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Bugbear Monk 5e D&D Guide

Bugbear Monk 5e D&D Guide

While bugbears are renowned for their ferocious strength and imposing presence, the Bugbear Monk defies expectations with an uncanny finesse and spiritual prowess. They are the epitome of “don’t judge a book by its cover.”

As they traverse the realms, their footsteps barely making a sound, the Bugbear Monk exemplifies the mantra that true strength lies within. With their heightened senses and lightning-fast reflexes, they embody a duality of calm serenity and explosive action.

Bugbear Monks are masters of self-discipline and self-improvement, their bodies honed to perfection through rigorous training. They seek balance in all aspects of life, striving to harmonize the chaos around them.

Creating a Bugbear Monk


Bugbears rely largely on strength and stealth to attack their enemies, preferring to engage in combat at night. 

If Bugbears aren’t busy battling, they’ll spend most of their time sleeping or simply resting and occasionally bully weaker creatures into doing their bidding.

Many of the common races fear Bugbears due to their terrifying aggression and savage nature. Luckily Bugbears are exceptionally rare and often too lethargic to act if their life isn’t in danger.

SkinCovered with shaggy fur in different colors: Pale yellow to dark orange or brown

Their face is usually covered with darker fur

EyesYellow, orange, red, or green
NoseBear-like nose
MouthBig teeth, which are sharper at the front
HandsCovered with fur and claw-like nails

Note: The nails are too small to be used in combat

Note: These features can be slightly changed or modified if some variations don’t fit your character.

Bugbear Subraces

Bugbears are some of the rarest creatures you’ll encounter, making it no surprise they don’t have any subraces. They don’t often mate as other Bugbears are so rare, yet when they do, they do it purely for survival, making them more primal creatures.

Monk Class Features

Hit Points

Hit Dice1d8 per Monk level
HP at level 18 + Constitution modifier
HP at Higher levels1d8 (or 5) + Constitution modifier per Monk level after level 1


WeaponsSimple weapons, Shortswords
ToolsChoose one type of Artisan’s tools or one Musical instrument
Saving ThrowsStrength, Dexterity
SkillsChoose two – Acrobatics, Athletics, History, Insight, Religion, and Stealth

Monastic Traditions

Upon reaching level 3 as a Monk, you commit yourself to one of the 10 Monastic Traditions of your choice, each granting you specific features.

Astral Self – Monks of the Astral Self see their bodies as an illusion, finding their ki to be the representation of their true astral self. These monks are trained to either protect the weak or be of service to the mighty.

Ascendant Dragon – Monks of the Ascendant Dragon emulate dragons, making them a more integrated part of its magic and the world.

These monks alter their spirits to resonate with draconic might, augmenting their prowess in battle, soaring through the sky, or bolstering their allies.

Drunken Master – Monks of the Drunken Master tradition are taught to move with jerky movements that are unpredictable, much like that of a drunkard.

Drunken masters are frustrating to engage as they are often seen as incompetent combatants with their unsteady feet, tottering, and sways, but this only conceals their carefully executed dance.

Four Elements – Monks of the Four Elements harness the elements, focusing their ki on aligning themselves with the forces of creation, bending the four elements to their will, and using them as an extension of your physical body.

Members can focus on dedicating themselves to a single element or weaving all the elements together.

Kensei – Monks of Kensei train relentlessly with their weaponry to the point that the weapon becomes an extension of their physical body. Their tradition was founded on the mastery of sword training but has expanded to include many different weapons as well.

Long Death – Monks of the Long Death are obsessed not with death itself but with the mechanics of dying. These monks will capture creatures to experiment on them, recording and understanding the moments of their death.

They use this knowledge to guide them in understanding what creates a deadly fighting style.

Mercy – Monks of Mercy are taught how to manipulate the life force of others in order to give aid to those in need. They are traveling physicians; however, to those beyond their help, they bring a swift end as a final act of mercy.

Open Hand – Monks of the Open Hand are unmatched when it comes to martial arts combat, whether they are unarmed or armed. 

They learn various techniques allowing them to strengthen their bodies through meditation, heal damage using their ki and push or trip enemies.

Shadow – Monks of the Shadow value stealth and subterfuge, often called shadowdancers or ninjas, and serve as assassins and spies.

There are many different monasteries that teach this tradition; some are akin to thieves’ guilds, and others are more like familial clans.

Sun Soul – Monks of the Sun Soul are taught to channel their life essence into searing bolts of light. They teach their disciples that meditation will give them the ability to unleash the indomitable light that resides within every living creature’s soul.

Combining Monk With Bugbear

Determining Your Monk Subclass

Choosing your ideal subclass is subjective, but if your objective is optimization, try understanding what your character wants to do and what stats fit best with their subclass.

Way of the Astral SelfStriker/Support
Way of the Ascendant DragonDefender/Striker/Support
Way of the Drunken MasterStriker
Way of the Four ElementsBlaster/Striker
Way of the KenseiStriker
Way of the Long DeathStriker
Way of MercyHealer/Striker
Way of the Open HandStriker
Way of ShadowScout/Striker
Way of the Sun SoulStriker

Optimal Bugbear Subrace

Bugbears have no subraces that we know of, meaning you don’t have to break your back about making a choice, but you’ll still have to keep your stats in mind.

Bugbears have bonuses to their Strength (2) and Dexterity (1) scores, and they have great features which fit with a Monk, such as the Sneaky and Long-Limbed.

Monks mostly use the Strength and Dexterity attributes; they’re also dominantly melee warriors and can be quite stealthy. In my opinion, Bugbears make some of the very best Monks and are often slept on by many players who don’t know about them.

Your Bugbear Monk Background

Your Bugbear Monk needs a unique background that will affect its choices, as well as the way it sees the world and what it wants to achieve.

Start by asking yourself some basic questions: Where were they born, and where did they come from? Do they have any goals, bonds, or ideals, and what are their flaws? Where do they belong in social circles and society as a whole? What inspires them?

Place of Birth

Think of the environment a Bugbear Monk grew up in and how it affected them physically and emotionally and eventually shaped their view of the world.

Try to make their place of birth and upbringing correspond with their personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws – this will truly bring their character alive.

Note: The birthplaces of races are usually mentioned in the Player’s Handbook or some of its expansion books.

Characteristics and Personality Traits 

Bugbear Monks are very difficult to find, and in most cases, you don’t really want to find them in the first place.

These creatures are extremely dangerous and powerful, only made even stronger if they become Monks.

Bugbear Monk Examples:

  • I lie about almost everything, even when there’s no good reason to.
  • I make sure always to have a plan prepared for when things go wrong.

Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws

Ideal – Express one ideal that is a driving force in a Bugbear Monk’s life – their conviction, ethical principle, and moral standing (probably something about nature).

If I become strong, I can take what I want – what I deserve.

Bonds – Think of a single bond that your Bugbear Monk has to an event, person, or place. Bonds will tie them to their background and can inspire bravery or stimulate memories driving them against their ideals.

Someone I loved dearly died because of a stupid mistake I made. That will never happen again.

Flaws – Choose a single flaw for a Bugbear Monk – their unhealthy compulsion, greatest fear/weakness, or most vile vice.

I have trouble trusting in my allies.


The DM can use inspiration to reward you for playing according to your bond, personality traits, ideals, and flaw.

As a Bugbear Monk, I understand the physical power I hold, so I do my best to keep my primal instincts hidden away for nobody to see, acting as the Monk I was trained to be.

Note: If you’re struggling to create your background or just don’t want to think, the Player’s Handbook has well-thought-through backgrounds that you can use for your character or use as a mold.

Supplies and Gear For Bugbear Monks

Monks start with the following equipment, together with the equipment from their background. Choosing equipment based on your situation and your character’s proficiencies is the easiest way to go about things.

  • (a) Shortsword or (b) Any simple weapon
  • (a) Dungeoneer’s pack or (b) Explorer’s pack
  • 10 Darts

You can decide how your character came about these goods – whether they stole, inherited, or purchased them some time back – adding to your character’s background.

Note: By using your starting wealth, you can buy your own equipment (5d4 GP for Monks).

Final Thoughts

Bugbear Monks are some of the most terrifying creatures to encounter, especially in the wild, as they make natural assassins.

If you’re in search of a Striker, then you’ll find no better candidate than a Bugbear Monk!

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