Xanathar’s Guide to Everything: Monks

Xanathar’s Guide to Everything: Monks

By Chris Booth Twitter  Instagram  Website

Since Xanathar’s Guide to Everything was released last year, I’ve been reading over the new subclass options and considering how I could see myself using them. This week I’m having a look at the new monk options: the drunken master and the kensei.

Drunken master

In this video, Mike Mearls mentions that the drunken master has been designed specifically for players who want to be able to play as a martial artist who fights like Jackie Chan, in a kind of slapstick fashion. This subclass has abilities that allow the player to redirect their opponents’ attacks, so that their enemies hit each other. They also have an ability the just lets them spend ki points to get rid of disadvantage, which makes me think of Charlie Chaplin’s characters.

Chaplin’s characters tend to not only be super lucky in fights, but to be able to win the sympathy of others, when really he is not that innocent. On Twitter yesterday, @S5photog mentioned that this class would also work well as a tavern brawler. I reckon this class option goes well for any kind of old-fashioned slapstick-style combat. Take a look at this ridiculous scene from Watch Out, We’re Mad! for inspiration:


While we’re on the topic of ridiculous combat…

The kensei represents a martial artist who is so intimately in tune with their weapons that they can do things with them that should be impossible. They also have a wider range of weapons (eg. longbows) available as monk weapons. This monk can use their kensei weapon to defend themself (raising their armour class) and can use a bonus action to add extra damage dice to their kensei weapons. This makes me think of a character like Legolas, doing the ridiculous combat moves, shooting orcs dead with one arrow.

When I saw Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films in the cinema, these scenes were entertaining, but also kind of hard to take seriously. I think that it wouldn’t be so difficult if I was picturing Legolas as a super balanced martial artist who’s become one with his weapons. If he’s a monk it also makes it more believable to me that he could run up those falling bricks from the collapsing tower…

(Yep, I now think Legolas is a monk.)


I’m an illustrator and dungeon master living on Wurundjeri land, in Melbourne, Australia. I like RPGs as an opportunity to bring people together to tell a story. Currently training to be a real-world cleric.

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