Monk Way of the Moon Soul Monastic Tradition | New Player Option for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition

Good morning! This one comes in as a request from one of my patrons. Here is what he asked for:

At first I saw [a monk subclass] as drawing power based on the position of the moon, but I feel like that would be a lot for the DM to up with. Maybe a cross between Way Of The Shadow and some magic based on constellations (If that’s even a thing)? Haha

I think that sounds pretty nifty! But he’s right, it might be too niche. The earth’s moon is very specific to the earth itself and only functions the way it does because of tidal locking which is kinda rare. In a fantasy world that doesn’t have a moon or potentially multiple moons, it may not function the same.

Still, the idea of a Monk that bases its strategy on the moon could be pretty cool.

Playtest Content

The material here is presented for playtesting and to spark your imagination. These game mechanics are in draft form, usable in your campaign but not refined by final game design and editing. They aren’t officially part of the game.

Constructive feedback is welcome and appreciated in either comments or social media. If you can give me a valid reason with examples why something is off, 9/10 I’m likely to make changes to the content and credit you for doing so. Otherwise, feedback without anything to back it up gets ignored (or at most a smile emoji like this 🙂 ) Thanks!

Design Notes

Here are my notes for this build.

Before the Build

The circle of the moon druids are probably our best concept of how “moon” could affect things in the game. And let’s not forget lycanthropes.

Perhaps we can learn a little of those themes.

Circle of Moon Druids are all about the Wild Shape and lean heavily on that aspect of the Druid’s repertoire. It especially focuses on the changeability of the moon.

As far as lycanthropes go, there are five main types of lycanthropes in the MM: werebears, wereboars, wererats, weretigers, and werewolves.

Also, here’s a quick analysis of the monk subclasses (for my benefit as much as yours):

  • Drunk Masters are… annoying. Haha! I mean that with love because it’s a pretty neat sub. Basically, they’re tough as hell to pin down and land a hit. At 17th, they become flurry of blows machines.
  • Kensei are weapon masters. And have good handwriting. I guess. The one thing that really stands out with them is that they get a ton of options added to their list. I’m betting analysis paralysis is common with this class.
  • Shadow monks are stealthy and advantage and opportunity attack fishers.
  • Way of Four Elements has some cool features, but the trouble I see with it is 1) it goes a little past the monk’s main job, which is boss control, that some of the other traditions do way better and 2) it’s another one that’s prone to analysis paralysis.
  • Way of Open Hand. The way I’ve seen open hand used is as a duelist, targeting the biggest bads it can while the team takes care of the little guys.
  • Way of Sun Soul. These guys are a little less concerned with getting up close and personal and have a number of ranged attacks. They’re definitely built for mob control (although most monks are).

So when working on this Way of the Moon monk, I think I want to do a few things:

  • I don’t want to go crazy on adding a whole bunch of options like the other Monastic traditions. I think amplifying what’s already there (much in the same way Moon druids do it) would work a lot better.
  • I want to model it somewhat after the open hand’s style. Or maybe even make it sort of the opposite of Sun Soul, where instead of keeping threats away from the party, it’s all about bringing the threats to them. Ooo… that might be neat.
  • Maybe make it so ki actions buffed other ki actions? Kinda like a sorcerer’s metamagic, but for ki?

Let’s see what happens.

After the Build

The one thing that gives me a headache when dealing with monks is how much freakin’ math has to go into planning them out. They work with a ton of attacks and have lots of little ways to gain advantage. It’s a pain in the booty.

Either way, I think I did a pretty good job making this subclass work with what I was going for. Interestingly, I noticed that the power balance on some of the subclasses crescendos at 11th level. 17th is sort of a “clean up” for those monks. Although, on a couple ocassions, it is one of the monk’s 17th power abilities that deals all the damage, notably with its cone of cold at 17th for 4 elements and then quivering palm at 11th.

At 3rd level, the Moon Monks get fist of the new moon. This works similar to the Assassin’s ability to score advantage on its first turn. But does the damage boost work out the same way as other monk subs? Math time!

The moon monk gets a crit on one of its unarmed attacks made with flurry of blows. So that’s 2.5 extra damage at 3rd, 3.5 extra damage at 5th, 4.5 at 11th, and 5.5 at 17th. This bonus is only once per combat, so spread out over the three-round average of combat, that’s only about 1 point of extra damage per turn to a maximum of 2ish at 17th. Plus, it only works with FoB which is powered by ki. Using the Fighter Fighting Styles as our “rosetta stone” for game balance, we can determine that a +1 AC bonus (which Kensei offers) is roughly on par with a +2 bonus to damage. So I think we’re in the clear there.

Crescent kick is meant to pave the way for flurry of blows to get advantage. It’s a 6th level power, so here’s how that works out mathematically:

  • Flurry of blows deals two extra attacks.
  • The attacks normally have a 60% chance to hit.
  • At 6th level, the flurry of blows deals 7.5 average damage (1d6 + 4 Dex mod).
  • That means flurry of blows usually deals a virtual average of 9 damage per use.
  • At 11th level, flurry of blows deals 9.5 on average (1d8 + 5 Dex mod). So that’s 11.4.
  • And at 17th, flurry of blows deals 10.5 on average (1d10 + 5 Dex mod). That’s virtual damage of 12.6.
  • When a character has advantage, the chance to hit increases to 84%.
  • At 6th, flurry of blows with advantage deals 12.6 virtual damage on average, a 3.6 increase over non-advantage.
  • 11th with advantage is 15.96 virtual damage, an increase of 4.56.
  • 17th with advantage is 17.64 virtual damage, an increase of 5.04.

Going back to Kensie, the Deft Strike power lets you spend 1 ki point to deal extra damage to the target equal to the martial arts die. As you can see from the math above, that’s almost the exact same thing being offered here, albeit slightly behind by a small fraction. However, that fraction is made up for by combining it with the first level power that lets you hit with a critical hit on the first round. BOOM! Math, baby!

Next up, is the big 11th level power which lets you make a charge attack to start things off. This damage is in line with the searing burst ability. And here’s how:

  • Sun soul’s searing burst lets you deal 2d6 radiant damage to a big group of monsters.
  • If we look at the back of the DMG on page 285, we can see that 2d6 damage to multiple targets is roughly the same as 2d10 damage to a single target.
  • Therefore, if you hit with a charge attack on your first round of combat, you’ll deal your base monk die (which is going to be 9 by that point) plus another 5 points for a total of 14. That’s slightly higher than the 11 that you’d deal with 2d10, hence the upfront ki cost.
  • Then, you can beef it up just like the Sun Soul, giving it an additional 1d10 per ki point spent. The most searing sunburst can do is 8d6 (which equals 8d10 for solo), so that’s where I capped it off at 6.

Finally, 17th might seem weak, but like I noted above, it’s job is to clean up. Basically, if you can’t get the first round of attack, you can instead mark your target by having it hit you. A wise monk will use the Dodge action against this target and then lay in on it once it has the upper hand. Note that it doesn’t have a cost. The reason being is that the opportunist class allows you to use a reaction to make a melee attack against a creature. Everything else in this class was driven by ki, so I didn’t want to do it again. Therefore, I based it on the Shadow monk’s opportunist power that lets you use your reaction to hit a creature other than yourself. At 17th, that’s the equivalent of 10.5 damage (or really 5.6 if you multiply it times the chance to hit, or 8.82 if you have advantage. Using our “Fighting Style Rosetta Stone” again, a +1 to AC = a +2 to damage = a +2 to hit. Therefore, breaking it out the same way eats up all the “virtual damage” that the Opportunity power does, if that makes sense. While a little off, its made up for in the fact that it only applies to a single target.

moon-monk

Monastic Tradition

At 3rd level, a monk gains the Monastic Tradition feature. The following Way of the Moon Soul option is available to a monk, in addition to those normally offered.

The Way of the Moon Soul

Monks of the way of the moon soul are strong, capable warriors, who use their cycle style of fighting to chain powerful attacks. Their stoic nature keeps them in a calm state of constant meditation, allowing them to be unflappable in the face of danger.

Fist of the New Moon

Starting when you choose this tradition at 3rd level, you can catch enemies off guard with a powerful opening strike. Whenever you hit a creature that hasn’t taken a turn in combat yet with one of the attacks granted by your Flurry of Blows, the first hit you score using it against that creature is a critical hit.

Crescent Kick

At 6th level, your powerful opening strikes can be used to expose your enemy to the rest of your attacks. When you use the Attack action with an unarmed strike or monk weapon on your turn against a creature within 5 feet of you, you can spend 1 ki point to give yourself advantage against that creature until the end of your turn.

Full Moon Strike

At 11th level, if you move at least 10 feet straight toward a target and then hit it with an unarmed strike or monk weapon on the same turn, you can spend 1 ki point to have the target take an extra 1d10 damage from the attack.

You can increase the strike’s damage by spending ki points. Each point you spend increases the damage by 1d10. The maximum number of ki points (the first 1 plus the additional points) that you can spend on the feature is 6.

You can use this feature only once on each of your turns.

Lunar Eclipse

At 17th level, when a creature targets you with an attack, as a reaction you can mark that target. While the target is marked, you have a +2 bonus to your AC, attack rolls, and damage rolls against that target. The target remains marked for 24 hours, until it dies, you are incapacitated, or you mark another creature using this feature.

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Art by Lyona.

2 thoughts on “Monk Way of the Moon Soul Monastic Tradition | New Player Option for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition

  1. Such a good one, Dave. I don’t have anything to add to your design. I just want to play with this monastic tradition.

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