Monks excel in stealth, dexterity, and TONS of Punching
Hey all you ninja’s out there…finally… something just for you!
Inspired by Asian culture rather than medieval Europe, Monks are an exception in Dungeons and Dragons. It should come as no surprise that, as a result, they are one of the most unique classes in the game. They can do all the monk things: punch, dodge, meditate… and so much more.
If you are new to D&D, you should consider playing the monk if you are one of these four types of players…
Players That Like to Be Vulnerable in Combat
I’ll admit… starting with a weakness is a pretty bad sales pitch. The monk rolls an eight sided (d8) dice for its health… not the worst… or best. And on top of that, your monk’s Armor Class (your defense) is all based around you being unarmored. Translation: low health AND low AC… which is a problem when you are fighting big, evil, life-threatening monsters.
But… while you might be vulnerable at lower levels, it's not for too long. Unarmored Defense combines your Dexterity AND Wisdom modifiers into your Armor Class. So when you are at a higher level and have maxed out those abilities, your AC will be the SAME as the big buff knight with plate armor!
In the meantime, the game has provided unique class features to help you protect yourself. A monk can catch (and throw back!) arrows shot at them with Deflect Missiles. They can reduce ALL damage taken with from anything requiring a Dexterity saving throw (Evasion). And if all else fails, the monk can run away super fast with Unarmored Movement.
Players That Want to Be “Spiritual, But Not Religious”
The Cleric is the undisputed champion of religion... the Warlock the champion occult… but spirituality belongs to the Monk. Of course, you can make your monk religious; most monks subscribe to some major religion or at the very least hail from a home monastery. But deep down the monk is all about being in tune with the spiritual reality in every living thing… the mystic energy of KI.
Ki is the PRIMARY mechanic of the monk. Monks harness the ki within them and use it to perform superhuman/magical abilities. It is what makes them special, what makes them fun, and what you will be managing the most as a player (whole lotta bonus actions and reactions). With ki you can attack multiple times, stun enemies (super powerful btw), and move with lightning fast reflexes. The only problem: you have very limited Ki points… so use wisely.
Thankfully (and realistically!) your spirituality is largely non-violent. Through meditation your character can regain all your ki points via a short rest. You are also so intune with your body that you can mystically counteract physical effects on it: Stillness of Mind (7th level) allows you to resist fear and charms, Purity of Body (10th level) allows you to resist poison and disease, and Timeless Body (15th level) allows you to resist time itself… you won’t age!
Players That Want to Fight AND Sneak
Paladin’s and Barbarians throw themselves into the melee… Rangers and Rogues linger along the sidelines, picking off anyone that strays too far. But what if you want to be able to do both?
Monks are like fighters because on top of all their special abilities, they also go and punch things… a lot. Like all the combat-heavy marital classes they get an extra attack at level 5. But monks ALSO can use KI to hit TWO MORE TIMES… that’s 4 attacks by level 3!
But like the rogue, as a monk you are one stealthy SOB. Having no armor and the highest of Dexterity stores, stealth becomes THE skill for the Monk. Combine that with the Criminal or Urchin background (gives you the Sleight of Hand skill), and spend downtime training to become proficient in thieves tools.
BAM. You can become as thief-y as the biggest thief out there… AND hold your own in a fight!
Players who Want to be A Ninja
And last… but certainly not least… play a monk if you want to play as a Ninja! Monks are literally built to run along rooftops in the moonlight and attack with highly trained martial arts. In fact, most of their special abilities come from their Martial Arts ability, which allows them to do considerable damage with unarmed attacks. They even become magical at 6th level!
But don’t worry, just because you want to be a ninja doesn’t mean you have to lean heavily on the stereotype and wear all black all the time. The monk subclasses provide a lot of room for you to customize your monk into a perfect fit:
Way of Mercy: For the monk eager to do healing instead of punching.
Way of Shadow: See in darkness… move with darkness … become ONE with darkness.
Way of Ascendent Dragon: Perfect for your Dragonborn who REALLY loves their ancient forefathers.
Way of the Astral Self: Mortal flesh is an illusion… fight with a bunch more “ghostly” arms and legs .
Way of the Drunken Master: Hit your enemies… dip and weave unpredictably out of harms way. Alcohol optional.
Way of the Four Elements: Complex and customizable class… but hey! Fire punches! (just be a sorcerer instead)
Way of the Kensei: For monks with delicate model hands… opt for weapons instead of punching.
Way of the Long Death: High level monks don’t age? That’s cute… I CAN NEVER DIE!!!!
Way of the Open Hand: Take the normal monk and supercharge it. Punch more… push people with punches.
Way of the Sun Soul: Wanna be Ryu and “HADOKEN!” blue fireball people? Go super saiyan with the sun soul.
So, is the Monk Class right for you?
We hope this inspires the right people to try playing a Monk!
On that note… if you love immersing yourself deeper in fantasy stories and games, we promise our scented candles will whisk you away to adventure.
Based out of Spokane, Riley is a freelance copywriter that combines his love of reading, writing, and people into something useful! He is thankful to be applying his passion for imaginative role-playing to help DnD related businesses communicate their value in the best way possible. He's kinda like a bard giving inspiration, except without the annoying pop covers!