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D&D 5E Monks as ''tanks''

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
For a few weeks now, I've had the urge to listen to longplays of old videogames I played when I was younger. Most of them are JRPGs: their clear inspiration from the classes and races of D&D makes it like watching a D&D game.

I then noticed one thing: in JRPGs such as Final Fantasy, Legend of Dragoons, Tales of X, monks often have the highest HP score, along with the big bruisers such as berserkers and co. They do have the typical ''no armor, no weapons, high mobility'' thingy like in D&D, but their health is way higher than in D&D.

I think that in those games the monastic disciplines and their fantasy counterpart are seen as a matter of physical and mental resilience and endurance, but in the eyes of the american designers, the physical toughness part seems to be left out in favor of a high agility, but pretty fragile when actually hit.

Why is that? Its not like the Monk would be broken with a d12 HD, especially when compared to the barbarian who also boast strong unarmored endurance, high mobility and damage!

Would it be the end of the world to increase their HD?
 

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J-H

Adventurer
Monks tend to have higher ACs, thanks to class features offering bonus action Dodge, more incentives to boost WIS than a Barbarian has to boost CON, no Reckless Attack feature dropping their functional AC, etc.

If you want to improve their HP, you would probably need to drop their AC a bit to compensate.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
No, it wouldn't be the end of the world to increase their HD. That can be said for all the classes. Higher HD just means more hit points, which just means the DM throws bigger creatures at the party.

The reason in this specific case to give the Monk a d10 for a hit die would be if none of the others in the party were going heavily melee. If you had like a rogue, ranger, light cleric and sorcerer, then sure... giving the Monk a bigger hit die to "tank" would be absolutely fine. And it would work especially well if they took the Sentinel feat or something like that.

The whole reason for all of these subclasses and feats that give minor "multiclassing" benefits and for Backgrounds that are customizable are to allow tables to easily fill in holes in their party makeup without having to actually multiclass. Raising hit dice a step and/or granting a proficiency in a heavier armor or shields can do the same thing.

So long as the DM is comfortable keeping an eye on things, I don't see any issue whatsoever.
 

Al2O3

Explorer
The one potential pitfall I can see is the monk no longer having as much incentive to use all that mobility. That is probably not a problem at your table, but I think it could play into why the monks are the way they are.

My impression is that both monks and rogues are expected to be hit-and-run skirmishers, replacing hit points and some AC with mobility, evasion and ways to move out of trouble. In short, I think monks are actively designed to be bad tanks.

Barbarians instead compensate low AC with having more hit points (from hit dice), typically taking less damage from attacks and encouraging high constitution (and hence having even more hit points).
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Monks tend to have higher ACs, thanks to class features offering bonus action Dodge, more incentives to boost WIS than a Barbarian has to boost CON, no Reckless Attack feature dropping their functional AC, etc.

If you want to improve their HP, you would probably need to drop their AC a bit to compensate.

I had in mind to just give the Monk +2-3 AC when unarmored, like in 4e, instead of Wis, but buffing their HD to d10-d12.
 

jgsugden

Legend
It is too big of a change as a freebie, but I could see a subclass being built that was a militaristic monk... Something like:

3rd: A.) Proficiency with Polearms and History. Polearms are monk weapons for you. B.) You gain 2 hp per level in this class. C.) Use 1 Ki to enter a stance. While in the stance, you can make Opportunity Attacks on an enemy in your reach that moves vountarily. The stance ends if you move. [Yes, I know this allows Great Weapon Master to be used by a monk subclass].
6th: A.) You may use 1 Ki to gain an extra reaction that can only be used for an Opportunity Attack. B.) When attacking, use 1 Ki to add 1d6 radiant to your attack damage until the end of your next turn.
11th: A.) Whirlwind Attack (as Ranger, except any number of creatures in range). B.) Use up to 3 Ki. For each Ki spent, your reach with a polearm extends by 5' until the start of your next turn.
17th: A.) Crit Range is 19-20. B.) Roll 6 additional weapon damage dice on crits.
 

Long Death Monks are extremely tanky.

Touch of Death gives them [(Wis) + Monk level] Temp HP on reducing a creature to 0 HP at 3rd level, and from 11th they can spend a Ki point to remain standing when reduced to 0 HP.
 


Considering people play with rolled stats all the time, getting 2 extra HP a level doesn't seem that big of a deal, balance wise
In either direction. It wouldn't make the monk much more tanky, they would still go down quickly if they didn't relay on not being hit. The significance of the Long Death's temporary HP is not how many - it's that they are regularly renewable.

If you do want to build a more tanky monk there are several things you can do:

Play a hill (gold) dwarf. Use the Tasha's rules to move the CON bonus to to DEX. Pick up the Dwarven Fortitude feat at level 4.

Play a ninja Tortle.

Play a Githzeri, using Tasha's to move the ASI from INT to DEX.

Play a Goliath, with ASIs rearranged.

Get the Defensive Duelist feat.

As well as Long Death, the Drunken Master is a good subclass for a tanky monk.

Not really tanking, but a Shadow monk can blind everyone with Darkness. If they have the Blind Fighting feat they can then beat everyone up unseen.
 
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