D&D 5E Stalker0's Minimalist Monk (aka the "minimal change" version)

Stalker0

Legend
I have tried a variety of different monks over the years, as the class has never felt just right to me. However, over time I have come to appreciate that the class is better than I used to think it is, and Tasha's did take it a step forward. There are fun things about the monk....it doesn't need a massive overhaul, it just needs some tuning in its rough edges.

So this monk is meant as more of a tweak than an overhaul (and I am assuming all of the Tasha variants have been added), my biggest focus being on high level adjustments where the monk does have some real deficiencies. I am focusing on these areas:
  • Give the monk just a bit more KI
  • Allow the monk more ability score freedom, not to be wholly locked in to "dex + wis"
  • Increase the monk's self healing a bit more, as the class doesn't have the damage mitigation of other front liners.
  • Increase some high level damage and abilities
Unless noted, all of these add to the existing text.

Ki: +1 Ki Pool
Unarmored Defense: change to 11 + Dex + Proficiency Bonus
Patient Defense: Now a reaction (when forced to make a dexterity saving throw or when attacked) instead of a bonus action.
Quickened Healing (Tasha): When taking a short rest, you may add your proficiency bonus to spent Hit Dice.
Flurry of Blows: At 11th level, the monk makes three attacks instead of two.
Tongue of the Sun and Moon: You may use an action to gain the effects of Detect Thoughts. This does not require concentration.
Timeless Body: You are immune from Exhaustion and do not require Air.
Perfect Self: When you roll initiative, and have no Ki remaining, recover 4 Ki.

Designer notes:

  1. Just 1 extra KI across the board, gives the monk a little more staying power.
  2. The Unarmored Defense change means the Monk is no longer reliant on wisdom, but could of course choose it for the same benefits anyone would want wisdom for. Some people would prefer Dex or Strength...but I am trying to keep the changes minimal.
  3. Patient Defense: I find one of the biggest issues with the monk is they have to constantly trade offense for defense or vice versa. Further, its easy to spend points on defense that is ultimately wasted if the opponent doesn't attack you. This simple change fixes all of that, you can now combine patient defense and flurry of blows if you want to blow the KI, and you now only use the defense if you actually need it. Honestly this is probably the biggest change to the entire class, it really opens up a lot of flexibility for the monk in play.
  4. Quickened Healing: This ensures the monk is a bit more self sufficient, and doesn't suck away all of the healer's healing....which is a common thing for monks currently, as they take a lot of damage and don't have a lot of internal healing like fighters or paladins, nor can soak damage like a rogue or a barbarian.
  5. Flurry of blows: The extra attack helps solve the monk's high level damage problem.
  6. Tongue of the Sun and Moon: A nigh ribbon ability for such a high level, since the flavor is "touching other minds with your Ki"....it made to allow for thought detection as a part of that, to give it some meat. A 2nd level spell is not that interesting at 13th, but the idea that is "at-will" gives it some real punch that players will enjoy.
  7. Timeline Body: Adding a condition immunity gives the ability at least some mechanical relevance, and the lack of air can be quite useful or at least a cool flavor ability.
  8. Perfect Self: While there are many better versions of a monk capstone, in my minimum version....all I'm doing is making it where a monk doesn't have to exhaust themselves of KI completely to get use out of this. They just get 4 KI back every time a fight breaks out, period. That is potentially a lot of extra Ki, giving them a chance to "go nuts" in their final level.
 

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Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
I feel like they still need more Ki than this. So many of their abilities are based off Ki, including subclass abilities. I would increase it by their proficiency bonus, or perhaps even by their wisdom bonus.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
What if the level 11 boost is instead adding proficiency to damage with unarmed strikes and attacks with monk weapons, and they get a third FoB attack at level 15 or 17?
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I feel like they still need more Ki than this. So many of their abilities are based off Ki, including subclass abilities. I would increase it by their proficiency bonus, or perhaps even by their wisdom bonus.
What is instead of more ki in their pool, they can regain prof+wis mod ki as a 1 minute meditation, x/day?
 

Gadget

Adventurer
looks intriguing, but I've always kinda liked the Wisdom dependence of the class; it fits the fiction well. I've always thought that Monks were starving for Ki at low levels, so the +1 ki may not be enough.
 

I would also say that the Monk should get extra KI based on their WIS modifier. (Which is a House Rule I allow for Monks.) I also like the idea of "Monk Armor" or Monk Robes(From Neverwinter Nights 1) that follow Light Armor rules, but instead of the DEX modifier, it would be the Wisdom Modifier. And it wouldn't disable Unarmored Defense. That would add on to the extra points of Ki that is increased via the Wisdom Modifier and supplement the Monk Robes. You could also do a STR Monk via this way.
 
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Mort

Legend
Supporter
I like the +proficiency bonus per level on Ki.

1. Monks need the Ki boost at early levels;
2. With the change to patient defense (which I like) more Ki will be appreciated! From what I've seen, patient defense isn't used all that much because it REALLY hurts the monk on offense. Changing it to a reaction will fix that BUT will also impose ANOTHER big thing for the monk to sink Ki into - and there's already not enough!
 


Yaarel

Mind Mage
I have tried a variety of different monks over the years, as the class has never felt just right to me. However, over time I have come to appreciate that the class is better than I used to think it is, and Tasha's did take it a step forward. There are fun things about the monk....it doesn't need a massive overhaul, it just needs some tuning in its rough edges.

So this monk is meant as more of a tweak than an overhaul (and I am assuming all of the Tasha variants have been added), my biggest focus being on high level adjustments where the monk does have some real deficiencies. I am focusing on these areas:
  • Give the monk just a bit more KI
  • Allow the monk more ability score freedom, not to be wholly locked in to "dex + wis"
  • Increase the monk's self healing a bit more, as the class doesn't have the damage mitigation of other front liners.
  • Increase some high level damage and abilities
Unless noted, all of these add to the existing text.

Ki: +1 Ki Pool
Unarmored Defense: change to 11 + Dex + Proficiency Bonus
Patient Defense: Now a reaction (when forced to make a dexterity saving throw or when attacked) instead of a bonus action.
Quickened Healing (Tasha): When taking a short rest, you may add your proficiency bonus to spent Hit Dice.
Flurry of Blows: At 11th level, the monk makes three attacks instead of two.
Tongue of the Sun and Moon: You may use an action to gain the effects of Detect Thoughts. This does not require concentration.
Timeless Body: You are immune from Exhaustion and do not require Air.
Perfect Self: When you roll initiative, and have no Ki remaining, recover 4 Ki.

Designer notes:

  1. Just 1 extra KI across the board, gives the monk a little more staying power.
  2. The Unarmored Defense change means the Monk is no longer reliant on wisdom, but could of course choose it for the same benefits anyone would want wisdom for. Some people would prefer Dex or Strength...but I am trying to keep the changes minimal.
  3. Patient Defense: I find one of the biggest issues with the monk is they have to constantly trade offense for defense or vice versa. Further, its easy to spend points on defense that is ultimately wasted if the opponent doesn't attack you. This simple change fixes all of that, you can now combine patient defense and flurry of blows if you want to blow the KI, and you now only use the defense if you actually need it. Honestly this is probably the biggest change to the entire class, it really opens up a lot of flexibility for the monk in play.
  4. Quickened Healing: This ensures the monk is a bit more self sufficient, and doesn't suck away all of the healer's healing....which is a common thing for monks currently, as they take a lot of damage and don't have a lot of internal healing like fighters or paladins, nor can soak damage like a rogue or a barbarian.
  5. Flurry of blows: The extra attack helps solve the monk's high level damage problem.
  6. Tongue of the Sun and Moon: A nigh ribbon ability for such a high level, since the flavor is "touching other minds with your Ki"....it made to allow for thought detection as a part of that, to give it some meat. A 2nd level spell is not that interesting at 13th, but the idea that is "at-will" gives it some real punch that players will enjoy.
  7. Timeline Body: Adding a condition immunity gives the ability at least some mechanical relevance, and the lack of air can be quite useful or at least a cool flavor ability.
  8. Perfect Self: While there are many better versions of a monk capstone, in my minimum version....all I'm doing is making it where a monk doesn't have to exhaust themselves of KI completely to get use out of this. They just get 4 KI back every time a fight breaks out, period. That is potentially a lot of extra Ki, giving them a chance to "go nuts" in their final level.
All good stuff.

An additional difficulty I would like to see resolve, is the Monk has precious little design space for different kinds of subclasses. The Monk is hide-bound into an extremely specific Shaolin flavor for what a Monk is. One Monk subclass is blond, and an other Monk subclass is brunette, but any version of Monk is pretty much exactly the same.

I would like to relocate much of the Monk class into the Open Hand subclass only. Thus, this would free up much more design space in the Monk class to allow significantly different kinds of Monk subclasses.

• Elemental subclass can have more design space for much more powerful elemental effects.
• A nonmagical Athlete can be a mixed-martial arts champion with Olympic gymnastic stunts.
• A Githzeri Monk subclass can do its own psionic flavor thing.
• An Elf Monk subclass can feel more Elfish.

And so on.
 
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Stalker0

Legend
All good stuff.

An additional difficulty I would like to see resolve, is the Monk has precious little design space for different kinds of subclasses. The Monk is hide-bound into an extremely specific Shaolin flavor for what a Monk is. One Monk subclass is blond, and an other Monk subclass is brunette, but any version of Monk is pretty much exactly the same.

I would like to relocate much of the Monk class into the Open Hand subclass only. Thus, this would free up much more design space in the Monk class to allow significantly different kinds of Monk subclasses.

• Elemental subclass can have more design space for much more powerful elemental effects.
• A nonmagical Athlete can be a mixed-martial arts champion with Olympic gymnastic stunts.
• A Githzeri Monk subclass can do its own psionic flavor thing.
• An Elf Monk subclass can feel more Elfish.

And so on.
A very cool idea, but a little bit farther away from the spirit of these more minimalist changes. I'm trying to get the maximium fix for the minimal change, and not looking to change the flavor too much with this version.

So a number you wanted even Ki for the monk. Makes sense. The question is, prof mod or wis mod? Again, I don't want to pigeonhole the Monk into having to go dex + wis, but it would be nice to give them some mechanical benefit there. I'm leaning Prof mod at the moment, as that's just a nice clean scaling with guaranteed results...but curious what others think here.
 

Stalker0

Legend
What if the level 11 boost is instead adding proficiency to damage with unarmed strikes and attacks with monk weapons, and they get a third FoB attack at level 15 or 17?
So curious what the concern is here. Do you think giving them the third FoB attack at 11 is too strong....or do you think they need even more scaling at higher levels?
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
So a number you wanted even Ki for the monk. Makes sense. The question is, prof mod or wis mod? Again, I don't want to pigeonhole the Monk into having to go dex + wis, but it would be nice to give them some mechanical benefit there. I'm leaning Prof mod at the moment, as that's just a nice clean scaling with guaranteed results...but curious what others think here.
Yeah, I prefer prof for the bonus, rather than Wis.

Wis makes sense (sensory attention is a spiritual meditation technique) (willpower also makes sense), but prof allows more room for a player to make the character ones own.
 
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If we establish an increase in Unarmed Strikes at 11th level, what would we do about the Drunken Master's Intoxicated Frenzy?
Also, what if—for the Way of the Four Elements Monk—we made the disciplines that uses Ki to cast spells like Burning Hands cost one less Ki point?
 

All good stuff.

An additional difficulty I would like to see resolve, is the Monk has precious little design space for different kinds of subclasses. The Monk is hide-bound into an extremely specific Shaolin flavor for what a Monk is. One Monk subclass is blond, and an other Monk subclass is brunette, but any version of Monk is pretty much exactly the same.

I would like to relocate much of the Monk class into the Open Hand subclass only. Thus, this would free up much more design space in the Monk class to allow significantly different kinds of Monk subclasses.

• Elemental subclass can have more design space for much more powerful elemental effects.
• A nonmagical Athlete can be a mixed-martial arts champion with Olympic gymnastic stunts.
• A Githzeri Monk subclass can do its own psionic flavor thing.
• An Elf Monk subclass can feel more Elfish.

And so on.
And the Battle Nun can Shoryuken the demon!
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I wouldn't add an extra attack at level 11, it just takes more time to roll all those attacks (and it's another chance to stun). Perhaps a bigger jump in damage dice? Or add wisdom bonus to damage?

Also, I'm not sure about the unarmored defense being separated from wisdom to make the monk less wisdom dependent - stunning strike is still tied to wisdom.
 

squibbles

Adventurer
Patient Defense: Now a reaction (when forced to make a dexterity saving throw or when attacked) instead of a bonus action.
[...]
Patient Defense: I find one of the biggest issues with the monk is they have to constantly trade offense for defense or vice versa. Further, its easy to spend points on defense that is ultimately wasted if the opponent doesn't attack you. This simple change fixes all of that, you can now combine patient defense and flurry of blows if you want to blow the KI, and you now only use the defense if you actually need it. Honestly this is probably the biggest change to the entire class, it really opens up a lot of flexibility for the monk in play.
I like this direction--patient defense always seemed to me to be circumstantial enough that it's a mostly vestigial feature.

One thought though: patient defense with your changes is partly redundant with deflect missiles, which is a bit kludgey.

I know your stated intent is to change as little as possible, but wouldn't it be cleaner to have both abilities work from the same mechanic, i.e. patient defense as 1d10+Dex+monk level damage reduction or deflect missiles as a type of dodge?
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
So curious what the concern is here. Do you think giving them the third FoB attack at 11 is too strong....or do you think they need even more scaling at higher levels?
I think more damage per attack is more elegant than an additional attack, and that they need something that actually pops at later levels.

And prof is what, +4 at that level? Most rounds the Monk is probably hitting 2-3 times, so prof would add 8-12 damage per round on most rounds, accounting for only hitting most of the time. One extra FoB attack would add 8.5 average damage per round on rounds when you use FoB.

So +prof on all attacks is much stronger in damage, but doesn’t give an extra stun opportunity. I think that is probably a good thing.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Also, I'm not sure about the unarmored defense being separated from wisdom to make the monk less wisdom dependent - stunning strike is still tied to wisdom.
Exactly, which means that the Monk has a solid reason to go wisdom....or can ignore it. If the monk doesn't want to focus on Stunning Strike, and would rather spend KI for other places (such as subclass abilities perhaps) and ignore wisdom....that is now an option. Or....they can continue to pump wis for the best stuns. Both are viable, which is exactly the flexibility I am shooting for.
So +prof on all attacks is much stronger in damage, but doesn’t give an extra stun opportunity. I think that is probably a good thing.
My main issue with that is it starts to push against the Barbarian's motiff. The barbarian gets a straight +3 to damage when he rages....it seems odd that the monk would just get a better damage bonus than the barb all the time. With an extra attack, we have the differentiator of having to use a resource to get those attacks, and lots of attacks is already established in the monk's core profile.

A more subtle option would be increasing the Martial Arts die to a d10 at 11th, and maybe 2d6 at 17th. This gives just a smidge more damage, but it also helps other abilities like the quickened healing and some subclass abilities, so its less straight damage and a more well rounded bonus.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Exactly, which means that the Monk has a solid reason to go wisdom....or can ignore it. If the monk doesn't want to focus on Stunning Strike, and would rather spend KI for other places (such as subclass abilities perhaps) and ignore wisdom....that is now an option. Or....they can continue to pump wis for the best stuns. Both are viable, which is exactly the flexibility I am shooting for.

My main issue with that is it starts to push against the Barbarian's motiff. The barbarian gets a straight +3 to damage when he rages....it seems odd that the monk would just get a better damage bonus than the barb all the time. With an extra attack, we have the differentiator of having to use a resource to get those attacks, and lots of attacks is already established in the monk's core profile.

A more subtle option would be increasing the Martial Arts die to a d10 at 11th, and maybe 2d6 at 17th. This gives just a smidge more damage, but it also helps other abilities like the quickened healing and some subclass abilities, so its less straight damage and a more well rounded bonus.
Yeah I’m not too worried about niche protection, especially at level 11+, but I also wouldn’t mind making the Barbarians damage buff be proficiency bonus as well.
 


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