Monk 5e

Monk 5e

What do you think of when you hear the word “Monk”? Someone who is a calm, disciplined, and spiritual individual? Or maybe a Shaolin warrior that has been trained his whole life in the way of self-defense and discipline. All of those aspects are true if we talk about Monks, especially when we are talking about Monk 5e in D&D. Kids that are trained and molded to become skilled martial artists are called Monks in D&D 5e.

What Is Monk 5e Class in D&D?

They aren’t warriors like barbarians or fighters, but they have their way of fighting enemies. Monks may not use magic, but they do use an elemental power called a Ki. Ki is something that is found in all of the multiverses in all living beings. In a way, Ki is also a form of magical energy which they are trained to wield in monasteries.

Check out our other article on Druid 5e by clicking this link.

This Ki is also found in every living being, and Monks use this ki to immensely increase their speed and damage capabilities. Ki helps them break the restraints of a human body and use unimaginable power. They are better suited as an offense class, yet not as strong as fighters or deadly as a rogue class. Monk 5e also has many subclassing options that let them play various kinds of roles in a party.

So when you start to play as a Monk 5e, choose an appropriate backstory for the class. The backstory is what helps you understand what kind of character a Monk 5e is, and what skills and subclass can you go for. These should be ignored. Some monks also have healing abilities that depend on the subclass you decide. Though essentially they are best suited for offense as they have more attack per round. Even though the damage isn’t very high, it still is great.

All this is great but they can be a bit difficult to play as considering you have to have all three ability skills high for them. The best and the easiest way to build them is to go for dexterity first and give it the highest ability score. Later, you can go for Wisdom. This should picture a basic idea of what kind of class, Monk 5e is.

Monk 5e Class Features

Monk 5e Class Features

Now that you understand who Monk 5e is, it is time you also know all their basic stats and abilities. This is essential for every player so going to play as a Monk, and even though if you aren’t playing as them, it doesn’t hurt to understand a class better. Here, we are gonna provide you with all sorts of information on their hit points, their proficiencies, skills, and many other things.

Monk 5e Hit Points

The basic class features that every class in dnd has are hit points and dice per dice. For the Monk, the hit dice is 1d8 for every level. When it comes to hit points, it is 8 added with your constitution modifier. This is at the first level of your Monk, but if we talk about higher levels then it is 1d8(or 5) added with your constitution modifier for every Monk level. This is all the info you need to know about the hit points for the Monk 5e class.

Proficiencies & Pieces of Equipment

It would be odd if you start a game with no supplies, so every class in D&D is equipped with basic equipment This equipment varies with the class since every class has different stats and gameplay styles. When it comes to Monk 5e, players will have access to a simple weapon. One of the options they can choose is a shortsword and even weapons like nunchaku and kama. Along with that, they carry 10 darts in an explorer’s pack along with a dungeon’s pack.

Monks do wear any sort of armor which allows them to be agile and swift with their movements. Hence, the reason they have more attacks per round. Since they do not wear any armor, at level 1, their Armor class is several, Wisdom modifier + your Dexterity modifier + 10. They can also carry one musical or artesian instrument along the journey. Every class has different kinds of saving throws and skills. In the case of Monks, saving throws are Dexterity and Strength.

If we talk about skills then the player gets to choose from a large of them(as usual). The skill you can pick from include Religion, Stealth, Acrobatics, Insight, History, and Athletics. From these skill options, a player can choose any two to start the game. Some skills also differ with each class, but more or less the same. For Monks. +2 proficiency is added at level 1. This increases +1 for levels 5, 9, 13, and 17.

Monk 5e Martial Arts

Unlike Wizards, Sorcerers, or warlocks Monks cannot cast any spells. Instead, they use their Martial arts prowess and ki to take down creatures and all kinds of enemies. When they use Martial arts at level 1, Monks either go into battle unarmed and unarmored or use some simple monk weapons. Weapons include the previously mentioned shortswords or any other melee weapon available for the class. Remember they cannot use heavy weapons, shields, or anything that requires two hands.

When using such weapons, their damage rolls, and attacks use Dexterity instead of Strength. Also, a player can use a d4 roll which increases for every monk level. The d4 roll is to replace normal damage to monk weapons or an unarmed attack. Monks also get to use bonus action, which can sometimes be confusing if you are not very familiar with such actions.

For example, if you use an attack action on your turn then the player also uses a bonus action of the same in the same turn. Though it only works if you haven’t already used it. This works for both simple weapon attacks and unarmed attacks.


Remember we told you that Monks cannot use magic, but rather they use ki. Well, Ki ain’t exactly magic but it comes close. Ki is a form of mystical energy that flows through every being and can be wielded to deal damage and protect oneself from harm. So every Monk can use this Ki from when they reach level 2, and the amount is determined by the class level they are. The best way to understand this is to read the Monk table and check the Ki points in there.

So what are these Ki points and how to use them? Well, ki points are something that lets you use those ki features of Monks. So every player as they start the game has to invest these ki points in certain features. Step of the Wind, Patient Defense, and Flurry of Blows are the features that are available for every Monk as they start using their Ki at level 2. Add points to these features depending on the one that you want.

The number of ki points also increases with certain levels, and spent ki points are replenished after you take a rest for at least half an hour. Just like target use certain throws to dodge those spells, there are throws to avoid a Monk’s ki attack features as well. A target has to successfully land a DC throw to resist damage from your ki features effects. In case you do not know how this works then just add your Wisdom modifier along with your proficiency bonus and 8 to that. That is your Ki DC save throw.

Bonus Action

We talked about this earlier, where I mention that Monk has the chance to use a bonus action with an attack action. This bonus action is different for each of their attack features. If we talk about the bonus action for the Flurry of Blows, then the player can use two unarmed strikes. This bonus action is for the price of 1 ki. Similarly, if we talk about the bonus action for the Patient Defense feature then the player can dodge an attack for 1 ki point.

If you are thinking about the other bonus action for the 3rd ki feature, the Step of the Wind. Then it has to do more with movement rather than attack. Spend 1 ki point for the bonus action and you can either make a dash or a disengage action. That’s not it though, there’s more. This bonus action will also boost your jump speed twofold for the next turn.

Attacks and Skills

Monks are blessed with unique attacks and skills that are well suited for their physical strength and speed. Each level improves their attacks and skills so that they don’t stay behind other classes. Some of their skills at early levels include Unarmored Movement(level 2), Monastic Tradition(level 3), Deflect Missiles(level 3), etc.

You might already know this but, every class after reaching a certain level will improve on their existing skills/attacks. Their attacks level up and deal more damage, almost twice as much as they did in the previous levels. For Monks, those levels are 4th, 8th, 12th, and 16th. After they reach those levels, 2 ability points are added. A player can use it to add points to the ability score of their choice. They can increase an ability score by 2 points or “divide and conquer” by splitting those points for 2 different abilities.

Remember, you cannot add those points after you reach level 20. The main goal here should be, is to get your Dexterity and Wisdom to 20. This is because the Monks are weak and cannot take great damage, unlike Barbarians or other tank classes. So getting those stats up is your main priority, which will give you a 20 AC. Also, it gives you a better chance at landing a saving throw.

Monks 5e Feats

Ability Score or feats? Sometimes this is a difficult choice to make for dnd players. Most of the time, it is best to go with ability scores as they improve your character stats. On the other hand, feats let your character master/enhance a specific ability that expands their capabilities. For most classes, ability scores are the way to go, but for Monks 5e, feats might be a better option. Now, you cannot just simply choose any feat without meeting its prerequisites.

There are many Monks 5e feats that a player can choose for their character. While there are “good options” and “bad options”, it all depends on your gameplay style. Some prefer to use the Mobile feat to add more speed to their character, while others deem it unnecessary since they are already agile. Some players even go for the Mage Slayer. Now apart from those, a few other worthy feats include Alert, Sentinel, Crusher, Fighting Initiate, etc. Check this Reddit thread for the discussion on the same.

Different Monk 5e Subclasses

Subclassing is a great option when you want to build a character in a specific style. You can even say that the subclass of a character is an alternate version of that character. That’s because a subclass can vastly change a class from its original form. Most of the time, that is the best thing that you can do for your character. When it comes to subclasses for d&d 5e Monks, players get to choose from 9 different subclass options. This will decide how you will use your monk in battles(even though most of them are melee attackers). Check out the info you need to understand about the Monks subclass.

The Way of the Astral Self

Monk 5e

Monks are always best suited as melee combatants, but their attack damage ain’t that great even though the count is high. The Astral self subclassing doesn’t necessarily improve the damage provides a better melee ability. With this subclass, the monk will have access to astral hands that can be used for close-range attacks. This will also help you cover the distance a little with your astral body parts.

That’s not the only thing a monk can do in this form. Apart from astral arms, they will also receive a temporary buff that adds more hits for melee attacks. This buff lasts for only 10 minutes, so you better land as many hits as you can. When monks reach higher levels, the astral arms can also avert any incoming attack and add +2 to your Armor Class.

Way of the Sun Soul

Monk 5e

Monks are well-known to be close-range fighters that use melee weapons or go into battle unarmed. If you want them to have some ranged attacks then the Way of the sun soul is the subclass to go for. When you do go for this subclass, your monk can use Radiant sun bolt which is like an energy ball attack. While this sounds like a fun way to play Monk 5e, the damage ain’t that great since it’s just 1d4. There is a way to scale up this damage but you have to pay your Ki as the price.

The whole point of this subclass is to use ranged attacks without spending any ki, but for more damage, this becomes redundant. You just have to make do with this spell when you level up and increase its damage. There are a few other options like the Sun shield, burning hands, etc. The latter requires ki to use.

Are you interested in D&D 5e Greenflame Blade? If yes, check our complete guide on the same from here.

Way of the Four Elements

Monk 5e

This is more like an upgraded version of Way of the Sun souls. Monks can use both close-range melees and ranged attacks in this subclass. Though unlike the way of the sun souls, this subclass requires you to use ki points to cast nay ranged attacks. Also, the subclass is mostly known to be very customizable but comes with only a few options. The class’s special ability is Ride the wind, and the player will get access to new spells every 3rd, 6th, 11th, and 17th levels.

The downside here is that using spells will prevent the players from using the Flurry of Blows or any of the usual Monk weapons. While the damage might be better than the Way of the sun souls subclass, it still ain’t enough to call this a good subclass.

Way of the Shadow

Monk 5e

This is something you will either low or hate because it is the complete opposite of what a Monk is in dnd. To put it in simple terms, yuorMok will have more rogue-like attacks and gameplay with this subclass. So that makes it quite different from what the class is. Monks aren’t that great at sneak attacks since their damage output lies in multiple low-level attacks. Whereas rogue attacks are known to be lethal ones with a single blow. See the contradiction here? In any case, if you are interested to play them this way then go for this subclass that adds some spells which enhance sneak abilities.

Way of the Ascendant Dragon

Way of the Ascendant Dragon

This is the best subclass so far that we have listed in this article, as it adds a bunch of new attacks to your attacks. The first attack is gained at level 3, which is Draconic disciple. This will turn your normal unarmed strikes into Dragon’s breath that uses Dragon ki instead of your usual one. Apart from enhancing your abilities, one new ability will either increase the resistance of your party members to certain damage types or just scare your enemy good. This is unlocked at level 11, and there is also another one that is accessible a little early at level 6, called Wings Unfurled. This will grant your character flying speed.

Way of the Kensi

Way of the Kensi

At first glance, this subclass looks like it sucks, which some of the times it does. Though it depends on the play style. If you build your monk for sniping attacks then this is a good option. Apart from building your Monk as SS, this isn’t much of a good option for other play styles. The most notable feature of this class is that using unarmed strikes will grant your monk +2 AC. Though for this to work, the player should be holding a weapon and can not use Flurry of Blows, only normal strikes.

Also, it has decent monk weapons like Battleaxe, longsword, whip proficiencies. Though, they are not much useful for higher levels and require ki to deal more damage.

Way of the Open Hand

Way of the Open Hand

If you do not want to change who monks are, and build upon their core abilities, then Way of the open hand is the one to go for. The core abilities of monks may not live to the standards of other class characters but this subclassing will help you stand tall in terms of damage. The most notable improvement comes from your flurry of blows as the attacks leave the target with conditions or certain effects.

Your monk also gains healing abilities after they reach the 6th level, that is by using Wholeness of the Body. The best ability, Quivering Palm Strike is obtained at level 17 that deals a massive 10d10 necrotic damage, or might even one-shot a target. This is one of the best d&d 5e monk subclasses.

Way of the Long Death

Way of the Long Death

We all know monks are close combat classes in D&D 5e. Even though their damage output ain’t very high, they are made up for it in the number of hits they land. One other thing they are known for, or for the lack of, is their ability to withstand attacks. That’s because the Monks are far from a tank class, but that can be rectified with the Way of the Long Death subclass. This subclass essentially turns your monk into a bit of a tank that can withstand some amount of damage. A player can also get some hit points after they land the last hit on a target, and even use their ki as hit points(Mastery of Death ability) to prevent death.

Way of the Drunken Master

Way of the Drunken Master

Anyone who has seen Drunken Master pretty much knows what this means. Subclassing your Monk in this, will let you channel the uncertain and drunken weird movements of Jackie Chan. Just like Jackie Chan kicks ass in the Drunken Master movie with his unperceivable movements, your monk 5e will follow suit and confuse your enemies in battle. This not just helps you avoid incoming attacks but also lands a good amount of hits while throwing your enemies off track. The most powerful attack for this subclass is the Intoxicating Frenzy at level 17.

All this info provides you a hint of the subclass options that this class has, but some of you may be hungry for more info and aren’t satisfied with the above information. In that case, I suggest you take a glance at this RPGBOT page that deep dives into the Monk 5e subclasses and their abilities.

How to Play as D&D Monk 5e?

Almost everyone plays monks 5e at frontlines because most monks are well suited as fighters. That doesn’t mean that you have to bend to the norms and play as everyone does. Depending on the subclass and the feats you choose, you can play your monk as a tank and even fill the occasional role of a healer. Though do not try to depend on them completely for healing as they are not as good a healer as clerics.

While starting as a Monk, make the best use of Flurry of Blow, Patient Defense, and Step of the Wind at lower levels. Do not forget to use Monk weapons as well. Make Dexterity and Constitution your priority. Subclassing can be a bit confusing when you do not exactly know what it does, but do not worry. We have briefly explained every subclass for Monk 5e, and what each subclass has to offer. Read that info to make a sound judgment on how to play with your Monk.

Since there is a lot to learn and understand on how to play this class, we suggest taking a gander at these Monk 5e guides from Dungeonmastering and arcane eye.

Pros of D&D 5e Monk

  • 2 attacks per round, unlike other classes that deal only 1 attack in a round.
  • Every attack of a monk has an added DEX to it.
  • Even though they do not wear any armor, they already have enough AC when combined with the base DEX and wisdom.
  • Monks are agile and speed, and they have unique monk weapons 5e.
  • There are 9 different monk subclasses 5e which provides a bunch of ways to play Monks 5e.

Cons of Playing as D&D 5e Monk

  • Now, we mentioned the 2x attack in a single round as a pro, which it is. Though that doesn’t deal enough damage.
  • Without high DEX and wisdom to back them up, they are pretty weak in battle.
  • They start as a pretty weak character in the beginning, but with careful subclassing and the right feats/abilities, the Monks too can shine.

There is a general misconception that the Monk 5e class is bad, but that is far from the truth. Yes, they are far from being the best class in the game, but they aren’t that bad either. This will be evident once you pick them up and start playing as a Monk 5e.

How to Roleplay as a Monk 5e?

You might think that there aren’t many options for role-playing as a monk, as they are pretty traditional characters. I wouldn’t blame you if you do think that way, but there are many ways to role play as a monk. Before you choose the kind of monk you want to role play, certain factors should be considered for making up a monk. Things like a Monk’s belief, philosophy, fighting style, and how did that monk learn it?

Make it fun, add a unique backstory rather than just the usual monastery monk. For example, make him/her a war veteran who now seeks their path of freedom and unleashes is his/her brand of justice. A sort of mix and mash between a monk and a vigilante. Similarly, there are many other ways to role play as a monk. Try finding some ideas from this Reddit thread on the same.

Here’s yet another guide on D&D 5e Wizard Armor. Check it out by clicking the link

Wrapping Up

There isn’t just a single way for you to play as a Monk as there are many subclasses. We have covered everything about the monk class, well, most of it. Any kind of doubt you have with the monk class can be cleared by reading this article. Choose the appropriate class features and feats that go well with your Monk 5e character to get the best build. Any additional piece of info you need on this class is available from the links provided throughout the article.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

What is Monk Weapons 5e?

You might have heard Monks participate in battles unarmed but they are also times when they use weapons. Those monk weapons 5e are specific to monks and are not available to other classes. Some examples include nunchakus, shortswords, kama, etc.

What is Stunning Strike 5e?

This is one of the abilities of monks that is unlocked at level 5. This attack will stun your opponent until the start of your turn ends. This is when they fail to make a constitution saving throw.

What is the way of the cobalt soul?

This is a tradition of Monks in which they try to learn everything they could about their enemies. Their strengths, weaknesses, and everything or anything that can provide them an edge over others. Imagine Batman on his prep time, learning all about this enemy.

How many subclasses do Monks have?

There are a total of 9 subclasses in Monks.

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