Monk 5e – DnD Class Guide

Learn all about the martial artist class klnown as monks

Monks are martial artists who follow a path towards spiritual and physical mastery. This makes them unique melee specialists, capable of weaving their way through combat to cause damage where they’re needed most. They also have access to interesting ki abilities that enhance their capabilities. They’re the equivalent of ninjas within the D&D universe.

How to play as a monk

Monks excel at controlling combat and causing lots of damage with their many strikes. They aren’t as tough as the other melee specialist with just 1d8 hit dice and a lower upper limit on AC so they have to be more careful than the gnarlier fighters and barbarians, but can slip through combat easily to get where they need to be. On top of this, they have a lot utility outside of combat with interesting abilities and a propensity towards stealth. The most important ability for a monk is Dexterity as it will allow them to do more damage, up their AC (especially important with their armour limitations) and allow them to sneak around easily.

Monk Strengths

High damage and high maneuverability are the main strengths of a monk. That maneuverability is not only important to get them attacking the enemies they need to attack, but also to get them out of danger too. They make a great alternative to a rogue as well for their ability to move around stealthily. Their access to ki abilities gives some extra abilities that can be useful too beyond just punching everything really quickly!

Monk Weaknesses

For a melee-focused class, monks are the least tough. Their hp may be similar to that of a rogue or bard (that might also dabble in melee combat), but they generally have a lower AC than even these 2 classes. Despite these obvious drawbacks and the usual criticism that monks are a weak class, monks do offer unique abilities that work well both in and out of combat.

Monk class features

Party RoleDamage Dealer, Control
Main AbilityWisdom and Dexterity
Saving ThrowsStrength, Dexterity
Hit Dice1d8 + Consitution modifier per level
HP at 1st Level8 + Constitution Modifier
Ki Points AbilityWisdom
Armour ProficiencyNone
Weapon ProficiencySimple weapons, shortswords

Monk Abilities

LevelProficiency BonusMartial ArtsKi PointsUnarmored MovementFeatures
1st+21d4Unarmored Defense, Martial Arts
2nd+21d4210 ftKi, Unarmored Movement
3rd+21d4310 ftMonastic Tradition Feature, Deflect Missiles
4th+21d4410 ftAbility Score Improvement, Slow Fall
5th+31d6510 ftExtra Attack, Stunning Strike
6th+31d6615 ftKi-Empowered Strikes, Monastic Tradition Feature
7th+31d6715 ftEvasion, Stillness of Mind
8th+31d6815 ftAbility Score Improvement
9th+41d6915 ftUnarmored Movement Improvement
10th+41d61020 ftPurity of Body
11th+41d81120 ftMonastic Tradition Feature
12th+41d81220 ftAbility Score Improvement
13th+51d81320 ftTongue of the Sun and Moon
14th+51d81425 ftDiamond Soul
15th+51d81525 ftTimeless Body
16th+51d81625 ftAbility Score Improvement
17th+61d101725 ftMonastic Tradition Feature
18th+61d101830 ftEmpty Body
19th+61d101930 ftAbility Score Improvement
20th+61d102030 ftPerfect Self

Monk subclasses in D&D 5e

Monk SubclassSubclass AbilitiesSource BookDescription
Way of the Open HandOpen Hand Technique, Wholeness of Body, Tranquility, Quivering PalmPlayer’s HandbookUses their fists and open hand to defeat their enemies.
Way of ShadowShadow Arts, Shadow Step, Cloak of Shadows, OpportunistPlayer’s HandbookNinjas that strike from the shadows.
Way of the Four ElementsDisciple of the ElementsPlayer’s HandbookMonks that use the elements to supplement their powers.
Way of the Long DeathTouch of Death, Hour of Reaping, Mastery of Death, Touch of the Long DeathSword Coast Adventurer’s GuideMonks that are the tools of death.
Way of the Sun SoulRadiant Sun Bolt, Searing Arc Strike, Searing Sunburst, Sun ShieldXanathar’s Guide to EverythingMonks with such powerful will, they can ignite with fire.
Way of the Drunken MasterBonus Proficiencies, Drunken Technique, Tipsy Sway, Drunkard’s Luck, Intoxicated FrenzyXanathar’s Guide to EverythingMonks that have mastered unpredictable fighting patterns causing them to confuse enemies.
Way of the KensaiPath of the Kensai, One with the Blade, Sharpen the Blade, Unerring AccuracyXanathar’s Guide to EverythingYour attacks are an art form in and of themself.
Way of MercyImplements of Mercy, Hands of Healing, Hands of Harm, Physician’s Touch, Flurry of Healing and Harm, Hand of Ultimate MercyTasha’s Cauldron of EverythingYou use your abilities to bring peace more than harm.
Way of the Astral SelfArms of the Astral Self, Visage of the Astreal Self, Body of the Astral Self, Awakened Astral SelfTasha’s Cauldron of EverythingYou are able to use your spirit as an extension of yourself to aid in combat.
Way of the Ascendant DragonDraconic Disciple, Breath of the Dragon, Wings Unfurled, Aspect of the Wyrm, Ascendant AspectFizban’s Treasury of DragonsMonks that channel the spirit of dragons.

Published by DM Ben

Ben is an experienced dungeon master and player who's been immersed in the D&D universe since he was a teenager over 20 years ago. When he's not writing for Dungeon Mister, Ben loves creating fiendish puzzles and devious dungeons for his players. He's an especially big fan of the Ravenloft and Dragonlance settings.

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