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

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
The "defender" in 1e was a Warrior, not a Defender.
If you are going to pretend to correct language In the verbage it was simply the fighter... no warrior was mentioned in 1e ( that is a 2e classification and included Paladin and Ranger.

And the role was more Gygax saying this is what you are supposed to do ... without really giving mechanisms to be effective at it other than the DM deciding to play nice and have monsters target him instead of ignoring him and going for the squishier heavy hitters (yes a sleep spell at level 1 was a bloody bazooka compared to a pea shooter of the fighter) or very obligatory healers.

The difference is that the Warrior was a front line combatant that both soaked AND dealt damage.
LOL "fighters" did crap damage in 1e (and advanced in damage dealing slow as hell in it compared to the spell casters in spite of the differing advancement table ) ... I heard with some add ons particularly in late 2e that may have changed. A sympathetic DM providing swords of sharpness and the like could affect experience though but base line meh and triple meh. A 9th level fighter was already feeling like a wizards henchmen when he was supposed to be lord of men.

The thief was also the king of useless and very problematic on many fronts even in the arena it was supposed to be good with micro-odds of success there were always gambits that made more practical sense than using thief abilities. It is a prime example of what happens when the ideas of roles have not yet been focused and why the Rogue is so completely different in every edition after 2.

Our experiences differ
 
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Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
And by that metric the fighter in 4e was "a Warrior not a Defender". They were a front line combatan that both soaked AND dealt damage and had one of the highest baseline damages in the game.
Yeh they didnt even use the word "Warrior" and yes the 4e fighter was one of the better damage dealers particularly as he leveled.And the 5e fighter feels more like the 4e Ranger.

The difference is 4e made "soaking" less of a bland passive extremely situational thing and more of an active one which presented damned if you do and damned if you don't options to adversaries.

4e also restored/honored the ability of the fighter to mow down minions (at least if you built for it) which it had in theory in 1e .... and lost utterly in 5e

5e kept the dynamic defense of 4e mostly (though in much poorer form), but made it so the best defender is a multi-class caster. Because the best anything in 5e is the multi-class or single class caster.
 
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Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
After doing a lot of thinking about monks, here's a possibility I like. (The numbers might have to be tweaked for balance.)

First, they need a bit more damage and some more Ki. So I would:
1. Increase the curve on martial arts damage, hitting 1d6 sooner and topping out with 1d12
2. Change Perfect Self (currently 20th level ability) to phase in one Ki at a time at levels 5, 9, 13, and 17

Second, make their "unique schtick" be reactions:
1. Increase number of reactions. Maybe as many as proficiency bonus, or PB-1, although that feels high. (On the other hand, there will be rounds in which you don't get any reactions, so maybe it evens out.) In any event, more reactions.
2. Give the class some defensive reactions, such as imposing Disadvantage on a melee attack, or getting Advantage on a saving throw or ability check. Maybe there's a list of them, and you get to pick some (like Battlemaster Maneuvers or Sorcerer Metamagic).

Third, change new 20th level ability to be Ki Flow: when you use one of your Monk defensive reactions, in some circumstances you regenerate 1 Ki. E.g., it might be as strict as you rolling a nat 20 save, or your attacker rolling a nat 1. Or even if you just avoid the attack or make the saving throw. Not sure how this would need to be tuned. But some kind of Ki regeneration based on using your reactions.

Finally, if they are now too powerful, make Stunning Strike only occur (without Ki) on a crit. A subclass could maybe get the current version.

Thoughts?
 
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kapars

Explorer
After doing a lot of thinking about monks, here's a possibility I like. (The numbers might have to be tweaked for balance.)

First, they need a bit more damage and some more Ki. So I would:
1. Increase the curve on martial arts damage, hitting 1d6 sooner and topping out with 1d12
2. Change Perfect Self (currently 20th level ability) to phase in one Ki at a time at levels 5, 9, 13, and 17

Second, make their "unique schtick" be reactions:
1. Increase number of reactions. Maybe as many as proficiency bonus, or PB-1, although that feels high. (On the other hand, there will be rounds in which you don't get any reactions, so maybe it evens out.) In any event, more reactions.
2. Give the class some defensive reactions, such as imposing Disadvantage on a melee attack, or getting Advantage on a saving throw or ability check. Maybe there's a list of them, and you get to pick some (like Battlemaster Maneuvers or Sorcerer Metamagic).

Third, change new 20th level ability to be Ki Flow: when you use one of your Monk defensive reactions, in some circumstances you regenerate 1 Ki. E.g., it might be as strict as you rolling a nat 20 save, or your attacker rolling a nat 1. Or even if you just avoid the attack or make the saving throw. Not sure how this would need to be tuned. But some kind of Ki regeneration based on using your reactions.

Finally, if they are now too powerful, make Stunning Strike only occur (without Ki) on a crit. A subclass could maybe get the current version.

Thoughts?
How would Perfect self work? Currently the biggest issue is that it only works if you have 0 Ki. If it activates when initiative is rolled this might help. I’d rather just have a flat bonus based on proficiency bonus since one of the other things about Monks and Ki that should change is that it is combat only. Mercy can heal and Shadow has stealth utility but maybe it is good for the class if less of its identity is tied up in how it fights?

Edit: Also I agree that d6 through d12 is just straight up necessary and surely WotC agrees if you looked at unarmed fighting and the recent MotM race changes?
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
How would Perfect self work? Currently the biggest issue is that it only works if you have 0 Ki. If it activates when initiative is rolled this might help. I’d rather just have a flat bonus based on proficiency bonus since one of the other things about Monks and Ki that should change is that it is combat only. Mercy can heal and Shadow has stealth utility but maybe it is good for the class if less of its identity is tied up in how it fights?

My idea was that instead of Perfect Self coming online at level 20 with 4 Ki, it starts at level 5, where you get 1 Ki if you roll initiative with no Ki. Then at level 9 you get 2 Ki if you roll initiative with no Ki. 3 at 13, 4 at 17.

And then something new at level 20. I proposed one idea, but I'm not wedded to it.

Edit: Also I agree that d6 through d12 is just straight up necessary and surely WotC agrees if you looked at unarmed fighting and the recent MotM race changes?

Yup.
 

TheOneGargoyle

Explorer
I've been thinking too. Any melee really needs 3 things:
1) Effective Health / Survivability - things like heavy armour & shields, increased HD, resistance to damage, ability to disengage etc
2) Damage output - things like Sneak Attack, increased # of attacks, flat damage bonuses etc
3) Engaging things to do - things that are interesting & effective, different for all classes, their "shtick" as others have put it

The thing is, monks have good answers to all 3 of these, eg :
1) Patient Defence, Step of the Wind
2) Flurry of Blows, MA dice (at last for tiers 1 & 2)
3) Stunning Strike

So the problem isn't that monks don't have good answers to those 3 things. The problem is that those things use the same resource pool & the costs for those things are high, leading to the monk having to choose to do relatively few of these things at the exclusion of the others. As it stands, monks can't be survivable enough, and do competitive damage, and do their shtick, they have to choose which of those things they want to do. This doesn't really happen with other classes.

Fighters don't have to choose between having their heavy armour & shields work, or being able to use Extra Attack. Rogues don't have to choose between being able to do Sneak Attack or Cunning Action. They're generally always available, they don't compete for actions, or resource pools. The ones that are limited use generally last long enough to cover multiple encounters, like barbarian rages & moon druid wild shapes and again, usually give answers to all 3 of the above things at the same time.

But for monks, everything costs Ki to use, plus nearly everything uses their bonus action as well. So they can only do one of those things every round, and not for very long, they can easily run out in just a few rounds.

So, thought experiment: what if monks could use their existing abilities with less of this action & resource contention? What if they either used a bonus action, or a Ki point, but not both? Would this give them what they need?

For example (might need tweaking, but something like this?) :
  • Patient Defence - uses either a bonus action but no Ki, or uses 1 Ki and a reaction (to being attacked)
  • Step of the Wind - uses either a bonus action but no Ki, or uses 1 Ki and is a free action
  • Flurry of Blows - uses bonus action but no Ki, or uses 1 Ki and a free action (not sure about this one)
  • Stunning Strike - uses 1 Ki per attempt, or free attempt on crit
This would mean a monk spending 1 Ki per round could flurry + SotW + Stun only on crit, for example. Or if they've completely run out of Ki, could still do a normal attack + patient defence.

Would that be overpowered? How would you tweak that?
 
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kapars

Explorer
This Tasha's subclass is basically the only one that brings Monk dmg output up to baseline (or close to it) from L11 onwards, by adding an extra MA die + Wis mod dmg to one unarmed attack per round.
I would add to that their healing and ability to cure serious conditions also adds to their non-combat utility. They furthermore receive skill proficiencies that align with their main stats (Dexterity and Wisdom). There has been an attempt at this in the Astral Self and Ascendant Dragon Monk but curiously for Charisma based skills. The Dragon Monk gets a boost until they succeed so it’s almost like they are trying to encourage you to use something you’re not good at with “keep trying buddy” as the skill feature. The equivalent feature on a Fey Wanderer Ranger just lets them use Wisdom for Charisma checks. This makes me wonder what eats up that power budget that they couldn’t do the same?
 


TheOneGargoyle

Explorer
I would add to that their healing and ability to cure serious conditions also adds to their non-combat utility. They furthermore receive skill proficiencies that align with their main stats (Dexterity and Wisdom).
Agreed, although IMHO those are bonus items, icing on the cake as it were, rather than just bringing it up to par.

Question for the community: Would more accessibility on Patient Defense (as I mentioned previously perhaps the option to pay 1 ki, or use a bonus action, but not require both for example) roughly make up for having lower HD & AC than most other melee combatants ? Or be too OP ?
 

kapars

Explorer
Agreed, although IMHO those are bonus items, icing on the cake as it were, rather than just bringing it up to par.

Question for the community: Would more accessibility on Patient Defense (as I mentioned previously perhaps the option to pay 1 ki, or use a bonus action, but not require both for example) roughly make up for having lower HD & AC than most other melee combatants ? Or be too OP ?
It would be incredibly powerful defensively, it’s close to the +5 of Shield and it reduces the chance of getting a critical hit. You’d not do much offensively but you would be a very good dodge tank.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Agreed, although IMHO those are bonus items, icing on the cake as it were, rather than just bringing it up to par.

Question for the community: Would more accessibility on Patient Defense (as I mentioned previously perhaps the option to pay 1 ki, or use a bonus action, but not require both for example) roughly make up for having lower HD & AC than most other melee combatants ? Or be too OP ?
I’d rather add more oomph to Patient Defense, personally. Bonus damage on the next turn, THP until the next turn, etc
 

kapars

Explorer
One of the things I’ll do going forward is to replace the Elemental Attunement ability of the Four Elements Monk with the Elemental Touched feat of the new Giants Unearthed Arcana. I would also let them attune to an additional element per day at each level they gain an elemental discipline, in addition to what they choose normally.They’ve been saying in interviews recently that feats are class features outside of class so shouldn’t we just use them as optional/variant class features ?
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
One of the things I’ll do going forward is to replace the Elemental Attunement ability of the Four Elements Monk with the Elemental Touched feat of the new Giants Unearthed Arcana. I would also let them attune to an additional element per day at each level they gain an elemental discipline, in addition to what they choose normally.They’ve been saying in interviews recently that feats are class features outside of class so shouldn’t we just use them as optional/variant class features ?
Yeah, I had a player use the basic elemental disciplines of the Wu Jen Mystic from UA in place of the elemental attunement, couple years ago. Worked really well. I also reduced the ki cost by 1 for each discipline.

Now, I’d probably let them choose an element to attune to, with this feat plus the elemental cantrips, and still reduce the cost as befor.
 

Raduin711

Adventurer
What if on rounds where the monk does a Flurry of Blows, the monk gets a AC bonus AND any melee attacks which miss the monk provoke a retaliatory strike. This ability would be dependent on being unarmored. This benefit might even replace the monk's static AC bonus.

The threat of the attack + the extra potential damage (to end the fight earlier) would provide a sort of invisible layer of protection for the monk that might be a little hard to quantify.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
What if on rounds where the monk does a Flurry of Blows, the monk gets a AC bonus AND any melee attacks which miss the monk provoke a retaliatory strike. This ability would be dependent on being unarmored. This benefit might even replace the monk's static AC bonus.

The threat of the attack + the extra potential damage (to end the fight earlier) would provide a sort of invisible layer of protection for the monk that might be a little hard to quantify.
I think that perhaps what the monk needs is something more at low level that doesn't require ki.

This is why I’m trying out replacing Deflect Missiles with Deflect Attacks. Any attack, even spell attacks.

Maybe eventually an ability to add your martial arts die+wisdom mod to a saving throw as a reaction.
 

kapars

Explorer
Something else that can help right now is ensuring the player gets the right magic items at the right times. I’d say level 4 is a good time for the Dragonhide Belt and level 6 for the Eldritch Claw tattoo. If you then scale these at 11 and 17 you’ve fixed the base class issues bar AC calculation. If you are generous you could give 2 extra attunement slots.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
How about a "stance" model (except named "style"), where you get to pick a couple of styles, and add to your repertoire throughout your career. Each style has a benefit and a penalty.

E.g. "Tiger Style": bonus to jump, bonus to flurry of blows damage, penalty to AC. Or whatever.

(...and whenever you switch styles mid-combat, a disembodied voice announces the change to the whole battlefield.)
 

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