5E Open Hand Monk or Bear Totem Barbarian?

Vitor Bastos

Explorer
Im having a hard time picking one of those two classes: Open Hand Monk and Bear Totem Barbarian.

Could you guys tell me more about their:

1- Gameplay Mechanics (Combat, Social and Exploration)

2- Role in party (Dmg or Tank Potential)

3- DPR (How hard can they hit compared to other Classes?)

4- "Fun" features (What motivates you to play these Classes?)

Which one would you say is the "best" overall and why?
 
The bear totem might be a good tank, depending on you DM. It has good survivability but doesn't get a "taunt" ability until late, so it might just get ignored. It's DPR is rubbish.

Open Hand monk is a good combat-controller, but not particularly tanky or high damage.

Both are "average" in terms of out of combat stuff.

Personally, I wouldn't play either, but YMMV.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Open Hand monk with the right background is a somewhat ok rogue replacement. Monks better at combat (at levels that matter) Rogue at skills.

It's the best monk in terms of damage.

Totem Barbarian is the best all round barbarian. Decent damage but not to exciting. I'm not a fan of barbarians in general but I like the totem one the best.
 
The trouble with the bear totem is it tends to sound a lot better on paper than it is in practice. In my experience elemental damage tends to be fairly rare at level 3, although there is more of it around later, and it tends to be AoE, so the bear isn't preventing the team taking damage. Being the last man standing isn't a win.

I prefer wolf totem - this gives your enemies a good reason to target your rather than the squishies.
 

Coroc

Adventurer
The trouble with the bear totem is it tends to sound a lot better on paper than it is in practice. In my experience elemental damage tends to be fairly rare at level 3, although there is more of it around later, and it tends to be AoE, so the bear isn't preventing the team taking damage. Being the last man standing isn't a win.

I prefer wolf totem - this gives your enemies a good reason to target your rather than the squishies.
Bear totem might be the best tank in the game, if you invest in intimidation.
For that I highly recommend that you ask your DM if you can key intimidation of strength or constitution instead of charisma. I did this for a dwarf barb of one of my players, and it is a very fair houserule imho.

If barb is in rage, enemy cannot charm him to switch sides, so that is better than a fighter in that case.

If you invest in unarmored defense you are not equipment dependant considering available armor.
 

ad_hoc

Hero
You're probably going to get bored with either of them if your deciding factor is which one is 'best'.

They are entirely different, there is no 'best'.

Which one do you have the coolest inspiration for a character?
 
Bear totem might be the best tank in the game, if you invest in intimidation.
Intimidation in 5e does not force an enemy to attack you (although swashbucklers do get a special ability that allows it to be used in that way) - indeed it's more likely to cause them not to attack you.

You get an ability at level 14 that can encourage the enemy to attack you, but since you won't reach level 14 that's not very helpful.

So: no.

If barb is in rage, enemy cannot charm him to switch sides, so that is better than a fighter in that case.
Err, no again. Only the Berserker subclass gets that ability.

If you invest in unarmored defense you are not equipment dependant considering available armor.
Or, more likely, someone else nabs the +3 breastplate because you "don't need it".
 

Vitor Bastos

Explorer
Personally, I wouldn't play either, but YMMV.
What would you play then? I can also roll paladin. My goal was to play a good Damage Dealer with a bit of Tankyness/survivability. Also simple management.

Which one do you have the coolest inspiration for a character?
Well, I didn't have much time to think about it tbh. The campaign I was gonna play got canceled a few weeks ago and then out of nowhere one of my friends decided he wanted to DM. However, he told us he didn't want duplicate classes, so everybody rushed to get their preferred Class. I was thinking about Barbarian, Monk and Paladin. I want to roll a class that can dish out good Damage, be Tankish and have simple management (another why I didn't want to roll a full caster for example).
 

ad_hoc

Hero
Well, I didn't have much time to think about it tbh. The campaign I was gonna play got canceled a few weeks ago and then out of nowhere one of my friends decided he wanted to DM. However, he told us he didn't want duplicate classes, so everybody rushed to get their preferred Class. I was thinking about Barbarian, Monk and Paladin. I want to roll a class that can dish out good Damage, be Tankish and have simple management (another why I didn't want to roll a full caster for example).
If you want simple management then Monk is the wrong way to go.

Barbarian involves managing your rages per day and that's mostly it. If you go for something like Totem then you continue that trajectory of not having individual decisions.

Try to get some inspiration for characterization though. At the very least put some good effort into your traits/ideal/bond/flaw.
 

Vitor Bastos

Explorer
Paladin is miles ahead of either monk or barbarian by those measures. Some might even call it overpowered.
Gotcha. Vengeance Paladin or any Paladin Subclass fits that role?

Try to get some inspiration for characterization though. At the very least put some good effort into your traits/ideal/bond/flaw.
Yeah, I'll create a good story for it.. but this time I was kinda forced to pick the Class first. =/
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Paladin or sword and board fighter.

I liked my Monk and I'm not a fan of monks in general but it doesn't really fit your criteria.
 

mortwatcher

Explorer
Or, more likely, someone else nabs the +3 breastplate because you "don't need it".
from my experience, +3 items are rarer than 4-elements monk at level 14 ;)

OP:
from the 2 classes, I would go for barbarian, it's pretty simple, almost zero management, not much decision making and it does what it's supposed to pretty well

paladin has quite some management and decision making, but it is mechanically more powerful
 

Coroc

Adventurer
Intimidation in 5e does not force an enemy to attack you (although swashbucklers do get a special ability that allows it to be used in that way) - indeed it's more likely to cause them not to attack you.

You get an ability at level 14 that can encourage the enemy to attack you, but since you won't reach level 14 that's not very helpful.

So: no.



Err, no again. Only the Berserker subclass gets that ability.



Or, more likely, someone else nabs the +3 breastplate because you "don't need it".
Intimidate may force all sort of things that is up to the dm I guess, I would rule it could be used on convincing the enemy to give up / flee / attack another "easier" target or also to provoke. The fact it is not hard coded like in 3e is meaningless, it still can be used to taunt and I do not think there are many people disagreeing.


Sorry was wrong intermixed this with the berserk barb in the campaign where I am a player.
In fact, psychic damage is the only damage which a bear totem does not get dr on, so it should be logic also a charm could hit him.

+3 breastplates are gamebreakers :) just do not give them to your players. Really just do not. I made the mistake to give a +1 elven mithril chain (AC+6) to a dex 18 dude with a rapier parry dagger (ruled by me to be +1 on AC) wielder who now got a whopping 21 AC. He really is hard to hit now with physical attack.
He got a rogue swashbuckler subclass, but he can tank with his build (he also invested in Con/HP) and equip.
 
it still can be used to taunt and I do not think there are many people disagreeing.
Well, I very much disagree, and I would say WotC disagree too, since the Swashbuckler gets that ability at level 9. And it keys of Persuade, not Intimidate, since you are persuading someone to do something (attack you).

Intimidate is "do you feel lucky, punk?" not "your mother smells of elderberries".
 

Coroc

Adventurer
Well, I very much disagree, and I would say WotC disagree too, since the Swashbuckler gets that ability at level 9. And it keys of Persuade, not Intimidate, since you are persuading someone to do something (attack you).

Intimidate is "do you feel lucky, punk?" not "your mother smells of elderberries".
How about (flexing your muscles): "Do you really think you can take on me?" That is provoking in my point of view and intimidating - unless my non native understanding of the English language is off.

Silly side thought: How would our Barbarian know how the Bugbears mother smells like?
 

Coroc

Adventurer
No - attacks the wizard.
Yea sure, a stupid bugbear who thinks: "I am the strongest bugbear around except my elderberry-stinking- mother and I can easy take on the barbarian" suddenly gets Angst and starts to think: "Hm, maybe I better take on the frail guy in the robes, while this bigmouth (who principally needs a more urgent lesson in respect than the frail guy who seems to be afraid of me anyway) whacks me from behind"
 
The point is, he would attack the barbarian if it failed the intimidate check.

So it's better to put no points in the skill and dump charisma.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
So, first let us acknowledge the obvious.

If the answer is Paladin, then you are asking the wrong question.

Look at this thread! You went in asking a very good question.... monk or barbarian. But could the Paladin-lovers out there leave you alone?

OF COURSE NOT.

They have to move in, trying to spread their cult of smug even when they weren't asked about it. "Hey! Look at me! C'mon, man, why not play a Paladin? It will be fun. I swear .... just try it once."



Don't do it. Smug is the path to the dark side of Paladin-dom.


Anyway, of the two choices that were asked, I'd say that I personally prefer monks as more interesting. 5e genuinely did the open hand monk correctly, if you enjoy that. But the totem barbarian is less taxing to play, especially at earlier levels, when the monk requires more of a mobile/skirmish approach than a tank approach.
 

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