Last Updated on January 22, 2023
A group of murderous kobolds scatters as a tiefling monk falls on them like a bolt of lightning, unleashing a flurry of magical blows. One by one the kobolds fall until only their leader remains.
Gripping his spear, the cowardly kobold attempts to hide, but it’s too late. With a whip of her tail, the tiefling knocks the kobold unconscious. “Lights out,” she whispers.
With their supernatural bloodlines, tieflings have a personal connection to the cosmic battles that grip the multiverse. Descendants of sin, tieflings are often drawn to a life of seclusion away from the pressures of high society.
Social outcasts, many tieflings have found themselves at the mercy of the monastery. While most reject the ascetic lifestyle, some see the training offered by the monks as the path of their salvation.
Stats: You’ll prioritize Dexterity first, followed by Wisdom.
Armor and Weapons: Monks use unarmed strikes and monk weapons, including simple weapons and customized weapons such as two clubs on a chain (called nunchaku).
Offensive Actions: At low levels monks can use ki points to unleash a flurry of blows. Monks eventually gain extra attacks and the ability to stun opponents. And hellish rebuke will give you the chance to retaliate against nearby enemies.
Defensive Actions: In the early game monks can rely on ki points to disengage from enemies or dodge attacks. At later levels abilities like deflect missiles, evasion, and purity of body will keep your monk alive.
Subclass Decisions: The most common paths include the way of the open hand, the way of shadow, and the way of the four elements. Traditional monks will follow the way of the open hand, while those who prefer stealth follow the shadows. Monks who feel a strong connection to the forces of nature follow the way of the four elements.
Why Play a Tiefling Monk?
Tieflings are the result of an infernal bloodline that includes human and demon ancestry. This lineage usually makes itself apparent in the form of horns, hooves, or even a tail. As such, tieflings are often shunned in public and met with suspicion.
With their innate spellcasting abilities, tieflings often become warlocks and wizards. A tiefling monk, however, has potential both on and off the battlefield, especially for players with access to the tiefling variants in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide or Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes.
Monks channel ki energy, using this magical force for defensive and offensive maneuvers. After mastering this mysterious power, monks can use it to move faster, deflect missiles, and avoid disease.
Not all tieflings have horns and tails, but their ancestry is usually visible in one form or another. Derived from half-demon or devilish bloodlines, tieflings may have pointed teeth, reddish skin tone, or eyes with no visible pupils.
For many tieflings, their mysterious origins are an important element of their backgrounds and personalities. Perhaps your tiefling monk joined a monastery to find answers about his or her background. Or maybe your tiefling seeks redemption from the monastic traditions.
It’s best to pick a background that makes sense for your character. Maybe you entered a life of seclusion after committing a crime. Or were you found at the door of the monastery as a baby, apparently abandoned?
Monks favor Dexterity and Wisdom, so make these your highest scores. Because tieflings receive a bonus to their Intelligence and Charisma, you can afford to put less points in these abilities. It’s a good idea to consider your character’s skills and plan accordingly.
Skills and Saving Throws
Fierce warriors, monks are often skilled in stealth, athletics, and acrobats. Players can also choose to learn religion or history if they want to play a more scholarly monk. As for saving throws, monks are proficient in strength and dexterity.
Gear and Supplies for a Monk
Monks have the benefit of Unarmed Defense, relying on their own abilities to avoid attacks. As long as you aren’t wearing armor, your AC is equal to 10 + your Dexterity modifier + your Wisdom modifier.
While some monks rely entirely on unarmed strikes, pummelling opponents with fists of fury, others train with specialized weapons, such as a spear or sickle. Many monks use custom weapons such as the nunchaku or kama.
Monks start the game with either a dungeoneer’s pack or an explorer’s pack, as well as 10 throwing darts.
How To Play a Tiefling Monk
Playing a tiefling monk is a perfect chance to flex your creative muscles. Was your character once a street brawler? Did she use her appearance to excite crowds, leaning into the audience’s fear of her horns and tail?
Or perhaps your monk seeks redemption from a past life as a criminal or street urchin. Did your character join the monastery to make up for this criminal past?
Or perhaps your tiefling has learned that strength is the key to survival and trains every day seeking mastery over body and mind.
Choosing a Monastic Tradition
At level 3 your tiefling monk will need to choose a monastic tradition that determines his or her fighting style. The Player’s Handbook contains three paths: the way of the open hand, the way of shadow, and the way of the four elements. Other monastic traditions are available as well.
Each monastic tradition trains monks to use ki in different ways. You should choose a monastic tradition that suits the character you’ve made. If your tiefling has a history of secrecy and criminal activity, joining the way of shadow would be fitting.
However, if she’s searching for the origins of her mysterious tiefling powers, the way of the four elements would give her the chance to treat her spellcasting as an extension of her own body.
Using Ki Points
Once your monk reaches level 2 you will be able to harness the power of ki. You can do this by spending ki points to unleash powerful attacks and defensive abilities. The number of ki you have is determined by your monk’s level.
Monks can use these ki points in a variety of ways, whether it’s to unleash special attacks or avoid the enemy’s fists.
Channeling the mystic power of ki, monks are powerful fighters. Capable of unleashing deadly unarmed strikes, monks rely on speed and surprise to end conflicts quickly.
A tieflings monk can use her horns for a headbutt attack, or use her tail to whip bad guys into shape.
At higher levels monks can use ki points to stun enemies. As they learn to harness ki, the monk’s body is imbued with magic. Beginning at level 6, a monk’s unarmed strikes count as magic and will overcome non-magical immunities.
Ki isn’t just for offense. Monks also use the mysterious force for evasion. At level 3 monks learn to deflect missiles. With this ability monks can use their reaction to deflect arrows and other projectiles. Skilled monks are capable of catching an arrow and throwing it back.
Monks also gain a speed bonus at level 2. As long as they aren’t wearing armor, the monk’s speed increases by 10 feet. With step of the wind monks can use a ki point to take the disgange action as a bonus action.
At level 4 monks learn slow fall and can use a reaction to reduce falling damage.
Feats and Abilities
Your tiefling monk might benefit from taking additional feats as your journey unfolds. Taking the magic initiate feat will give your tiefling the chance to learn additional magic spells and cantrips.
Taking the mobile feat will give your monk exceptional speed and agility. With this feat, your monk will gain another speed bonus of 10 feet. You’ll also provoke fewer attacks of opportunity during melee combat.
As a tiefling, your monk is also an innate spellcaster. Starting at level 1, your monk knows the thaumaturgy cantrip.
At later levels, you’ll learn hellish rebuke and darkness. Hellish rebuke will come in handy, allowing your monk to use a reaction to blast a target with fire damage.
Casting spells is an innate talent for tieflings. As a result, casting these spells can only be done once per long rest.
Tiefling Variants and Options
Several variants are available for the tiefling race, giving players a chance to customize their characters beyond the limitations of the Player’s Handbook.
The Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide contains several sub-options for creating tieflings. Using these sub-options, players can create tielfings with feral traits, or even give them wings!
In Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes players will find optional bloodlines for tiefling characters.
These infernal bloodlines represent a character’s deep connection with an ancestral demon or devil. These tieflings have different talents than their counterparts.
Tieflings from the bloodline of Fierna, for example, receive a bonus to their wisdom scores. With the magic of Fierna in their blood, descendants of Fierna can innately learn the spells charm person and suggestion.
Finding Your Path
Each monk must find his or her own path through the multiverse. Following the monastic traditions, monks must learn to harness the forces of ki in order to fulfill their destinies.
Remember, most monks shun material wealth, seeking instead mastery and spiritual perfection. If she trains hard enough, perhaps your tiefling monk will eventually learn to conquer the most difficult opponent of all: herself.
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I played the game a lot as a kid, back in first edition. Over the past few years since 5e was released, I’ve really started getting back into it. Currently, I run a campaign online for some friends and my brothers, and we also play a side-sesh just to mix things up.