We really talk about Rangers, but what about Monks?
By - ThatOneCrazyWritter
It's issue is that Stunning Strike is OP and useless at the same time, by targeting a strong save where your save DC is bad, and the effect being encounter ending.
My suggestion is for Stunning Strike to be a Wisdom save that produces the effects of the Slow spell on a failed save, and giving the monk a martial arts die 1 step higher, Wis mod extra ki points, and a level 6 ASI.
This seems really good, but I would go a step further with Stunning Strike. I would make its effect weaker, but has free prof uses per short rest.
I think the weakest link for the monks are their survivability. They are melee fighters with only d8 hit dice.
They can't reduce the damage as good as barbarians.
They can't heal themselves as good as paladins or fighters.
Tasha's gave them a weak healing ability they need to spend 2 ki points and action to use, gaining less then 10hp on average. Bit still wirh only d8 hit dice, their survivability is a huge weakness.
IMO the weakest link for the monk is their lack of being able to take full advantage of magic items given to most other martial classes.
There are so few magic items well suited to monk. Armor, shields, martial weapons are pretty much all off the table. Magic simple weapons are pretty scarce.
So many are restricted to spellcasters only. There aren't any "requires attunement by a monk".
I ended up just waiving restrictions for my monk player. Getting a necklace of prayer beads added so much to the character.
Actually if Monks could attune to spellcaster exclusive items in general that could give them a new niche as the Martial Caster type.
They're into wisdom, so they've already got the mental spell modifier ready to go.
To be fair after doing some scouting for Homebrew Monk items it's not that hard to see why. Most Homebrew Monk items are some flavor of "recover Ki", "increase damage of punches", "change damage type of punches", or "gain an additional effect when using (X) feature from your (sub)class." I think the problem is that Monks lack a specific flavor, especially with the various vows they could take being removed from 5e. Comparatively to something like a Paladin you can invest into the anti-undead theme or various aspects of their oath, while all Monks really do in 5e is punch people in various different ways. I've seen countless magic items that attempt to recreate 3.5e's Monk vows to varying degrees of success.
I recently made an item for the monk in my party. Lets him spend 2 additional Ki points once per turn to impose disadvantage on the CON save vs Stunning Strike (lines up with the metamagic ability in terms of cost). And lets them use deflect missiles for an allie within 5ft of them, rather than just themselves. Not really a problem solver, but the monk player seems happy with it, figured other may like it too
Fun fact, "spellcaster" means someone who can cast a spell. So if the monk's race allows them to cast a spell they can attune to it.
Or same with subclass. If they're able to cast ANY spell, even if it's a SINGLE spell and nothing else - they qualify.
Really? Let's say...
\- Monk's Martial Arts boosts die of all "Monk" weapon: even barring Kensei specific case, you can easily enough find magical quarterstaffs, daggers, or shortswords. Several weapon with effects come in "generic sword" (so can be dagger or shortword) or specifically mace... Which is Monk weapon.
\- Considering having a good ranged weapon is still useful even for a melee martial, magic shortbows are also a good idea. You may also find some Javelin of Lightning (situational but fluffy).
\- Any magic item that isn't an armor imposing disadvantage on attacks will be useful, Cloak of Protection, Bracers of Defense and the like improve AC without technically being armor so don't hinder Unarmored Defense nor Martial Arts.
\- STR improving items (some of which being uncommon) greatly increase tactical versatility of Monk, by giving him reliability to Grapple creatures and raw lifting strength to not only drag them, but possibly carry them (or inanimate objects such as rocks or furniture) to various places.
\- Items like Cloak of Elvenkind help Monk in his scouting/infiltration/thievery missions (not only Shadow makes a good scout, not every thief is a Rogue), likewise others like Eye of Eagle, Finder's Google, Gloves of Thievery, Helm of Comprehend Languages etc...
\- Bags item paired with high mobility means, although it's situational, you can throw impeding things or mini AOE from high vantage points...
\- Rings of Spell Storing, with help of NPC or ally, mean you can be a very effective secondary healer (Healing Words + speed means you reach anyone in need) / controller (Spike Growth / Plant Growth / Web) / whatever else your party likes to use as a spell. And at higher level you get great concentration too thanks to Diamond Soul.
\- Ring of Jumping improves both in and out of combat capability, especially when paired with your own Step of the Wind. Same with Winged Boots which make your Monkiness triple its efficiency (less useful once you can wallrun, although it can still come in handy).
\- Lots of Rings or Amulets can also provide a useful benefit helping Monk's resilience before the high level features come online.
\- Back on quarterstaffs which are Monk weapons, DMG explcitely states that unless item description says otherwise, "a staff can be considered a quarterstaff" so Monk can easily mix up regular melee attack and magic from a variety of magic-containing staffs, which most often sport abilities covering for situations where Monk are not the brightest (AOE, conjuration, healing)... Granted the most powerful/interesting of them require caster levels, but not all (plus I admit on that I'm personally biaised because I always take a caster level on any martial I make to get some spellcasting, I'm addicted to magic Xd). ;)
And I probably forgot about a few other dozen items or item "types" that Monk can put to good use.
**=> Monk has a bit less variety of magic \*weapons\* they can use barring being Kensei since martial and off-handed are off, and they will usually forbid themselves to use magical armor because of Martial Arts / Unarmored Defense and Speed hindrance...**
**But they have so many other items they can exploit efficiently when you consider \*everything\* they can be good at, that you actually have more choice than, say, a Barbarian, Fighter or Paladin (Rogue with the high number of skills and good mobility can fulfill lots of roles so similarly to Monks they can benefit from lots of items too).**
Pretty much every magic item listed can be used by any other martial class. But written modules often don't include Sunstaffs, they include sun swords. Yes, DMs can solve this with homebrewing custom magic items and altering campaigns, but any problem with any class can be solved this way.
AC increasing non-armor items like clocks of protection, bracers of defense all require attunement, while magic armor like +2 studded leather does not. Also, other martial classes can have bracers of defense AND magic armor. So this argument doesn't really even work IMO.
Even if we say a well-meaning party would give these items to the characters who need them the most, monks are in competition with wizards and sorcerers who also can't wear any armor and have even less survivability than monks.
With magic weapons, monks on most turns will be using flurry of blows. Which rules as written are unarmed strikes. So if you do find a +2 quaterstaff or some other good magic weapon. It's only effective on HALF of your attacks. Maybe that's fine or even intended balance-wise, but it often leads to a not-so-good feeling at the table when your special monk skills aren't as good as just your standard two attacks most other martial characters get.
I don't want you to get confused and think I'm saying "Woe is monk." Overall I actually believe they're one of the most well-rounded and well-designed classes in 5e. They get something good and tempting at every level, and even weaker levels are compensated with more ki points and martial art dice improvements, or unarmored movement improvements.
But when asking me what their weakest link is, the original topic of discussion. As someone who has played a monk, and DMed for 2 other monks. Magic item usage is one that does come up. Monks are generally passed over for magic weapons and items unless the item is so clearly intended for the monk.
I feel like Monks are more comparable to Rogues and Rangers than they are to Paladins, Fighters, and Barbarians in that they're not supposed to be frontline tanks. They're supposed to be skirmishers that get in, do their thing, and get out. They're not meant to stand there and take hits and if that's the metric that's being used to compare them, then yes. They will feel undertuned.
Rogues use Cunning Action to disengage or hide once they do their damage. Rangers have the benefit of range, a better hit die and armor choices, and spells like Zephyr Strike. Monks are supposed to stun the opponent and then dash away. Whether or not the Monk actually succeeds at this kind of battle tactic (or even the merits of this kind of battle tactic at all) should be the more relevant conversation, I feel.
> (or even the merits of this kind of battle tactic at all)
Honestly, this is the problem, I feel. Running away is just not really productive, Rogue has the same issue. It might be more balanced if there was a tradeoff between survivability and damage, but in reality the Fighters/Barbs/Pallys/Rangers (Rangers, having medium armor and martial weapons, fit better here than they do with Monks and Rogues) actually are better both in terms of damage and tankiness.
The Rogue / Monk niche theoretically should be the squishier but mobile melee with high damage (Rogue) or control (Monk). But with GWM/PAM feats factored in, the classes that can't use them simply fall short and are just not good in combat
As a Kensei Monk, I've often ended up in the role of emergency tank. Agile Parry + Patient Defense + Deflect Missiles makes for some really powerful spot defense. It can't last forever, but in cases where the more beefy meatshields drop, Monk (even base class) can step in and hold the line for a few rounds until the healers can get the heavies back up on their feet.
Also dodge your day away ;)
Rogues have a much higher survivability with their uncanny dodge they can use every round. If the monk had something like that they would be much better of!
Or just simply more hp.
In theory, a monk can Dodge (as a bonus action) every round to the increase their survivability.
The issue with that however is that it comes at a significant hit to the monks damage and utility. And dead/stunned enemies deal no damage.
Also, because of bounded accuracy (aka player ACs don’t increase much but monster attack bonuses do), past level 8 or so, many enemies will be able to hit the monk fairly easily, even with disadvantage. So dodging as a bonus action becomes less and less useful as the monk levels.
Very well said.
When I first got into DnD I played back to back Monks. My reasoning was there was so much I needed to learn I didn’t want to have to add anything I didn’t have to do Monk seemed like a good option. No armor. No weapons.
I was given some terrible advice as a new player and I did play my Monks in this way in that I would be the tank and take a lot of the hits.
My second character ever was a Shadow Monk which only lasted 3 sessions and died in a dungeon in a narrow hallway tanking.
I definitely should have done things differently, but I can tell you getting pinned down as a Monk is difficult.
Rogues are actually pretty tanky for a d8 because of Uncanny dodge, and Rangers can get medium armor proficiency which, combined with their d10 hit die and access to cure wounds, makes them pretty survivable as well. Also, all three classes have access to evasion (eventually), as well as at least one decent mental save (Dominate Barbarian, anyone?)
One thing I feel like people miss on Monks is Patient Defense. For 1 ki and a bonus action, you can have at minimum no advantage against you for a turn, and at best everyone hits you at disadvantage. Combine this with a decent unarmored defense you have a very survivable, flexible damage dealer (who also is basically immune to fall damage)
> For 1 ki and a bonus action
This is a massive expense, which is the problem.
Especially at low levels. Monks have the same problem as sorcerer, with their defining feature being extremely limited at low levels.
Problem is: *Sorcerers aren’t defined only by Metamagic*. *They have spells*.
While a Monk with only punches is just bad.
But a Sorcerer with only spells isn’t.
Not to mention how the Sorcerer is probably *THE* class with the most powerful subclasses.
The biggest expense is for the exact same cost you can make typically twice as many attacks that turn. Three times as many attacks before level 5.
A Ki Adept feat would be an amazing addition for Monk though because their best class abilities (and arguable what makes a Monk different from an Unarmed Fighting Fighter) and like 80% of their subclass abilities use the exact same resource.
The issue with patient defense is that monks rely on making bonus action attacks to have damage that isn’t completely garbage.
If you use flurry of blows your damage is ok but still bad, then you die easily because you’re a d8 hit dice class with a bad AC and are very MAD so won’t have good con.
If you use patient defense you’re expending a ki point (painful), and still not that durable- disadvantage against a meh AC and low hp only goes so far- but deal much worse damage than anyone else.
Is 16 AC at level 1 considered bad? In my experience monks are usually sitting close to the same AC as their two-handed weapon heavy armor users.
Considering the cleric will often have 18 (19 if forge domain), the wizard will have the shield spell, and the fighter/barbarian/paladin is wielding a shield or using way more powerful weapons and having abilities that will actually INCREASE the damage they’re dealing with already good weapons, yeah, 16 AC for your melee damage dealer with a d8 hit die and low CON isn’t very great.
Sure, and they have much less HP than a heavy armor user, since those are likely fighters and paladins, both d10s where you can easily make CON your second or highest stat
I find dodging to be a quick way for a DM to ignore the non-threatening PC and go after someone else.
>Rangers have the benefit of range
I'm seriously curious as to why people always default to "ranged mode" when speaking about the Ranger.
Even if they don't get GWF as a Fighting Style, they can get PAM/Sentinel/GWM because those are feats, and so a melee Ranger is as equally viable as a ranged one.
Yes, in later levels you get things like Conjure Volley and Swift Quiver, but those are both 5th level spells, so it's very late in the game: for the first, you're better just attacking if you already have a caster with AoE potential for much less investment; the only real benefit is the later, and at that point you also have Steel Wind Strike as a melee option, so it's pretty even.
It's less about Rangers not being viable in melee and more about ranged combat being extremely good in 5e. Paladins and Barbarians aren't built for ranged, and Rogues don't naturally get access to longbows or archery fighting style. This leaves Rangers and Fighters as the primary ranged combatants.\*
\*Not that you can't design a competent ranged Rogue or something, but it takes more effort than designing a competent ranged Ranger or Fighter.
And Kensei Monks. ;)
Eh, I think you underestimate the inherent value of range. Melee can be plenty fun, but with DEX adding to both accuracy and damage in 5e, the loss of one or two average damage is easily soaked by the added value of distance. Range lets you hit flyers and other creatures who would be impossible to hit in melee, or can force an enemy to waste a turn charging you. If you get a single extra turn of damage output or waste a single enemy turn thanks to range you've more than made up the difference. If you don't, you're a point of damage or so behind, it is basically irrelevant.
Going DEX instead of STR also frees up more ability score boosts because you can dump Strength. By contrast, Strength rangers still need 14 Dex to wear medium armor, giving them less flexibility to improve Con, Wis, or take those feats.
> Even if they don't get GWF as a Fighting Style, they can get PAM/Sentinel/GWM because those are feats, and so a melee Ranger is as equally viable as a ranged one.
Except you're then a strength fighter in medium armor, relying on your bonus action for equivalent damage to the fighter/paladin, and since your entire combat spell list is concentration you're taking concentration hits with no Wisdom proficiency bonus. If you go Dex, you're falling behind more on damage and have BA conflicts with TWF. And your tertiary stat is the attack and damage modifier for SWS.
Everything about ranger's kit is better with ranged weapons.
The thing is, what value does investing in Skirmishing do? At least the melee Fighter will be tanking attacks for the party. You invest in a feat like Mobile and you don't really add power to the party, you are just trading hits that would go towards you to someone else in the Party.
The value in skirmishing usually is out of combat stuff, or in combat utility.
Rangers are better at tracking, survival, etc. than almost any character that can be built ourside of the class. And the reason they end up underwhelming is because that tends to become irrelevant early on.
Rogues are skill monkeys and have out of combat utility due to that.
Monks don't have much going for them out of combat. Their clear job is utility is combat. They have that with stunning strike. It's just that with half the monsters having great con saves, it's usually pretty underwhelming.
> trading hits that would go towards you to someone else in the Party.
That's still valuable if the ones getting hit are better at soaking up those hits than you would be.
Not as valuable as a damage increase or better ability to tank said hits for the party as a whole. Because the more attacks are funneled to one PC, the more likely they fall unconscious and it weakens the party.
Monks have Step of the Wind too and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen it used.
Monks will get KOed over and over but never learn their lesson.
The problem is that step of the wind uses ki, which is an incredibly finite resource that you need to do literally everything else as a monk too
> I think the weakest link for the monks are their survivability. They are melee fighters with only d8 hit dice.
Agreed, PF2E actually gives monks d10 just like fighters. This small bonus would be helpful to monks.
Additionally, since a monk's forte is being fast and agile, why not give them a third base attack somewhere between level 11-20?
Even with both of the above the lower top AC and magic item deficit keeps them slightly behind other martials. To compensate the monk is self-sufficient with loads of non-combat agility/movement features.
Unarmored Defense is also often more of a penalty than a boon. Yes most of the time your AC will be on-par with Leather Armor but not being able to equip a shield is seriously detrimental.
The d8 hit die is a problem if it wasn't for bonus actions, cunning action and ki.
Rogues have cunning action, which is great, dashing, hiding and disengaging as a bonus action is great, and it's even better since its only resource to to use it is a bonus action.
Monk's can dash, dodge, and disengage also as a bonus action, but it also costs a Ki. And it interferes with martial arts attacks or flurry of blows. Just crappy that it takes a Ki point, which at lower levels you don't have a lot of, and a bonus action that is on the same action as you're special extra attacks(the thing most people I think see as the iconic thing that monks do).
If monk's could use their martial arts or flurry of blows and then disengage or dodge the d8 hit die wouldn't be a problem.
Agree completely. In the campaign I was in with a Monk, our parties objectives changed to "lets save the Monk". Really annoying.
I've read other posts that they become uber-powerful later, but my experience playing with one at the low levels has turned me off from even considering them, for the reasons you outlined.
I'm in a campaign where one player plays an aarakocra monk. That works pretty well! 100% because they can fly and controll the battlefield much more. But there have been plenty of close calls. It's so obvious how squishy monks are when the barbarian in the party can take 4 times the damage and still be fine.
Really the biggest issue is so many monk players don't use their ki for patient defense when the should because they want to do an extra flurry of blows and stun. Monks are super versatile, especially with the Tasha's content, but master of none.
Yeah, with a bonus action Dodge, monk defense vs attack rolls is fine. (Saves still aren't good until what, 14?) The problem is that it takes away all of their tricks and leaves them with about half of their damage output, when their damage output was poor to begin with. All of the problems-- damage, ki, defense-- are linked to each other.
Yeah that’s the problem, everything you do as a monk is a bonus action, so either you’re an off tank or you’re slightly out damaging fighters at low levels
Problem is: The other *”Jack of All Trades Master of None”* in this game ended up being a *”Master of Everything”*.
People don’t like to not be able to specialise.
The 'mobility' feat as a baseline is a gamechanger. Turns out ending your turns 30+ feet away from enemies makes you harder to hit. (It's not just a question of reach+movement speed, I find that DM's deprioritize you if have to be chased but pull them away from the party)
I've seen people decry this as 'selfish', but the party barbarian/paladin are much better suited to being swarmed and struck.
Giving monks a mechanical benifit for flanking (not just the optional Dmg rules) would also see people leaning into their mobile skirmisher playstyle.
Since the release of Tasha's, Ranger talk has steadily begun to die down. Most people seem to think it's fine now, if not top-tier. Personally, I'd put them somewhere in the mid-tier now, but that's off-topic to this conversation.
That said, also since the release of Tasha's, I've noticed an uptick in conversations within this subreddit about Monks, Sorcerers, and True Strike. They've all been popular subjects of conversation before, but they were eclipsed by the Ranger talk. Now that Rangers are in a pretty good spot, the posts about Sorcs, True Strike, and especially Monks have become more apparent.
Personally, I've never really been able to vibe with the Monk class. Nothing to do with the class itself, I just can't seem to figure out a character concept with it that really sticks with me (I have the same issue with Bard.) That said, I have DM'ed and played alongside enough Monks to get the impression they play better than they read. Especially at low levels. I've seen Shadow Monks do things that would make Rogues and Gloomstalkers green with envy, and I've DM'ed for an Ascendant Dragon Monk that was able to out-damage our Vengeance Paladin. Could Monks use a little more help? Sure. Are they really as bad as the community likes to think? I don't know about that.
Mostly, I think there are two main issues. The first is how quickly they can run out of Ki points (which they need in order to stay competitive.) Sorcerers have a similar problem with their Sorcery Points, albeit much exacerbated since they don't recover theirs on short rests. Hell, Paladins also have this issue with their spell slots, but due to the nature of those, it's easier to get more bang for your buck out of them.
The second issue, in my opinion, is a distinct lack of magic item support for their unarmed strikes, which means those attacks begin to fall off at later levels while the Rangers are getting magic longbows and the Paladins are getting Holy Avengers and the Fighters are getting magic glaives and the barbarians are getting magic greataxes and the rogues are getting magic daggers.
That's just my opinion from an outside perspective tho. Like I said, I haven't had the pleasure of playing a Monk yet.
Its not just magic item support (which is absolutely lacking) but generally all support for not only unarmed strikes, but other non weapon weapons. Like The soulknife's blades.
5th needs more support all round for these.
Imho it' not bad necessarily for a subclass. Soulknife trades sinergy with magic items with the ability to not rely on them.
For a whole class i agre eit's harder, but then again there are many items to give aniway to a monk.
That's no synergy.
SK abilities are basic uses. The ability to make a single weapon, and use it.
That in no way compensate for losing +3/+3 and any other potential riders a magic weapon might have.
Homing Strikes and Rend mind, could be used with weapons. If designed as such. And benefit from them.
An extra dice to a hit roll (a la manoeuvres) isn't worth a synergy of losing all magic weapons.
Rend mind is a powerful stun. But 17th level. You want to forgo a weapon of speed, flametounge, or anything else you might get, simply because the 17th level ability is good?
Seems like a poor trade.
Another issue that Monks suffer from is DMs not having dynamic battlefields. Monks are great at moving over large distances, crossing unusual terrain such as vertical walls and water, and taking less damage from falls.
Throw a few of those things into combat every now and then and you open up a lot of oppurtunites for Monks to shine.
This is so true and was always the case until I joined a couple VTT type games. Now my DM thinks my monk is OP'd because I can literally get almost anywhere on the map and usually still attack. We have a barb in one of the campaigns that seems to get into melee right as the mob is dying. He's up to like 6 wasted rages because he goes a round without taking or giving any damage.
He's really gotta save his rages for when he's actually hitting, lol.
He's new and gets excited...lol.
Haha! That's a good reason at least. xD
He would hate echo knights.
(Also tell that barb to carry throwing weapons, or punch himself for 1 damage to keep the rage going)
I've told him a few times now to have a javelin in hand just for that reason. He doesn't have a great memory.
Weird. With their increased movement and the Tasha option to allow them to move half their speed upon raging, barbarians should be able to close the distance unless there’s complications in terms of rough terrain or something like that.
We aren't 7th level yet.
Ah, fair enough.
This. So many games just don't utilize interesting combat areas or enemy tactics, leaving all creatures within easy reach of each other attacking round after round, and are shocked when the highly mobile and flexible class is underwhelming in those conditions.
Monks have some downsides compared to melee paladins, fighters, and barbarians. But when your melee characters are skipping attacks because they need to get in range of the enemies and your monk is firing a bow on all those turns suddenly your downsides don't look so bad.
However a lot of players like to use only their primary weapon, and often make that weapon their fists as a monk. Suddenly the monk looks like trash because they're ignoring tons of their capabilities. Shocking.
Honestly, the satisfaction of running up a straight cliff as a monk player and punching an archer off of it is unparalleled. Like monks as a class may have problems, but that is the desired power fantasy made manifest right there. Doing superhuman stunt stuff comes naturally to them.
I do think at high levels it becomes harder to keep this going, as it is difficult for all martials one way or another. But the martial v. caster discussion can be saved for another time.
There’s a magic item in Hoard of the Dragon Queen called Inisgnia of Claws. It gives +1 to attack rolls and damage rolls you make with unarmed strikes and natural weapons. Such attacks are considered to be magical. My monk uses these in my Tyranny Campaign and they definetely make him feel better in combat (he used to be pretty underwhelming in combat)
What I've found with magic items is that you need to talk to your DM. I have a Way of Mercy monk (level 8) that just commissioned and received a pair of Flame Tongue Gauntlets. +2d6 fire damage on top of the martial die makes him almost OP'd. I figure most any magic weapon could be built into a pair of gauntlets to give the Monk some love, if the DM allows it.
DM fiat does go a long way. I should clarify: there is very little \*official\* magic item support for Unarmed Strikes.
Yea, agreed. I think they should invest a ton more in the Tattoo realm of things. Seems to fit the "feel" of the monk and the options are endless. I think the RPG Rifts had a huge selection of different tattoos that could be "ported" over.
Candle keep gave us a legendary set of gloves for monk, then theres the eldritch claw tattoo, and then the insignia of the claw from Tyranny of the dragons. But other than that it's basically just DMs turning magic items into knuckle dusters.
Kuckle Dusters (and/or Gauntlets, spiked or not...) should exist as mundane weapons.
If only to allow Booming / Green Flame punches!
Also smiting with your fists!
One unit of ink. Requires attunement by a monk. Rare.
When tattooed onto arms or hands, this mother-of-pearl ink allows a monk to spend 1 ki point to make a melee attack have a range of up to 30ft for your entire turn. The attack deals force damage instead of your regular damage type. You can cast the Misty Step spell as a bonus action once per day.
"*You draw on your inner calm and swing your stiffened palm in an arc. You feel the force travel effortlessly through the ethereal plane. Like heat distortion from a fire, the air curls and twists as the energy manifests itself back on the material plane and strikes."*
Yea, I mentioned somewhere in here that I think Tattoos are one avenue that could really flavor the Monk. I played Rifts back in the day and the Atlantis book added some pretty cool tattoos to the game. Just add 4 or 5 of those (or more) and make some Monk only or maybe just unarmored only and I think that fixes a lot of the Monk's issues.
There are magic tattoos in Tasha's. The Eldritch Claw tattoo is perfect for monks and even extends the range like the reply above.
No where near as extensive as in Rifts....and the ones in Rifts are much cooler too.
> received a pair of Flame Tongue Gauntlets. +2d6 fire damage on top of the martial die makes him almost OP'd.
You could make this argument for any character with a flame tongue type weapon and multiple attacks.
OP is independent of being a monk, and an effect of the flame tongue, which is a very potent weapon.
But Monks are going to have more attacks than most, especially when fully rested. I keep referencing Way of Mercy because I'm currently playing one, but they also get Hand of Harm which will stack.
They will, but the comparison fighter has access to superior magic equipment.
In keeping with the monk's theme of self-sufficiency an extra attack with no/low-powered magic items vs. the fighter's magic item arsenal would go a long ways toward narrowing the gap.
Also, the monk's high attack rate is dependent on ki, the fighter has loads of attacks at all times, and also has one of the best single-use recharge features in 5E: Action surge.
Let's be really honest though, 5E could really benefit from a 5.5E where clear flaws/gaps are rebalanced with what has been learned the past seven years. It's understandably not going to happen with record sales, but with WOTC choosing to band aid the original PHB content with increasingly powerful subclasses and optional rules? This is the type of activity which begins a few years before the next edition is rolled out.
The fighter could also get expanded crit range
>The second issue, in my opinion, is a distinct lack of magic item support for their unarmed strikes, which means those attacks begin to fall off at later levels
And making compatible magic weapons for them isn't intuitive. I tried to homebrew some brass knuckles for a monk in my group and had no idea what damage dice to give it since the unarmed strike damage scales with the level.
Make it scale with martial arts, or just use a quarterstaff damage die or something
Yeah, I learned that the hard way lol. I way overturned it and he had a cloak of displacement as well, so I could barely hurt him and he could do a ton of damage.
The best way to do just about anything like this, is to take an existing thing and re skin it as far as I'm concerned.
Or make it intuitive and just make the magic weapon a pair of gauntlets. So a Fire Tongue sword becomes gauntlets...uses the martial die as base damage and adds +2d6 fire damage.
Just give it +1 to hit and damage just like you would a normal magic weapon (with maybe something spicy on top.)
Yeah I understand that now, but this was my first time DMing and decided to give it 2d6 damage so it would never be outclassed by the martial dice lol.
Just give brass knuckles rider effects and/or the standard bonus to hit and damage. A magical shortsword doesn't do d8 instead of d6, it's usually either +1/+2/+3 or has some other properties not attached to its damage die.
Makes sense now, at the time I thought that since you're adding something to your fists to deal more damage, it should have extra damage other than the magical bonus.
(Monks can use weapons tho, just remember that. Give ‘em a magic short sword or quarterstaff.)
That goes against the flavor of what most people want out of their Monk though
Which is weird to me. I never looked at monk as the "I just punch things" class. Plenty of wuxia media has its heroes wielding weapons almost exclusively, or a combination of weapon and unarmed strikes together. Asian martial arts encompasses way more than just unarmed combat.
While there are sword saints and temple monks using weapons, there's also folk who want to play pugilists.
While you could be a kensei archer, you could also be a samurai. Or arcane archer.
The new unarmed FS goes a little way to helping pugilist support, but even a Fighter with that FS faces the same lack of support issues a monk has when punching.
Hardly any magic item support, or feat support. And why not just use SS/GWM instead.
I certainly don't disagree, from what I've seen Chinese wuxia media features weapons at least as often as bare fists if not more so, but most DnD players just seem to think Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan when they make a Monk and those two didn't use weapons often (besides Jackie improvising something in the moment at least)
Yes, but.if you want to do that you can just play fighter
Monk suffers the most under 5e's weird design philosophy.
First, like the warlock it relies on the bizarre "adventuring day" design which unreasonably assumes the PCs get a couple short rests. If this reliably occurred, monks would get all their ki points back more frequently and feel more comfortable spending them.
Second, the game design treats magic items as an optional system and doesn't balance for them. This was also a bad idea, because they could get away with not making any magic items for the monk if they assumed that nobody had magic items. Indeed, in the absence of magic weapons the monk looks much better because it can bypass all of those resistances.
However, those two design assumptions don't happen. With the benefit of hindsight, we now know that the "adventuring day" has too many boring encounters to play and we treat magic weapons as necessary to keep all of the other martial classes even somewhat close to the power of casters. Both of these design alterations keep the game more fun for everyone, but prevent the monk from showing off its intended functions.
I really don't get how Sorcerers get dragged into this conversation, really feels like people miss the forest for the trees on this one. Focusing on minor issues with spells known and meta metamagic while failing to see the simple power of the class. In particular the new subclasses from Tashas are seriously amazing
Similar issue with Ranger actually, everyone was in a tizzy about tiny niche abilities like Favored Terrain and didn't notice the class still had full martial capabilities combined with some very solid spellcasting
Sorcerers are victims of comparison, I think.
A lot of people feel that, for as good as they are, they are completely outclassed by Wizards. So the general thought process is "why play a Sorcerer when you can play a Wizard?"These types of comparisons often fail to see the whole picture, however.
The same thing happened with Ranger. People were so hyper focused on Favored Enemy/Natural Explorer/Primeval Awareness, that they completely glossed over or even forgot to account for the subclasses, the hit dice, the weapons and armor, the spellcasting, etc. Or at least, they became extremely dismissive of those features. Similarly to how people tend to dismiss the Sorcerer subclasses or their metamagic.
And this isn't to say that the Sorcerer doesn't have legitimate problems, or that Rangers are 100% fixed. Both could use a bit of fine-tuning, so I'd like to be clear about that too. But I feel like a lot of the time, people hyperfocus on the bad and don't give the good enough credit.
At least, that's my take on it from an outside perspective.
Yes, that is pretty much it with Sorcerers.
Anyone that argues that *a full caster* is underpowered in 5e should just rethink their argument because anyone with spells has access to an incredible amount of power and versatility given to them, even half casters.
But Sorcerers do have a problem mainly with resource managent, Sorcery Points are an extremely limited resource for what it is meant to do, fueling your main ability, Metamagic, giving you extra spell slots throughout the day, and fuel a pretty big portion of your subclass abilties, so to have it be a long rest resource with no way to recover them outside of a magic item, or burning away your spell slots in a pretty ineficient manner, which does leave them a bit weak in terms of design.
>Anyone that argues that a full caster is underpowered in 5e should just rethink their argument because anyone with spells has access to an incredible amount of power and versatility given to them, even half casters.
Less underpowered, more 'for any given sorcerer you can build a wizard that has all of their spells plus way more'.
Although to be fair, Wizards are pretty overpowered, but that is probably a discussion for another time.
Yes. The issue isn't Sorcerers aren't powerful. It's that they're so comprehensively overshadowed by Wizards that there's no reason to play one except liking the aesthetic.
This isn't a problem for Aberrant Mind and Clockwork Soul, who will have more spells than a Wizard at most levels. Those two easily are on par with the best Wizards. Sorcerers also generally multi class better due to all the other Charisma classes vs only Artificers for Intelligence
The other Sorcerers, yeah they're not as good as a well-built Wizard. But really, very little is outside of a Cleric, Bard, and maybe a well-built Hexblade SorLock or Moon Druid
Yes, because they get bonus spells and can swap spells for things not on the sorc/wiz list.
In fact, they're so good that playing _any other sorcerer ever printed_ feels terribad now. Why would you?
That's the real problem with power creep, and why revisions to at least some of the phb subclasses would be great.
> Sorcerers also generally multi class better due to all the other Charisma classes
This is definitely true, but is it really a strength of a class when you're better off taking levels in a completely different class?
Absolutely it is. The synergies with CHA classes can basically be used as add-ons to a Sorcerer, adding capabilities a Wizard can't get.
Want the best damage cantrip, subclass abilities, some short rest based spell slots? 2 levels in Warlock
Want better armor and weapons, a bit of Divine magic, and smites? 2 levels in Paladin
You're not multi classing because the Sorcerer levels are bad, you're doing it because you have great synergy between the CHA classes. Wizards just don't have that option
Plus with how little spells a sorcerer gets, it’s near impossible to even get all your *thematic* spells, let alone ones that are good.
Not helped by the fact that you are pretty much locked into the choices you make, so you have to have pretty detailed "road map" of sorts as to when pick up those spells.
That's the worst part about sorcerer for me. Needing to pre-plan every level's new and swapped spell to keep everything in balance. I hate the idea of swapping spells in the narrative, it makes zero sense that you "forget" how to do something to learn a different spell. Mechanically though, it's absolutely necessary when you have such a piddling allowance of spells known.
Seriously. Storm sorcerers not getting call lighting? Crazy.
I've always thought that flurry of blows should scale with more attacks as a monk levels (at 11 and 17 or something). It always seemed weird to me to be that the master of martial arts who can strike 3 times before level 5, and 4 times at level 5, could never learn to strike more than that afterwards. Hitting often is a monk's special thing, until they just dont. And for some reason their damage doesn't scale well.... hmmmmmmmmm
That and Four Elements needs a complete rework from top to bottom. I've done a homebrew on it myself and there is just so much wrong the subclass. Including but not limited to:
* the absurd Ki cost for everything
* having to choose between your class and your subclass in terms of ASIs. 4E wants high Wis for their disciplines to work, monk wants high Dex to be able to punch things and catch arrows.
* Not having enough elemental options to become a master of a single element. I know its called FOUR elements, but the flavor of a single element can be so much fun.
* Not being able to pick enough disciplines. Elemental Attunement (4e monk prestidigitation) should be given for free, and the monk should be able to learn at least one more discipline on top of that. Players shouldn't have to choose between combat effectiveness and roleplay abilities, just give 4e monks their prestidigitation!
I've played a drunken master too and while I do think that subclass is generally well designed, I do wish the flavor of the subclass was expanded more. If anyone should have expertise in brewer's tools it should be them, and there should be more options than proficiency in performance. Not every drunk master is a dancer, mine was a bare knuckle boxer. Deception would have fit that character much better.
Maybe this is just me, but I also feel like the option for the Drunken Master to have Improvised Weapon Proficiency added as part of their subclass was a missed opportunity. It would fit nicely into the attitude of the class as well-reminiscent of Jackie Chan in Forbidden Kingdom whacking someone with the canteen tied around his neck.
I played a 4E monk and I agree with your fixes, and my DM did too. But I had a lot of fun with the monk base class before I got to use my 4E powers more. What I got over time:
- Ki cost was reduced by 1, minimum of 1. I don't really get why Shadow sorcerers have Ki point cost=spell level but 4E have ki points cost=spell level +1.
- we rolled for stats. I was able to have dex con wis at 20 16 16 at level 8 as a Water Genasi, with highest rolls 16 15 14 before the increases. Other PCs also had above average stats, but when everyone had it, the DM could just increase the monster strength a little.
- Water Genasi meant I have some extra watery spells
- More disciplines wouldn't hurt. Over time I got the burning hands one for free and as a bonus action, but somehow I only used it twice. I also got a ranged normal hit option like the sun soul monk, but this one I never used and forgot about it. I was the tank so I had to run into melee anyway, and then I preferred to use my staff for my action attacks. I also asked for and got a healing wave spell option just shortly before the campaign ended.
For the record, I had not seen Avatar: The Last Airbender at this point and I never had the fantasy of relying mostly on spells. They were a welcome additional option to use in some cases and I most often thought it's better to use regular monk stuff with my ki points. I liked the options but didn't want to replace being a monk with them. I guess a lot of people get disappointed because they can't do elemental magic every turn without running out of ki extremely fast. For these people, maybe a good fix would be to add a level 6 option to change the regular damage to one of the elemental types, and/or to have the Fangs of the Fire Snake discipline have a better cost/damage ratio - as written, it costs 1ki for reach and then 1 more ki for 1d10 fire damage. It could for example cost 2 ki, do 1d10 more damage for each hit in that round, and with flexible damage type.
You regain all your Ki on a Short Rest. I think a lot of people tend to forget this.
After a certain level, your Monks should basically never run out of Ki unless they’re sincerely pressed for time and can’t squeeze in a rest.
If you’re running a proper adventuring day, Monks have 6 Ki points a day at Level 2.
2 to start, 2 short rests a day before a long rest works out to 6 Ki a day.
>If you’re running a proper adventuring day
That's the problem: People don't really do that. I have never even seen a group that used the "adventuring day" structure.
I mean, it works for me.
The key is simultaneously putting pressure in the long-term, but releasing pressure in the short term.
For example: The cult will unleash Orcus in *three days* (so the party can only get two long rests in, a third would be a failure state). Meanwhile, there's a lot of challenges between the party and the goal of stopping the cult. If they're tired after an encounter, they can make the choice to continue (risky), find a defensible place to short rest (which they can have many), or long rest (which they have few).
If the party risks it, enemies don't move from their predetermined locations.
If the party short rests, moving enemy posts or discovery depends on where they've been and what they've done. For example, if they took out an entire guard post, then short-rested, they might not raise an alarm because the guard wouldn't change for several more hours.
If the party long rests, the enemies know of the attack and change tactics because they're on high alert now.
The game is balanced around the adventuring day. Anything else is, well, unbalanced.
I agree to an extent, but assuming that you’ve got 5-6 rounds of combat per fight, you can burn through a lot of ki just by doing FoB
1 hour is a really awkward length for short rests. It's a long time in a dungeon or if things are time sensitive. Players often want to leave the dungeon to rest safely, and at that point you might as well wait until tomorrow and refresh everyone's resources unless it has to be done today. If it has to be done today, you probably can't afford to hole up somewhere for an hour hoping that the monsters don't find you unless you don't have any other choice.
If you have someone who can cast rope trick or similar then you can mitigate the dangers of resting in hostile areas, but otherwise I find players rarely actually take two rests a day unless the DM basically comes out and says "okay, you can rest safely here."
You have to prevent the players from metagaming resources like that. I use a variant resting mechanic that is similar to gritty realism. No long rests in the wilderness, and short rests take 8 hours. Resting works as normal in the dungeon of within the confines of civilization. Reading in the dungeon, as you can imagine, is incredibly risky.
Depending on the residents of the dungeon, resting should be a gamble. If the residents are remotely intelligent, leaving is not a wise option (they will regroup and/or band together.) But a smart party, even without magical means, can make things work. The players need to think creatively to make sure they can rest and heal, and wasting time or engaging in meta-thinking will not always be beneficial.
That being said, getting those two short rests is fundamental to making sure things remain balanced. Otherwise your short rest classes will never compare to their fellow long rest classes.
This contrast between the need to manage resources and the danger and preparation needed undertaken to achieve them is what creates tension, which makes for a harrowing and enjoyable dungeon experience.
This is going to be my solution when I start my next campaign (don’t like major rule changes mid game). 8 hour Short Rests and 24 hour Long Rests while traveling.
Contextual Resting mechanics. It’s a game and needs to be balanced as such and the current rules make traveling either take too long (every day needs 6-8 encounters) or travel is trivialized because you only have 1-2 encounters a day, meaning you can safely go nova in every fight.
Contextualizing travel resting rules as a game mechanic and treating the entirety of the travel time as a 6-8 encounter day is how you make travel balanced.
Treat travel like it’s a dungeon to be conquered mechanically rather than a series of one a day encounters that will never challenge your party unless they’re patently unfair.
Revert to normal resting rules in towns and dungeons. I vote for normal rules in dungeons for brevity’s sake. Make them use a Healer’s Kit use while resting if you need a story explanation for how that’s possible. Tack on exhaustion for each Long Rest in a dungeon if you want to put pressure on the party to consider leaving as an option to make it narratively more interesting as a choice.
You get a poor rest in a dungeon due to the conditions and being constantly on guard.
Just remember that it’s contextual, so your players can’t just travel, step into room 1 of a dungeon and rest. They still need an extended Long Rest of 24 hours to recover from the journey.
This is really great advice. Also:
>Treat travel like it’s a dungeon to be conquered mechanically rather than a series of one a day encounters that will never challenge your party unless they’re patently unfair.
This is a great point and a good way to think about it. I actually think about it as an *extension of the dungeon itself*. An appetizer or dessert before the seven course meal, if you will (or maybe just a tall, stiff drink).
For me, the biggest problem with monks is how often running out of ki means "I no longer have a subclass".
The subclasses all need to give a minor but reliable way of exerting flavor that doesn't require a resource, so that you can always be an open hand or a drunken master even if you're low on ki.
Battle Master fighter is the same way, once you're out of maneuvers you're now a Fighter fighter. Their maneuvers feel great to use and the baseline fighter class by itself is effective at its role, so I feel like that should be the design goal for monk as well.
That’s a good aspect of shadow monk - the BA teleport isn’t dependent on ki. I think it helps the class feel consistently fun and flavorful, I agree it would be a good design feature for other subclasses too.
Open Hand: "Focused Fist": you use a bonus action to take a stance reflecting traditional fighting arts: choose a benefit that applies on the next Attack action you take before the end of your next round: "Tiger" (you can take standing long and high jumps as though you had a running start), "Snake" (your first melee attack is made at advantage and it can deal piercing damage", "Heron" (impose disadvantage on the first melee attack within 5 feet made against you).
Shadow: "Cloud step": as a bonus action, you mentally concentrate to make your steps as light as possible: you gain a +2 bonus on Stealth checks until the end of your next round, and any Perception check made to locate you using sound is made at disadvantage.
Four Elements: "Elemental fist" as a bonus action, you focus to draw elemental forces and gather them around your body: any unarmed attack you make until the end of your next round will deal damage too choose between fire/ice/lightning/acid damage instead of physical damage.
Not sure what to give others...
The problem with monks is that, as a martial class, they don’t get a level 13 damage increase. Even Rangers often get that, just through their subclass.
Even as battlefield controllers most of their abilities after 13 are either social, flavorful, or defensive, and as good as stunning strike is, it walks a line between balanced and completely useless some fights when the target monsters just have too strong con saves. Sure, on paper Stunning Strike seems fantastically strong, but it’s extraordinarily costly in practice, as you’re going to be spending half your Ki to even try to make it work.
Plus, features that really need to be free or cheap to use for the monk to function like Step of the Wind just… aren’t.
And sure, Way of Mercy is stupendously strong, but again, that’s one subclass. One subclass can’t fix all of a class’ problems, if anything it makes them more pronounced, like Gloomstalker or Hexblade. It just makes any other option objectively worse, and from an optimization standpoint, why would you ever pick anything else?
If you wanna fix the Monk, you need to do 3 things: Increase it’s damage output at least after level 13, make some of it’s features somehow cheaper to use (or make them stronger after a certain level so you get more bang for your buck), and add in more abilities that allow them to control the battlefield. One homebrew variant feature I’ve seen and liked is basically Stunning Strike with a Wisdom save an weaker effect that instead of stunning gives the slow effect. Slow seems a bit much imo, something closer to Tasha’s Mind Whip sounds better, but you get the idea. You could also give Monk’s Avoidance (Evasion but for all saves) at higher levels to make them more like magic tanks too… I guess.
I thought 11 is the damage increase level, not 13. Cantrips increase, Fighters get extra attack, Hunter Rangers get Whirlwind or Multishot.
My b. Point still stands however.
Monk's power bump is 11th level with an increased damage die and a damaging subclass ability. Though to be fair the second one is only really a thing with Mercy, Astral Self and ascended dragon.
An increased damage die is hardly anything when compared to an extra attack from Fighters or an extra damage die from Paladins, to be fair. Plus, 3 out of 10 subclasses is hardly anything, and since those are only recent subclasses, this is more of a too little too late situation.
Fair point. But I think they're going now for the Ranger solution where they give the class powerful subclasses.
Also, all versions of these damage buffs rely on the expending of Ki points, and they’re all very weak.
Ascended Dragon requires you or your allies to use their precious reaction to do measly damage, as well as for you to spend 4 ki every fight after the first use.
Mercy only triggers on Flurry of Blows which consumes your preciously limited Ki, plus it’s still only limited to once per turn so it’s practically just a Ki discount rather than a damage buff.
Astral Self only lets you add your martial arts to one attack per turn and only when your astral arms are active too, unlike the Paladin who can add a d8 to all their attacks, or the Ranger who can accomplish the same thing through Favored Foe or Hunters Mark.
Not only are these subclass damage buffs bandages on a gash, but they’re really bad off brand bandages too.
> If you wanna fix the Monk, you need to do 3 things: Increase it’s damage output at least after level 13, make some of it’s features somehow cheaper to use (or make them stronger after a certain level so you get more bang for your buck), and add in more abilities that allow them to control the battlefield.
I've thought about this quite a bit, and here are the hypothetical fixes I came up with.
13th Level feature ~~Tongue of the Sun and Moon~~ **Ki Mastery.** Starting at 13th level, your mastery of the mystic energy of ki has manifested in improvements to your fundamental abilities.
**Tempest of Blows:** When you use your Flurry of Blows, you can make 1 additional attack with it. (up to a total of 3 flurry of blows attacks)
**Tranquil Defense:** Using Patient Defense no longer costs a ki point.
**Dance of the Gales:** Using Step of the Wind no longer costs a ki point.
This not only acts as a straight damage buff, but allows additional uses of Stunning Strike each round, as well as buffing the 17th level feature of Drunken master, granting it up to a total of six Flurry of Blows attacks.
Plus this solves the issue of the other two main ki features not only competing for your bonus action, but also costing ki to use. Now they just compete for the bonus action each turn. By this point in a standard progression, the Dodge action isn't anywhere near as strong as it used to be. Monsters at this CR have attack bonuses that almost make it laughable. So letting the Monk do it for free as a bonus action is more than fine. On top of that, lifting the ki cost on Step encourages the Hit&Run playstyle the monk excels at.
With these changes, potential damage output is buffed, potential control opportunities are raised, and feature usability is greatly enhanced.
I have a monk player in my group that does pretty well, but I've had friends play monks before and have an absolutely abysmal time with it. My thoughts on it are:
1. Mobile should be part of the monk class. This monk is the first one I've had that took mobile, and it really fits in great for a playstyle. Dart in, attempt some stuns and land some hits, dart back out. Now the enemies have the issue of the melee ones can't get to you without provoking opportunity attacks from the other martials in the party. Sure the archers can still shoot you, but monks have deflect missiles for that. Sure the spellcasters will cast at you, but you eventually have all proficiency saves for that. It really gives monk a unique niche of a melee fighter that doesn't facetank, and that ends up being quite nice.
2. Monks are too stat dependent. The monk that's having a good time started with 20 dex, 16 wis, 12 con, which were pretty decent stats for a monk (standard array could have gotten 16-16-13/12). However, because dex and wisdom are very mandatory, your con ends up being lower unless you legitimately roll good stats or are one of those people who show up to the first session having rolled 4 18's on stats at home, so monks can feel squishy.
3. Environment is important. Water, walls, and mainly just not having every fight in a 20x20 cube really helps monks take advantage of their increased mobility.
4. At level 11, paladins deal 1d8 extra radiant damage on each hit. Fighters get their third attack. Rogues have 6d6 sneak attack by then. Rangers can start commanding their pet panther to attack a second time on the off chance it isn't dead yet. What do monks get for damage? An upgrade from a d6 to a d8 (Incredible, your punches finally do the same as your two-handed quarterstaff you've used since level 1), and a subclass feature that most of the time lets you burn your stunning/flurry resource for some other questionable effect.
Scale martial arts die by 1 more, give them 2 bonus action punches, whatever, but monk really starts falling off at tier 3. In a party consisting of a monk, paladin, ranger, and wizard, the monk has maintained comparable damage to the rest of the group, as long as the paladin isn't smite spamming and the ranger isn't using his fancy bolts. Some type of bonus to damage really would have made monks feel a lot better in my opinion.
I hate Monks in 5e. I have no issue with the theme, I think over the top Wushu is fun as the standard fantasy and any Player can easily reflavor it to fit settings.
What I hate is that Stunning Strike is a huge amount of the power of the subclass. I hate using Single Target Save or Suck effects. They aren't satisfying for the Player to miss on a turn which is frequently since WIS is a secondary stat and CON saves are the worst target.
This is my feeling too. Stunning strike being save or suck basically guarantees that either the GM or the player is going to have a sucky time. Either your combat that you spent time preparing is rendered easy because of action economy and being stunned for a whole round, or your player wasted ki and got nothing for it.
One thing pathfinder 2e did really well was reducing the number of save or suck things with their progressively better and worse stages on saving throw results.
> One thing pathfinder 2e did really well was reducing the number of save or suck things with their progressively better and worse stages on saving throw results.
Easily one of my favorite changes is to use degrees of success. They may have gone a bit overboard but its just smart design to not have such a huge resource whiff so often.
So in 5e, if I am playing a control caster, I am almost exclusively using AOE save or suck. When you still get half the monsters in Web, its much better. But it doesn't leave that many options.
That and getting the option for a free stun per furry of blows is pretty sweet. Does it land super often, not really. Does it come at the expense of actions or opportunity costs in combat....no.
I am 8 months into a weekly campaign and have literally never landed a stunning strike. For a supposed cornerstone feature, it's pretty frustrating
Is your DM rolling in the open? Because if not... I am highly suspicious.
I’ve been running Icewind Dale since December and my Monk gets his Stunning Strikes fairly regularly and has been the star of multiple combats, earning the title of Dragonslayer.
I also previously ran Descent into Avernus and the Monk in that game also shined greatly with Stunning Strike, turning multiple Deadly encounters into a breeze. He single handedly turned an encounter with a Chain Devil and multiple Hellhounds into a joke... he even felt bad for me as a DM because that battle was clearly meant to be a set piece.
Ask your DMs to roll in the open for saving throws at the very least. It breeds honesty and trust.
I mean, that's very possible. I've pretty much opted to be naive and trusting because I haven't felt useless. Open hand flurry of blows is still pretty good at crowd control. I've still been having fun.
I've also chalked it up a bit to how we don't have much combat with smaller creatures. Mostly baked against big baddies with high con saves (my DC is 16 atm). I've only been with the group for levels 11-15, which doesn't help.
How often do you use your ki? At that level you should be using flurry of blows and 2-3 stuns per turn if you are against big baddies… stunning strike is great if u only have one threat. Also, what race/stat array do you use? Having a DC of 16 is quite low for 15th level, where you would have three ASIs.
Ki-fueled strikes was a buff to both 4 Elements and Kensei, which are the weaker subclasses of monks. It was actually quite elegant.
My standpoint on Monk is still that if it had debuted with an extra ASI a la Rogue, we wouldn't have known the difference. I think if you patched one in with homebrew people would claim power creep and that it's unbalanced, but if one had been there from the beginning no one would have questioned it.
The subclass are kinda hit or miss for me. Open hand, bruken master or mercy are pretty good, while other like radiant soul, kensei and specially 4 elements are underwealming most of the time.
4 elements makes me so mad. It's just such trash, and because it wasn't as infamous as the beastmaster, it never got any sort of rework. Luckily there's a good homebrew version that's been floating around for awhile, which is \*fantastic\*, but then you have the issue of getting your DM to approve of homebrew or play a garbage character that can't even fit its intended fantasy.
To be fair, at least they give him ki-fuel atack. It needed a rework, but something is something.
"Look, I hit level 3, I'm a firebender now!"
Casts burning hands once, cries.
I like kensei mechanically, but it is the most bland idea of a monk. I honestly feel like it should just be cannibalized into the main class, or something similar
Kinda the opposite for me. The idea of a melee fighter, who excels at speed, evasion and wear no armor is a clasic and I like it, practically screams swordmaster. The kensei is a well suit class for an archer, but fails on the melee counterpart in my opinion.
In defense of Sun Soul, next to Kensei it's the best Ranged and potentially matches Drunken Monk in multitarget damage.
It's Capstone though is underwhelming, fair.
My main issue with monks is how powerful stunning strike is compared to their other abilities. It makes the class feel like sort of a one-trick pony. You're just constantly spamming stunning strike because it's so much better than everything else you can do.
My view: the damage die is fine, but Monks should get magic weapons that improve their unarmed strikes, because that's the main reason why their damage lags behind ([here](https://i.imgur.com/u7vI8l7.png)'s a rundown of damage that illustrates that)
the biggest issue is stunning strike. it is too good and too bad at the same time: you NEED to try to land it, but it's unlikely for it to hit, since enemies often get large CON saves
it also skews balance, since new abilities need to keep it in mind. finally, it uses ki and we know that the monk has too little ki to use every ability
the d8 hit die is certainly a problem, but what I think is an even bigger problem is that monks lose most of their class abilities, if they wear armor. i think, allowing monks to use their unarmed strikes while wearing light or medium armor would do a lot to improve survivability
The problem with monks is basically when it's out of resources it does nothing, but it needs to rapidly spend resources to do anything. It needs an at-will ability it can just do without spending Ki. Something that allows it to just do something without spending ki.
This solves the issue because it has a good alternative to spending Ki, allowing them to actually conserve, and the class can actually do something when out of it.
Something as simple as "Use a bonus action, the next creature you hit as Disadvantage on their next attack roll or saving throw." Would go a long way.
This is why Mercy Monk is the best subclass. You can spend one Ki point a turn to get guaranteed extra damage (no extra hit roll required unlike Flurry of Blows), as well as a guaranteed debuff (no saving throw required unlike Stunning Strike, albeit for a less powerful effect).
The problem with the subclasses in the monk is that there isn’t one that everyone is dying to play. Had they supercharged the Shadow Monk to have more damage and to control Shadows more, I think we would have a lot less Monk talk in this forum.
But Monks don’t have that sort of love from WotC. Let’s compare them to straight Paladins. Paladins have the Oath of Vengeance, an Oath everyone is excited to play. If you had to rank it between S Tier and D Tier it would be ranked easily as S Tier.
Monk subclasses are all A Tier at best, but B or C Tier on average. This is not the same for other Subclasses.
I think the reason why this happened for WotC is that to build a the base class of Monks, they had to give them enough small features to compare with a Barbarian’s Rage or a Fighter’s ASI’s and Action Surge. These small features make the class overly complex and WotC didn’t want to over complicate the class (remember, their whole motto for 5e was K.I.S.S.) and any number of these small features could have been broken or overpowered with the release of future material. So they pulled their punches.
This isn’t to say that Shadow Monks are bad or to undermine how good Open Hand Monks are. But their subclasses don’t have the one or two go-tos that are classes have.
To be fair though, Neither does Rogue really. I'd argue Artificer doesn't either. Paladin is probably the best-designed class in the game.
The base class for Rogues are really strong though, while the base class for Monk is versatile but not strong.
If you stripped the classes of subclasses, Rogue would beat out Monk any day for the number of people playing it.
> Paladin is probably the best-designed class in the game.
Absolutely not. Paladin is massively overtuned and basically can't have distinct subclasses because the base class is so overwhelming.
One of my issues with the Monk is there's a middle section of levels which, depending on your subclass, are just... so bad. Levels 9-13. (And if you ignore Diamond Soul, it's 9-17.)
During those levels you get the normal ASI at 12, a subclass ability at 11, and more Ki. Other than that, you get the ability to run up walls, immunity to disease, and all languages. If you have a great level 11 subclass ability, then it's not so bad, but most of them are pretty mediocre.
The way the leveling is spaced feels like you're supposed to have these awesome, playstyle defining subclasses to bolster up a weak base mid/late game, but the problem is a lot of the subclasses are kinda middling; often being ignored for Stunning Strike or Flurry of Blows.
The only thing Monks need is the following ability added to the Martial Art's Ability.
"So long as you have one ki point remaining in your ki pool, you may substitute Wisdom for all Strength ability checks and saving throws."
This would give Monks access to all the grab and shove attack actions, along with other contests of skill (Page 195 PHB). Monks can start clinching, restraining, leg locking, blasting pressure points and so forth. Which should be their bread and butter.
Monks in my experience are in a difficult space mechanically.
In terms of the "monk power fantasy" the player likely wants the experience of beating fools with their bare hands and dodging blows that come their way. Unfortunately the design realities of 5e make this difficult, and the class feels underwhelming.
1) monks rely on high AC and a limited ability to dodge as a bonus action. Due to bounded accuracy, this stops being effective once you hit mid-tier game play. Sure, a 17 AC plus disadvantage means you likely won't get hit when the enemy has a +5 or +6, but when monsters start throwing with +11 or higher, even an AC of 20 feels ineffective, disadvantage or no. And of course, that disadvantage is a finite resource that is also needed to power other monk abilities. This means that the monk will end up getting hit often, and they'll start to feel the effects of their d8 hit die. Plus, due to the fact monks need both dex AND wisdom to be effective, their con score is likely on the lower side.
2) Monks make unarmed strikes or use specific martial arts based weapons. This is fine in theory, but it often means that the monk's damage output is lower than their other companions. Yes, you get flurry of blows that allows you to strike 4 times a round at 5th level, but doing so means you can't dodge (which is generally more important for your survival). And if you don't flurry of blows, you just make 2 attacks that use a d6 for damage realistically until level ELEVEN. The martial arts die scales way too slow for it to be effective damage. And based on what I've seen, the monk usually has to make the choice of "do I dodge so I can survive this encounter, or do I make a bunch of attacks so my damage isn't shit?" And neither one really feels that great.
I think monks need more reliable defensive tools (something in the same vein as deflect arrows, which doesn't have a use limit) and given how dependent they are on multiple ability scores, they should join the fighter and rogue in getting additional ABIs. I think the second one really makes sense, given the monk's whole thing is perfecting their body and technique.
I actually think barbarian needs the most fixing
Monks not getting Extra Attack twice is so weird.
I don't know if you're just missing the threads but it seems like there is a new thread about how to fix Monk every other day. My main fixes would be to add a d12 as a martial arts die for levels 17-20, increase the hit die to a d10, and increase the number of fun magic items for the class.
I haven't played enough of the subclasses to have a major opinion, I'm currently playing a Shadow Monk and it has been great so far. I would like a way for Shadow Monk to see in magical darkness at some point but other than that, the subclass is great.
*Mercy* and *Kensei* are pretty much the only viable Monk subclasses.
*Open Hand* and *Jojo* get viable by Tier-4, but damn, it’s way too late for those two.
The Jojo subclass is pretty good for tier 1 in my opinion, spend a ki point, get your stand, start punching everyone within a 10 foot radius, after that I guess it starts becoming useless since the level 6 ability is mostly just good for screaming.
The problem with the Monk class is very obvious after very little examination: The Ki resource is poorly balanced (attacking 4 times or stunning someone is worth the same as moving twice as fast?) and the Martial Arts die scales poorly into tier 2 / tier 3 play. There's also the side factors that they only have a d8 hit die despite lacking the innate defensive abilities of Rogues (have to spend Ki to disengage) and being forced to use Unarmored Defense which means they can't equip magic armor or use a shield. Most problematic subclasses for the Monk are just problems with that subclass specifically, as the core Monk class doesn't have many issues beyond the ones previously listed. (Ki, low damage, low survivability.)
The Ranger class was fundamentally flawed. You can't say things like "give them more damage" or "make their hit die a d10" or "give them more Ki and make Stunning Strike cost more" to fix the flaws with the Ranger, since its so deeply engrained in the Favored Enemy / Favored Terrain mechanic. Tasha's does a decent job but there's still problems with the Tasha's Ranger. The only boon Rangers have over Monks is that almost every subclass (IE all but Beast Master, and heck even Beast Master is made good post-Tasha's) are very strong, seemingly to make up for the very weak core Ranger class.
If you break down all the classes you can find design short comings somewhere, and a lot of it is just preferences from individuals.
Where monk really falls off is like you said, it has a solid base and the subclasses just feel minor or unimportant.
Kensei, Open Hand, Astral Self, and Mercy are all fantastic designs with great flavor ranging from realistic to mystical.
But then you have Four Elements, Sun Soul, and Long Death. Still good design concepts with plenty of flavor, but that are mechanically unfulfilling in a dramatic way.
You're not alone, but compared to Rangers where the issues originate from the base class, it makes it difficult to validate calling out those others in the same intensity. Because at least with monk, if you hate a subclass, just pick a different one, but to be forced away from full flavored Rangers based on mechanical issues is off-putting.
>Kensei, Open Hand, Astral Self, and Mercy are all fantastic designs with great flavor ranging from realistic to mystical.
Interestingly, I've seen just as many people saying that Kensei is both really good and bad. To me the only thing that I would change is allow him to use heavy weapons, but apart from that, I would play it as it is
>But then you have Four Elements, Sun Soul, and Long Death. Still good design concepts with plenty of flavor, but that are mechanically unfulfilling in a dramatic way.
Which is a shame to me. I love FE and SS, but they feel underwhelming. I can easily find good FE homebrew s, but not so easily find SS homebrews. Do you know of any good one?
>Interestingly, I've seen just as many people saying that Kensei is both really good and bad. To me the only thing that I would change is allow him to use heavy weapons, but apart from that, I would play it as it is
A big thing with Kensei Monks is that there's a bit of a thematic dissonance with what the subclass aims to achieve. Kensei Monks are meant to be the unarmored warriors carrying their swords with deadly precision that you often see in anime or something like Samurai Jack, but it really falls short of achieving it in a satisfying way.
The main problem being that there's very little that the subclass does to interact with your weapons in any meaningfull way, there's Agile Parry that requires you to *not use your weapon* in order to activate, Deft Strike that adds *a single Martial Arts die of damage* at the cost of one ki *once per turn*, and Sharpen the Blade which even if you don't get magical items is just not that good of a feature for its cost.
The only thing Kensei have going for them currently is that they make excelent archers, SS + Deft Strike can deal pretty good damage and give some variety to playing a Monk, but boy is it dissapointing to see the subclass literally called "Sword Soul" not being good at using swords.
Dear god if i could upvote this more than once.
So succinct, so on point.
The problem with kensei, and many monk subclasses is that their subclass abilities tend to be overpriced and under deliver. For example, sharpen the blade. You have to spend not just ki but a bonus action to add ±1 to a weapon. That ki and bonus action could have been used to flurry of blows but instead adds +1 to attack and damage on only two of your potential 4 attacks that round and the buff only lasts a minute so trying to use it before a fight is unlikely.
The only reason kensei is the highest damage subclass is literally just because of d10 damage access earlier than the others. Deft strike adds damage too but it's only really worth it if you have plenty of ki and/or the monster had high ac and you're trying to maximize what few hits you land. It's also why astral monk changed the arm summoning so much from UA since it the UA version was a decent DPR loss vs even a monk with no subclass features until you hit level 11. Bonus action and 2 ki points just to gain reach and force over bludgeoning. The current astral fixed this somewhat by including a 5ft AoE to the activation and dropping it to 1 ki but even still it's not really a DPR increase over a simple quarterstaff and flurry of blows. The upside is a 10 minute duration instead of 1 but considering the visage features I think it should probably be an hour instead.
The reason IMO that open hand monk always felt really good despite not getting any damage boosting abilities was that the 3rd level abilities were passive additions to a core piece of the monk mechanics and didn't have any additional ki cost or restrictions on the number of uses. So long as you get regular short rests to recharge your ki to keep using flurry each combat, you could add these control riders on your strikes. No size limitations either, so you can shove dragons and Giants without magical assistance, out take away their reaction to help let someone back away from them without getting and AOO. It's a clean addition to a base ability you'll use all game despite not being a straight damage increase.
>Interestingly, I've seen just as many people saying that Kensei is both really good and bad
The flavor and abilities intersect at a weird place where you're actually incentivized **not** to use your weapon. It's not bad but it doesn't feel right for what the subclass is. This tends to be what people complain about.
Mechanically, Tasha's made kensei really competitive if you're willing to go ranged and have room for Sharpshooter.
I've played kensei and it shines in multiclassed monks, but overall is really solid. I never felt the need for heavy weapons, though getting the polearms other than just spear or Trident would be amazing.
And I don't know of any Sun Soul ones, but the major issue of it is the action and ki economy so remaking it wouldn't be too hard to do. I'll see if I can figure something out and if I do I'll post it or DM you. 👍
Yeah, most monk subclasses feel pretty lacking, especially at the levels people actually play. Open hand gets some underwhelming effects on their flurries (so only at the end of their turn), shadow monk gets some spells that aren't really useful in combat, and kensei seems determined to punish you for playing kensei.
Monks as a baseline are better than people give them credit for, but it seems WotC was terrified to let them have any kind of power in their subclasses.
Shadow Monks are the more stealth-flavored Monk though. It makes sense their spells are meant for subterfuge and sneaking. They're Ninja.
Flurry of blows doesn't happen at the end of your turn? Yes it's a bonus action after an attack, but you can still use your movement.
I'd also argue that the flurry effects are actually very good, given it's a 1 ki point investment for up to two rider effects on top of the damage you deal.
A very common scenario could look like attack + attack, flurry 1, push enemy 15 feet away, move, flurry 2, knock (possibly a different) enemy prone.
You can also stop a caster from being able to cast counterspell by removing their reaction, or stop a melee combatant from being able to make opportunity attacks.
Re: shadow monks, you're right in that the spells don't necessarily have combat applications, but pass without trace is a very powerful effect otherwise only available to rangers (EDIT: and druids), and the other spells are similarly very useful in stealth applications (which could be used to set up a favourable combat encounter).
Shadow monks also get shadow step at 6th level which is incredibly useful both in and out of combat.
Shadow monks are also the ultimate martial mage-killer. Silence and darkness can shut down a spellcaster, and multiple attacks destroy concentration.
Kensei is pretty good with the Tasha's features. A solid archer and pretty decent in melee.
Although at no point are you ever a "sword saint" so the name is kinda bad.
I think the subclasses lack a bit because the core class is so strong. Make of that what you will. I would certainly not recommend having two monks in a party the way you could have two clerics or two rogues or two warlocks, just because of the lack of versatility. But nobody can say that monks aren’t powerful.
Really? The consensus I've seen is that monks are all a little undertuned, being a bit too squishy and not dealing as much damage per round as other classes. Not to a massive extent, but just a little less powerful than the other classes.
I can say that! Monks are the least powerful of the 13 classes made by WotC for 5e by a mile and an inch.
No, Stunning Strike is not a good feature, and mobility for its' own sake doesn't actually help unless you can do something with it. Being fast and weak doesn't make you any less weak.
Monks are in a tough spot. They have some great flavor and some niche tools, but they just don't do as much damage as other martials, and don't survive as well as other martials, and have almost no usefulness outside of combat.
Yes, you can weave in an out of combat a bit better, get a better access to squishy backline targets, but any attack you dodge by getting out of the way / out of range just goes on another party member, and how much better is your access, really, than an action surged fighter, or a barbarian, or a paladin on his steed, or anyone else who took the mage slayer feat that you can't afford to because you need 3 stats at 20 asap? And how many combats is your DM setting up where the terrain and environment is really that much of a factor, anyway? Maybe occasionaly?
Speak of which, they are also heavily stat dependant, and need 3 stats to be high (dex, wisdom, con) in order to function, while other martials only need their main stat and con, and they need less con since they have a better hit die, and probably better AC. So monks can't afford access to feats, really, and monks don't really have access to stuff like like sharpshooter (aside from Kensei, which is imo one of the better monk classes) PAM, and GWM, which are pretty much required on martials.
Not to mention that monks can't benefit from magical armor, and benefit less from magical weapons than other classes.
Basically the whole monk shtick is stunning strike. But pretty much all enemies have at least decent con saves, and pretty much all of the tough enemies you'd really want to stun have great con saves &/or legendary resistances. (Though evasion is good, and so is proficiency in all saves later on at level 14 if you make it that far)
And you run out of ki points REAL fast if you are using them to repeatedly try and stun someone, especially at lower levels.
Less damage, less tankiness, heavily stat dependant / can't afford feats, their main combat tool and their only utility is difficult to land 95% of the time, and a small pool of ki, especially early, few if any out of combat features, and doesn't make good use of magical weapons and armor and other items... Not so good. They are basically niche backline squishy killers and attempted stun bots.
Also 4 elements monk and radiant soul monk both suck extra hard.
I have a Sun Soul character that I actually think is very powerful but I think that’s due to the fact that he’s also an Aarakocra, therefore better able to take advantage of the radiant sun bolts at range if he wants and only needs to be in melee if he wants to draw heat off of allies or try to stun.
I love Monks but to be honest it does sometimes feel like playing on hard mode, especially if the party doesn't have a more tanky martial character. But it pays off down the line when you find oppressive uses for stunning strike and ways to increase your armor class. I once made a Monk/Druid with 18 base ac because of unarmed defense, and as my character starting magic item I chose a cloak of displacement(I think this was level 7-8 or so) that character never made it past one shots because it gave every dm nightmares.
Core issues with monk:
- everything costs Ki, even things that are free for other classes (ex: bonus action dash)
- needs to be in melee to use several features, but has no way to stay alive while in melee (lower hp and defenses than most martials, no good way to boost these things due to limiting class features, no bonus action dodge doesn't count because then you can't flurry or BA attack and your damage output tanks)
- does not excel in any role (damage, control, party support, scouting, etc.) when compared to other classes. High movement speed but can't really do anything with it.
- subclasses tend to require more Ki as you gain levels to use features that you have to use to keep up. Other classes gain scaling features while the Monk often spends more resources just to stay where he is.
Best ways to improve the Monk would be to work on its melee defenses, update subclass abilities not to cost excessive amounts of ki, and allow it to invest into a role rather than being subpar at several.
Sun Soul becomes a lot more viable if you let them treat the radiant sun blast as an unarmed strike. This allows them do one for free with their bonus action without spending Ki. Even then, you often just end up punching things, but you're more likely to blast at 30 ft range first.
I think they should've never had stunning strike, but instead another subclass feature or more power in their subclasses. I'm working on a Homebrew that adds an invocation style system to allow more player choice, because monk has very little.
I think that people love big numbers, and 100% sleep on steady, regular output. Especially loud people on internet forums.
People also love big numbers to the detriment of things like range, flexibility, and utility. And this goes double when their DMs sleep on things like "light, dim light, and darkness", exploration, survival, politics, and narrative complexity.
Look at the sun soul as an example. What does this subclass get? Range and light. What does it not get? Burst damage. Why do people think it sucks?
Damage. Specifically lack of burst. No sexy big crits. No sexy "I'm going to kill that big guy and there's nothing anyone can do to stop me"-effects. Instead, it doubles down on the basic monk ability to consistently put damage wherever necessary, whenever necessary and adds some AoE capacity.
>He gets: 1. Laser beams with long-but-short range 2. The burning hands spell
> It's cool, but too me you gat these abilities too little, too late.
You get Burn Hands at 6th level. How is that "late"? Are you talking about the free fireballs? Do you think they should get *that* at level 6? Are you insane?
Did you know that their burning hands ability is a bonus action? Yeah. It's cast in place of flurry of blows so you can roll up to an opponent, strike them twice, and *then* unleash burning hands into the cluster for ki.
Lets be honest for a second. 80-90% of your average character's power comes from 2 things: Their base class and their magic items. Sub-class abilities make a massive difference only in a minority of situations in the grand scheme of things. And as a base-class, the monk is pretty good. When you play one, you're somewhere between a fighter and a rogue, trading out big hits (sneak attack) for more hits (fighter).
I do agree with you that this subreddit has not been talking about the monk as much as it could be however, I disagree that the class's subs are underwhelming.
I haven't played as or with a monk so I can't say anything first-hand, but I've definitely seen a decent amount of discussion about Monk not being fun to play. Just recently on UnearthedArcana I saw someone post an [extensive remaster of Monk](https://www.reddit.com/r/UnearthedArcana/comments/okemta/the_monk_remastered_v10_a_massive_reworkbuff_of/) which itself was based on [a Treantmonk video](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aaqq7iZUmMk).
One thing that's perpetually overlooked in these sorts of discussions is Ki-Empowered Strikes. The game officially insists on the falsehood that magic items aren't necessary or common, and if anyone actually played that way, you'd find that monks (and blade-pact warlocks) would be a lot better at keeping up with damage output.
Feats are in a similar boat. They're officially an optional rule, even though it seems like most people use them. And that's another area where Polearm Master / Great Weapon Master / etc. fighters really pull ahead of monks.
I think in a game that's played the way the books pretend people actually play (no feats, no magic items, 6-8 encounters per day), a lot of these balance issues would disappear.
Monk gets a lot of neat and fancy tricks. But most them are to let them fight at a base level while pushing an unarmored, unarmed play style on you.
It lacks any real *oomph* that as class features, except for stunning blow, which howevers between "waste of ki" and "broken" in most people's mind.
It uses a finite resource to just *keep up*, which is an issue in itself.
A general arrangment like paladin that uses spells and smites to supplement the classes, but doesn't need to spend resources for it's aura. Or the barbarbian, that can freely choose to recklessly attack or no. Etc.
A 1st level spell like burning hands doesn't feel good to get that late but it's just theorycrafting in a vacuum. For a squishy wizard it's usually a backup plan for when enemies get close but for monk, the fastest class in the game who will have easy time getting into optimal position, who can force enemies to fail the dex saving throw with stunning strike, and who lacks any other means of aoe this spell is much more valuable