How to Build a Combat-Ready Monk in D&D 5E

Want to make the most out of your monk? Check out our guide down below.

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Dungeons and Dragons has been around for many years now. That being said, the massive role-playing game has only grown since its inception. With there having been a recent resurgence of D&D players, more and more tabletop enthusiasts are now picking up their dice for this exciting game. With that in mind, we have concocted a quick build guide for anyone looking to play one of D&D’s most interesting classes.


Dungeons and Dragons means different things to different players. To some, the game is all about role-playing and exploring. To others, the game is about raiding dungeons and fighting monsters. As this is a build guide, this article serves to benefit the latter style player. Beyond that, there are many different ways to build a class in D&D when it comes to combat. This build will ensure that any combat oriented player will have tons of fun. That being said, there are certainly alternate builds that can still achieve combat effectiveness and be lots of fun.

If you would like to learn how to play one of D&D’s other classes, check out our guides down below.







Now with all of that out of the way, check out our fun and combat savvy monk build down below.


The monk is a quite unique class. It can be used as a support class, thanks to sub-classes like Monk of Tranquility. It can be a quasi-defense class, though I am not fond of the monk’s defensive capabilities. More often than not, the monk class will be used to deal damage and to stun single targets.

What the monk lacks in tanking abilities or outrageous damage output, the class makes up for in mobility. Through its increased movement speed and nifty “Step of the Wind” ability, the monk can quickly zip into combat, land a few strikes and then flee away from danger before soaking up any damage.

To that end, this build will allow you to leap into the enemy’s backline and disrupt high-level targets with some damage and crowd control effects before leaping back to safety again. If you want unrelenting damage output, then perhaps consider checking out the fighter build guide up above. For those that enjoy tanking, the barbarian build guide up above can be quite a bit of fun. However if you want a unique style of damage dealing and incredible mobility, then you have come to the right place.

Character OptionBest ChoiceDescription
Race:Wood ElfThis race provides a +2 dex and +1 wisdom bonus. As far as ability bonuses are concerned, it’s hard to beat the wood elf for this build. On top of that, this race offers some highly welcomed additional movement speed.
Monastic Tradition:Way of the KenseiThis sub-class will allow you to count additional weapons towards your martial prowess, which will prove useful later.
Ability Score Improvement:+2 DexterityThis is the most important ability to this build, as it accounts for attack bonus and damage bonus among other things.
Feat #1:SharpshooterThis feat will greatly increase your damage output with range weapons.
Feat #2: MobileThis feat will capitalize on the monk’s greatest trait, mobility. Leaping in and out of the action will be much easier thanks to this feat.
Ability Score Improvement: +2 DexterityThis is the most important ability to this build, as it accounts for attack bonus and damage bonus among other things.
Ability Score Improvement: +2 WisdomAs the second most important ability, wisdom is responsible for an important saving throw. However, it will also affect your armor class and the difficulty class of your stunning strike.

There are many ways to build a monk. With this setup, you will be capable of attacking enemies from a distance and from melee. I always enjoy the combat versatility of being able to choose if I want to front line or just volley damage from the backline of my group, as this is a great way to really manage your aggro during battle.

The “Mobile” feat is really nice for when you want to step into combat for some quick damage before dipping back out of the way. The monk is not as tanky as some other characters, so it is tactically best to take advantage of the class’ superior mobility as much as you can.

Character OptionBest ChoiceDescription
Weapon:LongbowThis will act as a monk weapon thanks to the “Path of the Kensei” sub-class. Consequently, you will be able to take advantage of all of your monk abilities while still benefiting from a range weapon.
Armor:NoneMonks gain their wisdom bonus to their armor class whenever they are not wearing armor or shields. As this build demands a high wisdom bonus, it is best to just keep things light and avoid wearing any armor.
Skill Proficiencies:Acrobatics and StealthAcrobatics and stealth are both dexterity based skills, which makes them effective skills for this build. Beyond that, both of the skills have in-combat and out-of-combat potential.

The key to this build is combat versatility and mobility. Thanks to the “Path of the Kensei” sub-class, the character can equip a longbow as a monk weapon. Equipped with a longbow while using the “Sharpshooter” feat, a monk can deal significant damage from afar. Being able to deal damage from range is incredibly advantageous, as you will be able to avoid more damage than otherwise could have been avoided by fighting melee on the front lines. That being said, a monk can still benefit from unarmed attacks and flurry of blows whenever they wish to apply their skills up close in melee.

Consequently, this build will allow you the freedom to stay at ranged to pick off enemies with your longbow. Or, you can dive into the action and pummel opponents with unarmed strikes.

It is also important to note that the kensei sub-class allows a monk to choose a series of other new weapons to act as monk weapons for the character. As you can trade out each weapon’s damage for martial arts damage, the decision concerning which weapons to add to your arsenal is largely personal opinion.

AbilityAbility Point AllocationDescription
Strength:10This is a dump stat for this build.
Dexterity:20This is the most important ability for a good monk. Responsible for your armor class, initiative, an important saving throw, several skills, some damage output and your attack bonus, dexterity is simply king. It is also important to note that this ability gained a +2 racial bonus and two +2 ASIs in order to become 20. Through standard array, this score was initially 14.
Constitution:13This ability is a tertiary concern for this build. It is always nice to have a hefty constitution. That being said, there are more important things to spend your ability points on.
Intelligence:8This is a dump stat for this build.
Wisdom:18This is the second most important ability for this build. Wisdom will define your effectiveness with many of your monk abilities, including the DC for “Stunning Strike.” It is important to note that this ability was 15 before earning a +1 racial bonus and a +2 ASI.
Charisma:12This is a dump stat for this build.

Warning: Concerning your ability scores, the graph above is using the standard 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8 ability allocation that players can use if they do not wish to roll their stats. That being said, your dungeon master may have you role for your stats rather than allocate your ability points manually.

The important thing to note about this build’s ability point allocation is that dexterity should take priority. Past that, wisdom is incredibly useful for any monk. Lastly, your constitution should not be too low. While you should be using your mobility to avoid as much aggro as possible, a hefty constitution will still ensure that you can handle danger whenever you can’t quite avoid taking damage.

Ultimately, this build is all about staying out of danger. The monk’s incredible mobility will ensure that you can get out of the way after diving in to dish out a stunning strike. Meanwhile, the character’s ability to deal damage from afar with a longbow will ensure that you can maintain your damage output whenever things get too harry on the front lines.

There are many other ways to build a monk. That being said, this build can be quite a bit of fun to play and quite a nuisance for your foes to deal with.

For all your D&D needs, check out Dungeons and Dragons Guides Portal – Anything and Everything D&D.

Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything Supplement

The Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything supplement for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition introduces several new options for the monk class. Here are some of the new features:

  • Optional Class Features: Monks can now choose several new features, such as Dedicated Weapon, which allows them to designate a non-monk weapon as a monk weapon after a short rest 1.
  • New Monastic Traditions: Monks can now choose two new subclasses: The Way of Mercy and the Way of the Astral Self. The Way of Mercy focuses on healing and support, while the Way of the Astral Self focuses on astral projection and combat 2.
  • New Feats: Monks can now choose several new feats, such as Crusher, which allows them to deal extra damage and impose disadvantage on the target’s next attack 3.

To build a combat monk from these updates, you could consider the following options:

  • Race: Choose a race that complements your combat style and ability scores. For example, a variant human can gain an extra feat at level 1, which can be used to get an early advantage, such as Mobile or Tough 2.
  • Subclass: Choose the Way of the Astral Self subclass to gain access to astral arms that can deal force damage and grapple enemies. You can also use your ki points to enter an astral form that grants you temporary hit points and other benefits 2.
  • Feats: Choose feats that enhance your mobility, damage output, or defense. For example, Mobile allows you to move faster and avoid opportunity attacks, while Tough increases your hit points and survivability. You can also choose Crusher to deal extra damage and control the battlefield 3.
  • Equipment: Choose weapons and armor that suit your combat style and budget. For example, you can use a quarterstaff or a spear as your monk weapon, or you can use a shield for extra defense. You can also use darts or shortbows for ranged attacks 2.

Hunter Boyce is a writer, which probably seems pretty obvious with "author" prominently displayed. He mostly writes about video games. However, he was previously a mixed martial arts news writer. When not writing about people pelting each other in the face or about leveling up in the latest RPG, he tends to spend his time as a web producer in Atlanta. You can shout all of your MMA and video game related quandaries at him at @SomthinClever on Twitter. Feel free to make your demands to him in ALL CAPS. He loves that.

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