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5e Character Archetypes: Way of the Sword (Monk)

Way of the Sword

Monks of the Way of the Sword relish in the display and mastery of all tools of war. Through routine practice, live sparring, and studious recording of new techniques, these monks perfect the art of combat. They see the weapon as a tool, an extension of the self, with combat as the truest form of expression. Some seek this path for challenge while others strive for martial dominance as the only way to assure peace. They all learn how to fight with a dazzling array of weaponry, using ancient techniques to outpace their foes, and use their Ki to hone their fighting abilities.

Weapon Artistry

At this level and every 3rd level after, choose one weapon to become proficient with, including improvised weapons. Weapons chosen this way are treated as a monk weapon for the purposes of other monk abilities. If a shield or spiked armor is chosen in this manner, it can be used as a weapon without negating other monk abilities, except for Unarmored Defense, if the armor spikes or shield are used defensively. Additionally,  you gain two martial techniques. You can use one technique with a monk weapon as part of a flurry of blows or by expending 1 point of Ki to use up to one technique with a monk weapon attack. Every three levels hereafter, you learn another technique of your choice. If a technique requires a saving throw, its DC is 8 + your proficiency modifier + your Wisdom modifier.




  • Dance of the Mantis: If you drop a creature to 0 hit points or score a critical hit, you may make a bonus attack against a creature within reach, dealing half damage on a hit. (Slashing only).
  • Cobra Fang: This attack ignores armor, ignoring any armor or natural armor bonus to AC the defender has. Magical bonuses are not affected. (Piercing only).
  • Ram’s Charge: On a successful hit, the target of this attack must make a Strength save or be pushed 10 feet away. If the creature fails the save by 10 or more, they are also knocked prone. (Bludgeoning only).
  • Monkey Stagger: When you make this attack as part of an attack of opportunity, you may move during or after the attack up to half your movement speed. This movement does not trigger attacks of opportunity. (Improvised only?)
  • Languid Feathers: Hitting a foe with this attack attempts to pin them to the terrain while hitting them in the joints. The creature must make a Dexterity save or have their speed halved for 5 rounds. If the creature fails its save by 10 or more, they are restrained in place for the duration, until they spend an action to succeed on a Strength to pull themselves free. (Ranged only).
  • Sharkskin Slash: Attempting to flense the skin of the target, that creature must make a Constitution save or take ongoing damage. On a failed save, the creature takes ongoing damage equal to your Dexterity modifier, until they receive healing or 5 rounds pass.
  • Crane Strike: After this attack, which deals only half damage, you may take a bonus Disengage action.
  • Stalking Hyena: If the creature you hit with this attack leaves your reach, you may take a bonus reaction to move up to your movement speed to keep the creature within your reach.
  • Locust Wind: Make a single attack roll and use that same result to attack all creatures within reach. Creatures that the attack would hit take the minimum damage you would deal with that weapon. (Melee Weapons only).
  • Fox’s Lunge: As part of this attack, you may move before or during the attack, up to half your movement speed. Attacks of opportunity made against you during that movement are made with disadvantage.
  • Mongoose Snarl: Following this attack, whether or not it hits, the creature you attacked will trigger attacks of opportunity from you by attempting an attack.
  • Tiger’s Rend: If you hit the same target with two light weapon attacks, you rend apart the target, dealing damage to it as if you had struck another time with one of your light weapons. This can only be activated once per turn. (Light Weapons only).
  • Quill Storm: Make an attack roll and use that roll to make an attack against all targets within a 15 ft. cone, up to the number of weapons you are holding. Successful hits only deal half damage. (Thrown Weapons only).
  • Scorpion Tail: If another technique would miss, and have no effect due to the miss, you may instead make a new attack against a different target within reach and deal the minimum damage on a hit. (Versatile Weapons only).
  • Bear Claw: When using this technique against an inanimate object, you deal double damage and ignore the object’s hardness. Alternatively, you may make a weapon attack roll in place of a Strength check to burst open a door or lock. Magical make a Charisma save to reduce that damage by half and reduce the damage by their hardness. If a creature is holding the object, they may make a Dexterity save to reduce the damage by half. (Heavy weapon only).
  • Mantis Leap: Before this attack, jump up to twice your movement speed by vaulting yourself with your weapon. If you make an attack between the top of the jump arc and landing, and you hit, then roll your damage roll with advantage. (Hafted Weapons only)
  • Frog Tongue: If your attack hits, you may make a free grapple attack on a hit. The target must make a Dexterity or Strength saving throw or become restrained, unable to move except to come closer to you. This effect lasts until the creature expends an action to succeed on a new Dexterity or Strength saving throw. On your turn, you may attempt an opposed Dexterity versus Strength or Dexterity as a bonus action to pull the creature up to 10 ft closer. (Rope-type Weapons only).

Instrument of War

Upon reaching 6th level, your mastery of the flow of combat has allowed you insight into the ways that ki energy can flow through your weapons as an extension of the self. Monk weapons count as unarmed strikes for the purposes of monk abilities, such as flurry of blows. You can draw and sheathe weapons on your person freely between or after any attack you make.

Martial Soul

Starting at 11th level, when you expend a point of ki, your control over your spiritual energies is honed enough that you can choose to route the energy through a monk weapon. This manifests as either a +1d4 bonus to damage rolls with a monk weapon or a +2 bonus to AC. The effect lasts until the end of your next turn.

The field of battle is your home. Being roughed up in battle, suffering wounds and challenging yourself against foes rejuvenates you. When you become bloodied, you may recover half of your ki pool. Once you have regained ki points this way, you may not do so again until you complete a long rest.

Lotus in the Field of Death

Starting at 17th level, whenever you kill a creature or force its unconditional surrender in combat, you may move up to your movement speed and make a single attack. You cannot use this ability more than once each turn. Once you use this ability three times, you may not use it again until you complete a short rest.

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