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I made a subclass a long while ago, revolving around the idea of a monk who wears metal gloves to do different types of unarmed damage. The core concept of the class is to be a high damage subclass, with additional defensive options, able to be a survivable frontline fighter.

There are quite a few abilities that this subclass provides, and I suspect their are some that can be reduced, removed, or combined, and that the versatility may be a little too strong. Would love for any feedback though.

Way of the Unbreakable Fist

Level 3:

Steel Fist

You don a set of metallic gloves. While wearing these gloves, you can choose to deal piercing or slashing damage when you make an unarmed strike, instead of the typical bludgeoning damage.

Unbreakable fist (1 ki) for one of the following

You apply one effect depending on the type of damage you are doing with your unarmed strike:

  • Slashing - Target must make a constitution save or bleed for 1d4 - 1 + proficiency modifier each turn for one minute until healed, tended to with a healing kit, or someone applies pressure to the wound for one minute. This cannot effect creatures that don't have blood, such as skeletons or oozes. The damage goes up to 1d4 + 1 + proficiency at level 11, and to 1d4 + 3 + proficiency at level 17.
  • Bludgeoning You can target a bone for your strike. The target must make a dexterity saving throw against your monk DC or suffer one of the effects based on the location:
  • Arms - The target subtracts 1d4 from attack rolls. This goes up to 1d6 at level 11.
  • Legs - The targets speed is reduced by 10 feet. This goes up to 20 feet at level 11.

These effects last until the target takes a long rest, is healed, or affected by a restoration spell.

Level 6

Hand Shield

Gain Proficiency in shields, and use them while still being considered unarmored for the sake of monk bonuses. Metal Glove considered a shield when considering gaining bonuses.

Unarmed Thrust

You can now cause piercing damage with your unarmed strikes. In addition, when using "Unbreakable Fist" you can apply the following effect while doing piercing damage:

  • You gain additional damage equal to your proficiency bonus.
  • When used against a target wearing armor, you gain advantage on the attack roll.
  • If used against a target with natural armor, you do twice your proficiency bonus as extra damage instead of the normal damage bonus.

Parry

When another creature tries to hit you with a melee attack, as a reaction, you can use your reaction to add your proficiency bonus to your AC for that attack, potentially causing the attack to miss you.

Level 11

One with the Fist

The glove merges with the hand and can no longer be removed.

At will you can cast "alter self" only for hiding or showing the merged glove. This changes texture as well.

Spells such as "Heat metal" affect the glove, but does not do damage to you.

While affected by heat metal, you do 1d8 additional fire damage on unarmed strikes.

While affected by heat metal, any target you are grappling takes full damage from the spell at the begining of their turn, or immediatly if it is applied while already grappling a target.

Metal Fists of Fury (2 ki)

You can cast heat metal (at second level) on your gloves. You must concentrate on this effect.

Parry Inprovement

If the triggering attack is by an enemy with a weapon that can be disarmed, and misses, the attacker must make a strength check versus 8 + Dexterity Modifier + Proficiency bonus, or be disarmed of the weapon. The weapon falls to the ground.

Level 17

Heart pierce

As an action you can spend 4 Ki points to charge your fist with ki energy and pierce it into an enemies heart (or vital organs/core if the creature has no heart). Make an attack roll agains the target. If it lands the target must make a dexterity saving throw. If the save succeeds the target takes 5d10 + 20 piercing damage, ignoring resistances. If the save fails, the target dies if it has less than 150 Hit points or takes 10d10 + 20 piercing damage if it has more.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is this for D&D 5e? \$\endgroup\$ May 15 at 0:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, for accessibility, please use quote blocks “>” instead of code formatting. \$\endgroup\$ May 15 at 0:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov I began cleanup on this post, but don't have time to finish. Can you finish editing? \$\endgroup\$
    – User 23415
    May 15 at 1:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ And one per tidbit I found: At level 3 you say "While wearing these gloves, you can choose to deal piercing [...] damage", but then at level 6 it say "You can now cause piercing damage with your unarmed strikes". If piercing damage is only accessible starting at level 6, it's probably best to only mention it there, otherwise it might be confusing. \$\endgroup\$ May 15 at 9:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ "bleed for 1d4 - 1 + proficiency modifier each turn for one minute until ... someone applies pressure to the wound for one minute." Why would anyone bother applying pressure for a minute if the bleeding stopped after a minute regardless? \$\endgroup\$ May 15 at 19:00

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This is too strong overall

I think your self-assessment is right. Monks are generally considered one of the weaker classes in 5e, so you can be a bit more agressive in your subclasses, but even accounting for that this is a bit too much. Let's walk through it:

First of this has a few too many features. Typical subclasses get one main feature at each of the levels. Some get more for example way of mercy gets 3 at 3rd, but then only 1 at each other tier. Here you give 2, 3, 3 and 1, that's too many, even if you consider the two on level three as one.

Second, this is adding a lot of damage. The average damage per round for most classes is about level + 7 points, and it can get to about twice that when using the highest damage classes in optimized builds.

This adds a 3 to 6 damage to each attack with Unarmed thrust, and monks get to make lots of attacks, easily 3 per round with flurry of blows, and 4 after level 5 with extra attack, adding up to 24 damage per round against many opponents. Likewise, advantage, at typical 65% to hit rates is worth about 23% more hits - for all your damage against armored opponents, not just the extra new damage, so that adds 12 straight and about 5 from better to hit for 17 extra damage. This alone, with no effort, puts you at the top tier of damage output.

On top of that you can spend ki for recurring bleed damage to your attacks (which also is a nightmare to track). All this damage scales, and on top of that at level 11, you get another 1d8 fire damage, or 2d8 if you grapple them, and monks tend to be good at grappling.

Third, on the defensive side, allowing a shield effect for +2 AC is already quite unbalancing. +2 AC can mean as much as 200% better survivability. On top of that you get to parry from level 6 on, boosting AC by another at least 3 points in the now rarer cases you might get hit. (Nevermind the free disarm on level 11 that goes along with it).

Heart Pierce seems also over the top. It is quite costly in ki, but dealing at least an expected 55 extra damage is worth that, especially as in many cases it will deal 75 or the equivalent of 150 damage, likely killing a key opponent on the spot and ending the fight right there. I tend to worry less about 17th level features, as 95% of all play happens in tier 1-3 so they rarely get played, but if you get to those levels, a failed Dex save means instadeath in many cases, and monsters with lots of hp tend to be weaker on Dex saves, too. Now you need to only damage that dragon enough to finish it off with a killing blow in half the time. And at that level you have over 16 ki, so nothing stops you from using this four times in a row.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with your assessment of a lot of the problems. Wondering what you think is a viable way to rebalance these effects to still be versatile and useful without being over the top. For the special effects like the bleed and piercing damage around using ki, but yeah at level 20 proficiency is +6 and you'd have 20 ki so you could do 240 extra damage with pierce against natural armored opponents. \$\endgroup\$ May 15 at 15:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Though I will say I based heart pierce around the open palm capstone. Capstone's are generally pretty wild so I just tweaked it a bit. Also to clarify, this is it's own action, and not considered a standard attack action, so this would be the only attack you make on your turn, given that flurry of blows can only be done when making standard unarmed strikes. (Correct me if I'm wrong), so you could potentially reaching higher damage on all hits combined if they land, and instead are putting all your eggs in a single attack roll/dex save combo. \$\endgroup\$ May 15 at 15:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Lastly, regarding defense, I see what you mean about the shield ac. What would you think about removing the shield feature, but maintaining the parry options? Not sure how to properly increase defense, but adding proficiency against a single attack a full round of combat honestly seems kinda neat, but overall negligible, at least until the possibility of disarming \$\endgroup\$ May 15 at 15:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JoshuaDeMoss rather than add these as additional questions it is better to go back to the drawing board, create a version 2 taking on board the suggestions in the answer and do a bit of play testing, then come back with a new question if you still need help. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    May 15 at 17:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JoshuaDeMoss Agree with SeriousBri. This is the best way to do it, and will give you better insight than me making untested of-the-cuff remarks in comments. One thing I'd probably try would be dropping mechanisms that are complicated to calculate or track like the bleeding effects, for flow of play/playability reasons. Simpler is often better. \$\endgroup\$ May 15 at 18:02

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