[RPG] How to make a tanky Monk


I do have some experience with D&D 3/4, but 5 is pretty much new territory for me. Now, from what I can remember, monks used to be kind of an inbetween pick – not the worst, but not really shining at anything. That being said, I'm under the impression that 5e changed that to some extent, which is one of the reasons I'm tempted to pick up a monk for an upcoming group.

This group is lacking a tank as it is and I wonder if a Monk could somehow substitute that. Of course, monks aren't suited for CON-tanking, but maybe something along the line of DEX-tanking could be done?
Planned concept:

  • Variant Human Monk
  • Way of the Open Hand
  • Combat Reflexes Feat (or its equivalent)

With this as a foundation, how can I make a tanky Monk?

While this character needs to deal some damage, the tank side of it is aimed at a substantial hit point pool, and being more robust than a Skirmisher or Striker style.

If a Tanky Monk isn't a practical or viable build objective, the reasons why would be greatly appreciated.

Best Answer

Monks can be tanky, but it requires both high Wisdom and high Dexterity. With a 18 in each stat, you'll have an AC of 18. They are not the best tanks though, and generally shine at taking down many weaker enemies, rather than soaking up damage themselves (especially at earlier levels).

However, if the DM allows you to choose the goliath race from the Elemental Evil Player's Companion, you gain access to the Stone's Endurance trait, which will allow you to mitigate 1d12 damage per short rest.

In addition, if your DM allows you might want to ask about being able to use the Way of the Unmoving Mountain (a homebrew path), which will allow you to mitigate 1d6 damage as a reaction and by using ki points.

The Combat Reflexes feat was removed and is not part of 5e currently.

If your group really needs a tank, you are better off with a Barbarian or Paladin, and multi-classing to Monk when you feel it acceptable.