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Nerdarchy > Dungeons & Dragons  > Character Builds  > Multi-Class Character Builds in Dungeons & Dragons 5e The Monk

Multi-Class Character Builds in Dungeons & Dragons 5e The Monk

Hello fellow Nerdarchests. I’m back with the fourth installment of my series Multiclass Character Builds in Dungeons & Dragons 5E. If you missed my previous article on the Fighter just click here. Today we are going in the dojo with the monk! As before I want to take up some space and talk about the class as a whole. Monks areone of the most interesting 5E D&D classes as a whole. It offers a variety of ways to address martial arts and characters that use them a defining path in their existence. Themonk by far has the most options in combat with their Unarmored Defense and ability to deal deadly bludgeoning damage with only their bare hands and feet. Looking at the progression of the monk at 11th level they switch to a d8 for their Martial Arts damage and that is when they start to taper off as a combatant. This is when multiclassing will come into effect if you are not looking to the whole spiritual aspect of the monk.

A monk as seen in the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook. [Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast]

Dungeons & Dragons multiclass monks

Beast Fighter

My first build I want to cover in this article is by far the most diverse, tough and very cliche. Also it’s my favorite — the monk and druid combo. Why druid? Simple. One, the druid relies on Wisdom as its main ability score and so do monks and two, the druid Circle of the Moon is perfect for this build. Let me elaborate. The monk caps their Martial Arts damage at 1d10 which can be used with any unarmed attack. At 11th level you reach 1d8, which is not far off as far as rolling damage goes. With that said onto the druid Circle of the Moon Circle Forms feature to change shape into any beast form with a challenge rating as high as your druid level divided by 3, rounded down. At 6th level this means beasts up to CR 2.

These beasts include ape, giant eagle, poisonous snake, giant constrictor snake, tiger and even the sabertooth tiger. If you can see where I’m going with this I’m making the character who is a martial arts master and can literally transform into the animals whose kung fu styles of fighting they use. Taking the Way of the Open Hand provides all kinds of possibilities for Martial Arts and Ki based attacks while in Wild Shape forms as well as the druid spells like barkskin to improve your Armor Class by 3 along with the Monk’s Unarmored Defense that also carries over into the beast forms.

The Way of the Open Hand also provides the monk a way to heal themselves with Wholeness of Body and the Circle of the Moon allows the druid to spend spell slots to heal for 1d8 per spell slot level while in Wild Shape form. Aside from this the druid can cast beneficial spells to aid the party in combat. The base theme behind this character in my mind would be a wu jen practitioner of animal style kung fu, at least thematically speaking. For this build you would go 12 levels of Way of the Open Hand monk and 8 levels of Circle of the Moon druid. This allows you to not miss every fourth level feat or ability score increase.

Avenger

The next build I’d like to suggest is the foretold as Avenger build. This build uses the monk Way of Shadow and the paladin Oath of Vengeance together to create the ultimate combat mobility character who can control the battle field as well as heal their allies in a fight. Paladin is a perfect fit to multiclass with the monk as it also uses Wisdom as a primary ability score. Using the monk weapon of the quarterstaff and its versatility quality you can take the Dueling Fighting Style offered by the 2nd level paladin to gain a +2 to damage rolls. Sense the quarterstaff can be used with either hand and gains the monk’s Martial Arts damage this makes it a perfect fit.

The feats Polearm Master and Sentinel go great with this build allowing the monk to be in the right place at the right time with their Shadow Step feature from the Way of Shadow. Being able to teleport to any ally in a dark dungeon to heal them with Lay On Hands or a cure wounds spell can quickly turn the tide of battle. Also the paladin’s Channel Divinity — Vow of Enmity makes the monk the perfect boss killer with Divine Smite and the monk’s Stunning Strike devastating an opponent. Casting the paladin spell shield of faith grants the character a +2 Armor Class allowing them to gain upwards of an 18-20 AC at higher levels and become very hard to deal with. The ability to heal themselves with spells and Lay on Hands can prove quite challenging to any opponent also. I find this build to be quite unique and fun to play and I hope you do as well.

Master of the Elemental Death

The last build I want to cover is the Master of the Elemental Death that uses the monk’s Way of the Four Elements and the ranger’s Hunter Archetype. The Master of the Four Elements has abilities like Flames of the Fire Snake, Fists of Unbroken Air and Water Whip that are not spell attacks and can utilize the ranger’s Hunter’s Prey abilities to make them quite effective in combat. The ranger was a proper fit for the monk multiclass in that it also utilizes Wisdom and Dexterity as primary ability scores.

The ranger also grants the monk a Fighting Style. Both Dueling or Two-Weapon Fighting can be quite beneficial. The features of the ranger highlight the monk Way of the Four Elements very well allowing them to take advantage of hunter’s mark and Flurry of Blows or Fist of Unbroken Air to deal massive damage to an enemy.

Gaining the damage bonus of the Hunter’s Colossus Slayer feature and the spell hunter’s mark and multiattacks from Flurry of Blows to use Fist of Unbroken Air at least two times in one initiative round can be quite the monster slayer. At higher levels you would get four attacks with the Extra Attack feature added in, dealing 1d8 + 3d10 + your Dexterity modifier for each of those attacks. All in all this build can be pretty devastating.

Well that’s all I have for you this time. Tune in next time when we will be taking a look at multiclass builds in Church of War with the paladin!

So until next time, stay nerdy!

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Art Wood

I'm a nerd from the days of OLD! Nuff Said!

8 Comments

  • Carlo Bosticco
    May 13, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    The paladin uses charisma though.

    • MAL
      March 16, 2017 at 3:07 am

      True. It is a difficult build to manage.

  • MAL
    March 16, 2017 at 3:14 am

    I’ve been running the paladin monk in my game and i decided to make him a Dex (Stealth) character. I supplemented 5 levels of rogue(assassin), making my monk 9 and my paladin 6. I think this is an excellent build for a Charlatan or tyrant slayer character.

    • Art Wood
      March 16, 2017 at 9:15 am

      It can be done. Great glad you liked it.

  • Briac Barthélémy
    April 4, 2017 at 10:56 am

    hey guys, i’m currently playing a lawful evil lvl 6 monk following the way of the open hand. I’m looking for Sith Lord look like or Raoh type (Hokuto no ken) so I thought it could be interesting to take some warlock (2 for hex and invocation) or warrior (4 for the maneuvers) levels; Any suggestion ? thks

    • Dave Friant
      April 4, 2017 at 11:13 am

      Either works really depends on what you want. Both increase damage and give interesting options. Battle master will give you second wind, action surge, and higher hit points all useful. Some spells and invocations plus pact boons are decent as well. What’s more important creepy feel or combat effectiveness to you? Both are gonna offer really good options. Hex is really strong, but second wind and action surge combined with the maneuvers. It’s a tough call.
      -Nerdarchist Dave

    • Art Wood
      April 4, 2017 at 2:58 pm

      Not sure if you checked Sword Coast Adventure’s or not but the Way of the Sun Soul monks also have a ranged attack built in. You could easily just say it’s necrotic if you just want range.

  • xboxwinosaur
    April 19, 2018 at 6:59 am

    started roadmapping my next character as an intended to be overly complicated monk,was thinking 7 or 8 levels in four elements monk thinking at least 2 levels war wizard, 3 in fighter battlemaster to add a bit of way of the open hand feel.and the leftovers minimum of 6 in wu jen mystic,figured would use the brute force mystic discipline to empower things like Fangs of the Fire Snake,and psionic restoration to add utility and be able to create level one spell slots like mad from psi points to use the shield spell while i am in the thick of it throwing psychic damage infused flurry of blows.

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