Kensai Weapons, and Monk Weapons In General

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
So, no one thinks the Monk is a damage powerhouse, right?

Why, then, does the Monk, and especially the Kensai, get locked out from using polearms and other heavy weapons?

I mean, you can use a whip I think as a Kensai, but why not as a regular Monk? Give me that good rope dart Monk, my dudes!

Is there a strong balance concern here that I’m missing?

also, more generally, are there any other restrictions in the game that bug you in the same vein?
 

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Zardnaar

Legend
So, no one thinks the Monk is a damage powerhouse, right?

Why, then, does the Monk, and especially the Kensai, get locked out from using polearms and other heavy weapons?

I mean, you can use a whip I think as a Kensai, but why not as a regular Monk? Give me that good rope dart Monk, my dudes!

Is there a strong balance concern here that I’m missing?

also, more generally, are there any other restrictions in the game that bug you in the same vein?

Because polearms don't operate like Soul Calibur think more pikeman formation.

In game dex based heavy weapons are a monumentally bad idea. Dex is already OP the only thing keeping it in check is better/OP strength based feats at least for melee (dex has OP ranged feats). Dex based PAM+GW+ ability to be good with a bow as well and take sharpshooter is a bit much.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
Nearly all of the arbitrary weapon restrictions in 5e are for "thematic" reasons, not mechanical ones.
This is largely because the weapon list itself is more than a little borked, and missing several 2nd-string weapons that weren't quite as "iconic" as the list we got. The Meteor Hammer, for example, could have been a Monk Reach Weapon.


Whats interesting specifically in the case of the Monk, in regards to Stunning Strike (which people think is OP with reach for some reason):

Stunning Strike said:
Starting at 5th level, you can interfere with the flow of ki in an opponent’s body. When you hit another creature with a melee weapon attack, you can spend 1 ki point to attempt a stunning strike. The target must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or be stunned until the end of your next turn.

You totally can stun someone with a whip, as per RAW. Heck, you can even use Flurry of Blows after using a whip with your Attack Action!
The only thing you can't do is make the whip scale with Martial Arts.
 
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TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Because polearms don't operate like Soul Calibur think more pikeman formation.
objection.jpg
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Given the Monk's niche of single target lockdown, maybe reach weapons are OP?
How, though? Also, they could easily have restricted Stunning Strike to unarmed attacks.

Because polearms don't operate like Soul Calibur think more pikeman formation.
IRL, they do both. Polearms weren’t just used in formations. They were also used by duelists, by people wanting to unseat cavalry, and by Kung fu and other martial arts traditions.

In game dex based heavy weapons are a monumentally bad idea. Dex is already OP the only thing keeping it in check is better/OP strength based feats at least for melee (dex has OP ranged feats). Dex based PAM+GW+ ability to be good with a bow as well and take sharpshooter is a bit much.
Monks can already do most of that. Polearm master works with a spear.
They could easily have included a polearm that lacks the Heavy property, making the PAM+GWM combo not fully functional with it.

Nearly all of the arbitrary weapon restrictions in 5e are for "thematic" reasons, not mechanical ones.
This is largely because the weapon list itself is more than a little borked, and missing several 2nd-string weapons that weren't quite as "iconic" as the list we got. The Meteor Hammer, for example, could have been a Monk Reach Weapon.

Whats interesting specifically in the case of the Monk, in regards to Stunning Strike (which people think is OP with reach for some reason):

You totally can stun someone with a whip, as per RAW. Heck, you can even use Flurry of Blows after using a whip with your Attack Action!
The only thing you can't do is make the whip scale with Martial Arts.
And it’s really silly that you can’t scale the whip. Why? Surely rope darts and spike chains are Monk weapons. Spiked Chain is a dnd classic. I went ahead and added it as basically a whip with versatile (d6), that is a monk weapon.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
You can scale the whip if you select it as a kensei weapon. I plan to do this to represent a kusarigama. (When you use it on people within 5 feet, you're hitting them with the sickle end.) If I ever get to be a player.

I'd also like to see naginata as a non-heavy two-handed d8 reach weapon. That seems pretty reasonable and would be an interesting option for kensei as an alternative to the longsword/battleaxe/warhammer (which is currently their best option). It would probably be OP for base monks, whose current best option is the d8 spear/staff.
 

A naginata is basically a glaive - a blade on a stick.

Can anyone think of a good reason not to simply throw away the heavy weapon restriction on kensai? Perhaps replace it with a 1d10 damage cap to ban 2h swords etc?
 

Zardnaar

Legend
A naginata is basically a glaive - a blade on a stick.

Can anyone think of a good reason not to simply throw away the heavy weapon restriction on kensai? Perhaps replace it with a 1d10 damage cap to ban 2h swords etc?

Dex based polearms and the PAM feat and possibly GWM feat combo as well.
 

Dex based polearms and the PAM feat and possibly GWM feat combo as well.

The PAM bonus action attack is useless for a monk, and the reach opportunity attack isn't very powerful. Dex based polearm is no better than a whip for a high level kensai, GWM might be an issue. Perhaps adding non-heavy polearms is a better solution.
 

Tormyr

Adventurer
One of my players is currently playing a dual-whip-wielding kensai named D'buld Utch. He has the option of bonus action attacking with the second whip or getting in close with an unmarked strike.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
A naginata is basically a glaive - a blade on a stick.
"Glaive" covers a wide variety of medieval weapons, some of which were large and clunky.

"Naginata" also evolved in size and shape over the centuries, but the one I'm thinking of is the relatively late model that is basically "katana with a really long handle." The blade is about as long and thin as a katana (hence, my suggested d8 damage die) and the way you fight with it is very swift and flashy, so not very much like a heavy weapon. Actually in keeping with the setting-neutral approach you could call this weapon a "light glaive" and cover certain similar European weapons. For the record, I also think there should be a "light flail," because refluffing a club to be nunchaku just feels weird to me, and historically flails came it a lot of sizes and shapes too.

Can anyone think of a good reason not to simply throw away the heavy weapon restriction on kensai? Perhaps replace it with a 1d10 damage cap to ban 2h swords etc?

Because then, for a kensei, all the d10 polearm options are very much superior to the d10 versatile options. It's not strictly superior because in theory you can hold a versatile weapon in one hand and downgrade the damage die to d8, but I'm betting that in practice this will never really happen. This is why I think a d8 reach weapon would be cool. (Of course at 11th level the whip becomes a d8 reach weapon for the kensei, but I have trouble refluffing a whip into a glaive, too.)
 


jmartkdr

First Post
Do the polearms on a kensei outperform long bows (an allowed weapon)?

They would, until your martial arts die reaches d10 (late-game enough that most campaigns never get there). But only by a point per attack, so 2-4 per round times whatever your hit percentage is. Which I wouldn't really call a game-breaking amount.

The bigger issue would be: if you allowed two-handed weapons, there would be no reason not to use one. I'm not sure if that's more of a problem or a solution.
 

They would, until your martial arts die reaches d10 (late-game enough that most campaigns never get there). But only by a point per attack, so 2-4 per round times whatever your hit percentage is. Which I wouldn't really call a game-breaking amount.

The bigger issue would be: if you allowed two-handed weapons, there would be no reason not to use one. I'm not sure if that's more of a problem or a solution.

1 point per round is all, until Extra Attack. The Monk's abilities boost unarmed attacks, but don't grant extra attacks with the weapon.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The PAM bonus action attack is useless for a monk, and the reach opportunity attack isn't very powerful. Dex based polearm is no better than a whip for a high level kensai, GWM might be an issue. Perhaps adding non-heavy polearms is a better solution.

A much simpler solution, for sure. I think that’s what I’ll propose to my group.

I’d even go so far as to say that a “light glaive” or “dueling spear” could be a d6, finesse, reach, two-handed, while the spiked chain could be a whip with versatile (d6).
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
I think it's a mistake to try too hard to reconcile game terms ("monk", "reach", "glaive") with their historical inspirations. That way lies madness.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I think it's a mistake to try too hard to reconcile game terms ("monk", "reach", "glaive") with their historical inspirations. That way lies madness.

Agreed. I don’t care about any historical accuracy on this topic, really. What I want is to be able to model perfectly common archetypes, like a polearm wielding wushu/Kung fu warrior. The fact that there are actual polearms in the game, with greater striking range than shorter weapons, but none can be used by the monk, and the weapons they can use all have the same striking range as a punch, means I can’t satisfyingly fulfill that archetype.

I think the best solution, as put forth ITT, is to simply make a couple finesse, non-Heavy, polearms that are Monk Weapons.
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
Agreed. I don’t care about any historical accuracy on this topic, really. What I want is to be able to model perfectly common archetypes, like a polearm wielding wushu/Kung fu warrior. The fact that there are actual polearms in the game, with greater striking range than shorter weapons, but none can be used by the monk, and the weapons they can use all have the same striking range as a punch, means I can’t satisfyingly fulfill that archetype.

I think the best solution, as put forth ITT, is to simply make a couple finesse, non-Heavy, polearms that are Monk Weapons.

I have sympathy for that goal, but I think you can get there by refluffing the spear to have a more Glaive-like head. Except you seem to really want reach, too, which strikes me as more about optimization than concept. (No offense intended; I often do the same thing.)

This is part of what I meant by game terms versus historical accuracy. The weapon you are envisioning should, logically, have a reach advantage over, say, swords. But so should a staff or a spear. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) that's just not how the game uses the term 'reach', when applied to a 5' grid.

You could take the Mobile feat; that could give you the feel of striking from beyond reach.

EDIT: Another option, if you're going to homebrew anyway, is make a subclass that specifically uses polearms. That way you can bake in balance and not have to create a weapon that is strictly better than anything on the list. The 3rd level ability could simply be, "Polearms are now monk weapons for you."

EDIT 2: I might add, "...and they are not considered heavy when you wield them." Just to prevent yet another cookie-cutter GWM build.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I have sympathy for that goal, but I think you can get there by refluffing the spear to have a more Glaive-like head.
If there weren’t variable striking ranges for melee Weapons in the game, sure. Just like if all ranged weapons had the same range, I could model any thrown weapon with a handaxe. But those mechanics are in the game, which means that a spear will never play like a glaive. For me, there is literally no value in having those mechanics if they don’t serve to mechanically differentiate between thematic concepts. The game would benefit from eliminating them, if not for the value of mechanically distinct thematic concepts.

Except you seem to really want reach, too, which strikes me as more about optimization than concept. (No offense intended; I often do the same thing.)
none taken, it just isn’t true, at least in the sense of wanting a more powerful character. I do often try to “optimize” mechanical distinction, which is what I’m doing here.

This is part of what I meant by game terms versus historical accuracy. The weapon you are envisioning should, logically, have a reach advantage over, say, swords. But so should a staff or a spear. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) that's just not how the game uses the term 'reach', when applied to a 5' grid.
but it does distinguish between a spear that is used one or two handed, and a longer weapon that needs two hands. Bc it does so, I can’t escape the knowledge that what my character is doing in the actual game does not match what the concept suggests, even though the mechanics exist for it to do so.

You could take the Mobile feat; that could give you the feel of striking from beyond reach.
how so?

EDIT: Another option, if you're going to homebrew anyway, is make a subclass that specifically uses polearms. That way you can bake in balance and not have to create a weapon that is strictly better than anything on the list. The 3rd level ability could simply be, "Polearms are now monk weapons for you."

EDIT 2: I might add, "...and they are not considered heavy when you wield them." Just to prevent yet another cookie-cutter GWM build.

A d6 finesse polearm that isn’t heavy, and is a monk weapon, isn’t better than any martial weapon. My proposed spiked chain is, but it’s also only available with special training, not as a starting weapon, in my current game.

If the dueling glaive or naginata or whatever deals 1d8, it’s too close in damage to heavy reach weapons, but even then it can’t be used with GWM’s power attack. Being able to have reach and a d6 die with dex isnt overpowered.

EDIT: Might still make a Sohei subclass that combines polearms and divine protective magic.

Or a Matukai-style subclass (Star Wars Force tradition) that can wield their attuned polearm one-handed, and gets weird tricks like hardening their body, heating their hands to deal fire damage and set things aflame with unarmed strikes, and maybe the ability to grant a couple Ki to an ally as part of a long rest, giving them a small pool they can use to do the level 2 monk ki abilities with.

Ita late, though, and I’m not gonna try to figure out the balance point there, right now. Luckily, monk subs have a decent amount of kick, so you can get pretty creative.
 
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