Who needs weapons when your god blessed your knuckles? In Baldur’s Gate 3, one class stands out as a master of hand-to-hand combat and mystical energy manipulation: the Monk. With the power of Ki, the life energy that courses through all things, Monks and Monk subclasses in Baldur’s Gate 3 can tap into different aspects of this mystical force.
If you want to throw hands at dragons and punch devils, we’ll guide you into the three distinct Monk subclasses available in the game. Even Barbarians aren’t this
Monk subclasses are available at Level 3
Before we dive into the specifics of each Monk subclass, let’s first take a moment to understand the broader context. At level 3, as your Monk character advances, you’ll have the opportunity to choose one of three subclasses, each offering a unique set of skills and abilities. These subclasses are:
- Way of the Open Hand
- Way of Shadow
- Way of the Four Elements
Regardless of your choice, all Monk subclasses in Baldur’s Gate 3 inherit several foundational features, including proficiency in Strength and Dexterity Saving Throws, Simple Weapon Proficiency, Shortsword Proficiency, and expertise in various skills such as Athletics, Acrobatics, Insight, and Persuasion.
Additionally, Monks possess an impressive array of abilities that define their combat prowess, including Unarmored Defense and Martial Arts techniques.
Now, let’s break down each of the Monk subclasses and explore their unique offerings.
Way of the Four Elements – “My cabbages!”
The Way of the Four Elements is a Monk subclass that taps into the elemental forces of Ki, turning it into a potent weapon in combat.
As a practitioner of this path, you’ll harness the elements and gain access to unique spells and abilities that are usually more reserved for spellcaster classes.
Here’s a breakdown of what the Way of the Four Elements offers:
- Disciple of the Elements: At level 3, you choose three elemental spells to learn, and you gain the “Harmony of Fire and Water” ability, allowing you to recover Ki Points outside of combat.
- You can choose a spell at level 6.
- Improved Elemental Casting: By level 9, you enhance your elemental spells, adding extra damage dice to your attacks, increasing their potency.
The Way of the Four Elements provides a mystical and elemental flavor to the Monk class, allowing you to unleash the power of fire, water, and other elements upon your foes.
Now, we’re not going to throw some low-hanging fruits at you, but if you ever wanted to roleplay as a certain cartoon child monk who has mastered ‘all four elements’ and has a penchant for ruining cabbages businesses, then this is the perfect Monk subclass.
By the way, there’s a disgruntled cabbage merchant just outside Baldur’s Gate. We told you, didn’t we? Low-hanging fruit, courtesy of the game’s creators.
Way of the Open Hand – They know kung-fu
The Way of the Open Hand is a Monk subclass perfect for those who want to excel in the aforementioned unarmed combat in Baldur’s Gate 3. This path allows you to gain greater control over your Ki, both offensively and defensively. Here are the key features of the Way of the Open Hand:
- Open Hand Technique: This ability allows you to manipulate your enemy’s Ki while harnessing your own.
- Wholeness of Body: At level 6, you can heal yourself for an impressive amount (18 HP) and regain half of your Ki points.
- Tranquility: After a long rest, you acquire an aura of peace and sanctuary, making it difficult for enemies to target you until you engage in hostile actions.
As you progress further along the Way of the Open Hand, you’ll unlock additional abilities and techniques, such as Flurry of Blows variations and Ki Resonation, which can be devastating attacks when mastered.
Moreover, the Way of the Open Hand can serve as the base template for one of the most powerful multiclass builds in Baldur’s Gate 3 called the “Tavern Brawler” (who somehow can deal 400-500 damage in one turn when fully geared).
Way of Shadow – Basically ninjas
For Monks who prefer to tread in the shadows and strike with finesse, the Way of Shadow should be the more appropriate choice. This Monk subclass excels in stealth and shadow manipulation, offering unique advantages both in and out of combat. Here’s what you can expect from the Way of Shadow:
- Shadow Arts: You can use your Ki to replicate certain spells, including Minor Illusion, Darkness, and Darkvision. All these spells can help you distract enemies and make them more vulnerable.
- Hide: Gain the ability to hide more effectively, making you a master of stealth and subterfuge.
- Cloak of Shadows: At level 5, you can turn invisible as long as you’re in shadows or out of your enemy’s line of sight. The catch, of course, is that it’s less accessible than regular Invisibility spells you can obtain from items.
- Shadowstep: At level 6, you can teleport from shadow to shadow as a bonus action, gaining an Advantage on your next attack. Again, it’s less handy than Misty Step, but at least there’s a bonus to balance it out.
- Shadow Strike: By level 11, you can teleport to an enemy from a hidden position and deal substantial damage, making this subclass perfect for ambushes. This one’s promising and pairs well with Rogue abilities.
The Way of Shadow Monk excels at disrupting opponents and staying hidden, making it a formidable choice for players who enjoy espionage and tactical gameplay.
However, a lot of in-game items that provide Invisibility and Misty Step (or similar short-ranged teleports) might make this subclass a hard sell. Still, you can find that most in-game arenas or fight encounters are generous with shadow areas, and subclass feature synergy is quite harmonic.