D&D 5E Buffing monks: with simple changes.

Chaosmancer

Legend
What I've seen at the table is that the monk's higher movement, falling, ability to end charmed/frightened condition at will, and stunning strike get used in creative ways at the table to dramatically change the outcome of encounters.

A fun example was a monk in our group who grappled an enemy and dragged him off a ledge, taking no damage (I can't remember the exact height) then using his movement speed and a Ki point to quickly get back into the fight.

It's outside of white room analysis, but it brings something to the table that is (or can be) both more potent than "I do another 37 damage" and a lot more fun.

And I should probably add a disclaimer to every post in this thread that my experience is almost exclusively at Tier I and II. But if monks do need some love at those tiers, I'd prefer to see it be more of this kind of flexibility, and not simply more damage (although some more damage might be part of it). If I just want to do damage I can roll a Fighter.

So, I can see that, but all of those end up being pretty circumstantial.

For example, the "end charmed and Frightened" has a caveat. It takes an action. This means it isn't actually immediately useful against the Fear spell, because the fear spell says you must use your action to dash and get away. Which means your best case scenario is to dash, get out of line of sight. Next turn use Stillness of Mind to end fear if you didn't make the save for being out of line of sight of the enemy, then run and potentially even dash back towards the enemy, which could cost Ki or another action depending on if you can reach the enemy this last turn, meaning you are potentially looking at losing three turns... about the same as someone who failed the save and had to wait for the second save.

And for Charmed, I have heard speculation that the Monk needs to know they are charmed to take the action, which if the enemy has charmed them, and used persuasion to convince them to do something else with their action....



And the "suplex off cliff" is fun... but requires you to successfully grapple, and have a cliff nearby. And those sorts of drops aren't common, and not all enemies can be grappled. So, there are some niche scenarios that can be utilized, but I'm not sure if they are prevalent enough to account for falling out of step with the other classes. Because this isn't just "monks should be fighters" but a lack of increase in potential damage that even wizards and clerics have.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Chaosmancer

Legend
I think monks are bad in the hand of the wrong player and the wrong campaign. But in the right campaign and the right player, they are very effective. They do seem to fall behind at tier 3 and above though...

As far as DPS, with the exception of action surge and level 11+, a monk will outdamage a defensive built fighter.

Fighter: sword and board, defensive style. Subclass: cavalier 2 attacks doing 1d8+5
Monk: using a longsword 2 handed (kensei or tasha?), no ki spent, 3 attacks doing 1d10+5

Am I missing something?

Cavalier bonuses to reaction attacks? 10th level they get more reaction attacks, allowing them to more reliably make 3 attacks per round instead of 2
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I think the better route is to focus on the Monk's controller abilities. To me that is a niche they used in 4e and in 3e (with various grapple builds) and I think its a good way to go. At the end of the day, what differentiates the monk from the fighter, barb, paladin is as a "martial controller". Stunning Blow is one tool in that arsenal, and the open hand monk gets several others.

I think you could continue to look at that path for ways to buff the monk that are not in direct competition with other martials, and helps the monk to carve its unique niche.
This is my recommendation, it was something I thought they should have focused a little more on in 4e too (though the 4e monk is pretty close to the martial controller). Slowing moves and proning moves and similar can be configured cheaper/more reliable than a stun, as it seems right now the 5e fighter with his multi-attacks can do martial throws proning enemies better than the monk.
 

TheOneGargoyle

Explorer
I think the better route is to focus on the Monk's controller abilities. To me that is a niche they used in 4e and in 3e (with various grapple builds) and I think its a good way to go. At the end of the day, what differentiates the monk from the fighter, barb, paladin is as a "martial controller". Stunning Blow is one tool in that arsenal, and the open hand monk gets several others.

I think you could continue to look at that path for ways to buff the monk that are not in direct competition with other martials, and helps the monk to carve its unique niche.

This is my recommendation, it was something I thought they should have focused a little more on in 4e too (though the 4e monk is pretty close to the martial controller). Slowing moves and proning moves and similar can be configured cheaper/more reliable than a stun, as it seems right now the 5e fighter with his multi-attacks can do martial throws proning enemies better than the monk.

In 4e they had the idea of primary and secondary roles. I have no issue with monks being considered to have a secondary role as a controller, but strongly believe that most players (def myself included) would not want people trying to change monks primary role into a controller.

You couldn't make them good enough at it to be a primary controller (compare: wizard) without them being unrecognisable as a monk any more. Perhaps 1 or 2 subclasses that focussed on this side would appeal to some players, to me that would be sufficient.

Monk DPS Flurry.png


To me, this right here is the important elephant in the room to address (credit to Nokrim for this).

Monks dmg output flatlines and other classes continue to scale. By L11 they fall below baseline and they never recover.

No focussing on their controller sides is going to address this, nor should it try in my book.

Monks need real damage boosts for T3 and T4 play.
 
Last edited:

clearstream

(He, Him)
I don't see a feature called "Distant Strike" for the Fey Wanderer, so I can't comment on that. But I did consider the Stalker's Flurry.

The issue I think is that Stalker's Flurry does raise your average damage over a combat, by turning misses into hits, but it doesn't raise your potential damage per turn, because if you don't miss, Stalker's Flurry does nothing. More consistency, but not more damage.

OH WAIT, you meant for the Horizon Walker. Okay, yeah, If you attack two different creatures, you can make a third attack against a third creature. This is more potential damage per turn, but as you said it is pretty conditional. It only works when there are three creatures you can attack within range, and it forces you to spread your damage, which other types of boosts generally don't do. So, I'd say it's impact is pretty small overall, but it is a damage increase for the ranger at level 11.
Oh, yeah, Horizon Walker, sorry. They're conflated in my mind because if you think about Dreadful Strikes (and Volley/Whirlwind Attack FTM) you can see that the designers want to reward rangers for attacking multiple targets. The problem is that it is conditional (you need to have multiple suitable targets in the combat) and goes against basic mechanical efficiency (reduce incoming attacks by dropping whole combatants, rather than wounding lots of them).

But they don't, or at least some do but others don't.

Let's look at the Gloomstalker again. I'm going to pair out spells for a moment and just focus on features.

Level 5: 2d8+10 (longbow, 20 Dex) Level 5 First Turn of Combat: 4d8+15
Level 11: 2d8+10 Level 11 First Turn of Combat: 4d8+15

Yes, Stalker's flurry means that when you calculate the average over the combat, damage has increased, but it hasn't increased because you are doing more damage, it has increased because you are missing less.

Meanwhile, a Paladin looks like this

Level 5: 2d8+14 (Longsword, Strength 20, Dueling style)
Level 11: 4d8+14 (Add in Improved Divine Smite)

Where as the Gloomstalker is a 1-1 match, that paladin has added 2d8 or 9 damage to their potential for the round. All Paladins.


IF we look at (I have Xanathar's open so flip...) The Drunken Monk their level 11 ability is to spend 2 ki to cancel disadvantage. Again, this will increase the average over a combat (in theory) by making you miss less, but it doesn't actually improve the potential damage. For the Monk, that looks like this

Level 5: 2d8+2d6+20 (Staff, 20 dex, Flurry of Blows)
Level 11: 4d8+20 (martial arts die increase)

And the difference here is quite literally 2 pts per average.

And if we look at the Rogue
Level 5: 1d8+3d6+5 (Rapier, 20 Dex, Sneak attack)
Level 11: 1d8+6d6+5

So, I think the Ranger and Monk might get a variety of abilities, some increase accuracy, some conditionally increase potential damage, but it certainly isn't consistent, and it isn't really as much as you see in the other classes.
What you are describing is a picture obscured by two things: attempts at diversity in line with class approaches (so rangers and monks often get defence where other get offence), and design errors.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
This is my recommendation, it was something I thought they should have focused a little more on in 4e too (though the 4e monk is pretty close to the martial controller). Slowing moves and proning moves and similar can be configured cheaper/more reliable than a stun, as it seems right now the 5e fighter with his multi-attacks can do martial throws proning enemies better than the monk.
There's a lively debate to be had on the monk's anchoring mechanical approach. Some say controller. I feel that is too wide, and believe the most fruitful direction would be more narrow control like the Open Hand ability to deny an opponent their reaction.

Generally, I see monk as a kiting martial, switching between attack and defence and at all times aiming to avoid being hit.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
In 4e they had the idea of primary and secondary roles. I have no issue with monks being considered to have a secondary role as a controller, but strongly believe that most players (def myself included) would not want people trying to change monks primary role into a controller.

You couldn't make them good enough at it to be a primary controller (compare: wizard) without them being unrecognisable as a monk any more. Perhaps 1 or 2 subclasses that focussed on this side would appeal to some players, to me that would be sufficient.

View attachment 146221

To me, this right here is the important elephant in the room to address (credit to Nokrim for this).

Monks dmg output flatlines and other classes continue to scale. By L11 they fall below baseline and they never recover.

No focussing on their controller sides is going to address this, nor should it try in my book.

Monks need real damage boosts for T3 and T4 play.
Looking at this I see that I should have said - all classes bar rogues - have very steppy DPR increases (notably at 5th and 11th level).

The TWF rogue exemplifies the average DPR progression that you see laid bare in the DMG - in Creating a Spell. You use TWF to increase the likelihood of hitting with at least one sneak attack per turn (at the cost of cunning action, which is disappointing in terms of what one might have hoped from the designers). You land on 3d6 at start of tier 2, and 6d6 at start of tier 3, but the dice flow in as half-level roundup.

I think the designers had a single backbone, that they then branched into probably three basic approaches, and diversified from there.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
There's a lively debate to be had on the monk's anchoring mechanical approach. Some say controller. I feel that is too wide, and believe the most fruitful direction would be more narrow control like the Open Hand ability to deny an opponent their reaction.
I missed this reference at first ... but in order to enable the kiting to service your ability the denial needs to be able to used well as part of the movement

In 4e a monk had a number of moves where they were able to attack while long ranged shifting effectively attacking on the run while disengaged in 5e terms.
Generally, I see monk as a kiting martial, switching between attack and defence and at all times aiming to avoid being hit.
Kiting? hmmm the way I see it is only Kiting where they have "real" incentive to attack you (and you can resist well).

In 4e there were swordmages who specialized in a form of kiting ... I have even heard people reflavor swordmages as sword monks. They incentivised attacking themselves frustrated your attacks on others then moved away (and if you caught them they had extremely good defenses) ... the monk doesn't seem to have tools for that kind of kiting

Fast movement does not make you like a ranged character firing from the back row who won't be targeted while still getting to attack. Basically it seems if the monk is "defending" themselves by movement they arent attacking then their defense is like watching. (reducing their effectiveness even more) or a defense based on ki expense has the same problem reducing offense which we know fades badly already on the monk

In 4e they had the idea of primary and secondary roles. I have no issue with monks being considered to have a secondary role as a controller, but strongly believe that most players (def myself included) would not want people trying to change monks primary role into a controller.
You couldn't make them good enough at it to be a primary controller (compare: wizard) without them being unrecognisable as a monk any more. Perhaps 1 or 2 subclasses that focussed on this side would appeal to some players, to me that would be sufficient.
The wizard in 4e can be built to be a multi-target striker without too much work? And that is kind of how 5e tries to do the roles. As this is not 4e that ability to swivel between two in 5e is exemplified by I can spend my resource on stuns or flurries.. Stuns however are a really resistable. And have you seen Jackie chan characters fight its all about manipulating and impairing the enemy not killing better than a sword blow.
To me, this right here is the important elephant in the room to address (credit to Nokrim for this).
Monks dmg output flatlines and other classes continue to scale. By L11 they fall below baseline and they never recover.
yup they should be capable of match up if they are played that way, note the wizard in 5e is well above that base line AND a controller at the same time by making choices.
No focussing on their controller sides is going to address this, nor should it try in my book.
Monks need real damage boosts for T3 and T4 play.
the guys with the lightest and softest weapons being seen as primarily raw damage dealing is kind of LOL to me... but yes upping damage in the latter tiers should not be a question.(but it does not make them interesting or unique), and martial throws and slowing pressure point attacks and the like are thematic to me, for some reason the monk cannot do that.
 
Last edited:

clearstream

(He, Him)
I missed this reference at first ... but in order to enable the kiting to service your ability the denial needs to be able to used well as part of the movement
Absolutely agree. The concept for monk is stymied by the action economy. The designers ought to have been more generous in their action-costings, for example imagine PD cost either no action or a reaction. Instead of seeing it very little used, one would see it used all the time, and TCoE options like the ki-fueled attack would make more sense.

In 4e a monk had a number of moves where they were able to attack while long ranged shifting effectively attacking on the run while disengaged in 5e terms.

Kiting? hmmm the way I see it is only Kiting where they have "real" incentive to attack you (and you can resist well).
Again agree. Monk is gently slapping you so easily ignored. They need more sting in order to make kiting matter. That said, by kiting I also mean to include where you deal damage and are not attacked back, due to movement or some other defence.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Oh, yeah, Horizon Walker, sorry. They're conflated in my mind because if you think about Dreadful Strikes (and Volley/Whirlwind Attack FTM) you can see that the designers want to reward rangers for attacking multiple targets. The problem is that it is conditional (you need to have multiple suitable targets in the combat) and goes against basic mechanical efficiency (reduce incoming attacks by dropping whole combatants, rather than wounding lots of them).


What you are describing is a picture obscured by two things: attempts at diversity in line with class approaches (so rangers and monks often get defence where other get offence), and design errors.

I can definetly see this as a result of attempting to diversify the classes, but the problem is that, frankly, these are the only two classes to be "diverse" in this respect. At least that has happened in a noticeable way.

Also, at this point, since we are talking Subclasses, there is an added wrinkle that the subclasses are getting diversified, so some subclasses get a defensive ability, some an accuracy ability, some a multi-attack ability, some a utility or debuff ability. This leads to the power being even more variable.

Just take these three abilities under Rangers

Gloom Stalker gets an accuracy ability to retake a missed attack
Horizon Walker gets a multi-attack ability to hit 3 targets
The Monster Slayer gets 1/SR Counterspell.

Only one directly improves damage for the turn, only two of them improve average damage at all.

Also, with the Monk's abilities in particular, they tend to cost Ki.

Drunkard's Luck is a highly situational Ki costing ability that can be used to prevent a penalty.
Sharpen the Blade is ki cost for accuracy and Damage (but low damage. The Paladin adding a 1d8 to every attack is adding 4.5 average, the BEST Sharpen the Blade can do is adding +3)
Searing Sunburst doesn't cost ki for the 2d6 AOE, but it is a full action and low damage for 11th level, meanwhile getting it more powerful... costs Ki
Tranquility no Ki, but a HIGHLY situational defensive ability (1/day sanctuary that activates at start of the day)
Cloak of Shadows, no Ki but action to become invisible in dim light is utility


None of this really... a lot of these aren't even very well thought of abilities, are they?
 

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top