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In addition to a character builder and online rules source, D&D Beyond also has a blog, and that blog just posted Monk 101: Way of the Four Elements. This article notes

Regrettably, the Way of the Four Elements is not only one of the weakest monk subclasses, it’s one of the weakest subclasses in the Player’s Handbook.

... and gives reasonable justification for that statement. Then, it proposes:

If your Dungeon Master is willing to use house rules, consider using the following house rules to buff the Way of the Four Elements subclass:

  • Reduce the ki cost of all Elemental Disciplines by 2 (to a minimum of 1). This cost reduction is applied after you spend additional ki to raise the spell’s level. For example, the Fist of Four Thunders discipline lets you cast thunderwave for 2 ki. This cost is reduced to 1. Casting the spell at 2nd level increases the ki cost to 3, but it still only costs 1 ki point after the cost reduction of 2 points.
  • At 3rd level, you learn the Elemental Attunement discipline as normal, and two other disciplines of your choice (instead of just one).
  • You learn two new disciplines at 6th, 11th, and 17th level (instead of just one), and can replace any discipline you know with another one that you meet the level requirements to learn when you gain a level in this class.
  • You can also learn two cantrips of your choice from the following list: acid splash, fire bolt, mold earth, produce flame, ray of frost, shocking grasp. When you gain a level in this class, you can replace one of these cantrips with another instead of replacing an elemental discipline with another. (If you have other sources, such as Xanathar’s Guide to Everything or Elemental Evil Player’s Companion, you can choose other cantrips from those sources that deal acid, cold, fire, or lightning damage, or have an otherwise elemental theme, with your DM’s permission.)

As a DM, I want my players to have fun and I want them to be able to choose options that seem interesting without falling into "trap" classes which seem cool but turn out to be frustrating to play; on the other hand, I don't want to just throw out home-brew options that are more powerful than the standard choices.

While the D&D Beyond rules section is official, this blog is really ... just a blog, and I don't think they have any particular insight into behind-the-curtains D&D design (although obviously they have contact with and work closely with the designers). But, D&D Beyond also has a central sort of voice, and while I've seen several home-brew attempts at "fixing" this subclass (including here), it seems like if this one is reasonable enough it might be something that 5E gamer consensus kind of builds around.

So... how reasonable is it? Does it achieve the goal of bringing the subclass into line?

  • Is this variant reasonably balanced against the other monk subclass options?
  • Is it comparable to other "third-caster" classes like Eldritch Knight or Arcane Trickster? What about to "half-casters" like Ranger and Paladin?
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I would say these alterations significantly improve the subclass.

It's hard to compare to the other monks because of how simple they play, and because they have direct specializations.

At first glance it still seems a little expensive to me, but I would need to see it in action to be sure.

I don't think it compares well to Paladin or Eldritch Knight because both of those classes had simple and direct ways to spend their spells that fit those classes. i.e. Smite for paladin, and Shield, and direct damage spells for the EK.

I think the increased number of disciplines is the biggest improvement, but will make the class harder to specialize, and find out what they do best. Like many wizards I think they will find some abilities that they don't really use.

That being said, it looks like fun and if you have an interested player this is probably the best place to start. Just be ready to mitigate with house rules, and magic items, just in case.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for making me look better NathanS, I'm still learning the ropes. \$\endgroup\$ – Devin A Poet Feb 1 at 12:31
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So I think these alterations are balanced. I do agree how weak the Way of the Four Elements Monk is, and believe it needs to be buffed. I still believe that even with these changes, it's still a weak option. I would also give it the old 3.5 ability back where they change their damage types.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ How can it at the same time be "balanced" and "weak"? \$\endgroup\$ – Alexis Wilke Jan 2 at 20:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you elaborate on your answer and support your assessment? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jan 14 at 0:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @user60792 Everyone here wants you to sound more confident. Instead of 'I think' write 'it appears to me'. I agree with everything that you said, but I think people were critical because they wanted you to use more comparisons. Also when I'm worried I might look dumb I use bullet points. I hope to see more from you in the future. \$\endgroup\$ – Devin A Poet Feb 2 at 4:46

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