Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
Perfect in Form, Disciplined in Application
“Blood drips from the young human’s knuckles as he breathes heavily, collecting himself before reeling back for another strike. Meat hooks rattle as he trains in the cold warehouse, practicing the same strike, again, and again, and arduously again. In what seems like a flash, a screeching owlbear towers above him, and with practiced discipline, he executes the perfect unarmed strike to shatter its ribs.”
This class includes:
9 subclasses (renamed archetypes), including rebalanced versions of the Way of the Four Elements, Way of the Open Hand, and Way of the Shadow from The Player’s Handbook, as well as six additional subclasses that either combine and reflavor ideas from further monk subclasses or create more culturally diverse options.
A non-linearly scaling, sustainable resource called Discipline, which replaces ki from the monk, replenishes on a long rest, and allows for easier tracking and gameplay.
Increased sustainability for the monk over the adventuring day. You may enter stances that allow you to perform Flurry of Blows, Patient Defense, and Step of the Wind for a minute, which allows the hand to keep up with the damage, defense, or maneuverability of equivalent martial classes, but not not outperform them in more than one.
Flavor inspired by worldly martial arts and unarmed combatants in media.
The typical hand switches their roles based on the context of the battle. In one, it may commit to raw damage dealing, risking its low health pool in the process, or it may choose to hold the line in front, or it may choose to bob, weave, and harrass. However, this is a combat by combat decision that is expensive to change until you reach higher levels.
Out of combat, serve as a scout with increased mobility, the early ability to run up walls and over water, and strong wisdom-based skills.
It’s well-worn territory that the monk class needs help. In optimization circles, it is widely lambasted as the weakest of the classes. When discussing the cultural implications of Dungeons and Dragons, the monk is critiqued for its orientalist overtones. The hand attempts to balance the class’s core mechanics and add archetypes and flavor that compliments all kinds of martial arts, rather than implying that this singular class is exclusively Asian.
In the core class, the ki mechanic has been reworked into Discipline, a core mechanic that allows for much more consistent, sustainable, but no more powerful use of Flurry of Blows, Patient Defense, and Step of the Wind. In the subclasses, besides rebalancing options from the Player’s Handbook, this supplement diversifies the hand-to-hand combatant with varied archetypes.
Note: Much of the flavor text in this supplement has been written to include, but not strongly imply, fantasy archetypes inspired by Asian mythology and martial arts films. The cultural issue with the monk is not that it includes these archetypes, but that it is so strongly flavored with a western idea of an Asian hero that it implies every other class is not Asian, because the monk is the Asian class. This supplement is imperfect, partially because it is designed to be easily substituted for monk, and thus takes a lot from its existing abilities. However, it is a living document that can be improved.
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