D&D 5E The Esoteric Warrior (Monk sans Orientalism)+

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
So, I want to make a "monk" that feels like it can fit into any campaign, filling the archetype of the esoteric or mystical warrior from a mysterious tradition. While this certainly includes the kung fu student/master, and the shoalin monk, and some Samurai and related concepts, it also includes hermetic swordfighting manuals and traditions from Europe, as well as dervish orders, celtic woad painted warrior cults, and certain warrior cults of the Norse and Germanic peoples, among others.

THe Martial Artist deserves to be fully focused on being that, which for me means alternate features for the Fighter.

I've learned some lessons from trying to combine this concept with the swordmage, but ultimately I think it merits it's own design space, as does the arcane esoteric warrior.

So, here are my current ideas.

  • Rename class, perhaps to "adept" even though I dislike the name
  • Rename Ki to Focus
  • Rework some key abilities, see below
  • Either remove Stunning Strike and put it's power budget into various Focus Features, or give a choice of three specialized strikes alongside it, such as a smite-style option to just burn focus for damage.
  • Add more "basic" focus abilities.
  • Rethink many laterlevel features, such as tongue of the sun and moon
  • Rework 4 Elements monk and probably Sun Soul, to make them work more like other subclasses and be more additive in power. Sun Soul isn't that bad, with Tasha's, but 4Elements is pretty terrible
  • Rework Unarmored Defense to be 10+proficiency+wisdom, so that you can easily play a Strength based character.
  • Allow light armor.
  • d10 hit die
Example of reworked focus abilities

Insightful Defense

You can spend 1 focus to enter a state of defense as a bonus action, taking the Dodge action. While in this state, you cannot be targeted by opportunity attacks, and you gain advantage on your next attack against any creature that misses you with an attack while the effect lasts. This defensive state lasts until the end of your next turn.


- Power of Body

As a bonus action you spend 1 focus to fill your body with power. You can add your spellcasting ability modifier to your strength for the purposes of determining your lift, drag, and carry limits, and add your spellcasting ability Score to your jump hieght and distance, and to your walking speed, in feet. While the effect lasts, you can take the Dash Action as a Bonus Action. This effect lasts until the end of your next turn.

Any thoughts? Please no "this entire endeavor is bad" type posts.
 

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Stormonu

Legend
"Focus" sounds awfully close to Concentration, and there is also spell focuses. There was an "i" word I had in mind similiar to insight, but I'm having a mental block remembering it for some reason. Also, wouldn't a better name for Power of Body be Inner Strength or Mind over Matter?

I really like moving "monks" away from fixed abilities, and more towards styles, maneuvers and abilities, with the ability to also choose supernatural abilities. Something like if you mixed priest and battlemaster. That would allow you to make Stunning Strike a supernatural maneuver, and unarmored defense becomes a sort of fighting style (like archery). You could then make a standard "monk" by selecting certain packages - Unarmored Defense Style, Missile Deflection maneuver, Stunning Strike maneuver, Slow Fall ability, etc. for a sort of Shaolin-style character (or like Ryu from Street Fighter). Or you could go a completely different path and end up with a Greecian Wrestler of Apollo (mixing unarmed wrestling and sun priest abilities), Florentine Swordsman (pure weapon martial tricks with little or no armor), or any sort of "enlightened" martial character you could dream up.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Maybe steal some disciplines from the Mystic to have them as ''ki'' fueled maneuvers, such as Celerity, Brute Force, Aura Sight, Adaptive Body, Iron Durability, Mantle of Fear, Mantle of Command, Mantle of Fury, Nomadic Arrow, Third Eye, etc (The 4E monk could have the different elemental mastery disciplines). Each ''Adept'' would know 2-3 disciplines and some archetypes might give access to 1 or 2 special ones.

Each disciplines comes with a focus which is a passive ability that must be focused on to use the related discipline. I'd change the name to Stance.

For the name of the class, I would suggest something like Exemplar or Challenger.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
"Focus" sounds awfully close to Concentration, and there is also spell focuses. There was an "i" word I had in mind similiar to insight, but I'm having a mental block remembering it for some reason. Also, wouldn't a better name for Power of Body be Inner Strength or Mind over Matter?
I think focus is fine, but if you remember that other word let me know. I prefer Power of Body bc it doesn’t imply the same things implied by “mind over matter”.
I really like moving "monks" away from fixed abilities, and more towards styles, maneuvers and abilities, with the ability to also choose supernatural abilities. Something like if you mixed priest and battlemaster. That would allow you to make Stunning Strike a supernatural maneuver, and unarmored defense becomes a sort of fighting style (like archery). You could then make a standard "monk" by selecting certain packages - Unarmored Defense Style, Missile Deflection maneuver, Stunning Strike maneuver, Slow Fall ability, etc. for a sort of Shaolin-style character (or like Ryu from Street Fighter). Or you could go a completely different path and end up with a Greecian Wrestler of Apollo (mixing unarmed wrestling and sun priest abilities), Florentine Swordsman (pure weapon martial tricks with little or no armor), or any sort of "enlightened" martial character you could dream up.
Could work, but we’d need to be careful not to go overboard.
Maybe steal some disciplines from the Mystic to have them as ''ki'' fueled maneuvers, such as Celerity, Brute Force, Aura Sight, Adaptive Body, Iron Durability, Mantle of Fear, Mantle of Command, Mantle of Fury, Nomadic Arrow, Third Eye, etc (The 4E monk could have the different elemental mastery disciplines). Each ''Adept'' would know 2-3 disciplines and some archetypes might give access to 1 or 2 special ones.

Each disciplines comes with a focus which is a passive ability that must be focused on to use the related discipline. I'd change the name to Stance.

For the name of the class, I would suggest something like Exemplar or Challenger.
Definitely need to take another look at the mystic.
This might be the wrong direction, but maybe it will inspire some ideas?
I’ll check it out later! Thanks!
 


Mercurius

Legend
But seriously, I don't have much to add as far as mechanics, but I do think it is a good idea. Years ago I designed a "bladedancer" class - actually, first way back around 1990ish for 2E, then I updated it for 3E as a prestige class.

I think in terms of, to use a concept from 4E era, power sources. Wizards and sorcerers draw from arcane energy, clerics from divine (god-given) energy, druids from nature. What you're talking about seems like, if not the same as psionics, a close cousin: power drawn from within, from "spirit," if you will (or prana, chi, ki, etc).

This, of course, relates to the difference between exoteric and esoteric religious tradition, or faith-based religion proper and experiential (gnostic) mysticism on the other, respectively.

If I were engaging in this project, I would probably use it as an alternate to psionics, and call it the mystic with various versions, perhaps with a focus: body, mind, energy, blade, etc. The "body mystic" would be akin to the esoteric warrior (monk) you're working on, while the "mind mystic" could be more akin to a psion and an "energy mystic" could be more like a sorcerer. A "blade mystic" would focus on imbuing power into a weapon.

You could also look at various iterations of the Jedi for ideas, as I think that fits the general theme.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
But seriously, I don't have much to add as far as mechanics, but I do think it is a good idea. Years ago I designed a "bladedancer" class - actually, first way back around 1990ish for 2E, then I updated it for 3E as a prestige class.

I think in terms of, to use a concept from 4E era, power sources. Wizards and sorcerers draw from arcane energy, clerics from divine (god-given) energy, druids from nature. What you're talking about seems like, if not the same as psionics, a close cousin: power drawn from within, from "spirit," if you will (or prana, chi, ki, etc).
Precisely.
This, of course, relates to the difference between exoteric and esoteric religious tradition, or faith-based religion proper and experiential (gnostic) mysticism on the other, respectively.

If I were engaging in this project, I would probably use it as an alternate to psionics, and call it the mystic with various versions, perhaps with a focus: body, mind, energy, blade, etc. The "body mystic" would be akin to the esoteric warrior (monk) you're working on, while the "mind mystic" could be more akin to a psion and an "energy mystic" could be more like a sorcerer. A "blade mystic" would focus on imbuing power into a weapon.
Hmm…so one package would be martial arts, another would have magic, another weapon magic?
You could also look at various iterations of the Jedi for ideas, as I think that fits the general theme.
Definitely. I do wonder if we can keep the class close enough that only mild work is needed to fit existing subclasses into it.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
It's bland as all get out, but perhaps one of the safest ways to ensure the de-Orientalizing is to just make Ki points into Spell Points, or even Spell Slots that can be used for Martial Arts abilities similar to a Smite: they already are by the math, and making that more clear might help with designing abilities.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
It's bland as all get out, but perhaps one of the safest ways to ensure the de-Orientalizing is to just make Ki points into Spell Points, or even Spell Slots that can be used for Martial Arts abilities similar to a Smite: they already are by the math, and making that more clear might help with designing abilities.
IIRC, they add up to spell points only if you cost abilities at 1+1/spell level, as the elements monk does, and get the right amount over the course of the day.

But only the 4elements monk costs abilities at that rate, so it doesn’t add up in practice for the majority of cases.

Besides which, using spell slots makes it harder to avoid having to design a dozen or so abilities for spell levels 1-5, rather than a couple dozen total at most.

So I’m probably going to keep the math, and a name other than spell points, and include a pb/day “ritual” to regain your spent focus, rather than using a short rest.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Is there anything useful for you in the A5E Adept class?
Probably, but I don’t own it. My preference is to create either an alternate class or set of alternate features that can be used with the original subclasses, and not need much adjustment.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
IIRC, they add up to spell points only if you cost abilities at 1+1/spell level, as the elements monk does, and get the right amount over the course of the day.

But only the 4elements monk costs abilities at that rate, so it doesn’t add up in practice for the majority of cases.

Besides which, using spell slots makes it harder to avoid having to design a dozen or so abilities for spell levels 1-5, rather than a couple dozen total at most.

So I’m probably going to keep the math, and a name other than spell points, and include a pb/day “ritual” to regain your spent focus, rather than using a short rest.
The 4 Elements Monk prices abilities at the same rate as every other Monk: Mearls broke it down when doing the Monk for his stream back when. It isn't a result that satisfies a lot of people, clearly, but the math on the internal spreadsheet at WotC works out precisely.

The short rest aspect is maybe something that needs to be fixed at any rate, to table-proof the character's abilities, so the proficiency bonus approach is probably a solid way to go.

Allowing space for a multitude of abilities seems a potential feature, rather than a bug, but that might just mean keep it at Spell Points that are undifferentiated by Level explicitly.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The 4 Elements Monk prices abilities at the same rate as every other Monk: Mearls broke it down when doing the Monk for his stream back when. It isn't a result that satisfies a lot of people, clearly, but the math on the internal spreadsheet at WotC works out precisely.
No, they don’t. Every other monk with spells pays 1 ki less for their spells.

But also, “doesn’t satisfy a lot of people” is literally objectively more important than “the spreadsheet says it works”.
The short rest aspect is maybe something that needs to be fixed at any rate, to table-proof the character's abilities, so the proficiency bonus approach is probably a solid way to go.
“Ten minute ritual that can be performed as part of a short rest.” Is the basic model I’m looking at. 1 or 5 minute is also on the table, but 1 action is not.
Allowing space for a multitude of abilities seems a potential feature, rather than a bug, but that might just mean keep it at Spell Points that are undifferentiated by Level explicitly.
Or, just don’t call them spell points, because they aren’t.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
No, they don’t. Every other monk with spells pays 1 ki less for their spells.

But also, “doesn’t satisfy a lot of people” is literally objectively more important than “the spreadsheet says it works”.
At a disadvantage to Spell use in some way to compensate.

Sure, satisfaction is the real test for a design...but mathematical equivalence is a forerunner to that, not seperate.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
At a disadvantage to Spell use in some way to compensate.
What, not being able to upcast? Insignificant. Smaller list? Essentially meaningless.

A level 2 spell is a level 2 spell. The 4Elements has no advantage over the Shadow Monk or Sun Soul in terms of spells being usable, action economy when casting, or spell save DC in cases where it’s relevant.
Sure, satisfaction is the real test for a design...but mathematical equivalence is a forerunner to that, not seperate.
We are talking about a case wherein the two conflict. In such a case, satisfaction wins.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Just to note: the Shadow Monk gets level 2 spells at level 3. When full casters get them. The rest of their kit is at-will, with some situational limits.

Sun Soul gets its only literal spell at level 6, but it’s a bonus action, and at 11 it gets a mini-fireball at-will that can be pumped up by 2d6 to 6d6 by spending ki.

The 4 Elements Monk is only equal to any other monk on a spreadsheet, and even then, Mike was full of it.
 



Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
I actually like this endeavor (as opposed to creating a new class that steps on the Monk's toes, it's attempting to broaden the Monk into additionally-related archetypes).

Lean into Jedi and Sith concepts too. The "Monk" should have significant vow and creed overlaps with the Paladin, but could thereby represent Jedi in a way that the Paladin feels to overtly divine magical light and pew pew about.
 

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