DnD 5e – Monk Subclass Breakdown (2023)

Last Updated: February 16, 2023


Your choice of subclass will offer a combination of powerful abilities whichcomplement the core Monk features, adding new and exciting capabilities whichmake it easy to distinguish yourself from other monks.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Disclaimer
  • Monk Subclasses
  • 3rd-Party Publishers


RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options whichare extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful optionsthat only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
  • Green: Good options. Useful often.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essentialto the function of your character. Useful very frequently.

We will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, in handbooks for official content because we can’t assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. We also won’t cover Unearthed Arcana content because it’s not finalized, and we can’t guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.

The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released, and the article will be updated accordingly as time allows.

RPGBOTis unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.

Monk Subclasses

Way of MercyTCoE

Themed as a “plague doctor”, the Way of Mercy has nearly nothing to do withplagues and only a tangential association with anything that I would considera doctor. Rather, they use Ki to heal and harm creatures, and gain proficiencyin the Medicine skill (which roughly amounts to know how to stop lethalbleeding and almost nothing else since Medicine in 5e is almost completelyuseless). Despite the dubious relationship between the theme and themechanics, it’s an excellent subclass.

Way or Mercy adds the ability to heal creatures (yourself or others) byspending Ki. While you lack the full range of healing capabilities availableto spellcasters, the rate at which you can convert Ki into hit points isimpressive, and Way of Mercy eventually gains the ability to remove statusconditions and even raise the dead at very high levels. This allows the Monkto add Healer to their staple roles as a Scout and Striker, though you can’tcompete with classes like the Cleric.

Hand of Healing’s action economy makes it easy to repeatedly heal yourself incombat, which can easily compensate for the Monk’s relatively poor hit pointsand slowly-scaling AC, allowing you to serve as a Defender so long as yourpool of Ki Points can keep you healed. Just remember that this healing comesat the cost of a point which you could spend on Flurry of Blows or StunningFist, and hit point restoration alone won’t win a fight for you. Theadditional healing can offset the gap in maximum hp between the Monk and moredurable martial characters like the fighter or the paladin, but don’t pourevery but of Ki into keep your hit points high or you’ll find that you’re onthe losing side of a war of attrition.

Hand of Harm, the conceptual opposite of Hand of Healing, allows you to dealnecrotic damage and poison enemies. It’s nothing mind-blowing or gamebreaking, but it’s a simple and efficient way to turn Ki into damage outputand a tactical advantage thanks to the Poisoned condition. Better still, theadditional damage die is multiplied on a critical hit, so you can use it withthe same tactics that you might use Divine Smite or Eldritch Smite.

Way of Mercy’s biggest challenge is managing your Ki Pool. Hand of Harm and Hand of Healing encourage you to use Ki quickly, which is exciting and often helpful, but can quickly cause you to run out of resources. Be cautious about spending Ki, especially at low levels.

Way of Mercy Monk Handbook

  1. Implements of Mercy: Insight and Medicineare both Wisdom-based, which makes them good skills for the Monk. Unfortunately, Medicine is borderline useless (although check out some of oursuggestionsto fix that), as its sole written function is madeobsolete by the Healer’s Kit. Herbalism Kit does allow you to craft Potionsof Healing, though, which is nice.

    You also get a neat mask as a class feature. It doesn’t do anything. Youdon’t need it to do anything and technically you don’t even need to wearit.

  2. Hand of Healing: Your Martial Arts dieplus your Wisdom modifier is roughly equivalent to a 1st-level Cure Wounds.That’s not a ton of healing all at once, but you get a ton of Ki Points pershort rest as you gain levels, and the action economy around this isfantastic. This is also a great way to expend your remaining Ki Pointswhenever you reach a Short Rest.

    Cure Wounds is normally a hard choice in combat because you’re spendingyour Action to not damage your enemies when Healing Word is available, sothe Action Economy makes it hard to justify. But, while youcan use Hand of Healing as an Action, there’s almost no reason todo so in combat.

    Generally you’ll use Hand of Healing during combat as part of a Flurry ofBlows. When you do this, you spend the Ki Point to use Flurry of Blows,then you can decide to replace one of the unarmed strikes with Hand ofHealing. As far as I can tell, you can make this decision at any point soyou could make one attack and see the results before deciding if you wantto make another attack or heal something.

    Since you can move between attacks, I believe that you can also movebetween attacking and using Hand of Healing, so you could Attack, useFlurry of Blows to heal an ally, then run over to an enemy and attackthem some more.

    In many ways, this is like Healing Word, and until your Ki Pool is fairlylarge, that’s how you should consider Hand of Healing: a tiny amount ofhealing, but enough to bring a dying ally back into a fight. As you gainmore levels you can afford to use this more often, and Physician’s Touchallows you to quickly remove some problematic status conditions.

  3. Hand of Harm: One Ki point toautomatically deal as much damage as an unarmed strike is more efficientthan spending a Ki Point to perform a Flurry of Blows which has a chance tomiss. This is also necrotic damage, which is much less-commonly resistedthan bludgeoning damage (or whatever type your weapon deals).

    Since the damage is “extra damage” added to the attack, the extra damagedie is multiplied, much like Divine Smite or Sneak Attack, so the mosteffective time to use Hand of Harm is when you score a critical hit.

    (Video) Monk Subclass Tier Ranking (Part 1) in Dungeons and Dragons 5e

    However, this only works after you hit with an unarmed strike so ifyou’re using a weapon (spears are my go-to, and I recommend them fornearly every monk) there’s an incentive to fight unarmed even if yourMartial Arts die would deal less damage than a weapon. Of course, Flurryof Blows and Martial Arts’ Bonus Action attack only allow unarmed strikes,so there’s always going to be some portion of your attacks where you canapply this.

    Physician’s Touch later improves Hand of Harm to add the Poisonedcondition, making it an amazing way to briefly debuff martial enemieswithout a save.

  4. Physician’s Touch: Hand of Healing addsthe effect of Lesser Restoration and can also remove the Stunned condition.If this was an either/or it would be fantastic, but you get to both removeconditions and heal the target.

    Hand of Harm adds the ability to make the target Poisoned with no save.Poisoned is an absolutely fantastic debuff against most enemies (thoughspellcasters who don’t rely on attack rolls can largely ignore it). If youhit an enemy with an unarmed strike, you can activate Hand of Harm to dealbonus damage and make the target poisoned, then, while they’re atDisadvantage on Ability Checks due to being Poisoned, you can Shove themprone and/or grapple them, then make any remaining attacks at Advantage.If they’re Grappled, they’ll have a hard time escaping (Disadvantagethanks to Poisoned), so you’re likely to keep them on the ground untilyour next turn when you can drop a full Flurry of Blows on them atAdvantage and if they don’t die you can always hit them with Hand of Harmagain to keep them Poisoned.

  5. Flurry of Healing and Harm: Thisdramatically reduces the rate at which you spend Ki to activate Hand of Harmand Hand of Healing. You still need to spend 1 Ki Point to use Flurry ofBlows, but after that you can use Hand of Harm/Healing for free. You couldheal twice in one turn, heal once and attack (and hopefully use Hand ofHarm), or attack once to see what happens, then decide to either heal orattempt another attack.

    The wording around how Hand of Healing works here is somewhat clumsy. Itspecifies that you can use Hand of Healing with Flurry of Blows andreplace both attacks without spending Ki. You could already replace one,but the text is trying to say that you can now replace both attacks, butyou still don’t need to spend additional Ki to do so.

    Using Hand of Healing twice during a Flurry of Blows doubles your abilityto output healing. Weirdly, this also means that rather than spending anAction to use Hand of Healing outside of combat it’s more efficient topunch the air or attack the darkness, then follow with a Flurry of Blowsand punch yourself and your party until everyone feels better. You gettwice as much healing per Ki Point by doing this.

  6. Hand of Ultimate Mercy: Have a dead partymember? Take a Short Rest to get your Ki Points back if you need to, thenpunch them back to life. You only need 5 Ki Points to use this and you get17 per Short or Long Rest at this level so if someone goes down you likelystill have a bunch to spend.

    The fact that this only takes an Action is pretty astounding. It’ssimilar to Revivify, but lacks an expensive cost. You could absolutely usethis in combat, and in many cases that’s a good idea. This doesn’t havethe specific text around how mortal wounds or missing limbs are handled,but I assume it works like Raise Dead in most respects. The target notablydoesn’t need to be willing to return to life, either, which raises some interesting ethical questions.

    The one serious limitation on this is that you can only use it once perLong Rest. But, with a 24-hour window in which it will function after the target’s death, if youneed to raise two people you can raise one, take a long rest, and raisethe other and still have a ton of time to mess around before you getanywhere near the 24-hour timer. Of course, if you have three dead alliesyou’ll want to go find a cleric.

Way of ShadowPHB

Way of Shadow offers some near-magical capabilities which allow te monk to dostuff far more impressive than just punching stuff really fast. While theflavor is a lot of fun, and some of the mechanics are flashy and exciting, theMonk lacks built-in capabilities to capitalize on stealth and surprise, so youmay often feel like you are emerging from the shadows to gently tickle anopponent where a Rogue would be emerging to deal a massive pile of SneakAttack damage.

While it’s mechanically exciting, Ki-efficient, and objectively very cool,Way of Shadow has very little that helps you defeat enemies or overcome otherchallenges like traps or locked doors. It’s also dependent on you being ableto see in the dark, which either requires a race with Darkvision or that youspend Ki Points to cast the spell Darkvision. Even then, you can’t see throughyour own magical darkness.

If it’s possible, get Fighting Style (Blindfighting) or the Devil’s Sightinvocation so that you can use magical darkness to get easy Advantage incombat.

  1. Shadow Arts: Minor Illusion is great fordistractions. Shadow Arts is Way of Shadow’s only Ki-consuming ability,which is exciting because you can do so much by spending so little.
    • Darkness: Darkvision doesn’t allowyou to see inside Darkness, so be cautious about using this duringcombat. However, it can be nice to escape, to confuse your enemies, andto teleport into when you need to escape.

      If you want to abuse magical darkness, strongly consider taking theFighting Initiate feat to get Fighting Style (Blindfighting). Thiswill allow you to fight normally in melee when you can’t see, but mostof your enemies will make attacks at Disadvantage and won’t be able totarget you with many spells and special abilities.

    • Darkvision: With an 8-hour duration,you can afford to have this running all the time. If you don’t haveDarkvision from your race, this is absolutely essential.
    • Pass Without Trace: If you’resneaking, there is no reason to skip casting this. The bonus is just toogood.
    • Silence: While Silence isn’t mobilelike Darkness, it’s still very useful. Most spells include VerbalComponents, so disallowing sound can often cripple a spellcaster. Italso helps when you need to silently kill a foe. Drop Silence, ShadowStep to them, grapple them, and punch them until they fall over. Repeatas necessary until the local population is sufficiently reduced.
  2. Shadow Step: Teleportation is great, andAdvantage is great, but Monks get by on a large number of low-damageattacks, so Advantage on one attack isn’t particularly useful. Giving upyour Bonus Action also means less attacks that round. Advantage on oneattack helps a bit, but it doesn’t make up the damage output lost by a thirdattack, so you want to avoid using this if regular movement wouldsuffice.
  3. Cloak of Shadows: Invisibility is great,especially considering this costs nothing to use. Spend as much time aspossible invisible..
  4. Opportunist: Free attacks are always nice.Be sure to encourage your allies to attack the same targets that you’refighting in order to capitalize on this.

Way of The Ascendant DragonFToD

Way of the Ascendant Dragon is phenomenally cool, and does a lot of thingsvery well. It makes the Monk a bit of a blaster, allowing the Monk to handlecrowds, which no other monk subclass does especially well. You eventually getadditional capabilities like extremely limited flight and a version ofFrightful Presence which can let you keep foes Frightened for an entireencounter.

Ascendant Dragon answers the issue of multiple foes very nicely, and the limited access to flight and crowd control offer some very helpful tools that most monks can’t match. Even so, it’s not phenomenally powerful due to the low damage on Breath of the Dragon and the intentional limitations on Wings Unfurled and Frightful Presence. I think this is an immensely satisfying subclass to play, and it’s very well designed, but it’s not going to produce a stunningly powerful monk or upset the balance of your game.

Because the subclass’s effectiveness depends heavily on your ability to successfully hit multiple foes with Breath of the Dragon, position is extremely important. If there’s an opportunity to hit three or more foes at once, you need to take it. Use that monk speed (and potentially Step of the Wind) to get yourself into position and hit as many foes as possible.


  1. Draconic Disciple:
    • Draconic Presence: Monks rarely makeCharisma checks. This might help compensate for dumped Charisma, but itdoesn’t make the Monk a Face.
    • Draconic Strike: This allows you toeasily get around resistance to bludgeoning damage and resistance tonon-magic weapon damage types several levels before you get Ki-EmpoweredStrikes at level 6. You can also use it capitalize on damagevulnerabilities on those rare creatures that have them.
    • Tongue of the Dragon: Makes a lot ofsense thematically, but not particularly useful on a class that dumpsCharisma.
  2. Breath of the Dragon: The damage startslow, but as your Martial Arts die improves, the ability to damage groups ofenemies becomes very powerful. You get a pool of uses per day equal to yourProficiency Bonus before you can use Ki, which is a generous pool ofresources but doesn’t allow you to use Ki right before a Short Rest to savethe free daily uses.

    When spending Ki to use Breath of the Dragon, consider the opportunitycost presented by that decision. Could you have more impact with those twoKi Points by using Flurry of Blows or Stunning Fist than if you use thosepoints for a breath weapon? In my opinion, if you can hit three targetsthe breath weapon is worth the Ki cost. Otherwise, punching is probablybest.

  3. Wings Unfurled: Step of the Wind isactivated as a Bonus Action (it’s the one that lets you Dash as a BonusAction), so your movement for the turn (assuming that you don’t Dash withyour Action) is is double your walking speed. That’s a whole lot of flight,and it should be enough to get wherever you need to go. If you’re fightingflying enemies, try to ground them somehow.

    Unfortunately you can’t remain in the air since the wings disappear atthe end of your turn, but that might mean that Slow Fall is finallyconsistently useful.

    If you know a bit of geometry, you might remember that the bottom of a coneis a circle, so by combining Wings Unfurled and Breath of the Dragonyou can take to the air, drop a circle of breath onto foes below,and potentially hit more enemies than you could with a cone-shapedAOE from the ground.

    (Video) What Happened to Ascendant Dragon Monk? Full Subclass Breakdown from Fizban's Treasury of Dragons!

  4. Aspect of the Wyrm:
    • Frightful Presence: You can only makeone target Frightened per turn, and this consumes your Bonus Action soyou’re not spending it using Martial Arts or Flurry of Blows, butFrightened is a great debuff that can benefit your whole party. Targetsthat pass the save don’t get immunity to the effect, so you’re free tore-frighten them later. In single-enemy encounters, or even inencounters with one big enemy and a bunch of smaller ones, targetingpowerful foes will dramatically tip the odds in your favor. Resistanceand immunity fear are common, but not ubiquitous, so this will work inmost encounters in most games.
    • Resistance: Generally onlyspellcasters can change their energy damage type, so against manymonsters that rely on the affected damage types (dragons are a greatexample) this is a great defense. Unfortunately, the 10-foot radius onthe aura won’t protect your whole party unless you’re in tightquarters.
  5. Ascendant Aspect:
    • Augment Breath: You don’t want to usethis every time you use your breath weapon, but if the added range canhit one additional target, this is absolutely worth the additionalKi.
    • Blindsight: Blindsight is great. Bythis level there are numerous options available for blocking sight, suchas spells like Fog Cloud or items like an Eversmoking Bottle, puttingyou at a massive tactical advantage in combat. You do still need to findyour enemies to get within 10 feet, but you can still hear through fog,smoke, and magical darkness so that shouldn’t be hard. Of course, thisis also available as a Fighting Style at level 1, so it’s not amazingas a 17th-level feature.
    • Explosive Fury: This adds to Aspectof the Wyrm, so in addition to choosing either Frightful Presence orResistance, you also get the initial burst of damage so you’re no longergiving up the damage output which you might get from Martial Arts orFlurry of Blows. This isn’t a huge amount of damage and the 10-footrange is still tiny, but you get to pick the type and it doesn’t haveany additional cost. I recommend jumping into a group of enemies toactivate this, then get to punching.

Way of the Astral SelfTCoE

Way of the Astral Self allows the Monk to activate a 10-minute combat buffwhich I can best describe as a “punch ghost”. That doesn’t quite do itjustice, and the official term is “astral self”, but “punch ghost” accuratelyencapsulates the idea that the visual representation of the effect is aghostly representation of your monk’s ki, and the primary function of thisghost is to punch. Therefore: punch ghost.

Mechanically, Way of the Astral Self allows the Monk to emphasize Wisdom moreheavily without sacrificing the martial aspects of the class. It also solvessome specific pain points which most monks face: grappling, reach, anddarkness. The class features are mechanically simple and there’s nearly no newtracking or micro-management to be done, so the whole subclass is very simpleto play, which is welcome considering that the core features of the Monk aresomewhat complex.

There are some shortcomings in the subclass, however. Since Arms of theAstral Self is expected to be at the core of your combat tactics, you give upthe damage boost from using a weapon until your Martial Arts die scales a bit.This is a fairly minor loss, and getting Reach in exchange is certainly worththe cost. Despite the emphasis on Wisdom to fuel your Astral Self abilities,you still need high Dexterity for your AC.

The whole of the subclass is entirely dependent on spending Ki Points to turnon the subclass features (though obviously Way of the Astral Self is not alonein this regard), and while the features all last a very generous 10 minutesonce activated, you need to be careful about spending Ki because if you’re outof points you’re back to being a basic, Dexterity-based monk.

The “Forms of your Astral Self” sidebar in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everythingencourages you to put some thought into the appearance of your monk’s astralself, and I want to encourage players to follow that advice. Deciding how yourastral self appears is almost as important a detail as what your characterlooks like. Try to think of something reflective of your character that’s moreinteresting than “my guy, but blue, translucent, and spooky”.

Way of the Astral Self Handbook

  1. Arms of the Astral Self: The subclass’ssignature feature, managing Arms of the Astral Self is the core of Way ofthe Astral Self’s combat tactics. Turning this on puts you into yourpreferred combat mode, and while it does consume a precious Ki Point the10-minute duration can easily carry you through one or two combats if you’requick. The ability is complex despite a fairly small amount of rules text,so bear with me through the following pile of text.

    When and where to activate Arms of the Astral Self is an importantchoice. When you activate it, you get an AOE damage effect against targetsof your choice within 10 feet. The damage is roughly equivalent to oneunarmed strike (double your martial arts die is roughly equal to one dieplus your modifier), and with a 10-foot radius you should be able to hitseveral foes if you move between them.

    It may be worthwhile to spend your Action to Disengage so that you canmove without provoking Opportunity Attacks so that you can positionyourself in the middle of a group of enemies. But there’s a risk/rewardconsideration here: your AC and hit points need to be able to hold up tobeing surrounded by enemies and since you’re using your Bonus Action toactivate Arms of the Astral Self you can’t also use it for PatientDefense. You might also try spending your Action to Dodge sinceDisadvantage on attacks against you will apply to both Opportunity Attacksagainst you and any other attacks made against you until the start of yournext turn.

    Once active, Arms of the Astral Self provides several benefits whichshould be discussed individually.

    Using Wisdom in place of Strength for Athletics checks helps withgrapples, both ones that you start and ones that are forced upon you. Youcan always use Dexterity (Acrobatics) to escape a grapple (typically thebest way for the Monk to do so), but this reduces the need for Acrobatics.Making Athletics viable in combat means that you can use the Grapple+Shovecombo to force enemies prone and hold them there without investingStrength.

    The second benefit allows you to make unarmed strikes. Like I said above:“punch ghost”. While this isn’t flashy, it’s arguably the primary reasonfor this ability to exist. You can’t use weapons with your astral arms,unfortunately, so using your arms during your Attack action will meanslightly less damage than other monks until your Martial Arts diescales.

    The third benefit adds reach for your unarmed strikes. Reach is a hugebenefit for the monk because you can fight from outside the reach of manyenemies then use your high movement speed to move out of range of theirmovement. It also helps with targeting multiple foes who might not beconveniently adjacent to you. However, this only applies to your UnarmedStrikes, so you can’t use this reach to Grapple or Shove.

    The final benefit allows you to use Wisdom in place of Strength/Dexterityfor your Unarmed Strikes and makes them deal Force damage so you’re nolonger crippled by resistance/immunity to bludgeoning damage. If you forgoweapons, raising Wisdom to 20 before switching to Dexterity can be a greatidea for the Way of the Astral Self Monk. This also helps to capitalize onStunning Strike because the DC is Wisdom-based. However, when you run outof Ki and can’t summon your astral arms, you’re going to be in trouble.Manage your Ki very carefully and try to keep a point in reserve in caseyou’re surprised by combat before your next rest.

  2. Visage of the Astral Self: Situationalby design, Visage of the Astral Self costs a Ki Point to activate and can beused separately or in conjunction with Arms of the Astral Self. You won’tneed this in every combat, but when you need it you can turn it on withoutcutting into your action economy any further than you would by activatingArms of the Astral Self.
    • Astral Sight: Darkvision by any meansis great, and though the 10-minute duration won’t match permanentDarkvision or the Darkvision spell, neither of those allow you see inmagical darkness and neither allow you to see 120 ft. (SuperiorDarkvision gives 120 ft. range but it’s not a common racial trait). Thisalone is the most likely reason to activate Visage of the AstralSelf.
    • Wisdom of the Spirit: Time to takeyour magical punch ghost into a social situation? Here you go. Insightis likely the only contribution you’ll be making to conversations sincenearly every monk dumps Charisma. Monks are too MAD to invest anyserious resources outside of Dex/Con/Wis.
    • Word of the Spirit: Roughly mimicsthe effects of Message for whispering and Thaumaturgy for shouting.Neat, but not very impactful.
  3. Body of the Astral Self: One gooddefensive option and one good offensive option. You need to summon both yourarms and your visage, so you’ll need to adjust to spending two Ki Pointseach time you get ready for combat, but the benefits are frequently worththe expense.
    • Deflect Energy: Damage of these typescomes up all the time, and the list of affected damage types includesthunder, which is a rarity. The damage reduction won’t match Resistancein most cases, but the amount of damage you prevent will add up quickly.For comparison: The average damage you’ll prevent (1d10+Wis) will exceedthe amount of hit points you gain when you gain a level (1d8+Con) unlessyour Constitution is really high compared to your Wisdom, and retaininga level’s worth of hit points at the cost of Reaction is a great trade.Plus, if you need this once in an encounter you’re going to need itseveral times.
    • Empowered Arms: A small damage boost,but it will add up reliably, and after applying twice (once on each ofyour turns, so two turns worth of attacks) it will offset the actioncost of activating Arms of the Astral Self instead of using Martial Artsfor one turn.
  4. Awakened Astral Self: This is expensive,but remember that it’s 5 Ki Points instead of the 2 which you’ve becomeaccustomed to spending normally thanks to Body of the Astral Self. Theeffects are excellent, providing both the additional attack and the AC bonusprovided by Haste, which are the most important parts of the spell in mostcases. With a 10-minute duration and your Ki Points recharging on a ShortRest you could use your Ki for this and literally nothing else and do verywell in combat.

    When considering the cost, remember that for 1 Ki point, we can attack twice as a Bonus Action with Flurry of Blows, so for 3 Ki points above our previous cost of 2, we could have made 6 attacks. Instead, we can make an extra attack on every round for ten minutes, and we can still use our Bonus Action for a single standard Martial Arts attack. When looking at it that way, this is basically the same as removing the Ki cost of using Flurry for ten minutes.

    This also stacks with Haste, so if you have somone in your party who cancast Haste on you, you can get up to 6 attacks per turn with Flurry ofBlows and enjoy an AC of 24 (+5 Dex, +5 Wis, +2 Awakened Astral Self, +2Haste) without magic items.

Way of the Drunken MasterXGtE

Despite the name, Way of the Drunken Master has no mechanics related todrinking. If you want your character to pantomime drinking while being totallysober, that is within the rules. Beyond that minor weirdness, the subclass isvery interesting. It caters well to hit-and-run tactics which help to keep themonk alive and out of range of direct attacks, encouraging you to focus on theMonk’s role as a Striker.

However, the only directly offensive option it offers is Intoxicating Frenzyat 17th level. If you think you’ll do enough damage based solely on core Monkfeatures, but are worried about staying alive, the Drunken Master may be agood option.

The biggest problem with Way of the Drunken Master is that it can’t do muchthat the Monk couldn’t already do. You’re still just running around andpunching things, and the subclass doesn’t offer any new options for solvingproblems, you’re just sligthly better at using what Martial Arts already givesyou.

(Video) Monk is Broken | Dungeons and Dragons 5e Guide

Because the subclass is simple, forgiving, and Ki-efficient, it’s a greatoption for new players. If you’re a veteran and want more buttons to push, youmay still find that the Monk’s core features are sufficiently complex to keepyou busy.

  1. Bonus Proficiencies: Two proficiencies,but neither of them are especially useful.
  2. Drunken Technique: Combine Flurry of Blowsand Disengage for just one Ki point. Excellent for hit-and-run tactics whichmonks often need to rely upon because their AC is relatively poor and theyhave few hit points compared to other front-line martial characters.
  3. Tipsy Sway:
    • Leap to Your Feet: With the Monk’sspeed bonus you can typically afford to spend the movement and stillmove around as much as you need. However, movement is an important partof the Drunken Master’s play style, and tripping you could be a good wayto inhibit your movements without this ability.
    • Redirect Attack: If you’re fightingmultiple enemies, it’s possible that one of their attacks will do moredamage than one of yours. If that’s the case, spending a Ki point herewill do more than spending that Ki point on Flurry of Blows. To makethis work reliably, you’ll need to position yourself so that you’rewithing 5 feet of two enemies, which can be a dangerous prospect for theMonk and isn’t always possible because enemies may want to fight othercreatures instead.
  4. Drunkard’s Luck: Disadvantage on asaving throw can kill you. If it’s your life on the line, 2 Ki points is alow price to pay. However, Disadvantage isn’t always a problem, so this issituational by design.
  5. Intoxicated Frenzy: Remember that DrunkenTechnique allows you to Disengage as part of Flurry of Blows, so you can useyour ridiculous speed (+30 ft. above your race’s base speed at this level)to run around the entire encounter and hit everything (5 things at most)once with your Flurry of Blows bonus attacks, plus your two regular attacks.This is great for handle multiple enemies, but it’s only meaningful inencounters with three or more foes, which isn’t every encounter.

Way of the Four ElementsPHB

Highly customizable, and many of the options are good, but there are a lot oftraps and challenges here. Monks have issues with flight, crowds, and enemiesresistant to weapon damage, and way of the Four Elements attempts to fix allof those problems. However, there are only a handful of good options at anygiven tier, which negates much of the customizability aspect, and theabilities consume your Ki very quickly, competing with core monk options likeFlurry of Blows and Stunning Fist and often causing you to run out of Ki veryquickly until you learn to weight the costs and benefits of casting a spellinstead of just punching things.

The Ki-Fueled Attack Optional Class Feature is hugely important for Way ofthe Four Elements. Because Elemental Disciplines all use your Action, youtypically can’t take the Attack action (Fangs of the Fire Snake is anexception) and therefore can’t use your Bonus Action to attack with MartialArts or Flurry of Blows. Ki-Fueled Attack addresses this problem, offering ameaningful boost to your damage output. It’s not enough to fix the subclass,but it helps.

Way of Four Elements has several major challenges. You get spellcasting at asimilar rate to the Edlritch Knight, though you do get access to one 5th-levelspell (Cone of Cold) and Way of Four Elements gets access to theirhighest-level spells two levels earlier than the Eldritch Knight. Where theMonk falls behind is in the total amount of spellcasting that they can do in aday. Because the Ki point cost scales quickly, you’ll likely only be able tocast two to four spells between each Short Rest, and without cantrips you lackan inexpensive go-to magical option.

Because some of the abilities allow you to cast a spell you’re vulnerable tocounterspelling and issues like resistance or immunity to spells. You canupcast spells and add damage to other disciplines by spending more Ki, butthere is a cap and doing so is rarely worth the cost, so you’re typicallycasting low-level spells a long time after other spellcasters got access tothem.

You get just four choices of Elemental Discipline, so there’s lesscustomization than you might like and you’ll have very few options. Untillevel 6, your subclass essentially boils down to the abuility to cast one1st-level spell a few times per short rest, so I hope you really likeburning hands.

As a quick fix to Way of the Four Elements, I recommend three changes:

  • Each 3rd-level discipline except Elemental Attunement also gives the Monk acantrip with the same element. So Fangs of the Fire Snake might grantProduce Flame, while Shape of the Flowing River might grant Shape Water.This gives the Monk inexpensive ways to use magic without immediatelyburning through their Ki.
  • The Monk learns an additional discipline at levels 3, 8, and 14. This givesthem a total of 7 at 17th level rather than 4, allowing some moreversatility and allowing the Monk to justify something that isn’tblue.
  • Use the Ki-Fueled Attack Optional Class Feature so that the Monk isn’tforced to take a turn off to stop being a monk so that they can be bad atspellcasting.
  1. Disciple of the Elements: This iseffectively the whole subclass, and it defines your not-quite-spellcasting.The actual interesting parts are you choices of Elemental Discipline.
  2. Elemental Disciplines:
    1. Elemental Attunement: This is mostlyflavor and minor trickery. But hey, it’s free!
    2. Fangs of the Fire Snake: Really onlyhelpful if you need fire damage or can’t stand adjacent to your target.Spending extra Ki for 1d10 damage is a poor investment beyond very lowlevel, but since it’s extra damage it’s multiplied on a critical hitsimilar to divine smite. Unfortunately, you need to activate Fangs ofthe Fire Snake at the beginning of your Action rather than waiting untilyou roll a critical hit.
    3. Fist of the Four Thunders: Knockingenemies away from you doesn’t help you much since you can spend Ki toDisengage, and Thunderwave’s tiny AOE can rarely hit more than onecreature. The damage scaling is decent compared to many other ElementalDisciplines, but it’s still effectively a first-level spell.
    4. Fist of Unbroken Air: Decent rangeand damage, and it both knocks the target away and knocks them prone.The damage is slightly better than the damage output from two unarmedstrikes from a high-level monk (2d10+10*65% hit chance vs. 3d10, avg.13.65 vs 16.5), and knocking flying targets prone also causes them tofall, allowing you to counter flying enemies without flying yourself.Using Ki-Fueled Attack to follow this is especially helpful because youcan likely attack the now-prone target.
    5. Rush of the Gale Spirits: Verysituational.
    6. Shape of the Flowing River: Thisworks similarly to Shape Water, which is one of my absolute favoritecantrips, but it’s only situationally usefully because you can only useShape of the Flowing River meaningfully when you have a large amount ofice or water nearby. If you have a lake or something handy you cancompletely reshape the battlefield, but how often do you fight on orbeside a lake or atop a glacier?
    7. Sweeping Cinder Strike: A good AOEwith solid damage and decent scaling. The cone is small, but you shouldstill be able to consistently hit two creatures while running around inmelee. At low levels this is a great use of Ki compared to Flurry ofBlows, but expect to retrain this as you gain levels.
    8. Water Whip: Similar to Fist ofUnbroken Air, but you can either knock the target prone ir bring it intopunching distance.
  3. Elemental Disciplines:
    1. Clench of the North: Paralysis is anoff button for a single enemy. Turn them off, then go punch them a wholebunch. Unfortunately, it’s just Hold Person so it’s only situationallyuseful due to the creature type limitations.
    2. Gong of the Summit: The next bestthing to Fireball, and the best AOE damage you can get until you can getFlames of the Phoenix at 11th level. If you can hit two targets, this islikely worth the Ki. If you can hit three, it’s absolutely worth the Ki.However, it works on a Constitution save, and those tend to be high.
  4. Elemental Disciplines:
    1. Flames of the Phoenix: Great damage atlong range. Fireball is the best instantaneous AOE damage in the gameuntil 9th-level spells come online. The Ki cost is high, and you getthis 6 levels after the Wizard, but it’s often still worth the cost ifyou can hit a group of enemies. The damage scales linearly and 1d6 extradamage feels small, but compare 1d6 damage to 3+ targets to the extradamage from one additional attack with Flurry of Blows. If you can hit abig group of enemies, it may be worth putting as much Ki into this asyou’re allowed to spend.
    2. Mist Stance: Good escape andinfiltration option, and with a 1-hour duration you can do a lot for theKi cost.
    3. Ride the Wind: Flight is a definingpart of high-level combat. If you’re stuck on the ground, you’re missinghalf of the fighting unless Fist of Unbroken Air or Water Whip can knocksome foes down to your level. At higher levels you can even use this toupcast Fly and affect your allies.
  5. Elemental Disciplines:
    1. Breath of Winter: Just slightly moredamage than Flames of the Phoenix, but without the appeal of fantasticrange. Cones can work for the Monk, especially since your high speedallows you to easily position yourself to use them, but Flames of thePhoenix is less expensive and easier to use, so it’s hard to justifylearning this when you get so few disciplines.
    2. Eternal Mountain Defense: 1-hourduration for a fantastic defensive option, and you get to omit thematerial component. Note that the required level was changed in Erratafrom 12th level to 17th level.
    3. River of Hungry Flame: Fantastic areacontrol at any level, but maintaining Concentration may be difficult,fire resistance is common, and at this level the damage may not beespecially effective. Wave of Rolling Earth may be a better choicesimply because the wall can’t be walked through without first breakingit.
    4. Wave of Rolling Earth: The namedoesn’t quite make sense, but Wall of Stone is fantastic both as areacontrol and for utility.

Way of the KenseiXGtE

The biggest draw of the Kensei is that it opens up some martial weapons tothe Monk. While that offers a minor damage boost and access to reach viawhips, the wording of Agile Parry (maybe accidentally) invalidates theKensei’s most notable feature. A smart Kensei will typically forgo one weaponattack in order to benefit from Agile Parry’s AC bonus. That means that yourweapon is most meaningful from levels 6 through 10, but even then it’s averageboost of 1 damage per round over what a spear would offer. Even worse, theDedicated Weapon Optional Class Feature steal’s the Kensei’s signature gimickand lets every monk use martial weapons effectively.

At higher levels where your AC will generally be better after several AbilityScore Increases, the damage difference between your martial weapons and thenormal Monk damage die isn’t enough to matter, so the AC from Agile Parry istypically more useful. If you use magic items in your game, the Kensei may besalvageable if you can find a sufficiently appealing magic weapon, but unlessyour DM guarantees access to magic weapons that’s a dangerous gamble. On topof that, other monks will actually benefit more from magic weapons becausethey don’t need to give up one of the attacks made during their Action to getan AC boost.

The Kensei benefits greatly from the Optional Class Features introduced inTasha’s Cauldron of Everything. Decicated Weapon admittedly robs the Kensei oftheir monopoly on martial weapons and weapons with the Two-Handed propertylike bows, but the other Optional Class Features solve some key problems whichthe Kensei has faced since they were published.

While fighting in melee, the Kensei typically needs to make one UnarmedStrike during in order to benefit from Agile Parry. Thanks to the newKi-Fueled Attack feature, you can spend one Ki point during your Action usingeither the Kensei’s Deft Strike feature or the Focused Aim Optional ClassFeature to trigger Ki-Fueled Attack. That then allows you to make an attackwith your weapon as a Bonus Action rather than using an Unarmed Strike. Whilefighting at range it will often be cheaper to stick to Kensei’s Shot, but athigh levels your damage output from a third attack may be large enoughcompared to the 2d4 total bonus damage (1d4 on two attacks) that you mightspend the Ki occasionally to trigger Ki-Fueled Attack.

The Kensei is conceptually interesting, but the specific wording of the features makes it frustrating to play. Try allowing all of the Optional Class Features for the Kensei, and see if that helps. Alternatively, allow the Kensei to use Agile Parry any time that they take the Attack action and make any melee attack so that the Kensei can actually justify using a weapon more than once per turn.

Way of the Kensei Monk Handbook

  1. Path of the Kensei: These are thefundamental features which will define how your character functions.Features granted at higher levels generally build on top of these features.
    • Kensei Weapons: This opens up a lotof possibilities for monks. With only simple weapons and short swords,the monk’s best weapon is a spear. Opening up most martial weapons meansaccess to weapon properties that are normally out of the Monk’s reach.I’ll address some interesting possibilities, but I won’t list everymartial weapon because that would take a ton of space without offeringanything useful, but I’ll cover good options and options which look goodbut aren’t. Unfortunately, there are only a handful of actually goodoptions, so expect every Kensei to end up using the same set of weapons.

      It’s easy to look at this feature alongside the Dedicated Weapon OptionalClass Feature and feel like it’s not very useful. In truth, if you canget proficiencies elsewhere, Dedicated Weapon makes Kensei Weaponsmostly redundant. The only advantage of Kensei Weapons is that you’renot limited to one weapon chosen at the end of a long rest so you canchange weapons to fit your situation (not that that happens much).

      • Melee
        • Battleaxe / Longsword / Warhammer: Nice and simple, you go straight to maximum monk Damage at1d10. I suggest making one of these your first weapon choice,and picking up one of a different damage type at 6th or 11thlevel.
        • Trident: Numerically identicalto spears.
        • Rapier: You get to treat yourchosen weapons as monk weapons, so you get to use them withDexterity regardless of the Finesse property. Unless you’remulticlassing into Rogue there is no reason to selectrapier.
        • Whip: Literally the only wayfor the Monk to get reach with a weapon. Whips are handicappedby a poor damage die, but you get to ignore that. At high levelsthis will become a gradually better option as the damage beginsto approach and eventually match longswords.
      • Ranged
        • Longbow / Shortbow: The only optionswithout the Loading property, so it’s the clear winner unlessyou want to take Crossbow Expert or Gunner and fight in melee with aranged weapon. You could do that and it would be really fun, butMonks desperately need Ability Score Increases so feats areusually a hard choice.
        • Musket: If your game is using firearms, a musket is a great weaponchoice for the Kensei. The Loading property only matters if you’re not trying to trigger Agile Parry,but if you want more than one attack you will need Gunner.
    • Agile Parry: The precise wording ofthis ability is critical. You need to make an unarmed strikeas part of the Attack action. So the Bonus Action attack(s)from Martial Arts or Flurry of Blows doesn’t count. Until you get ExtraAttack you’ll want to forgo your weapon in favor of the AC bonus, andonce you get Extra Attack you’ll typically make just one attack withyour weapon.

      While that’s an annoying reduction to your damage output for theturn, a +2 bonus to AC is excellent for a class notorious for havingpoor durability. Unfortunately, that means that a smart Kensei willfrequently make at most one attack per turn with their weapon. At lowlevels you need the AC, and at high levels the additional damage fromyour weapon won’t be a big enough difference to justify struggling touse your weapon.

      The Ki-Fueled Attack Optional Class Feature can address this issue tosome degree. If you spend Ki to use Deft Strike or the Focused AimOptional Class Feature, that triggers Ki-Fueled Attack, allowing youto use your weapon to attack as a Bonus Action.

    • Kensei’s Shot: Not a ton of damage,but it makes ranged attacks competitive with your melee attacks anddoesn’t cost Ki. Normally monks fighting at range totally sacrifice thepotential damage from their Bonus Actions, so it’s nice to have an easyway to turn that action into something useful. Since it’s extra damage,it’s multiplied on a critical hit.
    • Way of the Brush: One proficiency in atool which will probably never get used.
  2. One with the Blade: Two mostly independentbenefits.
    • Magic Kensei Weapons: Normally theMonk needs to rely solely on their unarmed strikes to overcome damageresistance to non-magical attacks unless you can guarantee access tomagic weapons. This allows you to continue using your favorite weaponswithout issue, even if they’re not magic.
    • Deft Strike: It’s rare that this willdo more damage than spending that Ki point to perform a Flurry of Blows,but if you’re having a lot of trouble hitting you might need damagewherever you can get it. The wording also says “extra damage”, whichmeans that the damage is part of the attacks normal damage and istherefore multiplied on a critical hit the same way Eldritch Smite andDivine Smite are, and much like those features you can decide to use itafter rolling your attack so it’s an easy damage boost if you roll anatural 20.
  3. Sharpen the Blade: Extremely tempting,but that’s a lot of Ki to spend on one (possibly 2 with Ki-Fueled Attack)attack per turn. The additional attacks from Flurry of Blows will likely bea more useful way to spend Ki.

    Your best use case for this is when fighting at range where Agile Parryis less crucial. Grab a longbow, put 3 Ki points into it, and startshooting. Consider using Deft Strike and/or the Focused Aim Optional ClassFeature so that you can trigger Ki-Fueled Attack and attack as a BonusAction, but you’ll want to make that decision early since you want to useKensei’s Shot before you start attacking if you’re going to use it atall.

  4. Unerring Accuracy: You’re only going tobe making one attack with a weapon each turn unless you use the Ki-FuelledAttack Optional Class Feature, so you might as well make it reliable.

Way of the Long DeathSCAG

Exceptionally tanky, Way of the Long Death makes the Monk very difficult tokill, but lacks useful offensive or utility options. This allows the the Monkto serve as a Defender more easily than they can typically manage with theird8 hit dice and slowly scaling AC (typically 15 or 16 at level 1, up to 20eventually compared to a fighter who can start at 19).

(Video) Davvy's D&D 5e Monk Guide

Way of Long Death is very mechanically simple. Of the four features, only twoare active abilities so there’s very little additional complexity on top ofthe Monk’s already-complex core features. It’s a great option for new players,and experienced players will find that the tactical benefits of Hour ofReaping are enticing enough to keep them occupied.

  1. Touch of Death: If you can bring this intoplay even once or twice a day, it’s potentially a huge boost to your hitpoints. When combat starts, look for weak enemies to pick off beforeengaging enemies who are going to eat through your hit points.

    This ability can be abused by reducing innocent creatures to 0 hitpoints, so carry around a bag of rats and knock one unconscious betweencombats to keep your temporary hit points running.

  2. Hour of Reaping: Great when you’reoutnumbered, or just when your party is facing enemies with poor Wisdomsaves. Prevent your enemies from approaching and hinder their attacks whileyour party kills them at range. The duration is only until the end of yournext turn, but this can be used as often as you like so you can just standthere menacingly and win the fight for your party without spending anyexpendable resources.
  3. Mastery of Death: As long as you have Ki,you have hit points.
  4. Touch of the Long Death: Very expensivefor how much damage you deal. Punching things won’t be as fast, but it’scheaper and much more reliable. Save this for single enemies right beforeyou rest, and expect enemies to pass the Constitution save sinceConstitution saves tend to be high.

Way of the Open HandPHB

The “generic” option for the Monk. Open Hand offers some excellent, well-rounded options that really help to squeeze the most utility out of the Monk’s core abilities.

Way of the Open Hand Monk Handbook

  1. Open Hand Technique: This dramaticallyimproves the benefits of spending one of your few Ki points to get an extraattack. Since Monks typically dump Strength (which makes Shove a badoption), the knockdown and push effects are your best bet for making enemiesprone or relocating them. Unfortunately you apply these effects with anattack from Flurry of Blows, which is made after your Attack for the turn,so you’re making at most one attack against a target after you knock themprone.

    If you need to get out of melee, preventing the target from takingReactions prevents them from making an Attack of Opportunity so you canusually choose to use Flurry of Blows instead of using Step of the Wind toDisengage.

    If you choose to knock enemies away, note that the word “away” doesn’t specifydirection. Upward at an angle is still “away”.

  2. Wholeness of Body: A great option to usebetween fights, or when you’re so critically low on hit points that walkinginto combat would be suicidal. In-combat healing is rarely a good idea, sotry to avoid it as much as you can.

    This is somewhat redundant with the Quickened Healing Optional ClassFeature, but Wholeness of Body will restore more hit points and doesn’tcost Ki.

  3. Tranquility: Considering that Monks lackany social skills, a peaceful approach is rarely the best way for Monks toapproach problems. This will help prevent enemies from attacking you untilyou break the Sanctuary effect, but usually this will only last until yourturn on the first round of the first combat each day.
  4. Quivering Palm: Save-or-die one creatureevery other round for 3 Ki. The save is Constitution and Constitution savestend to be high, but at the tiny cost of 3 Ki it’s inexpensive enough thatyou can afford to retry several times against powerful single foes.

Way of the Sun SoulSCAG

The Sun Soul Monk tries to bridge the gap between the Monk’s melee capacityand the ranged capacity of a Blaster or ranged Striker. The features are verysustainable since most of them don’t require Ki to use, but without spendingKi their damage is pitiful, so you will frequently find yourself burningthrough your Ki pool early, then resorting to punching things or shooting atthem with Radiant Sun Bolt. Way of the Four Elements (possibly with MagicInitiate to pick up a ranged cantrip if you’re desperate for a ranged attackoption) does essentially the same thing to much greater effect, and has theadditional ability to pick different spells.

Way of Sun Soul has some really good ideas, but the execution of those ideas simply isn’t effective. Radiant Sun Bolt gives the monk a meaningful ranged option, but the only real improvement is that the Monk can attack from 30 feet away. It’s no more damaging or efficient than just walking up and punching something, and you actually lose potential damage compared to using a spear at low levels. Searing Arc Strike helps with crowds, but it’s a 1st-level spell with a tiny area of effect and low damage which you get 3 levels later than basically anyone else who can cast it. Searing Sunburst is basically Fireball but less damage and a worse save, and even though it’s free you’ll typically get better results from punching things, which is also free.

Sun Soul needs a lot of changes to make it work. Adding the Optional ClassFeatures helps, but it is nowhere near enough. The core issue with thesubclass is that the features are usually at best equivalent to justattacking and using Flurry of Blows. Here are some suggested fixes:

  • Radiant Sun Bolt: You may replace any unarmed strike with a Radiant Sun Bolt attack, allow the monk to use either Dexterity or Wisdom for attack and damage rather than locking them into Dexterity, and increase the range by 10 feet every time the Martial Arts die increases, up to a maximum of of 60 feet at level 17. This allows the Monk to attack with their Bonus Action without spending Ki, allows them to build around Wisdom to focus on special features instead of just punching, and to function at range greater than the movement speed of nearly everything in the Monster Manual.
  • Searing Arc Strike: Instead of using Burning Hands, this is a 15-foot cone which deals 1d8+Wisdom Modifier damage, and activating it costs no Ki. The Monk may spend Ki to enhance the effects, adding 1d8 damage and +5 feet to the size of the cone, up to a maximum number of Ki points equal to half their monk level. This gives the monk an inexpensive way to handle multiple foes, and the ability to expand the cone keeps the feature meaningful at high levels once Searing Sunburst comes online. Adding the Monk’s Wisdom modifier as a flat damage bonus helps keep the damage roughly consistent if you don’t spend Ki to improve the effects.
  • Searing Sunburst: Change the base damage to 2d6+Wisdom Modifier.

Way of the Sun Soul Monk Handbook

  1. Radiant Sun Bolt: Finally, a meaningfulranged option for the Monk! The damage die is admittedly small compared tousing a spear in melee, but you can replace any of your attacks during theAttack action (not the one from Martial Arts), and the damage die will scaleas you gain levels. What really makes this shine however, is the second half of the feature, solving the Flurry of Blows problem for ranged Monk builds.

    You don’t need free hands to make these attacks, so you can switchbetween your spear and Radiant Sun Bolt at will. If you spend the Ki Pointto make two attacks as a bonus action, you can keep up with or even outdoreal spellcasters in terms of ranged damage output. Even the Warlock withEldritch Blast+Agonizing Blast may struggle to match Radiant Sun Bolt whenyou spend Ki to make additional attacks as a Bonus Action since you stilladd your Dexterity bonus to the attacks. The Warlock won’t catch up until17th level when Eldritch Blast adds a fourth ray. Of course, EldritchBlast doesn’t cost Ki to make all of those attacks, so by level 11Eldritch Blast+Agonizing Blast will be more effective if you’re notwilling to spend Ki.

    This attack does present a weird situation to explore. Certain magic items grant a bonus to spell attack rolls and they have various attunement requirements. Most require levels as a specific spellcaster and so only function when multiclassing, and only for that class’s spells. The Wand of the War Mage is a bonus to all spell attacks and requires “attunement by a spellcaster”, but the real question is whether the ability to cast Burning Hands with Searing Arc Strike is enough for a Sun Soul Monk to count as a spellcaster. Technically, no, but ask your DM if they’ll let it slide so you can have slightly more accurate lasers.

  2. Searing Arc Strike: A great option whenyou’re facing crowds of enemies in close quarters, but it can be hard to hitmore than two creatures with such a small cone, and the damage isn’t greatunless you spend a bunch of Ki. This also does fire damage, which is weirdbecause everything else in the subclass deals radiant damage.

    If you can hit three creatures, this is a more efficient use of both yourAction and your Ki than spending the same turn to attack and use eitherFlurry of Blows or the Bonus Action attack with Radiant Sun Bolt.

    Getting this feature at 6th level is frustrating. Cones work fine onmartial characters who can survive in melee, but it’s a 1st-level spellthat you get at level 6. Way of Four Elements has been casting BurningHands for 3 levels already at the same Ki cost.

    Still worse, once you get Searing Sunburst, this is basically useless.For the same two Ki points, Searing Sunburst deals 6d6 damage (avg. 21compared to Searing Arc Strike’s 13.5) in a significantly larger AOE andat 150-foot range. Adding more Ki widens the gap even further. Thisfeature starts weak and becomes completely obsolete at level 11.

  3. Searing Sunburst: The base damage isn’tgreat, but it scales reasonably well and doesn’t cost any Ki Points to useat the base damage. Unfortunately, because the base damage is so low that youneed to spend a ton of Ki to do any serious damage, and, since this is on aConstitution save your enemies are likely to pass the save which means they take no damage, not half damage.

    The best part of this is that you can use it for free. 2d6 damage stillisn’t a ton of damage, but the range is great at 150 feet (compared tojust 30 feet for Radiant Sun Bolt), so if you’re fighting at long rangeyou can shell your enemies with this at the base damage until they eitherdie or get tired of your shenanigans and move closer.

  4. Sun Shield: A nice deterrent. The damageisn’t huge (probably 10 damage at this level), but the effect is constantunless you turn it off, which you might do when you need to be stealthy. Thebiggest frustration is that this consumes your Reaction so you can’t use itfor Opportunity Attacks or something like that.

3rd-Party Publishers

RPGBOT has covered some 3rd-party content from our favorite creators. This content is published under the Open Gaming License, under Creative Commons, or through DMsGuild, and is not considered official content. As such, it is not available in Adventurer’s League organized play, and your group may not allow it in your game. If your group wants to explore 3rd-party content, we hope that these articles will help you make them work for you.

(Video) Monk Guide for Dungeons and Dragons 5e

  • Matt Mercer’s Way of the Cobalt Soul Monk


What is the strongest monk subclass 5E? ›

Monk Subclass Rankings Best to Worst

The ways of Mercy, Open Hand, and Shadow are on top.

What is the most op monk subclass? ›

Dungeons And Dragons: All Monk Subclasses, Ranked From Least To Most Powerful
  • 8 Ascendant Dragon.
  • 7 Drunken Master.
  • 6 Long Death.
  • 5 Astral Self.
  • 4 Shadow.
  • 3 Kensei.
  • 2 Mercy.
  • 1 Open Hand.
Jan 3, 2023

Do monks use Dex or Wis? ›

Dex: Dexterity rules the Monk. Almost all monks rely on Dexterity for attacks, so it sets your attacks, damage, and AC, and having good Dexterity will help avoid AOE damage which can quickly cut into your d8 hit points. Evasion helps, but it's more effective you succeed on the save.

What is the most op subclass 5e? ›

10 Most Overpowered Subclasses In Dungeons & Dragons Fifth...
  • Arcane Trickster (Rogue) ...
  • Horizon Walker (Ranger) ...
  • Oath Of Vengeance (Paladin) ...
  • Twilight Domain (Cleric) ...
  • The Totem Warrior (Barbarian) ...
  • Way of Mercy (Monk) ...
  • Aberrant Mind (Sorcerer) ...
  • Champion (Fighter)
Mar 5, 2022

What race is best for monk? ›

Best Monk Races
  • Wood Elves. The perfect bonuses that correspond to a monk's ability stat needs; they've got a +2 Dexterity bonus and +1 to Wisdom, along with increased movement speed. ...
  • Stout Halflings. Good ability stat bonuses, plus the racial feats Lucky and Brave. ...
  • Hill Dwarves. ...
  • Variant humans. ...
  • Aarakocra. ...
  • Kenku.
Mar 10, 2022

What is the strongest monk build? ›

According to the numerous Diablo 3 experts on Maxroll.gg the LoD Wave of Light Monk is the best of the bunch. Not just for the Monk class, but potentially the best build for all classes this season.

Can you be a girl monk? ›

Women can be ordained as the equivalent of monks in China, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam, mostly dominated by the Mahayana school of Buddhism. Female ordination is not available in the Tibetan tradition nor in Cambodia, Laos or Myanmar.

What is highest level of monk called? ›

In Eastern monasticism, self-governing monasteries are ruled by several elder monks, whose leader is called abbot. See also abbess. This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen.

How do you make an overpowered monk in D&D? ›

This class can be slow to start off but here are ten ways to make an overpowered Monk once it gets off the ground.
  1. 1 Bracers of Defense.
  2. 2 Boots of Speed. ...
  3. 3 Wood Elf or Lightfoot Halfling Race. ...
  4. 4 Elemental Discipline: Fangs of the Fire Snake. ...
  5. 5 Elemental Discipline: Breath of Winter. ...
Sep 16, 2019

Should you multiclass as a monk? ›

Multiclassing can be a great way to enhance a monk's normal abilities in Dungeons & Dragons, but their unique abilities make them tough to combine. The monk is one of Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition's most unique classes. It's not an entirely mundane martial class, nor is it a spellcaster like the wizard.

What weapon should a Monk use? ›

Staying true to the adage that the Monk's best weapon is their own body, the Blood Fury Tattoo is a fitting Wondrous Item of choice. Due to its attunement to bloodthirst, a Monk may gain this through a brutal tournament, or perhaps while meeting with infamous magical mercenaries.

Can a Monk grapple with Dex? ›

No. They can only use their Strength (athletics) roll.

Can monks use STR instead of Dex? ›

Because you are a monk you can use Dexterity instead of Strength when using your monk weapons. Ergo, you can use Dexterity instead of Strength when using the longsword. These attacks by default use the longsword's normal damage die (1d8 when used one-handed, 1d10 when used two-handed, due to the versatile property).

Which is the most broken class in D&D? ›

The most infamous broken build by far is the Coffeelock. An egregious combination of both Sorcerer and Warlock, the Coffeelock grants players unlimited spells. In addition, this build also eliminates the need for long rests, hence the name Coffeelock.

What is the least played class in DnD 5e? ›

Druids on the other hand are the least popular class to play in DnD. Druids are fairly complicated to play with all the different shapeshifting abilities, and this complexity doesn't necessarily reward you with a very strong class.

What is the tankiest DnD class? ›

The best class for tanking, aside from campaign-specific house rules and the like, is the Barbarian. Specifically, it's the Barbarian of the Totem Warrior subclass, with the Bear aspect and Bear attunement. Remember, tanking has two primary criteria: mitigation, and threat.

Is Monk a good solo class? ›

Soloing. Monks can be extremely reliable for solo players. With a combination of extreme mobility, the ability to heal, and reflect incoming damage (Touch of Karma) Monks are considered to be among the top tier for solo classes, only falling behind Hunters and Warlocks.

Is Monk better than fighter? ›

The Monk will have FOUR Ability Score Increase/Feats over his 20 Levels. The Fighter will have 200 pts Max HP and the Monk has a 160 pts Max HP. That isn't even counting that the fighter has a preferred stat being Constitution. The Fighter has a maximum movement of 30 feet.

What racial is best for Monk PVE? ›

If you absolutely want to min/max, check that out and other people comments on the thread. Best Horde race for monk is Orc, Forsaken, Troll, Tauren, Blood Elf or Pandaren. Best Horde race for monk is Orc, Forsaken, Troll, Tauren, Blood Elf or Pandaren.

Who is the most powerful Monk? ›

Shi Yan Ming
Shì Yánmíng 釋延明
NationalityChinese American
DenominationChan Buddhism
SchoolShaolin Temple
Lineage34th Generation Shaolin Warrior Monk
9 more rows

What is the easiest Monk set dungeon? ›

Unfortunately, most of the monk's set aren't easy, but Monkey King is probably the easiest one among all. This one requires you to stack and maintain Sweeping Wind for the entire set dungeon.

What stats are most important for Monk? ›

Monk Ability Scores

To maximize the advantages of the monk class, put your highest ability roll into Dexterity. Most of the weapons you use as a monk will rely on your Dexterity score for attack rolls. So Dex will be your most important ability.

What is a lady monk called? ›

In the context of the question, “monk” refers to a religious person. Therefore, the feminine noun of “monk” is “nun”.

Can you marry if you are monk? ›

To this day, Buddhist monks and nuns in almost every traditional Buddhist country are still expected to adhere to a monastic lifestyle and are enjoined from getting married and starting families.

What are female monks called? ›

People often refer to female monks as 'she monks' or 'monkess', but there are no such words in the English language. The female counterpart of a monk is a nun. Nuns are prominent in religions like Christianity, Jainism and even Buddhism.

What level monks stop aging? ›

Timeless Body

At 15th level, your ki sustains you so that you suffer none of the Frailty of old age, and you can't be aged magically.

What is a male monk called? ›

A bhikkhu (Pali: भिक्खु, Sanskrit: भिक्षु, bhikṣu) is an ordained male in Buddhist monasticism. Male and female monastics ("nun", bhikkhunī, Sanskrit bhikṣuṇī) are members of the Sangha (Buddhist community). Bhikkhu.

Why are monks bald? ›

Ridding of your hair serves as a symbol of renunciation of worldly ego and fashion. In Buddhism, shaving your head (and face) is part of Pabbajja. Pabbajja is when a person leaves their home and “goes forth” to live the life of a Buddhist renunciate among ordained monks. It is a paramount step to becoming a monk.

Can you rage as a monk? ›

At 17th level, you gain complete control of your rage, harnessing its strength at all times. Your Martial Arts die increases to 1d12 at this level, instead of 1d10. You may also spend a ki point as a reaction to gain advantage on all Wisdom and Constitution Saving Throws against magic until the start of your next turn.

What is the best monk build in DnD? ›

For the best monk, make Wisdom and Dexterity your highest attributes. Both raise a monk's AC. Dexterity helps your attack bonus and damage, but Wisdom stuns. By the time you near 10th level, you usually hit anyway.

Can you dual wield as a monk? ›

Dual Wield is a passive monk ability learned at level 10 for those who have chosen the Brewmaster or Windwalker specialization. It allows dual wielding.

Is a Monk Druid multiclass good? ›

It's a solid choice that works both ways and you can easily make it a monk with a touch of druid or a druid with a touch of monk depending on what you want to go for. You can be a monk spellcasting machine, or a martial art beast attacks master.

Can a Monk benefit from Mage Armor? ›

According to Jeremy Crawford, NO... they dont stack. At most tables I have played, the DM'S HAVE allowed it to for monks, but it's not how the designers intended it to.

Is Monk barbarian a good combo? ›

Both the monk and barbarian are perfectly capable in combat on their own. Multiclassing them, however, creates unique combat opportunities that neither class can do on their own. Both classes get Unarmoured Movement and other movement powers, making them one of the most mobile characters in the game.

What is the most powerful D&D multiclass? ›

Dungeons & Dragons: Best Multiclass Combinations
  • 8 Paladin/Bard.
  • 7 Paladin/Warlock.
  • 6 Rogue/Fighter.
  • 5 Barbarian/Rogue.
  • 4 Artificer/Barbarian.
  • 3 Rogue/Artificer.
  • 2 Artificer/Wizard.
  • 1 Paladin/Fighter.
Jul 8, 2022

Why Monk is the best class in DnD? ›

Monks excel at speed, and they're really versatile, easily the most versatile of the martial classes (spellcasters can be more versatile, but that's kind of their entire thing).

Can you flurry of blows with a monk weapon? ›

As long as the monk has the Monastic Weaponry class feat, they can use Flurry of Blows with melee monk weapons. By default, Flurry of Blows only allows monks to make two unarmed strikes.

Can Monks run on walls? ›

The 9th level monk ability says they can run along vertical surfaces. ”Along” seems to heavily imply that this is horizontal movement (I.e you are in the same 5ft squares, but your feet are touching the wall.)

Can a monk grapple with flurry of blows? ›

Rules appear to be pretty clear that attack rolls you make from other actions, such as monk martial arts or flurry of blows, can't be converted to shoves or grapples.

What monk is best for grappling? ›

Astral self monk is probably the best way to go, since you're way more likely to invest in wisdom than strength. RAW you can't grapple at 10 feet, but if your DM allows it it suddenly becomes an excellent feature. A melee attacker cannot attack you at 10 feet and has to use their action to TRY to break free.

Can a dart be a monk weapon? ›

The damage of monk weapons is determined by the Martial Arts column of the monk's level progression table in the PH. Darts (and possibly other simple weapons) aren't scaling up in damage as the monk gains levels.

Can monk use 2h sword? ›

The Monk can use the quarterstaff with two hands and then, with a bonus action, use unarmed strike. In fact, the restriction is for weapons with the properties two-handed and heavy.

Do monks need a God DND? ›

Most monastic orders were devoted to the worship and internalization of the ideals of a god, though others were not and it was not required for a monk to manipulate ki, since a monk's power most often came from within, rather than from divine sources.

Do monks need intelligence DND? ›

Strength: Thanks to your Martial Arts, you can completely ignore Strength in most cases. If, however, you want to make a Grappling Monk, this will be your main stat. Intelligence – Monks are wise, not book smart. But really, intelligence does nothing for you.

What is the strongest Monk build? ›

According to the numerous Diablo 3 experts on Maxroll.gg the LoD Wave of Light Monk is the best of the bunch. Not just for the Monk class, but potentially the best build for all classes this season.

How do you get the best Monk in 5e? ›

For the best monk, make Wisdom and Dexterity your highest attributes. Both raise a monk's AC. Dexterity helps your attack bonus and damage, but Wisdom stuns. By the time you near 10th level, you usually hit anyway.

Is a Monk barbarian multiclass good? ›

Both the monk and barbarian are perfectly capable in combat on their own. Multiclassing them, however, creates unique combat opportunities that neither class can do on their own. Both classes get Unarmoured Movement and other movement powers, making them one of the most mobile characters in the game.

How do you make an overpowered Monk in D&D? ›

This class can be slow to start off but here are ten ways to make an overpowered Monk once it gets off the ground.
  1. 1 Bracers of Defense.
  2. 2 Boots of Speed. ...
  3. 3 Wood Elf or Lightfoot Halfling Race. ...
  4. 4 Elemental Discipline: Fangs of the Fire Snake. ...
  5. 5 Elemental Discipline: Breath of Winter. ...
Sep 16, 2019

What weapon is best for Monk? ›

Staying true to the adage that the Monk's best weapon is their own body, the Blood Fury Tattoo is a fitting Wondrous Item of choice. Due to its attunement to bloodthirst, a Monk may gain this through a brutal tournament, or perhaps while meeting with infamous magical mercenaries.

What Monk is best for Curse of Strahd? ›

Sun Soul Monk is particularly useful in Strahd because it can output radiant damage all day long, and there's a lot of stuff in that adventure that's weak to radiant. Honestly it's probably the adventure where Sun Soul is the most useful, since it's a fairly average monk subclass in most settings.

Who is the greatest Monk? ›

Matthieu Ricard
EducationPasteur Institute (PhD molecular genetics)
OccupationBuddhist monk writer translator photographer
Senior posting
TeacherKangyur Rinpoche Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
8 more rows

Is a halfling monk good? ›

Halflings are also Lucky and Brave, which are useful traits for any class. Stout halflings make especially good monks, since they have +1 Con and resistance to poison.

Can a monk beat a barbarian? ›

So yes, the monk's unarmed attacks count as magical for overcoming resistances, but that doesn't matter to the barbarian because they don't resist all bludgeoning damage, except for magical bludgeoning, they resist all bludgeoning damage full stop.


1. Complete Guide to Way of the Four Elements Monk Subclass | D&D 5e Deep Dive
(D&D Daily)
2. How Good Are Monks Actually?
(DnD Shorts)
3. Monk Subclass Tier Ranking (Part 3) in Dungeons and Dragons 5e
(Dungeon Dudes)
4. Complete Guide to Way of the Ascendant Dragon | Monk Subclass D&D 5e Deep Dive
(D&D Daily)
5. D&D Legendlore: The Monk | D&D 5th Edition Class Breakdown
6. D&D Class Breakdown Series: The Monk
(Altrole RPG)


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