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D&D 5E Comparing Monk DPR

First, Rings or Cloaks of Protection are good for everyone, and good for Monks no less, but Bracers of Defense are great for a Monk above probably all other classes.

I want to throw an obligatory complaint.

The Bracer's of Defense are horribly designed and should be redone, with two changes. 1) Remove Attunement, 2) Make them uncommon (I'm willing to budge on this).

Here is my reasoning. They are just a shield. Literally, that is their entire function, +2 AC, just like a shield. However, they do not stack with any shield or any armor. So, who can use them?

Well, there are only four classes that can possibly justify them. Wizards, Sorcerers, Monks and Barbarians.

Barbarians are both the most powerful choice for them, but also the most limited. Because wearing armor for a barbarian is a legitimate choice, until they have a 20 Con and 16 Dex, and even then, they can choose to use a shield, meaning the only use for the bracers is to allow them to also use a two-handed weapon. And there is a shield for that, the Animated Shield, which can be used by any class for the same benefit.

But, Monks, Sorcerers and Wizards can't use armor and shields, so this is a solid choice for an AC buff... but for half the AC, they can get a +1 to all saves with an uncommon Cloak of Protection.

Additionally, a +2 shield or +2 Armor gives the same AC boost to heavily armored people who don't struggle with their AC... and those don't require attunement.

No matter how I approach it, they aren't worth an attunement slot for their effect. The only worry is a high stat barbarian being able to get a +2 AC while weilding a 2-handed weapon, and that is fairly niche.
 

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I'd say PD should probably only have a +1 AC boost since Dodge is already one of the strongest defensive buffs in the game.

Really, with +3 AC and Dodge, there'd be no reason to ever use Step of the Wind outside of niche kiting scenarios which probably can be done otherwise.

If I had those features, I'd do this: Stunning Strike for the first two hits on the enemy, regardless, I'd PD because the +3 AC and Dodge makes me the tankiest character on the field with eventual Evasion with Advantage to avoid any Dex-based AoE damage and really hard to hit with weapon attacks. Deflect Missiles mean that even if a ranged attack does manage to hit me, I can reduce or even reflect the damage.

If I need to escape melee and the enemy isn't stunned, I'd still use PD because they not only have disadvantage on me on reaction, any further attacks (like ranged) would be avoided and Evasion with Advantage protects me from dex-based AoE's like Lightning Bolt.


But, I think you have to remember the cost.

That is 3 Ki a turn. By 11th level that means you can do this... three times per short rest. Or, to translate, about 1 combat a short rest. And that uses 0 subclass abilities, for some most subclasses this shuts them off entirely, since you generally need to be using your Ki or your bonus action to use their abilities.

You've made a very tanky monk, sure, but that is a lot of opportunity cost.
 

Lord Twig

Adventurer
I want to throw an obligatory complaint.

The Bracer's of Defense are horribly designed and should be redone, with two changes. 1) Remove Attunement, 2) Make them uncommon (I'm willing to budge on this).

Here is my reasoning. They are just a shield. Literally, that is their entire function, +2 AC, just like a shield. However, they do not stack with any shield or any armor. So, who can use them?

Well, there are only four classes that can possibly justify them. Wizards, Sorcerers, Monks and Barbarians.

Barbarians are both the most powerful choice for them, but also the most limited. Because wearing armor for a barbarian is a legitimate choice, until they have a 20 Con and 16 Dex, and even then, they can choose to use a shield, meaning the only use for the bracers is to allow them to also use a two-handed weapon. And there is a shield for that, the Animated Shield, which can be used by any class for the same benefit.

But, Monks, Sorcerers and Wizards can't use armor and shields, so this is a solid choice for an AC buff... but for half the AC, they can get a +1 to all saves with an uncommon Cloak of Protection.

Additionally, a +2 shield or +2 Armor gives the same AC boost to heavily armored people who don't struggle with their AC... and those don't require attunement.

No matter how I approach it, they aren't worth an attunement slot for their effect. The only worry is a high stat barbarian being able to get a +2 AC while weilding a 2-handed weapon, and that is fairly niche.
A very fair argument. I overlooked that they require attunement. It is weird that the Cloak or Protection is uncommon while the Ring of Protection is rare, even though they do the exact same thing. Looking at armor +1 is rare, +2 is very rare and +3 is legendary. So making Bracers of Armor rare, but requiring attunement isn't totally ridiculous. But probably better to remove the attunement and just make it very rare the same as the armor.
 

auburn2

Adventurer
I would consider this one a pretty weak option though, as weapon master remains a terrible feat.
I think it is a GREAT 1st level feat for a Rogue and it is a good feat for a Monk. I think it is better than elven accuracy which is probably the next best combat feat that boosts dex. In terms of a dex boost feat, the only thing that is really in competition IMO is skill expert and it is hard to compare that directly, since it implies a completely different build.

Aside from a d10 versatile weapon you can also get whip which pays off at high levels, giving a reach weapon that does Monk martial arts damage and is wielded 1-handed.

In point buy with a variant human if you shoot for a 16 dex it essentially translates to a +2 in another stat and proficiency in 4 weapons. If you roll your stats, again it is a great feat for a 1st-level Rogue or Monk with an odd dexterity (after modifiers). Not so good if you have an even dexterity.

For a custom lineage it is even better, Weapon Master is one of very few feats you can use to get an 18 in dexterity at 1st level. There are only a handful of feats that allow you to do that, and weapon master is probably the best of them.
 
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Asisreo

Hero
But, I think you have to remember the cost.

That is 3 Ki a turn. By 11th level that means you can do this... three times per short rest. Or, to translate, about 1 combat a short rest. And that uses 0 subclass abilities, for some most subclasses this shuts them off entirely, since you generally need to be using your Ki or your bonus action to use their abilities.

You've made a very tanky monk, sure, but that is a lot of opportunity cost.
Well, the opportunity cost will always be about 3 Ki no matter what option you choose if you wish to stunning strike then Ki-ability (its also possible you miss one or both attacks and "save" a Ki).

The opportunity costs of the three abilities will always be the same, so comparing one ability to the others is very important. I'd still almost always default to Patient Defense over Flurry or Step of the Wind since +3 AC and Dodge is still better and lets you last longer if the enemy targets you but also lets you use your mobility.

So even at 1 Ki per turn, I'd still prefer the +3 PD over any of the other modified abilities.
 

Lord Twig

Adventurer
I'd say PD should probably only have a +1 AC boost since Dodge is already one of the strongest defensive buffs in the game.

Really, with +3 AC and Dodge, there'd be no reason to ever use Step of the Wind outside of niche kiting scenarios which probably can be done otherwise.

If I had those features, I'd do this: Stunning Strike for the first two hits on the enemy, regardless, I'd PD because the +3 AC and Dodge makes me the tankiest character on the field with eventual Evasion with Advantage to avoid any Dex-based AoE damage and really hard to hit with weapon attacks. Deflect Missiles mean that even if a ranged attack does manage to hit me, I can reduce or even reflect the damage.

If I need to escape melee and the enemy isn't stunned, I'd still use PD because they not only have disadvantage on me on reaction, any further attacks (like ranged) would be avoided and Evasion with Advantage protects me from dex-based AoE's like Lightning Bolt.
A +1 AC seems hardly worth it. Honestly I was considering making it a +5 AC for one extra ki point making it equivalent to the Shield spell, but didn't want to create yet another ability that cost ki so lowered it to +3 and just added it to the existing Dodge action.

Another reason why I don't think this is a problem is that a frequent argument I have heard is that if the monk uses Patient Defense the DM just decides not to attack them. That is pretty lame in my opinion, but it is what it is. So I decided to double down and make the monk VERY hard to hit. He is giving up 3 attacks at the point for the same 1 ki point, so it should be worth it. Ideally the monk would run into the middle of a bunch of enemies with his amazingly low hit points of 90 compared to the fighters 101 hit points, maybe stun one or two opponents, taunt them, then Patient Defense. If they attack there is a good chance they will miss, if they try to move away from him he can opportunity attack one of them and try to stun them again.

All of this stunning is of course optional. Personally I would try to limit my expenditure of ki to 1 or 2 points a round. I think the threat of a stun is almost as good as the stun itself. Consider that if you attempt to stun the bad guy once and he makes his save, on his next turn he has to decide should he ignore the "useless" monk, knowing that the monk could try to stun him again, and he might not succeed on his save next time, and go after some one else? Or should he try to take out the monk so he doesn't have to worry about being stunned anymore? Being stunned is such an incredibly bad state to be in that it should scare the bad guy enough that he does something to avoid it, and thereby do something that is probably less optimal than he would do otherwise. And of course if the stun actually sticks the bad guy is in the aforementioned very bad state.

Finally, you would take Step of the Wind because you need the extra movement, and/or if you really need to move away from a BBEG and can't take the chance of getting hit. A dragon or giant with a +11 to hit still has a very good chance of hitting you even if you Dodge and have an AC over 20 (and your AC, even with the +3, at level 11 will be something like 21 or 22 on the high end). If you are running then one hit will probably drop you. Why not use Step of the Wind and run 150' away with no one able to hit you at all? Also you can jump about 30' (with a 10 Str), which should clear just about any obstacles.
 

auburn2

Adventurer
I want to throw an obligatory complaint.

The Bracer's of Defense are horribly designed and should be redone, with two changes. 1) Remove Attunement, 2) Make them uncommon (I'm willing to budge on this).

Here is my reasoning. They are just a shield. Literally, that is their entire function, +2 AC, just like a shield. However, they do not stack with any shield or any armor. So, who can use them?

Well, there are only four classes that can possibly justify them. Wizards, Sorcerers, Monks and Barbarians.

Barbarians are both the most powerful choice for them, but also the most limited. Because wearing armor for a barbarian is a legitimate choice, until they have a 20 Con and 16 Dex, and even then, they can choose to use a shield, meaning the only use for the bracers is to allow them to also use a two-handed weapon. And there is a shield for that, the Animated Shield, which can be used by any class for the same benefit.

But, Monks, Sorcerers and Wizards can't use armor and shields, so this is a solid choice for an AC buff... but for half the AC, they can get a +1 to all saves with an uncommon Cloak of Protection.

Additionally, a +2 shield or +2 Armor gives the same AC boost to heavily armored people who don't struggle with their AC... and those don't require attunement.

No matter how I approach it, they aren't worth an attunement slot for their effect. The only worry is a high stat barbarian being able to get a +2 AC while weilding a 2-handed weapon, and that is fairly niche.
Bladesingers are the most powerful choice for bracers of defense and I think they should remain attunement because of that subclass alone. Bladsingers with bracers of defense are really hard to hit in bladesong. Without any magic items a bladesinger can get 27 effective AC at 5th level with point buy. It only gets worse from there. When you start adding on a ring of protection and bracers of defense it gets silly.

I get what you are saying, but if it is not that big a deal, then it is not a big loss if you have to give it up to attune to something else.
 
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Lord Twig

Adventurer
Bladesingers are the most powerful choice for bracers of defense and I think they should remain attunement because of that subclass alone. Bladsingers with bracers of defense are really hard to hit in bladesong. Without any magic items a bladesinger can get 27 effective AC at 5th level with point buy. It only gets worse from there. When you start adding on a ring of protection and bracers of defense it gets silly.

I get what you are saying, but if it is not that big a deal, then it is not a big loss if you have to give it up to attune to something else.
A bladesinger can wear light armor. +1 studded leather is rare, requires no attunement and adds +3 to the bladesingers AC. I don't see how Bracers of Defense is better than this. Or heck, just wear regular studded leather armor for the exact same benefit.
 

Lord Twig

Adventurer
A bladesinger can wear light armor. +1 studded leather is rare, requires no attunement and adds +3 to the bladesingers AC. I don't see how Bracers of Defense is better than this. Or heck, just wear regular studded leather armor for the exact same benefit.
Okay. I thought about it and you are thinking of the bladesinger casting mage armor (+3), a + 5 Int, +4 Dex (how are you getting this with point buy? Am I missing something?) and casting shield (+5, but only for one round). 10+3+5+4+5=27. With the bracers that would push them up to 29.

But that just goes to show that +3 AC in addition to Dodge really isn't that big a deal. At level 11 a monk with +5 Dex, +3 Wis and even a +2 from bracers would have an AC of 20. While a fighter with plate, a shield and the Defense fighting style has 21 AC. If he gets a bonus from magic armor, a shield, a ring or cloak or whatever he can easily get AC23 just walking around. If he then runs up and hits some bad guys 3 times (for more damage, but can't stun anyone) and uses Action Surge, would he give up 3 more attacks to dodge? I mean he might, but I have rarely (if ever) seen that in a game.
 

Asisreo

Hero
A dragon or giant with a +11 to hit still has a very good chance of hitting you even if you Dodge and have an AC over 20 (and your AC, even with the +3, at level 11 will be something like 21 or 22 on the high end). If you are running then one hit will probably drop you. Why not use Step of the Wind and run 150' away with no one able to hit you at all? Also you can jump about 30' (with a 10 Str), which should clear just about any obstacles.
Because the dragon can use its legendary action and regular movement to easily catch up with you and end you with only one of their multiattack.

If you have a 22 AC at level 11 and disadvantage, you have only a 25% chance to get hit and your HP is likely 70 which shouldn't down you in a single hit but will definitely be more likely to down you in a multiattack.

Its in tweaking mode but I advise against things being "as strong as you'd think they'd oughta be" since that's how broken homebrew comes about. Better to softly implement something than go all-out and have to nerf things given to players.

They don't lose anything by spending a Ki point, really. You can consider it a loss, but its more of an exchange. You can exchange 3 of your attacks to avoid however many attacks the enemy could potential attack you with. Remember, your life is far more valuable than the monster's death.
 

A very fair argument. I overlooked that they require attunement. It is weird that the Cloak or Protection is uncommon while the Ring of Protection is rare, even though they do the exact same thing. Looking at armor +1 is rare, +2 is very rare and +3 is legendary. So making Bracers of Armor rare, but requiring attunement isn't totally ridiculous. But probably better to remove the attunement and just make it very rare the same as the armor.

I'd say keep it rare at worst. It can't stack with any other type of armor, and again, should a shield really be that expensive and on the same level as some of the more powerful items in the game? I mean, a staff of power grants +2 AC, and it is Very Rare. And it does A LOT more than grants +2 AC.
 

Well, the opportunity cost will always be about 3 Ki no matter what option you choose if you wish to stunning strike then Ki-ability (its also possible you miss one or both attacks and "save" a Ki).

The opportunity costs of the three abilities will always be the same, so comparing one ability to the others is very important. I'd still almost always default to Patient Defense over Flurry or Step of the Wind since +3 AC and Dodge is still better and lets you last longer if the enemy targets you but also lets you use your mobility.

So even at 1 Ki per turn, I'd still prefer the +3 PD over any of the other modified abilities.

A fair point, except that I always see step of the wind as the most situational of the abilities.

Sure, disadvantage and +3 AC is AMAZING and likely to make a single opportunity attack miss. Step of the Wind with a Dash though allows the monk to guarantee that a dozen opportunity attacks don't even get made.

Is it generally weaker? Sure. But, Step of the Wind has always been the weakest option, because it is mostly for dashing and monks are crazy fast.
 

Bladesingers are the most powerful choice for bracers of defense and I think they should remain attunement because of that subclass alone. Bladsingers with bracers of defense are really hard to hit in bladesong. Without any magic items a bladesinger can get 27 effective AC at 5th level with point buy. It only gets worse from there. When you start adding on a ring of protection and bracers of defense it gets silly.

I get what you are saying, but if it is not that big a deal, then it is not a big loss if you have to give it up to attune to something else.

See, I'll counter this with a few points.

1) Wearing Studded Leather armor is the exact same bonus to AC, normally. Now, you could argue Mage Armor, which allows you to stack the bracers and the equivalent of +1 Studded, but there are other ways to do that if you really really wanted to. Again, see Staff of Power. Very Rare attunement for +2 AC, +2 Spell attacks, +2 Hit and damage, a charged strike, and a selection of spells. WAY WAY better use of an attunement slot.

2) Just.... don't make it available if you have a Bladesinger. See, I'm not a fan of designing items to restrict them based off of a single subclass in existence. If you feel like a Bladesinger is too powerful with this item, then just don't give it in treasure to a bladesinger. But, right now, it is not useful enough for the people who can use it without it being broken.


And, to clarify, it isn't that +2 AC isn't a big deal. It is how it interacts with everything else. This is an item that is useless for the majority of classes. Take a Rogue for a moment, and give them the option between the Bracers and +1 Studded Leather armor. Both are Rare items, the bracers require attunement. The Armor makes their AC calculation 13+Dex, the Bracers make it 12+Dex.

And, when it narrow it down to who can use it, you then see a comparison. If a fighter picks up a 10 gold shield, they get +2 AC. IF a monk picks up a 1,000 gold Bracer of Defense, and attunes to it... they get +2 AC. This item is literally just a shield for characters who can't wear armor. And... that doesn't sound that impressive to me. Not when I compare it to some of the other defensive items in the game. Like say, a +2 Shield which DnD beyond lists as Rare, with no attunement. Which is literally the same effect as wearing these bracers on top of a shield and armor set.
 

jgsugden

Legend
The AC of each class, without the aid of magic, is intentional. Nobody is entitled to a higher AC, or an expectation that you'll get magic items to raise your AC. Raising the AC, with an item like the Bracers of Defense, is intended to be a luxury. As such, there is no reason to change the bracers of defense.

Monks have a variety of defenses. They have solid AC at higher levels, and get amazing saves, evasion, deflect missiles, etc... They are plenty durable enough to be in melee combat without the addition of magic items.
 

The AC of each class, without the aid of magic, is intentional. Nobody is entitled to a higher AC, or an expectation that you'll get magic items to raise your AC. Raising the AC, with an item like the Bracers of Defense, is intended to be a luxury. As such, there is no reason to change the bracers of defense.

Monks have a variety of defenses. They have solid AC at higher levels, and get amazing saves, evasion, deflect missiles, etc... They are plenty durable enough to be in melee combat without the addition of magic items.

Sure there is a reason to change them.

Because the luxury was made with too high of a price tag. I'm not saying it needs to be redesigned because monks deserve +2 AC. I'm saying it needs to be redesigned because it is a crappy magic item that gives a minor benefit for a massive cost. I want to bring it in line with similar magical items, which are also luxuries that the classes are not entitled to have.
 

auburn2

Adventurer
A bladesinger can wear light armor. +1 studded leather is rare, requires no attunement and adds +3 to the bladesingers AC. I don't see how Bracers of Defense is better than this. Or heck, just wear regular studded leather armor for the exact same benefit.
Mage armor is the basic armor for bladesingers, which is base AC 13 (equal to studded +1) bracers of defense are comparable to studded leather +3 on a wizard
 
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Sithlord

Adventurer
I think this is the wrong way to look at it. People have been asking for Bruce Lee for decades, not a fast controller.
I have often thought a monk should be 4 different archetypes. One for the fighter. One for the rogue (ninja), one for the wizard, and one for the cleric. And have felt something similar for the bard, but not exactly like that.
 

auburn2

Adventurer
Okay. I thought about it and you are thinking of the bladesinger casting mage armor (+3), a + 5 Int, +4 Dex (how are you getting this with point buy? Am I missing something?) and casting shield (+5, but only for one round). 10+3+5+4+5=27. With the bracers that would push them up to 29.
At level 5 you have mage armor which is 13, +4Dex, +3intelligence, +2 Haste +5 shield. That is 27 with bracers pushing it to 29. Shield is only for 1 round, but you do not need it very often as 22 is pretty darn good already and you only cast shield when they would hit a 22.
 

auburn2

Adventurer
See, I'll counter this with a few points.

1) Wearing Studded Leather armor is the exact same bonus to AC, normally. Now, you could argue Mage Armor, which allows you to stack the bracers and the equivalent of +1 Studded, but there are other ways to do that if you really really wanted to. Again, see Staff of Power. Very Rare attunement for +2 AC, +2 Spell attacks, +2 Hit and damage, a charged strike, and a selection of spells. WAY WAY better use of an attunement slot.

2) Just.... don't make it available if you have a Bladesinger. See, I'm not a fan of designing items to restrict them based off of a single subclass in existence. If you feel like a Bladesinger is too powerful with this item, then just don't give it in treasure to a bladesinger. But, right now, it is not useful enough for the people who can use it without it being broken.


And, to clarify, it isn't that +2 AC isn't a big deal. It is how it interacts with everything else. This is an item that is useless for the majority of classes. Take a Rogue for a moment, and give them the option between the Bracers and +1 Studded Leather armor. Both are Rare items, the bracers require attunement. The Armor makes their AC calculation 13+Dex, the Bracers make it 12+Dex.

And, when it narrow it down to who can use it, you then see a comparison. If a fighter picks up a 10 gold shield, they get +2 AC. IF a monk picks up a 1,000 gold Bracer of Defense, and attunes to it... they get +2 AC. This item is literally just a shield for characters who can't wear armor. And... that doesn't sound that impressive to me. Not when I compare it to some of the other defensive items in the game. Like say, a +2 Shield which DnD beyond lists as Rare, with no attunement. Which is literally the same effect as wearing these bracers on top of a shield and armor set.
+2 AC to an unarmored character is a big deal. Further it is always better than a shield as it does not take an action to don or drop, and it gives you a bonus while allowing a free hand for two weapon fighting, a free action, spell casting, grappling etc. Shields pretty much suck for anyone except a non-melee cleric or a warlock who takes the moderately armored feat.

We have a magic +1 shield in a campaign I am playing right now. Aside from being a magic shield, it also is intelligent and can cast several spells once a day. No one in the entire party wanted it because no one wants to lug around a shield. One of our wizards (who is not proficient) ended up carrying it on his back, he will pull it off and use it to cast something like it is a wand and then drops it or puts it back on his back. If we found bracers of defense multiple characters would be fighting over who got to wear them.
 
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