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Monk, Way of Tooth and Claw

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
So, I want to make a subclass for the monk that combines Druidic tradition with monastic discipline and martial prowess. Obviously, Monk and Druid synergise better than Druid and almost any other class (Barbarian, I guess?), but I like the idea of subclasses that create a new facet of a class, that puts characters of a given type into the narrative space of another class, and create opportunities to play a concept that would otherwise be a multiclass, without messing with the MC rules, which I don't particularly like using as a player.

So, what is the story of the Way of Tooth and Claw?

Well, firstly, this narrative space is more prominent in my homebrew world than in other worlds, but it can fill similar roles to something like a Scout Rogue who is part of an enclave but gifted with no magical power, or a Paladin of The Ancients who serves the will of the same natural spirits as any Druid or Ranger. They could also simply be known in-world as a Ranger of a peculiar order.

In the secluded groves and enclaves of the Druids and Rangers there are those whose lives are dedicated to the goal of attaining a perfect understanding of natural forms. These mystics seek to attain a malleable physical state that defies classification, moving fluidly between forms, and even permanently altering their "natural" form, and ultimately becoming a manifestation of nature itself.

Next, what is the best mechanical side of the inspiration for this/the mechanical goal here?

What I think this concept needs mechanically is simply a Monk with Wildshape, and perhaps Alter Self, and then some weird stuff? Like, the simple answer would be to just give it wildshape, Alter Self, and a CR progression in between the base Druid and the Moon Druid. Shorter duration than an actual druid, but able to use wildshape as a bonus action.

The more interesting way to go might be to have a CR progression that doesn't blow, but instead of trying to add value primarily via higher CR, maybe the subclass could have some strange ability to change the nature of their beast form? Use Alter Self while in Beast Form, for a start, but then also stuff like becoming something like a treant or dryad?

What about something like the ability to create a vine whip that counts as a monk weapon, with a 15 ft reach, that comes out of your physical body? Just, weird stuff, that blurs the lines between mortal and an avatar of the fantastical, magical, nature that exists in the dnd world.
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
Backstory, for anyone who hasn't messed around with Monk/Druids.

Mechanically, it's very good.

A level 2 Moon Druid can turn into a Brown Bear or a Lion, and retains all class and race features, so long as their new form can physically do them. A Monk with Wildshape can use all of their unarmed stuff, Unarmored Defense, Unarmored Movement, Deflect Missiles (minus the redirect missile part in most forms), Evasion, Stunning Strike, etc, all work just fine in animal form.

On the Other Hand, the Monk isn't gaining anything that other subclasses don't gain from Wildshape itself. It's situational damage boosts, durability boosts, and utility stuff like being small enough to get into places others can't or move super fast, etc.

Now, if it costs Ki to use Wild Shape, there is a little more room to play with, here. Gotta be careful with the cost of it, lest we make another Four Elements Monk. I'd look more to the Shadow Monk and the Sun Soul monk in terms of balancing cost. It should have something that is added value, as well as new things to do with ki.

I think that gaining a roughly 1/4 monk level CR beast form 2/rest at the cost of 1 ki, and Alter Self at 1 ki, is probably good? That feels equal, to me, with what the Shadow Monk gets at level 3, or what the Sun Soul monk gets. I'd add the vine whip idea as a special use of ALter Self, or something you can do when you use Flurry of Blows, essentially equal to gaining a cantrip.

I'd be fine with starting at 1/2 CR at level 3, and then switching to 1/4 your monk level, rounded down, starting at level 6, and the ability to cast Enlarge/Reduce on yourself for 2 ki?

Maybe the lvl 11 ability is Alter Self while in Animal Form?

level 17 is hit or miss with monk subclasses, so I'm just going to ignore any subclass with a bunk endcap, tbh. We're talking a balance range from Shadow to Open Hand. Some cool Fey forms? No more 2/rest limit?


I'd also be fine with less powerful wildshape, and instead have more druid spells, especially ones that aren't really making the monk more powerful, like Magic Stone. Definately not Shillelegh, bc a straight Wis/Con monk is powerful enough that adding it on top of a bear monk is too much.

But spells like magic stone, alter self, enlarge/reduce, jump, longstrider, enhance ability, and classics like spike growth and entangle, which are fun, but come with the trade off of not being able to cast them AND make unarmed strikes.

Some would come online at a later level than one might expect, like if Haste is on the table, it should be later tier than speak with plants, for instance.


Either way, Guardian of Nature would be a great spell for the subclass in the end tier.
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
The idea with spells would be to heighten the connection to changing the physical state to be more like a spirit of nature, without necessarily pumping up the Wildshape.

I do think that there is room for that 1/4 monk level from level 6 on is fine, balance-wise, but anything past that leaves little room at all for anything else in the subclass.
 

Hawk Diesel

Explorer
What is it that you are hoping to achieve with a monk that Wildshapes? Some of the abilities like pack tactics or grapples as part of an attack are useful. But I don't know that the physical changes or damage make the monk that much better. And if you use multiattack, that technically doesn't qualify for abilities like flurry of blows.

An ability to change your damage type to slashing, piercing, or maybe poison would be useful. Changing into smaller creatures or ones more mobile with climbing and flying would be helpful in scouting, as well as the different senses.
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
What is it that you are hoping to achieve with a monk that Wildshapes? Some of the abilities like pack tactics or grapples as part of an attack are useful. But I don't know that the physical changes or damage make the monk that much better. And if you use multiattack, that technically doesn't qualify for abilities like flurry of blows.

An ability to change your damage type to slashing, piercing, or maybe poison would be useful. Changing into smaller creatures or ones more mobile with climbing and flying would be helpful in scouting, as well as the different senses.
I think it’s pretty clear in the OP?

A monk loses next to nothing by being in wildshape, so it’s a bonus to durability, and depending on shape will be a speed boost, other exploration boost, etc.

A monk in wolf form is starting at 40ft of movement, plus their Unarmored Movement. A monk in cat form is losing no damage, and can gain cover or concealment from a potted plant.

It’s generally small boosts, which is why it isn’t the whole subclass concept mechanically.

Ultimately, the purpose is to allow players to play a monk that can adopt animal forms and take on animal aspects (alter self), by melding their mind and body with the natural world and it’s spirits.
 

Elfcrusher

Explorer
Just a line that says you treat natural weapons as monk weapons?
I guess what I meant was that I'd like to see such a subclass be designed with single-class monks with natural weapons in mind, not just the monk/druid multiclass you envision. So it's for "monks with tooth and claw", however they acquire them.
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
I guess what I meant was that I'd like to see such a subclass be designed with single-class monks with natural weapons in mind, not just the monk/druid multiclass you envision. So it's for "monks with tooth and claw", however they acquire them.
The subclass isn’t for multiclassing. It should work in a way where a character can Mc Druid without it breaking the game or screwing up their enjoyment of the character with klunky mechanics, but the point is to be a wildshaping monk, not a Druid/monk. Just like an Eldritch Knight can benefit from wizard levels, but doesn’t need or assume them.

As for races with natural weapons, I’m not sure what you mean, but I’d love to workshop it if you can clarify? If it’s just whatever the ruling regarding natural weapons and unarmed strikes, I’m happy to just housefuls that, but certainly a feature for this subclass that explicitly fixes that issue would be fine.
 

Hawk Diesel

Explorer
I think it’s pretty clear in the OP?
Well, I guess the clarity I'm asking for is what specifically you are hoping to achieve outside of a subclass that just gives monks Wildshape. What about wildshape is it that you want?

Personally, I don't think Wildshape as a whole should be offered to classes outside of druid. It is one of the defining features of the class, and so I personally think that it should remain firmly in the druid's identity. This would be akin to a fighter subclass granting sneak attack, or a cleric domain that grants smite.

You may be of a different mindset in your design philosophy, which is fine. But this is why it is helpful to try and be more specific about what you are looking for the monk to do. This way, we can provide abilities that are mechanically or flavorwise similar to Wildshape, while not giving them everything that Wildshape provides.

But then, I have to also state my own bias towards Wildshape as a mechanic. But putting that aside, if you want a monk that gets Wildshape as it is, then just give the monk a modified version of the Moon Druid subclass. But if you want something like wildshape, but not a true wildshape, then I need some help about what it is about wildshape you want to prioritize most. Is it the additional movement modalities? The access to different senses and Keen senses? The enhanced damage dice of attacks? Knowing this can help us break down the bits you want most, and determine where things can fit within the design space of a typical monk subclass.
 

Elfcrusher

Explorer
The subclass isn’t for multiclassing. It should work in a way where a character can Mc Druid without it breaking the game or screwing up their enjoyment of the character with klunky mechanics, but the point is to be a wildshaping monk, not a Druid/monk. Just like an Eldritch Knight can benefit from wizard levels, but doesn’t need or assume them.

As for races with natural weapons, I’m not sure what you mean, but I’d love to workshop it if you can clarify? If it’s just whatever the ruling regarding natural weapons and unarmed strikes, I’m happy to just housefuls that, but certainly a feature for this subclass that explicitly fixes that issue would be fine.
Oh, I misunderstood. I thought you meant a sub-class that specifically has synergy with monk/druid multiclass. Reading comprehension problems, huh?
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
Oh, I misunderstood. I thought you meant a sub-class that specifically has synergy with monk/druid multiclass. Reading comprehension problems, huh?
These things happen! I'm very curious what you think about the premise and goal of the thread, though!

Well, I guess the clarity I'm asking for is what specifically you are hoping to achieve outside of a subclass that just gives monks Wildshape. What about wildshape is it that you want?
A character that turns into other creatures (primarily animals) without losing their mental faculties and training, mechanically (and narratively, but the mechanical part is what makes Wild Shape the best fit, because it already just does the thing. A Monk/Druid can turn into a squirrel and make an unarmed attack with stunning strike, dealing monk die damage, and then move squirrel speed+monk speed bonus. That dynamic, of being able to turn into not just a squirrel or panther, but a kung fu squirrel or panther, is what I want. Filling out the concept is the idea of being able to bring that transformation back with you, into your born state, gaining gills, or even more enhanced speed, or heightened senses, or a climb speed, or whatever, and perhaps even do those things while in an animal form (fish bear land shark).
Pie in the sky, I'd like to be able to turn into a dryad or treant or similar, and/or an awakened tree. I do want it to be weirder than a Druid, but be thematically Druidic in nature. They're like rangers, in that they are part of Groves, allies to the Druids, training with them without being fully initiated into the Druidic Circle.

Personally, I don't think Wildshape as a whole should be offered to classes outside of druid. It is one of the defining features of the class, and so I personally think that it should remain firmly in the druid's identity. This would be akin to a fighter subclass granting sneak attack, or a cleric domain that grants smite.
I've no problem, for instance, with the Warlock getting Eldritch Smite. I'd have no problem with a Fighter that gets Sneak Attack, if the concept makes sense, simplifies a cool concept that would normally require multiclassing, and doesn't obviate the Rogue at the table.

You may be of a different mindset in your design philosophy, which is fine. But this is why it is helpful to try and be more specific about what you are looking for the monk to do. This way, we can provide abilities that are mechanically or flavorwise similar to Wildshape, while not giving them everything that Wildshape provides.

But then, I have to also state my own bias towards Wildshape as a mechanic. But putting that aside, if you want a monk that gets Wildshape as it is, then just give the monk a modified version of the Moon Druid subclass. But if you want something like wildshape, but not a true wildshape, then I need some help about what it is about wildshape you want to prioritize most. Is it the additional movement modalities? The access to different senses and Keen senses? The enhanced damage dice of attacks? Knowing this can help us break down the bits you want most, and determine where things can fit within the design space of a typical monk subclass.
I think we can say with utmost confidence that a fair amount of exploration and combat buffing fits into the monk subclass structure. I'm actually quite confident that Wild Shape and some spells, so long as Wild Shape isn't as good as a full level druid of the Moon, and it's not a large spell list of powerful spells, can fit in a monk subclass.

I'd entertain other options, like gaining a modified way to use Polymorph, for instance. But, making Polymorph balanced with not losing access to your race and class features seems like...you'd just end up with Wild Shape.

I don't really think I'd enjoy or be interested in an option that is just "you can gain X of YZAB list of traits, change your size, etc". To me, simply becoming a cat is much simpler, and more interesting and satisfying, than that.

Oh, also...I'd love to figure out a way to change shapes as part of attacking, and make that matter and be cool? I haven't landed on anything yet, though. Like, I picture parkouring over a low wall, launching yourself at a foe, and turning into a bear mid-leap, crashing into them with that heavy weight, etc.
 

Hawk Diesel

Explorer
Well, as I said before, I think it's important to be upfront with my bias towards Wildshape and granting other classes iconic class abilities via archetype. That said, I do think it is an interesting challenge to design a mechanically balanced Monk archetype around this feature, so I'll give it a shot. For comparison sake, I am going to only try and use the PHB as my reference for balance. Looking at the initial entry into a monk archetype, they primarily grant new ways to use Ki points. Open Hand monks get new options that go along with Flurry, Shadow monks get a cantrip and a number of specific, thematic 2nd level spells that cost Ki points, and Elemental Monks get to choose 2 spell-like abilities that cost Ki points. [EDIT: After the first level of the archetype, I stopped comparing to the core PHB monks.] I think it is also important that we try not to step on the toes of the druid too much. So I feel like wildshape-like abilities will be the entirety of the 3rd level archetype ability, will use Ki points, and also will be more time limited. Additionally, there is the problem that if you base the wild shape ability off of Ki points, a monk will be able to use wildshape more often than a druid. This can lead to a problem with the monk having a ridiculous pool of hit points, which is not truly a druid problem until they hit their level 20 capstone ability. So these things are worth considering. Anyways, here's a really... really rough attempt for your monk subclass.

Way of Tooth and Claw

Wild Shape

Starting at 2nd level, you can use your bonus action to magically assume the shape of a beast that you have seen before. When you choose to use this ability, you can spend one ki point to change into a small beast of CR ¼ or lower. If you spend 2 ki points, you can select a small or medium beast up to CR ½. The form that you select cannot have a swim or fly speed.

You can stay in a beast shape for one minute. You then revert to your normal form unless you expend more ki points for use of this feature. You can revert to your normal form earlier by using a bonus action on your turn. You automatically revert if you fall unconscious, drop to 0 hit points, or die.

While you are transformed, the following rules apply:
• Your game statistics are replaced by the statistics of the beast, but you retain your alignment, personality, and Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores. You also retain all of your skill and saving throw proficiencies, in addition to gaining those of the creature. If the creature has the same proficiency as you and the bonus in its stat block is higher than yours, use the creature’s bonus instead of yours. If the creature has any legendary or lair actions, you can't use them.
• When you transform, you assume the beast’s hit points and Hit Dice. When you revert to your normal form, you return to the number of hit points you had before you transformed. However, if you revert as a result of dropping to 0 hit points, any excess damage carries over to your normal form. For example, if you take 10 damage in animal form and have only 1 hit point left, you revert and take 9 damage. As long as the excess damage doesn’t reduce your normal form to 0 hit points, you aren’t knocked unconscious.
• You can’t cast spells, and your ability to speak or take any action that requires hands is limited to the capabilities of your beast form. Transforming doesn’t break your concentration on a spell you’ve already cast, however, or prevent you from taking actions that are part of a spell, such as call lightning, that you’ve already cast.
• You retain the benefit of any features from your class, race, or other source and can use them if the new form is physically capable of doing so. However, you can’t use any of your special senses, such as darkvision, unless your new form also has that sense.
• You choose whether your equipment falls to the ground in your space, merges into your new form, or is worn by it. Worn equipment functions as normal, but the DM decides whether it is practical for the new form to wear a piece of equipment, based on the creature’s shape and size. Your equipment doesn’t change size or shape to match the new form, and any equipment that the new form can’t wear must either fall to the ground or merge with it. Equipment that merges with the form has no effect until you leave the form.

Improved Wild Shape
Beginning at level 6, you can now choose a beast form that has a swim speed.

In addition, you can use your ki to duplicate the effects of the alter self spell. As an action, you can spend 2 ki points to alter self without providing material components.

Elemental Wild Shape
Beginning at 11th level, you can now choose a beast form that has a fly speed. Adopting a beast form with a fly speed increases the normal ki point cost by 1.

In addition, you have learned to charge your unarmed and natural attacks with elemental power. As a bonus action that costs 2 ki points, you can choose acid, cold, fire, lightning, or poison. For the next minute, all your attacks deal an additional 1d4 damage of the energy type chosen.

Reactive Wild Shape
Beginning at 17th level, you can now choose to spend 4 ki points to wild shape into a large beast up to CR 1.

If you are in your normal form and you would take damage from an attack you can see, you can use your reaction to use your Wild Shape. You still must pay the normal Ki point cost for the beast form you assume.
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
Well, as I said before, I think it's important to be upfront with my bias towards Wildshape and granting other classes iconic class abilities via archetype. That said, I do think it is an interesting challenge to design a mechanically balanced Monk archetype around this feature, so I'll give it a shot. For comparison sake, I am going to only try and use the PHB as my reference for balance. Looking at the initial entry into a monk archetype, they primarily grant new ways to use Ki points. Open Hand monks get new options that go along with Flurry, Shadow monks get a cantrip and a number of specific, thematic 2nd level spells that cost Ki points, and Elemental Monks get to choose 2 spell-like abilities that cost Ki points. [EDIT: After the first level of the archetype, I stopped comparing to the core PHB monks.] I think it is also important that we try not to step on the toes of the druid too much. So I feel like wildshape-like abilities will be the entirety of the 3rd level archetype ability, will use Ki points, and also will be more time limited. Additionally, there is the problem that if you base the wild shape ability off of Ki points, a monk will be able to use wildshape more often than a druid. This can lead to a problem with the monk having a ridiculous pool of hit points, which is not truly a druid problem until they hit their level 20 capstone ability. So these things are worth considering. Anyways, here's a really... really rough attempt for your monk subclass.

Way of Tooth and Claw

Wild Shape

Starting at 2nd level, you can use your bonus action to magically assume the shape of a beast that you have seen before. When you choose to use this ability, you can spend one ki point to change into a small beast of CR ¼ or lower. If you spend 2 ki points, you can select a small or medium beast up to CR ½. The form that you select cannot have a swim or fly speed.

You can stay in a beast shape for one minute. You then revert to your normal form unless you expend more ki points for use of this feature. You can revert to your normal form earlier by using a bonus action on your turn. You automatically revert if you fall unconscious, drop to 0 hit points, or die.

While you are transformed, the following rules apply:
• Your game statistics are replaced by the statistics of the beast, but you retain your alignment, personality, and Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores. You also retain all of your skill and saving throw proficiencies, in addition to gaining those of the creature. If the creature has the same proficiency as you and the bonus in its stat block is higher than yours, use the creature’s bonus instead of yours. If the creature has any legendary or lair actions, you can't use them.
• When you transform, you assume the beast’s hit points and Hit Dice. When you revert to your normal form, you return to the number of hit points you had before you transformed. However, if you revert as a result of dropping to 0 hit points, any excess damage carries over to your normal form. For example, if you take 10 damage in animal form and have only 1 hit point left, you revert and take 9 damage. As long as the excess damage doesn’t reduce your normal form to 0 hit points, you aren’t knocked unconscious.
• You can’t cast spells, and your ability to speak or take any action that requires hands is limited to the capabilities of your beast form. Transforming doesn’t break your concentration on a spell you’ve already cast, however, or prevent you from taking actions that are part of a spell, such as call lightning, that you’ve already cast.
• You retain the benefit of any features from your class, race, or other source and can use them if the new form is physically capable of doing so. However, you can’t use any of your special senses, such as darkvision, unless your new form also has that sense.
• You choose whether your equipment falls to the ground in your space, merges into your new form, or is worn by it. Worn equipment functions as normal, but the DM decides whether it is practical for the new form to wear a piece of equipment, based on the creature’s shape and size. Your equipment doesn’t change size or shape to match the new form, and any equipment that the new form can’t wear must either fall to the ground or merge with it. Equipment that merges with the form has no effect until you leave the form.

Improved Wild Shape
Beginning at level 6, you can now choose a beast form that has a swim speed.

In addition, you can use your ki to duplicate the effects of the alter self spell. As an action, you can spend 2 ki points to alter self without providing material components.

Elemental Wild Shape
Beginning at 11th level, you can now choose a beast form that has a fly speed. Adopting a beast form with a fly speed increases the normal ki point cost by 1.

In addition, you have learned to charge your unarmed and natural attacks with elemental power. As a bonus action that costs 2 ki points, you can choose acid, cold, fire, lightning, or poison. For the next minute, all your attacks deal an additional 1d4 damage of the energy type chosen.

Reactive Wild Shape
Beginning at 17th level, you can now choose to spend 4 ki points to wild shape into a large beast up to CR 1.

If you are in your normal form and you would take damage from an attack you can see, you can use your reaction to use your Wild Shape. You still must pay the normal Ki point cost for the beast form you assume.
Thats really fun. I would say that it needs some amount of benefit that doesn’t require ki expenditure, or adds to a current use of Ki, to fit the other subclasses. This is one reason ppl don’t like 4 elements monks, for instance. (According to Mearls)

edit: I don’t think that gaining better forms needs to cost more ki, tbh. Especially not fly speed.

I’d probably also add Alter Self and Speak With Animals 1/day each at no ki cost at level 3, especially if it’s more ki to do a higher CR critter and it only lasts 1 minute.
 
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Flamestrike

Registered User
A level 2 Moon Druid can turn into a Brown Bear or a Lion, and retains all class and race features, so long as their new form can physically do them.
How on earth are you doing martial arts katas learnt as a Human... as a Wolf?

How is the physcial form of a Wolf, capable of doing what a Human can?

A Monk with Wildshape can use all of their unarmed stuff, Unarmored Defense, Unarmored Movement, Deflect Missiles (minus the redirect missile part in most forms), Evasion, Stunning Strike, etc, all work just fine in animal form.
How? How is a Wolf deflecting arrows, or delivering a snap kick, grappling something (other than with a bite), or even simply punching someone?

Like... if Jackie Chan was somehow turned into a Wolf, how on earth is the Wolf blocking attacks, executing katas and so forth? None of the martial arts he's learnt (as a human) in any way translates into a Wolfs physiolgy.
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
How on earth are you doing martial arts katas learnt as a Human... as a Wolf?

How is the physcial form of a Wolf, capable of doing what a Human can?



How? How is a Wolf deflecting arrows, or delivering a snap kick, grappling something (other than with a bite), or even simply punching someone?

Like... if Jackie Chan was somehow turned into a Wolf, how on earth is the Wolf blocking attacks, executing katas and so forth? None of the martial arts he's learnt (as a human) in any way translates into a Wolfs physiolgy.
I say the following with no negative feeling or intention.

This is completely irrelevant to the thread. I do not care about this sort of objection.

Its a magical martial artist that can run up sheets of rain at level 9, and do other weird :):):):) before then, magically turning into a bear via Druidic magics that don’t care at all about mass and energy, and already allow a Druid to retain their full intelligence even though a mouse literally isn’t physically capable of the same thought processes.

“How does a wolf do katas” is, to me, a completely absurd question.

If you were asking simply for flavor, to better understand what is happening at the table, I’d posit that the Druidic magic bridges the gaps in understanding as it creates the animal body for you, including physiology that can process your normal thoughts, and all the synaptic pathways that make up trained implicit memory (muscle memory).

Or, a different character might be described as having trained in various animals forms as well as humanoid form. This Monk/Druid might represent a tradition that the character has trained in for years, but that the game understandably didn’t build a whole class for. (MC doesn’t have to represent combining disparate traditions in game. It can simply represent a tradition that has no direct mechanical rep already in the game)

Or, a Monk/Druid might represent a character whose monk abilities are as much instinct as training, like a force user in Star Wars.

edit: also, dogs can punch pretty hard. And halflings and Goliaths punch the same amount.
 

Cap'n Kobold

Explorer
A character that turns into other creatures (primarily animals) without losing their mental faculties and training, mechanically (and narratively, but the mechanical part is what makes Wild Shape the best fit, because it already just does the thing. A Monk/Druid can turn into a squirrel and make an unarmed attack with stunning strike, dealing monk die damage, and then move squirrel speed+monk speed bonus. That dynamic, of being able to turn into not just a squirrel or panther, but a kung fu squirrel or panther, is what I want. Filling out the concept is the idea of being able to bring that transformation back with you, into your born state, gaining gills, or even more enhanced speed, or heightened senses, or a climb speed, or whatever, and perhaps even do those things while in an animal form (fish bear land shark).
Pie in the sky, I'd like to be able to turn into a dryad or treant or similar, and/or an awakened tree. I do want it to be weirder than a Druid, but be thematically Druidic in nature. They're like rangers, in that they are part of Groves, allies to the Druids, training with them without being fully initiated into the Druidic Circle.

Oh, also...I'd love to figure out a way to change shapes as part of attacking, and make that matter and be cool? I haven't landed on anything yet, though. Like, I picture parkouring over a low wall, launching yourself at a foe, and turning into a bear mid-leap, crashing into them with that heavy weight, etc.
I'm not sure that Wild Shape is the best way of representing this. - It has a lot of baggage such as the extra HP of the creature which take up a significant amount of the power available to balance the archetype, but aren't really something that you're interested in.

It strikes me that this archetype's niche among the monk subclasses is its versatility - Less combat power than open-hand, less mobility and skulduggery than shadow etc.

Do you see a monk of this school as turning into a bear at the beginning of a fight and fighting in that form for the duration of the fight, or do you see it as flowing between forms on a round-by-round (or even more often) basis?
 

Stormonu

Hero
I think this is a wonderful idea, as many martial art "forms" are taken from animals - Tiger, Turtle, Monkey, Crane, Dragon, etc. Actually being able to become the animal you derived your form from seems like an interesting subclass for Monk. Perhaps limit the Wild Shape form (with a CR max still in place) to one particular shape at low levels (2-4?), two at medium levels (5-8?), three specific forms at higher levels (9-12?) and four forms at greater levels (13+), opening some supernatural options up at higher levels that a typical druid might not have access to - classic elementals, perhaps ki-rins and maybe a capstone form of an actual (oriental) dragon perhaps?
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
I'm not sure that Wild Shape is the best way of representing this. - It has a lot of baggage such as the extra HP of the creature which take up a significant amount of the power available to balance the archetype, but aren't really something that you're interested in.

It strikes me that this archetype's niche among the monk subclasses is its versatility - Less combat power than open-hand, less mobility and skulduggery than shadow etc.

Do you see a monk of this school as turning into a bear at the beginning of a fight and fighting in that form for the duration of the fight, or do you see it as flowing between forms on a round-by-round (or even more often) basis?
If I had to choose between “flowing from form to form” and “actually being that animal with the monk’s mind and training”, I’ll choose being the animal.

If there is a way to do both, even better.
 

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