Monk's Ki feature Flurry of Blows is defined like this (PHB, page 78):

Immediately after you take the Attack action on your turn, you can spend 1 ki point to make two unarmed strikes as a bonus action.

This actually has two parts: Flurry of Blows is tied to taking the Attack action, and Flurry of Blows can be performed only after the action. While I understand the first part (don't combine Flurry of Blows e.g. with Dodge), I find the second part rather counter-intuitive. The fact that this indeed imposes timing requirements has been clarified here. What are the consequences of relaxing that?

There would definitely be some, for instance, Open Hand monk would be able to first knock the target prone with its Flurry of Blows and then attack with an advantage. But to me it looks quite in line with the character, and the monk at our table is actually allowed to do that and so far we have not noticed any issues with it. Are there any other consequences worth considering?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I would rephrase your main question a bit to focus more on asking for potential consequences for changing it. We can't really tell you WHY a rule was made, that is designer intent. \$\endgroup\$
    – anon
    Nov 28, 2023 at 9:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Rephrased. Designer intent might actually be of some interest too, but that really is not the main focus. \$\endgroup\$
    – volferine
    Nov 28, 2023 at 9:52

2 Answers 2


Contingent Effects

Our friendly Hobgoblin's answer includes lots of valid interactions that might apply to the specific special abilities granted one subclass or another.

SeriousBri's comment points to a more general concern, though - since you need to spend your Action to attack to get the Flurry of Blows, allowing the Flurry of Blows to occur first could remove your opponent from the field. You would have thus spent your Attack action but have no one within your reach / range left to attack.

Removing said opponent is not limited to landing the killing blow, though. What if the creature you are attacking has a reaction-fueled ability that triggers in response to taking damage, and which then denies you your Attack? There are many possible examples of this, such as an archfey warlock's misty escape, or a contingency spell with a teleport, etc.

Even in the absence of a spell or class ability, any creature your monk faces, at any level, could have a readied action whose trigger is being attacked or taking damage. If that readied action removes them from your reach (such as simply moving away from you) you could be left having declared an Attack action but without someone to attack.

On the player exploit side, note that your monk might expect to do more damage with their main attack than with one of their flurry of blows. They might, for example, be wielding a magical staff two-handed. They thus might have a single, higher-damage attack and two lower-damage attacks. If these can occur in any order, it would be to their advantage to use the lower-damage attacks to make the higher-damage attack more likely to hit tellingly.

You have already suggested one such situation, whereby the flurry attacks are used to attempt knockdowns in order to give the more damaging attack advantage to hit against the now-prone opponent. But there are plenty of situations in which prior attacks can make subsequent attacks more likely to hit, or more likely for their damage to actually count.

Your monk could also use their flurry of blows, for example:

  • to whittle away at a caster's mirror images, saving their big damage main Attack for when they have the best chance to have the damage go through.

  • to accept disadvantage against a displacer beast, hoping that a hit would end its displacement ability and thereby making their higher-damage hit more likely (thus increasing expected damage).

  • to 'use up' the disadvantage imposed by vicious mockery on a lesser attack before they attacked with something more powerful.

  • to discover the location of an unseen and Hidden opponent by attacking potential locations, and attempting to save their more damaging attack until they have confirmed where the opponent is.

Allowing the attacks to be used in either order opens up a range of tactical considerations which the monk can exploit, but also exposes the monk to having a wasted attack if their opponent can respond to the flurry.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting. I think the "wasted attack" is not much of a concern, it was the monk's choice to risk that; but your list of interactions with spells etc. really shows that there are quite a few possibly unforeseen consequences. \$\endgroup\$
    – volferine
    Nov 29, 2023 at 10:45

You got the main impact

There are some additional implications for allowing the attacks with Flurry to happen first, depending on your monk subclass. For example:

  • As you say a Way of the Open Hand monk can knock someone prone with Flurry, to get advantage to all subsequent attacks. I think that is actually a pretty good effect. Advantage adds typically about +4 or +5 to hit, and having that for an additional attack before the victim gets a turn to stand back up does increase the monk's damage output.

  • A Way of Mercy monk could use Hand of Healing in a Flurry of Blows without spending an action, to replace one of their unarmed strikes and heal a creature. Let's say the monk is down on hit points, and wants to move away to attack a monster somewhere else, without having to disengage: they then could take the Attack action, use flurry before attacking, hit the creature they stand next to, heal themselves to ensure they survive any attack of opportunity from it, and move away to attack the other monster with their normal attack.

  • Likewise, and more simply, a Way of the Drunken Master monk could use Drunken Technique with Flurry to hit their opponent and Disengage for free, and then move (at a 10 better speed) to hit someone else with their main attack.

  • A Way of the Cobalt Soul1 monk could analyze their victim to learn about its damage vulnerabilities, resistances, and immunities, and then as a free object interaction potentially draw an appropriate weapon for their main attack, before making the attack itself.

Compared to the knockdown of Way of the Open hand, these other applications seem to be much more situational and of lesser impact when it comes to power level.

It may be of interest that Wizards themselves did publish playtest material in Unearthed Arcana in 2019, that does effectively decouple the sequencing:

Ki-Fueled Strike

2nd-level monk feature (enhances Ki) If you spend 1 ki or more as part of your action on your turn, you can then immediately make one unarmed strike as a bonus action.

This made it into Tasha's Cauldron of Everything (thanks to @mdrichey) in 2020 as

Ki-Fueled Attack

3rd-level monk feature If you spend 1 ki point or more as part of your action on your turn, you can make one attack with an unarmed strike or a monk weapon as a bonus action before the end of the turn.

With this, you can make the attack immediately, rather than immediately after taking your action. Note, however, that you get to make only one attack here, instead of two as you normally could.

1 The Way of the Cobalt Soul is published by Critical Role, not Wizards of the Coast.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I moved cobalt soul to the end of your list and added a footnote since it isn’t official content. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 28, 2023 at 11:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Potential downside: flurry kills the last enemy in range, but you are tied into having to take the attack action. Do you attack a friend? Yourself? And even if you attack the air that has cost you the chance to dodge or take some other bonus action because your action is 'wasted' attacking nothing. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Nov 28, 2023 at 12:22
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Ki-Fueled Strike was published as an optional 3rd-level monk feature in Tasha's Cauldron of Everything in 2020, with nearly identical language to what is quoted above. They did add the option to strike with a monk option instead of an unarmed strike if desired. \$\endgroup\$
    – mdrichey
    Nov 28, 2023 at 17:56

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