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The D&D 2024 Player's Handbook nerfs the one power monks had that still scared dungeon masters

by: Randy -
More On: Dungeons & Dragons

And I'm sorry to say this, monks, but the dungeon masters win this round. The Dungeons & Dragons 2024 Player's Handbook nerfs the monk's premier ability: Stunning Strike. It still stuns. But you only get to do it once a day now instead of being able to pour Ki Points into the number of times you can do it.

As a DM, I watched with horror as a player at my table—one of the aforementioned monks—continuously ran amok. He moved so fast, no battlefield was wide enough. He punched so many times, his turns took longer than anyone else's as he was always waiting on me to make saving throws from everyone one of his front kicks, back fists, kick punches, and punch kicks. He'd sprint an entire football field, stun three enemies, and then ask for a short rest before even looting the bodies.

I'm exaggerating. But D&D 5e's monk is both complex and complicated. They start off the first few levels doing largely nothing during combat. Then I sort of made fun of my player's monk, saying he wasn't pulling his weight in fights. "Is that it? Four damage and you're done?" Then the monk hit 5th level, got Stunning Strike, and I've regretted every day since.

Wizards of the Coast (the developers of D&D 5th Edition) have been buffing up every single character class and subclass in the book. If a class did something well before, they do it even better now. If they did something a few times in 5e, they'll do it a lot more in 2024 D&D. But reducing the monk's ability to Stunning Strike to only once per day is creating an international day of mourning for (the admittedly few) monk lovers out there. Stunning Strike would paralyze an enemy for a full turn. The enemy couldn't move, couldn't attack, couldn't anything. In a game where the average combat encounter lasts maybe only two or three rounds in the first place, Stunning Strike could singularly turn the tide of battle. Especially if a monk is stunning every mini boss and mega boss from the Forgotten Realms to the Nine Hells, which my player's monk was absolutely doing. As a DM, I was helpless. Stun is just that powerful.

Well, it looks like the DMs got together at Wizards of the Coast and decided to put an end to those shenanigans.  Again, I apologize on behalf of all the monks out there. Spellcasters can still do hundreds of points of damage slinging multiple fireballs around the room, but monks are getting their wrists slapped for stopping a couple bad guys in their tracks.

There are so many changes to the Monk that it's the same class in name only, if designer Jeremy Crawford is to be believed. A few more highlights, since I've harped on Stunning Strike long enough:

  • Focus Points replace Ki Points entirely.
  • Once per long rest, they regain all their Focus Points as soon as they roll for initiative. Which is nice since before monks would bug their DMs for a short rest after every 12 seconds of combat (remember D&D is weird and rounds are six seconds and combat rarely lasts much longer than two rounds).
  • Oh and if you make it to level 20, you get to add +4 to Wisdom and +4 to Dexterity for a max of 25.
  • Monks used to catch arrows and throw them back at an enemy. That was dope! But now builds up to going boink to any type of weapon damage coming at them. It's better but less flavorful.