Hey guys, we’re gearing up for a happy holiday season and we’re going to kick off by taking a look at the new Unearthed Arcana releases for the last month. The Mad Wizards of the Coast are playtesting a bunch of new options for the core classes from the Player’s Handbook (my guess is as a prelude to releasing a new player’s handbook or options book). These offer a lot of new ideas and spins for players looking to spice up the world’s greatest roleplaying game. Today we’re going to take a look at the Monastic Traditions. Remember, these are playtest material, so they aren’t compatible with adventurer’s league play, yet. We’ve got two new monastic traditions to take a look at: the Way of the Kensai, and the Way of Tranquility.
The Way of the Kensai
The Way of the Kensai looks at the martial supremacy as an art form. These men and women are virtuosos of armed combat with a variety of weapons and choices. They are probably the most martial of the monastic traditions. There are four abilities for this tradition, and those abilities are opened up at 3rd, 6th, 11th and 17th level. Let’s take a closer look at those abilities.
Path of the Kensai
At 3rd level, the Kensai expands his martial prowess in the following ways
- The Kensai gains proficiency in 3 martial weapons of their choice. (these do not necessarily count as monk weapons).
- When using a Kensai weapon, the Kensai chooses whether to use Strength or Dexterity for the attack and damage rolls for that weapon. The Kensai can also use their Martial Arts damage die in place of the normal weapon damage.
- When the Kensai takes an Attack action on their turn, they can use use a bonus action to smash/bash/crack in the face the target for an additional 1D4 points of bludgeoning damage to that target and any other target hit with that weapon as part of the Attack Action.
- If the Kensai hits a target with an unarmed strike as part of an Attack Action while holding a Kensai weapon, they can use the Kensai weapon to protect themselves. This gives them a +2 bonus to their Armor Class until the beginning of their next turn as long as they are not incapacitated and still holding the weapon in hand.
Note: This has a lot of potential moving parts to it, and while i think that can be very handy, i’m not necessarily certain all the interactions within the various parts have been considered.
One with the Blade
At 6th level, the Kensai can extend his or her Ki into his or her weapons for the following benefits.
- Magical Weapons: The Ki imbued in the weapons means they count as magical weapons for the purpose of overcoming resistance and immunity to non-magical attacks and damage.
- Precise Strike: This ability lets the Kensai target one creature it can see within 30 feet as a bonus action. The next weapon attack the Kensai makes against that creature gets to add double the Kensai’s proficiency bonus to the attack roll instead of the normal bonus. This ability recharges on a short or long rest.
Sharpen the Blade
At 11th level, the Kensai can expend Ki points to improve the magical quality of one its Kensai weapons. As a bonus action, the Kensai can expend up to 3 ki points to give the weapon a bonus to attack and damage rolls equal to the number of Ki points spent while the Kensai wields it. This lasts for 1 minute.
At 17th level, the Kensai is superhumanly accurate with his or her Kensai weapons. Once per turn, the Kensai can reroll an attack roll that missed the target.
Overall the Kensai is a purpose driven combat machine that is technically sound and well written. I would really like to know who did the writing for the most part of this tradition and see what else he or she can do with other ideas. I have no complaints about the Kensai other than the combination of abilities could be a little over the top. It has excellent synergy within its aesthetic and everything makes sense.
The Way of Tranquility
The Way of Tranquility is a monastic tradition that embodies peaceful resolutions to conflicts and abhors violence. This tradition focuses on settling disputes, healing, and creating harmony rather than violently solving problems. There are five abilities for this tradition, and those abilities are opened up at 3rd, 6th, 11th and 17th level. Let’s take a closer look at those abilities.
Path of Tranquility
At 3rd level, the monk becomes the calm. As a bonus action, the monk can cast the sanctuary spell on himself or herself without needing any material components. The spell lasts for 8 hours, and has a saving throw DC of 8+proficiency bonus+Wisdom modifier. A creature that makes this save is immune to this effect for one hour. Once this ability has been activated, it can’t activated again for 1 minute.
Note: Interesting ability, should get the monk through all sorts of low to mid level minions.
At 3rd level, the monk gains access to a reservoir of healing energy equal to his or her monk level x 10. As an action, the monk can touch a creature and restore hit points to that creature, up to the maximum amount of healing in the pool. Instead of healing damage, the monk can use 5 points of healing energy to cure a disease or neutralize a poison, as many times as the monk wishes in that activation of the ability. The Monk can use flurry of blows and substitute an attack with a usage of this ability.
Emissary of Peace
At 6th level, the monk gains proficiency in Performance or Persuasion. Further, when the monk attempts a charisma check to calm emotions or counsel for peaceful actions, the monk has advantage on the roll. This does not work if the check uses deception or intimidation.
Douse The Flames of War
At 11th level, the monk gains the ability to temporarily prevent a creature from taking violent actions. As an action, the monk can touch the creature and force it to make a Wisdom saving throw. DC is 8+Proficiency Bonus + Wisdom Modifier. If the creature is missing any of its hit points, it automatically succeeds at this save. A creature that fails this save is incapable of attacking. It also can’t cast spells that deal damage or force a creature to make a saving throw. This lasts for 1 minute. It ends if the creature is attacked, takes damage, or is forced to make a saving throw. This also applies to it witnessing its allies having to do any of those things either.
Anger of a Gentle Soul
At 17th level, the monk gains the ability to strike enemies with furious, righteous anger. If the monk sees a creature reduce another creature to 0 hit points, it can use its reaction to give itself a bonus to damage rolls equal to its monk level until the end of its next turn. This ability recharges on a short or long rest.
The Way of Tranquility offers an interesting and different take on the monk. It’s not the straightforward way of the Kensai, but it offers variety, and a thematically workable series of abilities. Anger of a Gentle Soul might be the only thing that doesn’t fit, but i am not sure what ability i would put in for it. Overall, i like this Monastic Tradition, and i think it has an excellent place among the rest of the monk options.
All right Game Fans, we’re actually caught up with the current Unearthed Arcana rules updates for character classes. I hear tale next week is going to bring us the Paladins, and i certainly hope at least one of the Paladin Oaths brings with it a Need for Steed.
Game On, Game Fans