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Human Monk 5e D&D Guide

Human Monk 5e D&D Guide

With the wisdom of ancient savants and the agility of a thousand startled cats, the Human Monk’s journey begins in the hallowed halls of the monastery.

There, they embark on a quest to master the martial arts, honing their mind, body, and spirit to extraordinary heights.

The Human Monk’s primary weapon is not a fearsome blade or a spellbook, but rather the weapon of their own self.

But the Human Monk’s mastery extends beyond mere combat. They possess supernatural abilities that defy the laws of nature.

Human Monks are a beacon of wisdom, a whirlwind of action, and a true embodiment of the fantastical world in which they dwell.

Creating a Human Monk


Humans are known as the youngest of all common races and are short-lived compared to dwarfs, elves, and dragons. Perhaps this is why they strive to achieve the most they possibly can in the few short years they live through.

Others believe they want to prove themselves to the elder races, hence their building of gigantic empires, large armies, and constant trade. It is because of this that humans have become achievers, innovators, and pioneers of the worlds they inhabit.

SkinNearly black to ashen (typical human skin colors)
Hair (Including their Beard)Black, Brown, Blonde, Red (all the colors people can have).

Beards and hairstyles depend on the culture

EyesFrom black to light gray or almost white.
NoseLarge, medium, small, and crooked, like humans, they all have very different noses
MouthLips, thick, narrow, or average, with teeth no larger than 0.5 inches.

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

Human Subraces

Humans have 7 different subraces if you exclude the humans from Plane Shift. These humans all have different strengths and weaknesses, so choose carefully.

Standard Human – Standard Humans can be found throughout any world, being good at everything but not excelling in anything.

Variant Human – Variant Humans are found in the same places other humans are found; however, they have extra proficiency in one skill and are given a Feat of their choice.

Variant Human: Mark of Finding – Mark of Finding Humans have a knack for tracking objects and creatures; they can communicate with those who speak Goblin.

Variant Human: Mark of Handling – Mark of Handling Humans have deep knowledge about nature and its animals. They have great animal communication and handling abilities to turn even the fiercest animals into loyal companions.

Variant Human: Mark of Making – Mark of Making Humans are experts at creation. They can conjure magical weapons, mend armor, and even move landscapes.

Variant Human: Mark of Passage – Mark of Passage Humans are known for their expert movement skills. With their magical abilities to increase stealth/movement, they can skillfully operate land vehicles and even unlock powerful teleportation magic.

Variant Human: Mark of Sentinel – Mark of Passage Humans are the guardians of those around them. With their spells, they protect the innocents, shield their allies and block incoming attacks without issues.

Note: All Variant Humans have spell lists with access to specific spells.

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 Human

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 Human Subrace

If you’re playing a Human, in most cases, it’ll be better to choose a Standard Human if you want to become a Monk.

The other subraces are more spellcasting focused, which doesn’t fit well with a Monk’s playstyle or just complicates things. Standard Humans also have all their ability scores increased by 1, instead of only increasing one score by 2 and another by 1.

If you choose a Standard Human, all your stats will be one ability score higher, meaning even if you pump a few points into more necessary attributes, you won’t really be penalized for doing so.

Your Human Monk Background

Your Human 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 Human 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

(Short outline of characteristics; are they proud, violent, or angry, and how does their class affect their personality).

Human Monk Examples:

  • If you need me to do something for you, tell me I can’t do it.
  • I’d rather befriend someone than make an enemy.

Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws

Ideal – Express one ideal that is a driving force in a Human Monk’s life – their conviction, ethical principle, and moral standing.

Chains should be broken, as are those who would forge them.

Bonds – Think of a single bond that your Human 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.

I’m still seeking the enlightenment I pursued in my seclusion, and it still eludes me.

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

I have a ‘tell’ that reveals when I’m lying.


Inspiration can be used by the DM to reward you for playing according to your bond, personality traits, ideals, and flaw.

I ventured out of society to find enlightenment and realized that I should be kind no matter what.

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 Human 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

The Human Monk is a reclusive character, choosing silence and martial training in the presence of nature above all else.

Similar to most Humans, they are driven to self-actualization, stopping at nothing to become find the secrets within themselves.

Human Monks are ruthless martial artists, capable of making great Strikers for any party willing to recruit them.

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