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.
|Base Simple Weapon||Monk Weapon|
|Quarterstaff||Three-section staff Bō||Eku|
Other Monk Weapons
A bian, or hard whip, is a ribbed metal rod often used as a training sword. Use the statistics for a mace.
A bō is a staff made from bamboo or hardwood. It might have a round, square or hexagonal cross-section and some are reinforced with metal bands. Use the statistics for a quarterstaff.
A butterfly sword is a short, broad, single-edged blade with a small crossguard. Only half of one edge is sharpened – the mid-point to the tip – with the blunt edges used for non-lethal strikes. They are usually wielded as a pair. Use the statistics for a short sword.
A dao is a short single-edged sabre-like sword. Use the statistics for a short sword.
A dragon pole is long staff. Practitioners say they can project their ki down its length. Use the statistics for a quarterstaff.
A Naginata is a curved blade on the end of a staff. Often associated with fighting monks, the Naginata is also a weapon for infantrymen. Advanced techniques include whirling the weapon, striking with the base as well as the blade, and wide sweeping strikes. “Use the statistics for spear, but cannot be used as a thrown weapon.”
An eku is a polearm derived from an oar. The wide, wooden blade makes this a top-heavy weapon: techniques focus on large circular strikes. Use the statistics for a quarterstaff.
Also known as Emei daggers or piercers. An emeici is a thin metal rod with a sharp stabbing tip, mounted on a detachable ring for wearing on the middle finger. The weapon can thus be spun or thrown. They are usually wielded as a pair. Use the statistics for a dagger.
The kama was developed from the agricultural sickle. It has a short wooden haft with a curved blade projecting sidewards from the tip. Use the statistics for a sickle.
The kusarigama consists of a kama (the equivalent of a sickle) on a a metal chain with a heavy iron weight at the end.
The kuwa was developed from the agricultural hoe. It has a short wooden haft with an acute, inward horizontal blade. Use the statistics for a sickle.
A ninjatō is a short, straight sword. Use the statistics for a short sword.
A nunchaku a pair of short wooden sticks connected by a rope or chain. Use the statistics for a club.
An ono is a hatchet with a large convex cutting edge. It associated with warrior monks who adopted agricultural tools as weapons. Use the statistics for a handaxe.
A jutte is a short, pointed metal baton with a curved prong projecting from the handle. Although it can be thrust like a dagger, it has a blunt tip; it can also be thrown. Use the statistics for a light hammer.
Sai are 3 pronged truncheons/clubs with the outer forks often used in defense, they are found in some monk cloisters. The monks using them practice many different forms and grips while holding one in each hand. If wielded by a master, their fighting style looks more like a dance than a battle. Use the statistics for a club.
A shobo is a sharpened wooden rod mounted on a detachable ring, used for striking pressure points. Use the statistics for a dagger.
A tambo is a short wooden staff of length less than 3 feet. Use the statistics for a club.
A three-section staff is three bamboo or hardwood sticks connected by short chains. It has a slightly longer reach than a quarterstaff, and can be folded to make it easier to conceal. Use the statistics for a quarterstaff.
A tonfa is a wooden club with a perpendicular grip that allows the shaft to rest along the wielder’s forearm. It may have developed from the use of millstone handles or crutches as weapons. Use the statistics for a club.
A two foot long Japanese sword that looks like a short katana. Use the statistics for a shortsword.
A wind-and-fire wheel, also known as a chakram, is a flat metal ring, 15 inches in diameter, with protruding blades and a padded grip. They are usually wielded as a pair. Use the statistics for a handaxe.
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 Level||Martial Arts Die|
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.