All D&D 5E Monk Class Changes (2024)

The fighting heroes of D&D 5E, aka the Monks, have received lots of changes in the new Unearthed Arcana update.

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The D&D 5E Monk is finally receiving an updated revision in the latest Unearthed Arcana playtest article. It will be the first stage of its long process to becoming fleshed out for inclusion in the upcoming 2024 Core Rulebooks. This new version of the Monk has received a ton of changes, most of which are huge improvements over the version of the class from the 2014 Player’s Handbook.

People involved with updating D&D seem to save the Monk for last. Not only is the Monk just appearing now in the Playtest 6 Unearthed Arcana on D&D Beyond, but it’s also the last character class to be announced for Baldur’s Gate 3. Maybe it’s because it’s so unconventional compared to all of the other core classes in D&D 5E, as all of the others are some form of weapon user or spellcaster, while the Monk prefers to answer challenges with their fists.

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Monks Have Received Changes To Powers & Proficiencies In D&D 5E

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The Monk has taken one slight hit to its loadout, as Monks no longer have shortsword proficiency. Luckily, they’re getting many new techniques to fill the shortsword-shaped hole in their arsenal. The Monk features that have been changed in the new Unearthed Arcana are:

Martial Arts: The damage starts at 1d6 and runs through to 1d12.

Weapon Mastery: Monks can now use D&D’s new Weapon Mastery system, allowing them to utilize the Mastery property of two Simple Weapons. They can change their selection of weapon type upon taking a long rest.

Ki: This class feature is now called Discipline Points.

Step of the Wind: You now perform both Disengage and Dash simultaneously instead of having to choose between them.

Unarmored Movement: The level 9 upgrade that lets you move across vertical surfaces is a new power called Acrobatic Movement.

Deflect Missiles: The wording now specifies that the ranged attack has to come from a weapon that uses the Bludgeoning, Piercing, or Slashing damage types. If you throw the weapon back, the attack involves a Dexterity saving throw, and the damage is equal to two rolls of your Martial Arts dice.

Stunning Strike: Can now be done with an Unarmed Strike, and the Stunned condition now lasts until the start of your next turn.

Ki-Empowered Strikes: This feature is now called Empowered Strikes, and it lets the user choose to deal Force damage with their Unarmed Strikes.

Evasion: This no longer works if you’re Incapacitated.

Stillness of Mind: This level 7 feature has been replaced with Heightened Metabolism.

Purity of Body: This level 10 feature has been replaced with Self-Restoration.

Tongue of the Sun & Moon: This level 13 feature has been replaced with Deflect Energy.

Diamond Soul: This feature is now called Disciplined Survivor.

Timeless Body: This level 15 feature has been replaced with Perfect Discipline.

Empty Body: This level 18 feature is now called Superior Defense. You can spend 3 Discipline Points to gain resistance to all damage types except for Force for one minute. The ability to cast Astral Projection has been removed from the spell.

Perfect Self: This feature is now called Perfect Discipline.

The D&D Monk’s New Features & Powers

Dungeons & Dragons 4E Player's Handbook 2 Cover
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The changes to the Monk in Unearthed Arcana have mostly involved updates to the existing movest, but they have received a few brand new moves. Unfortunately, these new features don’t debut outside of subclass powers until you’re approaching the mid-level range. These new Monk class features are:

Heightened Metabolism (Level 7): You can meditate for a minute to gain the benefits of a short rest. This feature recharges on a long rest.

Acrobatic Movement (Level 9): You can move across vertical surfaces and liquid like regular terrain.

Self-Restoration (Level 10): You can use a Bonus Action to end Charmed, Frightened, or Poisoned conditions on yourself. You also don’t gain Exhaustion points for not eating or drinking.

Deflect Energy (Level 13): You can now reflect any ranged attack that deals with any energy type.

Defy Death (Level 20): If you drop to zero hit points, you can spend 4 Discipline Points to avoid being knocked out. Instead, you roll four Martial Arts dice, which becomes your new hit point score. Each time you use this feature, the Discipline Point cost increases by 2, but it resets on short or long rest.

How D&D Changed The Monk Subclasses

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There are four Monk subclasses in the new Unearthed Arcana, all classic ones that have been renamed. Way of Shadow is now Warrior of Shadow, Way of Four Elements is now Warrior of Four Elements, and Way of the Open Hand is now Warrior of the Hand.

Warrior of Shadow: Shadow Arts now give you 60ft of Darkvision (or extends the range to 120ft if you already have it), and you can cast Darkness for the cost of 1 Discipline Point, but this feature no longer grants the Pass Without Trace or Silence spell. Improved Shadow Step is a new level 11 level feature that allows you to spend 1 Discipline Point to ignore the light restriction of Shadow Step. Cloak of Shadows is now received at level 17 and costs 3 Discipline Points to activate, but it lets you move through solid objects (taking 1d10 Force damage in the process) and lets you use Flurry of Blows without spending Discipline Points. Opportunist has been scrapped.

Warrior of Four Elements: Discipline of the Elements has been replaced with Elemental Attunement, giving the Monk the new Elementalism Cantrip. Elemental Attunement also lets the Monk spend a Discipline Point to add an elemental damage type to their Unarmed Strikes, giving them 10ft of Reach in the process. Environmental Burst is a new level 6 feature that lets you spend 2 Discipline Points to deal elemental damage in a 20ft sphere, followed by an Unarmed Strike. Stride of the Elements is a new level 11 feature that gives the Monk a flying and swimming speed equal to their normal movement. Elemental Epitome is a new level 17 feature that combines with Elemental Attunement, giving the Monk resistance to either Acid, Cold, Fire, or Lightning, and they can deal damage to creatures as they move within 5ft of them.

Warrior of the Hand: Open Hand Technique has three new options, all requiring saving throws. Wholeness of Body requires a Discipline Point to use but only requires a Bonus Action to use, heals damage equal to the Martial Arts dice + Wisdom modifier, and can be used a number of times equal to the Wisdom modifier before recharging with a long rest. Tranquility has been replaced with Fleet Step, allowing you to use Step of the Wind without spending Discipline Points. Quivering Palm can no longer kill an opponent outright and will instead deal 10d12 + Monk level in Force damage, or half that on a successful Constitution saving throw.

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The Monk has seen many changes, especially regarding its subclasses. The Warrior of Four Elements is a huge departure from its predecessor in the Player’s Handbook to the point where it may as well be a brand new subclass. It remains to be seen whether these changes are positive, whether fans will take to them, or if they’ll be rolled back in the next Unearthed Arcana.