How To Build A Way Of The Drunken Master Monk In DnD

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Playing a monk in Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition means channeling your inner kung-fu movie. While there are plenty of martial arts masters who rely on mental and physical discipline to perform incredible feats of heroism, the drunken master knows how to truly let loose, go with the flow, and let the libations take them wherever they may.


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Related: Dungeons & Dragons: How To Build A Way Of The Four Elements Monk

Followers of the Way of the Drunken Master don’t necessarily have to be drunk to perform their best in combat, but true masters of this path always had a bottle by their side, ready to get tipsy at a moment’s notice. Read on to learn the Way of the Drunken Master.


Way Of The Drunken Master Features

D&D Tiefling Drunken Master
 Tiefling Drunken Master via Wizards of the Coast

It’s important to note that monks who follow the Way of the Drunken Master aren’t actually drunk all the time. They merely act drunk in order to fool their opponents. A Way of the Drunken Master monk learns the Performance skill at level three, as well as Drunken Technique. This allows drunken masters to move erratically, providing them with a free Disengage action as well as 10 additional feet of movement whenever they use Flurry of Blows.

But to keep up appearances, a Way of the Drunken Master monk also becomes proficient with brewer’s supplies at level three, allowing them to create their own libations.

At level six, Tipsy Sway allows the monk to move in sudden, erratic sways. It also lets them get up from being prone by spending just five feet of movement rather than half their movement speed and also redirects enemy attacks whenever they miss by spending one ki point. This attack then strikes another creature within five feet.

Drunkard’s Luck at level 11 allows you to cancel the disadvantage on any attack roll or saving throw by spending two ki points. At level 17, Intoxicated Frenzy lets the drunken master attack up to three additional times when using Flurry of Blows (for a total of five unarmed strikes) provided each attack targets a different creature.

Intoxicated Frenzy is great for a barroom brawl, but terrible when you want to deal damage to the final boss.

Best Species For A Way Of The Drunken Master Monk

Half-Elf Monk by Zoltan Boros
Half-Elf Monk by Zoltan Boros 

Every species is capable of being an effective drunken master, so feel free to play your Way of the Drunken Master Monk as any species you like. However, there are a few species that offer some unique advantages to playing as a monk.

Here are a few suggested species to follow the Way of the Drunken Master.

Bugbear

Having an extra five feet of reach for each of your blows is perfect for Monks. Since you have a lot of Dexterity, monks also tend to go higher in the turn order, making Surprise Attack more effective. Darkvision and charm resistance round out this excellent species.

Duergar

Monks eventually gain immunity to poison, which makes Dwarven Resilience superfluous, but advantage against being charmed and stunned are both useful. What really makes this class for monks is the free Enlarge/Reduce spell, which provides extra damage, as well as the Invisibility spell at level five.

Goblin

Fury of the Small makes Flurry of Blows against larger targets a much more damaging proposition. Darkvision, charm resistance, and bonus action hide is also good, although you already get to disengage as a bonus action with your class.

Goliath

Stone’s Endurance can help shore up the monk’s lackluster health pool. Athletics is a useful skill, and cold resistance is nice to have too.

Half-Orc

Since monks make a lot of attacks with Flurry of Blows, monks are more likely to make critical hits, which means Savage Attacks will benefit monks more than most. Relentless Endurance also keeps you fighting when your hitpoints reach zero, while Darkvision is always nice to have.

Half-Elf

Monks are stat-hungry. Half-elves provide three stat boosts. Other than that, Darkvision, some skills, and charm resistance are all tics in the plus column.

Human

Humans provide even more ability score increases than Half-elves, which makes them great monks.

Owlin

Drunken master monks have trouble with flying creatures. Owlin can fly, so that trouble disappears. You also get stealth proficiency and Darkvision too.

Shifter

Shifters help with a monk’s poor HP pool by providing a bunch of temporary hitpoints whenever they go beast mode. Extra armor or movement speed alongside a skill proficiency and Darkvision are also definite boons.

Tabaxi

Your claws won’t do much, but Feline Agility will get your monk into or out of combat easily. A climb speed also helps with those pesky flying critters, and Darkvision is always a plus.

Best Ability Scores For A Way Of The Drunken Master Monk

Way of the Drunken Master Monk via Wizards of the Coast
Way of the Drunken Master Monk via Wizards of the Coast

As with other monks, you’ll need Dexterity, Wisdom, and Constitution to be an effective follower of the Way of the Drunken Master. Dexterity powers your attacks and provides armor class, Wisdom provides even more armor class, and Constitution provides you with most important resource: hitpoints.

Strength, Charisma, and Intelligence can all be safely ignored, although a little bit of Strength doesn’t hurt monks as they’re often a more physical class.

If you’re using D&D’s point buy system, a good starting ability score spread might look something like this:

Strength

Dexterity

Constitution

Intelligence

Wisdom

Charisma

12(+1)

16(+3)

14(+2)

8(-1)

16(+3)

8(-1)

Best Starting Equipment For A Way Of The Drunken Master Monk

Tomb of Horrors Adventurer by Irina Nordsol
Tomb of Horrors Adventurer by Irina Nordsol

Monks don’t start with much equipment, and they don’t need much equipment over the course of a campaign. You can choose either a shortsword or a simple weapon but expect to mostly be using your unarmed strikes before too long. A dungeoneer’s pack is a little more useful than an explorer’s pack, and 10 darts provide you with a ranged attack option.

Since your armor class is based on both your Dexterity and Wisdom modifiers when you’re not wearing armor, you don’t start with armor nor will you likely wear armor at any point in the campaign.

Best Feats For A Way Of The Drunken Master Monk

Leaping Master by Anastasia Ovchinnikova
Leaping Master by Anastasia Ovchinnikova

Most monks are going to opt for ability score increases rather than feats. That said, if you decide to play as a variant human or your campaign begins with a free feat, then here are a few useful feats for a Way of the Drunken Master monk.

Alert

Never get ambushed again. Alert prevents you from being surprised, can’t gain advantage against you if they attack while hidden, and you get an additional five to your initiative score. If you can combine this with the bugbear’s Surprise Attack, you’ve got a potent combo.

Lucky

Nobody likes to fail their rolls. Lucky provides you with extra d20s to spend on your most important moments. You can also use Lucky d20s to prevent damage to your squishy monk.

Mobile

Monks are already very mobile, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t benefit from being even more mobile. An extra 10 feet of movement, dash actions that ignore difficult terrain, and not provoking opportunity attacks are all good things.

Skill Expert

Monks are often pretty light on skills. Skill Expert can help with that, as well as provide your character with expertise in a particular skill.

Tough

Monks are squishy. Tough makes things less squishy by giving them two extra hitpoints per level.

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