D&D 5e Monk multiclassing image by Wizards of the Coast’s Strixhaven: Curriculum of Chaos with a background alteration.
This article contains affiliate links that add gold to our coffers.
After scouring the internet for guidance and ideas for your D&D 5e Monk multiclass character, you find yourself at the monastery of Flutes Loot!
Welcome to Flutes’ guide for Monk multiclassing character concepts. Multiclassing is tough to learn, but if you meditate in a waterfall long enough you’ll learn how to multiclass. Your mind expands as new character concepts become plain to your understanding.
Monks are a tough case. The class is designed in such a way that makes it difficult to synergize with other classes without great cost. Whether you’re ignoring or embracing optimization (building a character that is an apex predator mechanically), multiclassing allows you to conjure unique characters and roleplay in new ways.
Monk Multiclassing Quicklinks by Subclass (skip ahead)
Skip ahead to the portion of the article that interests you most by clicking the link below:
Monk Multiclassing Rules and Best Practices
To be blunt, Monks are some of the worst multiclassers in the game. This is because of the Monk’s subclass coming at level three, strict stat requirements (for features and for multiclassing), and niche specialties. Monk specialties have many requirements that lack synergy with other classes. They are multiple-ability-score dependent, desiring Dexterity and Wisdom. This further limits their effectiveness and hinders their ease of accessibility when they multiclass.
When D&D 5e was new, my friends and I love the idea of taking a level or two of Monk when playing a spellcaster. The possibility of bolstering the armor class of our Wizards seemed really cool to us. As the game has matured and additional options have been introduced, I’ve found that there are better ways to bolster a Wizard’s defenses.
Speaking of game updates, the Monk received an interesting new second-level feature called Dedicated Weapon when Tasha’s was published. Being able to count more weapons as Monk weapons is vital to multiclassing success. Another new feature Monks received is Ki-Fueled Attack; it allows a bonus action attack to be made when Ki is used during the character’s action. Finally, Monks also received Focused Aim as a tool to improve their accuracy by expending ki points.
If you’re brand new to multiclassing, I recommend reading our multiclassing combinations article for an overview of each class and how it multiclasses well or not well. You can also read up on the basics of multiclassing here.
Not all level-twenty abilities are worth getting; Monks have a horrible level-twenty class feature (capstone). They struggle to multiclass effectively, too. Most campaigns end by level ten anyway, according to D&D Beyond (find out how long your game will last). Several of my recommendations are thematically cool or unusually unique to D&D, so non-optimizers will find fun ideas.
Class Ability Score Requirements
Multiclassing requires minimum ability scores in both new and prior classes (as described on page 163 of the PHB, or page 54 of Eberron RftLW for Artificers). For example, if you are a Monk multiclassing as a Rogue, your Wisdom and Dexterity stats must be thirteen at minimum.
Class Ability Score Minimums:
- Artificer – Intelligence 13
- Barbarian – Strength 13
- Bard – Charisma 13
- Cleric – Wisdom 13
- Druid – Wisdom 13
- Fighter – Strength 13 or Dexterity 13
- Monk – Dexterity 13 and Wisdom 13
- Paladin – Strength 13 and Charisma 13
- Ranger – Dexterity 13 and Wisdom 13
- Rogue – Dexterity 13
- Sorcerer – Charisma 13
- Warlock – Charisma 13
- Wizard – Intelligence 13
Dipping 1-3 Levels to/from Monk
As mentioned earlier, dipping one or two levels can be enough to justify multiclassing. Let’s review which combinations get enough value from dipping and don’t require extensive multiclassing.
Not all level-twenty abilities are worth getting; Monks have a horrible level-twenty class feature (also called a class capstone). With such a horrible high-level ability, it’s a shame Monks aren’t better at multiclassing. I guess most campaigns end by level ten anyway, according to D&D Beyond. Several of my recommendations are thematically cool or unusually unique to D&D.
Which classes have the best reasons to dip into Monk?
The problem with classes like Druids and Clerics, even though they overlap in their use of Wisdom, is that they already have good armor options. Unarmored Defense is great, but it doesn’t add much unless stats are extremely high. I have several concepts that fit those classes, but they’re niche exceptions, not optimal options. The new Monk features from Tasha’s I mentioned earlier opened up some interesting possibilities.
Which classes do Monks want for multiclass dips?
Similar to what I’ve said before, Monks have a hard time multiclassing. However, if I were to build a Strength-based Monk, a Barbarian dip for Rage and Reckless Attack might be fun. I think the most fun concepts will involve Monk subclasses, so I’ll get to those later in the article.
Monks can benefit from other classes and subclasses that deal more damage by the number of attacks. They also enjoy abilities that lend to their striker playstyle, make them more durable, or put their martial arts to good use.
Mostly for fun, I think Monks can enjoy becoming beasts with Druid levels. I wrote an article about playing a ninja monkey in this way (one of the first articles I ever wrote).
How to Roleplay When Your Monk Multiclasses
Most players don’t foreshadow or roleplay their core class features, so don’t sweat it for multiclassing. Just because you’re not sticking with a single class doesn’t mean you should feel more excessively burdened than other characters to narrate your character’s progress. You could treat the multiclassing as a mere mechanical change. You don’t have to suddenly tell people that you’re two classes. Pretend your core class has something different about it that is justified by multiclassing.
Your Monk might multiclass due to discovering new uses for the ki energy within. Their training might unlock unexpected potential in their capabilities.
Monk Multiclass Recommendations by Subclass
I’ll now go through each Monk subclass to list ideas for multiclassing. Some of them will be for fun and others will be for optimal character builds (though Monk multiclass concepts aren’t always optimal without great effort).
Ascendant Dragon Monk Subclass (FToD)
Summary of subclass features: Deal elemental damage with unarmed strikes and bolster your Persuasion and Intimidation checks. Speak the Draconic language. Use a breath weapon. Sprout temporary wings that allow you to fly each turn, but not between. Gain elemental resistance and use dragon-like fear effects. Augment your breath and transformations at high levels, and gain blindsight.
Ascendant Dragon Monk Multiclass Recommendations
Ascendant Dragon Monk (18) / Tempest Cleric (2)
Clerics use Wisdom, so multiclassing Monk with Cleric is reasonable. Tempest Cleric gets the Fog Cloud spell and can synergize with thunder/lightning damage with its Channel Divinity. I like to picture casting Fog Cloud like a cloud of dragon fire smoke, especially since you gain blindsight at high levels as an Ascendant Dragon Monk.
Ascendant Dragon Monk (19) / Twilight Cleric (1)
A single level of Twilight Cleric will give you support spells to help your team. You’ll also have incredible darvksion and advantage on Initiative rolls.
Astral Self Monk Subclass (TCoE)
Summary of subclass features: Use ki points to manifest astral body parts that rely on your Wisdom score and each gives you different benefits. Arms use Wisdom for attacks and Strength checks/saves while utilizing reach and force damage. The mask/helmet affords you darkvision and sight through magical darkness, advantage on Insight and Intimidation checks, targeted whisper speech, and voice amplification. The body allows you to deflect damage from fire, cold, acid, force, lightning, and thunder damage types, and a slight damage boost to unarmed strikes. You can eventually spend more ki to summon all parts at once with +2 AC and another attack each round.
Astral Self Monk Multiclass Recommendations
Astral Self Monk (6) / Stars Druid (14)
You can transform yourself into Starry Form and manifest astral arms to attack enemies. Even in a beast form with Wild Shape you can grow astral limbs of your true self. You’re almost like a ghostly Druid who punches souls out of peoples’ bodies, Dr. Strange style.
Astral Self Monk (17) / Land Swamp Druid (3)
Since the Astral Self Monk can see through magical darkness, I thought it would be fun to look through the Cleric and Druid subclasses to see which ones can cast Darkness. Eureka! The Circle of the Land Druid has Darkness on its swamp land type. Picking up spellcasting is fantastic, too. You can also use the ten-foot reach of your astral arms to grapple a target (using your Wisdom stat, by the way), and drag them parallel along your Spike Growth spell’s area.
Astral Self Monk (17) / Swarmkeeper Ranger (3)
I like that the Swarmkeeper’s abilities at level three can be used to augment the attacks of the Astral Self Monk. You can force enemies away or get away from them with the help of your swam, then you can grapple them or attack from ten feet away before you freely move out of reach. Hunter’s Mark can be useful in longer combat encounters or when you have time to cast it as a bonus action on a big target. You can flavor the swarm of this character to be a manifestation of the astral form you take.
Drunken Master Monk Subclass (XGtE)
Summary of subclass features: Proficiency with brewer’s supplies and Performance. Flurry of Blows comes with a free Disengage and a ten-foot movement boost. Standing up from prone takes five feet of movement. Redirect missed enemy attacks. Cancel disadvantage out using ki. Add three attacks to Flurry of Blows if each of the flurried attacks (5) target different creatures.
Drunken Master Monk Multiclass Recommendations
Drunken Master Monk (18) / Moon Druid (2)
This subclass isn’t great for multiclassing, but maybe we can reflavor the drunken theme as extreme cowardice. Have you ever seen someone close their eyes and lash out with their limbs goofily? That’s what this character is. You can turn into a bunny rabbit, strike at your enemies in a panic, then run away as fast as you can. You could alternatively go for Shepherd Druid and use the unicorn spirit like my child’s night light.
Four Elements Monk Subclass (PHB)
Summary of subclass features: Cast elemental spells and gain elemental augmentations using your ki points.
Four Elements Monk Multiclass Recommendations
Four Elements Monk (14) / Light Cleric (6)
Start your journey as a Cleric and get to level five quickly so you can cast Fireball. You’ll be able to go Monk all the way after that. You can flavor the Light Cleric as a pyromancer. The Monk levels could broaden your elemental powers with martial arts.
Kensei Monk Subclass (XGtE)
Summary of subclass features: Gain proficiency with either calligrapher’s supplies or painter’s supplies. Bond your ki to a weapon to become more deadly with it. Use weapons more effectively to defend yourself or deal damage. Count your Kensei weapons as magical and deal more damage with ki spent. Effectively enchant your weapon with bonuses based on your ki spent. Reroll a missed attack once per turn.
Kensei Monk Multiclass Recommendations
Beast Barbarian (8) / Kensei Monk (12)
“Hey, Bub… I’m Logan, but you can call me Wolverine.” As I mentioned in the combination above, the Beast Barbarian’s Form of the Beast weapons count as simple weapons; therefore, the natural weapons here can be used as Martial Arts weapons. The Kensei can choose weapons like these for Kensei weapon specialization, enhancing the Beast Barbarian’s natural weapons.
This is definitely the type of character that can go on a rampage like Wolverine, cutting through the toughest armor like adamantium claws when the Kensei uses the Sharpen the Blade feature. You won’t regenerate like Wolverine, but you’ll tear things to shreds while resisting weapon damage.
Have extra fun by kiting melee foes with the Mobile and Slasher feats as you freely move away to make them chase you with reduced speeds. Slasher will also allow you to freely Reckless Attack as you potentially cause your target to have disadvantage to attack you, canceling out the advantage they’d have against you as you attack recklessly. The 8/12 split is mostly to obtain ASI levels in either class, but you can adjust as you see fit. Make sure your DM will allow you to choose your natural weapons as Kensei Weapons, or you’ll be a sad Tasmanian devil…
War Cleric (1) / Kensei Monk (19)
Become a true weapon of war with the tools and options of both Monk and Cleric. You gain the ability to attack as a bonus action with your Kensei weapon if you want to deal more damage. You might even opt to ignore some Monk features to wear heavy armor (crazier things have happened).
Long Death Monk Subclass (SCAG)
Summary of subclass features: Gain temporary hitpoints when you slay a foe. Terrify nearby creatures (even allies) become frightened of you until your next turn ends if they fail a Wisdom saving throw. Use a ki point to remain at one hitpoint when you’d normally reach zero. Deal damage with 1-10 ki points to stack 2d10 necrotic damage with a Constitution saving throw for half damage.
Long Death Monk Multiclass Recommendations
Long Death Monk (18) / Grave Cleric (2)
The themes match up, but there are fun synergies for high-level characters. You can use Channel Divinity: Path to the Grave to give a creature vulnerability to your Touch of the Lond Death subclass capstone feature. At low levels, you’ll be the gatekeeper of death for your allies. You won’t have the power to raise them from the dead, but you can take care of many problems that precede demise.
If the high-level power doesn’t interest you, consider five levels of Cleric so you can be a speedy Monk with Spirit Guardians and other Cleric spells active.
Mercy Monk Subclass (TCoE)
Summary of subclass features: Mix up your martial attacks with harmful necrotic damage or helpful healing. Become proficient with herbalist kits. Cure common status conditions and eventually raise the dead.
Mercy Monk Multiclass Recommendations
Beast Barbarian (6) / Mercy Monk (14)
Your bestial heritage has given you regenerative and toxic powers. Your stats will be well-rounded with this build due to multiclassing stat requirements. Focus on Strength for your Monk attacks as you’ll gain Rage damage to each one as long as you’re using melee weapons. Your mutations that manifest from Form of the Beast while raging count as simple melee weapons, so you can add your Rage damage to them. If you read the Monk class’s Martial Arts feature, you can use any simple melee weapon as a Monk weapon as long as they don’t have the two-handed or heavy properties. Cha-ching, this combination is money! Your Extra Attack feature will allow you to make three attacks instead of two because of how your Claws work, and you’ll still get unarmed strikes from the Monk class for your bonus action. If you use Flurry of Blows, you’ll be attacking five times per round.
Investing in Strength will boost your jump distances, and the level-six Beast Barbarian feature Bestial Soul will provide Monk-like abilities to achieve amazing stunts. You can flavor your Hand of Harm/Hand of Healing abilities from the Way of Mercy Monk subclass to be using your natural claws (or perhaps teeth and stingers) to inject regenerative cells or necrotic venoms into other creatures.
Split the levels between Barbarian and Monk in any way you like, and there are pros and cons to whatever split you choose. You can get more feats with an 8/12 split or get more Barbarian features with a 10/10 split. It’s up to you, but the concept seems fun to me. The Beast Barbarian has more chances for synergy with the Monk class due to the simple melee weapons manifested by Form of the Beast.
Peace Cleric (3) / Mercy Monk (17)
Enhance your supportive powers and healing options with a few levels of Peace Cleric. I’d pick it over a Life Cleric because of the ability to use Emboldening Bond ahead of combat. I think healing is best done out of combat, but you’ll be specialized combat support. It’s not the most effective character concept ever, but it’s a unique one.
Open Hand Monk Subclass (PHB)
Summary of subclass features: Empower Flurry of Blows to knock prone, push fifteen feet (Strength save), or remove reaction capability for a turn. Heal yourself as an action. Gain the effect of the Sanctuary spell. Perform a death strike that potentially kills but might at least deal heavy necrotic damage.
Open Hand Monk Multiclass Recommendations
Open Hand Monk (3) / Moon Druid (17)
One of my earliest character concepts was for a Druid/Monk who uses Wild Shape to become animals while using Martial Arts from the Monk. Wild Shape allows class features to remain, so you can make unarmed strikes like a Monk.
Open Hand Monk (17) / Swarmkeeper Ranger (3)
The Way of the Open Hand partially specializes in forced movement. You can stack your Monk pushing features with the push effects from the Swarmkeeper and the Crusher feat. Stack Hunter’s Mark with your Flurry of Blows during long combat encounters if you need to boost your damage. Rangers offer strong options for you even outside of the subclass. The Swarmkeeper learns Faerie Fire, and I recommend flavoring it as your Way of the Open Hand kicking in to see other creatures’ auras.
Shadow Monk Subclass (PHB)
Summary of subclass features: Cast several spells with your ki. Teleport freely between zones of dim light or darkness as a bonus action and gain advantage as you ambush. Eventually, gain an invisibility option in the dark and a reaction attack when nearby enemies are struck.
Notes: Many critics of this subclass don’t like that it doesn’t get darkvision or the ability to see through the magical darkness it can conjure. It might be good to homebrew that with your DM. Otherwise, it still gets Pass without Trace, an excellent spell to set your team up for ambushes.
Shadow Monk Multiclass Recommendations
Way of Shadow Monk (12) / Trickery Cleric (8)
Gain mobility as you flutter about swiftly, casting spells and spreading mayhem as you go. You can teleport through shadows, create duplicates of yourself, and Polymorph a friend. Wisdom is relevant to both core and secondary classes, so you could count on Trickery spells offensively too.
Have fun striking from the shadows as you misdirect and stun your opponents. Twelve levels in Monk will get you an upgraded d8 Martial Arts die. You can also gain advantage on attacks if your illusory double from Channel Divinity: Invoke Duplicity is adjacent to a melee combatant. The even 12/8 split of levels will allow you to not miss out on two Ability Score Improvements.
Arcane Trickster Rogue (14) / Shadow Monk (6)
Shadow Monks possess interesting themes and useful mechanics for Rogues, particularly with Shadow Step at level six. The quick teleport grants advantage on a melee attack so the Rogue can use Sneak Attack. This works with pretty much any Rogue.
The reason Arcane Trickster works particularly well with this combination is that its ability to cast spells enables it to gain Devil’s Sight from the Eldritch Adept feat. Arcane Tricksters can then combo Devil’s Sight with the Shadow Monk’s Darkness spell. You’ll also get Pass Without Trace and Silence as useful spells.
Shadow Magic Sorcerer (3) / Shadow Monk (17)
Embrace the shadow as a martial artist using darkness. Your natural gifts of the Shadowfell lend well to your training.
Spells can help a Monk have additional fun in and out of combat, but the main selling point here is at level one as a Shadow Magic Sorcerer. Gaining darkvision and an option to resemble Devil’s Sight is excellent. This deals with common criticisms of the Shadow Monk since it can’t see in its own magical darkvision and it lacks darkvision.
Twilight Cleric (2) / Shadow Monk (18)
The super darkvision from Twilight Cleric enables the Shadow Monk to take sniper shots at night. Dedicated Weapon is a new Monk feature from Tasha’s that allows more versatility of weapon choices from Monks, enabling a better Monk archer. You can rain arrows from afar, then teleport into the shadows and reposition to begin sniping again. You can take six levels of Twilight Cleric if you want to also gain flight. Channel Divinity: Twilight Sanctuary gives the character dim light on demand for teleporting during the day (assuming the DM doesn’t say sunlight pierces the dim light). Fun idea!
Shadow Monk (8) Battlemaster Fighter (4) / Gloomstalker Ranger (4) / Assassin Rogue (4) / Peace Cleric (1)
This might seem hilarious, but it could actually be considered an optimal build for a Monk. It’s common for optimizers to multiclass from a martial class between levels 5-7. The concept here is to focus on ranged attacks, possibly even using a musket. The term “Gunk” (gun+Monk) has been coined recently to describe this type of character. A well-known YouTube video by Pack Tactics covers this Gunk build if you want to know more.
Sun Soul Monk Subclass (XGtE)
Summary of subclass features: Shoot lasers that deal martial arts damage, and they become compatible with Extra Attack. Use ki to cast Burning Hands as a bonus action. Act to create an orb that you hurl to explode with radiant damage with a Constitution saving throw to take 2d6 radiant damage, and you can spend ki points to increase the damage. Glow brightly and control nearby lights while dealing radiant damage as a reaction when you’re struck.
Sun Soul Monk Multiclass Recommendations
Light Cleric (13) / Sun Soul Monk (7)
“Light em up!” First of all, I do believe the Sun Soul Monk subclass is hot trash, but that shortcoming is partially overcome by the thematic interest I have in this combination. With seven levels of Sun Soul Monk, you get the usual Monk abilities plus some light attacks and a bonus action Burning Hands like you’re some kind of fire bender. Both classes can use Dexterity and Wisdom, so you won’t need to sacrifice defense for offense or vice versa.
You’ll have ranged and melee options, and a variety of ways to utilize your bonus actions and reactions. This is the first combination that made me want to try a Sun Soul Monk, so it has that appeal going for it.
Sun Soul Monk (3) / Moon Druid (17)
Combining one of the strongest subclasses in the game with one of the weakest! You can pick any kind of Monk for this, really. I think it’d be fun, however, to see a ninja monkey dishing out radiant bolts of energy.
One of my first articles ever was about the concept of a Druid who can Wild Shape while using martial arts from the Monk class. This is that idea. Monks aren’t great for multiclassing, but a player who is looking for something new or is playing a one-shot adventure can enjoy this combination.
Sun Soul Monk (3) / Wildfire Druid (17)
I’m not saying it’s strong, but this is a thematic combination that gives your Druid radiant bolts to fire as if they were the sun itself. Unarmored Movement and Unarmored Defense are nice to have anyway for a Druid.
Monks are really horrible for multiclassing when compared to what other classes can grant or gain quickly and effectively. You can have fun with Monks, though. Their class flavor can be fun to imagine as an addition to another class, which is why people play them in the first place. Multiclassing isn’t require to have fun, but experienced players will likely be tempted to spice up the Monk with dips in other classes.
What ideas did I miss? I’d love to hear about them so I can add them to my lists of subclass-specific recommendations. I clearly had a hard time thinking of ideas that were useful or fun, so I welcome more eyes on this guide!