THE WRATH OF A THOUSAND MASTERS – A New Monastic Tradition for 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons

The Five Forms of the Way of the Thousand Masters

This week I was hoping to have my conversion of the Pathfinder Oracle class ready to share with you folks. Unfortunately, that project is taking longer than any of my other class conversions have, so it won’t be up until later this weekend.

For my Friday posting, I decided to share the rules that my buddy Jeff and I came up with for a 5E monastic tradition based on the 13th Age Monk class.

As background, the 13th Age Monk has a series of abilities that “chain” together like the combos from a video game, escalating from minor lower level attacks, through to powerful finishing combos. The monk characters have to work up to the finishing moves, doing a first technique attack first, then a second, and then finishing with a devastating, third attacks. The monk character can mix and match the martial arts “forms,” using a 1st Technique from one form, then a 2nd Technique from another, and finishing up with a powerful 3rd Technique from a third.

For the 5th Edition version of this monk, we applied the same rules, requiring a monk to work their way up, round by round, through the tiers of techniques, but they can use techniques from any of their forms to fill that requirement.

To add an element of uncertainty to the forms, we decided to go with contested ability rolls for the targets to avoid damage or deleterious effects, rather than just use saving throws. I think this adds more complexity that is consistent with 5E design philosophy, but…well, we’re ignoring those principles in this case. If you feel this adds more complexity than necessary, you could substitute Dexterity or Strength savings throws with a DC of 8 + Proficiency bonus + your stat bonus.

In terms of how many “forms” a character gets, we are currently ruling that a Way of the Thousand Masters monk gets two forms at 3rd level, then another at levels 6, 11, and 17. As we play through, we are thinking that we may add another ability at 17th level, but, for now, we’re just going to cross that bridge when we get to it.

These rules should be considered to be in the playtest stage (including the names of the Forms), as we haven’t had a chance to put them through their paces in the 5th Edition D&D campaign they were created for, but if you choose to break them out in your own campaigns, I would love to hear how they work for you, at the table.

Leaf in a Hurricane Form
1st Technique: As an action make two attacks, each on a different target, doing only half damage on each.

2nd Technique: As an action make three attacks, each against a different target, and gain a free Dash or Disengage action.

3rd Technique: As an action you can spend 2 ki points to make a whirlwind attack and all enemies within 10 feet must succeed on a contested Dexterity (Acrobatics) check or take damage equal to double your unarmed attack and be knocked prone. Those who succeed take damage equal to your unarmed attack. Until the start of your next turn, your movement does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

Crushing Hammer Form
1st Technique: As an action, make two attacks at disadvantage on the same target.

2nd Technique: As an action, make a single attack with advantage on the same target as before. You do double damage on a hit and the target must make a Strength saving throw vs. Strength (Athletics) or be restrained.

3rd Technique: As an action, you can spend 5 ki points make a single attack on the same target as before. You do double damage on a hit and the target must succeed on a contested Strength (Athletics) or be affected by the confusion spell. At the end of each of its turns, an affected target can make a Constitution saving throw to end this effect. If it succeeds, this effect ends for that target.

Sheltering Tree Form
1st Technique – As an action, make two attacks and all attacks against one adjacent ally suffer disadvantage.

2nd Technique – For one round, you make attacks as normal, but you may sacrifice any attack available to reduce damage done to an adjacent ally or yourself by the amount of damage your attack would do. Attacks against you and your adjacent ally suffer disadvantage.

3rd Technique – As an action, spend 2 ki and all enemies within 10 feet must make contested Strength (Athletics) check. If they fail the roll, they take 4d6 bludgeoning and are knocked back 10 feet. If they succeed, they take 2d6 bludgeoning and are not pushed back.

Shatter the Army Form
1st Technique – As an action, make two attacks against two different targets and pick a third. The third target has disadvantage on attacks against you until the start of your next turn.

2nd Technique – As an action, make three attacks against three targets. One of those targets takes disadvantage on all attacks and saves until the start of your next turn.

3rd Technique – An action, spend 3 ki to make six melee attacks against a single target, who must succeed in a contested Strength (Athletics) ability check or suffer disadvantage on all attacks and saves until it is out of your melee range.

Breath of Life Form
1st Technique – Use a bonus action to touch an adjacent ally. That ally gets to make a new Death save, adding your proficiency bonus to the result.

2nd Technique – As a reaction, when an adjacent ally dies, you instead cause them to stabilize.

3rd Technique – As a bonus action, spend up to your level in ki points to cause an adjacent ally to regain 5 hit points per ki point spent. The effect cannot restore the target to more than half their maximum hit points

Later this weekend, I will have my version of the Oracle up for your review, but, in the interim, I hope you enjoy this option for the Monk class!

Until next time, I remain;

THE WRATH OF A THOUSAND MASTERS – A New Monastic Tradition for 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons