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Monk Weapons 5e: A Comprehensive Guide

Every class in DnD can choose from a wide variety of weapons to wield. Fighters might pick up a greatsword or battleaxe, while Wizards might decide on a staff or wand. But what about Monks? What kind of weapons do they use in combat?

Today, we take a look at Monk weapons in 5e. We’ll explore what they are, how Monk weapons in 5e work mechanically, and how you can take existing 5e weapons and modify them to match their real-life counterparts. 

What are Monk Weapons in 5e?

Despite the prolific stereotype of unarmed Monks, many Monks who practice martial arts train with simple melee weapons as well. Being capable of delivering powerful unarmed strikes and ki-empowered strikes is important in self-defense. But if a Monk’s enemy has a weapon or acquires one in the middle of a fight, it’s in a monk’s best interests to be able to defend himself with the same force multiplier as his opponent.

At 1st level, your practice of martial arts gives you mastery of combat styles that use unarmed strikes and monk weapons, which are shortswords and any simple melee weapons that don’t have the two-handed or heavy property. – Player’s Handbook, p. 78

So, based on those criteria, the following weapons from the Player’s Handbook qualify as Monk weapons in 5e:

  • Club—1d4 bludgeoning—light
  • Dagger—1d4 piercing—finesse, light, thrown (range 20/60)
  • Light hammer—1d4 bludgeoning—light, thrown (range 20/60)
  • Sickle—1d4 slashing—light
  • Handaxe—1d6 slashing—light, thrown (range 20/60)
  • Javelin—1d6 piercing—thrown (range 30/120)
  • Mace—1d6 bludgeoning
  • Quarterstaff—1d6 bludgeoning—versatile (1d8)
  • Shortsword—1d6 piercing—finesse, light
  • Spear—1d6 piercing—thrown (range 20/60), versatile (1d8)

Basically, any martial weapon won’t count, as well as any dedicated ranged weapon even if it’s considered a simple weapon.

Create Your Own Monk Weapons in 5e

Monks were associated with many types of weapons throughout history that aren’t in the standard list of weapons in 5e. So, if you want your kenku Monk to wield something classic like a wakizashi, which was a short sword used by samurai (social class) and ninja (military occupation), the process is simple. Take the 1d6 damage from the 5e shortsword and give it slashing damage instead of piercing.

A pair of sweet nunchakus? Take the club and rename it. The club has the light property as well so they’re easy to dual wield if you like two-weapon fighting.

Want some shurikens? Take the dagger and use the same 1d4 piercing damage. Boom! Cool new Monk weapon.

Or take up the classic bo staff by renaming the basic quarterstaff. Boom! Another cool new Monk weapon!

This is Dungeons and Dragons, so as long as the DM says it’s ok, modify the standard weapons (or a magic weapon) in 5e to make them work for your Monk!

Calculating Damage for Monk Weapons in 5e

This is where things get tricky. Because Monks incorporate weapons training into their martial arts training, they can leverage their Martial Arts die to deal more damage with a melee weapon attack than would otherwise be possible with Monk weapons in 5e.

The only stipulations are you can’t wear armor or wield a shield.

First, you can choose Dexterity or Strength for your attack and damage rolls.

Second, you can roll your Martial Arts die in place of the normal damage die for your weapon of choice. So if you’re throwing a dagger at an enemy, normally the dagger would inflict 1d4 damage. But if you’re a 12th level monk, you can roll a 1d8 instead.

Monk LevelMartial Arts Die
1–41d4
5–101d6
11–161d8
17+1d10

Third, you can make one unarmed strike as a bonus action when you use the Attack action with an unarmed strike or monk weapon.

Can You Use Ranged Weapons as Monk Weapons in 5e?

The only ranged weapons that count as Monk weapons in 5e are simple melee weapons with the thrown property.

This means the dagger, handaxe, javelin, light hammer, and spear receive the benefits of Monk weapons when you use them as ranged weapons.

So, if you were thinking about reskinning darts as shurikens, now you know why I recommended daggers instead. Darts do not count as Monk weapons in 5e because they are simple ranged weapons, not simple melee weapons.

Tasha’s Cauldron Introduced Dedicated Weapon for Monks

Now you’re improving! Not only can you use shortswords and simple melee weapons as Monk weapons in 5e, but thanks to Tasha’s Cauldron you can now focus your ki you can count any weapon as a Monk weapon as long as it meets the following criteria:

  • The weapon must be a simple or martial weapon
  • You must be proficient with it
  • It must lack the heavy and special properties

You can do this once per short or long rest.

The key is the second bullet point. Since monks aren’t generally proficient with martial weapons, you’re really just opening up the range of potential Monk weapons to include simple ranged weapons which include:

  • Dart—1d4 piercing—finesse, thrown (range 20/60)
  • Sling—1d4 bludgeoning—ammunition (range 30/120)
  • Shortbow—1d6 piercing—ammunition (range 80/320), two-handed
  • Crossbow, light—1d8 piercing—ammunition (range 80/320), loading, two-handed

So, why the proficiency requirement if monks aren’t proficient with martial weapons in the first place? Because specific races and feats grant you proficiency with martial weapons, and you can multi-class into a class that grants you proficiency with martial weapons.

Monk Weapons 5e FAQ

What weapons can a Monk use in 5e?

Monks are restricted to shortswords and simple melee weapons, which includes: club, dagger, handaxe, javelin, light hammer, mace, quarterstaff, sickle, and spear.

What weapon is best for Monk?

The best weapon for a Monk is actually a tattoo introduced in Tasha’s Cauldron.  It’s called the Blood Fury Tattoo. It’s produced by a special needle and requires attunement.

You expend a charge (you have 10 that recharge at dawn) to deal an extra 4d6 necrotic damage to the target. Additionally, you regain the number of hit points equal to the necrotic damage you inflict.

When you get hit by a creature you can see, expend a charge to use your reaction to make a melee attack against the creature that hit you. You have advantage on the attack roll.

Is a quarterstaff a Monk weapon?

Yes, the quarterstaff is arguably the most common weapon associated with monks and it qualifies as a Monk weapon.

Final Thoughts—Monk Weapons 5e

Monks in DnD 5e may be known for the lethality of their unarmed attacks, but that doesn’t mean they’re restricted to being unarmed! Monks throughout history trained with certain weapons in addition to their unarmed martial arts training.

Using a monk weapon in combination with your Martial Arts die is a great way to add more theme and spectacle to your monk character. In order to count as a monk weapon, a weapon must be classified as simple and cannot possess the heavy or two-handed properties.

However, this can sometimes get a little confusing… So today we’ve taken a closer look at Monk weapons in DnD 5e. We looked at what they are, the mechanics of Monk weapons in 5e, and how you might reskin existing weapons in the game to match real-life monk weapons.

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12/09/2022 08:09 am GMT

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D&D Player’s Handbook
$49.95 $19.25

Buy on Amazon Buy at Noble Knight
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
12/09/2022 08:09 am GMT