New Monk Archetype: Way of the Brawler

The goal of this archetype is to provide players with an option for a physical beat-em-up martial artist, such as a boxer or a karate man, without so much of the magical “ki” features. This will be achieved by up-playing nonmagical martial Techniques that emulate the format of the Battlemaster’s Maneuvers, and downplaying magical effects.


Mixed Martial Arts
When you choose this tradition at 3rd level, you learn specialized martial art techniques from various cultures, allowing you to manifest your Ki through your physical strikes more effectively. This Monastic Tradition refocuses the way you fight and implement your Ki.
Your Unarmored Defense is now equal to 10 + your Dexterity modifier + your Constitution modifier.
Your Ki Save DC also changes to 8 + your Proficiency Bonus + your Strength/Dexterity modifier (your choice).
Some of your techniques require your target to make a saving throw to resist the technique’s effects. Your technique’s use your Ki’s Save DC.

You learn three techniques of your choice, which are detailed under “Techniques” below.
All techniques replace one of your attacks in some way, much like how Grapple and Shove replaces an attack, and may require a Ki point to use as well. A Technique can only replace an attack made by an Attack action or an opportunity attack. The damage of your Techniques uses the damage die of your Martial Arts.
You learn two additional techniques of your choice at 6th, 11th, and 17th level. Each time you learn new techniques, you can also replace one technique you know with a different one.

Martial Awareness
At 6th level, you have learned how to better read your opponent’s movements, giving you an advantage in close quarters.
You have advantage on checks to resist or break Grapples. If you succeed on a resist/break Grapple check, you can spend your reaction to turn the tables and impose the Grappled condition on your opponent instead.
Additionally, if an enemy within 5 ft. of you misses you with a melee attack, you can use your reaction to make an unarmed strike against them.

Combo Attack
At 11th level, you can strike your opponent several times in the blink of an eye. Your Flurry of Blows now grants 3 unarmed strikes instead of 2.

The God Hand
At 17th level, you gain the ability to continually channel your Ki through your body. As an Action, you can spend 10 Ki Points to unleash the power of your Ki and enter the God Hand State, empowering yourself and causing all creatures within 5 ft. of you to make a Constitution saving throw or be blinded until the end of their next turn.

For the next minute, you gain the following benefits:

  • Your arms radiate a golden light, providing bright light in a 20 ft. radius, and dim light for an additional 20 ft.

  • Your unarmed strikes deal an extra 1d6 radiant damage to targets you hit.

  • You have Advantage on saving throws against fears, as well as conditions that would incapacitate you.

  • You gain the benefits of the Haste spell for the duration.

The God Hand State ends prematurely if you become incapacitated or are reduced to 0 hit points. When you exit this State, a wave of lethargy washes over you, causing you to be unable to move or take actions until the end of your next turn.


  • Double Mule Kick
    While you are not prone, you can expend half of your movement to replace your attack with a double mule kick against your target. This attack is performed at Disadvantage. On a confirmed hit, you deal double damage. Regardless of whether the attack hits or misses, make an Acrobatics check (DC 12). On a successful check, you roll forward and get back up on your feet. On a failed check, you are left prone.

  • Elbow Drop
    While you are not prone, you can choose to replace your attack against a prone target with an Elbow drop, dealing double damage to your target on a confirmed hit, but leaving you prone until the start of your next turn.
    1 Ki point: You can expend half your total movement to get back up on your feet, removing the Prone condition from yourself after performing this Elbow Drop.

  • Goad
    In place of one of your attacks, you can goad your opponent into attacking you by making a rude gesture, forcing them to make a Wisdom saving throw. On a successful save, nothing happens.
    On a failed save, they have Disadvantage on attacks against targets other than you, and their attacks against you are as the Barbarian’s Reckless Attack. These effects end at the start of the target’s second turn after being goaded.
    1 Ki point: You can affect 1 additional target with this goad.

  • Guard Breaker
    When you hit a target with an unarmed strike, you can choose for the strike to deal no damage and force the target to make a Strength saving throw. On a failed save, the target has the Dazed condition until the end of their next turn.

  • Headbutt
    You can make your attack against a target to be a headbutt. On a confirmed hit, you deal full damage, and both you and your target must make a Constitution saving throw. Whoever fails this save gains the Dazed condition until the end of their next turn.
    1 Ki point: You have Advantage on your Constitution saving throw.

  • Iron Grip
    When you have a target Grappled, you can forego one of your attacks to force the grappled target to make a Strength saving throw. On a failed save, you impose the Restrained condition on the target for as long as you maintain your grapple upon them. Your speed becomes 0 for the rest of your turn. Using your movement ends the Restrained condition early, but not the grapple.
    1 Ki point: Target’s check to break the Iron Grip grapple is made at Disadvantage.

  • Leg Lariat
    While you are not prone, you can expend half of your total movement to replace an attack with a leg lariat, forcing the target to make a Strength saving throw on a confirmed hit. On a failed save, the target takes the full damage of your attack and they are knocked prone. On a successful save, the target takes half damage and are not knocked prone.
    1 Ki point: The target has Disadvantage on their Strength saving throw.

  • Legsweep
    You can replace your attack with a sweep to your opponent’s legs, forcing them to make an Acrobatics check. On a failed check, they take half damage and are knocked prone. On a successful check, they take no damage and are not knocked prone.
    1 Ki point: If your target fails their Acrobatics check, you can expend a Ki point to affect another target within 5 ft. of you as part of the same Legsweep.

  • Pummel
    If you have not yet moved on your turn, you can expend your bonus action to replace your attack with a Flurry of Blows, without spending a Ki point. Your speed becomes 0 for the rest of your turn.

  • Sleeper Hold
    1 Ki point: While grappling a target, you can choose to expend 1 Ki point to force your grappled target to make a Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, they fall Unconscious for 1 minute. They can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of their turns. On a success, they wake up. The Unconscious condition ends early if the target is damaged.

  • Stomp
    While you are not prone, you can choose to replace one of your attacks against a prone target with two stomp attacks. These stomp attacks do not have Advantage against the target.

Open Hand is already sort of this. Drunken Fist gets thrown around. I like this as a potential for a more or less UFC style technique. Approved. :slight_smile:

Hey! Glad to see this is filled out now.

Can you explain the intent behind Pummel?

The intent behind it is to allow for the Brawler to keep putting out high damage while conserving their Ki points. However, I wanted to preserve a significant combat-related cost for not expending a Ki point to Flurry of Blows. I figured being stationary for one’s entire turn was enough of a cost. It presents the conditional requirement that your enemy is already in range of you for an attack, and that you aren’t able to move afterwards.

I did hesitate on the bonus action expenditure, but if I didn’t implement it, then the level 5 Brawler could get off 6 attacks in a turn, or a level 11 Brawler could get off 9 attacks in a turn, and I did feel that to be a bit much.

Wondering if it would be appropriate to allow for a Ki point expenditure with Pummel to make it not consume their bonus action. Then, a level 5 Brawler could get off 6 attacks in a turn by using 3 Ki points and not moving, and a level 11 Brawler could get off 9 attacks in a turn by using 3 Ki points and not moving.

What were your concerns or thoughts on it?

My main concerns with this Path would be how it compares to the Way of the Open Hand.

The potential for this Path—which I think should be renamed to something like Way of the Iron Horse, or something—is that it could be a tanky Monk, which sounds awesome. It would be interesting to see its main damage potential separated from Ki.

My concern would be is it too much? I do like the variety of maneuvers, but would it be better to take the existing Martial actions (Disarm, etc.) and allow the Monk to use Ki to enhance those? So Legsweep is effectively Shove (flavored ala Legs) with a Ki option for a second target.

Perhaps I should fix up the following post.

so that way we have those in place as well. I think everything else is more or less fine. My main concern would be the Mixed Martial Arts Techniques and how they stack up.

I’m a bit confused as to what your concern is.

Are you asking if we should make the Techniques have a stronger basis on existing martial actions, so that there is a common source of reference, and then tack on additional effects and such?

Right—that portion was just a bit of a “what if…?” since the Battle Master kind of does it already.

This is definitely a Battle Master for Monk. My concern is ultimately does it outclass Open Hand? It is by far more combat focused; my question would be is Open Hand even appealing if this Tradition exists in its current state?

I think some of this comes from the unlimited pool of actions. Perhaps if techniques provided a lesser effect and could use Ki to make it more useful I could see perhaps see it.

I would also think a limit of one technique per turn should be in order.

As is, this Monk archetype does not have access to all of these Techniques at all times. They start out with a limited amount known, and learn more with further levels, just as the Battle Master does.

Additionally, they can only use a Technique to replace one of their attacks from the Attack action or from an opportunity attack.

Meaning, they are limited to, at most, 2 Techniques per Attack action (at the “expense” of their 2 regular attacks), and 1 Technique per reaction. They cannot use a Technique in place of, say, a Flurry of Blows strike.

Here’s what Open Hand does better than this archetype:

  • The only cost for Open Hand techniques is the 1 Ki point expenditure on Flurry of Blows. They need no other cost, such as half of movement, a reaction, etc. to impose their effects on targets.
  • Open Hand gets to heal themselves.
  • Open Hand retains dependency on a Wisdom score. The skill checks that they are good at will fundamentally differ from this archetype.

I agree on what Open Hand does better.

I still think that since the Techniques are unlimited, they should have a per turn limit or some other limiting factor beyond an attack replacement. In general, I didn’t see any techniques which immediately made me cringe or pull the nerfhammer from its sheath. Tweaking and testing would be the main things I’d want to see.

Another part of the write up I have a question on is where it says the techniques use the damage die of your Martial Arts: does that include the ability modifier?

I’m not sure if the damage of Techniques should use the ability modifier in the damage or not. Still debating on whether the costs of the Techniques are sufficient, such as expending half movement or dealing half damage and such.

The Techniques are unlimited in the sense that they don’t have to draw from a limited resource pool. However, it is tied to attacks per turn.

A monk in this path without Extra Attack can make 1 Technique use and 0 attacks in a turn, and a monk in this path with Extra Attack can make 1 Technique use and 1 attack, or 2 Technique uses and 0 attacks in a turn.

All in all, it definitely isn’t anything I think is overly concerning. Several of the techniques do have a secondary cost, as you mentioned, which I do think helps. Perhaps something of that sort could be considered in general for most of them if they don’t. I think Pummel is well balanced; my original concerns precluded the speed reducing to 0 feet (I missed it on my phone when reading earlier this morning), and since Monk’s are supposed to be mega-mobile, I think that is a good counter effect.

I would think this should have a Ki option to auto-save.

My initial impressions say Elbow Drop and Goad is good.

Simple but effective.

Headbutt and Iron Grip look good.

So the downside of this maneuver is that you could end up dealing half damage on an attack?

Legsweep, Pummel, and Sleeper look good.

Could you explain this one more?

For the Double Mule Kick:
I thought I had put in a Ki point option for Advantage on the Acrobatics. Do you think Advantage would be good enough for the Ki point expenditure?

For Stomp:
There are several stipulations to make use of this technique:

  • You must not be prone
  • Your target must be already prone
  • You double the amount of unarmed strikes against the prone target, but forego the Advantage associated with attacking a prone target.

Because this is similar to the Pummel Technique, in terms of multiplying attacks, the reasons why you would learn the Stomp Technique are:

  • You can still move before and after these stomp attacks
  • You do not need to spend a Ki point to retain your bonus action

However, the Pummel Technique is better than Stomp in the scenario of attacking a prone target, in that you retain Advantage on attacks against a prone target and can make 3 unarmed strikes instead of the 2 Stomp strikes.

I don’t think anything sticks out to me too much at this point. I’d want to see some playtest in and perhaps damage comparisons made at this point.

This should probably be make a grappled check, rather than applying the condition. I’m not sure if you’ve spent anymore time thinking about the archetype, but I think that should be altered.

Additionally, regarding God Hand

This should specify that you can only do this once per short, or, once per long rest. I am leaning towards limiting it to once per long rest. Most abilities like this as the capstone of a class have such a limit.

Have there been any major revisions?

No major revisions as of yet.

My thoughts on the Martial Awareness feature:
A grapple check was already made, though in the form of a break/resist grapple.

However, I think this makes the Brawler unique in having strength in grappling situations. Since this is a Monk archetype, they are sacrificing their ability to make an opportunity attack, deflect a missile, or make another unarmed strike after a missed enemy strike, just for the sake of imposing the Grappled condition during a specific Grapple contest.

I feel that if we require the character to succeed on 2 consecutive Grapple checks and spend their Reaction to Grapple someone after very specific circumstances, that this feature would be too weak.

It’s already not too common for Grapples to be used. I think the uncommon, specific circumstances for the feature to be used, the Grapple check already being involved in some way, and the expenditure of a Reaction, is balanced.

As far as God Hand goes, the limiting factor is in the Ki points. Unless this is a level 20 character, the character can only use this once per short rest as is, since that is the recharge rate for Ki points. I could understand imposing a long rest limit if the Ki point cost wasn’t so high, but for a level 17 character, they are missing out on a LOT of stunning strikes, deflect missile returns, flurry of blows, etc. by spending the 10 Ki points for this.

Given that reasoning, I would concede my suggestion for Grapple.

I still believe that God Hand should be limited since Ki regens on Long rest. They already have infinite techniques.

Ki regens on a short/long rest

Misspoke. That’s what I meant.