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Dungeons and Dragons (5th Edition): How to Build a Monk – A Combat Guide

Want to make the most out of your monk? Check out our guide down below.
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Dungeons and Dragons has been around for many years now. That being said, the massive role-playing game has only grown since its inception. With there having been a recent resurgence of D&D players, more and more tabletop enthusiasts are now picking up their dice for this exciting game. With that in mind, we have concocted a quick build guide for anyone looking to play one of D&D’s most interesting classes.

Overview

Dungeons and Dragons means different things to different players. To some, the game is all about role-playing and exploring. To others, the game is about raiding dungeons and fighting monsters. As this is a build guide, this article serves to benefit the latter style player. Beyond that, there are many different ways to build a class in D&D when it comes to combat. This build will ensure that any combat oriented player will have tons of fun. That being said, there are certainly alternate builds that can still achieve combat effectiveness and be lots of fun.

If you would like to learn how to play one of D&D’s other classes, check out our guides down below.

Warlock

Barbarian

Paladin

Fighter

Bard

Wizard

Now with all of that out of the way, check out our fun and combat savvy monk build down below.

Monk

The monk is a quite unique class. It can be used as a support class, thanks to sub-classes like Monk of Tranquility. It can be a quasi-defense class, though I am not fond of the monk’s defensive capabilities. More often than not, the monk class will be used to deal damage and to stun single targets.

What the monk lacks in tanking abilities or outrageous damage output, the class makes up for in mobility. Through its increased movement speed and nifty “Step of the Wind” ability, the monk can quickly zip into combat, land a few strikes and then flee away from danger before soaking up any damage.

To that end, this build will allow you to leap into the enemy’s back line and disrupt high-level targets with some damage and crowd control effects before leaping back to safety again. If you want unrelenting damage output, then perhaps consider checking out the fighter build guide up above. For those that enjoy tanking, the barbarian build guide up above can be quite a bit of fun. However if you want a unique style of damage dealing and incredible mobility, then you have come to the right place.

Character OptionBest ChoiceDescription
Race:Wood ElfThis race provides a +2 dex and +1 wisdom bonus. As far as ability bonuses are concerned, it’s hard to beat the wood elf for this build. On top of that, this race offers some highly welcomed additional movement speed.
Monastic Tradition:Way of the KenseiThis sub-class will allow you to count additional weapons towards your martial prowess, which will prove useful later.
Ability Point Improvement:+2 DexterityThis is the most important ability to this build, as it accounts for attack bonus and damage bonus among other things.
Feat #1:SharpshooterThis feat will greatly increase your damage output with range weapons.
Feat #2: MobileThis feat will capitalize on the monk’s greatest trait, mobility. Leaping in and out of the action will be much easier thanks to this feat.
Feat #3: Mage SlayerThis feat will help you lock down spellcasters, which will be great when you are diving into the enemy’s back line.
Feat #4:ToughThis provides some additional sustain by boosting your maximum health.

There are many ways to build a monk. With this setup, you will be capable of attacking enemies from a distance and from melee. I always enjoy the combat versatility of being able to choose if I want to front line or just volley damage from the back line of my group, as this is a great way to really manage your aggro during battle.

The “Mobile” feat is really nice for when you want to step into combat for some quick damage before dipping back out of the way. The monk is not as tanky as some other characters, so it is tactically best to take advantage of the class’ superior mobility as much as you can.

“Mage Slayer” adds some extra flavor to your combat tactics. Since you are going to be diving into the enemy’s back line to focus on your foe’s squishier members, you will likely be going toe-to-toe with more than your fair share of spellcasters. By acquiring the “Mage Slayer” feat, you will be elevating your threat level to these spellcasting back liners.

Lastly, the “Tough” feat is always a nice touch for any character that is built for potential melee altercations. The added sustain will help you stay in the fight when you are drawing aggro on the front lines, should the need to front line arise.

Character OptionBest ChoiceDescription
Weapon:LongbowThis will act as a monk weapon thanks to the “Path of the Kensei” sub-class. Consequently, you will be able to take advantage of all of your monk abilities while still benefiting from a range weapon.
Armor:NoneMonks gain their wisdom bonus to their armor class whenever they are not wearing armor or shields. As this build demands a high wisdom bonus, it is best to just keep things light and avoid wearing any armor.
Skill Proficiencies:Acrobatics and StealthAcrobatics and stealth are both dexterity based skills, which makes them effective skills for this build. Beyond that, both of the skills have in-combat and out-of-combat potential.

The key to this build is combat versatility and mobility. Thanks to the “Path of the Kensei” sub-class, the character can equip a longbow as a monk weapon. Equipped with a longbow while using the “Sharpshooter” feat, a monk can deal significant damage from afar. Being able to deal damage from range is incredibly advantageous, as you will be able to avoid more damage than otherwise could have been avoided by fighting melee on the front lines. That being said, a monk can still benefit from unarmed attacks and flurry of blows whenever they wish to apply their skills up close in melee.

Consequently, this build will allow you the freedom to stay at range to pick off enemies with your longbow. Or, you can dive into the action and pummel opponents with unarmed strikes.

It is also important to note that the kensei sub-class allows a monk to choose a series of other new weapons to act as monk weapons for the character. As you can trade out each weapon’s damage for martial arts damage, the decision concerning which weapons to add to your arsenal is largely personal opinion.

AbilityAbility Point AllocationDescription
Strength:10This is a dump stat for this build.
Dexterity:18This is the most important ability for a good monk. Responsible for your armor class, initiative, an important saving throw, several skills, some damage output and your attack bonus, dexterity is simply king. It is also important to note that this ability gained a +2 racial bonus and a +2 API in order to become 18. Through standard array, this score was initially 14.
Constitution:13This ability is a tertiary concern for this build. It is always nice to have a hefty constitution. That being said, there are more important things to spend your ability points on.
Intelligence:8This is a dump stat for this build.
Wisdom:16This is the second most important ability for this build. Wisdom will define your effectiveness with many of your monk abilities, including the DC for “Stunning Strike.” It is important to note that this ability was 15 before earning a +1 racial bonus.
Charisma:12This is a dump stat for this build.

Warning: Concerning your ability scores, the graph above is using the standard 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8 ability allocation that players can use if they do not wish to roll their stats. That being said, your dungeon master may have you role for your stats rather than allocate your ability points manually.

The important thing to note about this build’s ability point allocation is that dexterity should take priority. Past that, wisdom is incredibly useful for any monk. Lastly, your constitution should not be too low. While you should be using your mobility to avoid as much aggro as possible, a hefty constitution will still ensure that you can handle danger whenever you can’t quite avoid taking damage.

Ultimately, this build is all about staying out of danger. The monk’s incredible mobility will ensure that you can get out of the way after diving in to dish out a stunning strike. Meanwhile, the character’s ability to deal damage from afar with a longbow will ensure that you can maintain your damage output whenever things get too harry on the front lines.

There are many other ways to build a monk. That being said, this build can be quite a bit of fun to play and quite a nuisance for your foes to deal with.

For all your D&D needs, check out Dungeons and Dragons Guides Portal – Anything and Everything D&D.

Author

Hunter Boyce is a writer, which probably seems pretty obvious with "author" prominently displayed. He mostly writes about video games. However, he was previously a mixed martial arts news writer. When not writing about people pelting each other in the face or about leveling up in the latest RPG, he tends to spend his time as a web producer in Atlanta. You can shout all of your MMA and video game related quandaries at him at @SomthinClever on Twitter. Feel free to make your demands to him in ALL CAPS. He loves that.

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