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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    DrowGuy

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    Post 5e Monk Guide - Be Like Water (Updated for Eberron)

    Be Like Water

    A guide to the monk in 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons.


    "Be like water making its way through cracks.
    Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it.
    If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves."

    - Bruce Lee

    The "Black Sheep" of DnD classes, the Monk brings eastern inspired wuxia martial arts to the medieval fantasy world of Dungeon and Dragons. In previous editions the monk has been a problematic class, often falling behind many other classes in terms of it's ability to contribute to an adventuring party. In 5th edition the monk has settled into place as a primarily damage dealing and scouting class ("striker") similar to the rogue, who swaps a little of the former's skill based utility for a little more durability on the front lines (as well as some other tricks unique to the monk). If played correctly a Monk can be a great asset to any group.



    Color Scheme
    1. A strong option, good for most character builds.
    2. Solid! But not quite as good as sky blue.
    3. Mediocre, but not terrible.
    4. A bad option, best avoided.
    5. Special: Purple denotes a choice that can be occasionally useful, but is limited in scope or applicability.


    Table of contents:
    1. The Core of the Monk
    2. Monk Races
    3. Monastic Traditions
    4. Monk Feats
    5. The Role of a Monk
    6. Multiclassing as a Monk
    Last edited by ProseBeforeHos; 2018-07-24 at 05:45 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    DrowGuy

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    Default Re: Be Like Water: The 5e Monk Guide (Updated for MToF)

    The Core of the Monk




    Ability Scores
    • Strength: More or less worthless to a monk* since every weapon you use will be 'finesse-able'. Good candidate for a dump stat.
    • Dexterity: The critical attribute, important for both offense and defense. Start it high, and get it to 20 asap.
    • Constitution: Monks have plenty of ways to avoid damage/danger but, at the end of the day, it's still a melee class. Less than 14 here is unwise.
    • Intelligence: Stupid adventures seems to be the norm in 5e. Even more than strength this stat is dump-able.
    • Wisdom: The monks second most important attribute. Stunning fist DC's, armor class, an important save and a host of useful skills all work off this.
    • Charisma: It's feast or famine with monks and their attributes. If you don't want to play a weak or stupid monk, you could be an ugly one instead!

    *A note on strength monks: The strength based grapple monk is a feasible if not very good, build that I will talk about in the muticlassing segment of this guide (including alternate skill/race choices). The majority of this guide will be based on the assumption you are playing a standard monk i.e. dexterity based damage dealer.

    Class Features

    Hit Dice: D8 is low for a class that is going to spend a lot of time in melee range. I'd recommend taking the average on level up if your DM allows it, since a monk is going to need a reliable pool of hit points.

    Armor and Weapon proficiencies: Technically the worst in the game, but the monk has everything it needs to excel in melee. The real complaint here is that there's no good ranged option (a shortbow is the monk's best bet for combat beyond 20' range).

    Saving Throws: Monks get the best of the bad saves (Str/Int/Cha) and the worst of the good saves (Dex/Con/Wis). The monk's Dexterity saving throw proficiency gets a lot more valuable post level 7 though.

    Skills: Only two skills, as opposed to the ranger's 3. Monks get a little bit short changed here.

    Spoiler: Class Skills
    Show
    • Acrobatics: Almost a must pick, this skill is a monks best defense against grapples and represents the "flipping" aspect of "flipping out and killing people".
    • Athletics: Can be useful if you have a harsh DM who likes to throw environmental effects at you. I wouldn't take it over Acrobatics.
    • History: Almost anyone in the party makes a better "lore bunny" than a monk.
    • Insight: In contrast the monk is a fantastic choice for party lie detector, since it has high wisdom.
    • Religion: Very thematic for the more religiously focused monk. Mechanically it's one weaker lore skills which the monk won't have the stats to bolster.
    • Stealth: Monks have high dex. Monks don't wear armor. Much like acrobatics this is basically an auto-pick.

    Spoiler: Background Skills
    Show
    • Animal Handling: Monks have the wisdom for it, but I find this skill rarely comes up. A thematic option, but I'd rather leave it to the ranger/druid.
    • Investigation: Pass.
    • Perception: Another "must pick". With a monk's wisdom score it's just a crime not to take this.
    • Slight of Hand: Another skill that doesn't see much play, but a monk will make a good pickpocket should you choose to play one that way.
    • Survival: Comes up a lot more often than animal handling, and like animal handling it works off of our solid wisdom stat.
    • All the Lore Skills (Arcana, Nature etc.): This isn't a monks forte...
    • All the Charisma Skills (Deception/Performance etc.): Nor is being a face...
    • Thieves Tools: Not a skill per se, but if your DM allows your monk to take this tool prof. from your background you should consider it. Monks make a good "backup rogue".

    Note: PhB page 125 effectively states that you can customize a background to fit your character concept, which is why I haven't bothered to rate each individual background choice. Take whatever background option you feel fits your monk, and then swap one of the skills for perception (if you don't already have it from your racial background).

    Unarmored Defense: The critical thing to remember is that this a) doesn't work with armor or a shield and b) doesn't stack with other forms of natural AC (e.g. the barbarian version of this).

    The good news? For a lightly armored class the monks AC will be pretty good. A level 1 monk can start with 15-16 AC easily enough, and that's better than the party rogue. This AC can never be removed (even if we get captured and disarmed). The bad news? The monks AC is low compared to other classes that are on the front line. A fighter can very easily achieve AC 20 with nothing but non-magical full plate and a shield. For a monk to reach that number it needs to either to have achieved 20's in both dexterity and wisdom (something that will usually happen around level 16 or so) or it'll need a magical boost. Thankfully the monk has defenses other than just relying on AC...

    Martial Arts: This ability opens up a world of offensive options unique to the monk, allowing us to be able to 'finesse' weapons that are usually not finesse-able (e.g. quarterstaff and spear), it also allows the monk to transform usually mediocre magical weapons into powerful ones via our martial arts dice (a level 17 monk transforms the damage dice of a magical club or sickle into that of a versatile long-sword). Sadly though, only simple melee weapons count for martial arts, so a monk can't chuck 1d10 darts (read: shuriken). Getting an extra attack as a bonus action as early as level 1 is obviously very powerful as well. As the monk levels up though, simply sticking in melee range of enemies so we can use our basic martial arts attack is often not going to be the best option (also remember that the bonus attack must follow the normal attacks).


    Spoiler: The Weapons of a Monk
    Show
    • Spear: The best option. Can be used in two hands (monks doesn't use shields, so there's no reason not to) for 1d8 damage. In a pinch it can be used as a thrown weapon (being disarmed isn't a big deal for a monk).
    • Quarterstaff: Like the spear but it can't be thrown. Bludgeoning is the better damage type compared to the spear's piercing, but monks have excellent bludgeoning weapons on the ends of their hands and feet.
    • Short-sword/Handaxe: Better than an unarmed attack at levels 1-4, but there's no reason to use this over the previous two options, other than to look cool.
    • Everything Else: Even less optimal than the short sword/handaxe.

    As the monks martial arts dice improves eventually it won't matter what type of weapon you use, only the enchantment it carries.

    Ki: The core of a Monk's strength. Without Ki points monks are weak. With them they are strong. Form a union with the fighter and warlock and lobby for frequent short-rests, since the fact that these come back after just an hour is one of the major advantage of the class.

    Level 3 Ki Abilities:
    • Flurry of Blows: Best used when the monk is high on HP or the enemy is focused on one of your team mates. Leaves the monk vulnerable but allows you to hit very hard (4 attacks at level 5 is nothing to sneeze at).
    • Patient Defense: Monks who find themselves relegated to the role of party tank will need to make heavy use of this. An effective +5 AC on the turn you use it. If a monk knows it's going to be targeted next round, patient defense.
    • Step of the Wind: Incredible mobility that gets better as your base speed improves. Get out of a bad situation, or dive past the enemy front lines to get at their archers/mages.

    Unarmored Movement: Good right from level 2 when the monk first gets it, and it continues to improve with levels (including wall and water running). According to sage advice this does add to other forms of natural movement (e.g. Tabaxi climbing speed or Aaarakocra flight speed).

    Deflect Missiles: A good ability, limited by it's use of the monk's reaction. One Ki point for a retaliatory ranged attack is usually not worth it.

    ASI: Monks get the standard. I will talk more about ASI's vs feats in the race/feats section.

    Slow Fall: Rarely will it come up, but will it be useful when it does.

    Extra Attack: The bog-standard for dedicated warrior classes, i.e. 2 attacks per normal action, starting level 5.

    Stunning Strike: The make or break ability of this class, and the best use of a monk's Ki points. Stunned is a devastating condition, and can be used at the start of the monks attacks so the monk can stun them on your first blow and then follow with more attacks at advantage. Or even stun multiple enemies (if a monk can make 4 attacks per round, then that monk can hypothetically stun four separate enemies in a round), giving the monk real power as a "controller" character. Obviously it must be used intelligently - whenever the monk can focus on enemies who are likely to have weak constitution saves (archers/mages). That being said, if you force any enemy to roll enough dice they will eventually fail. I've seen high CR bruisers stunned by monks who were willing to sink multiple Ki points into keeping a single, powerful enemy locked up.

    Ki-Empowered Strikes: An almost required ability that allows your unarmed strikes to hurt foes that resit or are immune to non-magical damage. This isn't much of an advantage, since it only allows you to do what any level 6 fighter with a magical weapon can do. In very low magic campaigns however, you might up being the only warrior in the party who can reliably damage certain enemies, making this ability strong. Generous, or team orientated monks can also confidently pass magical weapons off to their team-mates, secure in the knowledge that they always have "magical weapons" of their own to fall back upon.

    Evasion: With the monks low HP pool this really makes a difference.

    Stillness of Mind: Fear especially comes up often enough to make this useful. Unfortunately it eats your action.

    Purity of Body: This grants total immunity to poison damage not just the condition, making it frigging amazing! Even at levels 10+ poison damage comes up often enough to matter, and immunity makes certain enemies (such as the Yochlol) an absolute joke to a monk.

    Tongue of Sun and Moon: Language barriers shouldn't be a huge issue to a level 13 party.

    Diamond Soul: Even at late as level 14, having proficiency in all saves is fantastically good.

    Timeless Body: Thematically cool, but won't come up much ever (a level 15 monk ain't afraid of no ghosts).

    Empty Body: A minute of greater invisibility plus damage resistance to everything? At level 18 true sight is common enough that the invisibility won't mean all that much, but resistances never go out of style.

    Perfect Self: A weak capstone, but 4 Ki is enough to mean that the monk will never be without a potential use of empty body. If you consider it as an extension of the level 18 ability it's not so bad.
    Last edited by ProseBeforeHos; 2018-07-21 at 08:24 AM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    DrowGuy

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    Default Re: Be Like Water: The 5e Monk Guide (Updated for MToF)

    Monk Races


    Picking a good race for your monk isn't rocket science. Dexterity is ideal, wisdom is great, constitution is good. Arguably the best monk races are found in the basic PhB, though there are a few notable exceptions...

    Spoiler: tl;dr, the five best monk races
    Show
    1. Aarakocra
    2. Winged Tiefling w/dexterity bump (feral, Glasya etc.)
    3. Variant Human
    4. Wood Elf
    5. Ghostwise Halfling

    Players Handbook
    Dwarf: Better fighters than monks I think.
    • Mountain: Strictly worse than Hill in every way that matters. Bonus armor proficiencies are especially worthless.
    • Hill: One of the better racial options that doesn't give a Dex bump, since it is has +con, +wis and a solid selection of racial bonuses (poison resistance, extra hp).
    • Duergar (SCAG): A great race, just not for monks.

    Elf: Perception as a bonus skill and +2 dexterity make all flavors of elven monks fairly solid.
    • High: The SCAG cantrips actually make quite a nice offensive package for a level 1-4 high elf monk. Post level 5 though, a monk will be better off making a normal attack action, and you'll be wishing you'd picked wood elf.
    • Wood: One of the best option for a monk. Perfect stats, and the +5ft. base speed is especially nice for a mobile class like ours.
    • Drow: Very game dependent. 120ft' darkvision and on demand darkness might make for a great shadow monk. If your monk is spending a lot of time in the sun however, almost anything else is better for an attack focused class like monk.
    • Eladrin (MtoF): Spring is the best option for a monk (whisk an ally out of trouble!), the monk's charisma will be too low to fully utilize the other options.
    • Sea (MToF): Inferior to wood elf, but these stats can still make a fine monk.
    • Shadar-Kai (MToF): Better than sea elves and eladrin. I'm tempted to rate them sky blue, but step of the wind arguably reduces the value of a misty step.

    Halfling: Lucky is a great racial for any class that is going to be making as many attack rolls as the monk does. The lower speed doesn't hurt monks quite as much either, since they can compensate with unarmored movement.
    • Lightfoot: Since monks can't hide as a bonus action, Naturally Stealthy is less powerful for them.
    • Stout: Better stat spread than lightfoot, and poison resistance is nice to have between levels 1-9.
    • Ghostwise (SCAG): The best halfling option, and by extension, one of the best options of any race.


    Human: Monks value stats more and feats less than other classes. Despite that variant is still (as always) a powerful option.
    • Standard: Monks used to be known as a MAD (multi ability dependent) class. In 5e they are not, thus much of the benefit of standard humans is lost. Still, human monks can easily start with both dex and wis at 16, so while they are strictly inferior to the variant human, they still rank.
    • Variant: There's nothing comparable to great weapon master or sharpshooter for monk, i.e. some critical feat that it really helps to have starting right at level one. That being said, feats aren't exactly bad on monks either. Since variant humans can start with 16's in both dexterity and wisdom and grab a feat (and perception as a skill) they still represent one of the best monk racial options.

    Dragonborn: Hot garbage. If you must play a dragonborn monk, at least grab poison or fire resistance.

    Gnome: Gnome's are not great natural monks, but Gnome's cunning can make a nice addition to dedicated mage killer.
    • Forest: They get a dex bump. Minor illusion is also nice to have.
    • Rock: +1 con alone just isn't enough to make this work...
    • Svirfnblin (SCAG): Dex, 120ft' darkvision, no sunlight sensitivity (why?), and they keep gnome's cunning just like it's surface kin. The best option for a gnomish monk.

    Half-elf: Yes the charisma is worthless to a monk, but darkvision, charm resistance, and enough stat bumps to start with dex and wis of 16 makes half-elves perfectly playable.
    • Default: The best option, two extra skills are hard to beat.
    • Variant (SCAG): If a monk wants fleet of foot I would just select a wood elf. Half-Drow is the only one worth considering over the base.

    Half-Orc: Very similar to mountain dwarf, the racials are strong but the stats are bad.

    Tiefling: Normally atrocious monks, their various variant forms open them a up a little for a monk's purposes.
    • Default/Asmodeus: The original makes for a terrible monk.
    • Feral (SCAG): This makes for a vast improvement though.
    • Winged (SCAG): Permanent flight speed is so powerful that if your DM allows this (they shouldn't) it might make playing a tiefling worthwhile. If they allow the player to pair this with feral you have a top tier pick.
    • Dispater (MToF): It's not quite as good as Glasya, but it does give dex at least.
    • Glasya (MToF): This variant makes tiefling similar to forest gnomes. Maybe even slightly better due to the fire resistance and higher base speed.
    • Others: Basically as unsuited as the original.


    Volo's Guide to Monsters
    • Aasimar: No point going into detail about the subraces since they are all equally bad. Only one gives us a wisdom boost, and that alone just isn't enough to make a decent monk.
    • Firbolg: While they do give +2 to wisdom and some decent racials, the strength bump is largely wasted. Playable, but even for options that don't give dex we can do better (Hill Dwarf for example).
    • Goliath: Another race with very solid racials, and stats that make it almost completely unsuitable for a monk.
    • Kenku: Perfect stats, two free skills (which can be acrobatics and stealth), the rest of their abilities are little underwhelming but would it be greedy to want more?
    • Lizardfolk: The natural armor bonus doesn't stack with our unarmored defense, and the 'bite' bonus attack works off of our strength score (and eats our bonus action). Despite that these guys are decent Monks, having a better unarmed attack between levels 1-4, a bump to both secondary stats and a giving us some very nice skill options (perception and stealth!).
    • Tabaxi: Acrobatics and perception? +2 dex? Feline agility works wonders with unarmored movement. Did I mention that climb speed also gets boosted? Very solid option, comparable to half-elf.
    • Triton: Strength and charisma, eh? If you want to play a monk O' the deeps, surely sea elf is the better option.

    Spoiler: Monstrous Races
    Show
    • Bugbear: Actually quite powerful for a monk, despite the wasted strength bump. "Reach" fists, and a free sneak attack.
    • Goblin: Another interesting option. Disengaging without having to spend Ki is strong with our high base movement speed (despite being small sized, goblins move at 30ft.). With hide as a bonus action these guys feel like natural shadow monks.
    • Hobgoblin: This gives us nothing we want.
    • Kobold: +2 dexterity and pack tactics of all things! Great for a monk since we have lots of ways to position themselves around a battlefield, and somewhat counteracts the weakness of sunlight sensitivity. Grovel into patient defense is also a nice combo. Overall, Kobolds make surprisingly good monks!
    • Orc: Orcs however do not. These guys are strictly worse than their mixed cousins, and they were no good for us.
    • Yuan-Ti: Yuan-Ti racials are so broken that, despite a complete lack of synergy with monk, they still deserve consideration. Seriously, magic resistance, and total poison immunity? DM's shouldn't let players use this...


    Spoiler: Tortle Package
    Show
    Tortle: Starting with AC 17 at level one is pretty nice, and might even be worth the lack of a dex bump. A monk who's getting +dex and +wis can hit this AC by only level 4 though. These guys do have a particular niche though (which I will discuss in the grappling section) if you wish to play a teenage mutant ninja tortle.


    Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes
    • Githyanki: Strength, intelligence and medium armor proficiency. Everything we don't want.
    • Githzerai: A decent selection of racials (shield!), combined with a solid wisdom boost make Githzerai very similar to Hill Dwarfs in that there's every reason to like them as a monk except for that critical lack of dexterity. Maybe a little worse actually, since the +1 int does nothing for a monk.

    Elemental Evil Player's Companion

    Aarakocra: If your DM is silly enough to let you pick one of these, then this is, in my opinion the absolute best monk race there is. Ideal monk stat bonuses, combined with a 50ft. base, permanent fly speed, that increases with unarmored movement. You can't use it while wearing medium or heavy armor? As if a monk cares! A++

    Genasi: Genasi used to be a decent option for monks, but the more expansions that have been released the worse they look.
    • Air: With the release of MToF's there's simply too many good +dex + con options now to make Air Genasi look particularly special. They will work, I suppose.
    • Earth: Pass.
    • Fire: Double pass.
    • Water: Has the same crippling issue as Hill Dwarf/Githzerai (no dexterity bump), but it's racials are worse than either of those races. Power creep has caught up to these guys.


    Wayfinders Guide to Ebberon
    Changeling: +1 dexterity and a decent array of racials means that this isn't a terrible option for us. The charisma bonus is useless though, and specifically for monks there's little here that synergises well. A better option for rogues and bards.

    Kalashtar: Wow! What a great array of racial bonuses! Automatic advantage on a skill? Telepathy? Advantage on wisdom saves as a reaction? Yes the +1 Charisma is fairly useless to us, but since we can get a +1 to both Dex and Wis Kalashtar make fine monks.

    Shifter: All shifters gain +1 dexterity (and perception) so any shifter monk can work, but some certainly stand out.
    • Beasthide: One of the best "Dex and Con" options. Great stats, and the shifting bonus helps us survive.
    • Longtooth: Not *worthless* but easily the weakest option here. We don't need the strength, and we'd rather not have to use our bonus action for bite attacks.
    • Swiftstrider: Very similar to Tabaxi, and just as good. The reaction based movement is especially nice.
    • Wildhunt: Honestly the shifting bonuses are among the weakest, and we'd rather have a better skill than survival, but at the end of the day we're talking about a race with +2 wisdom, +1 dex and 2 bonus not useless skills. Most monk shifters will be Wildhunt.


    Warforged: The major problem for warforged monks is their integrated defense. Assuming that this doesn't stack with unarmored defense most monks will get no benefit from what is the warforged's core feature. This doesn't mean that a warforged monk can't work, indeed their stats line up well, but it does make them a less attractive option.
    • Envoy: Con/Wis/Dex all get a +1? A good start. A bonus skill helps. The "expertise in a tool" is an interesting option as it allows for a monk who can pick locks as well as a rogue.
    • Juggernaut: For most monks this is a terrible option as are most of the +str races. It has one niche though; str based grapple monks who can effectively ignore dexterity and rely on integrated defense, much like a Tortle.
    • Skirmisher: +5ft. movement speed is nice. Light step I doubt will ever see use. As a +dex/+con race overall it's worse than it's competitors.

    Spoiler: Dragonmarks
    Show

    • Detection: We can still get a dex bump, but for the most part this is just a worse version of the default half-elf.
    • Finding: Humans are very solid, having perfect stats and a boost to perception. Better than V.Human? Probably not. But still fine for a monk. The Half-orc version is weaker, represented by the duel rating.
    • Handling: Stats are fine, but it's effects are really not made for monks. I'd recommend finding over this, and leave handling to the druids.
    • Healing: Is healing touch as good as Ghostwise telepathy? It's really a toss up, but at the end of the day this is a halfling with +wisdom, so, it's great!
    • Hospitality: Comparable to a lightfoot, maybe a little worse since this seem specialized for a 'party face' role that monks don't do well at.
    • Making: A nice set of racials, but it's ability to enchant weapons and armor feels a little redundant on a monk. +2 dexterity however can obvious work for us.
    • Passage: Very, very good. Comparable to a V.Human with the mobility feat. Ask your GM if Determined Stride applies to step of the wind.
    • Scribing: Removes the one thing that makes gnome monks semi-playable. Pass!
    • Sentinel: Some interesting bodyguard options here, but the stats aren't ideal. Shield 1/short rest is a nice addition though.
    • Shadow: A seriously tempting option for shadow monks. 1/short rest cunning action hide is very nice, and the boost to stealth is fantastic for those who will make good use of it.
    • Storm: Lightning resistance at the cost of two skills and -charisma. Overall I think this is a bad trade, but to be fair you won't be much worse than a normal half-elf.
    • Warding: Ha! Finally a dwarven subrace that gives +dex! Make sure you pick up thieves tool's if you're going down this route to really take advantage of your mark.
    Last edited by ProseBeforeHos; 2019-08-29 at 04:18 AM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    DrowGuy

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    Default Re: Be Like Water: The 5e Monk Guide (Updated for MToF)

    Monastic Traditions



    Monks gain a great deal from their tradition, and it can define their entire playstyle. From a sneaky shadow monk who acts like a more martially included rogue, to a open hand warrior-monk who is going toe to toe with most monsters. Sadly the monk has some of the worst individual subclass options of any class in 5e, hopefully this will help you avoid those traps.

    Way of the Open Hand
    The standard 'warrior' monk that focuses on front line fighting. It adds little to the monks kit, but makes solid improvements to things that the monk already does well. If you're not sure what to pick, take this,

    Open Hand Technique: This adds a few nice abilities to our flurry of blows. We can remove our opponents reactions for a slightly weaker version of the mobility feat's effect, and we can knock our opponents down, or even 15ft' away from us! If your DM is fond of environmental hazards, then a smart player can get a lot of mileage out of this. It's weakness is that it only applies to attacks granted by flurry of blows, which in turn must be used after the normal attack action. So some of the ideal uses of this ability e.g. knocking an enemy down with the first attack then making 3 more with advantage or removing an enemies reaction with your first attack and then moving past them to attack a softer target, are sadly not possible.

    Note: Just because this ability improves flurry, doesn't mean you should feel obligated to always use your Ki points on a flurry. Sometimes it will still make more sense to use patient defense or step of the wind with your bonus action, as the situation demands.

    Wholeness of Body: 3x your level in hitpoints, once per day is decent, but not great. Much like Open Hand Technique this really emphasizes an Open Hand monk's place in the melee.

    Tranquility: I love sanctuary as a spell, but an aggressive damage dealing class like the monk is not going to get a lot of use out of it.

    Quivering Palm: To by knowledge the only "save or die" effect that survived the transition to 5e. How appropriate that the monk should be the class to get it. If they make the save they still take 10d10 necrotic damage, not bad for a measly 3 ki investment! This effect also lasts for a number of days equal to your monk level, so it's perfectly viable for an evil aligned monk to use this ability to blackmail someone. Fantastic in both flavor and effectiveness.


    Way of the Shadow
    The "stealth monk" by design, but in practice their abilities make them quite an effective skirmisher also, with area control and incredible mobility. A little weaker if your monk is going to be spending a lot of time wilderness crawling in bright daylight, but in most campaigns dim-light or darkness is not difficult to find.

    Shadow Arts: A selection of great spells that come in early (you're a level 3 monk casting level 2 spells i.e. the same as any full caster), aren't too expensive in terms of ki cost (1 ki per spell level is better than both sun soul and four elements), and enhance what you do well. Almost every spell on this list would get a sky blue rating in isolation. You have silence, one of the best spells to shut down mages, darkness, one of the best spells to shut down archers and pass without trace the best stealth enhancing spell. Even darkvision can be useful, as the duration of the spell is long enough (8 hours) that you can easily throw this spell onto all of the people who would benefit from it at the start of the adventuring day and then restore your ki points with a short rest.

    Shadow Step: Even when you consider that this has to compete with Step of the Wind for mobility, this ability is still fantastic. Dim light isn't hard to find, and this ability has twice the range of a misty step. It even enhances your attacks and it doesn't even cost ki points!

    Cloak of Shadows: It enhances your infiltration ability, but in a real fight you have far better options for getting out of dangerous situations than standing still and hoping your enemies are stupid. It's not bad per se it's just redundant on a subclass with some of the best stealth and mobility options in the game.

    Opportunist: Trading your reaction for an attack is always worth it, even at level 17. It doesn't synergize particularly well with our playstyle (shadow monks will usually be blitzing the back lines), but when you find yourself ganging up with the rest of the party against a large monster this is still useful.


    Way of the Four Elements
    Competes with PhB beast-master for the worst subclass ever printed. Four elements monks have three major problems, a) the ki point cost of their spells are too high, and thus they will exhaust themselves too quickly, b) the number of spells they learn is too low, so the much vaunted versatility they are supposed to be getting really isn't all that much (at level 3 a shadow monk has 4 useful spells to cast from, a four element monk has 1 and a cantrip), and finally c) the spells come too late to be useful (how useful is a simple stoneskin spell going to be at level 17?).

    Note: This guide will work on the assumption that your group is playing with the errata'd version (e.g. water whip is an action, and stoneskin is a level 17 option). If not this subclass is better (if you abuse bonus action water whip as much as you can).

    Disciple of the Elements:
    Spoiler: Usable at level 3
    Show
    • Elemental Attunement: A glorified cantrip. You have to take this, but swap it out asap (lvl 6).
    • Fangs of the Fire Snake: Good damage output but extremely high Ki cost. Still one of the better options, though it might be "swap" into this at a higher level (where you have more Ki to burn).
    • Fist of Four Thunders: Higher damage than cinder strike, but it knocks enemies away. Despite that, this is still the better option of the two.
    • Fist of Unbroken Air: The "push" is better than the damage as you can shunt enemies into hazards. Water whip does this better though.
    • Rush of the Gale Spirits: Gust of wind is such a situational spell, even for a mage. There are better options for your limited disciplines.
    • Shape the Flowing River: It's so cool I want to recommend it but... outside of a dedicated winter/water based campaign it will be hard to find use for this. Only 1 ki though!
    • Sweeping Cinder Strike: Unlike the sun soul monk we cannot cast this as a bonus action. Thus it's as bad as burning hands usually is.
    • Water Whip: The best option. Pulls enemies towards you, or into hazard. Use your mobility to get up high, then yank enemies up after you. One of the few genuinely positive aspects of this subclass.

    Spoiler: Usable at level 6
    Show
    • Clench of the North Wind: It only targets humanoids, and eats 3 whole ki points. I'd rather have three attempts to use stunning fist.
    • Gong of the Summit: The best of the low level AOE options. Shatter is a fine spell, though at 3 ki it's still pricey for a level 2 spell.

    Spoiler: Usable at level 11
    Show
    • Flames of the Phoenix: Even at level 11 the good old fireball still has it's uses. Take either this, or gong as your go-to aoe option (note that sun soul monks can 'fireball' for a Ki point less that we can).
    • Mist Stance: Situationally useful for scouting I suppose? Worth a discipline "slot"? I suppose not..
    • Ride the Wind: The 2nd really good thing four elements monk has going for it (assuming your monks race doesn't already grant it a flying speed). Improves your mobility, allows you to chase flyers, and has great synergy with water whip (fly up high, then whip people into the air so they drop down). A must-pick.

    Spoiler: Usable at level 17
    Show
    • Breath of Winter: At level 9 when a wizard gets this, this spell is awesome. At level 17 though? And at a cost of 6 ki points? If you need an anti-hoard spell the standard fireball may be more efficient.
    • Eternal Mountain Defense: As with so many of these spells, they come a half-dozen class levels too late to be relevant.
    • Wave of Rolling Earth: Battlefield control is useful. Costly in ki though (6).
    • River of Hungry Flame: Wall of fire for 5 ki is our most efficient aoe damage for ki points trade, and my pick for your 'aoe' option when you can swap into it.


    Way of the Long Death (SCAG)
    A monk with a defensive flavor, this may be your best option if you get relegated to front line tank duty. It's not very fancy but it's abilities are solid.

    Touch of Death: Abilities such as this tend to be quite powerful at early levels when it's fairly easy to land 'last hits' on monsters, but get steadily weaker as the levels creep up (it's gets increasingly dangerous to leave enemy creatures alive for you to kill, also enemies tend to gain more and more hp, so "putting them down" is often no easy task). Still, this ability is better on a melee class like you than it is on the fiend warlock since a monk is far more likely to take damage (step of the wind is also a good tool for zeroing in on the most injured enemies).

    Hour of Reaping: A 30ft. radius is large, large enough to reliably hit every creature you're fighting. Sadly it only lasts until the end of your turn. However this has no ki cost and can be used infinite times per day! The downside? It effects all creatures i.e. your allies as well, sharply reducing the effectiveness of what would otherwise be an exceptional ability. Despite this, HoR still has the potential to be very useful, since spellcasting allies won't care about fear, and your party members likely have better will saves than the enemies they fight. This can also be combined with step of the wind to swiftly reposition into an area where you can avoid 'friendly fire'.

    Mastery of Death: Half-orc racial for the cost of a single point of Ki. This is powerful against enemies that hit a few times for a lot of damage, since you can "absorb" all the excess damage they would have done to your team. Just be careful of the instant death rules (PhB 197), hanging around on 1hp carries risks...

    Edit: Actually you're fine, "When you are reduced to 0 hit points, you can expend 1 ki point (no action required) to have 1 hit point instead." Instant death is not a worry for us, only regular death!

    Touch of the Long Death: The upside is that 1 ki point for 2d10 damage is a good damage trade for a "nuke", capping out a ridiculous 20d10 (avg. 110 damage!). The downside is, that the damage type is fairly weak (necrotic) and it works off of a con save (fairly common). For the same cost in ki might be better to force 10 saves against stunning fist than gamble everything on a single "nova strike".


    Way of the Sun Soul (SCAG)
    Way of the soul soul basically makes four elements obsolete as it provides a monk subclass with solid AOE options (the only real advantage four elements possess) but is attached to an overall much better set of abilities. It also might be the best path for Curse of Strahd, or any other undead focused campaign.

    Radiant Sun Bolt: The good news is that this gives you a decent (albeit short-ranged) ranged option for monks. It's also an excellent source of on demand radiant damage, a very powerful tool in the right type of campaign (read: undead focused). The downside? It doesn't actually boost your damage over that of your melee attacks, and you can't stunning blow with your holy shuriken.

    Searing Arc Strike: A decent, if restrictive, aoe option for a class that usually has nothing of the sort. Better in action efficiency than the four element monk as it only eats a bonus action as opposed to Sweeping Cinder Strike's full action (and really highlighting how very bad four elements monks are). The major downside is that you're locked into a single, commonly resisted damage type. Still, overall it's alright.

    Searing Sunburst: An on-demand 2d6 damage radiant fireball is pretty atrocious for a level 11 ability, especially one resisted by a con save. What saves this ability is the fairly cheap KI to damage cost. 3 KI points for a fireball's worth of damage (with a better damage type) is decent even at level 11. There will, even in higher level campaigns, always be situations where you need to blast a lot of weak enemies all at once, and nothing most subclass's get will give you the equivalent of this versatility.

    Sun Shield: If this was actual sunlight it might be worth something for battling vampires and the like As it is it's pretty worthless. Damage is low and it eats your reaction, and the blow actually has to land on you to work. Disappointing for a level 17 ability.


    Way of the Drunken Master (XGTE)
    Like an improved version of Way of the Open Hand, this tradition takes what is best about monk (flurry and it's general mobility) and makes it better. A front loaded tradition that scales well. Strong in most games (with fantastic roleplaying opportunity).

    Bonus Proficiencies: Even as a ribbon this is awful. Performance? Will you really have the Charisma to use this?

    Drunken Technique: The ability that makes the tradition amazing. When you flurry you get a free disengage and +10 ft. of movement. Just fantastic! Better even than Open Hand Technique since it doesn't require you to attack a target in order to avoid it's OA. Move right past the front line and unleash hell on squishier targets, or unleash a barrage of blows at the target you are fighting and then disengage 50ft.+ away from them where they have to dash to catch you.

    Tipsy Sway: Fantastic flavor for this class, but in practice not all that good. Probably the best ability is getting off of the floor for 5ft. of movement, keeping you ultra mobile even when knocked on your ass. Ironically the power of Drunken Technique makes Tipsy Sway less effective. Ideally you should be spending your KI to position yourself in places where you can't be hit. Rarely will the stars align to set up "deflected attack" of one enemy onto another.

    Drunkard's Luck: At two KI points this ability is expensive to use. What I strongly don't suggest you do is make a lot of attacks at disadvantage and burn your KI points making them normal attacks, that is a fantastic way to waste KI. Where this ability comes into it's own is when a spell or ability or forcing you to make a save or skill check at disadvantage. In those situations this can be a strong 'panic' button to save your skin.

    Intoxicated Frenzy: Synergises amazingly well with the mobility of Drunken Technique, as long as there are enemies to hit you should be able to reach them. Even if you can't get the full three additional attacks off, if you're getting one or two additional attacks in a round that's still a lot of extra damage. Do you have any excuse not to flurry every round?


    Path of the Kensei (XGTE)
    Kensei is thematically awesome, but it's abilities are underwhelming. It locks you into a few select weapons, but doesn't sufficiently compensating you for that drawback.

    Path of the Kensei:
    • Kensei Weapons: The difference between a versatile longsword and versatile spear is only 1 damage per attack, not much to write home about. Opening up your weapon options may be useful in a more magic item heavy game. The strongest part of this feature is for non-elf monks to grab longbow proficiency, shoring up your weak ranged options.
    • Agile Parry: Give us better weapons, then reward us for not using them? +2 AC is better than +1 damage, smack with your fist then parry. This ability is good, unless you're packing some sort of amazing magical weapon you should be making use of it every round.
    • Kensei's Shot: A little extra damage for the cost of your bonus action? It's alright.
    • Way of the Brush: Ribbon.

    A note on kensei weapons: one of the major advantages of the monk is the ability to take lesser used weapons like clubs, the quarterstaff and knives and make them useful via martial arts. The kensei's abilities sadly locks you into using weapons that are more generally useful to your more martial allies, which is a very limiting aspect of this tradition (agile parry for example is easily the best of the kensei's level 3 abilities, but can only be used with a kensei weapon).

    For weapon choices I would suggest longsword and longbow at level 3, then battleaxe and warhammer. If you find a very powerful weapon as you level up feel free to pick that; remember, a Kensei weapon doesn't have to be a martial weapon.

    One With the Blade:
    • Magic Kensei Weapons: Magical resistance no longer is a concern for you... exactly the same as any other level 6 monk. I suppose this does allow you to use the better damage dice of your main weapon, then again if you have a magical weapon it's entirely redundant.
    • Deft Strike: 1 KI point gets you 1d10 (usually) damage. That's... not that great. In a tough boss fight being able to flurry and deft strike on the same turn might be worth it, most of the time you're going to using your ki on... welll... anything but this.


    Sharpen the Blade: Suddenly, out of no-where, comes an ability to write home about. A measly 3 KI points for +3 attack and damage for a a whole minute? Activated as a bonus action? Fantastic! though admittedly very GM dependent since the bonus doesn't stack with magical weapons you already have. If you're already packing a +2 weapon then 3 KI probably isn't going to be worth it, if you have a +3 weapon this is entirely redundant, in an ultra low magic game this becomes exceptional.

    Unerring Accuracy: Another decent ability. Sadly it comes waaayyyy too late in the day to save this tradition. Keep in mind it only applies to your two monk weapon attacks, not your unarmed attacks.
    Last edited by ProseBeforeHos; 2018-07-24 at 06:06 PM.

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    Default Re: Be Like Water: The 5e Monk Guide (Updated for MToF)

    Monk Feats



    Monks are the least feat reliant of all martial classes in DnD. There's no feat that defines the monks fighting style in the way that Polearm Master, Great Weapon Master and Sharpshooter define other martial fighters. On the flip side of that, monks are also one of the most stat reliant classes in DnD 5e. They cannot raise their AC easily or cheaply via armor, and getting their core stats (especially dexterity but wisdom is also critical) to 20 asap is vitally important. In short for a monk using your ASI for a stat boost should always come first.

    So when should a monk take a feat? Well there's three conditions in which you might want to. The most obvious and common would be when you're playing a variant human monk and get a free feat at level 1. The next would be when you have maxed out your stats and can't boost your dexterity or wisdom any higher (having some magical items or the blessings of the gods, or if if you rolled your stats and got great results are all ways you might "cap out" early). Finally the third would be very specific campaign needs, e.g. the campaign is focused around fighting a cabal of evil wizard so you decide resilient, or mage slayer might be worth grabbing early on.

    Players Handbook

    Athlete: Giving +1 dex is nice, the other bonuses are fairly weak. Most of the XGTE racial feats are better options if you want to round out your monk's odd dexterity score.

    Alert: Surprising a monk is somewhat difficult to begin with, but when you are caught in an ambush you'll be glad to have this. The real selling point of this feat is the +5(!) to initiative, which is good for anyone.

    Charger: Works with Step of the Wind, but ultimately not good enough to eat a precious ASI.

    Defensive Duelist: This locks a monk into dagger or shortsword (even though monks can "finesse" a lot of different weapons, they don't actually have the innate property) , but it's ability is very strong. A monk's reaction is something they rarely use when archers are not around. A solid choice if you don't mind the weapon restriction.

    Dungeon Delver: A monk should be a decent trap spotter without needing this.

    Durable: +1 con isn't good enough, and the effect is weak.

    Grappler: I'll go into more detail about this feat when I talk about strength monks aka grapple builds. tl:dr grapple is the worst of the grapple focused feats, don't take this over tavern brawler.

    Healer: Powerful early on, weak later. Honestly it's not a bad pick for a low level campaign but it's an auto-pass for higher level ones.

    Lucky: Fantastic feat. Really solid option for variant human monks if your DM allows it (which many do not).

    Mage Slayer: Monks can be the best mage slayer users in the game, with their ability to blitz into the back-lines with Step of the Wind (running up the walls if need be). A great use of a monk in the party is to be a specialized mage killer, and this feat is one of the ways you do that.

    Observant: The problem here is that it competes with Resilient: Wisdom as a 'wis boosting' feat and comes up short. Bonus passive perception is nice (assuming your DM uses passive scores), but it's not "proficiency in wisdom saves" nice.

    Magic Initiate: I'm a great fan of this feat in a general sense, but I don't think it's a good option for a monk. If you want to mess around with a "booming fist (blade)" user monk, I suggest taking high elf.

    Martial Adept: Riposte is nice. Weaker than Defensive Duelist overall though. Superiority dice do synergize nicely with our frequent short rests...

    Mobile: One of the best monk feats, slightly weaker for those who already have 'on hit disengages' i.e. Open Hand and Drunker masters, but still a fantastic option. Takes everything that the monk does well and improves on it.

    Resilient: What's with the duel rating? Well it's a matter of when you grab this feat. First off, Intelligence and Charisma are not saving throws worth paying a feat to become profeciant in, at any level. On the other hand constitution and wisdom certainly are, and while you might say "hey Prose, don't monks gain all saving throw proficiencies at level 14?" Indeed they do! However, level 14 is a very high level and many campaigns end way before players ever reach that point. Even if your campaign does go past level 14, if you start early enough (i.e. levels 1 or 3) you can still get a lot of mileage over the course of an adventuring "career". Resilient is one of the best options for a low level variant human monk, or any monk who needs to "even out" an odd stat score, on the condition that you take it early enough!

    Ritual Caster: See Magic Initiate.

    Savage Attacker: If you're not rolling 2d6 this isn't even worth considering.

    Sentinel: Weaker on monks than on other, tankier classes. Even so it's a nice option. If a monk leaps into a group of archers or mages this can hurt their ability to get away. It's also a fairly reliable way of trading a monk's reaction for an extra attack. All gravy.

    Skulker: Monks tend to be pretty sneaky, but this feat is fairly underwhelming since we don't have sneak attack to go along with it.

    Tavern Brawler: The 2nd best grappling feat for a monk. More details on this in the grappling section.

    Tough: Actually not a bad option for monks. They lack HP and 2/level is pretty solid.

    Everything else: Trash. Feats that bump int or charisma, weapons feats monks can't make use of (GWM etc.), or feats that just provide skills or weapons proficiencies (if you want more skills just pick a race that grants them, don't waste an ASI).

    XGTE Racial Feats

    Dwarven Fortitude: Obvious synergy here with Patient Defense. Healing for 1HD though isn't all that much, and between the lack of dexterity on this feat, and the lack of dexterity on Dwarfs in a general sense, where is our monk getting their attack and AC from again? A possible late game option.

    Elven Accuracy: Start with 15 dex, get a +2 bonus from elf, pick this at level 4 to up that to 18. A very solid option. The only downside is that without some way to increase the monk's critical threat "super advantage" doesn't actually do much more for them than a normal advantage (i.e. virtually guarantee a hit). This is still one of the better options though (and yet another reason to play wood elf).

    Fade Away: Cool effect, but the stats are awkward since gnomes don't give +2 dex. If you rolled your monk's stats, or are using a non-standard array and you can take this without 'falling behind' on dexterity this is worth considering.

    Prodigy: The best grapple feat! Expertise on athletics is pretty essential if the grappling monk not getting if from a multi-class. Even dex based monks can get some value out of expertise in stealth or perception. A decent option for variant human monks to grab right at level 1.

    Second Chance: Fantastic! A great use of a halfling monk's reaction (better than defensive duelist imo) and works just fine with halfling racials (i.e. as with elven accuracy you can start with a standard array and still have 18 dex by level 4). Almost a required pick for monk shorties.

    Squat Nimbleness: A decent feat although for halflings Second Chance is strictly better. The best use of this feat may be for Dwarven Monks who can start with dex 15 and then use this to boost their dex to 16 at level 4 (or "even out" a rolled dexterity of 17).

    Wood Elf Magic: No stats, but pass without trace is nice for a wood elf monk, if no-one else in the party can cast it. Worth considering once the monk has maxed out their dex.

    Everything else: ...

    Spoiler: Dragonmark Feats
    Show

    Greater Dragonmark: The power of this feat really depends on the power of your mark. The more you gain from your intuition dice, the better this is. As such I would say that for a monk only Shadow and Sentinel need apply. For the rest it's better to just to just keep bumping stats ala normal. Edit: Mass healing word on the Healing mark might be worth it if your party lacks for healing.

    Aberrant Dragonmark: An interesting feat. The +1 con doesn't do all that much for us, but the ability to cast a level 1 spell, and then bump it with our HD? I'd recommend something that scales well, like magic missile (though shield is also a tempting option).
    Last edited by ProseBeforeHos; 2018-07-24 at 05:24 PM.

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    Default Re: Be Like Water: The 5e Monk Guide (Updated for MToF)

    The Role of the Monk




    "How do I play this class?"
    Monk is one of the more difficult classes in DnD 5e to play well, not because it is weak, but due to it's unique play-style. Unlike the Rogue or Ranger the Monk cannot hang back and use a ranged weapon to provide damage and still get the maximum benefit from its class features. As a skirmisher styled melee combatant, the Monk has neither the durability nor the obvious "tank" status of classes like Fighter or Barbarian. To play the Monk well you have to combine intelligent use of stunning strike, your bonus action martial arts techniques and whatever benefits your subclass provides. If you're simply standing toe-to-toe with enemies and trading hits, then this class offers very little over a Fighter while lacking the Fighter's sustained durability.

    Frontliner aka "The Tank"
    This is not where the monk excels. It's AC and hit dice are too low to reliably take many hits in combat. However there may come a time when either your party members are all squishier than you, or the party member who usually takes the hits is out of action. If a monk does find themselves in he position of being party damage sponge patient defense it's your friend! It only cost 1 ki point and it last an entire round. Giving enemies automatic disadvantage to hit you is the equivalent of having the shield spell on i.e. +5 AC, and that alone should make you very hard to damage.

    Some subclasses play the "tank" role better than others, notably open hand and long death, with their healing and temp hp respectively. The long deaths monk aoe fear effect is also a powerful defensive option (if they are feared, they have disadvantage to attack you, and cannot close to hit you). For race options it's almost more important than ever to grab a race with both dexterity and wisdom, as keeping your AC as high as possible will be essential. Some nice racial options are halflings (who can grab second chance to boost their defensive options) and githzerai (who gain shield as a 1/long rest spell). Hill dwarf can also work, but don't overrate that 1/hp level.

    The Scout
    Although lacking in expertise compared to the true stealth master (the rogue), monks do not wear armor, have high dexterity to boost their stealth score (and potential lock picking) and high wisdom to boost their perception for trap spotting (as well as their survival skill for a "ranger monk"). All these things together make monks fine scouts who can be the one to scope out the Hobgoblin's fort before the rest of the party heads in to kick the door down.

    Shadow monk subclass is the master of this type of play, giving you access to Pass Without Trace (+10 to the entire parties stealth checks puts expertise to shame). If your race lacks darkvision for scouting at nighttime or in dark caves shadow monk will give you the ability to gain it via the spell. Even silence can be a useful option for taking out sentries and guards without anyone ever hearing their screams.

    The Damage Dealer aka "The Striker"
    The monk's forte. Not only is their damage output incredibly strong, with a potential 4 attacks per round starting as early as level 5, but their mobility allows them to get into the back lines of enemy forces and hit the targets who need to die first (archers, mages and healers). One of the major advantages a ranged character has over a melee one is the ability to "project" their damage output at whichever enemies they can reach. The monk is perhaps the only melee class with enough mobility to do the same.

    If you can rely on the rest of your team to provide a strong front line and you are free to focus entirely on damage dealing, then the drunken master's ability to gain bonus movement speed and disengages when using flurry of blows makes for a natural "offense" monk. Open hand does this well too, as does shadow monk with it's incredible mobility.

    The Battlefield Controller
    Stunning fist is the obvious way that a monk can double as a wizard, using their mobility to dash between enemies and keeping multiple foes locked up at once. Open hand with it's ability to knock enemies away, or knock them prone, or long death monks with their aoe fear ability also have tools for controlling.

    For all it's various flaws the four elements monk has certain control options at their disposal that other monk subclasses lack... for as long as their pool of ki points hold out.

    The Party Face
    So your party is Mongo the Barbarian (charisma 8), Autismo the Wizard (charisma 8) and Xx_Darkblade_Sephiroth_xX the Assassin (charisma 8), and it falls on you to be party diplomat. First off: commiserations. Being a social butterfly is not what the monk is good for. It's not the end of the world though, and you have some options here. The major options are: Variant humans with the prodigy feat (expertise: persuasion), and half-elf (+2 charisma, and you can grab some social skills). I would never start with a charisma higher than 12 however, even for a dedicated "talky" monk - you need the stats in other areas so much more.

    Subclass wise... oh man, just take whatever you want. Drunken master gives performance if you think you can make use out of that skill.

    Spoiler: Grappler Monks?
    Show
    The only advantage a strength based monk has over it's dex based counterpart is the ability to grapple. Monks in 5e make decent grapplers, mainly bolstered by their ability to fight without weapons and the synergy between a monks unarmed strikes and the tavern brawler feat. That being said, I do not recommend playing a strength monk. They are heavily MAD (multi-ability dependent) since they still require dexterity for AC, and unlike the barbarian grappler they have don't have any tool as naturally suited to grappling as barbarian rage (indeed, multi-classing at least a single level into barbarian is almost a requirement for this build).

    If you do decide to try a Lucha libre style grappler, then the most important differences between them and the standard monk are:
    • Strength becomes a critical stat for you (though dexterity continues to be important)
    • Athletics is an essential skill (whereas acrobatics is now optional)
    • Race choices lean towards anything that gives +strength, or just a lot of stats in general, since we are so MAD. Mountain dwarf is likely your best bet, though half orc and goliath are both fine (as Naanomi points out Tortles also make fantastic strength monks with their built in AC).
    • If we are not getting expertise in athletics from multiclassing (or barbarian range, with compensates for this somewhat) then prodigy becomes a premium feat for us. Tavern brawler is decent, but Grappler doesn't give us anything we can't achieve normally with grapple + shove combo.
    • When it comes to subclass options dedicated grapplers will benefit both from open hand knockdowns on hit, but also the long death monk's more defensive options (the aoe fear effect is nice way to contribute to a fight at range after you have grappled + knocked prone your chosen victim).
    Last edited by ProseBeforeHos; 2018-06-27 at 12:27 PM.

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    Default Re: Be Like Water: The 5e Monk Guide (Updated for MToF)

    Multi-classing as a Monk



    How to multi-class well?
    The monk is a somewhat front loaded class, with arguably it's strongest "span" of levels coming between 1-8 (extra attack and stunning fist at level 5, evasion at level 7 and it's second ASI at level 8). Despite that, there's still good reason to want to continue sinking levels into the monk class, with purity of body coming in at level 10, and diamond soul at level 14 (as well as accumulating more ki points, on this note I would suggest that four elements monks not multiclass at all).

    For this reason multi-classing the monk quite painful, delaying some of your best class options by several levels and is best done at critical level "junctions" which are:
    • The early dip (lvl 1 or 2): Usually reserved for those monks who want to grab a level of rogue or UA ranger early on in their progression.
    • Post 2nd attack (lvl 6): This allows you to hit extra attack and stunning fist at the normal level, but delays evasion and high level abilities. Good for grapple monks who wish to dip into barbarian, or those monks who wish to dip into fighter for action surge.
    • Post 2nd ASI (lvl 9): This gets you the core of what makes a monk powerful, and 8 ki points to use for your abilities. Monks who want to play true duel class characters should abandon monk progression here.
    • Ignore the capstone? (lvl 19): Perfect soul is hardly needed for a high level monk to keep their ki points up.


    All this said the monk "base" class is perfectly strong on it's own and no monk build, except perhaps the grappler, needs to be multi-classed in order to be effective.

    Class Breakdown

    Barbarian: The best option for grappler builds, as the free advantage on strength checks while raging is an essential component of being able to reliably succeed on athletic checks. Dex focused monks gain nothing here.

    Bard: No synergy here. If you want expertise so badly, it's much easier to dip into rogue.

    Cleric: One of the best options for a monk multi-class. Monks already have a solid wisdom score, and buffs like bless or shield of faith are nice to have. Prayer of healing is a very efficient spell for a lvl 2 slot, and can give you a lot of out of combat utility, and everyone benefits from having more healing words in the party. War domain is completely redundant for us however.

    Note: As samuraijaques points out War domain does offer divine favor as a spell. +1d4 damage is isn't bad when you have as many attacks as a monk does. Is that better than a standard bless spell + more useful domain ability? Probably not.

    Druid: As a healing and utility class it's inferior to cleric and monk's do not gain much out of "dipping" it. In contrast however, specifically moon druids with a single level of monk for unarmed defense in their animal forms is one of the best multi-class options for them, comparable only to barbarian.

    Fighter: Almost no class in the game suffers from taking a 2 level fighter dip to get action surge, and post level 5, I think this is a fine option. More than 4 levels of fighter will result in increasing redundancy between their abilities and the monks.

    Note: a monk's fist is an weapon attack but doesn't count as a weapon. You will need to be wielding one if you wish to benefit from dueling fighting style (our only decent option since we cannot use defense).

    Paladin: Strictly worse than fighter.

    Ranger: Nothing this class offers us is better than action surge. If you sank 5 levels here you could grab level 2 ranger spells, but there's a lot of redundancy here.

    UA Ranger: If your DM allows UA rangers and also allows you to multi-class into them, then the 1 level UA ranger dip is one of the strongest in the game giving us a host of powerful options. Hopefully your DM is wise enough to disallow this.

    Rogue: Rogue/Shadow monk seems like the most obvious "Ninja" pairing in the game. However, the problem with these two classes is the competing demand for bonus actions. Both these classes make regular and effective use of their bonus actions, and since you cannot use cunning action on the same turn that you use flurry/patient/step this combo is not as strong as we'd like. At higher levels there's also the issue of redundancy (both classes hit evasion at level 7).

    The exception to this is the one level rogue dip, which gives you access to thieves tools, an extra skill, a 1d6 sneak attack and most critically, two skill expertise (stealth and perception being the obvious candidates here). A very strong option for shadow monks who wish to do double duty as party rogue.

    Note: As Dyndrilliac points out, the sneak attack must be made with a finesse weapons (just because you're attacking with dex, doesn't mean the weapon you are using is a finesse weapon), so if you're not using short sword or dagger we lose out on the 1d6 sneak.

    Sorcerer: Just no.

    Warlock: Some people make a big deal about the synergy between the devil sight invocation and the shadow monks ability to summon magical darkness. I personally think this is a overrated, but if you time it correctly (monk 1-8, warlock 9-10) it's not the worst thing. Grabbing the invocation that allows you to cast false life at will is also nice to get if you're not playing a long death monk.

    Wizard: Unlike in pathfinder we can't even benefit from mage armor any more. There's nothing for us here.
    Last edited by ProseBeforeHos; 2018-07-21 at 08:28 AM.

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    Default Re: Be Like Water: The 5e Monk Guide (Updated for MToF)

    Finally done. Feedback is welcome

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    Default Re: Be Like Water: The 5e Monk Guide (Updated for MToF)

    You seem to be misinformed about Lizardfolk and the AC thing. Lizardfolk can choose to use either Unarmored Defense or their own AC, as long as it meets the requirement for both.

    This coupled with making your own weapons (and shield) starting with a unarmed strike die of d6, and extra skills should make Lizardfolk on par with hill dwarfs if not better considering swim speed, hold breath, and frenzy features.

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    Default Re: Be Like Water: The 5e Monk Guide (Updated for MToF)

    I truly disagree with Searing Sunburst being blue. I think its black.

    At first, yeah, Fireball but Radiant? Sounds awesome, sign me up! But it targets Con, which can be very tough on certain foes, especially ones you're likely to start facing when you finally get the ability. And what many overlook is the fact that it does absolutely NOTHING on a miss, unlike Fireball. So against those foes with the higher Con saves, you're unlikely to be doing anything at all.

    Now, its still a bomb of Radiant energy. Its not entirely useless. If the Lich you're fighting have a Skeleton or Zombie army, yeah, you can melt them with no issue. But its not quite as good as people think, either.

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    Default Re: Be Like Water: The 5e Monk Guide (Updated for MToF)

    Tortles: Strength Monks (outside of weird armored builds) are not great... but these TMNT guys are the best choice to pull it off

    Tipsy Sway: if there are a lot of dangerous ranged threats on the battlefield, one can throw themselves prone at the end of their movement; then ‘pop up’ for negligible cost next turn

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    Default Re: Be Like Water: The 5e Monk Guide (Updated for MToF)

    I think you also underate the Kensei.

    The magical weapons should be at least purple not red. Magic items are not reliable and all other monks need their fists when those resistances start popping up. It's important to note that the game's default is low to super low magic.

    Deft Strike is very good for a ranged monk which is something you kind of ignore. Kensei is one of the best non magical archery options in the game and works really well with or without fighter levels. You can't flurry with your bow and not be in melee at some point, but Kensei Shot + Deft Strike is a nice damage boost.

    Its not so bad in melee either, though trying to stun might be a better use of the ki point.


    Still it might be something to mention Archer/Skirmisher as viable option for monk that works really well with kensei. Makes Kensei shine actually.

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    Default Re: Be Like Water: The 5e Monk Guide (Updated for MToF)

    This guide looks pretty great! One thing I'm not too sure on is your rating of Kensei.

    At level 3, a Kensei can use a longsword with their dexterity, jumping to 1d10 far before any other monk. They can pick up a longbow, and their ranged option is just directly superior to other monks until 11th level. By 17th level, the Kensei can pick up daggers, dealing 1d10 damage with a throwing option that synergises with both their melee and ranged powers.

    As long as you make a melee attack every round, you have 2 more AC than any other monk. This is a bit of a burden, but becomes less so once you pick up extra attack, and as your unarmed strike starts to compare better to your weapon attacks.

    Kensei's shot lets you stack on some extra ranged damage when you can't make your unarmed bonus action attack, and once you get extra attack, this goes from 2.5 to 5 extra damage. If you're at range, and you aren't a Kensei, the best you can do is spend one ki to dodge. The damage here isn't great, but it's damage when you otherwise wouldn't be able to do anything. On top of longbow proficiency, this makes Kensei the best ranged weapon monk.

    Yeah, the Magic Weapons bit is redundant, but not meaningfully. You're the monk that uses weapons, of course you get the ability to treat them as magic. There's no real opportunity cost here though, because Deft Strike is 100 times better than you're giving it credit for.

    Yes, Deft Strike costs 1 ki to use, but the ability to add raw extra damage to your attack action every round is something other traditions don't have the option to do. A Kensei can do more damage each round than other traditions, at the cost of going through ki extra fast, which is fine. Ki is something to use, if you use it to kill an enemy faster, you'll get to your next short rest faster, and you get all that ki back.

    You're aware that Sharpen the Blade and Unerring Accuracy are good.

    It's biggest weakness is that this tradition gives you basically nothing other than ways to increase your damage when you attack. It lets you attack at range and in melee with improved damage, gives you higher AC when you wade into the thick of it, and really nothing else. They don't teleport through shadows or frighten foes, and maybe you like those more, but lack of versatility for raw damage isn't enough to rate it Red, is it?

    As an example, a level 5 kensai can attack with their longsword twice, put deft strike on one of the attacks, and then make a flurry of blows. With 18 dexterity, that's 2d10+3d6+16 (37) damage and two attempts to stun.

    Conversely, a regular monk can only make 2 attacks with a quarterstaff and a flurry of blows. That ends up at 2d8+2d6+16 (32) damage.

    At range, the damage difference is even greater because the monk has nothing to do with the bonus action, and the kensei doens't have to burn through an extra ki.

    $0.02

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    Default Re: Be Like Water: The 5e Monk Guide (Updated for MToF)

    On war domain, I agree that the domain abilities are basically useless but the one thing the class does offer is divine favor. An extra 1d4 on each attack is nothing to scoff at.

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    Default Re: Be Like Water: The 5e Monk Guide (Updated for MToF)

    Great guide, thanks for your effort!

    One comment regarding feats. I wouldn't rate "Alert" as Trash. As a monk, going early in combat can be encounter-changing. It also enhances monks without darkvision.

    And now a question. How good is prodigy with athletics for a grappling-dex-monk? Assuming maybe 10 Str. Is it enough to compensate?

    Thanks and, again, great guide!

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    Default Re: Be Like Water: The 5e Monk Guide (Updated for MToF)

    Going to second what others have said about the Kensei.

    1: Kensei's are Good at Ranged Combat. Most monks fall into the category of "Can sort of attack at range if they have to." Kensei hit pretty hard at range if you invest towards that. A level 3 kensei deals 3-4 more damage on a hit than other monks, and can do so at much higher range. (2-3 more than wood elves)

    2: The +2 AC is no joke.
    17-18 AC and then dodging makes you one of the most hardened targets in the game at that level. The way that disadvantage works with AC (squares the hit chance) means that if the enemy's chances of hitting you are low, they become vanishingly low when combined with disadvantage.

    Like, let's say our level 3 enemy has a +5 to attack. We're looking at a monk who has 16 AC.

    If the monk is just sitting there? 50% chance to hit.
    If the monk is using agile parry? 40% chance to hit.
    If the monk is using patient defense? 25% chance to hit.
    If the monk is using agile parry and patient defense? 16% chance to hit.

    To put it another way, while open palm improves flurry, Kensei improves Patient Defense, to the point where you can make (non-EK) fighters cry with your super-high AC. Play a Githzerai for an effective 28 AC once per day by level 4.

    At high levels, this just gets more insane, when your AC becomes 22, or 24 if you've gotten ahold of some bracer's of armor.

    3: Deft Strike Works on a Crit
    The wording for Deft Strike is the same as smite. You wait until after you hit, then apply damage. So you can wait until you land a crit and then drop 2d10 damage. Compare this to Long Death's ability, which you rated black, and deals 2d10 if the target fails a save, and only 1d10 if he succeeds, and requires a whole action to use.

    Obviously, you can crank Touch of the Long Death for crazy nova damage, but you're missing out on all the damage of your normal kit in order to do so.

    TL;DR
    Basically, if you view the primary role of the monk as "Damage Dealer" why isn't the monk with the best resourceless DPR and the best defenses (though they can't DPR and defend at the same time) rated more highly?
    Last edited by strangebloke; 2018-05-25 at 12:14 PM.

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    Default Re: Be Like Water: The 5e Monk Guide (Updated for MToF)

    I think the observant feat is worth noting, if only to give you your +1 wisdom. There's nothing else to do that, and a 20 passive perception at level 1 IS pretty useful for a variant human.

    DM: ...goddamnit. Hey, monk, you notice a rogue in a bush.
    Monk: Cool, I run over and punch him in the face.

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    Default Re: Be Like Water: The 5e Monk Guide (Updated for MToF)

    I noticed that you rated the one-level Rogue dip sky blue, and you based that at least partially on Sneak Attack synergy:
    The exception to this is the one level rogue dip, which gives you access to thieves tools, an extra skill, a 1d6 sneak attack and most critically, two skill expertise (stealth and perception being the obvious candidates here). A very strong option for shadow monks who wish to do double duty as party rogue.
    You may want to point out that by both RAW and RAI, you cannot use Sneak Attack with Unarmed Strikes. You must use a monk weapon that is either ranged or possesses the finesse property in order to use the Sneak Attack feature as a multi-classed Monk/Rogue. This should also translate into a slightly higher rating for the Kensai, since that opens you up to being able to perform Sneak Attack with longbows, whips, scimitars, and rapiers.

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    Default Re: Be Like Water: The 5e Monk Guide (Updated for MToF)

    I think the Mobile feat is especially good because it saves you a bonus action and/or ki (not to mention taking a second level of rogue). While there is overlap between the free disengage after attacking with Cunning Action and Step of the Wind, having the mobile feat allows one to use Flurry of Blows or Shadow Step in addition to disengaging. Action economy and ki management are essential for monks. Too bad there’s no gold rating in this guide.

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    Default Re: Be Like Water: The 5e Monk Guide (Updated for MToF)

    Fixed up some spelling/grammar errors, added some things.

    Quote Originally Posted by Angelalex242 View Post
    I think the observant feat is worth noting, if only to give you your +1 wisdom. There's nothing else to do that, and a 20 passive perception at level 1 IS pretty useful for a variant human.

    DM: ...goddamnit. Hey, monk, you notice a rogue in a bush.
    Monk: Cool, I run over and punch him in the face.
    I've added it to to the list. I seem to have absentmindedly missed some of the feats I def. should have covered.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dyndrilliac View Post
    I noticed that you rated the one-level Rogue dip sky blue, and you based that at least partially on Sneak Attack synergy:

    You may want to point out that by both RAW and RAI, you cannot use Sneak Attack with Unarmed Strikes. You must use a monk weapon that is either ranged or possesses the finesse property in order to use the Sneak Attack feature as a multi-classed Monk/Rogue. This should also translate into a slightly higher rating for the Kensai, since that opens you up to being able to perform Sneak Attack with longbows, whips, scimitars, and rapiers.
    Some good points here. I have amended the guide. The sky blue rating was more about the usefulness of two expertise skills though, so it will remain.

    Quote Originally Posted by LordNibbler View Post
    I think the Mobile feat is especially good because it saves you a bonus action and/or ki (not to mention taking a second level of rogue). While there is overlap between the free disengage after attacking with Cunning Action and Step of the Wind, having the mobile feat allows one to use Flurry of Blows or Shadow Step in addition to disengaging. Action economy and ki management are essential for monks. Too bad there’s no gold rating in this guide.
    Yeah, I thought 4 ratings would be be sufficient but it really isn't. As you say if there was a gold rating, mobility would earn it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mortis_Elrod View Post
    You seem to be misinformed about Lizardfolk and the AC thing. Lizardfolk can choose to use either Unarmored Defense or their own AC, as long as it meets the requirement for both.

    This coupled with making your own weapons (and shield) starting with a unarmed strike die of d6, and extra skills should make Lizardfolk on par with hill dwarfs if not better considering swim speed, hold breath, and frenzy features.
    I did bump Lizardmen up the rating mostly for the stats. I really disagree that they are as good as a hill dwarf though. The higher unarmed dice is only relevant 1-4, I'd much rather have bonus hp and poison resistance.

    Quote Originally Posted by jaappleton View Post
    I truly disagree with Searing Sunburst being blue. I think its black.

    At first, yeah, Fireball but Radiant? Sounds awesome, sign me up! But it targets Con, which can be very tough on certain foes, especially ones you're likely to start facing when you finally get the ability. And what many overlook is the fact that it does absolutely NOTHING on a miss, unlike Fireball. So against those foes with the higher Con saves, you're unlikely to be doing anything at all.

    Now, its still a bomb of Radiant energy. Its not entirely useless. If the Lich you're fighting have a Skeleton or Zombie army, yeah, you can melt them with no issue. But its not quite as good as people think, either.
    If I revise this guide I may lower the rating. You're right to say that targeting con is a lot worse than targeting dex.

    Quote Originally Posted by Naanomi View Post
    Tortles: Strength Monks (outside of weird armored builds) are not great... but these TMNT guys are the best choice to pull it off

    Tipsy Sway: if there are a lot of dangerous ranged threats on the battlefield, one can throw themselves prone at the end of their movement; then ‘pop up’ for negligible cost next turn
    Completely blanked on tortles, they have been added to the guide. I consider 90% of what's good about Tipsy Swap to be the 5ft. "kip up". Most of what gets it the black rating is that ability.

    Quote Originally Posted by samuraijaques View Post
    On war domain, I agree that the domain abilities are basically useless but the one thing the class does offer is divine favor. An extra 1d4 on each attack is nothing to scoff at.
    Fair point. Amended.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chack View Post
    Great guide, thanks for your effort!

    One comment regarding feats. I wouldn't rate "Alert" as Trash. As a monk, going early in combat can be encounter-changing. It also enhances monks without darkvision.

    And now a question. How good is prodigy with athletics for a grappling-dex-monk? Assuming maybe 10 Str. Is it enough to compensate?

    Thanks and, again, great guide!
    Oversight on my part. Alert is a good feat and has been added. Ty for the praise :smallbiggrin: glad you enjoyed it. The grappling dex monk? It's works ok. Before XGTE was released I saw a valor bard build that used expertise in athletics combined with shield master. It just really hurts to fail an athletics check, ever, and the dex based version is going to be failing them more often. Maybe if you can work in a level of barbarian somehow...

    Quote Originally Posted by Strangebloke, MegenticPull and Mortis_Elrod View Post
    The Kensai is good!
    Some good arguments here, some not-so good. Rather than respond to each post in turn I'll try and summarize the general arguments.

    "Magic Kensai Weapons are good." Strongly disagree. Too narrow in application (must be fighting magically resistant enemy, must not already have a magical weapon) and even then the benefit is minor; 1d6 unarmed strike vs 1d10 kensai in practice only means +2 damage. I rated the far more universally applicable Wholeness of body black, how can I rate this higher than red?

    "Deft Strikes are good." What I will concede is that kensai are good at ranged combat in a way that no other monk can match. If you're fighting at range and stun/flurry isn't an option then deft strikes is nice to have. I don't think the logic holds in melee though. The damage is just too small for the ki you spend (ever single point of ki you spend is one less stun attempt). Only when you hit a critical is deft strikes worth it I think, and that's a mere 5% of the time.

    "Long Death Monk Comparison." That ability got a black rating because you can stack the damage up to a potential 20d10, and instantly nuke a foe to oblivion. If it was merely 1ki for 2d10, save for half, I would rated it red too :)

    "Agile Parry is good." Yeah it is. Really good. The only decent low level kensai ability, and if I was ever temped to give kensai a higher rating it was due to this ability. The reason why I kept it blue, and I keep kensai red, is that this ability only activates after you've made an attack (i.e. it's worse than a flat +2 AC bonus), and requires you to hold back your weapon. At lower levels that's not a big deal and I would recommend doing so every round, but at higher levels, with better equipment, not using your weapon is actually a pretty big deal. Imagine a kensai in Curse of Strahd using the sun sword (the ideal situation for the kensai). Are you going to hold off on that +2 attack and +2d8+2 radiant damage just for a +2 AC bonus? The cost/benefit analysis can very quickly change.

    At the end of the day, I continue to believe that kensai is a trap option. As a "warrior monk" archetype it's worse than open hand, long death and drunken master. It also doesn't have a particular "niche" that at least gives it some options other traditions don't get (sun soul = aoe, shadow = teleports and spells). As such I will keep it a red, and while I know you prob. won't agree with me, I hope I have demonstrated that this wasn't a thoughtless or biased rating (I really wanted kensai to be good :( )

    Thanks for the feedback everyone, really helps!
    Last edited by ProseBeforeHos; 2018-05-28 at 02:33 AM.

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    Default Re: Be Like Water: The 5e Monk Guide (Updated for MToF)

    Quote Originally Posted by ProseBeforeHos View Post
    I did bump Lizardmen up the rating mostly for the stats. I really disagree that they are as good as a hill dwarf though. The higher unarmed dice is only relevant 1-4, I'd much rather have bonus hp and poison resistance.
    You forget the free skills, which you mention earlier in the guide as being something that is lacking in the monk's arsenal. Lizardfolk gives 2 skills from a list of 5 very useful skills. Hill dwarf doesn't get that, nor does it get cunning artisan or a swim speed. It is also something to note that levels 1-4 are the most dangerous for a monk, having that bigger die helps. Hill dwarf gives a slight HP increase and an a resistance you will eventually be immune to.

    Quote Originally Posted by ProseBeforeHos View Post
    Some good arguments here, some not-so good. Rather than respond to each post in turn I'll try and summarize the general arguments.

    "Magic Kensai Weapons are good." Strongly disagree. Too narrow in application (must be fighting magically resistant enemy, must not already have a magical weapon) and even then the benefit is minor; 1d6 unarmed strike vs 1d10 kensai in practice only means +2 damage. I rated the far more universally applicable Wholeness of body black, how can I rate this higher than red?
    You misunderstand. Fighting magically resistant enemies is not situational. It will happen, there just that many of them, so unless you are in a very niche campaign you'll run into them. And again the base assumption of 5e is that you WONT get magic items. and if you do the magic sword is going to a different guy not the monk. +2 damage is +2 damage. How can more damage be Red? Its at least Purple (situational). At no point is this a trap.

    Quote Originally Posted by ProseBeforeHos View Post
    "Deft Strikes are good." What I will concede is that kensai are good at ranged combat in a way that no other monk can match. If you're fighting at range and stun/flurry isn't an option then deft strikes is nice to have. I don't think the logic holds in melee though. The damage is just too small for the ki you spend (ever single point of ki you spend is one less stun attempt). Only when you hit a critical is deft strikes worth it I think, and that's a mere 5% of the time.
    Well then at least mark how good the kensei is as a ranged monk option.

    I think you were too quick to mark the subclass red, when really it only has a few lacking abilities (which are arguable) and the rest is are good. Subclass is at least Black or Purple with a note about ranged monks, or blue in that regard and purple in melee.

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    Default Re: Be Like Water: The 5e Monk Guide (Updated for MToF)

    Downside of Hour of Reaping: it affects all "creatures" in 30ft, - opposite to "enemies".

    edit: on the kensei's +2 AC, it also stacks with parry (kensei have better weapon proficiency - making parry a better option, and they get an additional AC boost, making the synergy work both ways)
    Last edited by qube; 2018-05-28 at 11:12 AM.
    Yes, tabaxi grappler. It's a thing

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    Default Re: Be Like Water: The 5e Monk Guide (Updated for MToF)

    For the kensai, make a note that the whip is the only reach melee weapon option. Niche, perhaps, but I could see it as a fighting style: hold the whip while exclusively using unarmed strikes to fight (getting the +2 AC), and use your reach for AaOs against those who try to leave your large area of influence (stunning them possibly).

    Some more points regarding the lizardfolk:
    - you have the option of using a piercing unarmed strike (for those rare enemies with resistance to bludgeoning)
    - for a rogue or dex-fighter who wants to dip Monk for 1-4 levels, Lizardfolk natural armor means you can have the base 13 Wis for multiclassing, while still keeping a good unarmoured AC. And a 1d6 unarmed strike.
    - thematically, using flurry to chomp an enemy four times in a round is silly and awesome.

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    Default Re: Be Like Water: The 5e Monk Guide (Updated for MToF)

    A real good guide, monk is actually my favorite class to play. This guide is pretty on the ground. One good feat to take for monk is class initiate, pick eldritch blast and schoking grasp, and as level 1 pick hex. real good combo

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    Default Re: Be Like Water: The 5e Monk Guide (Updated for MToF)

    Quote Originally Posted by ProseBeforeHos View Post
    "Magic Kensai Weapons are good." Strongly disagree. Too narrow in application (must be fighting magically resistant enemy, must not already have a magical weapon) and even then the benefit is minor; 1d6 unarmed strike vs 1d10 kensai in practice only means +2 damage. I rated the far more universally applicable Wholeness of body black, how can I rate this higher than red?
    Wholeness of body is all open-hand monks get at this level. Kensei magic weapons is a minor feature, but needs to be there for completeness. Kensei magic weapons and deft strike together are probably still a little weaker than wholeness of body, but it's close, and I also think you underrated wholeness of body.

    It's the equivalent of a max-level cure wounds spell!

    Quote Originally Posted by ProseBeforeHos View Post
    "Deft Strikes are good." What I will concede is that kensai are good at ranged combat in a way that no other monk can match. If you're fighting at range and stun/flurry isn't an option then deft strikes is nice to have. I don't think the logic holds in melee though. The damage is just too small for the ki you spend (ever single point of ki you spend is one less stun attempt). Only when you hit a critical is deft strikes worth it I think, and that's a mere 5% of the time.
    Let's compare it to the other common ki usage that deals damage: flurry of blows.

    Flurry lets you make two attacks as a bonus action instead of your normal 1. So it is 1 ki for one attack. That extra attack, if it hits will deal 7.5 (1d6+3) damage on average at level 6 and 10.5 damage (1d10+5) on average at level 17. Following the DMG guidelines for scaling monster AC (which the MM doesn't follow, admittedly) a character can expect a 60% chance to hit at most levels. So flurry is 'worth' about 4.5-6.1 damage for one ki.

    Deft strike is worth 3.5-5.5 damage, and double that on a crit.

    So for pure damage dealing, Deft strike is only slightly worse than flurry. Flurry has other benefits if you have the mobile feat or if you're a Drunken Master or an Open Hand Monk or if you're trying super hard to stun a boss.... But deft strike can be used on top of flurry, patient defense, or step of the wind.

    It's a perfectly decent ability.

    Quote Originally Posted by ProseBeforeHos View Post
    "Long Death Monk Comparison." That ability got a black rating because you can stack the damage up to a potential 20d10, and instantly nuke a foe to oblivion. If it was merely 1ki for 2d10, save for half, I would rated it red too :)
    Okay, but remember, it's your whole action, and you can't flurry after using it, and it's only half damage if they save. And it's a CON save, so they will be saving some of the time, and by the time you get it, nearly all enemies worth nuking will have multiple legendary saves.

    If you're going to blow through 5+ ki points, you're way better off just trying to stun-lock your opponent. Touch of Death is hella pointless.

    Quote Originally Posted by ProseBeforeHos View Post
    "Agile Parry is good." Yeah it is. Really good. The only decent low level kensai ability, and if I was ever temped to give kensai a higher rating it was due to this ability. The reason why I kept it blue, and I keep kensai red, is that this ability only activates after you've made an attack (i.e. it's worse than a flat +2 AC bonus), and requires you to hold back your weapon. At lower levels that's not a big deal and I would recommend doing so every round, but at higher levels, with better equipment, not using your weapon is actually a pretty big deal. Imagine a kensai in Curse of Strahd using the sun sword (the ideal situation for the kensai). Are you going to hold off on that +2 attack and +2d8+2 radiant damage just for a +2 AC bonus? The cost/benefit analysis can very quickly change.
    If you're in the situation of having a weapon that is effectively a +4 longsword, then yes, the ability looks a bit weaker. But in that case, you're getting such good mileage out of the kensei weapons feature anyway, that I'd argue it's unclear what you're complaining about.

    I would argue that one of the principle strengths of the kensei is that he doesn't need a magic weapon at all, which is great in some of the campaigns I've played in, and also great for the party as a whole.

    Anyways, compare this to patient defense. Patient defense means spending a ki point and giving up a whole attack, whereas parry means only giving up part of one attack. Obviously +5 is a lot better than +2, and whether to use one or both of them is always an open question... but it's undeniably a very powerful addition to the toolkit.

    Quote Originally Posted by ProseBeforeHos View Post
    At the end of the day, I continue to believe that kensai is a trap option. As a "warrior monk" archetype it's worse than open hand, long death and drunken master. It also doesn't have a particular "niche" that at least gives it some options other traditions don't get (sun soul = aoe, shadow = teleports and spells). As such I will keep it a red, and while I know you prob. won't agree with me, I hope I have demonstrated that this wasn't a thoughtless or biased rating (I really wanted kensai to be good :( )

    Thanks for the feedback everyone, really helps!
    They have a niche.

    Of any monk they are:
    -The best at resourceless/low resource single-target DPR.
    -The best at functioning as a dedicated melee fighter.
    -The best at ranged DPR

    A drunken master can run in, hit hard, run out, and an open hand monk can do the same thing, but the Kensei is capable of holding the front line and protecting the skirmishers. If you're fighting a flying opponent they can be way more effective than their peers, and they just deal more damage than open hand monks and drunken monks (until level 17).

    Even though I think many of the abilities like kensei's shot deserve their rating, the kensei gets more features than any other monk subclass, which helps them be a lot more generalized and capable than the average bear.

    So I know that you won't change it, but I think you're full of crock.

    Further reccomendations:

    It's Kensei not Kensai.

    Hour of reaping, good as it is, hits allies, so unless you have a paladin in your party it's actually somewhat hard to use without putting yourself or your allies at risk. The 30 foot AOE is as much a curse as it is a blessing.

    I think you're still missing the point of tipsy sway, despite it getting brought up multiple times: you can go prone for free. At range, that's as good as getting the dodge action for free.

  26. - Top - End - #26
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    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Be Like Water: The 5e Monk Guide (Updated for MToF)

    How do you all feel about Lycan Bloodhunter MC with Shadow or Open Hand monk?

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    DwarfBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Be Like Water: The 5e Monk Guide (Updated for MToF)

    Not that I'm disagreeing with your blue rating of Unarmored Movement, but I used wall-running all the time. I could get to the enemy in high places, or if the ceiling was high enough, just go up on the walls to get to the back line.

    And speaking of wall-running, Slow Fall was helpful when I didn't have enough movement to get up and back down in a single turn. :-)

    Step of the Wind sounds really great, but in eleven levels, I probably only used it twice.

    One thing you didn't mention about Stunning Strike, that makes it so powerful, is that you get to choose to spend the ki on it after you hit. You don't waste the ki on a missed strike.

    Typo: In the aaracockra section you said "a 50ft. base, permanent fly speed, that increases with unarmored defense," but I think you meant unarmored movement.

    Thanks for the guide! I think monks are a lot of fun to play.

  28. - Top - End - #28
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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Be Like Water: The 5e Monk Guide (Updated for MToF)

    Quote Originally Posted by ProseBeforeHos View Post
    Warlock: Some people make a big deal about the synergy between the devil sight invocation and the shadow monks ability to summon magical darkness. I personally think this is a overrated, but if you time it correctly (monk 1-8, warlock 9-10) it's not the worst thing. Grabbing the invocation that allows you to cast false life at will is also nice to get if you're not playing a long death monk.
    hex is a much bigger draw to warlock than devil's sight. four attacks getting per-hit damage boosts is pretty good. Same can honestly be said for ranger and hunter's mark, it takes an extra level to get but there's also dueling style to make even a d6 shortsword attack stronger than versatile wielding a spear, and unlike warlock you don't need 13 charisma. I know that both spells take a turn to set up before they can fully "go off" and if your target dies you have to set up again, but where you really want either of these effects is boss fights, and there you typically will have an enemy be around more than long enough to make it worth your time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dyndrilliac View Post
    I noticed that you rated the one-level Rogue dip sky blue, and you based that at least partially on Sneak Attack synergy:

    You may want to point out that by both RAW and RAI, you cannot use Sneak Attack with Unarmed Strikes. You must use a monk weapon that is either ranged or possesses the finesse property in order to use the Sneak Attack feature as a multi-classed Monk/Rogue. This should also translate into a slightly higher rating for the Kensai, since that opens you up to being able to perform Sneak Attack with longbows, whips, scimitars, and rapiers.
    that effect totally vanishes after monk 11 (as in, you would never see it if you take that 20th level MC) when the finesse shortsword still gives you sneak attack at no base damage loss compared to any other monk weapon. You still can't use it on unarmed strikes, but 2 attempts is more often than not enough to land the extra damage, and honestly in the specific case of shadow monks you probably use shadow step more often than flurry/martial arts anyways (I know from experience). And while standing next to something after your own turn ends kind of defeats the purpose of the shadow step mentioned above, you do get an extra sneak attack per round if you get to monk 17 for opportunist.

    Quote Originally Posted by Samayu View Post
    Step of the Wind sounds really great, but in eleven levels, I probably only used it twice.
    ^ same. Really nice to make your jump distance ludicrously high, but I don't think I ever had to use it for the actual action effects.



    And finally, I have to say that despite so many people vehemently disagreeing with your rating of kensai, I personally agree with it being bad overall. There are some decent uses for some of the abilities, but at the opportunity costs of any other subclass, it's probably just not worth it anyways. Fighters are still better archers, so the "ranged monk" thing loses a lot of steam right there, and the AC is far from absurd even in really high levels- a 22 AC sounds cool for the uninitiated, but when you start looking at monsters with high CR and see +14 to attacks as relatively low for dangerous enemies, the bonus AC really loses its luster.
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    I look at the lich and smirk a bit, as I bring myself back to my feet

    "What are you smiling about?" it says

    "hehe, it looks like you've made... a grave mistake :D"

    the bard, actively bleeding out on the ground *ba-dum-tss*

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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Be Like Water: The 5e Monk Guide (Updated for MToF)

    Quote Originally Posted by Foxhound438 View Post
    but when you start looking at monsters with high CR and see +14 to attacks as relatively low for dangerous enemies, the bonus AC really loses its luster.
    It does?

    Sure, a 60% chance to hit (+14 vs AC20) 'only' gets reduced to 50%; but with disadvantage (be it bonus action dodging, or empty body) , a 36% chance to hit gets reduced to 25% ... which is equivalent of aprox. 1/3rd of the hits that would have hit you, that now miss.

    (same numbers if you assome +16 to attack, but bracers of armor for +2 AC)
    Yes, tabaxi grappler. It's a thing

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    Default Re: Be Like Water: The 5e Monk Guide (Updated for MToF)

    Quote Originally Posted by Foxhound438 View Post
    hex is a much bigger draw to warlock than devil's sight. four attacks getting per-hit damage boosts is pretty good. Same can honestly be said for ranger and hunter's mark, it takes an extra level to get but there's also dueling style to make even a d6 shortsword attack stronger than versatile wielding a spear, and unlike warlock you don't need 13 charisma. I know that both spells take a turn to set up before they can fully "go off" and if your target dies you have to set up again, but where you really want either of these effects is boss fights, and there you typically will have an enemy be around more than long enough to make it worth your time.

    ^ same. Really nice to make your jump distance ludicrously high, but I don't think I ever had to use it for the actual action effects.

    And finally, I have to say that despite so many people vehemently disagreeing with your rating of kensai, I personally agree with it being bad overall. There are some decent uses for some of the abilities, but at the opportunity costs of any other subclass, it's probably just not worth it anyways. Fighters are still better archers, so the "ranged monk" thing loses a lot of steam right there, and the AC is far from absurd even in really high levels- a 22 AC sounds cool for the uninitiated, but when you start looking at monsters with high CR and see +14 to attacks as relatively low for dangerous enemies, the bonus AC really loses its luster.
    1. hex is nice, but you don't have a great CON save, so you're probably wasting an attack to set it up, and only keeping it for 1-2 turns. By the time you get diamond soul, it's even less good, because of the high number of high damage attacks coming in.

    2. Step of the wind is key to keeping yourself alive if you don't have the mobile feat and you're fighting against a mob. A Monk will have comparable AC to the party wizard for the first few levels of his career, and not much more HP. I would agree that Step of the Wind is the weakest of the three options, though, once you get to higher levels. Also the dedicated melee monks (kensei, open hand, drunken master) typically have other things to do besides disengage.

    3. Sometimes, whether you build to it or no, you will have to fight at range. In that (not at all niche) situation, Kenseis outperform all monks. Not something you'd build to, realistically, but still a plus.

    AC only loses its luster if you can't keep having 'good' AC. A high level kensei with a single rare magic item: bracers of defense can have an AC of 24 and can dodge, giving him the best AC in the game short of a bladesinger. A monster with a +13 still only has a 25% chance of hitting the monk in that instance, compared to a 36% hit chance for any other monk. In other words, a regular monk takes 50% more damage from attacks while dodging against high-level, CR-appropriate foes. Against low-level mooks, agile parry is even better. a Monster with a +5 has a 4% chance of hitting a regular monk who is dodging, but only a 1% chance of hitting a kensei who is dodging.

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