Dungeons & Dragons 5e
Monk subclasses

Way of the Ascendant Dragon

(Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons p. 13) Way of the Ascendant Dragon monks study dragons to become more like them in many ways. They learn to turn intimidation and persuasion failures into successes, can use the damage types of chromatic/metallic dragons when using unarmed strikes, learn Draconic, learn to produce damage like a dragon’s breath weapon, can gain a flying speed on occasion, and can produce an aura which either gives yourself and your allies resistance from a type of chromatic/metallic breath weapon damage, or makes you all frightening. At really high levels you also gain blindsight and can damage enemies within your aura.

Way of the Astral Self

(Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything p.50) Way of the Astral Self monks study to unlock parts of their astral self, the embodiment of their true soul, which manifest themselves as translucent body parts covering their bodies. The astral self gives a variety of advantages, including extra attacks, extra darkvision, super-speaking skills, and protection from damage.

Way of the Cobalt Soul

(This is an unofficial Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition subclass from the Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting p.104) The Way of the Cobalt Soul monks are knowledge seekers. They learn additional languages and can spend ki to gain advantage on Arcana, History, Investigation, or Religion checks. After hitting an opponent these monks can learn certain aspects about their opponent and they can force a creature which they hit to speak the truth. They can spend ki to gain extra reactions, they can use a reaction to attack a creature which missed the monk, and they can cause a creature which they hit to have disadvantage to their attack rolls and vulnerability to a damage type for the next round.

Way of the Drunken Master

(Xanathar’s Guide to Everything p.33) Way of the Drunken Master monks move as a drunk moves, in an unpredictable manner, appearing to be ready to fall over- watch the excellent movie to see what this Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition subclass is all about. They get proficiency with brewer’s supplies, when they use flurry of blows they also get a disengage with it and can move faster the rest of the turn, they only spend 5 feet of movement to stand up from prone, they can cause attackers who miss them to instead hit another creature of the monk’s choice, they can use their ki to cancel disadvantage, and they can increase the number of attacks in their flurry of blows to 5 as long as each blow is against a different opponent.

Way of the Four Elements

(Player’s Handbook p.80) Monks of the Way of the Four Elements learn to bend the four elements to their wills. They learn a variety of disciplines, which vary by individual, all harnessing the powers of one of the elements. These monks are pretty much the Dungeons and Dragons version of Avatar, Last of the Airbenders.

Way of the Kensei

(Xanathar’s Guide to Everything p.34) Way of the Kensei monks focus on their weapons while fighting. They choose a melee and a ranged weapon, within certain boundaries, to focus in and then use these as monk weapons which they are proficient with. These are now the two kensei weapons, and their attacks are considered magical. If they attack with an unarmed strike, they can use their melee weapon to increase their AC, they have increased damage and accuracy with their weapons, and they gain proficiency with calligrapher’s or painter’s supplies as part of their training.

Way of the Long Death

(Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide p.130) Way of the Long Death monks are focused on the meaning and causes of dying. These monks gain temporary hit points when they reduce a creature to 0 hit points next to them, they can frighten those around them, when they drop to 0 hit points they can spend a ki to return to 1 hit point, and they can channel necrotic damage into their foes by spending ki. Nobody invites these monks to party night- they are serious downers.

Way of Mercy

(Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything p.49) These healing monks are renowned for wearing masks as they care for others. Way of Mercy monks have special powers allowing them to heal, harm, cure diseases, and end debilitating conditions. At higher levels they can even bring people back from death. Pretty nifty for a monk. The clerics are still not impressed though and laugh at the posers.

Way of the Open Hand

(Player’s Handbook p.79) Monks of the Way of the Open Hand focus on martial arts in combat. They can knock enemies prone, push them away, or take their reactions. They can also heal themselves, cast sanctuary upon themselves, or initiate a potentially fatal strike which can be triggered at a later time (think Kill Bill’s Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique, but with a much longer delay).

Way of Shadow

(Player’s Handbook p.80) Way of Shadow monks are all about stealth. They can cast minor illusion, darkness, darkvision, pass without trace, and silence. They can teleport from one shadow to another, they can become invisible in areas of dim light, and they can use their reaction to hit a creature which has just been hit within melee range.

Way of the Sun Soul

(Xanathar’s Guide to Everything p.35, Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide p.131) The Way of the Sun Soul monks channel their energies through beams of light. They can fire bolts of light as a ranged attack and they can use a ki point to fire a second time as a bonus action, as well as hurling orbs of exploding light which do damage over an area. They can also cast burning hands, and they can shroud themselves in a radiant aura which does damage to their attackers in melee. These monks like it hot.