My DM is usually very opposed to homebrew, and I can understand why, seeing as a lot of homebrews are ridiculous, but from a flavor and mechanics standpoint, this is exactly what I'm looking for. I've thought of combining classes for our game, but everything I've asked has either been ignored or shut down. I'm not trying to outshine other players or do everything, I just want to feel like Yojimbo.

I am currently a kensei monk working towards battlemaster, but I won't be online until 9.

The subclass in question is below (with most of the non-mechanical text abridged for brevity):

Way of the Unmastered Monk

Tread Down the Sword

Starting when you choose this this tradition at 3rd level, you gain proficiency with with two additional one-handed or versatile weapons of your choice, and can use these weapons as monk weapons with your Martial Arts class feature. In addition, when you successfully hit a creature with a monk weapon (but not an unarmed strike), you can spend 1 ki point to impose one of the following effects:

  • It must succeed on a Strength saving throw or be disarmed
  • It must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or receive disadvantage on ability checks and attack rolls for two rounds.
  • It must succeed on a Charisma saving throw or be subject to the effects of hunter's mark spell for 5 rounds, on which you do not need to concentrate.

Waiting for the Initiative

At 6th level, you seize the Initiative from the enemy on a failed strike. When an enemy's attack misses, you can spend 1 ki point as a reaction to make an attack with a monk weapon. If you took the Dodge action this turn, you may instead use your reaction to make an attack with a monk weapon under these circumstances at no cost.

No Master, No Name

Beginning at 11th level, you can't be unwillingly recognized unless a creature uses its action to inspect your appearance in detail. The creature must succeed on an Intelligence (Investigation) check against your ki save DC. You can spend a ki point to increase the difficulty of this check by 5 as a reaction to this check.

In addition, you can't be the subject of divination spells and can't be perceived by magical sensors unless the caster has a piece of your body or a highly personal possession, such as a piece of well-worn jewelry or a childhood treasure. These items no longer modify your saving throw against these effects, but are instead necessary to cast the spell at all.

One Strike, One Kill

Starting at 17th level, when you successfully hit with a monk weapon during an Attack action, you may spend 3 ki points to deal an additional 5d10 damage. If this damage reduces the target to 0 hit points, you may make an extra attack this turn as part of your Attack action.



2 Answers 2


This subclass is riddled with problems and is too strong

This homebrew has a lot of problems that aren't really things you'd expect to see in an official class, and several of them are a lot stronger than what you could realistically expect to get.

  • Save vs. two rounds of disadvantage is really weird. These kinds of effects tend to be the next attack, or the next round, not two rounds, and especially not two rounds without getting a save to end it early. It mirrors the Poisoned condition to an extend, but weirder.

  • Hunter's mark for 5 rounds without concentration is a bad idea. Not only is it needlessly stepping on the Ranger class's turf, but it is another arbitrary number of rounds effect.

  • Waiting for the Initiative kind of steps on the Battle Master fighter's toes. This class essentially has the Riposte maneuver, and if you Dodge, it doesn't even cost you any ki. It's not as big a deal as the later features, but it's yet another "I do what you do, but better" feature in this class. In addition, the ki cost if you aren't dodging is a tad weird. For a bonus action and a ki point, you could be dodging and attack for free, so unless you really needed that bonus action, that's going to be the superior bang for your buck.

  • No Master, No Name is absurd. Assassin rogues can spend 7 days and a bunch of gold to create an elaborate cover at level 9, and can spend 3 hours at level 13 to convincingly copy somebody. This class just tosses that all out of the window and makes you permanently untrackable and unrecognizable unless people succeed in taking an action to even try to recognize you and only being able to do so by succeeding against a saving throw that you already wanted to maximize anyways. There is no reason why a level 11 Monk ability should invalidate entire classes and counter entire schools of magic so effectively.

  • One Strike, One Kill is another weird attempt to make the Assassin rogue feel worse about itself. Assassins, if they can successfully surprise somebody, can deal double damage if the target fails a con saving throw. This will add roughly 10d6 extra damage to their attack. This subclass, instead, gets to add 5d10 extra damage, without having to surprise, without allowing a saving throw, at the cost of 3 ki points. That's 5 times per short rest at level 17. At level 20, that becomes once per fight for free because of the level 20 feature giving you 4 Ki points. And it isn't even limited per round, you could hit twice in a round and deal an extra 10d10 damage. And then it also allows an extra weapon attack if you kill somebody, which will allow you to also use this feature again? That is absurd.

I allow balanced homebrew at my table, and I would never even vaguely consider allowing this subclass. It's far too strong and does basically everything the Assassin does, but better. I also don't feel like having to track weird x rounds effects that aren't based on concentration.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I think you may want to modify your comparison on One Strike, One Kill to compare to Quivering Palm instead. Specifically as it relates to action economy. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 13:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ One other thing to improve is mentioning the significant synergy that Waiting for the Initiative will have with Patient Defense. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 13:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ So possible ways to balance would be to make tread down the sword impose disadvantage until end of next turn like stunning strike, and some sort of deft strike instead of the Hunter's Mark? I think one of the main things I like is waiting for initiative, but I like the riposte part in Chief. Dropping the Dodge part could make it less broken, right? I don't want to get rid of it entirely, but I feel like PAM is way more powerful than a weaker version of battlemasters riposte anyway, and that's allowed. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 16:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ No master, no name I don't care one lick about, but what would be something to replace it with? One strike one kill I'd be happy with making equivalent to quivering palm sans the instant kill part. I just feel as though kensei is not sword master-y enough. With those proposed fixes, would it be closer to acceptable? I'll take any advice because I don't want to be overpowered \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 16:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Dreadedpanda You might want to consider taking this to a forum for help in making this class more balanced. \$\endgroup\$
    – lucasvw
    Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 16:59

In general, I find this subclass equal parts overpowered and poorly thought out.

Tread Down The Sword

  • The added proficiency is fine; eventually, you'll be using the monk damage die and weapon damage ceases to be relevant.
  • The disarm ability is fine.
  • The disadvantage ability is very strong when acquired, more than any other monk subtype gets this level, but becomes superfluous a few levels later. The fact that it lasts two rounds instead of just "until the end of the Monk's next turn" (as Stunning Strike does) is just odd. Once the character has Stunning Strike, this ability is overshadowed - why bother imposing disadvantage, when you can stop somebody cold.
  • The hunter's mark ability is overpowered by virtue of flexibility. Without concentration, it can be applied to any number of targets (subject to ki availability). The short duration also denies the secondary effect of making it easier to track somebody.

Waiting for the Initiative

I understand what the designer was going for here, but the wording is just clumsy. I even get the whole if-you-Dodged part, but it's almost never worth doing unless you're out of ki points or desperately afraid of being injured. You're far better off taking your two (three with Martial Arts or four with Flurry) attacks than just standing there hoping somebody misses you.

Of course, Monks can also use Patient Defense to Dodge a bonus action, at the cost of a Ki point. The synergy there is entirely too strong. For a single ki point, you impose disadvantage on all incoming attacks and get the opportunity to swing back for free when somebody misses, all while making your two normal attacks.

Then again, this could be another example of poor writing... If you look at exactly what was written, the monk must dodge this turn, not this round. If that's deliberate, it only works on opportunity attacks. Based on the Iaido feel this ability seems to be going for, I suspect this is a rules-as-intended not matching rules-as-written.

No Master, No Name

This one is way out there. It is just flat out better than a disguise kit, because it always works without any advance preparation. It also blocks divination magic without any effort or cost. Compare this to other Monk abilities at the same level, most of which have a ki cost, an action cost, and generally only do one thing - this doesn't fit that pattern at all.

One Strike, One Kill

The effects of this ability do not even remotely match the name. There's no limit on the number of times it can be used in a round (therefore more-than-one-strike) and if the monk gets a kill, they get an extra swing (therefore more-than-one-kill becomes possible). On the positive side, it is at least ki driven.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I think you should consider the significant synergy that Waiting for the Initiative will have with Patient Defense. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 13:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Pyrotechnical Oh, jeeze... I didn't even think of that. That pushes it into really broken. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.J.L.
    Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 14:03
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Pyrotechnical for what it's worth the RAW of the homebrew says you have to dodge this turn, not this round. If this is intentional, that part of the feature only works on opportunity attacks and the like. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 14:15

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