Monks are devout followers of law and order. They seek physical perfection through rigorous study and discipline. They unite mind, body, and soul to attaint heir most perfect self. Monks carry few possessions, and given their natural abilities, they need few tools to accomplish their goals.

Follow this guide to discover how to best optimize the skills, weapons, features, and abilities for a D&D 5e Monk class character build. While the options presented here may be the optimal build for a monk (in my opinion), the beauty of D&D character creation is that the only limit is your imagination so feel free to build your character whichever way you want to.

The guide that follows uses a color-coding system to rank the abilities granted.
Blue = An essential, class-defining ability you would be remiss to overlook.
Green = A strong choice for your class.
Orange = Average option, useful in specific circumstances
Red = Below average, extremely situational, or otherwise just bad.

All features and abilities are from the core rulebook set (Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master’s Guide) unless otherwise attributed.

Party Role

Monks are a support class and primary combatant rolled into one. They start out weaker than every other class, but slowly grow into a consistent and reliable source of damage coupled with tons of support abilities and skills to help the party in a pinch.


  • Self-sufficient. Monks do not rely on weapons, armor, or magic. They are powerful combatants that utilize their bodies as their tool and weapon in most situations
  • Monks have access to a variety of skills that allow them to be athletic, nimble, and social.
  • Monks have the ability to make the most attacks of any class at low levels and gain even more combat abilities as they advance.


  • Limited Magic. Monks do not gain any spell casting ability. Some Monastic Traditions allow them to channel their Ki into spells, but the selection is very limited.
  • Short rest reliance. Monks’ abilities are based on their use of Ki. These points are a limited pool and are recovered after a rest. A Monk cannot last through too many encounters without given the opportunity to rest.
  • Few Proficiencies. Monks are not proficient with any armor and are only proficient with a very limited pool of weapons. This limits the usefulness of magic items the party would find.

Check out this video by Don’t Stop Thinking which summarizes the D&D Monk Class:

Ability Scores

Strength: Monks have abilities that remove the need for a high strength stat at all. They get proficiency with strength saves to somewhat make up for their lack of strength in a Dexterity build character.

Dexterity: Dexterity powers your attacks and armor class.

Constitution: Constitution is important since you only have 1d8 hit dice.

Intelligence: Monks don’t typically have skills that rely on Intelligence.

Wisdom: Wisdom will fuel your AC and abilities. Maxing it should be high on your list.

Charisma: None of your skills rely on Charisma.


Greyhawk and Forgotten Realms Races

AarakocraEEPC: The perfect Monk build, Dexterity and Wisdom, and flight.

AasimarVGtM: Aasimar has nothing to offer Monks.

Fallen: Nothing for Monks.

Protector: The Wisdom bonus makes this the only worthwhile subrace.

Scourge: Nothing for Monks.

BugbearVGtM: Reach for your melee attacks is solid. The small Dexterity increase helps, and Surprise Attack gives you a nice damage boost if you have Stealth or other monk-abilities that increase your sneakiness.

DhampirVRGtR: Speed boost, natural attack, and spider climb make this a potent option for Monks.

Dragonborn: Nothing for Monks.

Dwarf: The Constitution boost provided gives Monks some much-needed resilience.

Hill Dwarf: The Wisdom boost and bit of additional Hit Points.

Mountain Dwarf: Nothing additional for Monks.

DuergarSCAG: Nothing additional for Monks.

“The ability bonuses granted by the Elf race are strong, and proficiency in perception aids in combat awareness.”

Elf: The ability bonuses granted by the Elf race are strong, and proficiency in perception aids in combat awareness. Access to the Elven Accuracy feat from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything goes a long way with your considerable number of attacks.

Drow: The worst choice for Monk.

EladrinMToF: Poor choice for Monk.

High Elf: Poor choice for Monk.

Sea ElfMToF: Extra constitution for resilience, and a second mobility option. The Monk’s speed increases apply to all movement modes.

Shadar-KaiMToF: Dexterity and Constitution increases make a good pairing. Teleportation helps with battlefield positioning.

Wood Elf: Arguably the best overall choice for Monks, Wood Elf grants a bonus to your two main stats, extra speed, and Mask of the Wild.

FairyTWBtW: Flight and some supplemental spellcasting

FirbolgVGtM: Bonus Wisdom and some minor spellcasting.

GenasiEEPC: The bonus to constitution is a welcome addition to the Monk’s abilities.

Air: Dexterity increase goes a long way to aid your combat abilities.

Earth: Poor choice for Monk.

Fire: Poor choice for Monk.

Water: Wisdom increase and Fire resistance.

GithMToF: The base Gith package isn’t stellar for Monks.

Githyanki: A poor choice for Monks.

Githzerai: A Wisdom increase and a few peripheral abilities that are surpassed by other races.

Gnome: Gnomes don’t have any traits that benefit Monks.

Deep (Svirfneblin)EEPC/SCAG: Poor choice for Monk.

Forest: A Dexterity increase, but otherwise a poor choice for Monk.

Rock: Poor choice for Monk.

GoblinVGtM: Between the ability score increases and the Nimble Escape option, you have a ton of bonus action options that would otherwise cost you a Ki point. Fury of the Small is a nice addition to your already prolific attack suite.

GoliathVGtM/EEPC: Entirely Strength-based. A poor choice.

Half-Elf: Monk is the one class Half-Elf isn’t a stellar choice for, given its many small bonuses. A Monk needs a single strong support suite of abilities from its race.

Standard: A mediocre choice. Monks are already set on the few skills they actually need.

AquaticSACG: Only worthwhile in an aquatic campaign.

DrowSCAG: Full Drow is better suited for you if you want the spellcasting.

Moon/SunSCAG: Nothing good for Monks.

WoodSCAG: Just be a full Wood Elf.

Half-Orc: Poor choice for Monks.

Halfling: Luck compliments your many attacks rather well. And a Dexterity increase to boot!

Lightfoot: Charisma isn’t important for Monks. The Stealth proficiency might come in handy.

GhostwiseSCAG: Perfect ability score increases, but not much else.

Stout: Constitution increase and extra hit points.

HarengonTWBtW: Quick reflexes and extra speed are a hat-on-a-hat for a Monk, but when you’re trying to min/max this is a good option.

HexbloodVRGtR: Nothing that is very useful for Monks.

HobgoblinVGtM: A tempting choice, given the Constitution increase and Saving Face ability, but overall less useful than many other races.

Human: Humans are a solid choice for every class.

Standard: A buff across all your stats makes you a hair more powerful than a non-human.

Variant: A feat at first level, and a bonus to your two main stats gives you a great edge at first level.

KenkuVGtM: Awesome ability increases and skill proficiencies. If you can get Thieves’ Tools from your background, you can function as a budget Rogue.

KoboldVGtM: Pack Tactics gives you a great way to get advantage on your myriad attacks.

LizardfolkVGtM: The Lizardfolk’s natural armor conflicts with the Monk’s unarmored ability, but if you aren’t concerned about your stunning fist DC, you can focus on Dex and Con, giving you a higher degree of durability.

OrcVGtM: Poor choice for Monks.

RebornVRGtR: In most cases, this race would be mediocre. In the case of a skill-forward class like Monk, the Knowledge from a Past Life ability will come in very useful.

TabaxiVGtM: Another great choice, with good ability score increases and supplemental abilities.

“Kenku monks have awesome ability increases and skill proficiencies.”

Tiefling: The base Tiefling package isn’t very exciting, and most of the subraces are weak as well.

Standard: Fire resistance and Darkvision are great, but the ability score increases aren’t stellar.

Devil’s TongueSCAG: Poor choice for Monk.

FeralSCAG: The only subrace worth considering. Dexterity bonus granted!

HellfireSCAG: Poor choice for Monk.

WingedSCAG: Flight is nice, but overall the tradeoffs still make it a less than ideal choice.

AsmodeusMToF: Poor choice for Monk.

BaalzebulMToF: Poor choice for Monk.

DispaterMToF: Poor choice for Monk.

FiernaMToF: Poor choice for Monk.

GlasyaMToF: Poor choice for Monk.

LevistusMToF: Poor choice for Monk.

MammonMToF: Poor choice for Monk.

MephistophlesMToF: Poor choice for Monk.

ZarielMToF: Poor choice for Monk.

TortleXGE/TP: Quite an interesting choice, as you’ll prefer the Tortle’s armor over the Monk’s unarmored defense at low levels.

TritonVGtM: Poor choice for Monk.

Yuan-Ti PurebloodVGtM: Poor choice for Monk.

Eberron Races

ChangelingERLW: Poor choice for Monk.

KalashtarERLW: The Wisdom increase is nice, but the rest of the abilities are sub-par for Monks.

OrcERLW: Poor choice for Monk.

ShifterERLW: Darkvision, and a few random abilities that aren’t very synergistic with the rest of the Monk suite.

Beasthide: Poor choice for Monk.

Longtooth: Poor choice for Monk.

Swiftstride: At least this one grants a Dexterity increase.

Wildhunt: Good ability score increase.

WarforgedERLW: Constitution and a flexible ability score increase make this a good choice.

Strixhaven Races

OwlinSACoC: Flight, stealth, and darkvision.

Ravnica Races

CentaurGGTR: Poor choice for Monk.

LoxodonGGTR: Constitution and Wisdom ability score increases are a good combination.

MinotaurGGTR: Poor choice for Monk.

Simic HybridGGTR: An excellent all-around pick.

VedalkenGGTR: A Wisdom increase and several somewhat useful abilities.

Class Features

Hit Dice: Monks have d8 hit dice, which makes it hard for them to function as a front-line fighter without support. Having high AC and other protection abilities is crucial.

Weapon and Armor Proficiencies: No armor, no shields, and proficiency with a mere handful of weapons makes monks one of the least useful martial classes until you consider their natural combat abilities. Your unarmed attacks will steadily increase in damage die but start at 1d4. At low levels you’re going to deal sub-par damage but will eventually grow to surpass most other classes with your sheer number of attacks.

Tool Proficiencies: Monks don’t gain any tool proficiencies.

Saving Throws: Strength saves don’t come up much, but Dexterity saves are one of the most common. Eventually you’ll get Diamond Body, which grants you proficiency in all saves.

Unarmored Defense: Your main goal as a Monk is to get to 20 Dexterity and Wisdom through ability score improvements, feats, and magic items. If you can achieve that, you’ll have 20 AC, which matches a fully armored character wielding a shield.

Martial Arts: This is why you play a Monk. You’ll rely completely on your Dexterity for combat. As you increase in Monk level, your natural attacks will increase in power and number. You get two-weapon fighting for free and are not reliant on weapons or fighting styles.

Ki: The Monk’s Ki reserve scales with level and is used to fuel a variety of useful abilities. Flurry of Blows is the most basic, granting Monks the most attacks of any class starting at second level. Additionally, access to Dodge and Disengage gives you more options for positioning in combat. This is especially important given your role as a secondary front-liner.

Unarmored Movement: Monks don’t have a lot of options for ranged combat, so the extra movement is important for ensuring you always have targets available.

Deflect Missiles: This only works against ranged weapon attacks. Spells are unaffected. A caster with a cantrip can slide through your defenses. Also, once you are high enough level that your enemies have multiattack you can only stop one projectile per round using your reaction.

Slow Fall: This will save your life and can be used to dramatic effect quite frequently.

Extra Attack: You can attack four times per round when you use flurry of blows as your bonus action.

Stunning Strike: You can use this any number of times in a round, so with flurry of blows you have up to four chances.

Ki-Empowered Strikes: This is especially important since you aren’t proficient with many weapons.

Evasion: With Dexterity as one of your main stats, you’re going to take little to no damage from effects that require Dexterity saves.

Stillness of Mind: This is very situational but being reliably on your party’s side means they won’t have to worry about how to deal with you if you get mind controlled.

Purity of Body: Disease and poison can really ruin your day.

Tongue of the Sun and Moon: This isn’t very important if you have a Bard or Wizard who can speak may languages or have access to Tongues.

Diamond Soul: Proficiency in all saves makes you more resistant to magical assault.

Timeless Body: Age almost never matters in game.

Empty Body: Invisibility is great, astral projection is neat, but generally not useful on a daily basis.

Perfect Self: This ensures you always have fuel for your Flurry of Blows whenever you get into a fight.

Monastic Traditions

Drunken MasterXGtE

The Drunken Master is a chaotic, whirling force of fists and fury. Almost every ability granted by this Monastic Tradition increases your speed and damage output, putting it at the top of the short list of Monk options that maximized your mastery of punching things until they die.

Bonus Proficiencies: Two proficiencies for your consideration, but nothing you needed and didn’t have.

Drunken Technique: Adding disengage and 10 ft of movement to your Flurry of Blows takes your attacks to a whole new level. Can you say Crowd Control?

Tipsy Sway: Leap to your Feet ensures that you don’t waste too much of your considerable speed on standing up if you fall down. Redirect attack is very situational, but any opportunity to deal more damage is not wasted on a Monk.

Drunkard’s Luck: Disadvantage on a saving throw is rare, but when it happens it almost certainly spells doom. This ensures you have a fair chance against any effect that seeks to harm you.

Intoxicated Frenzy: This combines with Drunken Technique to net you a total of five attacks during your bonus action, ten feet of additional movement, and the benefits of disengage while you do it. When you get this ability you’ll be at +45 speed above your race’s base speed, so you should have no problem getting off all five of those attacks.

Way of the Astral SelfTCoE

This monastic tradition is a funky one. You channel ghostly versions of yourself to get special powers. This class relies heavily on Wisdom and allows you to completely ignore Dexterity. Monks are generally victims of “no main stat” syndrome, and this alleviates that somewhat.

Arms of the Astral Self: This is you class’ main ability. Basically you spend a ki point to turn on your abilities for ten minutes. At 3rd level, you can summon astral arms that attack with 10 ft reach and use your Wisdom modifier to perform unarmed strikes. The reach is great, allowing you to grapple and shove at a distance, and make attacks of opportunity in a huge range.

Visage of the Astral Self: When you activate your astral form, for an additional ki point you can turn on these add-ons at the same time.

Astral Sight. Deeper darkvision to 120 feet. Cool.

Wisdom of the Spirit. Advantage on Insight and Intimidation checks, situational but useful.

Word of the Spirit. You basically get thaumaturgy and sending at will for ten minutes.

Body of the Astral Self: When you turn on your astral arms and visage you get two more abilities as an add on.

Deflect Energy. Similar to the deflect arrows ability, you can reduce incoming elemental energy damage.

Empowered Arms. Extra damage die for your astral arms attacks.

Awakened Astral Self: For a whopping 5 ki points, you get all the above abilities plus two more.

Armor of the Spirit. +2 AC is nothing to shrug at.

Astral Barrage. You get a third Astral Arms attack each round when you use your Extra Attack feature.

Way of the Four Elements

This Monastic Tradition is a very flexible way to gain access to magic as a Monk without taking class levels in a caster class. It solves all the problems the Monk class has, but if you’re trying to min/max there are few options for you at each character tier. If you go this route, you will gain access to abilities that grant you crowd-control magic, flight, and ways to damage enemies who are resistant to weapon damage.

Disciple of the Elements: The ability to cast spells off your Ki is powerful, considering they recharge after a short rest, thus granting you spellcasting akin to the Warlock. However, many spells cost a large amount of Ki points, which means you’re going to have fewer options for your other Monk abilities like Flurry of Blows.

3rd-level abilities

Elemental Attunement: You get it for free, and it’s mostly for show.

Fangs of the Fire Snake: Allows you to attack at reach, and tack on additional elemental damage, circumventing damage resistance for enemies who would otherwise stonewall your nonmagical fists before you gain access to your magic attacks.

Fist of the Four Thunders: An AoE that scales well with level and gets you out of close combat if it succeeds.

Fist of Unbroken Air: A ranged attack with knockback and knockdown, which basically grants you a free disengage.

Rush of the Gale Spirits: Situational, and much less potent than the other options at this level.

Shape of the Flowing River: It only functions on water, so this will rarely come in handy compared to the other options.

Sweeping Cinder Strike: An AoE with good damage, and scales well as you level up.

Water Whip: Monk is all about having things to hit, so dragging enemies closer fits your theme well.

5th-level abilities

Clench of the North: Paralysis allows your allies to beat an enemy down more easily.

Gong of the Summit: You don’t want to destroy enemy gear, you want to loot the body.

11th-level abilities

Eternal Mountain Defense: Resistance to damage with a long duration, and you eschew the material component making it more economic to cast.

Flames of the Phoenix: Good long-range damage on a classic spell.

Mist Stance: Excellent stealth option.

Ride the Wind: Flight is one of the most broken abilities in the game.

17th-level abilities

Breath of Winter: Cone of Cold deals an amazing amount of damage in a huge area.

River of Hungry Flame: Wall of Fire is a great battlefield control spell for when you want to separate enemies and give them a hard choice for if they want to cross your barrier.

Wave of Rolling Earth: Wall of Stone for an unpassable barrier for battlefield control.

Way of the Long DeathSCAG

A Monastic Tradition that allows you to effectively tank enemies, the Way of the Long Death sees you become a death-worshipping bodhisattva. Most of your abilities revolve around death, whether its your own or that of those around you.

Touch of Death: Temporary hit points whenever you kill a creature gives you incentive to wade into a crowd of enemies and make mince meat of them. Pick off weak enemies with support from your allies and stay in the fight.

Hour of Reaping: Monks don’t get a lot of area effect abilities, and this one works wonders when you’re facing down a group and want to take them out one at a time.

Mastery of Death: You can’t be killed as long as you have Ki remaining.

Touch of the Long Death: A really powerful single attack that replaces all your other attacks for the round. It’s a save for half ability, so it’s guaranteed damage.

Way of the Open Hand

This Monastic Tradition is the classic Monk. You gain more martial arts abilities than any other subclass and will be able to beat up anyone who is foolish enough to challenge you in single combat.

Open Hand Technique: Extra options for using our Ki in addition to your Flurry of Blows ability. Being able to deal knockdown blows grants advantage to other melee allies you are fighting with and reducing the engagement radius of enemies.

Wholeness of Body: A pool of hit points you can restore to yourself. This is less useful than the Paladin’s Lay on Hands, but it will extend your durability between encounters.

Tranquility: Casting Sanctuary on yourself each morning will keep you out of harm’s way until you decide to engage. Considering your main means of communication is punching means you’re going to drop this ward quickly.

Quivering Palm: Ah, the silent killer. For 3 Ki points you can deal a massive amount of damage to anything you connect with.

Way of the KenseiXGtE

Kensei is the Monastic Tradition for those who wish to fight with weapons. It grants a handful of flexible proficiencies, and a ton of flavorful abilities that will allow you to fight like a Monk or a Fighter. It gives you defensive power with the Agile Parry ability, damage boosting abilities with Kensei Shot, and magic weapons once you reach 6th level. Out of all the Monastic Traditions, this one gives you the most abilities, but has less specialization and focus than some other subclass options.

Kensei Weapons: At 3rd level, you will gain proficiency with two weapons. Your best options are a longsword and longbow, allowing you to increase your one-handed melee and ranged damage beyond the restrictions of your martial arts damage die. Taking a whip as a proficient weapon allows you to gain a reach attach, grapple/control options, and a better base damage as your martial arts die damage increases.

Agile Parry: This specifically requires you to make an unarmed attack as part of your attack action. Once you get your extra attack at 5th level, you can choose to make one attack with your Kensei weapon, and one unarmed attack in order to gain the AC bonus.

Kensei’s Shot: This ability doesn’t add a ton of damage to your attack, but if you aren’t in melee you aren’t going to get to use your martial arts, so it’s better than nothing.

Way of the Brush: The tool proficiencies offered are inconsequential, and almost never become relevant.

Magic Kensei Weapons: Normally you rely on your fists to do the talking. Being able to hit for magic damage with your kensei weapons allows you to overcome both non-magical damage resistance, and also damage type resistance.

Deft Strike: Only useful if you are having a hard time connecting on an attack and need to tack on extra damage when you do. Your Ki points are better served granting you more attacks.

Sharpen the Blade: If you don’t find a magic weapon by the time you get to 11th level, you’re covered. However, as a primary weapons-based combatant who likely isn’t wearing armor, you should spend your money on a magic weapon.

Unerring Accuracy: A reroll once per turn that doesn’t cost a Ki point.

Way of MercyTCoE

Formerly the Way of Light and Shadow, this unique monk class uses your Ki to heal and harm at will. It gives you the ability to be a healer or to go full harm at a moments notice. This subclass functions as a normal monk in the respect that you are still a very capable primary combatant, but grants you a decent number of support options as well.

Implements of Mercy: The mask is all for flavor, but the skill and tool proficiencies make you a budget cleric right off the bat.

Hand of Healing: This averages out to a cure wounds cast over your life cycle, and being able to use it during flurry of blows makes it that much better.

Hand of Harm: Spending ki to deal extra damage after you confirm the hit is more beneficial than spending it on a flurry of blows hat might miss.

Physician’s Touch: You can poison an enemy or cure an ally. An incredibly useful ability.

Flurry of Healing and Harm: Built in healing or harming with flurry of blows.

Hand of Ultimate Mercy: You can resurrect an ally from the dead. This is basically revivify, but on a class that doesn’t get spellcasting this is huge.

Way of Shadow

This Monastic Tradition turns the Monk into a Rogue. It’s the best way to play the silent assassin ninja archetype the monk is so good at naturally. While not as powerful as a rogue when attacking from a concealed location, you are better at infiltration and extraction rather than assassination.

Shadow Arts: The ability to use your Ki to cast spells is difficult to justify at low levels, when you only get one per short rest, but as you level up you’ll be able to drop a bunch of spells and still fuel your Flurry of Blows.

Darkness: Stealth becomes your forte. As long as you plan your moves before casting it, you’ll have advantage against any enemies caught in the radius.

Darkvision: If your race already has Darkvision, this isn’t really relevant. If you don’t, this grants you a distinct advantage. The 8-hour duration means you can have it going all day.

Pass Without Trace: Another amazing stealth spell.

Silence: Your best option. Stealth for yourself, and a way to shut down enemy casters while you pummel them into the dirt.

Shadow Step: A long range, bonus action teleport that only works between shadows. This costs you your Flurry of Blows, but it can get you out of a tight spot.

Cloak of Shadows: Combined with your Shadow Step, you can snatch-and-grab and you don’t even have to flee after.

Opportunist: Not depending on enemies leaving your threatened area to use your reaction to attack them is a great source of additional damage, bringing your total number of attacks each turn up to five.

Way of the Sun SoulXGtE

The Sun Soul lets you go full Dragon Ball Z, charging up and firing blasts of energy at your opponents. This monastic tradition gives you serious fire power (pun intended) at range, and a few spell-like abilities that grant area of effect options great for crowd control. It’s a flashy combat style that is the polar opposite of the Way of Shadow and Way of the Open Hand.

Radiant Sun Bolt: A great ranged option for the monk that scales with level. Fueling your blasts with Ki for extra attacks each round can ensure you knock down any opponent before they can even get to you. The radiant damage this ability deals is resisted by fewer things than if it were fire damage. Also, this is an attack, so you get an additional shot at 5th level when you pick up Extra Attack.

Searing Arc Strike: Burning hands is a good low-level AoE which scales with how many Ki points you pump into it.

Searing Sunburst: A less-powerful fireball that deals a lesser resisted damage type. It has a limit to how many Ki points you can pump into it each cast, but it’s repeatable and reliable if you’ve got enough Ki.

Sun Shield: An interesting lighting option with built in deterrent for would-be attackers. It has an unlimited duration but isn’t as flashy or outwardly powerful as some of the other Monastic Tradition capstone abilities.


Acrobatics: Situational in this edition.

Animal Handling: Not relevant for Monks.

Arcana: Not relevant for Monks.

Athletics: One of the most important skills, which is unfortunately based on Strength.

Deception: Not useful for a Monk.

History: Not useful for a Monk.

Insight: Your best charisma skill is reading your opponent.

Intimidation: Not useful for a Monk.

Investigation: Moderately useful, in general.

Medicine: Not useful for a Monk.

Nature: Not useful for a Monk.

Perception: An important all-around skill.

Performance: Not useful for a Monk.

Persuasion: Not useful for a Monk.

Religion: An important knowledge skill.

Sleight of Hand: A great skill to pick up if you’re trying to be a budget Rogue.

Stealth: A great skill for a Monk to pick up, considering your Dexterity is your main stat. Positioning is your most important consideration in combat, as you gain more from having advantage on your many attacks than most classes.

Survival: Not useful for a Monk.


Acolyte: Thematically appropriate, but functionally less than helpful.

Charlatan: A great choice for a Way of Shadow monk, or any Monk looking to engage in rougish activities. Gaining Deception isn’t the most important skill for you, but adding Sleight of Hand to your already available Stealth proficiency turns you into the B&E Rogue your party might be sorely missing.

City WatchSCAG: Not great for Monk.

Clan CrafterSCAG: Not great for Monk.

Cloistered ScholarSCAG: Not great for Monk.

CourtierSCAG: Not great for Monk.

Criminal: Another great choice for the Rogue-analog Monk looking to pick up some sneaky skills.

Entertainer: Not the best option, but the Acrobatics and tools could come in handy.

Faction AgentSCAG: A versatile choice, good for most classes.

Far TravelerSCAG: A versatile choice, good for most classes.

FeylostTWBtW: Not the most important skills, but you can get by.

FisherGoS: Not great for Monk.

Folk Hero: Not great for Monk.

Guild Artisan: Not great for Monk.

Haunted OneVRGtR: Nothing useful for Monk.

Hermit: Medicine and Herbalism are in your wheelhouse if you are focusing on topping out your Wisdom.

InheritorSCAG: Not great for Monk, unless your Kensei weapon is your heirloom.

InvestigatorVRGtR: Not the most efficient for focused character growth, but the skills are generally what you’re looking for, and the disguise kit and thieves tools aid in your infiltration technique.

Knight of the OrderSCAG: Not great for Monk.

Lorehold StudentSACoC: Bad skills for Monks, and suboptimal spells.

MarineGoS: Not great for Monk.

Mercenary VeteranSCAG: Not great for Monk.

Noble: Not great for Monk.

Outlander: Not great for Monk.

Prismari StudentSACoC: Good skills, good spells.

Quandrix StudentSACoC: Bad skills for Monks, and suboptimal spells.

Sage: Not great for Monk.

Sailor: Not great for Monk.

ShipwrightGoS: Not great for Monk.

Silverquill StudentSACoC: Silvery Barbs is a solid spell.

SmugglerGoS: Good for a sneaky Monk, but Criminal and Urchin are probably better.

Soldier: Not great for Monk.

Urban Bounty HunterSCAG: Not great for Monk.

Urchin: The best choice for a rogue-like Monk. Sleight of Hand and Stealth are the two best Dexterity-based skills. Add in Thieves’ Tools and suddenly you’re a budget Rogue.

Uthgardt Tribe MemberSCAG: Not great for Monk.

Waterdhavian NobleSCAG: Not great for Monk.

Witchlight HandTWBtW: Not the most useful skills, but you can use the Sleight of Hand well enough.

Witherbloom StudentSACoC: Spare the Dying, coupled with your innate healing makes you a good backup healer.


Alert: Going first is less important for you, given your increased speed and mobility options.

Athlete: Not great for Monk.

Actor: Not great for Monk.

Charger: You’re already fast and want to make many attacks not one big one.

Crossbow Expert: Monks aren’t proficient with crossbows.

Defensive Duelist: A Kensei can make good use of this fighting with two short swords.

Dual Wielder: You basically get this for free when attacking with your martial arts.

Dungeon Delver: You don’t normally get either requisite skills.

Durable: This can go a long way, considering you’re on d8 hit dice.

Elemental Adept: Not great for Monk. You can combo it with some of the Four Elements skills, but it’s not enough to make it worth it.

Grappler: If you’re focusing on strength (which Monks typically don’t) this could be quite useful. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work with your Dex/Acrobatics. If you can convince your DM to house rule it, this would be very thematic.

Great Weapon Master: Only Kensei will find this useful.

Healer: If you have the Hermit background, this might come in handy.

Heavily Armored: Irrelevant.

Heavy Armor Master: Irrelevant.

Inspiring Leader: Charisma isn’t your strong point.

Keen Mind: Irrelevant.

Lightly Armored: Irrelevant.

Linguist: Flavorful, but not useful.

Lucky: A great feat for Monks especially, given your high number of attacks. Turn your nat 1’s into opportunities.

Mage Slayer: A few options that make it easier for you to put the squeeze on enemy spellcasters.

Magic Initiate: You don’t want to waste your action on a spell when you would forfeit your many attacks.

Martial Adept: Not useful.

Medium Armor Master: Irrelevant.

Mobile: Redundant with monk abilities.

Moderately Armored: Irrelevant.

Mounted Combat: Redundant with monk mobility options. By 2nd level you’re as fast as a horse anyway.

Observant: With your Wisdom you can pass a perception check.

Polearm Master: Not useful for Monks.

Resilient: Diamond Soul has you covered.

Ritual Caster: Not useful for Monks.

Savage Attacker: This feat isn’t good if you consider the math behind it.

Sentinel: A great feat for Monks. Battlefield control is perfect for a melee monster.

Sharpshooter: Not useful for Monks, except possibly a Kensei using a Longbow.

Shield Master: Not useful for Monks.

Skilled: Monks don’t do skills well, but if you feel like you’re lacking this is your best bet.

Skulker: Not useful for Monks.

Spell Sniper: Not useful for Monks.

Strixhaven InitiateSACoC: Magic Initiate is a better choice.

Strixhaven MascotSACoC: A pet flanking gives monks a bigger advantage tan most other classes, gives the sheen number of attacks available to them.

Tavern Brawler: Not useful for Monks.

Tough: Monks need bonus hit points, since they’re on d8 hit die.

War Caster: Not useful for Monks.

Weapon Master: Not useful for Monks.

Weapons and Armor

This is an easy choice for you. No armor. Your unarmored defense has you covered. Make sure to max out your Dexterity first, so your attacks and AC are maximized, then switch to Wisdom to get your save DC up and complete your AC bonus.

Monks don’t need weapons, it’s the main reason to be a Monk in the first place. Carry some darts in case you’re out of range and need to flick a few points of damage at a foe. Otherwise, Kensei has a lot of choices, and Elves come into the class with more options than most.


Monks don’t get a whole lot of magic. The best you can do is approximate spells using the abilities that come with the Way of the Four Elements or Shadow Monastic Traditions.


Barbarian: Two kinds of Unarmored Defense don’t stack, you need to choose one.

Bard: Bardic Inspiration makes you a team player. Jack of all Trades gives you a little more use out of your otherwise useless skills.

Cleric: You won’t benefit from the weapon and armor proficiencies, and low-level spells pale in comparison to your Monk attacks.

Druid: Wild Shape doesn’t mesh well with Monk abilities.

Fighter: Action Surge and Flurry of Blows doubles your attacks.

Paladin: Not a lot of synergy with Monk.

Ranger: Not a lot of synergy with Monk.

Rogue: Sneak attack and Flurry of Blows is a very powerful combo.

Sorcerer: Not a lot of synergy with Monk.

Warlock: Not a lot of synergy with Monk.

Wizard: Not a lot of synergy with Monk.


DMG     Dungeon Master’s Guide
EGtW    Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount
ERLW     Eberron: Rising from the Last War
EEPC      Elemental Evil Player’s Companion
GGtR     Guildmasters’ Guide to Ravnica
MM       Monster Manual
MToF    Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes
PHB        Players Handbook
SCAG     Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide
TP           Tortle Package
VGtM    Volo’s Guide to Monsters
XGtE      Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

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