Elemental Monk Ways
7 Elemental Archetypes
by Darren Kenny

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First Thoughts​

Okay so to start off this review the first thing I did was go and check out what was going on with the Way of the 4 Elements Monk. I’ve never played a Monk and therefore never had a need to check out that subclass…I literally was looking like this sitting at my desk:

I could not believe my eyes looking at this subclass which was NOTHING but the knock-off version of Eldritch Invocations. So right off the back, I was already predisposed to think the Elemental Monk with its SEVEN subclasses would do a better job than the Way of the 4 Elements Monk.

I was actually really surprised to see this broken down into 7 subclasses I was expecting it to be 4: earth, wind fire, and air. So right off the bat, I thought points for surprising me. 

Overall I loved what I saw. Moving forward I’m going to make this the standard for Elemental Monks in my games, with a few tweaks. I say with a few tweaks because while like I said I loved it overall there were instances where I was taking a look at the higher-level abilities and it felt like they were underpowered compared to other Monk subclasses - excluding Way of the 4 Elements Monk.

 

As far as I was seeing the 3rd and 6th level abilities were all good, some stronger than others but not game-breaking or anything, and then at certain points, the 11th and 17th weren’t as strong as they should be. Now, most games don’t get past 10th level according to all the data we have so for most tables it won’t be a problem but in others, it will be.

Design Commentary

points, the 11th and 17th weren’t as strong as they should be. Now, most games don’t get past 10th level according to all the data we have so for most tables it won’t be a problem but in others, it will be.

Way of the Blustering Wind


 

Wind Empowered Ki 

(3rd level)

Your ki becomes infused with the element of wind and power of a raging tempest. Your

features gain the following benefits. 

Carried by the Breeze. When you use your step of the wind feature, you gain a flying

speed equal to your movement speed until the end of your turn.

Graceful Descent. You can use your reaction to grant a creature within 30 feet the

use of your slow fall feature.

Guiding Winds. Your deflect missiles feature can be used on any creature within 30

feet. When you use deflect missiles and choose to throw the missile back at the attacker, you gain advantage on that attack.

 

The temporary fly speed is really good. At this level characters would get at minimum a 35-foot fly speed. Save for races that have wings, this ability is probably the earliest a character can get any sort of fly speed - with the standard being from Fly at 5th level for Wizards. 

 

So being able to let someone else use your slow fall ability is interesting to me because it’s very situational but when the situation comes up that you need it, you really fucking need it. It’s a strong but situational ability that doesn’t technically come online until the Monk is 4th level. 

 

I don’t know how you would explain this thematically a Monk being able to grab something from 30 feet away when the Deflect Missiles ability requires the attack to be targeted at the Monk but mechanically I like the ability, think it’s well balanced, especially given the fact it takes ki points to activate throwing it back so the advantage isn’t overpowered.
 

Gale Force Blow

(6th level)

When you hit a creature with an unarmed strike or use your stunning strike feature,

you can use your reaction to spend 1 ki point and deal an additional 1d8 bludgeoning

damage and have the creature make a Strength saving throw. On a failed save, the

creature is pushed 10 feet away.

 

At first, I was a bit skeptical about this ability giving a 1d8 damage when Monks don’t get a d8 for their unarmed strikes until 11th level, but tying it to a reaction won me over. One use of it per round, unless a character has a item that gives them an additional reaction and tying it to a ki point balances it out perfectly. 


 

Tempest Strikes 

(11th level)

Your unarmed attacks gain a range of 20 feet.

 

Again no idea how you would explain this thematically but a melee attack that has a range component and always returns to you? Monks are front-line fighters often even though their hit points aren’t on par with other front-line fighters (Paladin, Fighter, Barbarian, technically Ranger) but this ability would allow a Monk to throw punches as needed but also stay out of the fray. 


 

Invoke the Winds 

(17th level)

As an action, you can call the elemental power of the winds into your body for 1 minute. You gain the following benefits for the duration: 

 

• You gain a flying speed equal to 10 times your Wisdom modifier. 

• When you hit a creature with an unarmed attack, it takes an additional 1d4 bludgeoning damage. If the creature is size large or smaller it is pushed 5 feet away from you. 

• You can use your reaction to re-roll a failed Strength or Dexterity saving throw.


 

Okay, so you get 3 abilities with the 17th level option. Two that I think are really powerful and one I think is pretty weak. A flying speed assuming, coupled with the 20 feet reach of unarmed strikes from the previous level turns the Monk into an even more superior hit and run fighter. 

 

The d4 bludgeoning and pushing someone 5 feet away isn’t anything special. It could move you out of the range of an attack of opportunity but I wouldn’t make any changes specifically because of how strong the other two abilities are. This balances it out in my opinion.

 

Being able to re-roll Strength saving throws isn’t anything serious since Strenght is one of the least used saves, but Dexterity that’s the complete opposite. Dexterity is the most used save in dnd 5e. Being able to re-roll that, without expending a ki point, and get it back at the start of each of your turns on top of the fact that in my experience characters aren’t going to be making multiple Dexterity saves in a round so more than likely the Monk will have a constant opportunity to re-roll that kind of save. 

I think this is an excellent capstone ability.

Way of the Burning Embers

Ember Empowered Ki 

(3rd level) 

Your ki becomes infused with the power of the embers, the power to scorch and renew. Your features gain the following benefits. 

Burning Flurry. When you use your flurry of blows feature you deal an additional amount of fire damage equal to your Wisdom modifier with every successful attack. 

Embracing Flame. When you use your stunning strike feature the creature is set on fire, taking 1d10 fire damage at the start of each of its turns until it uses an action to extinguish the flames.

Kindling Embers. When you take the dodge action you can spend a ki point to expend a hit die and gain that many hit points.

 

Dealing passive fire damage, 1 - 3 on average based on your Wisdom modifier is pretty decent and can make or break a fight especially at lower levels, even when you take into consideration fire is the most resistance damage in 5e. 

 

This 1d10 fire damage each turn is lifted straight from the Fire Elemental mechanics - and I love it. I don’t have any complaints about this. It’ll cost a ki point to activate it since it’s tied to the Stunning Strike and won’t activate until 5th level.

I really like the dodge and heal yourself ability because it cost 1 - 2 points, depending on if you spend ki to dodge or use your action, and being able to heal yourself even a little at lower levels can make or break a combat, especially for a front line fighter like the Monk.

 

Ember Burst

(6th level)

When you hit a creature with an unarmed attack you can use your reaction to spend 1 ki point and force a creature within 15 feet to make a Constitution saving throw. On a failed saving throw the creature takes 2d4 fire damage. 

don't think this ability is bad and works just fine on as is but, I would be happier about the 2d4 fire damage more if it was half on a success but since if they pass you get nothing I’d want the damage bumped up. Either more dice or a higher die, maybe a d8.


 

Kindle Flames 

(11th level)  

As an action, you can touch a creature and allow them to expend one hit die. 

This is the one ability that I was underwhelmed by. I think the ability to allow yourself and others to heal 1 hit die is useful but as an 11th level ability, I think it isn't enough. I think the healing should stay but maybe an additional ability added to it. Maybe an ability that allows you to deal fire damage equal to the amount healed on the Monk's next attack. 

Invoke the Embers 

(17th level)

 

As an action, you can call the elemental power of the embers into your body for 1 minute. You gain the following benefits for the duration: 

• You gain temporary hit points equal to your monk level at the start of each of your turns. 

• When you hit a creature with an unarmed attack, it takes an additional 1d6 fire damage. 

• As an action you can touch a creature and allow them to expend a number of hit die up to your Wisdom modifier and gain that many hit points.

This by far is my FAVORITE capstone of all the subclasses. At the start of each turn since temporary hit points don’t stack the Monk gets an additional 17 hit points. It’s great while the Monk is alive and unconscious. A constant replenishing buffer for 1 minute AND a damage buffer if they are dropped so they don’t automatically fail death saves. 

 

I initially thought that the 1d6 damage could be higher but given how strong the first and second ability is, the damage is balanced against the other two in my opinion making it a solid choice for an ability.

Given the nature of the Monk, a hit and run fighter if used to that effect, having an ability that allows others to heal themselves, doesn’t cost any ki, uses your action, rules as written works on yourself, and is only truly limited by the number of hit die a target has this ability transforms the Monk. There’s also nothing stopping it from working on an unconscious character. 

Final Thoughts

 

Like I said at the beginning I loved this product! I think you could pick this up and use all the subclasses without changing anything and the Monk character would have a good time with it - much better than if they picked up Way of the 4 Elements Monk, but if you wanted to do some tweaking it wouldn’t take much to up the power on some abilities.

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