D&D5e Campaign Update – Playing a Monk

I haven’t done one of these since the initial post. Unfortunately that’s because we haven’t played much recently, having taken a big break over Christmas. I got a chance to play again over the weekend though, so I’m back with another update. I’m not going to write much about the campaign itself; we’re playing Lost Mines of Phandelver so I don’t want to give any spoilers away for people who are also playing the campaign. But in my search to be a better roleplayer I’ve been looking for tips on how to play a Monk, yet there don’t seem to be many. I don’t know if there just aren’t many people playing Monks, but most of the articles I’ve found have been around the time when the Player’s Handbook was released, so I thought I’d use this opportunity to talk about how I’m playing the character. If anyone else is playing a Monk I’d love to hear your thoughts and your experiences with the class.

I’m going to talk a little bit about the session, then about my character specifically and the path I’m choosing, and then some out-of-game stuff.

The session itself was quite good, although we were hampered by one player showing up almost two hours late and another player dropping out due to having talked about breaking up with his girlfriend the previous night. So we were down one player because his head wasn’t in the game, which was fair enough. Despite us not having played since the very end of October we got back into the flow of the story quite quickly. In the last session we had reached the threshold for level 3 so we were all eager to get to a long rest, but we had to wait until the end of the session to do that.

I’m playing a Half-Elf Monk called Corrin, and I didn’t have a very successful session. We had three combats in total, and due to our previous fights I was down to 6 HP, so I wasn’t confident about surviving. However, I didn’t think I’d be as ineffectual as I eventually proved. Firstly, I got hit in the back by an arrow from our Rogue, Quimby, after he rolled a 1. Thankfully it only took 1 HP away but as the turns went around the enemy in front of me became very angry and basically just smushed me before I got a chance to do anything. We NPC’d the character of the player who was absent, and it turned out that he was the most effective, eventually finishing off the bad guys.

In the second combat I rolled low on initiative so by the time it got around to my turn the enemies had already been dealt with. In the third I actually got into the thick of the action, and I tried to pin the enemy against the wall with my Quarterstaff to question him, but I then failed the strength check and was thrown back, prone.

I was disappointed with my efforts in combat but there were moments to roleplay and I enjoyed these (I actually enjoy the roleplaying more than the combat most of the time). Since I’m a Hermit I decided that my character doesn’t really care much for money and only wants enough to be able to live on, so I gave some of my gold away to people who were in need of it, and the DM hinted that this might help increase our reputation. I also was able to gain inspiration too.

The session was a lot of fun, and I think we’re all getting more into the spirit of things, although sometimes the roleplaying is hit and miss. I think we slip out of character too easily, but we are still pretty new to the game so we’re hoping that once we start playing more regularly we will be more comfortable with it. Our DM is doing a really good job as well. He had some misgivings before we started but he’s putting together a good campaign with some nice touches, for instance in this session we came upon a secret door with a brick wall behind it. We pushed it, tried to see if any bricks were a different shade to the others to see if there were any clues that there was a contraption to be pushed, but nothing. It turns out that the DM had mistakenly put a door there! But it was funny, and I like it when there are red herrings now and then, it makes things more interesting rather than there being something secret everywhere.

So we reached the session and now we are level 3 characters. This means that we get to choose a path for our character to follow. Being such a big Avatar: The Last Airbender fan, I’m obviously going for The Way of the Four Elements. But I get some other cool stuff naturally too, like the ability to deflect missiles and even being able to hurl them back! But the Way of the Four Elements is mainly what I want to talk about.

When I initially read through all I could do I was excited because it seems like there’s a lot, but upon closer inspection I only get to choose a small amount of disciplines. One of these is Elemental Attunement, where I can basically affect elements in a small way. I had a choice of a few other things, some of which let me cast spells like Burning Hands and Thunderwave, but since we already have a Sorcerer in the party with those spells and a Warlock who will be learning more spells (I think) I wanted to do things that only I could do. I had three things that leapt out at me.

Fangs of the Fire Snake – Tendrils of flames burst out of my hands and feet and my reach is increased by ten feet for the rest of my turn. My attacks deal fire damage, and I can spend 1 Ki to add an additional 1d10 of fire damage. This one costs 1 Ki to do.

Shape the Flowing River – Affect a 30ft area of ice or water, being able to elevate it, shift it around, whatever. Although I couldn’t use it to trap other creatures. This cost 1 Ki to spend as well.

Water Whip – Use water with a range of 30ft to grab people and unbalance them or push them towards me, and this one cost 2 Ki to spend.

At the moment because I’m level 3 I only have 3 Ki points to spend, and I want to use them as best as I can. I can only regain them by meditating for 30 minutes during a short or long rest, so at the moment I’ll only have a short window in which to use them in combat. Water Whip being 2 Ki points is just too expensive at the moment. Shape the Flowing River seems really cool but I’m wondering how often it would actually come in useful, and the fact that I can’t trap or injure people with it is a major con. At the moment I’m falling down to low health quite easily and you’ve read how ineffectual I was at combat, so right now I want to increase the damage I’m dealing. With that in mind I’ve gone for Fangs of the Fire Snake. I figure I can use it to give me a bit of distance between me and my enemy, and I can either combine it with Flurry of Blows to do an extra two attacks, or use my Ki to Dash or Dodge to move around the battlefield and remain hard to pin down.

The shortage of Ki is really frustrating me at the moment. I’m not sure how it will play out in the actual game but it seems like it’s holding me back from doing the cool stuff I want to do. I get that I don’t want to be using loads of powerful attacks every second, but it’d be cool if I had more Ki points but say, I could only learn one damage dealing discipline, but I could also learn one like Shape the Flowing River. I also think waiting until a short rest to get the Ki back is too much. So far we don’t seem to be doing them that often, and I don’t want to keep badgering the DM and the party about taking a short rest. The next session is at the weekend so I’ll put another one of these reports up and talk about how it went and how my new abilities worked. Depending on how it goes I might ask my DM if I can boost my Ki points a little, or shorten the time it takes for me to regain them, because they are really key (Ki, get it?!) to me being effective.

I was also disappointed to see that my Level 20 BIG EPIC thing is just that when I roll initiative and have no Ki points I regain 4 of them. That’s um….that’s underwhelming. Why not make it half? Granted, I don’t know what the other classes have for their end (and let’s face it, it’s going to be a while until I get there) but I was hoping for something amazing. Given this, I’m thinking that at some point I might choose to go down the multi-classing route. I’d just need to see which one would complement my character best.

The other thing that came with levelling is hit points. Now, at level 2 I had 17 and they seemed to go pretty quickly. When you level you can either add your hit die (mine is 1d8) and your CON, or just give yourself 5 plus CON. I was thinking about it, and as much as I love randomizing things I couldn’t do it this time. The only way it would be worth rolling is if I got a 6,7, or 8, and even then I’d only be getting three more hit points than if I just did the default five. There was a greater chance of getting 1,2,3,4, and if I had gotten a 5 then I may as well not have rolled. So I went with the default, giving me 24 hit points now, hopefully I’ll be able to last a bit longer.

As for the out of game stuff, well, given that we had a long break over Christmas we all decided that we wanted to play as often and as regularly as possible. The original plan was to play every other week, although I think it’s still going to be more scattered than that. We also decided that it’s not feasible to wait until everyone can do it to play, and if one person has to miss out then the game will go ahead, otherwise we’d never get to play, at least not regularly. But then one of our players said he might be moving away in the summer, so we could be losing our sorcerer!

Overall though I’m really enjoying this campaign and I’m looking forward to seeing how my character develops. I’d love to hear from anyone else who is playing D&D5, especially Monks!

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6 thoughts on “D&D5e Campaign Update – Playing a Monk

  1. Fantastic! Thanks for taking the time to share that! I’ve only ever RPG’d in the Star Wars universe, but I really, really love this type of gaming, and reading this has brought back so many awesome memories for me! Having only ever really flirted briefly with D&D before, I think you may have inspired me! Thank you so much!

    • You’re welcome! I’m getting a new phone soon so when I post these in the future I should have some more pictures to liven them up a bit. I’m really enjoyed D&D5, it’s a smooth system that’s easy to get into. I’ve been wanting to try Edge of the Empire but at the moment it’s hard enough getting to play this regularly let alone starting another one!

      • I’ll look forward to further updates, then! I know what you mean about getting to play regularly – I’ve invested in Edge of the Empire, only to have no-one willing to try it! Very disappointing, as it looks like a lot of fun!

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