Unearthed Arcana: Monk Monastic Traditions Analysis

This week the D&D Team provides two new Monastic Traditions for the Monk.

Way of the Kensei

Monks of the Way of the Kensei are peerless when it comes to using weapons. They train to the point where weapons feel like an extension of the body.
  • Path of the Kensei. This feature provides a bunch of benefits. All of them are pretty good and provide a lot of versatility when it comes to using weapons. Also they fit perfectly the theme of the Tradition.
    • You get to pick three martial weapons and gain proficiency to them. It also mentions that martial weapons you have proficiency with are considered kensei weapons. The kensei weapon is something used in this Tradition. Also keep in mind that only martial weapons can be considered kensei weapons.
    • Your kensei weapons can be used either with Dexterity or Strength. Also you can switch the weapon’s die with your Martial Arts die.
    • When you use the Attack action on your turn, you can spend your Bonus action to deal an extra 1d4 bludgeoning damage every time you hit.
    • If you made an unarmed strike as part of your Attack action while holding a kensei weapon you get +2 to your AC until the start of your next turn.
  • One with the Blade. Your attacks with kensei weapons count as magical. In the recent Unearthed Arcana material there have been a few subclasses that provide a way to make your weapon count as magical. It’s not a bad ability. Also, once every short or long rest, you can make one weapon attack against a creature adding double your proficiency to the attack roll. It isn’t mentioned if the weapon should be a kensei weapon.
  • Sharpen the Blade. You can spend up to 3 ki points to power up the weapon you’re wielding for up to one minute. Every ki point adds a +1 bonus to the attack and damage rolls. I don’t have much to say about this feature. It fits the theme of the Tradition and also it can be useful.
  • Unerring Accuracy. That’s a really good one. On each of your rounds you can reroll an attack roll of an attack that misses. It strongly reminds me of the Lucky feat which, in my opinion, is quite overpowered. Does it matter if it’s only for attack rolls? Not really. Especially when you can use it on each of your rounds.

Overall, I really like the Way of the Kensei. All of the features fit perfectly the theme of the Tradition, which is being the equivalent of an artist but with weapons. I especially like the benefits of the Path of the Kensei feature because that can lead to monks using all sorts of weapons that aren’t used that much, like a whip or a trident.

Way of Tranquility

For Monks of the Way of Tranquility violence is the last resort. They try to keep everyone calm and resolve situations without a fight. Don’t push them too much, though, because they can punch as well.

  • Path of Tranquility. Once every 1 minute you can cast Sanctuary on yourself. Well, when you don’t want to fight, the best way to achieve that is by making everyone else not want to fight you.
  • Healing Hands. So that’s an upgraded version of the Paladin’s Lay on Hands. Your hit point pool gets 10 hit points per Monk level. Also, you can replace one of the unarmed strikes of your  Flurry of Blows with the sue of this feature. This makes sure that Healing Hands is a much better version of Lay on Hands.
  • Emissary of Peace. You get advantage on your Charisma checks when you try to calm violent emotions or to counsel peace. It’s not applied when you use Deception or Intimidation, which means you have to sincerely want a peaceful solution. This leaves Performance and Persuasion available. What a coincidence! This feature gives you proficiency to one of them(your choice which). Flavor wise it’s pretty good. How much it’s going to be used depends on the player, the DM, the rest of the group and the type of the campaign.
  • Douse the Flames of War. Another way to avoid or maybe stop a fight. I believe this complements perfectly the previous feature and fits the theme of the Tradition quite well. The only bad about it is that the target must not be missing any hit points. This can prove to be a problem, especially if the rest of the party members are hot headed.
  • Anger of a Gentle Soul. Once every short or long rest, when you see a creature reduce another one to 0 hit points you get a bonus to all attack rolls against it equal to your Monk level, until the end of your next turn. Hmm…usually the player characters are the ones who end up killing stuff so it looks to me that there aren’t going to be many situations where it’s going to be useful. Well, if there are NPCs accompanying the party this could change a bit. But compared to Unerring Accuracy, it’s less useful.

Overall, the Way of Tranquility isn’t a bad. I like the idea behind it but I believe it needs some more refinement.

Ultimately, both of the ideas are good. However, the Way of the Kensei is my favorite of the two. The Way of Tranquility needs some more work because I believe it may be a bit underpowered. Do you have a preference between the two Traditions and why?

You can read the full article here and download the PDF here. And don’t forget, the survey about the Fighter Martial Archetypes can be found here.

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