D&D 5th Edition How Magical or Non-Magical Should the Monk Be?

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  1. #1

    How Magical or Non-Magical Should the Monk Be?

    While I like the Monk to actually have abilities to punch with Lightning damage on their fists, to do short range teleports, heal themselves, float through the air and do fire damage over a small area close to them. Such that they could conceivably replace the Swordmage class. I feel that others probably won't like a really magical Monk. But the problem with a Monk whose abilities are more grounded and less magical, is that they start to get too close to the Fighter, such that one could effectively play a Monk by just using a Fighter.

    So where should the limits on the dials between non-magical and magical for a Monk be? Thinking back to the traditional 1e Monk, most of their really magical abilities were more "utility" abilities, except for perhaps Quivering Palm. But the Monk from 1e to 3e, is what I always felt was too rigid even if they were influenced by Wu Xia from the late 70's and early 80's. 4e Monk was in many ways very inspired by videogames (there literally was a power like Ryu/Ken's spinning kick from Street Fighter 2) and other outside sources, which some may feel is great and others not. I personally liked how 4e just said the Monk was psionic, since in 3e I felt the Psychic Warrior was often a better Monk than the Monk.

    But ideally what's the optimum balance between the 2 extremes of mystical and more low-key?


  • #2
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    The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)

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    The balance? Offer both options.

    Internal monks use ki to improve their bodies, so they can run faster, jump higher, punch harder, and dodge or shrug off damage.

    External monks are a bit more fragile, but can punch fireballs, create whirlwind kicks, and float in yoga pose then teleport.

    Put a big bold sidebar saying, "The external monk might not be available in all settings. Check with your DM."

    Most people will mix and match powers.
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  • #3
    I like monks to have more 'magical' type abilities, but I like those abilities to reinforce the story of the class, not be a generic gish. More of a jedi without the lightsaber than anything. They should have physical and mental abilities the are clearly beyond the realm of the mundane, but very different from the normal 'magical' classes. I agree that earlier editions of the game had trouble with executions of the monk concept, but I kind of like the flavor the those classes. I don't really want them doing 'lightning fists' per se, though at higher levels going insubstantial, short teleports, and even something like Sith lightning is not beyond the pale.

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    I look at a monk as drawing power from within (psionic), which may or may not manifest in overtly supernatural ways.
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    Both. This is why I like power structures. You want your monk to look supernatural? Take the lightning powers. You want your monk to be a wire-fu maniac? Take the wire-fu powers. You want your monk to be mundane but skilled and tricksy? Take the mundane-appearing powers. Then leave it up to the player and the DM what they want to play in that game.

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    I never liked Monk as a class archetype.
    I always loved to play martial artists/brawlers though.
    I want unarmed combat to become a viable option for all melee classes in D&DN. With this flexibility it will be easy to build a feral Wolverine-style brute, tavern brawler, or even mystical oriental monastic martial artist.
    I really don't want to be limited to Shaolin theme with my unarmed fighters again.

  • #7
    I would like a cleaned up 1st Ed Monk-deal.

    Key features I would like are (in no particular order):

    -Resistance to mind-affecting effects.

    -Ability to heal themselves.

    -Increased speed.

    -Fall great distances unharmed.

    -Dodge missiles/area effects.

    -Commune with animals and plants.

    -Metabolic control (like the Bene Gesserit, neutralise disease/poison in their system, etc).

    And most importantly: no mention of Ki.

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    Level 1 through 5: normal skilled guy with martial arts training and strong will power
    Level 6 and onward: ageless mystic with ki fists and teleport jumps.
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  • #9
    I think @Neonchameleon has it right - monks are the perfect class for the kits they've been adding to classes. Call them "styles" or "paths" and give them goofy pseudo-martial-arts names like "Red Fist Style" that can be refitted for individual campaigns. I'd actually make them fairly distinct, and leave the possibility of mixing and matching on the DM's side (so players weren't tempted to make an "uber" monk by picking the most powerful maneuvers from each style).

    My only question would be what the core mechanic should be (if any). I don't like stealing CS from the fighter, and I feel like some sort of combo system (Flurry of Blows) would be a good way of modeling this. (I wrote a whole thread with an attempt at this a while back but in retrospect I'm not sure it's the best way of going about this.)

  • #10
    If you're using your fists to fight people with proper arms and armour, then you'd better be using magic.

    Though it doesn't need to be blatant or flashy.

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