Friday, February 3, 2017

Monastic Tradition: Way of the Zen Archer [ROUGH DRAFT]

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I really and truly love playing 5e. Having played both 3.5 and 4e as well, 5e is definitely my favorite edition to date, in my opinion running smoother, cleaner, and more intuitively than either of its WotC predecessors.

One of the problems I do have in 5e is the holes in material, but that's bound to happen in any relatively-new system. Most of what I do here is try and patch the holes that I perceive to exist, making 5e be (in the end) a more complete system with a fuller range of options.

In this case, the hole I'm filling is the ranged monk. The only ranged options available for monks are to either be a sun-bolt hurling Goku, or to rules-abuse the UA Kensei into using martial ranged weapons that can deal Strength bludgeoning damage. Neither seems like a real great way to make a bow-monk, and that's where homebrew comes in.

More than just a monk with a bow, a Zen Archer is a spiritual ranged attacker that focuses on making impossible shots and striking foes with bolts of pure ki energy. A Zen Archer attempts to make every shot count, channeling their mastery of mind and body through a bow or crossbow to dispatch foes from far away.

What makes this monk different and fun to play? Well...


  • Curve arrows around walls to make impossible trick shots, striking dead those who would hide from you. 
  • Fire conjured bolts of ki from your bow, with the ability to supercharge them using ki points!
  • Launch a powerful lance of radiant ki that you can empower with additional ki points.
  • Some of the abilities may be a little verbose. I tried to cut them down a bit, with mixed results. 
  • Unsure of the damage balance on Immaculate Lance, it may need to be higher. Tried to base it off of what the Sun Soul got at that level, but a burst effect is hard to balance against a line effect. 
  • There might be usage errors here and there. A lot of this is emulating core monk features in a different direction, similar to what the Kensei does, which even the Kensei didn't do especially clearly. 
  • Monks have a LOT of working parts, and it's particularly hard to design a subclass without running afoul of some of them. 


  1. Careful with immaculate Lance. Since the sun souls version is an all or nothing attack, no half damage.

    1. Good point, I'll modify that the next pass I make.