D&D Next – Monk Preview

By Ken Wai Lau

d&d next monk

The D&D Next Monk – AKA Bald of Awesome…
Artwork © by Lucas Torquato de Resende

Many monasteries from the Far East boast their own military presence in order to help them preserve their secrets and traditions. The monks that live in these monasteries practise a form of mysticism that hones their minds, bodies and souls.

Monks are known for their immense spiritual discipline and have a certain detachment from the world around them. The wisest monks are no longer affected by the ravages of disease, poison and even old age. In time, their spiritual awareness allows them to transcend their mortality and achieve their own form of perfection and harmony.

Soul Becomes the Warrior

d&d next monk

Flowing locks are okay too…
Artwork © by Nikolay Asparuhov

A monk’s signature ability is his ability to fight without weapons, relying on a combinations of punches, kicks, locks and grapples.

His martial arts training allows him to strike with uncanny speed in combat and advanced monks appear as nothing more than a blur to those around them.

As a monk becomes more accomplished, his strikes become more effective and an experienced monk can render his opponent senseless for a few vital seconds with a well aimed attack.

Those who reach the pinnacle of their craft can lay low even the mightiest ogre.

Monks eschew armour, instead relying on a special sixth sense to help them avoid danger.

Their superior conditioning grants them superior running speed, land softly from a greater height and avoid magical attacks with astounding mobility.

Your Mind is Nirvana

All monks, from the initiate to the grandmaster, can harness a special energy called ki which allows them to perform near superhuman feats of speed, power and athleticism. An initiate begins with a rather small pool of ki to draw from, but this pool grows over time as the monk becomes more accomplished.

With this energy, he can augment his combat and movement speed, land safely from a greater height than usual and even achieve a state of emptiness, leaving the physical world for a short time.

Meditation is key to focusing his spirit and maintaining the balance of ki within the body, allowing the monk to recover his energy in time for the next conflict.

Once the initiate is past his initial training, he chooses to follow one of two monastic traditions. Each path unlocks new abilities or powers for the practitioner.

Be Water My Friend

Masters of the Way of the Four Elements can harness the power of Air, Earth, Fire or Water, or a mixture of all the elements using their ki:

  • A disciple of air can manipulate the wind to throw an attacker backwards when struck, blow enemies away with a focused stream of air or ride the currents of the air to float over the battlefield and gain aerial mobility.
  • A monk who channels the earth can make his skin impenetrable to all but the most determined attackers, wrestle his opponent to death and render an opponent vulnerable to blunt trauma.
  • A master of fire can instantly retaliate with fire when struck, scorch his enemies with flame and emanate waves of fire in his death throes.
  • An adept who controls water can take on the flexibility of water to protect herself, imitate the power of crashing waves to send an opponent flying backwards or bludgeon her enemies with water.

Finally, a grandmaster of the elements can infuse his unarmed or weapon attacks with the power of the elements.

Fast As the Wind, Enduring As the Mountain

Those who follow the Way of the Open Hand are the ultimate masters of unarmed combat. Their intensive training allows them to perform special maneuvers that give them an edge over their opponents.

A monk’s rigorous training allows him to knock aside or catch arrows, kick their opponents to the ground, befuddle one’s senses enough to prevent counter attacks and push his enemies back with the force of his blows.

While the focus is on physical perfection, the union between body and spirit allows the monk to heal his injuries in time for the next battle and the most powerful monks can slay an opponent with a single touch.

One with the Universe

From what I’ve read, the D&D Next monk sounds awesome. The main problem for the class in past editions was it’s relative ineffectiveness compared to warriors who fought with weapons. The new proficiency rules in place for Dungeons and Dragons 5e should level the playing ground a bit and allow the monk to keep up with the other martial classes.

I am particularly interested in the ki pool and the ability to master the elements, the former allowing some abilities to be used more than once per day. Let me know which of the abilities above you’re looking forward to the most in the Dungeons & Dragons Next monk.


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