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Way of the Elements - Revised Monastic Tradition
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Way of the Elements - Revised Monastic Tradition

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Way of the Elements

A revised Monastic Tradition for 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons Characters.

A young half-elf in loose robes performs a series of sweeping, almost acrobatic, gestures before spinning twenty feet into the air and striking a set of wooden boards. A dangerous looking dwarf covered in tattoos of a phoenix barrages a hobgoblin with a flurry of punches and kicks before breathing in and breathing out a gout of flame.

The Way of the Elements is a Monastic Tradition that allows a Monk character to harness the powers of the four elements, and potentially some more advanced ones, in their style of martial arts. This revision is a new take on the Way of the Four Elements Monk in the Player's Handbook and will suit players who are inspired by shows like Avatar the Last Airbender, the Legend of Korra, or Wuxia style cinema.

Instead of providing Monks with a series of spell-like abilities in exchange for ki points, this revised version of the Monastic Tradition focuses on Elemental Stances that provide ongoing benefits as well as flashy manoeuvres that unleash elemental fury in a limited blast.

This was created for one of the players in the HighRollers D&D livestream on the Yogscast Twitch every Sunday at 5pm GMT and has been uploaded here after many requests. I hope you enjoy it, but please check with your Dungeon Master if you are allowed to use this version.

Art by Nina-Serena

Editing by Erica Heathrow

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Reviews (2)
Discussions (10)
Customer avatar
Kim H July 11, 2018 9:35 am UTC
Just reading it atm and liking it so far. Quick question, in the Fire Stance the opponents can make dex saving throws and only take half damage on a successful save. What I couldn't find was the DC... Is that the normal 8+Prof.Mod.+WIS Mod.?
Thanks :)
Customer avatar
Jacob N February 27, 2018 10:43 pm UTC
Question: the text states that the elemental stances end when you run out of ki points. So to clarify, at third level if i activate a stance on one turn, and the next turn use the remaining ki point to do a flury of blows or similar, that will also end the stance before the 1 minute time limit is reached? If so, would your intent still be that the player could trigger their "finisher" move?
Customer avatar
Xavier L February 15, 2018 4:22 am UTC
Looks super cool. Some of the technical language and document formatting could be improved, but I'd definitely suggest players consider this version of the elements monk. The way each stance has its own, separate use of a super move is a clever way of scaling the class just by adding stances, while encouraging players to cycle through the elements.
Customer avatar
GARETH C February 13, 2018 8:46 pm UTC
This is such a great fresh look at the way of the elements subtype. The stance mechanic is a really refreshing take on a monk class. Love it and prefer it to the PHB spell focused version.
Customer avatar
Mitch D February 06, 2018 2:22 am UTC
I am able to download the first pdf (Way_of_the_Elements_Revised_Monastic_Tradition_Mark_Hulmes_Tabletop_Weekly.pdf) but not the final version (Way_of_the_Elements_DMS_Guild_Printer_Friendly_Version_Final_Fixed.pdf). Tried to send it to dropbox and encountered the same error. Not sure if the problem is on my side or if the file is somehow broken.
Customer avatar
Mitch D February 06, 2018 3:09 pm UTC
Quick reply saying that the problem seems to have been fixed!
Customer avatar
Mark H February 09, 2018 12:45 pm UTC
Hi Mitch.

So sorry I didn't reply sooner, but glad the issue is fixed. :)
Customer avatar
Dristan R February 04, 2018 5:44 pm UTC
This looks very alluring - a pleasant change from the PHB way! Will have to see it in play before leaving a review, though.

However, the way the stances are worded lends itself to some confusion. Victoria has pointed out some of them below, but I figured I'd add this as a new thread as it's only tangentially related.

1. Can one switch between two stances using only a bonus action? The text seems to say that a stance only ends if
a) one minute passes,
b) you perform a 'finisher',
c) you run out of ki points, or
d) you go unconscious.
Then, it states that you can only be in one stance at one time. If I had not read your reply to Victoria's comment, I would have assumed that this means that one can only switch between stances by first performing the 'finisher' (not so named in the PDF) as an action and then assume a new stance as a bonus action. Your intention, however, seems to be that entering a new stance replaces ends any stance you are in? (Stating this...See more
Customer avatar
Dristan R February 04, 2018 5:58 pm UTC
P.S. Adding the ability for the fire stance to, if the players wants to, emit dim (?) light could be a cool and situational addition to a stance that looks well balanced but a little bare bones.
Customer avatar
Mark H February 09, 2018 12:49 pm UTC
Well, to clarify some of these issues. At level 4 you would only know one stance (you learn new ones at higher levels). The intent is that you can use a bonus action to switch stances, the "one stance at a time" is to prevent any situations where a player would try to be in two stances at the same time by using additional bonus actions gained somehow.

The "finishing moves" are a way to end a stance early and gain a benefit, but it is not necessary for a user to switch to a new one. I guess I need to add a clarification that a stance also ends if you enter a new stance or something similar. Also, yes, if you run out of Ki or become unconscious your stance ends immediately.
Customer avatar
Cameron H February 03, 2018 3:15 pm UTC
i love the potential storm stance has, i wish that some of the other stances shared the redirection it has but i still am excited to see what fun i can pull off with some of these abilities. nice work mark
Customer avatar
David H February 02, 2018 6:38 pm UTC
Good stuff! A couple of things to possible clarify/change in a future update.

1. Water Stance finisher - This one's probably just me being pedantic, but when you say "increase the area of the effect by 5 feet" some people might interpret that as increasing the area by 5 square feet ( a small, odd amount) rather than what I assume you mean which is increasing the length of the face on the cube by 5 feet. Not sure how this could be done more concisely and accurately though, and it's probably fine as is.

2. Earth Stance finisher - This one says "half your monk levels", rather than the others which say "half your monk level (rounded down)". Maybe change for consistency?

Seems like a cool class, I'd like to have a play with it at the table some time.

Customer avatar
Mark H February 02, 2018 7:22 pm UTC
Cheers David! Not sure how to fix 1. but 2. is an easy fix. :)
Customer avatar
Dristan R February 04, 2018 5:02 pm UTC
The issue with 1 seems to lie in specifically mentioning the area of effect instead of tying it to the cube, which has an established size convention (10ft = 10x10x10ft area) in 5th edition.

How about:
"You extend the cube by 5 ft for every 2 additional ki points you choose to spend." or something similar?
(Closest spell similarity I've found: Mordenkainen's Private Sanctum states "When you cast this spell using a slot of 5th level or higher, you can increase the size of the cube by 100 feet for each slot beyond 4th. Thus you could protect a cube that can be up to 200 feet on one side by using a spell slot of 5th level.")
Customer avatar
Victoria F February 02, 2018 2:32 pm UTC
Great class. sounds like lots of fun. It would be nice if Elemental Attunement also unlocked at least one additional uses of Stances per rest at a higher level. As is they are going to be very dependent on getting short rests and that's often just not possible when doing a dungeon crawl or fighting a big battle.

I would also like to be able to remove one previously learned Stance from my list and add a different one every time I acquire a new Stance, in order to have room for the ones that unlock at higher levels.

It's not clear why Void Stance appears to be worded differently from the other Stances in that it seems to not require ending the Stance early in order to be able to do the special attack, or is this intended?
Customer avatar
Mark H February 02, 2018 3:36 pm UTC
Hey Victoria,

The void stance wording is an error, should have the same wording as everything else. Likely a copy/paste error on my part as I had some issues getting into format and was copying/pasting from different documents.

The stances don't have a limited use per rest, they are simply limited by ki points (2 to enter a stance). The "finishing moves" however are limited, but these are on a per-stance basis. So if you know two stances, you can enter one and use that "end stance early" effect in one encounter and then save your other stances finishing move for another, both would refresh on a short rest.

I'll look at adding in the ability to swap out stances at higher levels. :)
Customer avatar
Victoria F February 03, 2018 2:18 am UTC
Awesome. Can't tell you how much I enjoy your content on High Rollers and how much I'm looking forward to all the work you do in the future.
Customer avatar
Christina E February 02, 2018 12:49 pm UTC
I'm interested to see how the elemental stance play out at a lower level, using 2 ki points to enter a stance would only leave a monk 1 extra ki point at level 3. So that's probably gonna rule out Fire for me at an early level. But I do love the work on this, going to definitely show this to my players and see if anyone wants to play this out. And I'm thinking maybe I'll try this as a monk in the next one shot I'm in.
Customer avatar
Mark H February 02, 2018 3:42 pm UTC
The design intent is for the "passive" abilities to be worth the 2 ki point investment. Yes at level 3 entering a stance only leaves you 1 ki point left (which refreshes on a short rest), but then the extra damage and critical chance should make up for the loss of 2 extra unarmed strikes (from Flurry) you could have spent otherwise. Plus you get the "finishing" move which can be used without spending additional ki and provides a nice AOE.

Monks already have a lot of features at level 3, they can make 2 attacks a turn without spending Ki, deflect missiles, etc. I wanted the stances to be sort of "explosive uses of ki energy to do cool things" but not something the Monk can constantly use over and over again (I think many of the other traditions are quite strong in this regard).
Customer avatar
Christina E February 02, 2018 8:25 pm UTC
I like that reasoning, that super makes sense. I'm a give it a go next time I play.
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File Last Updated:
January 30, 2018
This title was added to our catalog on February 02, 2018.