May 2, 2016

Enlightened Fist

Monastic Tradition
Comments from the Finger: This has been in the works for a long time, if only just because getting the Ki Point to short rest spell slot balance was incredibly difficult.

Way of the Enlightened Fist

Monks of the Way of the Enlightened Fist combine a rigorous discipline of academic and religious study with physical development training. For these monks, the metaphysical perfection of the body is incomplete without perfect religious wisdom as well. Thus, they implement the practice of magic, channeled through ki, with their normal unarmed fighting styles, resulting in a phenomenal blend of blinding speed and devastating magic.

Ki Magic 
Through your studies and meditations, you have learned to cast arcane magic by focusing your ki.
     Ki Points. In lieu of spell slots, you cast your spells by focusing your ki. The Ki to Spell Slots table shows the ki point cost of casting a spell of a certain level. The highest spell level you can cast is indicated in the Highest Level column of the Enlightened Fist Spellcasting table.
     Spells Known of 1st Level or Higher. You know three 1st-level spells wizard spells of your choice. The Spells Known column of the Enlightened Fist Spellcasting table shows when you learn more wizard spells of 1st level or higher, and the Highest Level column indicates the highest spell level you can learn.
     Book of Wisdom. Through your education, you have compiled a tome of arcane magic known as a Book of Wisdom. Choose two 1st-level spells that have the ritual tag from any class’s spell list. With your Book of Wisdom in hand, you can cast these spells as rituals. You can only cast these spells as rituals, unless you've learned them by some other means.
     If you find another ritual spell on your travels, you can add it to your Book of Wisdom if its level is equal to or less than half your monk level (rounded up). For each level of the spell, transcribing the spell takes 2 hours and costs 50 gp for the rare inks needed to inscribe it.
     Spellcasting Ability. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for your wizard spells. The power of your spells comes from the focused power of you ki. You use your Wisdom whenever a wizard spell refers to your spellcasting ability. In addition, you use your Wisdom modifier when setting the saving throw DC for a wizard spell you cast and when making an attack roll with one.

Spell save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Wisdom modifier

Spell attack modifier = your proficiency bonus + your Wisdom modifier

Ki to Spell Slots
 Spell Slot Level  Ki Point Cost 

Enlightened Fist Spellcasting
 Monk Level   Spells Known  Highest Level 

Fist of Energy
Starting at 3rd level, when you hit a creature with one of the attacks granted by your Flurry of Blows, you can change the damage type to cold, fire, or lightning.

Ki Surge
At 6th level, you can use your action to tap into a deep well of ki, regaining a number of expended ki points equal to your proficiency bonus. After using this ability, you must complete a long rest before using it again.

Arcane Sight
By 11th level, you can innately detect magical auras. You can cast the spell detect magic as a bonus action without expending a spell slot.

Stunning Blast
Starting at 17th level, when you deliver a stunning strike, you can also cast a spell of 3rd level or lower targeting the same creature as a bonus action, provided the spell has a casting time of 1 action of lower.

Changelog: 5/2/16: Ki Magic: Typo fixed
Fist of Energy: No bonus action required
5/4/16: Fist of Energy: Now only changes the damage when you make a flurry of blows, but no ki cost
5/19/16: Ki Surge: replaces Diamond Soul feature


  1. Looks rock solid, apart from a typo in the first sentence of spells known.

    I do not often like monks, but when I do it's when they are more wizardy!

    1. Typo fixed! This thing was an absolute nightmare to balance, so I'm glad it looks functional.

  2. This is intriguing! I've been looking for something to gestalt with a moon circle druid. I like this idea.

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  4. Are you sure about the bonus action and ki cost activation of Elemental Strikes?

    For the same Ki and Bonus Action, a monk can make two unarmed strikes using his monk damage dice and add his ability modifier.

    For just his bonus action, he can make one extra attack.

    Even at level three with a 16 dex, 1d4+3 or 2d4+6 is better than 1d6 (Element) except against things vulnerable to that element.

    The comparison becomes worse as time goes on, as the unarmed strike die becomes 1d12+5 (Assuming 20 dex by 20th level).

    This is on top of the fact that the archetype is very ki hungry.

    I would suggest revising the feature or removing it for something else. It might be worth it as (Unarmed Strike Die + Wis) if it applied to both attacks on an attack action, but as it stands it is a dead feature.

    1. Fist of Energy* Sorry, typo.

    2. I totally see your point. I think I added the bonus action by mistake here (meaning you should be able to use this with your flurry of blows, if desired.) Since I'm in a hurry, I'll drop the bonus action for now, and give it a closer look tonight to see if any other changes need to be made.

    3. Does it only apply to one attack? As it stands, the wording of (Once on each of your turns, when you make an unarmed strike...) implies that it just one attack, but you mentioned using it with flurry.

      If I may make a suggestion, given that monks very much skew toward a flurry of attacks the once per round might not cut it.

      Have you considered a 'Flurry of Cantrips'? Like, either allowing them to activate their bonus action strike / flurry after casting a cantrip or cast a cantrip as a bonus action for a ki point when taking the attack action?

      Maybe exclude Greenflame Blade and Booming Blade, but comparatively...

      A flurry full attack is at best 4d12+20 or average 66 (average 16.5 per hit, 33 for the flurry).

      A flurry of cantrips is at best 2d12+10+4d10 or average 55, 22 from the cantrip.

      I would negate disadvantage for using the cantrip in melee and maybe give advantage so you are trading about 10-11 damage for +5 to hit and KAMEHAMEHA.

      At the level the feature is gained, the math is... 3d4+12 for flurry, or 16.5 (5.5 per hit)

      Compared to cantrip of 1d4+3+1d10 or 11. But again, Kamehameha!

      This of course, assumes that one is using Firebolt. Other cantrips will do less damage, but offer greater utility which seems like the theme of this subclass.

      Greenflame Blade will do more, maybe. Booming Blade, only if they move.

      I would say casting with advantage is worth the ki point, but simply casting a cantrip in melee sans disadvantage (and maybe a 'Damaging Cantrip Only' clause to prevent punching the stuffing out of someone and casting friends... over and over) is probabaly only worth the bonus action for a straight classed monk.

    4. So there's a little bit of ambiguity with this suggestion, and a few problems to riddle out.

      Firstly, if you're recommending just casting a cantrip as a bonus action, I'm afraid that the damage increase each round will just be too high. Sorcerers can get access to this ability with Quicken Spell, but it's pretty limited, and would be need to be worth far more than 1 ki point. After all, sorcery points recharge on a long rest, whereas ki points recharge on a short rest. More appropriate is probably a comparison to the eldritch knight, which gets an ability similar to this (but only allowing a single attack along with the cantrip) at 7th level.

      Secondly, what do we do about saving throw cantrips or cantrips that require multiple attack rolls? These don't seem to work with the idea of being cast through a strike. You've already mentioned booming blade and greenflame blade, and it's getting out of hand when you need to have a consolidated list of cantrips that can be used with the feature.

  5. I would like to see the math supporting that the cantrip (as an action permitting martial arts and flurry) or as a bonus action outperforms the monk simply spending a ki point on Flurry instead.

    The only way to do so would be to multiclass Wizard Evoker or Warlock but both of those make Monk MAD, needing Con, Wis, Dex, and Cha/Int.

    I am going to combine both hits of a flurry when explaining dice.

    A flurry of blows is literally 2d4+6 (twice the damage of a single hit of a cantrip) at the level this archetype is gained. 1d4+3 is the same as 1d10 but with less variance, so casting a cantrip as an action and then flurrying only breaks even and only then on the average of the time.

    A monk at level five is flurrying or doing its regular attack action for 2d6+8 A 2d10 cantrip is -less- damage here.

    The gap only gets wider, as unarmed strike die increases all the way to 1d12+5 in a straight classed monk, making the flurry or lost attack action worth 2d12+10, against with 4d10 is a loss of a few damage and a much lower floor.

    Your present option is not worth the ki point, at any level. It is a trap feature, in an edition that (at least is supposed to) tries not to put trap features in classes.

    1d4+3+1d6 (Insert Element) for a single strike in a potential 3 hit combo is a loss of half a first level spell or a dash action or a flurry of blows or a dodge action. It only ever is worth the ki against something vulnerable to the element of which there are not many in this edition.

    Please, refute my points with math that supports the monk is getting a benefit from having this feature. A feature that makes you less efficient on a resource starved archetype in a resource-demanding game is not good design.

    Something that might be worth the Ki instead, would be cloaking yourself in elemental energy with your bonus action and causing any attacker that strikes you in melee to take (ELEMENT) damage equal to your unarmed strike die. 1d6 damage that doesn't scale and doesn't add stats quickly becomes a trap ki power.

    You could call it Elemental Nimbus, even.

    1. Alternatively, you could keep it as-is and remove the ki cost, making it 'turn an unarmed attack to elemental damage' once per round. This is, the simplest option but for it to cost Ki it needs to affect all strikes you do in a round, at the very minimum and even then you are trading longevity for burst in a net-loss.

    2. Your last suggestion - just removing the ki point cost and damage altogether - might be the best option here. Let me explain why:

      Mathematically, +1d6 to a melee attack is inferior to a flurry, but the two are not mutually exclusive and it doesn't make sense to compare them head-to-head. You can flurry and use a fist of energy on your turn, which is strictly better than just using a flurry, if more resource intensive. Because it burns resources, you won't be able to flurry for as many turns, but that's the only cost you pay for higher DPS.

      Moreover, replacing with a cantrip + strike, ala eldritch knight is a major mistake, since you'd be getting it 4 levels earlier, and with arguably greater damage output. And giving this subclass cantrips was never part of my design for it. Providing the player with a comparatively damaging cantrip option (because it would be silly to give them cantrips only with this feature) means they always have the option to simply used ranged magic attacks, rather than getting up close in melee, which is not what the monk is about at all.

      However, since this class does offer two new options to use ki at 3rd level, it makes sense that the less prudent player would run out of resources rather quickly. Removing the ki point cost and extra damage from fist of energy simplifies the choice offered to players and keeps less experienced players from nova-ing ki away in a bad situation.

    3. I support this change. I want to thank you for discussing this with me, because I honestly adore what you fellows do on MFoV and have gotten many character concepts from it.

      I actually have to apologize because I didn't realize that the archetype didn't offer cantrips. I am so used to your quartercaster archetypes giving them that I didn't realize this one didn't.

      I, personally, am an efficiacy nut - 5e is great because efficiacy can be mathed pretty effectively. The worth of a Ki point can be traced to the flurry it enables, for example.

      Will the revised Elemental Fist be once per turn or at-will? The present rules language says once per turn, but also says strike and strikes equally frequently. It could use a clean up when you revise the feature.

    4. Anytime! I welcome criticism and analysis of any kind here -- I'd like to think it keeps the work we do sharp. Thanks for the math and the insight!

      The revised elemental fist is just going to apply to all strikes made when you do a flurry. I'll go ahead and commit the changes right now.

  6. Pretty sure there's already a Diamond Soul feature; it's on lvl 14 and give proficiency in all saves, and reroll a save for 1 ki (which makes this one useless when you get to 14).
    Maybe some way of turning ki points into element-based damage? Or would that be too powerful?

    1. Wow, I can't believe I missed that feature! I'll swap this one out with something else later tonight.

  7. This is absolutely perfect for Monks of the Way of the Shining Hand, an order of monks devoted to Azuth, the god of wizards in the Forgotten Realms.