|From the Ultimate Combat supplement,|
Illustration by Dmirtry Burmak
If you, like me, like to frequent the Paizo forums, you have probably noticed the large amount of threads talking about this problematic class and ways to fix it and make it better. For the longest time, I just ignored these threads and went on my merry way. However, with all the tinkering I have been doing with the Pathfinder RPG I've started to realize a lot of those threads were right; there are a lot of problems with the Monk.
I think one of the most obvious problems with the monk is that it's a martially focused class that possesses a moderate attack bonus progression and a d8 hit die. All of the other martially focused classes (the Barbarian, the Cavalier, the Gunslinger, the Fighter, the Paladin, the Ranger, and the Samurai) all have a fast attack bonus progression and a d10 hit die. Why is a class that focuses on unarmed combat the only one left out? So, if I had to redesign the class, giving it a fast attack bonus progression and a d10 hit die would be one of the first changes I'd make.
Second, I also feel the monk is one of the most linear classes in the game. While you get some interesting abilities, the core monk has very little room for variations. I think the monk would benefit heavily from a set of class features similar to rogue talents and ninja tricks. This would allow players to make their monk characters a little more unique and allow for some interesting ki abilities. I'd also probably allow the monk access to its ki pool a lot earlier than in the Core Rulebook version.
Finally, I think the monk relies one too many ability scores. Most classes rely on two or three ability scores. However, the monk needs a good Strength score so It will have better accuracy with its unarmed attacks and enhance his damage output. It needs a good Dexterity and Wisdom score to enhance its Armor Class since it can't wear armor, and it needs at least a decent Constitution score so it will have a decent amount of hit points. While you could just take Weapon Finesse so you could use your Dexterity score instead of your Strength score for your unarmed attack rolls, I hate that I'd have to spend a feat to do so.
After getting this all out, I feel like deconstructing the monk class and rebuilding it to fix some of or all of these problems. It would be an interesting project.