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New playtest gives DnD Monk the power boost it really needed

Wizards of the Coast hones in on the DnD 5e Monk’s biggest flaws in a new Dungeons and Dragons playtest document - now that’s fighting talk.

Wizards of the Coast art of a DnD Monk

The DnD Monk has had another makeover in playtesting, and it’s looking even more powerful than before. Dungeons and Dragons’ latest playtest document was released on November 27, and it proposes updates to three 5e classes – with the Monk seeing the most significant tweaks.

While there’s plenty of debate about the strongest and weakest DnD classes, it’s a popular opinion among players that the Monk 5e is a bit lacking. The class’ biggest criticisms are being MAD (multiple ability dependent), poor damage scaling, middling defense, and an over-reliance on a small supply of Discipline (once known as Ki, but changed to dismantle Monk stereotypes).

An earlier Monk 5e playtest shook things up, but Wizards of the Coast’s latest playtest document takes things even further. Where the DnD Druid and Barbarian 5e get only a handful of updates, the core Monk class has 14 design notes.

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The Monk’s Martial Arts die (which currently starts as a d6 rather than a d4, and eventually scales to a d12) applies to attacks dealt with unarmed strike 5e as well as Monk Weapons. Monks may have lost access to Weapon Mastery, but at least they’ve got more consistent damage output.

Speaking of, Monks no longer need to spend their action attacking in order to use an unarmed strike as a bonus action. They can also use their Dexterity modifier for grapple 5e and pushing enemies.

Monk’s Discipline (formerly Ki) has also been upgraded, giving a Monk more utility when they’re out of Discipline points. The level two features (Flurry of Blows, Patient Defense, and Step of the Wind) are largely the same, but now a Monk can Dash or Disengage as a bonus action without spending a Discipline point. There’s plenty of Rogue 5e sneaking into the class.

Wizards of the Coast art of a DnD Monk in combat

The ‘Heightened Metabolism’ feature seen in previous playtesting has been changed to ‘Uncanny Metabolism’ and moved to level two. When a Monk rolls for Initiative, they can now regain all their lost Discipline points. Doing so then allows them to roll their Martial Arts die – and regain hit points equal to their Monk level plus the result of that roll.

‘Deflect Missiles’ has now become ‘Deflect Attacks’, meaning Monks can now deflect melee attacks as well as ranged. At later levels, the list of damage types they can deflect expands, meaning they’ll also be able to interrupt spell attacks. The redirected attacks you make with this feature have also had their damage rules adjusted – dealing damage equal to two rolls of a Monk’s Martial Arts die plus their Dexterity modifier.

Stunning Strike now deals Force damage along with its usual stun, and Self-Restoration can now trigger and remove certain conditions at the end of a Monk’s turn. Superior Defense also triggers its damage resistance buffs at the start of a turn.

Wizards of the Coast art of a DnD Monk

‘Perfect Self’, the 5e Monk’s level 20 feature, is now the level 15 ‘Perfect Discipline’ feature. This allows a Monk to top their spent Discipline Points up if they have three or fewer when Initiative is rolled.

Monday’s playtest also introduces two new features for the Monk. ‘Heightened Discipline’ upgrades Flurry of Blows, Patient Defense, and Step of the Wind. Meanwhile, ‘Body and Mind’ increases a Monk’s Dexterity and Wisdom Scores by four, with a maximum of 26.

You can learn more about the proposed Monk changes in Wizards of the Coast’s playtest document. For more on DnD character builds, check out these guides to DnD races and DnD backgrounds.