top of page

The 5e Monk Class
Amended

Wise recluses, honed athletes, or the magically awakened. Monks are able to harness magic in the air around them to perform fantastical attacks, move with lightning speed, and strike with powerful martial arts.

 

The following is a revision of the 5e monk class, meant to increase unarmed damage, move monk resources off its short rest recovery system, and prevent stunning strike spamming at high levels. There are also more useful abilities at higher levels. Existing 5e subclasses will all work mechanically with this form of the monk class. Click here for a summary of changes.

Navigation

Progression Chart

Ability Scores

Hit Points

Proficiencies

Items

Multiclassing

Class Features by Level*

1: Martial Arts

1: Unarmored Defense

2: Ki

2: Empowered Movement

3: Deflect Missiles

3: Monastic Tradition

3: Meditation

4: Ability Score Improvement

4: Feat

4: Slow Fall

5: Extra Attack

5: Stunning Strike

6: Ki-Empowered Strikes

6: Monastic Tradition Feature

7: Evasion

7: Stillness of Mind

9: Diamond Soul

10: Monastic Tradition Feature

11: Effortless Step

13: Resilience in Motion

13: Tongue of the Sun and Moon

14: Monastic Tradition Feature

15: Blindsight

17: Purity of Body

18: Empty Body

19: Superior Ability

20: Perfect Self

Notes and Examples

*For abilities that appear at multiple levels, only the first case is listed.

eg. Ability Score Improvement is only listed at level 4.

Monk.png
Progression Chart
Ability Scores
Hit Points
Proficiencies
Items

Level 1 Monks

When you create a level 1 monk, follow these steps to add the following to your character:

Ability Scores

You can take one of these recommended ability score arrays, or you can roll or assign them yourself. You can switch any two ability scores, but you do not add any further bonuses (they're already included).

Strength: 8   Dexterity:16   Constitution: 14   Intelligence: 10   Wisdom: 16   Charisma: 10 

Strength: 8   Dexterity:16   Constitution: 14   Intelligence: 12  Wisdom: 14   Charisma: 12  

Hit Points

At First Level: 10 + Constitution Modifier

At Higher Levels: 1d10 (or 6) + Constitution Modifier

Hit Dice: 1d10 per monk level

 

Proficiencies

Armor: none
Weapons: Simple Weapons, Scimitars, and Shortswords
Tools: two types of Artist's Tools
Saving Throws: Strength, Dexterity

Skills: two of: Acrobatics, Athletics, History, Insight, Medicine, Perception, Religion, and Stealth

Items

Multiclass Characters

Instead of leveling up in your original class, you can take a monk level when you level up. When you do, you gain only a portion of what first level monks gain.

Hit Points

Per Level: 1d10 (or 6) + Constitution Modifier

Hit Dice: 1d10 per monk level

 

Proficiencies

Weapons: Simple Weapons, Scimitars, and Shortswords
Tools: two types of Artist's Tools

 

Multiclassing
Class Features

Class Features

Class features here are sorted by level. When you reach a level as indicated by the icons on the left, you gain all feature or feature improvements listed between the red lines. For example, at first level monks gain the Unarmored Defense and Martial Arts features.

Martial Arts
Unarmored Defense
1.jpg

Martial Arts

Your practice of martial arts gives you mastery of combat styles that use unarmed strikes in addition to weapons.

You gain the following benefits while you aren't wearing armor or wielding a shield:

  • You roll a d6 in place of the normal damage dice of your unarmed strike. This die increases to 1d8 at level 5, 1d10 at level 11, and 1d12 at level 17, as shown in the Martial Arts column of the Monk table. These increases are also listed later on this page.

  • You can choose to wield a weapon as a monk weapon. You must be proficient with the weapon, and it can't have the heavy property. Your can use your Martial Arts die for damage rolls with monk weapons instead of the weapon's normal damage dice. 

  • On a turn where you take the Attack action using an unarmed strike or a monk weapon, and you have an empty second hand, you can make an unarmed strike as if your empty hand were an off-hand weapon, without the normal penalties for off-hand weapons.

  • You can use dexterity instead of strength for the attack and damage rolls of your unarmed strikes and monk weapons.

  • For the purpose of other abilities, your unarmed strikes count as having the finesse and light properties. As normal, whether you are a monk or not, your unarmed attacks count as attacks with a melee weapon.

Click here for further information and an example of Martial Arts in action (1).​

Unarmored Defense

While you are not wearing any armor, you can choose to calculate your armor class as 10 + your dexterity modifier + your wisdom modifier if it isn't already higher. You can use a shield and still gain this benefit.

Ki
Flurry of Blows
Patient Defense
Step of the Wind
Empowered Movement
2.jpg

Ki

Your training allows you to harness the magic in the air around you. Your access to this energy is represented by a number of ki points. You gain a number of ki points equal to twice your monk level up to level 10, and then one ki point per level from levels 11-20. Reference the Monk Progression Chart to see your ki total for your level. 

You can spend these points to fuel various ki features, which will have their ki point cost listed at the top of the ability description. At the end of a long rest, you regain all expended ki points.

Some of your ki features require your target to make a saving throw to resist the feature's effects. The saving throw DC is calculated as follows:

Ki save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Wisdom modifier

Your ki abilities count as magical, but are not spells unless otherwise indicated.

You gain the following ki abilities.

  • Flurry of Blows

Bonus Action - 1 Creature (5 ft.) - 1 Ki Point - Magical

On a turn when you take the Attack action, you can make an unarmed strike.​​​​ Click here for further context (2).

  • Patient Defense

Bonus Action - Self - 1 Ki Point - Magical

You take the Dodge action.

  • Step of the Wind

Bonus Action - Self - 1 Ki Point - Magical

You take the Dash or Disengage action. When you do this, your jump distance is doubled for the turn.

Empowered Movement

Your walking speed increases by 10 feet. Any speed you have that is equal to your walking speed also increases by 10 ft. This bonus increases when you reach certain monk levels, as shown in the Monk table. These increases are also listed later on this page.

Meditation

During a Short Rest - Self - 1/Long Rest - Magical

By meditating, you can draw more energy from your surroundings to restore your abilities. When you finish a short rest, you regain a number of ki points equal to half your monk level (rounded down).

Meditation
Deflect Missiles
Monastic Tradition
3.jpg

Deflect Missiles

Reaction - Self - 0 or 1 Ki Point - Magical

You can use your reaction to deflect or catch a missile (such as an arrow or stone) when you are hit by a ranged weapon attack. When you do so, the damage you take from the attack is reduced by 1d10 + your dexterity modifier + your monk level.

If you reduce the damage to 0, you can catch the missile if it is small enough for you to hold in one hand and you have at least one hand free.

If you catch a missile in this way, you can spend 1 ki point to make a ranged attack with a range of 20/60 using the weapon or piece of ammunition you just caught, as part of the same reaction. You make this attack with proficiency, regardless of your weapon proficiencies, and the missile counts as a monk weapon for the attack. Click here for an example breakdown (3).

Monastic Tradition

You commit yourself to a monastic tradition. Your choice of monastic tradition represents a school of thought that your monk follows to harness ki. Your tradition grants you features at this level and again at 6th, 10th, and 14th level, also listed below.

Monastic Traditions published elsewhere are compatible with this version of the monk class. However, due to balance changes to the monk, any subclass feature that allows you to make two attacks as a bonus action should instead only allow you to make one attack as a bonus action. This is because we redesigned the monk to get an additional attack without using their bonus action.

Way of the Open Hand

Monks of the Way of the Open Hand are the ultimate masters of control over one's own physical body. Their bodies are so in tune with the ambient magic in the air that they can deliver devastating blows, disrupt their opponents, and even protect themselves from harm.

Open Hand: Sweep

No Action Cost - 1 Creature - Magical

Once on your turn, if you use Flurry of Blows and deal damage to a large or smaller creature with an unarmed or weapon attack, you can use this ability. You can't use this ability on the same turn you use Thrust.

Strength Save

Failure: Target is knocked prone.

Success: No effect.

Open Hand: Thrust

No Action Cost - 1 Creature - Magical

Once on your turn, if you use Flurry of Blows and deal damage to a large or smaller creature with an unarmed or weapon attack, you can use this ability. You can't use this ability on the same turn you use Sweep.

Strength Save

Failure: Target is pushed up to 15 ft. away from you.

Success: No effect.

 

Shadowdancer

Shadowdancers train to manipulate shadows, even transforming themself into shadow to travel through darkness and strike at their foes. They weave magic spells using wisps of magical shadow they draw out of their surroundings. Shadowdancers are often members of secretive organizations, including intelligence agencies, assassin guilds, and hidden cults.

Shadowdancer: Meld with Shadows

Bonus Action - 1 Ki Point - Magical

You can hide in plain sight in dim light or darkness. When you do, you take the Hide action and then turn invisible. The invisibility ends after 1 minute, after you enter bright light, or after you roll an attack roll or cast a spell.

Shadowdancer: Eyes of Shade

You gain darkvision up to 60 ft., or your darkvision increases in distance by 60 ft. You can also see through magical darkness, such as with the Darkness spell, within the range of your darkvision.

Other Tradition: Level 3 Feature

Choose this option if you'd like to use a Monastic Tradition that comes from a source that isn't Elkan 5e. Your chosen Monastic Tradition grants you one or more features at this level. 

Ability Score Improvement
Slow Fall
4.jpg

Ability Score Improvement

When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, and 16th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can't increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.

Feat

At this level and every level you gain an ability score improvement, you also gain a feat of your choice. You are eligible for general feats, monk feats, and combat maneuver feats by default.

Slow Fall

Reaction - Self - Magical

When you fall, you can reduce any falling damage you take by an amount equal to five times your monk level.

Feat
Extra Attack
Stunning Strike
5.jpg

Extra Attack

You can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn. If you are dual-wielding or have an empty off-hand for an unarmed strike, your off-hand attack brings you to a total of three attacks.

Martial Arts Improvement

Your martial arts damage die increases to 1d8.

Stunning Strike
As Part of a Weapon Attack - 1 Creature - 3/Long Rest - 1 Round - Magical

Once per turn, you can interfere with the flow of ki in an opponent's body. When you hit another creature with a melee weapon attack, you attempt a stunning strike.

Strength Save

Failure: Target is stunned.

Success: No effect.

You can use this ability three times. You gain another use at level 11 and level 17 (also listed below). You regain all uses of this ability when you complete a long rest.

Ki-empowered Strikes
6.jpg

Ki-Empowered Strikes

Your martial arts attacks count as magical for the purpose of overcoming resistance and immunity to nonmagical damage.

Empowered Movement Improvement

Your movement bonus increased by 5 ft. to a total of 15 ft.

Monastic Tradition Feature

Your chosen Monastic Tradition grants you a new feature.

Monk 6

Open Hand: Wholeness of Body

Bonus Action - Self - 2 Ki Points - Magical

You reach out to the magical energy around you. You then regain hit points equal to three times your monk level. 

Shadowdancer: Shadow Casting

You can cast the Shadow Strike spell at 1st level using 1 ki points, the Darkness spell at 2nd level using 2 ki points, and the Pass Without Trace spell at 2nd level using 2 ki points. Your spellcasting ability for these spells is Wisdom. 

Other Tradition: Level 6 Feature

Your chosen Monastic Tradition grants you one or more features at this level. 

Evasion
Stillness of Mind
7.jpg

Evasion

Your instinctive agility lets you dodge out of the way of certain area effects, such as a blue dragon's lightning breath or a fireball spell. When you are subjected to an effect that allows you to make a dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, you instead take no damage if you succeed on the saving throw, and only half damage if you fail. This ability does not function if you are incapacitated.

Stillness of Mind

Action - Self - 1 Ki Point - Magical

At the beginning of your turn, you can one effect on yourself that is causing you to be charmed or frightened.​ If you are charmed and under the control of another creature, you can use this ability to end the charmed effect even if the charmer tries to order you to do something else. If a successful save would make you immune to any charm or frighten effects from a given creature, using this ability also makes you immune.

8.jpg

Ability Score Improvement

You increase one ability score of your choice by 2 or increase two ability scores of your choice by 1, to a maximum of  20.

Feat

You gain a feat of your choice.

9.jpg

Diamond Soul

Your mastery of ki grants you proficiency in all saving throws except death saving throws.

Diamond Soul
10.jpg

Empowered Movement Improvement

Your movement bonus increased by 5 ft. to a total of 20 ft.

Monastic Tradition Feature

Your chosen Monastic Tradition grants you a new feature. If using a tradition not from Elkan 5e, your ability for this level may be listed under level 11.

Monk 10

Open Hand: Shockwave

Your strikes radiate great energy, forcing creatures back around you. When you use either Sweep or Thrust, you can target as many creatures as you want within 5 ft. of you (including allies). You must hit one target with an unarmed or weapon attack, but you do not need to hit all of your targets to affect them with this ability.

Shadowdancer: Hijack Shadow

Bonus Action - 1 Creature (5 ft.) - 1 Minute - 2 Ki Points - Magical

You can now use hide inside a creature of small size or larger's shadow, merging with the shadows on the ground. When you do, you roll stealth to hide and then turn invisible, occupying your target's space in their shadow. If you end your turn and have not moved away from your target, you remain in the target's shadow, moving with them when they move on their turn. You remain invisible and occupy their space until this effect ends.

This effect ends if you move away from your target, roll an attack roll, or cast a spell. When this ability ends, you appear in a space of your choice within 5 ft. of your target. 

You can be targeted (including by the creature whose shadow you hijacked) as if invisible in the same space as your target. If you successfully used stealth to hide from the creature whose shadow you are hijacking and you haven't given away your presence, they usually won't know you're there.
While you can use this ability in darkness, if the target somehow doesn't cast a shadow, you cannot use this ability, and this ability ends if your target no longer cast a shadow.
 

Shadowdancer: Shadow Form

While invisible, you can squeeze through a gap as small as 1 inch in diameter. 

Other Tradition: Level 10 Feature

Your chosen Monastic Tradition grants you one or more features at this level. If using an tradition not from Elkan 5e, your tradition's feature is likely listed at level 11.

Effortless Step
11.jpg

Effortless Step

You gain the ability to move along vertical surfaces (such as running up a wall) and across liquids on your turn without falling during the move. At the end of your movement you will fall if not back on solid ground.

Extra Stunning Strike

You can now use your Stunning Strike a total of four times between long rests.

Martial Arts Improvement

Your martial arts damage die increases to 1d10.

12.jpg

Ability Score Improvement

You increase one ability score of your choice by 2 or increase two ability scores of your choice by 1, to a maximum of  20.

Feat

You gain a feat of your choice.

Resilience in Motion
Spirit Speech
13.jpg

Resilience in Motion

No Action Cost - Self - 1 Ki Point - Magical

Whenever you make a saving throw that isn't a death saving throw and you fail, you can reroll it and take the second result. You can only attempt this once for each saving throw.

Spirit Speech
You learn to touch the ki of other minds.​

  • You understand all spoken languages.

  • Any creature that can understand a language can understand what you say.

14.jpg

Empowered Movement Improvement

Your movement bonus increased by 5 ft. to a total of 25 ft.

Monastic Tradition Feature

Your chosen Monastic Tradition grants you a new feature. If using a tradition not from Elkan 5e, your ability for this level may be listed under level 17.

Monk 14

Open Hand: Quivering Palm

As Part of a Weapon Attack - 1 Creature -  24 Hours - 3 Ki Points - Magical

You gain the ability to set up lethal vibrations in someone's body. When you hit a creature with an unarmed strike, you can spend 3 ki points to start imperceptible vibrations, which last for 24 hours or until you use this ability again. The vibrations are harmless unless you use your action to amplify them. To do so, you and the target must be within 1000 ft. of you. When you use this action, the vibrations end, and the creature must make a Constitution saving throw or 10d10 sonic damage (save for half). 

Shadowdancer: Shadow Stalker

When you attack while invisible in a way that would end invisibility, such as with your Meld in Shadows ability or with the Invisibility spell, you remain invisible until the end of the current turn, even if you would normally become visible after attacking. If you attack while using Hijack Shadow, you remain in your target's shadow until the end of the current turn.

Other Tradition: Level 14 Feature

Your chosen Monastic Tradition grants you one or more features at this level. If using an tradition not from Elkan 5e, your tradition's feature is likely listed at level 17.

Blindsight
15.jpg

Blindsight

Your senses are keen and attuned to your surroundings, and you can fight blind. You have blindsight with a radius of 30 ft. ​

16.jpg

Ability Score Improvement

You increase one ability score of your choice by 2 or increase two ability scores of your choice by 1, to a maximum of  20.

Feat

You gain a feat of your choice.

Purity of Body
17.jpg

Extra Stunning Strike

You can now use your Stunning Strike a total of five times between long rests.

Martial Arts Improvement

Your martial arts damage die increases to 1d12.

Purity of Body

Your mastery of the ki flowing through you purges poison and disease and sustains your body.

  • You are immune to disease and poison, including poison damage and the poisoned condition.

  • You suffer none of the frailty of old age. You can still die of old age, however.

  • You can't be aged magically.

  • You no longer need food or water.

Empty Body
18.jpg

Empty Body

Action - Self -  1 Minute - 4 Ki Points - Magical
You become invisible. During this invisibility, you also have resistance to all damage but force damage.

Empowered Movement Improvement

Your movement bonus increased by 5 ft. to a total of 30 ft.

Superior Ability
19.jpg

Superior Ability

You increase one ability score of your choice by 2, to a maximum of 22.

Perfect Self
20.jpg

Perfect Self

Bonus Action - Self - Magical

You catch your breath, allowing magic in the air to fill your body and restore your strength. You regain 20 ki points, up to your normal maximum. Once you have used this ability, you must complete a long rest before you can do so again.

Note 1
Note 2
Note 3

Notes and Examples

(1) Regarding Monk Weapons: If you take the Attack action and attack with a spear, you can use your dexterity for the attack roll. The spear would deal (1d6+dex) in damage if wielded one-handed and (1d8+dex) in damage if wielded two handed. However, a spear wielded by a level 20 monk would deal (1d12+dex) damage, because the monk's unarmed die is a d12, which is higher than the weapon's normal damage die.

 

If the monk was wielding the spear with one hand, the monk can also make an unarmed strike as part of the attack action. This is in line with our general changes to dual wielding. Unlike dual wielding with weapons, a monk does not need to have the Two-Weapon Fighting Style to fight effectively in this way. A monk is trained in making many attacks in a short time.

(2) Regarding Flurry of Blows: if your character is holding a two-handed weapon or has an object in both hands, they can still use flurry of blows. This might be described as temporarily removing one hand from a two-handed weapon, attacking with the hilt of a weapon, or kicking the target. Note that while a monk can use Flurry of Blows while both hands are holding a weapon, the monk cannot make the normal additional unarmed strike afforded by Martial Arts.

 

Normally, a level 1 monk makes one attack using their action, or two attacks if the monk has an empty hand. Flurry of Blows costs 1 ki point to give you one more attack with your bonus action, bringing the total number of attacks to three, or four if you have Extra Attack.

You can move between these extra attacks, as normal.

(3) Deflect Missiles in action: a guard fires an arrow at a level 8 monk with 16 dexterity. The guard misses, so the monk cannot deflect the arrow. Then another guard shoots another arrow, dealing 7 damage. The monk uses their reaction to reduce the damage by 1d10+11.

 

This reduction in damage is calculated as (1d10+8 (level) +3 (dexterity modifier)).

In this example, monk doesn't even need to roll to block 7 damage. The attack's damage is reduced to 0. The monk then chooses to expend a ki point to redirect the missile, choosing to target a goblin. The monk rolls an attack bonus as if the arrow was a monk weapon, then deals 1d8+3 damage when it hits.

 

The monk would be unable to deflect a scorching ray spell at all, and if a fire giant throws a rock at a monk, the monk cannot catch the massive stone, so the monk could deflect the missile but not redirect it. 

bottom of page