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Way of the Soulknife | New Monastic Tradition for Fifth Edition

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

Way of the Soulknife

A soulknife recognizes her own mind as the most beautiful—and the most deadly—thing in all creation. With this understanding and through extended practice, a soulknife learns to forge her mental strength into a shimmering blade of semisolid psychic energy.

Each soulknife’s personal blade, referred to as a mind blade, differs in color and shape according to his personality, mental strength, and even mood. Although no two mind
blades look alike, all share the same lethal qualities. Because soulknives turn the power of their minds to such weaponry, they are notorious for their violence.

Mind Blade

At 3rd level, when you choose to follow the Way of the Soulknife, you can use your bonus action to spend 1 ki in order to create a semisolid blade composed of psychic energy distilled from your own mind. You cannot be disarmed of your mind blade, and it remains for 1 hour, or until you are incapacitated or you use your bonus action to dismiss it. You are proficient with your mind blade and it counts as a monk weapon for you. When you hit a creature with your mind blade, you deal psychic damage equal to your martial arts die + your Wisdom modifier. Many of this tradition’s features work only with your mind blade.

Throw Mind Blade

At 3rd level, as part of your Attack action, you can throw your mind blade at a target you can see within 30 feet of you as a ranged weapon attack. Regardless of whether or not your mind blade hits the target, it automatically returns to you after the attack.

When you gain the Extra Attack feature at 5th level, you can use this feature to throw your mind blade as any one of your attacks as part of your Attack action.

Psychic Strike

At 6th level, you gain the ability to channel your ki into a psychic current which runs through your mind blade. Once per turn, whenever you hit a creature with one of the attacks granted by your Flurry of Blows, you can spend 2 ki to deal an additional 2d8 psychic damage to the creature.

You can spend additional ki points to deal additional psychic damage. Each additional ki point you spend increases the psychic damage by 1d8. The maximum number of ki points (2 plus any additional points) you can spend on this attack equals half your monk level.

Bladewind

At 11th level, as an action, you surround yourself with a whirlwind of psychic blades in a 20-foot radius sphere centered on you. Each creature in the area must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw or take 2d6 psychic damage. A creature doesn’t need to make the save if the creature is behind total cover. You must be wielding your mind blade to use this feature.

You can increase the bladewind’s damage by spending ki points. Each point you spend, to a maximum of 3, increases the damage by 2d6.

Soulblade Savant

At 17th level, you achieve grandmaster status among martially inclined psionicists. If you miss with an attack roll using your mind blade (including when you throw it), you can reroll it. You can use this feature only once on each of your turns.


Psionics: A New Book by DMDave

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Art by Purple Duck Games.

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Archers | Player Supplement for Fifth Edition (Part 1)

This article adds new rules, subclasses, prestige classes, magic items, and more for players interested in expanding archer characters in Fifth Edition.


All of this content is FREE for you to use in your Fifth Edition campaigns. However, if you’re interested in getting this content in PDF format, patrons of every tier get this PDF plus others for FREE. It’s only $3/month to sign up. The finalized version includes corrections and final adjustments, plus bonus content.

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Here is a summary of what’s included in this article:


Part 1: Archer Subclasses

The three subclasses listed below are available for characters to choose in addition to those normally offered.

At 3rd level, a barbarian gains the Primal Path feature and may choose the Warden option. Monks at 3rd level gain the Monastic Tradition feature and may choose the Way of the Curved Arrow option. Finally, a 3rd-level rogue gains the Roguish Archetype feature and may choose the Trickshot option.

barbarian-archer
Art by Ni Yipeng.

Warden (Barbarian Primal Path)

Many see barbarians as savage nomads, moving from place to place without any real destination to call home. However, those who take up the mantle of Warden are sworn to protect specific locations from dangers. Wardens take on aspects of both barbarians and rangers, balancing their rage-driven melee prowess with deadly ranged attacks.

Angry Arrow

Starting when you choose this path at 3rd level, while raging, if you make a ranged weapon attack against a creature within 30 feet of you and miss, you can use your bonus action to make a second ranged weapon attack against the same target.

Improvised Attacks

At 3rd level, when you are wielding a ranged weapon that deals at least 1d6 damage, you can use the weapon itself to make melee attacks. On a successful hit, you deal bludgeoning damage equal to 1d4 plus your Strength modifier. The melee attack does not expend ammunition.

Magic of the Warden

At 6th level, you can invoke nature’s might to assist you. You know the following spells: fog cloud, hunter’s mark, or pass without trace. Once you cast a spell using this feature, you can’t do so again until you complete a long rest. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for each of these spells.

Horde Fighter

At 10th level, while raging, opportunity attacks against you are made with disadvantage. In addition, if a creature hits you with an opportunity attack while you are raging, you can use your reaction to make a melee weapon attack against that creature.

Ranged Rage

At 14th level, while you are raging and you make a ranged weapon attack against a target within 30 feet of you, you can add your Rage Damage bonus to the damage roll.

monk-archer
Art by Murillo Miranda.

Way of the Curved Arrow (Monk Monastic Tradition)

Monks of the Way of the Curved Arrow turn their ki and martial arts towards archery. Sometimes called Zen Archers, these monks are just as effective at a distance as they are in close combat.

It’s believed that Zen Archers were original a subsect of the Way of the Kensei.

Longbow Proficiency

Starting when you choose this Monastic Tradition at 3rd level, you gain proficiency with longbows if you don’t already have it. The longbow counts as a monk weapon for you.

Zen Archery

At 3rd level, you can use your bonus action to make your ranged weapon attacks with your bow more deadly. When you do so, choose one of the following benefits. The benefit lasts until the end of your current turn.

  • You gain a +2 bonus to your ranged weapon attack rolls made using shortbows and longbows.
  • A target you hit with a shortbow or longbow takes an extra 1d4 damage of the weapon’s type.

Bonus Language

At 3rd level, your connection to the Elemental Plane of Air grants you the ability to read, write, and speak Auran.

Ki Arrow

At 6th level, you extend your ki into your fire arrows. Once per turn, when you fire an arrow from a shortbow or longbow as part of the Attack action, you can spend the requisite ki to apply one of the Ki Arrow options below to that arrow. You must decide to use the option before you make your attack roll. Once you make your attack roll, the effect ends.

Curved Arrow. You can spend 1 ki point to have your next attack with your shortbow or longbow ignore half cover and three-quarters cover.

Deadly Arrow. You can spend 1 kit point have your next attack with your shortbow or longbow deal extra damage to the target equal to your Martial Arts die. You can use this feature only once on each of your turns.

Force Arrow. You can spend 2 ki points to turn your arrow into a bolt of crackling force energy. When you fire your shortbow or crossbow as part of your Attack action, the arrow automatically hits a target of your choice within 120 feet of you. The arrow then deals force damage equal to the weapon’s normal damage die plus your Wisdom modifier.

Arrow of the Wrathful

At 11th level, you gain the ability to fire a devastating burst of energy from your longbow or shortbow. As an action, a brilliant ray of energy forming a line 100 feet long and 10 feet wide blasts out from you. Each creature in the area must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw or take 2d6 radiant damage. A creature doesn’t need to make the save if the creature is behind total cover. You can increase the ray’s damage by spending ki points. Each point you spend, to a maximum of 3, increases the damage by 2d6.

Flurry of Arrows

At 17th level, when you use your Flurry of Blows, you can choose to make up to three ranged weapon attacks from a shortbow or longbow in place of the two unarmed strikes normally allowed. Each attack made in this way must target a different creature that is within 30 feet of you.

rogue-archer
Art by JuYoung Ha.

Trickshot (Roguish Archetype)

Rogues are already well-known for their ability to snipe from the shadows. Rogue Trickshots, however, have taken their love of archery to the next level.

Longbow Proficiency

Starting when you choose this Roguish Archetype at 3rd level, you gain proficiency with longbows if you don’t already have it.

Aimed Shot

At 3rd level, you can use your bonus action to carefully aim your next shot. Choose a target within 100 feet of you. Then, select one of the following benefits:

  • The next ranged weapon attack roll you make against that target is made with advantage.
  • The next ranged weapon attack roll you make against that target ignores half cover and three-quarters cover.

Instinctive Shot

At 9th level, if you are surprised at the beginning of combat and aren’t incapacitated, you can act normally on your first turn, but only if you make a ranged weapon attack before doing anything else on that turn.

Debilitating Shot

At 13th level, you can use your arrow to temporarily subdue foes. When you use your Aimed Shot feature, you can choose one of the following benefits in place of the other benefits already offered:

  • If the next ranged weapon attack you make against the target hits, the attack deals normal damage and the target drops a held item of your choice. If the target is holding the item with two or more hands, it can make a Strength saving throw with a DC equal to 10 or half the damage taken (whichever is higher). On a successful saving throw, the target does not drop the item.
  • If the next ranged weapon attack you make against the target hits, the attack deals normal damage and the target’s speed is reduced to 0 until the end of its next turn.

Bullseye

Starting at 17th level, your aimed shots are capable of instant death. When you attack and hit a creature that you’ve targeted with your Aim Shot feature, you may forgo one of the feature’s normal benefit offerings to force the target to make a Constitution saving throw (DC 8 + your Dexterity modifier + your proficiency bonus). On a failed saving throw, double the damage of your attack against the creature. You can use this feature three times, and regain expended uses after you finish a long rest.


Next: Part 2. The Blind Archer Prestige Class

Thumbnail art by Ni Yipeng.

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Monk Disciple of Graviton Monastic Tradition | New Player Option for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition

Subclass month continues with a cool subclass idea from one of my patrons. Here is what he requested:

Ever since I started playing I always wanted a subclass that had the power to control gravity or affect the surroundings. The only issue with my request is I usually play really gung-ho with a fighter or a monk. So I was wondering if you could make a subclass for a monk or fighter that has something with controlling space or gravity. I don’t have very many ideas but i think force damage would be a cool factor in the whole gravity idea.

Sounds pretty neat! Let’s see what I can come up with.


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

This definitely sounds like a class that’s good at crowd control. And that’s what I’ll build it towards.

When developing this subclass, I knew I wanted lots of freaky powers that could temporarily subdue combatants by making them levitate or just by reversing gravity. For fluff’s sake, I came up with the idea that this style is only taught by an old githzerai master named Graviton.

Right away, at first level, this monk gets a punch that can cause an enemy to levitate. It requires that the monk uses ki points and its bonus action to keep the target in the air.

In addition, the monk has light telekineses in the form of mage hand, giving it sort of a gith quality. It’s even invisible.

At 6th level, the monk needs some form of defense, therefore I let it have shield to make it even more like a githzerai.

At 11th, the monk has a mild form of reverse gravity–the area of effect is much smaller, but the damage works out to be roughly the same as the Sun Soul’s Searing Sunburst.

Finally, at 17th, I felt fly with flyby attack was probably enough good just as it is. Although, I’d be interested to hear other people’s opinions on the matter.

Let me know what you think in the comments below.


Monastic Tradition

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

Disciple of Graviton

Graviton was a powerful githzerai monk that traveled the inner and outer planes on a quest to enhance his martial arts. This quest took him from the Infinite Layers of the Abyss to the Seven Heavens of Mount Olympia. He traveled over the endless expanse of the Astral Plane and even dipped into the Shadowfell, Fey, and Ethereal for training. Graviton learned much on these adventures, eventually returning to teach others his methods.

The Graviton Punch

Starting when you choose this tradition at 3rd level, your attacks can disrupt your target’s ki, making it lighter than air. Whenever you hit a creature that weighs less than 500 pounds with one of the attacks granted by your Flurry of Blows, you can force the target to make a Constitution saving throw. On a failed saving throw, the creature rises vertically, up to 20 feet and remains suspended there until the end of your next turn. The target can move only by pushing or pulling against a fixed object or surface within reach (such as a wall or ceiling), which allows it to move as if it were climbing.

On each subsequent turn, you use your bonus action to expend 1 ki point to extend the duration of the effect until the end of your next turn.

When the effect ends, the target floats gently to the ground if it is still aloft.

Graviton’s Hand

At 3rd level, you learn the mage hand cantrip unless you already know it. The hand is invisible when you cast the cantrip with this trait.

Graviton’s Defense

At 6th level, you learn the shield spell, which you can spend 2 ki points to cast without providing material components.

Graviton’s Might

At 11th level, you can use your willpower to alter reality. As an action, you can spend 4 ki points and choose a point within 150 feet of you. You reverse gravity in a 20-foot radius, 20-foot high cylinder centered on that point. All creatures and objects that aren’t somehow anchored to the ground in the area fall upward and reach the top of the area when you use this feature. A creature can make a Dexterity saving throw to grab onto a fixed object it can reach, thus avoiding the fall. You can choose a number of creatures or objects equal to your Wisdom modifier not to be affected by the reversal in gravity.

If some solid object (such as a ceiling) is encountered in this fall, falling objects and creatures strike it just as they would during a normal downward fall. If an object or creature reaches the top of the area without striking anything, it remains there, oscillating slightly, for the duration.

The effect lasts until the end of your next turn, you use your bonus action to dismiss it, or you are incapacitated. On each subsequent turn, you can spend 1 ki point to maintain this effect, extending its duration until the end of your next turn.

Once the effect ends, affected objects and creatures fall back down.

Astral Warrior

At 17th level, you gain a flying speed equal to your movement speed. In addition, you provoke no opportunity attacks when you move out of an enemy’s reach.

 

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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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Monk Fighting Stances | Optional Rules for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition

This entry is part of the Dungeon.Dude Promotional Campaign on Instagram. Together, the Instagram D&D Community helped Dungeon.Dude, a hard-working artist, get over 2,100 followers! Outstanding job, folks!

If you’d like to see the first three, check out:

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

Coming off the huge update I did with the Fighter, I wanted to take a different path with a monk “subclass” and not really create a subclass at all, but instead new rules options for monks. Ironically, in my last post, I commented that I don’t like fiddly bits and here I am now adding fiddly bits. Either way, these are some necessary fiddly bits dang it.

First and foremost, the monk class is, well, kinda boring. At least compared to its flavor. This is supposed to be a class where you get to do all sorts of kung-fu type stuff. Yet, you’re limited to “unarmed strike” and “monk weapons” and, oh yeah, did I mention “unarmed strike.” Yaawwwn. Now, of course, it’s yours and the GM’s job to explain what’s happening while you’re fighting, but wouldn’t it be a lot cooler to do some other type fun stuff during combat?

That’s when I got the idea for fighting stances. Basically, fighting stances are variants on the Martial Arts feature that a monk gains at first level.

Here is what I hope to achieve with these supplemental rules:

  • They have to remain fairly balanced, meaning that, while they give you options, the options are more for flavor and tactics than buffs. That’s going to be the hardest thing to do. But I figure doing some sort of offense for defense or attack for damage trade-off system should work well.
  • The stances will be a little like “weak feats.” And you can learn more as you become a master monk.
  • This will be some expert stuff for advanced players. A new player that walks into a class using these rules might find themselves lost. You’ve been warned.
  • Lots and lots of flavor. Because if I’m going to play a martial artist, by golly, I want it to be badass!

Anyways, this one was a lot of fun to create and a nice break from the other subclasses I’ve been making. When balancing the difference stances detailed below, I considered the original Martial Arts rules block and what the benefits actually were.

  1. First, Martial Arts allows monks to substitute Dexterity for Strength on attack and damage rolls when using unarmed strikes and monk weapons.
  2. In addition, a monk uses a d4 for its unarmed strikes which goes up with its levels (specifically, at the three major tier milestones).
  3. Finally, a monk can use its bonus action to make an unarmed strike.

Knowing this, there are a few things to consider.

First, the Dexterity versus Strength benefit allows the monk to be a little less MAD than it otherwise would be.

Second, the average damage a tier one monk is going to do is probably somewhere between 5.5 (unarmed strikes with a +3 Dex modifier) and 6.5 (quarterstaff or shortsword with a +3 Dex modifier) per attack.

Finally, the monk gets an additional action on each of its turns which allows it to potentially deal another 5.5 damage.

Therefore as long as the stances I create don’t go beyond these limitations (or the tradeoff is similar at least) it should be balanced and flavorful.

Since stances give a monk benefits and drawbacks depending on the stance, I wanted to make sure that once a player picked a stance at the start of their turn, they had to stick with that stance–through thick or thin–until the start of its next turn. Some of the stances off AC penalties and disadvantage on skill checks, therefore, this could be pretty tricky for an inexperienced player.

Okay, on to the stances. First up is the leopard which is designed to stand back and study its opponent. Plus, it can use Int with its attacks. While that’ll probably never come up, I just thought the idea was kinda cool. Also, you lose your bonus attack, but you trade it in for Dash, and while that’s similar to Step of the Wind, you don’t get the jump bonus.

The snake style is all about staying close. When you stay close, you get to make improved critical strikes. Like the leopard, you lose access to your bonus attack for this benefit, but in the long run, the damage you deal comes out to be roughly the same. In addition, you are great at keeping creatures near you by dealing extra damage on attacks of opportunity.

Crane is a defensive style that doesn’t use weapons. Instead, it’s all about dancing around an opponent. And if an opponent should land an attack, the crane is able to side-step the blow a la deflect missiles. This might seem a bit much, but in reality, it might be a little underpowered compared to getting a bonus attack. According to page 284 of the DMG (yep, the Monster Statistics by Challenge Rating table), 1 point of damage dealt is roughly on par with having 3 hit points.

Great dragon style is built for Strength monks, pure and simple. Instead of a bonus attack, they deal +2 extra damage. This isn’t so hot before you pick up Flurry of Blows at 2nd level, but ends up working out to be roughly the same as having that bonus attack later on. In addition, dragons are set up to be expert grapplers. Mathematically speaking, the 10 minimum power similar to the rogue’s reliable talent feature actually isn’t as good as having advantage if the target is particularly strong or fast.

Tiger is a crit fisher. It gives up its bonus attack to make shove attacks that can knock a creature prone. Then, it gets extra damage when it hits with criticals while the target is down.

Monkey is great at defense but not so hot at paying attention to what’s going on around it. But it’s there to distract creatures while the party gets in place.

Wolf is a team player, too, effectively getting pack tactics and the prone power.

Raven is also somewhat of a team player and great at tanking thanks to its “combat mimicry” feature.

Finally, there’s the mantis; it’s the “barbarian” of the group. It attacks recklessly, giving up AC for damage bonuses and letting creatures hit it in order to retaliate.

monk-fighting-style

Combat Options

The option in this section provides alternative ways to handle combat. The main risk of adding some of these rules is slowing down play.

Monk Fighting Stances

With this optional rule, when you take on levels in the Monk class, you adopt fighting stances which you can switch to change your combat dynamic. While you are in a particular fighting stance, the fighting stance’s features and drawbacks replace those normally offered by the Martial Arts feature.

Learning Fighting Stances

You learn the balanced stance at first level as well as two more fighting stances of your choice which are detailed below. You learn one additional fighting stance of your choice at 5th, 11th, and 17th level. Each time you learn a new fighting stance, you can also replace one fighting stance you know with a different one. You can not replace the balanced stance.

Starting Stance and Changing Stance in Combat

When you roll initiative, you automatically assume the balanced stance. At the start of each of your turns, you can switch to another fighting stance that you know. The benefits and drawbacks of your chosen fighting style replace your monk Martial Arts feature until the start of your next turn, if you are incapacitated, or if you die. At the start of your next turn, you can choose another fighting stance or continue using the same one.

Fighting Stances

The fighting stances are presented in alphabetical order.

Balanced Stance. This is your default stance.

While in the balanced fighting stance, your Martial Arts feature offers the normal benefits and drawbacks detailed in the PHB.

Clever Leopard Stance. The leopard uses its superior intellect to engage its opponents, standing back and observing, always looking for the right moment to strike.

While you are in this stance, you gain the following benefits and drawbacks while you are unarmed or wielding only monk weapons and you aren’t wearing armor or wielding a shield. These benefits and drawbacks replace those normally offered by your monk Martial Arts feature:

  • You can use Dexterity or Intelligence instead of Strength for the attack and damage rolls of your unarmed strikes and monk weapons.
  • You can roll a d4 in place of the normal damage of your unarmed strike or monk weapons. This die changes as you gain monk levels, as shown in the Martial Arts column of the Monk table.
  • When you use the Ready action in order to use your reaction to make an attack with your unarmed strike or monk weapon (regardless of the triggering event), you make your attack roll with advantage.
  • You can take the Dash action as a bonus action on each of your turns.

Constricting Snake Stance. The snake fighter is a close combatant, utilizing fast attacks that target an opponent’s weak points such as the eyes, groin, and joints.

While you are in this stance, you gain the following benefits and drawbacks while you are unarmed or wielding only monk weapons and you aren’t wearing armor or wielding a shield. These benefits and drawbacks replace those normally offered by your monk Martial Arts feature:

  • You can use Dexterity instead of Strength for the attack and damage rolls of your unarmed strikes and monk weapons.
  • You can roll a d4 in place of the normal damage of your unarmed strike or monk weapons. This die changes as you gain monk levels, as shown in the Martial Arts column of the Monk table.
  • If you do not move more than 5 feet on your turn, your unarmed strike and monk weapon attacks score a critical hit on a roll of 19-20.
  • If you use your reaction to make an attack of opportunity when a hostile creature that you can see moves out of your reach, you gain a +2 bonus to your attack rolls made with your unarmed strike or monk weapons against that creature.

Dancing Crane Stance. The crane fighter is a dancer, using their entire form to bewilder and deftly move around their opponents. Cranes prefer not to use weapons.

While you are in this stance, you gain the following benefits and drawbacks while you are unarmed or wielding only monk weapons and you aren’t wearing armor or wielding a shield. These benefits and drawbacks replace those normally offered by your monk Martial Arts feature:

  • You can use Dexterity instead of Strength for the attack and damage rolls of your unarmed strikes and monk weapons.
  • You can roll a d4 in place of the normal damage of your unarmed strike. This die changes as you gain monk levels, as shown in the Martial Arts column of the Monk table.
  • When you use the Attack action with an unarmed strike on your turn, you can take the Disengage action as a bonus action.
  • You can use your reaction to deflect a weapon when you are hit by a melee weapon attack. When you do so, the damage you take from the attack is reduced by your monk die + your Dexterity modifier.

Great Dragon Stance. The dragon attacks with blows intended to dispatch and kill. It is a powerful fighting stance, reserved only for the most aggressive warriors.

While you are in this stance, you gain the following benefits and drawbacks while you are unarmed or wielding only monk weapons and you aren’t wearing armor or wielding a shield. These benefits and drawbacks replace those normally offered by your monk Martial Arts feature:

  • You can roll a d4 in place of the normal damage of your unarmed strike or monk weapons. This die changes as you gain monk levels, as shown in the Martial Arts column of the Monk table.
  • You gain a +2 bonus to damage rolls made with your unarmed strike and monk weapon attacks.
  • If you use your Attack action to make a grapple, when you roll your Strength (Athletics) check, you can treat a d20 roll of 9 or lower as a 10. You may only use this benefit if you are proficient in the Athletics skill.

Fierce Tiger Stance. The fierce tiger is a quick and powerful fighter, striking hard and fast.

While you are in this stance, you gain the following benefits and drawbacks while you are unarmed or wielding only monk weapons and you aren’t wearing armor or wielding a shield. These benefits and drawbacks replace those normally offered by your monk Martial Arts feature:

  • You can use Dexterity instead of Strength for the attack and damage rolls of your unarmed strikes and monk weapons.
  • You can roll a d4 in place of the normal damage of your unarmed strike or monk weapons. This die changes as you gain monk levels, as shown in the Martial Arts column of the Monk table.
  • Once on each of your turns, if you move at least 20 feet straight towards a creature you can use your bonus action to shove the creature.
  • When you use the Attack action against a creature that is prone and score a critical hit with an unarmed strike or monk weapon on your turn, you can roll your martial arts die one additional time and add it to the extra damage of the critical hit.

Laughing Monkey Stance. Those who fight in the style of the monkey are fast, cheeky opponents, and masters of the quarterstaff.

While you are in this stance, you gain the following benefits and drawbacks while you are unarmed or wielding only monk weapons and you aren’t wearing armor or wielding a shield. These benefits and drawbacks replace those normally offered by your monk Martial Arts feature:

  • You can use Dexterity instead of Strength for the attack and damage rolls of your unarmed strikes and monk weapons.
  • You can roll a d4 in place of the normal damage of your unarmed strike or monk weapon. This die changes as you gain monk levels, as shown in the Martial Arts column of the Monk table.
  • When you use the Attack action with a quarterstaff on your turn or use the Dodge action, you can make one additional attack with your quarterstaff as a bonus action. You do not add your ability modifier to the damage of the bonus attack unless that modifier is negative.
  • When you take the Dodge action, you gain a +1 bonus to AC.
  • You have advantage on Stealth (Acrobatics) checks.
  • You have disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks.

Proud Wolf Stance. The wolf sticks to its pack, gaining power from its allies.

While you are in this stance, you gain the following benefits and drawbacks while you are unarmed or wielding only monk weapons and you aren’t wearing armor or wielding a shield. These benefits and drawbacks replace those normally offered by your monk Martial Arts feature:

  • You can use Dexterity instead of Strength for the attack and damage rolls of your unarmed strikes and monk weapons.
  • You can roll a d4 in place of the normal damage of your unarmed strike or monk weapon. This die changes as you gain monk levels, as shown in the Martial Arts column of the Monk table.
  • When one of your allies attacks a hostile creature within 5 feet of you, you can use your reaction to make an unarmed strike or monk weapon attack against that creature.
  • When you use your Attack action with an unarmed strike or a monk weapon on your turn, instead of dealing damage you can attempt to knock the target prone. The target must make a Strength saving throw against a DC of 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier or fall prone in its space.

Sly Raven Stance. The raven watches its opponent carefully. Then, much to its opponent’s surprise, the raven learns its moves.

  • You can use Dexterity instead of Strength for the attack and damage rolls of your unarmed strikes and monk weapons.
  • You can roll a d4 in place of the normal damage of your unarmed strike or monk weapon. This die changes as you gain monk levels, as shown in the Martial Arts column of the Monk table.
  • When you use the Help action to aid a friendly creature in attacking a creature within 5 feet of you, you can make one unarmed strike as a bonus action.
  • When you take damage from a creature that is within 5 feet of you, you can use your reaction to adjust your defenses. Once you do, the creature has disavantage on its attacks against you until you take damage from the creature again or you change your fighting stance.

Thrashing Mantis Stance. The mantis attacks violently without regard to itself, attacking to defend, hitting and smashing hardly and firmly.

While you are in this stance, you gain the following benefits and drawbacks while you are unarmed or wielding only monk weapons and you aren’t wearing armor or wielding a shield. These benefits and drawbacks replace those normally offered by your monk Martial Arts feature:

  • You can use Dexterity instead of Strength for the attack and damage rolls of your unarmed strikes and monk weapons.
  • You can roll a d4 in place of the normal damage of your unarmed strike or monk weapon. This die changes as you gain monk levels, as shown in the Martial Arts column of the Monk table.
  • You gain 2 temporary hit points for each level you have in this class. You lose these temporary hit points if you change your fighting stance.
  • Before you use the Attack action with an unarmed strike or monk weapon attack on your turn, you can choose to take a -2 penalty to your AC which lasts until the start of your next turn. If the attack hits, you add +5 to the attack’s damage.
  • When you take damage from a creature that is within 5 feet of you, you can use your reaction to take make an unarmed strike or monk weapon attack against that creature.
  • You can’t switch to this fighting stance again until you finish a short or long rest.

 

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Next: Paladin Oath of Termination

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