Dungeons and Dragons 5e Guide to Monk Way of the Drunken Master

In DnD 5e, the monk Way of the Drunken Master is a fun, maneuverable martial artists who plays the fool.  Bonus proficiencies with performance and brewer’s supplies gives this character added flavor for role playing.  However, moves like the Drunken Technique and Tipsy Sway offer swift, clever combat skills to this monk’s repertoire.

In Dungeons and Dragons 5e, consider a monk Way of the Drunken Master with this build:

  • Choose a fun race with high Dexterity/Wisdom:
  • Learn basic monk abilities like Ki, Unarmored Defense and Martial Arts
  • Use Way of the Drunken Master moves/abilities
  • Grow into higher-level monk abilities

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Choose a fun race with high Dexterity/Wisdom

Because this character is going to be fun in nature, I want to choose a race like halfling, wood elf or goblin to capitalize on Dexterity.  As a general rule, my monk’s highest scores will be Dexterity and Wisdom, but other traits come into play that I could utilize.

A halfling monk would benefit from a +2 Dexterity bonus and carry a few tricks up their sleeves.  Lucky gives my halfling the ability to reroll a 1 from any d20 check, which fits nicely with the chaotic nature of this monk class.  Halfling Nimbleness can help with my maneuverability, giving me the option to move through a space with a creature in it who is a size larger than me.

Wood elves fit this fun-loving personality, with an optimal +2 Dexterity/+1 Wisdom bonus for kung fu.  Though my racial abilities revolve primarily around martial weapons and stealth (2 things I’m really not using), my enhanced speed (35 ft) should come in handy.  I’ll focus on a short sword for this character’s monk weapon.

Finally, a drunk goblin could be a chaotic mess, with a +2 Dexterity/+1 Constitution bonus.  Fury of the Small gives me bonus damage to an attack equal to my level once a day.  Nimble Escape gives me a bonus action to move or disengage, which could be amplified with this build.

Learn basic monk abilities like Ki, Unarmored Defense and Martial Arts

My initial build will include monk essentials: a short sword and proficiencies in Acrobatics and Insight.  Plus, I have the choice of a musical instrument, which should work well with my drunk performances.

My basic Martial Arts skill grants me a few abilities:

  • Use Dexterity as my damage modifier for unarmed strikes
  • Roll 1d4 for unarmed strikes
  • Make additional unarmed strike after attack with monk weapon

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I’ll also gain Unarmored Defense, which makes my AC equal to 10 + Dexteirty modifier + Wisdom modifier when I’m not wearing armor.  Naturally, this should boost me well above basic leather armors with high Wisdom and Dexterity scores.

Then, Ki is introduced at level 2.  Ki is the spiritual lifeforce monks tap into for their incredible feats—a different sort of energy than magic, but similar in some ways.  I use an amount of Ki points equal to my monk level for these unique feats.  These Ki slots return after a long rest. These abilities include:

  • Flurry of Blows: Gain one extra unarmed strike after attack equaling 3 total blows
  • Patient Defense: Take the Dodge action as bonus action on my turn.
  • Step of the Wind: Take Disengage or Dash action as a bonus action

Unarmored Movement is another key ability I learn at level 2, giving me 10 more feet of speed when I’m not wearing armor.  Already, I’m a high-flying tornado of kicks and punches, and I haven’t even reached drunken master status.

Use Way of the Drunken Master moves/abilities

At level 3, I come into my drunken glory and learn my first couple of Way of the Drunken Master abilities: Bonus Proficiencies and Drunken Technique.

My 2 Bonus Proficiencies are in Performance and with Brewer’s Supplies.  The Performance angle comes from my seeming foolishness and gives me a charismatic charm.  The brewer’s supplies proficiency is obvious but could be utilized in creative ways during the campaign.  Surely, more booze is the answer to most problems.

Drunken Technique enhances my Flurry of Blows, giving me the benefit of a Disengage action and 10 additional feet of movement.  With this ability, I can move through groups of enemies, striking opponents with chaotic speed and moving away.

Level 6 gives my drunken master Tipsy Sway, which leans into the loose, drunken nature of my combat style with these effects:

  • Leap to Your Feet—5 feet of movement instead of ½ movement speed when getting up from prone position.
  • Redirect Attack—spend 1 ki point to redirect attack to another enemy within 5 feet.

I get Drunkard’s Luck at level 11, effectively canceling out a disadvantage on an attack, saving, or skill check roll.  This ability will likely not come up very often, but I think it could be surprisingly helpful when the opportunity arises.

Finally, my drunk fury peaks at level 17 with Intoxicated Frenzy.  When using Flurry of Blows, I can add 3 additional attacks against different foes.  This equals 5 total attacks.

Grow into higher-level monk abilities

As a basic class, monks have a whole list of unique abilities.  Mostly, these abilities will enhance my physical form and grant me immunities.  These abilities can be used alongside my drunken master abilities for a super-powered kung fu warrior.

  • Deflect Missiles: Level 3—reduce damage from ranged shot equal to 1d10 + Dex mod + Monk level. If I reduce this damage to 0, I can catch the arrow and throw it back for 1 ki point.  The arrow is thrown with proficiency and counts as a monk weapon.
  • Slow Fall: As a reaction, reduce fall damage equal to 5 times my monk level.
  • Extra Attack: Gain an extra Attack on my turn.  This should be helpful with my disengaging and bonus moves.
  • Stunning Strike: Level 5—Spend 1 ki point to force opponent to make Constitution saving throw when I attack with melee weapon. On a failed save, the target is stunned until the end of my next turn.  This is a monk favorite.
  • Ki-Empowered Strikes: Level 6—My unarmed strikes count as magical, allowing me to hit opponents with resistance or immunity to nonmagical attacks.
  • Evasion: Level 7—I can dodge out of area of effect abilities, taking 0 damage instead of half damage on successful saves.

Later monk abilities like Purity of Body, Timeless Body and Empty Body all grant me uber physical traits.  Plus, abilities like Sun of the Tongue and Moon leverage my Wisdom to understand languages.

To Sum it Up

I’ll be building a highly mobile monk who sweeps through enemies and hits foes in an almost random fashion.  This character is fun to play and blends with other classes well.  Role playing a drunk guy can be an easy win for a good time.

So, what do you think?  How would you play your drunk monk?

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