D&D 5E Homebrew: AJ's 5e SAD Monk

goldenskull

Villager
I’ve been frustrated with the Monk… basically forever. So I decided to make a monk that is SAD rather than MAD.

The flavor is very cool and I understand that a lot of people have had a lot of fun playing Monks… some have even claimed that Monks are OP. With respect, that’s factually untrue. They were underpowered in AD&D, D&D 3.5, OG Pathfinder and they’re underpowered in 5e. As a matter of pure indisputable math, monks in D&D have always been underpowered in almost every way. There is not a single thing that the monk is better at than anyone else, except for (in some cases) movement speed, so – as the old joke goes – they can be useless all over the battlefield.

If you feel differently, that’s cool. I’ll just point you to this video instead of arguing with you.

I ran the math, and the current UA playtest Monk is somewhat DPR balanced, but still suffers from MAD and still shoehorns players into the same DEX/WIS/CON twink build if they want to be halfway viable. It also is a complete dud when you run out of ki. If anyone wants, I can share the DPR math. There were a few good ideas in there that I stole to make my SAD monk.

The Pathfinder Unchained Monk is also actually pretty cool and I took some inspiration from there too. I can’t say much about DPR etc., but it offers a lot of really cool options.

So here’s what I wanted to achieve:
  • Fix the MADness. That means you can make a functional build with one primary attribute – probably Wisdom – and one secondary attribute that you can wait until higher levels to boost. With my SAD monk, there are 7 optimal combinations.
  • Allow diversity of builds. Fantasy storytelling of Eastern mysticism, wuxia, and kenjutsu/ninjitsu have an incredible diversity in the way they portray martial arts practitioners. I wanted a way to play Monks that are beefy, devious, intimidating or strong in addition to the standard DEX/WIS twink we usually have in D&D.
  • Make it rewarding to multiclass, but not TOO rewarding too early. I tried to make the Monk workable from the get-go, but not so front-loaded in power that everyone would be tempted to take a 2-level dip.
  • Bring the DPR up in line with other classes. I succeeded in making the baseline Monk – with no ki expenditure – slightly above Treantmonk’s baseline and roughly on par with a PAM halberd Fighter. I built a lot of flexibility in so, for instance, an optimized high-level Monk can be just slightly less than DPR-competitive with an optimized Fighter if you sacrifice defense.
  • Keep it balanced overall. Meaning that, when possible, I gave the Monk abilities that match word-for word those given to other classes at the same level and otherwise tried to keep class features in line with them.
  • A capstone that fits with the theme. I might have overturned this one a tad, but does it really matter at 20th level? I think it’s reasonably balanced given what we have to work with. It's tied to concentration, so one good bump in combat and it goes bye-bye.
Anyway, I’d love to have some feedback, especially playtesting. What do y’all think? Did I nail it or miss the mark? Thanks! Shout-out to @Undrave @mellored @Stormonu

Link to Google Doc with latest edits.
 
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mellored

Legend
All classes have 1 often used save (dex, wis, con) and 1 less used save (str, int, cha). I would start with that. You can add a bonus save at a higher level if you want.

13+Wis AC is fine.

Why not allow fighting styles to be switched?
I.e. When you roll initiative, choose a stance. You can switch to another stance as a bonus action (which is a moderate cost to a monk).

Also, I don't see how you reduced MAD. You added flexibility, but your still heavily relying on Wis + Favoed + Con (unless you pick Con as your favored).

Just have a bonus action unarmed attack/Grapple as the playtest. Drop the attack requirements.

Might as well use Delect Attacks from the playtest too.

Is Perfect Defense supposed to be 13+Wis+favored AC all the time? Hope that takes ki.

I don't see why you would need to spend ki to deal force damage with a weapon. Make that free.
 

goldenskull

Villager
Great feedback! THANKS!
All classes have 1 often used save (dex, wis, con) and 1 less used save (str, int, cha). I would start with that. You can add a bonus save at a higher level if you want.
LOL I had no idea. I'll switch back to STR/DEX now.
Why not allow fighting styles to be switched?
I.e. When you roll initiative, choose a stance. You can switch to another stance as a bonus action (which is a moderate cost to a monk).
I was thinking about that, but the styles offer too many permanent benefits and it'd be awkward to switch them around. Like... at most I was thinking the ability to switch FA's if you're familiar with another style but you keep the other mechanical benefits... but that would just encourage people to pick the benefits they want and swap to another style for the Favored Ability.

I could see wanting to use Monkey Style if you just happened to get a Headband of Intellect but that's a corner case.
Also, I don't see how you reduced MAD. You added flexibility, but your still heavily relying on Wis + Favoed + Con (unless you pick Con as your favored).
I get where you're coming from, but this went from "You must choose Dex/Wis" to "You must choose Wis and then anything else you want to focus on is gravy". If somebody wants to make a build without focusing on a secondary attribute, it's maybe not optional but definitely viable depending what they do instead. Remember that you could also do Str or Dex primary, using Wis as secondary.

In theory Constitution as FA is most viable, but the class loses a lot of protection when it's caught flat-footed or even just lower in the initiative order. It's also got the weakest 10th level ability in terms of DPR, but arguably best for teamwork.
Just have a bonus action unarmed attack/Grapple as the playtest. Drop the attack requirements.
Like I said in the other thread, it just squicks me out. You can already do that with this if whatever you do in your main action cost ki points (like a spell or something).
Might as well use Delect Attacks from the playtest too.
That's a thought. I basically did, though I didn't copy it over verbatim.
Is Perfect Defense supposed to be 13+Wis+favored AC all the time? Hope that takes ki.
No. Only if you use your action to attack or dodge on your turn, and persists only to the start of your next. I added the "or dodge" towards the end because it seems kind of silly to have the most optimal thing be to punch air (as is the case with Crane Style duelists in Pathfinder) but I'm half-leaning towards cutting that.

I'm also thinking about cutting 13 down to 12, to be in line with studded leather.

I don't think it's THAT crazy? By 3rd level, I figure that a dedicated tank from any other class is going to have 19AC-21AC with Splint/Plate or Breastplate/Halfplate + board + 1 from Defense Fighting Style. And, like I said, you lose it if you get stunlocked or surprised etc.
I don't see why you would need to spend ki to deal force damage with a weapon. Make that free.
The source didn't affect weapons at all. There's a lot of goofy stuff in there to mechanically reward the use of UA's... I figure keep that but allow a way for more weapon-focused builds to shine with a cost.

Keep in mind that this version allows you to Flurry with a shortbow using Wis to attack and dam. No feat Zen Archer ftw.
 
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goldenskull

Villager
@mellored On second thought, I think I'm going to make the save bonus separate from the AC bonus and make it permanent.

Having them BOTH be temporary/contingent leads to weird situations like... "I just drank a poison... better start DODGING so I get my save bonus!"
 

Clint_L

Legend
I ran the math, and the current UA playtest Monk is somewhat DPR balanced, but still suffers from MAD and still shoehorns players into the same DEX/WIS/CON twink build if they want to be halfway viable. It also is a complete dud when you run out of ki. If anyone wants, I can share the DPR math. There were a few good ideas in there that I stole to make my SAD monk.

Link to Google Doc with latest edits.
I've been play testing the UA monk since it game out, and it's arguably the best class in D&D2024. You don't need high con for it to be "halfway viable;" deflect attack effectively makes it almost invulnerable to single target opponents, especially when coupled with the ability to have the dodge action whenever needed yet still maintain decent offence. Maneuverability is off the charts, and ki is not an issue anymore because of uncanny metabolism (which also give you a nice little heal).
 

goldenskull

Villager
arguably the best class in D&D2024
Ehhh, with respect: x to doubt. It's very good at certain things - like grapples and shoves - at early levels.
You don't need high con for it to be "halfway viable;"
With base 16 AC for an optimized build and no way other than ability boosts + bracers of defense to increase it... yeah, you really do need CON. Also I've never played 5e at higher levels but I gather that AC gets increasingly useless the higher you go. You need hit points if you want to be a melee martial.
deflect attack effectively makes it almost invulnerable to single target opponents
My DM runs pretty crazy encounters, to be fair, but there are plenty of sub-1CR threats that have two attacks. Don't get me wrong... it's good, VERY GOOD even. For hit-point value, it's 66% better mechanically than an OA.

But what if your DM just ignores your character and focuses on the party wizard instead? If you take advantage to hit it with an AOO, the mob can just come right back and hit you instead. It's an ability that incentivizes the enemy to focus on everybody else and then mob up on you last. Makes the monk kind of an anti-tank. This is where grapple helps but there are limits to that.

Basically, the utility really depends on how hard/smart your DM plays.
the ability to have the dodge action whenever needed yet still maintain decent offence
Dodge as a mechanical benefit is roughly equivalent to +4AC. Which means that you're rocking 20AC effectively... and at level 3 that puts you in line with a paladin or fighter wearing splint + board + 1 for Defensive Fighting Style.

Except the Fighter gets Action Surge and the Pally gets smite, while the monk is still at d8 hit dice rocking 1 attack for 1d6+4.
Maneuverability is off the charts, and ki is not an issue anymore because of uncanny metabolism (which also give you a nice little heal).
Uncanny metabolism only procs once per day. I agree with you that it's cool and effective but... meh? Seems like a very awkward solution to the problem that I fixed with just allowing the monk to be cool without spending ki and adding a bonus equal to their Favored Ability.
 
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Clint_L

Legend
At level 3 the UA monk beats a fighter 9/10 - the only way for the fighter to win is for the monk to be incredibly unlucky with deflect attack; the monk doesn't have to worry about using dodge and can just beat the crap out of the fighter. The paladin is a tougher challenge because deflect attack doesn't help against smite at those levels, though smite damage is almost all the paladin gets as deflect attack will typically absorb all the weapon damage, assuming we are talking about a sword and board paladin. The paladin's average 27 smite damage will win unless the monk is able to kite, which depends on the environment.

My Way of Mercy monk is currently level 11 and can solo pretty much any non-monk martial character or creature of the same level/CR and often finish with full health. Magic items are eldritch claw tattoos (uncommon), ring of protection (rare) and bracers of protection (rare), all pretty easily obtainable. Base DPR is 35, assuming a typical 70% hit rate; that goes up to about 49 when the tattoos are activated.

At level 20 that monk will be able to solo any ancient dragon, even if their magic items remain the same. 2024 monk is very, very good.
 

goldenskull

Villager
At level 3 the UA monk beats a fighter 9/10 - the only way for the fighter to win is for the monk to be incredibly unlucky with deflect attack; the monk doesn't have to worry about using dodge and can just beat the crap out of the fighter.
Well, like I said, at Level 3 with a tougher DM you won't be facing a single paladin or fighter. You'll be facing two Thugs per player, which have two attacks each with advantage against your AC of 16.

If you negate one of those attacks, you're still staring down the barrel of 3d6+6 damage with a 69.75% chance to hit each for an average DPR against you of 9.8912 vs your DPR of 10.1 (14.35 with flurry). You have 18 or at most 21 hit points if you have 10-13 Con because you didn't take my advice and get 14 con to be "halfway viable"... while the thugs have a combined 64hp. Those thugs have a very good chance to drop you before you even take one of them down, depending on initiative.

Again, that's assuming the DM isn't smart and doesn't rush the wizard, then kill you later 4-on-1.

Similarly, an ancient dragon is just going to float 10 feet off the ground and pound you to smithereens with reach which you can do absolutely nothing about. If you activate eldritch maul, he can just leave and come back 1 minute later after your tattoo loses juice.

Meanwhile, even if you DO slug it out point blank with Mr. Ancient Red Dragon, you've got 27 AC and he's got 3 attacks at +17 with an average of 18.33 damage each. That's a rough 25.67 DPR. And you're doing... how much DPR vs his 546hp?

EDIT: Oh yeah and that's not even taking into account the fact that - per the UA grapple rules, Mr. Dragon's grapple and shove save DC is 25, which you have only a 50% chance of beating with your ring and 24 Dex. Homeboy can prone you with wing attacks at the end of your turn and then grapple you so you can't get up for free advantage until you burn enough full actions to get a 25 on your Acrobatics check (you DO have Acrobatics proficiency, right?). Or he could even skip the grapple... hit you with multiattack with advantage... then fly out of reach to hit you with wings again. You also can't hit him with an OA because you already burned your reaction on deflect.

Alternatively, you could do what monks do best: run away. Then Mr. Dragon will just follow you to the closest town, burn it down and tell the survivors that he'll keep burning all the villages and crops in the region until somebody gives you up.

Not trying to be mean here. It just seems like you've got a very, very lenient DM.

Oh yeah and I almost forgot: Mr. Human Fighter with level 1 PAM can OA you as soon as you enter his threat and, if you use your deflect, then you can't deflect his next two attacks of 1d10+3 with action surge + 1d4+3 PAM strike on his first turn. Then he just calmly walks away to do it all again because you already used your reaction. If you start the first round inside his threat radius, he can walk away to set you up for round 2. If he wins init, he can dodge the first turn and wait for you to come to him. Mind you, if he rolls well, he can easily take you out in that first round... while he's sitting pretty with 34hp, just slightly less than twice as much as you, because he can dump Dex as a heavy armor class.
 
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Horwath

Legend
If you want to get rid of MAD monk just have it's AC fixed value, not depending on scores.

I.E:

Monk unarmored AC is 16
at monk levels 4,8,12,16 and 20, AC is increased by +1

increase Martial arts damage die by one step if STR is used for unarmed attacks.
just to reward STR usage over DEX a little.

make monk class DC based on your highest ability.

I like the Favored ability idea and removing WIS from AC calculation, you can now have 6 Favored ability fighting styles.
 


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