View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Monk: Way of the Parthian

2018-08-12, 03:17 PM
Hello everyone, recently I was inspired to make a subclass for a mounted combatant. The other mounted subclasses I have seen all fixate on the idea of a knight or heavy cavalry. What I am looking to emulate is the light cavalry, the skirmisher or mounted archer. I specifically tried to not overlap with the Mounted Combatant feat so that the player can take it and not feel like part of it is wasted, or alternatly, not take it if they desire. I also tried to ensure that some of the elements gained at each level do not require a mount. Thanks for your critiques if you decide to leave any.

Edit Log 1.1
Added some ribbon elements to Born to the Saddle
Added some sidebar style explanation.
Edit Log 1.2
Reduced damage potential of mounts
Removed lance proficiency
Increased mount survivability.
Reduced the effects of the Level 6 feature

Monastic Tradition: Way of the Parthian

Among some monasteries the mastery of self is coupled with the mastery of cooperation. Some view their mounts as servants, some as friends. Monks of the parthian way are dedicated to mastering how to ride as well as how to fight from the saddle, whatever creature it may be on.

Horse Master: When you choose this tradition at 3rd level you are an expert at fighting as one with your mount. You gain proficiency in Animal Handling if you do not already have it. During a long rest you may bond with a mount, the mount must be with you for the entire duration of the rest. A mount that is bonded with you has 4 x your monk level HP or its own HP, whichever is higher and it gains a bonus to its saving throws equal to half your proficiency bonus.

Two Lives - One Ki: Choosing this tradition at third level allows you to use a bonus action to spend a ki point to have your mount take one of the following actions in addition to its normal action.

Make an attack

Lance and Bow: Starting at sixth level your control of spear and bow become superb. When using a spear you have advantage with the first attack that you make on your turn, provided that you move at least 50 feet before the attack. When using a bow you can use a bonus action to make an extra attack with the bow provided that you end your turn farther from the target than when you started.

Born to the Saddle: Starting at sixth level you and your mount are able to perform death-defying feats while you are mounted. You have advantage on ability checks made to show off or perform tricks such as riding while standing, hanging from the saddle or other stunts. In addition you can,

You can Deflect Missiles that are targeted at your mount.
You only require 5 feet of movement to mount or dismount.

Fast and Strong: Starting at 11th level while you are mounted your mountís AC matches your unarmored defense AC and its speed is increased by an amount equal to your unarmoured movement. When your mount critically strikes a target you can immediately make an unarmed strike. When you critically strike a target your mount can move 10 feet. This movement does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

Horse Whisperer: Starting at 11th level you can use your action to end a charmed or frightened effect on a creature of your choice within 5 feet of you.

Cataphract: Starting at 17th level you have mastered working in cooperation with your mount. As long as you are mounted your mount is protected by your Evasion and Diamond Soul skills.

Prone to Success: Starting at 17th level your time trick riding has taught you to treat lying down as a potential boon instead of a problem.

You have advantage on any saving throw to avoid be knocked prone.
You do not have disadvantage on attacks while prone.
You cannot be knocked prone from your mount unless you are incapacitated.
If you start your turn prone you can make a Unarmed Strike as part of standing up.

Sidebar: The skills of a parthian monk are primarily intended for mounts you are controlling, not intelligent creatures, however if you are riding an intelligent creature you can use the Two Lives - One Ki feature to allow an intelligent creature to use one of the designated actions as a bonus action. Any attacks that require a recharge or consume a resource can not be used as an attack.

2018-08-14, 10:06 AM
In a vacuum, this is a great subclass. It's a cool idea, with a lot of interesting and versatile components. If balance wasn't an issue, like in a solo game, I would absolutely play this. But I foresee a few problems.

First of all, the lance proficiency doesn't work well with the features of the class. It takes disadvantage when the target is within 5 feet, but you must be within 5 feet to make bonus action unarmed strikes or hoof attacks. You could benefit from both, but it would take careful navigation of the rules. For example, you could approach a target, attack with your lance, move 5 feet closer, make your hoof attacks, then move away with the mount's Disengage action and repeat. It works, but it's a little awkward. I'd be inclined to remove the lance because A) this reason, B) it's a large unmonkly weapon, and C) it provides an unneeded damage boost when this class already gets quite a lot. You can get the same feel with a spear anyways.

Secondly, the bonus action mount attacks are devastating. A warhorse deals 11 (2d6+4) damage with its hooves, while your unarmed strikes deal like 5.5 (1d4+3) when you get this feature, and may go up to 9.5 (1d8+5) by the end of a normal campaign. I think it's clever how you incorporated mount attacks into the monk's action economy, but I fear for the damage potential. (That's not to mention that elephants - with a 22 damage stomp - are listed as buyable mounts in the PHB. But I'll ignore that because they're inconveniently big and using them seems likely to get DM-vetoed.)

That damage potential in and of itself might be excusable given the reliance on a mount that can't always go where you can. But the problem is, all the other features are top notch as well. 11th level especially grants a slew of small but nice combat benefits at a level when other subclasses get a ribbon. Although I honestly love all of these features (except maybe Prone to Success, that one seems a bit random), it just ends up being too powerful all together.

On the other end of the scale, it also has one glaring weakness. The mount is very vulnerable, especially to any effect that deals damage on a miss or that uses a saving throw other than Dexterity. If a young dragon of any kind uses its breath weapon against you, your warhorse is instantly dead, no dice rolls needed. Such a weakness can balance out the strengths of the subclass in theory, but in practice you kind of end up like Superman, incredibly powerful until the DM decides to give you a hard time. The DM ends up having to make an awkward decision whenever he plans an encounter: do I let the Parthian reign supreme or do I screw him over? There isn't much in between the two.

To make this more playable, you should probably reduce some of the offensive capabilities (I'll let you consider which, it's a hard call) and add some kind of reliable survivability to the mount. Perhaps you can bond to a mount during a long rest which gives it a total HP equal to four times your level, like the original beast master. That would really help with the aforementioned dragon scenario.

2018-08-14, 03:08 PM
Thank you for your feed back Lalliman, you make a good point about the lance proficiency. I had it in my head that the lance operated differently. I nixed that from the latest version and gave the bonus to the spear. I adjusted the mount damage down by requiring a Ki point to be spent.

The Prone to Success feature was built out of the mounted combat rules that state that knocking a target prone automatically dismounts them. From there a lot of stories and movies show the characters hanging from saddles (i.e. prone) as part of the story so I built off of that.