July 24, 2021

Way of the Flagellant

Monastic Tradition
Comments from the Finger: If this looks familiar, it's because it's a redux of Way of the Wheel! And this will probably be the last redux post for a while, as our new book,

Valda's Spire of Secrets

is finally done! We're launching a Kickstarter for it starting on August 31st. Save the date, tell your friends. This is the Mage Hand Press Player's Handbook you've all been waiting for. We'll talk about it more in the coming weeks, but here's the elevator pitch: 380 pages, 10 base classes, 150+ subclasses. Get hyped.

Way of the Flagellant

The Way of the Flagellant teaches an extreme, sometimes heretical, view of asceticism: peace comes through suffering, purity through pain. Its practitioners shun all indulgences and embrace pain to harness their ki and isolate themselves further from the material world. As such, these monks often carry their eponymous flails and whips, both to use on themselves and their foes. Their pain is a mortal penitence and an act of focusing, letting them block out all else and manipulate their ki with expert intent.

Ascetic Implements
When you choose this tradition at 3rd level, you learn the techniques of the Way of the Flagellant, including their signature weapons. You gain proficiency with flails and whips, which count as monk weapons for you.
Additionally, you can choose to deal slashing instead of bludgeoning damage with your unarmed strikes.

Penitent Lash
At 3rd level, when you start your turn, you can sharpen your focus by spending 1 ki point and striking yourself with a ritualistic flail. You take 2d4 slashing damage and gain advantage on the first attack you make with a monk weapon or unarmed strike on your turn. If you instead choose to take 4d4 slashing damage, you can gain advantage on all of your attack rolls on your turn, instead of only your first. This ability has no effect if you reduce or avoid taking the slashing damage. 

Art of Punishment
By 6th level, your expertise in the purifying discipline of pain has granted you new ways to share agony. You gain the following abilities: 
Branding Palm. When you hit a creature with an unarmed strike, you can spend 1 ki point as a bonus action to brand the creature. The next attack that hits a branded creature within the next minute deals an additional 2d8 fire damage. At 11th level, this damage increases to 3d8, and at 17th level, this damage increases to 4d8.
Electroshock Strike. Immediately after you take the Attack action on your turn, you can spend 1 ki point to cast the shocking grasp cantrip as a bonus action. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for this spell.
Scissorhand Technique. If you deal slashing damage to a creature with a monk weapon or unarmed strike, you can also spend 1 ki point to give the target a bleeding wound. Constructs, oozes, and undead can’t get bleeding wounds. A creature loses 1d6 hit points at the start of each of its turns for each of its bleeding wounds unless it uses an action to staunch the bleeding. While a target is bleeding, it can't regain lost hit points. A creature can have a number of bleeding wounds up to your proficiency bonus.

Purity Through Pain
Beginning at 11th level, you enter a rapturous frenzy when wounded. Whenever you take damage in excess of your character level, you can use your reaction to regain 1d4 ki points. You can use this ability a number of times equal to your Wisdom modifier (minimum once) and regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.

Beginning at 17th level, when you use your Penitent Lash feature, you can choose to increase the slashing damage taken to 6d4. When you do so, you gain all the benefits of that feature, and your unarmed strikes deal an additional 1d4 slashing damage on a hit until the end of your turn.

7/27/21: Electroshock Strike should take a bonus action
Exsanguinate: Wording changed for clarity 


  1. Regarding Purity Through Pain, does it trigger on a single instance of above-level damage, or does it trigger cumulatively? ex. a single instance of 21 damage, as opposed to four instances of 6 damage, with the fourth triggering the effect. I assume the former.

    1. It's about single-instance damage. Now that _can_ be confusing when your GM busts out magic missile, but it's not gonna be too crazy most of the time.

  2. Greetings :)
    I believe Purity through pain should have a higher dice, since 1d4 seems little for a 11th level pc. Scissorhand technique could maybe include plants as creatures that don´t bleed, or it could have a more general condition, like "creature that don´t have blood".
    Other than that, I really like this! Reminds me of Darkest Dungeon´s Flagellant.

    1. 1d4 isn't a _lot_, but it's ki point regeneration! I wouldn't feel good giving any more than that, lest we get too silly with Stunning Strikes.

      I was actually chewing on the Scissorhand type, but there _are_ plant creatures that basically have blood. D&D is weird! I think it's a lot easier to ask the GM to look at creature type than decide what sorts of blood each creature has.

    2. Oh, sorry, I read hit points instead of ki points!

      Regarding the type, I agree with that... because it is hard to imagine making an ent bleed, for example.

      Other than that good luck with your kickstarter!

  3. Is Electroshock Strike's Shocking Grasp not taking up any action cost? So as in, for instance, you could make two attacks, cast Shocking Grasp (for 1 ki), and then do a bonus action punch?

    1. That's a great catch! It ought to be a bonus action.

  4. Branding Palm seems a bit weak, but it's just an extra option so no big deal. The other two options are really cool.

    It's kinda weird that bleeding wounds are stopped as an action. It's usually a con save, medicine, or healing magic. Seems odd that healing magic doesn't close the wound but holding it for 6 seconds does.

    Is exsanguinate 4d6 in addition to, or instead of, the 4d4 from penitent lash?

    Overall, very cool, lots of fluff, and very reminiscent of Darkest Dungeon, as Unknown said.

    1. Branding Palm is pretty strong when you run the numbers! I was actually worried about its total damage output.

      The Bleeding Wounds work this way to keep things simple. I didn't want to create a contested check sort of thing when it won't make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things and might serve to slow down the game a lot. Plus, this is a mechanic we're also using elsewhere, so I wanted to make sure it's portable.

      The 6d4 from Exsanguinate is instead of 4d4.

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  6. good concept, not sure I like the numbers. Monk can start with 16 dex 16 wis 14 con, 18+6, 24 hp on average at level 3. 2d4 dmg for advantage? No thank you.

  7. The feature Penitent Lash seems to be very bad, receiving a one time advantage for ~5 hp, or advantage on 1 turn for ~10 hp is a horrible deal.
    Also, because this feature is very bad, the level 17 feature is insanely weak as well, 1d4 damage extra? How does this count as a level 17 feature?

    All in all, I don't know what the point of the two features is, the level 6 feature seems way more developed, seems like that should be the focus of the class.

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