D&D 5E Short Rest Classes: Is the "Short Rest Problem" a "Monk Problem"

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I mean, I have two games with Monks in right now. Both of them use Stunning Strike A LOT. Like, do they "spam it" by my normal definition of spam, i.e. use it every possible opportunity? No. Do they use it every possible sane opportunity when there's some kind of high-HD or otherwise threatening monster, especially a boss-type monster? Oh hell yeah.
This was my experience with the one monk I have DM'd for so far. Didn't spam it, but used it a lot and especially in important situations.
 

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ECMO3

Hero
To my understanding, which may be flawed, isn't the monk a midliner class?

What I mean is there are primarily three types of classes: Frontliners, midliners, and backliners.

-Frontliners are face to face with enemies, typically "tank" types with d10 hit dice and heavy armor.

-Midliners are often "striker" types like the rogue and the monk, that move in to make a strike(s), then move out of the creatures reach. They typically have d8 hit dice and only use light armor (or no armor for monks).

-Backliners are typically the "blaster" spellcasters and ranged classes that have no intention of being in close combat, like wizards. d6 hit dice and little to no armor prof's.

Of course a few standout classes don't fit this model (like the bard), but it holds true for most classes.

Edit: Not that people actually play classes as they are designed ;)
I think that is dated thinking that is not applicable in 5E. Any class can fill any of those roles and most can do it well.

For example, a Bladesinger, built right, is probably the best "frontliner" in the game and other Wizard subclasses can do very good at it with the right spells and race selections.

It is tougher to do a frontline Monk than it is for a Wizard, Fighter, Paladin or Cleric. But I think it is easier than it is for other classes and it is doable. I think you want to start with Shadar Kai for the damage resistance or a Halfling for second chance feat. Play a Kensei. If you take halfling on point buy start with a 17 Dex and take second chance, if SK take 17 Wisdom and pick up gift of Gem dragon, consider defensive duelist at 8th level. Then use your ki exclusively for patient defense. Doing this, you should have a pretty survivable frontliner.
 

ECMO3

Hero
Monk is the 'hoard Ki, then hope a boss fails to save vs Stunning Fist' class. I really hate that's where they went with it.
Who do you mean by they? Are you talking about WOTC or the average player?

The Monk chassis has a lot more than that .... enough that if you see this as a problem make stunning fist once a day use and Monks at your table will probably be a lot more effective.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
If you actually think about the numbers Monks get a lot of ki. A 6th level Monk has 6 ki. If you assume a short rest every 2 battles and a battle lasts 3-4 rounds on average that is roughly enough ki to use one ki every single turn in combat. A 12th level Monk can use 2 ki just about every single turn. That is plenty ..... as long as you are not wasting it.

The only reason Monks seem to need a short rest is because players spam flurry of blows and stunning strike. Wizards would need more rests too if you allowed them to cast 5 leveled spells in a round.

I think the core issue is if you do2-3 encounters between short rest, then you only have access to level/2 or level/3 KI per fight.It averages to having Ki for each for the early half off your fights.

Not bad. But this assumption is based on a good half your party outsde of the monk dedicated to damage.

But if a lot of your party is not beatdown, the monsters drop slower. If the monsters drop slower then the monk has more turns with ki. And more turns without ki is more turns with the monk looking weaker as the non-ki monk is sad.

If your party is full of healers, utility guys, faces, and bards, your monk is gonna look

The other short rest classes have the same problem but the fighter and warlock are often high damage in "tired mode".
 

ECMO3

Hero
No, I'd say. They do equal or less damage and don't actually lockdown as well as a lot. But if they use Stunning Strike, well...
If you are basing this only on class abilities they do more in tier 1 and tier 2 than any other class.

The reason is they get a base 2 attacks a turn in tier 1 and 3 attacks a turn in tier 2, all with ability modifiers.

A Monk with a staff on point buy is doing 1d8+1d4+6 in tier 1 and 2d8+1d6+12 in tier 2. That is without using ki and without subclass, race or feats.

For comparison, a base fighter or Barbarian (not raging) is doing up to 2d6+3 in tier 1 and 4d6+8 in tier 2.

A raging barbarian is doing more in tier 2 (average 24.5 Monk vs 28 Barbarian), but he is using Rage and we are counting that then you should compare using FOB for the Monk which would boost his DPR to 32. If you are following standard short rest timelines a Monk should be able to use a ki nearly every turn.

You can use feats and subclass abilities to beat those numbers, but a base Monk is not behind anyone on melee damage before tier 3.
 
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ECMO3

Hero
I said it's highly effective to play it that way, and I don't believe you're disagreeing. Stunning Strike is a truly incredible tool. It's probably the single most powerful tool Monks have. If you're not using it, you're definitely not playing a Monk to it's "full effectiveness" as you put it.

It can be an incredible tool. But a lot of enemies ... a whole lot ... have very high con saves and most Monks are maxing dex before wisdom so their DC is not usually stellar. If they are maxing wisdom, then they are not hitting as much.

For example, you are never going to build a Monk that is going to reliably land stunning strike against a purple worm or adult dragon. Chance for a bad roll (or really bad roll) - sure - but is that worth trying (and failing) at stunning strike until you are out of ki?


Have you stopped to consider that perhaps your Monk is effective with you playing it in a different way because of your DM and their choices in encounter design? Rather than solely patting yourself on the back for your "creativity" and implied "better-class"-ness (lol jeez dude come on, even I wouldn't say something like that, and I can be pretty pleased with myself!), perhaps consider that they design encounters in a way that actually creates room for a skirmisher to do clever things and for them to actually work? Which is not easy to do, and requires some intentionality (or a natural proclivity, I guess).
I play mostly WOTC adventures, both as a DM and as a player. IME Monks would be more effective if they used stunning strike less and if they used FOB a lot less and if they used patient defense, step of the wind and subclass abiilities more.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
The Monk's issue is that it can't upgrade itself. Since its weapon selection is low and is unarmored, it really has few options upgrade itself with better equipment, magic items, and feats. This compels monk players to nova or stun more to look useful.

Same with nonhexblade Warlocks to lesser extent.

The Fighter doesn't have this problem but has fewer SR resources. So they gas out fast. The high power of their "tired" self masks them having few resources well if you build a fighter well or if they get good magic items.
 


You can use feats and subclass abilities to beat those numbers, but a base Monk is not behind anyone on melee damage before tier 3.
I mean, it's not really a "can". It's pretty much "if you have a Fighter subclass, you will beat those numbers". Barbarian subclasses vary but most will either boost their DPR further or boost survivability or both.

Whereas a lot of Monk subclasses will reduce your DPR if you use their abilities (or will just have very little impact on how you play at all). Often their ways to use Ki are objectively worse than baseline ways. This goes back to the overloaded chassis for Monks.

It's beside the point anyway, because you're just agreeing with me. They do equal or less damage, you're just pushing the equal more. Which isn't enough to wander around picking off casters/archers/etc. because 5E has high HP amounts for enemies. So the skirmisher role is kind of invalidated by that design - not just for Monks - a lot of classes have a skirmisher subclass or sub-subclass or two - whilst some work well for other reasons (Swashbuckler for example) none of them can "solo" people reliably.
 

I play mostly WOTC adventures, both as a DM and as a player. IME Monks would be more effective if they used stunning strike less and if they used FOB a lot less and if they used patient defense, step of the wind and subclass abiilities more.
I do agree that Patient Defense is underrated in Deadly encounters and up. Step of the Wind is mostly good for repositioning to use Stunning Strike or the like though, because the fact that Monks, like everyone else, can't "solo" people means that unless you're going after someone the ranged can also hit, it's rarely a good use of Ki. Re: subclasses, I'm not sure I agree. An awful lot of subclasses have no good Ki-using abilities (but often good free ones or riders on FoB), or Ki-using abilities that are very tightly situational to unusual situations (or even situations that are at odds with being a skirmisher and/or wanting to be alive). If the martial arts die was larger then an awful lot would be more useful.
 

Who do you mean by they? Are you talking about WOTC or the average player?
Who do you think? Players do what the mechanics guide them to do. Monk has precious few real options for Ki use outside of Dodge or Stunning Fist.

The Monk chassis has a lot more than that .... enough that if you see this as a problem make stunning fist once a day use and Monks at your table will probably be a lot more effective.
It really doesn't have anything on the same level. It has fun ribbons all over the place, but in a party setting what sets them apart is that they are a melee character who can take someone (but not a big hulk with a good Con save) out for a few turns by gambling their resources on it.
 


Voadam

Legend
ETA- As much as people love theorycrafting, I don't think they've tried to build many Monk multiclasses before. Monks are famously MAD, and usually don't do well when you have to dip.
I've seen dipping into a level of monk for the unarmored defense as a popular multiclass for druids.
 

One of the major issues the monk has is how enemy dependent they are. My Shadow Monk in one campaign was very effective ... until we went on a campaign against ogres and giants. At which point he became a whole lot less useful.
 

ECMO3

Hero
The Monk's issue is that it can't upgrade itself. Since its weapon selection is low and is unarmored, it really has few options upgrade itself with better equipment, magic items, and feats. This compels monk players to nova or stun more to look useful.

Their lack of weapon selection is not a big dealbecause they do their martial arts damage with any Monk weapon.

There is a negative in that they can't use that vorpal greatsword you find (or at least can't use it well). But on the flip side if you find a mace of lifestealing or an awesome magic club they are the premier player to use it as they are not limited by needing strength and the 1d4 damage on the club does not slow them down.
 

ECMO3

Hero
Who do you think? Players do what the mechanics guide them to do. Monk has precious few real options for Ki use outside of Dodge or Stunning Fist.

In general a Monk should use patient defense more often than any other ki (subclass abilities notwithstanding). They should use step of the wind second most. This is the best way to play a Monk. That is not to say they should not use stunning strike, and that can be very powerful but the mechanics do not drive them to use stunning strike often if you actually evaluate the statistics on it. Stunning Strike is situational and if you use it as a situational ability Monks are better.

Put simply - WOTC built the Monk pretty well IMO, but most players play it poorly.

It really doesn't have anything on the same level. It has fun ribbons all over the place, but in a party setting what sets them apart is that they are a melee character who can take someone (but not a big hulk with a good Con save) out for a few turns by gambling their resources on it.

What sets them apart is a free bonus action attack and giving attackers disadvantage at will (or at will for # rounds=level per short rest).

If you don't find that fun then don't play them, but "Mechanically" that is what sets them apart.

If you take away stunning strike or limit it to once per long rest your players will be forced to use ki for other things.
 

ECMO3

Hero
An awful lot of subclasses have no good Ki-using abilities (but often good free ones or riders on FoB), or Ki-using abilities that are very tightly situational to unusual situations (or even situations that are at odds with being a skirmisher and/or wanting to be alive). If the martial arts die was larger then an awful lot would be more useful.
This is true, but a lot of them have good subclass abilities too. However some of the subclass abilities that use ki are quite good (Shadow Arts, Arms of Astral Self, hands of harm/healing, quivering palm. sharpen the blade)
 

ECMO3

Hero
I mean, it's not really a "can". It's pretty much "if you have a Fighter subclass, you will beat those numbers". Barbarian subclasses vary but most will either boost their DPR further or boost survivability or both.

No they won't automatically, not without Feats. Banneret, Samauri, Cavalier, Rune Knight .... none of them will beat the Monk's DPR numbers in tier 1 or tier 2 on a subclass alone. They bring other combat abilities to the table (especially Rune Knight), but they don't do more damage than a Monk.

Eldrtich Knight is the only fighter I can think of that will actually beat it without using resouces on subclass abilities alone and that is only after he is 7th level. Battlemasters and Echo Knights have abilities that will let them deal out more damage at times using battlemaster dice (Battlemaster) or positioning (Echo Kinght).


It's beside the point anyway, because you're just agreeing with me. They do equal or less damage, you're just pushing the equal more.
No they do more in tier 1 and 2. Not a lot more, but more still.
 

In general a Monk should use patient defense more often than any other ki (subclass abilities notwithstanding). They should use step of the wind second most.
At which point their DPR falls off hard and they definitely aren't the DPR class you comment on elsewhere. So let's look at that.
No they won't automatically, not without Feats. Banneret, Samauri, Cavalier, Rune Knight .... none of them will beat the Monk's DPR numbers in tier 1 or tier 2 on a subclass alone. They bring other combat abilities to the table (especially Rune Knight), but they don't do more damage than a Monk.
Looking at some level 6 benchmarks (mostly because we don't have to get feats involved at levels 6 or 7).

A stock monk using standard array is likely to be Dex 16 Wis 16 and have put their level 6 ASI into Dex for Dex 18. And is using a d6 damage dice. That means that their base AC (before magic items) is 17 - and their normal non-Ki attack routine is +7 to hit, 1d6+4 damage (again assuming no magic items). For a total of 3d6+12 damage, averaging at 22.5 - or 25.5 if you're using a versatile two handed weapon.

A stock level 6 sword and board fighter using standard array is likely to start at STR 16 and have reached STR 20 if they have no feats. Heavy armour plus shield plus the duelist style by level 6 should be AC 20 before magic items. Their normal attack routine (as they are STR 20) is +8 to hit and d8+7 damage (including the duelist bonus) for a total of 2d8+14 damage, averaging at 23. And to add insult to injury they have an extra +1 to hit. You're at least neck and neck with the versatile monk here.

So the baseline damage between fighter and monk is pretty close before we count short rest abilities. The fighter gets Action Surge and Second Wind, while the Monk has six ki points. We've already shown that an extra full attack action is worth almost exactly the same as three attacks in terms of sustained damage - but it's front loaded high DPR burst damage. We'll stick with it being the equivalent of three Ki points, but that's being generous to the monk.

So the monk has three spare ki points. Using Patient Defence (or Step of the Wind) both uses a Ki point and takes away an attack at the start of the combat when it is most valuable. So it effectively costs at least two Ki points worth of damage to use.

Short version: If the Monk is using Patient Defence or Step of the Wind more than once per short rest then their DPR is behind a fighter with no subclass in most of Tier 2. If they aren't then they are squishier unless they have an exceptional stat spread.
 

ECMO3

Hero
At which point their DPR falls off hard and they definitely aren't the DPR class you comment on elsewhere. So let's look at that.

Looking at some level 6 benchmarks (mostly because we don't have to get feats involved at levels 6 or 7).

A stock monk using standard array is likely to be Dex 16 Wis 16 and have put their level 6 ASI into Dex for Dex 18. And is using a d6 damage dice. That means that their base AC (before magic items) is 17 - and their normal non-Ki attack routine is +7 to hit, 1d6+4 damage (again assuming no magic items). For a total of 3d6+12 damage, averaging at 22.5 - or 25.5 if you're using a versatile two handed weapon.

A stock level 6 sword and board fighter using standard array is likely to start at STR 16 and have reached STR 20 if they have no feats. Heavy armour plus shield plus the duelist style by level 6 should be AC 20 before magic items. Their normal attack routine (as they are STR 20) is +8 to hit and d8+7 damage (including the duelist bonus) for a total of 2d8+14 damage, averaging at 23. And to add insult to injury they have an extra +1 to hit. You're at least neck and neck with the versatile monk here.

So the baseline damage between fighter and monk is pretty close before we count short rest abilities. The fighter gets Action Surge and Second Wind, while the Monk has six ki points. We've already shown that an extra full attack action is worth almost exactly the same as three attacks in terms of sustained damage - but it's front loaded high DPR burst damage. We'll stick with it being the equivalent of three Ki points, but that's being generous to the monk.

So the monk has three spare ki points. Using Patient Defence (or Step of the Wind) both uses a Ki point and takes away an attack at the start of the combat when it is most valuable. So it effectively costs at least two Ki points worth of damage to use.

Short version: If the Monk is using Patient Defence or Step of the Wind more than once per short rest then their DPR is behind a fighter with no subclass in most of Tier 2. If they aren't then they are squishier unless they have an exceptional stat spread.
Why don't you rerun those numbers at level 4 or level 8 and get back to me?

Also as a point of fact 25.5 is greater than 23. If you are assuming a sword and board fighter is using one of the best 1-handed weapons available then you should assume a Monk is using the best weapon available to her as well.

There is also something you missed in your analysis - you claim action surge is worth 3 ki "being generous" .... well that means your 6th level Monk has the equivalent of TWO action surges per SR, and your level 9 Monk has the equivalent of three ....... while also doing the same (actually slightly more) base damage.

There is one thing you are right about - patient defense will reduce your DPR. Using it does put them well behind a fighter, but it also substantially reduces the damage they will take. Using FOB puts them well ahead of a fighter, while being squishier. That flexibility though is a benifit, they can play it to what is required instead of being caught in the middle all the time.

That said PD is the best regular use of ki with a Monk IME. Every encounter is different obviously, but use PD early, no ki when you want 1 extra attack and FOB when the BBEG is near death and you want to put it down. Most players though don't do that, they use FOB all the time (and SS) which puts them way ahead a fighter and when they use step of the wind (which is rare) it is usually to close with an enemy out of movement range which gets them there 1-2 turns ahead of that same fighter without giving up a melee attack action and puts them in the middle of soaking up enemy attacks. As a result they wonder why they are always out of ki early and near death all the time.

This is going a bit off-topic - but what I like is a halfling Monk with the second chance feat. Forcing one attack reroll every single battle stacks really well with patient defense and substantially reduces the damage said character takes.
 
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