This is the follow up from the Homebrew I posted last month, after reading the feedback I received not only here, but also on D&D Beyond, I made some changes to the subclass. Once Again I hope to receive some feedback to see if this homebrew isn't too Coockoo Overpowered or a letdown. So here it is: Tiefling Monk Way of the Iron Body

The monks who follow the Way of the Iron Body are masters of physical endurance and resilience. They train to harden their bodies, turning their flesh and bones into a living fortress that can withstand even the strongest blows. In battle, these monks stand firm against their enemies, trading blows in a relentless contest of strength and endurance. They are unyielding, unbreakable, and fierce in their determination to protect their allies and overcome their foes.

So here we are, this is the Flavor I'm going for with this subclass, based on the real-life "Iron Body" monks, that can break a Spear in their Necks and train by bashing heavy and hard objects on their bodies, this subclass is made to try to make the monk less like the Rogue where It attacks and runs away, but give it the ability to actually go to the frontlines and stay there side by side with the Paladin and the Barbarian and not die on the first round of combat after 3 goblins surround you.

Iron Body Technique

When you choose this tradition at 3rd level, you learn how to harness your ki to improve your defenses and your vitality. Without the need for armor or shields, you can dodge attacks with ease you also learn to use your defensive skills as part of your offensive arsenal. Whenever you use the Patient Defense Feature and are not wearing Armor or a Shield you gain the following benefits:

  • You can make an unarmed strike as part of the same Bonus Action.
  • Until your next turn, any critical hit against you becomes a normal hit, as you skillfully make the attack miss any vital spots.

You can use the Patient Defense Feature without spending Ki points a number of times equal to your Wisdom Modifier per short rest.

Also, you can heal yourself better by channeling your ki. Whenever you regain hit points, you can add one roll of your Martial Arts die to the amount healed.

I tried to cover one interesting point about "Tanking", a problem probably felt hardest with a Bladesinger for example, that has High AC, but low HP which is kinda similar to this subclass where the HP is not on the Fighter/Paladin/Ranger ballpark, and now having access to dodging on most combat turns effectively increasing your AC to +5, but the problem is, if it is so hard to Hit you, you probably will only be hit by a Critical hit. So in one round, you are feeling Immortal because of your AC and never receive any damage. But then the first thing that hits you, makes you already either dropped to zero or very uncomfortably close to it. Since Monks don't wear armor and then probably will never have access to an Adamantine Armor that negates Critical Hits, I made it part of this subclass, even tho the effects only last for 1 round...

Another interesting thing I added was at level 4 with Tasha's optional features, monks can use 2 Ki points to heal themselves, but is quite expensive for very low healing, so since this is the subclass of a monk that will certainly be getting hit a lot since you will go to the frontlines, I decided to give a small boost to this healing ability so you can self sustain better if necessary, but also be benefited from the generosity of your allies that decide to heal you.

Iron Shirt Stance

At 3rd level, you learn how to use your ki to fortify your body when you are not wearing armor or wielding a shield with a stance that grants you enhanced strength and durability for a short time. As a bonus action on your turn, you can enter the Iron Shirt Stance, this stance lasts for 1 minute or until you're knocked unconscious. While in this stance, you have your movement speed reduced by 10 ft, and you gain the following benefits:

  • You have advantage on Strength and Constitution saving throws.
  • You can Add your Strenght or your Wisdom Modifier to the damage rolls of your Unarmed strikes.
  • While you are in this Stance, bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage that you take from nonmagical attacks are reduced by 2. If you Spend 1 Ki point you can apply this to magical attacks. This damage reduction takes place before calculating any resistance, temporary hitpoints, and other sources of damage reduction.

This damage reduction increases by 2 when you reach certain levels in this class, at 8th level (4), 13th level (6), 18th level (8).

You can use the Iron Shirt Stance a number of times equal to your Wisdom modifier per long rest (minimum of one), Once you have used this feature that number of times, you can spend 2 ki points to use it again.

So, picture with me, you are a level 3 monk. On your character Sheet, you have the following features: "Martial Arts", "Unarmored Defense", "Flurry of Blows" every single feature you received up to this point is SCREAMING at you "GO MELEE!!!" Two out of those 3 literally ask you to on your turn, Take your Attack Action, and then spend your Bonus Action to make another Attack! This feature is inspired by the Barbarian’s Rage feature, but instead of giving resistance to damage, it reduces damage by an fixed amount. This makes it more effective against multiple small attacks, but less effective against single big attacks. It also reduces your speed by 10 feet while active, making you more like a tank than a skirmisher. And also gives an improvement on your damage output so you don't need to stand in front of the enemy praying it goes down before you do, you probably will be capable of dealing with them now.

Defensive Flurry

At 6th level, you learn how to use your reaction to deflect or reduce damage from melee attacks.

Using your Reaction in response to being damaged by a Melee weapon attack, you can activate the Defensive Flurry. You subtract from the damage taken an amount equal to your Wisdom modifier plus one roll of your Martial Arts die. Until the start of your next turn, you add the total rolled on your Martial arts Die to your AC, potentially blocking multiple consecutive attacks. When you successfully use Defensive Flurry to reduce incoming damage to zero, you can spend 1 Ki point to immediately make an Unarmed strike against the attacker as part of the same reaction.

You can use the Defensive Flurry a number of times equal to your Wisdom Modifier per short rest. Once you used this feature that number of times, you can spend 1 ki point to use the Defensive Flurry again.

This one in the last version was a mess, so much so that I needed a Box to explain it, now it's basically, Deflect Missiles + Shield, but for Melee weapon attacks only. So much simpler to understand. So The thing is, Monks at Higher Levels, start to become Incredible at Tanking Magical stuff, they gain immunities, Evasion, and Proficiency in all saving throws, but all their early features are hammering their heads to go fight ogres with their bare hands and they just can't really endure those interactions. So those first few Features I focused on trying to improve the survivability of the Monk in Physical combat.

Iron Body, Iron Fist

At 11th level, you can choose from two different Fighting Stances that enhance your toughness or your offense. You can enter one of these fighting stances if you're not wearing Armor, or wielding a shield, as an action and remain in it for 1 minute or until you lose your concentration (as if you were concentrating on a spell) until you use this feature again, or until you end it as a bonus action.

Iron Mountain Technique: You adopt a highly defensive stance, spend 1 to 3 ki points and gain the following benefits:

  • You get a +1 bonus to your AC for each ki point spent.
  • You gain a number equal to your proficiency bonus in temporary hit points for each ki point spent. On The following turns, while you are still using the Iron Mountain Technique you can spend 1 to 3 ki points (no action required) to replenish the temporary hit points once per round, each ki point gives you a number of hit points equal to your Proficiency bonus.
  • When a creature makes a weapon attack against one of your allies, you can use your reaction to move up to half your speed toward the attacker. If the attacker is within your reach after this movement, you become the target of the attack instead. If you get hit, you can spend 1 ki point, to use Deflect Missiles or Defensive Flurry as part of the same reaction to block the attack that targets you, if it is a ranged Weapon attack, or a Melee weapon attack respectively.

Clashing River Technique: You adopt a very offensive stance, spend 1 to 3 ki points and gain the following benefits:

  • You get a -1 penalty to your AC and gain +10ft movement speed for each ki point spent.
  • You get a +1 bonus to your attack rolls for each ki point spent.
  • At the start of each of your turns, you can gain advantage on a number of attacks equal to the number of ki points spent to activate this fighting style. If you hit an unarmed strike or a monk weapon on one of these attacks, you deal an extra martial arts die of damage for each ki point spent.

If you lose concentration on this feature due to taking damage, you cannot use it again until a number of rounds equal to the ki points you spent. During this time, you have disadvantage on ability checks.

This one was called "Counter Stance" and it was basically you gain Spells to either Give you temp HP and deal damage back when you're attacked, or Make you use some other spell to give you advantage on attack rolls, so instead I went more "Ying Yang" and added two different Fighting Stances, either you go against the flow and disregard your defenses to become a Berserk and do maybe too much damage (I didn't really tried to calculate how much this is compared to A Paladin smiting every turn or something like that so tell me if this is too overboard) But again, at this point, level 11, you already have enough Defensive Features from this subclass and even now the Monk base class, to afford to drop some of your AC and go full Sicko mode! but then, If you really want, or NEED to be Tanky, the other fighting style not only provides you with amazing survivability, but does something I feel like is really missing in D&D, that is Forcing the attacks hit the Tank instead of the squishy characters! So this is basically either you fully commit to the Tank role, or you Say "screw that I want to punch that guy harder than a Gloomstalker First round!" then you can also do that! But hey, tell me if this is too much I probably might have to adjust the bonuses.

Perfect Defense

At 17th level, you master the defensive techniques of the Iron Body tradition. You can use your ki to protect you from harm and allows you to share its benefits with others.

  • The Iron Shirt Stance no longer reduces your Movement Speed.
  • Deflect Missiles and Defensive Flurry can be used against Ranged Spell attacks and Melee Spell Attacks respectively.
  • You can use your action to spend one ki point and use Stillness of Mind on one creature you touch, that is charmed or frightened.
  • You can use your ki to shield yourself and your allies from harmful spells and effects. When you take no damage from an area effect that allows a Dexterity saving throw, thanks to your Evasion feature, you can spend ki points to create a safe zone within the area. You create a 5ft radius circle around yourself, and for each Ki point spent you increase the radius of the circle by 5ft. That circle is unaffected by the area effect until the end of your next turn. Also, for each ki point you spend this way, your next unarmed strike deals an extra martial arts die of damage on a hit.

And this is basically just, "take away all the drawbacks from the Class features, and let's share some of our own resistances with our friends" Maybe this overlaps with Paladins, but at this level Druids will be Destroying Villages with Earthquakes and Stuff like that so I don't think this really is too much... Or is it? Please do tell me!

Once again, this is also on D&D Beyond just like last time!


2 Answers 2


I concur with Anagkai's answer that you've probably gone too complicated, but I think I can offer some recommendations on how to simplify the features in a manner that may make them more streamlined at the table.

3rd Level

The manner that you set this up made me think about the Way of the Open Hand, which is definitely one of my favorite archetypes in the game. To that end, your goal is to take a signature feature of the Monk and improve it substantially. For Way of the Open Hand, they substantially improve Flurry of Blows, you are seeking to improve Patient Defense.

For this reason, I propose the following language for 3rd level:

Iron Body Technique

Starting when you choose this tradition at 3rd level, you can harness your ki to improve your defenses and vitality. Whenever you use your Patient Defense feature you gain the following additional benefits until the start of your next turn:

  • You may roll a Martial Arts die and gain a number of temporary hit points equal to the amount rolled.
  • You have advantage on Strength and Constitution saving throws.
  • Bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage is reduced by 2. This damage reduction increases by 2 when you reach certain levels in this. class, at 8th level (4), 13th level (6), 18th level (8).
  • Any critical hit against you becomes a normal hit.

These changes are focused on simply being a straightforward, easy to implement upgrade to Patient Defense. I've removed elements that grant extra attacks or improve attacks because that's beyond the theme of this monk which is exceptionally tough. I incorporated the proposed healing as temporary hit points to mitigate potential healing shenanigans using easily recoverable ki points.

6th Level

When I was reading through this, my persistent thought was, "Why don't you just upgrade the Deflect Arrows feature to allow it to be used on melee attacks?" Thus, that's what I propose with this revision:

Deflect Melee

At 6th level, your Deflect Arrows feature is improved and may be used on melee weapon attacks as well. If you reduce the damage to 0, you parry the attack perfectly and open your opponent up to counterattack. You may spend 1 ki point to make a melee weapon attack as part of the same reaction.

Overall, this change allows the Monk to simply continue using their features as before, but now with more opportunities to do so.

11th Level

A concern I had with the original phrasing is that you've used the term 'stance' in several spots, which made we wonder whether or not the 11th level features could be used in tandem with the 3rd level features. To my knowledge, 5th edition doesn't really have stance rules the way earlier editions did, but in those earlier editions you could only assume 1 stance at a time (I recall a UA for Tunnel Fighters which had some rules around a type of stance, but not necessarily rules for stances in general).

With that in mind, I considered simply just making a substantial improvement to the 3rd level feature at a cost of 3 ki points:

Beginning at 11th level, you may spend 3 ki points to enter a special stance on your turn as a Bonus Action. The Iron Mountain Stance may be chosen if you wish to further improve your defenses or the Clashing River Stance may be chosen if you wish to improve your offense. You may remain in the chosen stance for 1 minute, until you lose your concentration (as if concentrating on a spell), until you use this feature again, or you choose to end it as a Bonus Action.

Iron Mountain Stance

  • You may gain the benefits of the the Iron Body Technique feature on the round you enter this stance. As a Bonus Action on your turn, you may gain the benefits of Iron Body Technique without spending ki.
  • You gain a +3 bonus to your AC.
  • When a creature makes a weapon attack against one of your allies, you can use your Reaction to move up to half your speed toward the attacker. If the ally is within your reach after this movement, you become the target of the attack instead.

Note that these changes simply focus on allowing you to continually gain the benefits of your 3rd level feature for free while also tossing on a few additional perks to compensate for using your concentration. I did tweak the ally protection to make it so you needed to reach the ally, not the enemy, in order to intercept the attack. I've removed mention of other features, because the language associated with using those features is already provided in their descriptions.


  • You may gain the benefits of the Iron Body Technique feature on the round you enter this stance.
  • You gain a +3 bonus to your attack rolls made with unarmed strikes and monk weapons.
  • Your damage rolls made with unarmed strikes and monk weapons add an additional Martial Arts die.

These changes simply focus upon improving the effectiveness of your attacks. As it's a static bonus, I removed the additional boon of Advantage, I feel that you need to pick either or. Furthermore, the damage was nerfed because your original proposal allowed a monk to making damage rolls which would've been on the order of 4d8+5 per attack which is a lot when you consider how many attacks a Monk can make each turn. In the interest of not stepping on the alternative stance's boons, I only propose allowing the Monk to gain the perks of Iron Body Technique for free on the first round for the sake of preserving the benefits of the feature through the first round.

17th Level

I see what you're going for with this feature, but I've rephrased it a bit to sync up with the language proposed in this answer as well as try and clarify the order of operations for some of its elements. I did nix the element where you'd proposed to spike the Monk's damage output as it's more out of line than you might think.

Perfect Defense

  • Your Deflect Melee feature is further improved and may now be used against Ranged Spell Attacks and Melee Spell Attacks.
  • On your turn, you may spend 1 ki point to end an effect causing the Charmed or Frightened condition on a creature you can touch.
  • As a Reaction, you can use your ki to shield yourself and your allies from harmful spells and effect. When you take no damage from an area effect that allows a Dexterity saving throw, thanks to your Evasion feature, you create a 5 foot radius safe zone around yourself. Any creatures who are in this radius do not take damage from the effect. You may spend ki to increase the size of the circle, each point increasing the circle's radius by 5'.

Overall, I think the idea of a very tanky monk is fine, but I think trying to mix in nova damage into it runs afoul of stepping on the toes of archetypes like the Kensai or Drunken Master. To that end, were I you, I'd consider nixing the 11th level feature Clashing River Stance above altogether and just let this archetype focus on being a tank.

In my experience, Monks aren't meant to be nova damage dealers, but rather they take you down with a thousand cuts. There are traditions that buck that, but it's also their thing to buck it. You've chosen to focus on greater defense for monks, which is fine, but you shouldn't be getting damage at the same time.


Too much, too complex

Before analyzing the features one by one, I am gonna say, that subclass balancing varies between classes, i.e. subclasses are more or less impactful compared to the whole package. Monks have a lot of their power and complexity in the main class features and the subclass features for the subclasses are mostly rather simple. I compared your subclass to Open Hand, Astral Self, Mercy, and Shadow. Compared to those, your features have a lot more going on.

Level 3

At level three you already have two different features and each has as much or more content than what the other subclasses gain at that level. Iron Body Technique looks well thought out but I would say it is sufficient (power level wise) for this level on its own when you compare it to the other subclasses. Since Iron Body Technique has useful bonuses and looks very flavorful I would keep this and cut the other feature.

Iron Shirt Stance is rather complex with lots of little extra clauses (like spending optional Ki for damage reduction to magical attacks, and having a per rest limit but also being able to use Ki for it). For the damage modifier, it is unclear, if you mean in addition to other modifiers or instead. Flat damage reduction is rarely used in official material and should be carefully used but it is for a limited time so it seems unproblematic.

Level 6

At this level, the other subclasses get features that are mostly utility and again that are simpler. I would think about how I can word this feature more clearly. Additionally, I would remove the ability to do an extra attack here. The feature is sufficiently strong and complicated without it. The defensive benefit alone puts this in line with published subclasses. I also think that you should limit the uses either by Ki or by free uses per rest but not both. The drawback upon losing concentration (cannot use for x turns) is probably a nightmare to track.

Level 11

Again, I think this has too much going on. Each of the two options alone is more complex than each of the other subclass’s features. I would remove one of the options. The option to spend 1 to 3 Ki points also involves a lot of tracking and calculating. I would definitely take a fixed amount and fixed benefits here. Here you have to think about whether you try to hammer the tank feeling home with the defensive one or break the pattern with the offensive one but anyway I would keep only one option.

Iron Mountain Technique: In addition to the general remarks above, there are a lot of little extras that add a lot of complexity but aren’t necessary for the power level. This includes the option to replenish the temporary hitpoints and the option to add extra effects when deflecting blows from allies. The deflecting harm effect is otherwise very nice and fitting for a tank, so I would probably just keep this feature and remove the other option.

Clashing River Technique: I don’t think you need the penalty. The third bullet point is very hard to parse. The varying number of advantages plus the ability to deal extra damage on just the attacks with advantage plus the varying extra damage depending on the amount of Ki plus the fact that the Ki was probably spent on an earlier turn…. I would definitely change this to make it simpler. Or just get rid of the whole feature and take the Iron Mountain Technique.

Level 17

As you say, power level gets more iffy on these high levels. Contrary to your other features, I don’t think this is too strong. But it is again a bit complex. These apex features benefit from both being powerful and looking powerful. You have lots of unrelated little benefits. I would simply take the evasion area effect and make it a bit more splashy and cut the other benefits.


Your subclass is on the higher end power level wise because most of the monk’s power is concentrated in the main class. Pretty much all of your features are too complex and have extra clauses that you could cut while maintaining a reasonable power level.


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