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So I got to thinking about monks and how there were many "warrior monks" who often dealt with using weapons such as pikes and bows in real life. I set to work building another Monastic Tradition (The third level archetype choice) that centered around the idea that monks could use weapons and still be effective in their ki usage. I'm looking for insight on this set of feats I built for this Monastic Tradition.

Way of the Blade: You start channeling your ki into your weapons at the 3rd level, making them better fighting tools. You now have proficiency in martial weapons and use all weapons as monk weapons. In addition to this, you can use your dexterity modifier instead of strength for your weapons.

Ki-Empowered Blades: At the 6th level, your weapons seem to ooze ki. When you hit a creature with an armed strike you deal an additional 1d8 necrotic damage to that creature. Furthermore, your armed strikes are now magical as they overcome resistance and immunity to nonmagical attacks and damage.

Imdomitable: When you reach 11th level, if you are reduced to 0 hit points and are not killed outright, you can instead choose to drop to 1 hit point. You can also expend 2 ki points to regain 3d8 hit points as part of the same reaction. You can only do this once per long rest.

Devastating Wound: Upon achieving the 17th level, you can now channel your ki into your weapons effectively. When you hit a creature with an armed strike, you can spend 4 ki points and deal 8d10 necrotic damage. That creature must make a constitution saving throw at the start of each of its turns. On a failed save, it takes 2d6 necrotic damage at the start of its turn and the wound is still open. On a success, the wound is sealed and no more damage is taken.


A More Balanced Approach after Revisions:

Way of the Blade: You start channeling your ki into your weapons, making them better fighting tools. You now have proficiency in 3 martial weapons of your choice and use them as monk weapons. In addition to this, you can use your dexterity modifier instead of strength for your weapons. When you hit an enemy with a martial weapon, you can spend 1 ki point to apply one of two effects: You gain +2 AC until the end of your next turn. You gain advantage against the creature you hit.

Ki-Empowered Blades: At the 6th level, your weapons seem to ooze ki. When you hit a creature with an armed strike you deal an additional 1d4 necrotic damage to that creature. This die increases to a d6 on level 11, and a d8 on level 17. Furthermore, your armed strikes are now magical as they overcome resistance and immunity to nonmagical attacks and damage.

Imdomitable: When you reach 11th level, if you are reduced to 0 hit points and are not killed outright, you can instead choose to drop to 1 hit point. You cannot use this ability again until you finish a long rest.

Devastating Wound: Upon achieving the 17th level, you can now channel your ki into your weapons effectively. When you hit a creature with an armed strike, you can spend 4 ki points and deal 8d10 necrotic damage and that creature must make a constitution saving throw at the start of each of it's turns or it takes 2d6 necrotic damage at the start of it's turn.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Slagmoth, Oblivious Sage, Szega, Trish, T.J.L. Nov 7 '17 at 14:26

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This site generally isn't a good fit for discussion based questions, which this almost certainly it. It is likely to be closed. We can handle questions like "Is this homebrew balanced?" because the answers to that can be ranked, but the system doesn't work very well for "Can you help me homebrew this?". Fortunately though, we do have a list of places that are able to accomodate you: rpg.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5449/… \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Oct 30 '17 at 20:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ This question is about balance for a homebrew. All of the features and abilities are laid out above. My only question is if this homebrew would be too overpowering to creatures in any given campaign \$\endgroup\$ – Random Guy Oct 30 '17 at 20:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ RandomGuy I very much enjoyed working through this answer, and the feedback from both you and @divibisan-I am looking forward to the final version of Kensei Monk, to be sure. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 31 '17 at 12:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't see the point of posting the revised version. I'm a fan of balancing homebrews and all, but this just seems to clutter the question, and make answerers confused on which "version" they should critique. As stated, we don't do back and forth well, and the added revision invites that kind of discussion. This would be more appropriate in Role-playing Games Chat, but you'll need 20 rep, so have a +1 :) \$\endgroup\$ – daze413 Nov 7 '17 at 3:58
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Is it balanced? Not quite: more powerful in the early-to-mid game.

Let's compare your homebrew proposal to the Way of the Open Hand as well as the Martial monk archetype Way of Kensei, that was in a UA article WOTC published in 2016(official homebrew, as it were).

3rd level features

Proposed: proficiency in martial weapons and use all weapons as monk weapons. (Use your dexterity modifier instead of strength for your weapons).

Hmmm, let's see, you could then put a two-handed sword (for example) in place of the quarter staff, damage based on 2d6 versus 1d8 with a Monk unarmed attack(bonus) to add 1d4 to both, and you get your dexterity bonus for damage with the two handed sword. This is quite a bit stronger, but what do you give up?

Open Hand Technique
Whenever you hit a creature with one of the attacks granted by your Flurry of Blows{which costs a ki point} you can impose one of the following effects on that target:
• It must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw or be knocked prone.
• It must make a Strength saving throw. If it fails, you can push it up to 15 feet away from you.
• It can’t take reactions until the end of your next turn.

In search of more damage, you give up the ability to make an attack with advantage(on a proned opponent); to knock something off of a cliff / through a door / into a fire, etc, or to prevent Opportunity Attacks (which are a reaction) while your proposed feature is added for zero ki cost. Ki points are scarce in low to mid levels, particularly if you have quite a few combat encounters during the adventure day. (On the other hand, ki recharges on a short rest). Not that hard to run out of ki at lower levels.

Your proposal is quite a bit more powerful at the level where you get this, so your Monk may need to be called The Way of the Blender on Puree Mode. 8^D Why? You get to burn 1 ki point to disengage (Patient Defense) after you dart in with this significant damage upgrade. Float like a butterfly, sting like a lawnmower! At 5th level, you can do two 2d6 damages versus two 1d8 damages (4d6 versus 2d8, avg 14 versus 9) plus the bonus attack unarmed .. still more potent.

What did UA Way of the Kensei do at 3rd level?
Path of the Kensei (Summarized)
You get 3, not all, martial weapons as kensei weapons; you get to use a bonus action to add 1d4 (guaranteed) pummel to each target hit during that turn. (You get an extra attack at level 5, as a monk). You get a +2 to AC if you use an unarmed strike as an attack and use a kensei weapon. (One of those 3 martial weapons) In the UA, those are not treated as monk weapons. (And thus no dex bonus to damage in most cases, which was a criticism I saw on a few optimization discussions at GiTP forums).

Your home brew is also more powerful than the UA proposal.

Features at 6th level

Any monk already has magic weapon attribute for Monk (unarmed) attacks at level 6; including martial weapons in that is more powerful until unarmed attacks catch up at level 11, but even then a two handed sword is out scaling one of the monk's unarmed attacks on a 2d6 versus 1d8 basis ...

Removing Wholeness of Body(healing) for doing 1d8 more damage on every attack is a trade off that makes the monk more of a glass cannon, to be sure. If you have a lot of battles in a given day (let's say the 6 encounter / 2 short rest "standard" adventure day from the DMG) this feature is far more powerful than the "once per long rest" healing that Wholeness of Body offers.

Why do I say that? If you hit just twice in all six battles: that's 12d8 additional damage over the course of a day. With flurry of blows, and extra attacks, you'll probably be hitting more often if your party gets into a lot of battles.

This looks to be "not quite balanced" as compared to Way of the Open Hand.

What did the UA Way of the Kensei do at 6th level?

Precise Strike
... pick one creature you can see within 30 feet of you. The next weapon attack you make against that creature during the current turn adds double your proficiency bonus to the attack roll, rather than your normal proficiency bonus.

Once per round a bonus to attack. Nice feature.

Suggestion: scale back the power on this skill, it offers far more than the UA "homebrew" that the game's designers put together (albeit to mixed and even negative reviews).

11th level features

You want to trade out the sanctuary spell for the half-orc's racial ability and the option to heal, roughly a cleric's cure wounds spell cast at 3rd level ... for 2 ki points. (Given your hit dice, the second half of this ability is stronger than the Second Wind ability of the Fighter). That looks a tad strong, but you do incur a ki cost. If you boost the cost to 3 ki to reflect Cure Wounds at 3rd level, it's still more than that Once-per-day-spell like effect (first level) at no cost. Ki recharges on a short rest, and you get a bit more ki as you advance in level (though it is surely a resource to be managed).

Theme wise, this fits nicely as the Open Hand skill is almost purely defensive, while your proposal gives you a very offense oriented ability to keep fighting. I'd say it much stronger than the vanilla 11th level ability given how many features you packed into one bonus. I'd suggest either the half-orc revival ability, or do something like the Fighter's second wind for a ki cost.

What did the UA Way of the Kensei do at 11th level?

Sharpen Blade
As a bonus action, you can expend up to 3 ki points to grant a weapon you touch a bonus to attack and damage rolls while you wield it. The bonus equals the number of ki points you spent. This bonus lasts for 1 minute.

A +3 weapon for 1 minute (basically, on battle). Similar in power, cost is 3 ki points. Boost chances to hit and damage. Your proposal is stronger than the proposed UA, since it keeps you fighting for at least one more turn/round, maybe more. All those extra attacks ...

17th level features

Your ability is 8d10 with a diminishing chance for more damage in 2d6 increments(someone will eventually save, these are high CR monsters) for an additional ki point cost, versus Open Hand's 10d10 of the Quivering palm.
Close.
Let's call that one a wash.

What did the UA Way of the Kensei do at 17th level?

Unerring Accuracy
On each of your turns, you can reroll one weapon attack you make that misses.

More hits and damage over one day, lots of fights, to catch up to the 10d10 on one target. If not perfectly balanced, your 17th level ability is far closer in benefit to this one and Open Hand's 17th level feature.

Your "more balanced" entry looks to be closer to the balance level of Open Hand Monk.

There is a more weapon based Monk coming in Xanathar's Guide to Everything.

The Unearthed Arcana article on Monk ideas on the Kensei monk met mixed reviews. After fiddling with it for a while, WoTC is about to release (in Xanathar's Guide to Everything) a version of the Kensei archetype for monk that is similar to your idea.

For a sense of power and balance, I recommend downloading the UA in the link and comparing it to your proposal to see if your power level matches up to that draft; and by all means feel free to shoot holes in my critique.

The added necrotic damage is a bit more damage than the standard Monk gets for open hand combat, but is it game breaking? At levels 3-10, you get a significant power spike in damage for a modest cost in flexibility, at 11 you get a better class ability, though at 17 you seem to have hit it about right.
You can wait for a month and get the new book from WoTC (or whatever retailer will sell you one) for "official" content along the lines of what you desire: the Way of the Kensei, a more martial weapon oriented monk.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Very helpful, thank you. One correction needed though is that at 6th level, Ki-Empowered Strikes only applies the magical property to unarmed strikes. In my homebrew I made it so that all strikes both armed and unarmed were magical \$\endgroup\$ – Random Guy Oct 30 '17 at 21:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Monks can already use quarterstaffs (d8) as Monk weapons and if they can’t use two-weapon fighting without giving up their superior unarmed strikes + flurry of blows. So with the first feature, you’re really only gaining +2 damage (d8 -> d12) on 1 or 2 attacks (after 5th level) per round which doesn’t seem crazy. \$\endgroup\$ – divibisan Oct 30 '17 at 22:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ I see, the concern is that this makes Two-handed fighting with a martial weapon superior to unarmed strike. That makes sense. I think if you limited the character to fighting with a single martial weapon (+ unarmed strike) it would be more balanced and fit with the flavor of monks better. \$\endgroup\$ – divibisan Oct 30 '17 at 22:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @divibisan I changed, thanks to your comments, thanks. :) All other comments removed. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 30 '17 at 22:45

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