magic items, but you don’t need them as long as your psychic weapons work.

Old thread reader (January 18th, 2013)

You guys can’t complain and bitch so much about the mechanic so much, in all honesty Story Trumps Rules is the only thing you need to take into consideration.

A reasonable, competent Dungeon Master should be able to accurately diagnose the plethora of issues you’ve all described. It’s not a problem if you know what you’re doing.

The standard for VOP is definitely monks and druids, this much is for sure.
If you’re looking for ways for Wizards to play this, take a leaf out of the Complete Arcane supplement where they describe Alternative Spellbooks, like Tattoos and such.

Many of these issues can be solved in roleplay, with the PC’s doing favors and aiding those willing to donate their services to them.

It’s not UNDERPOWERED and it’s definitely not OVERPOWERED. It’s a tool for VERY ADVANCED ROLEPLAY, which I swear is mentioned somewhere in BoED.

>Smart DM
>Patient Players
>Player/DM Trust

Thats all you need. If you want to discuss it further, email me @ mr_ryan_allen@yahoo.com

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