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Fighter Monk 5e Multiclass

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Fighter Monk 5e Multiclass

Fists of Steel

Fighters are versatile powerhouses, capable of countless techniques for applying cold steel to worthy opponents. Monks are ascetic disciples of the martial arts who have surpassed the physical limits through sheer willpower and skill. When combined you apply the speed of a martial artist with the skill of a dedicated murder machine. Eat your protein powder and don’t skip leg day as we go through everything you need to know about the 5e Dungeons & Dragons fighter monk multiclass. 
 Fighter Monk 5e Multiclass Guide

Why Play a Fighter Monk Multiclass?

Dungeons & Dragons monks are cool, but they’re artfully dodging and nimbly outmaneuvering their foes, what if you just want to punch good? By combining the fighter and monk we can become a walking meat hulk that could punch a hole in a horse. Fighter monks have a very high DPS very early, are survivable, quick, and get to seamlessly play with most of the features of both classes without clashing on the action economy. We don’t even have to stretch between ability scores, and you’ll still be able to effectively multiclass without having any “dead levels”.


What are the Downsides?

This class combination feels really good at early levels, but your martial arts die increases anyway at later class levels, making it a redundant level dip if we continue forward with monk levels. However, if we continue forward with fighter levels instead, we essentially get the primary benefits of a high-level monk while only taking a dip in the class. This does mean all our builds will be core fighter with only some monk levels though. It's also worth mentioning that the 5E monk is fairly weak overall, and other than that initial monk dip it can be hard to argue to pursue the class further considering the poor monks damage output.

And as with any multiclass build, you’ll be delayed on your mid-level class features compared to builds of a single class and will be outright losing out on late game class features like 20th level capstone features.

When Does a Fighter / Monk “Kick In”?

The nice thing about this combination is that it functions right off the bat with only a single level in each class, meaning you’ll see the build kick in as early as 2nd level. There are some more synergies we can work out later, but the core synergy starts at 2.

What Class Features Do We Care About?

All our features fighter and monk abilities stack together to build a more perfect martial machine, but we’ve got a few features and options we really care about to make the combination work.

Significant Monk Features

  • Unarmored Defense. Monks get an armor class equal to 10 + Dexterity mod + Wisdom mod so long as they’re not wearing armor. Most other monk features also require us to be unarmored, so we’ll need to rely on this feature for our defense. Thankfully we’ll be able to maximize both Dexterity and Wisdom anyway, so this should be granting us a respectable 16 to 18 AC in most situations.
  • Martial Arts. This is the core defining monk feature that improves our unarmed strikes, lets them use Dexterity instead of Strength, and allows us to make an unarmed strike as a bonus action when we take the attack action. Remember that this is different from flurry of blows, and it’s basically the default “free” punch that we can make without spending ki or any other resource.
  • Ki. These are your mystical resources that you spend to fuel most of the monk’s abilities. Technically you gain a number of ki points as shown on the table, but it’s basically equal to your monk level starting at 2nd. And starting at 2nd, we get three abilities we can spend those monk points on. Flurry of Blows is the one we’ll be using most often, and it works exactly like our martial arts extra unarmed strike, but if we spend a ki point for flurry of blows, we get a 2nd and 3rd attack using unarmed strikes instead of just one extra attack. Patient Defense lets us dodge as a bonus action at the cost of 1 ki point (which is situational but very useful). And finally Step of the Wind lets us dash or disengage as a bonus action for 1 ki, and also doubles our jumping distance for the turn.
  • Unarmored Movement. Very simply monks get extra speed. When you first gain the feature with your 2nd monk level it’s 10 extra feet of movement speed and it improves to 15 feet at 6th level, 20 feet at 10th level, 25 feet at 14th level, and 30 feet at 18th level. Just the 10 extra feet is a huge boost to speed, and you’ll typically be able to maneuver yourself however you’d like in combat.
  • Dedicated Weapon. This class feature will only matter for some of the build variations, but this 2nd level feature essentially lets us convert a simple weapon or martial weapon into a monk weapon.
  • Deflect Missiles. Starting at 3rd level we can use a reaction to reduce the damage taken by 1d10 + your monk level + your Dexterity modifier. You only have the one reaction but it’s incredibly handy to essentially negate the odd arrow that flies at you.
  • Ki-Fueled Attack. Another late addition to the monk class, this 3rd level feature lets you use a ki point for weapon attacks instead of bonus action unarmed strikes. You're only getting one extra bonus action attack, but it can potentially be more impactful with a good weapon than the bonus attacks with just unarmed strikes. For us we won't be making much use of this unless we go the gun monk route.
  • Quickened Healing. Gained at 4th level, you can spend 2 ki points to heal a number of hit points equal to a roll of your martial arts die + your proficiency bonus. It’s not a huge amount of healing for the cost, but you regain ki on a short rest and that healing can come in clutch.
  • Focused Aim. Gained at 5th level, you can increase your attack roll by +2 for every ki point you spend, up to a max of +6. This means every time you’re pretty sure you were close to hitting you can bump it up after the roll to push the hit through.
  • Extra Attack. Just like most martial classes monks gain an extra attack at 5th level. This means we can make two attacks and make a bonus action unarmed attack using martial arts, or with a ki point a flurry of blows gives us a total of 4 attacks, 2 with our primary weapon and 2 unarmed strikes. Note that this won’t stack with the same extra attack feature that the fighter gains, but we'll still get 3-4 attacks each turn.
  • Monastic Tradition. We don’t need to go up to a 3rd monk level to get one of the monk subclasses for the core of the build, but for some of the stuff we’ll be stacking onto that core we’ll need to get that 3rd class level for the archetype feature.


Significant Fighter Features

  • Hit Points. While the upgrade from 1d8 to 1d10 isn’t huge, it’s worth considering that on average every level of fighter you take over monk will make you a bit beefier.
  • Fighting Style. Obtained with only one fighter level, fighters get to choose among combat styles that are all simple but significant buffs and combat abilities. We only care about one option though and that’s unarmed fighting. Unarmed fighting lets us deal 1d6 damage for our unarmed strikes, or 1d8 if we aren’t armed with anything.
  • Second Wind. Also picked up with only one fighter level this feature gives a decent healing option. It uses the bonus action which isn’t ideal, but emergency healing in the pocket is always useful.
  • Action Surge. Gained at 2nd level, this is merely great for “fair” builds, and absolutely bonkers on the “unfair” builds. Sadly, most of our monk features actually use our bonus action so an extra action isn’t fantastic for us, but getting to cheat on the action economy is always useful one way or another.
  • Archetypes. We’ll go into them in more detail in a moment, but a lot of the fighter archetypes and even just the initial 3rd level additional features of those archetypes can be incredible for the build.
  • Extra Attack. Just like most martial classes, the fighter picks up an extra attack at 5th level. Remember though that this won’t stack with the identical monk feature, but we can still make our regular attacks unarmed strikes if we choose to.


Fighter / Monk Ability Scores


Thankfully, we don’t have to spread our abilities thin and can essentially just build our character out as if they were just monks. Firstly, you want Dexterity as your highest ability score, as it will factor into both our attacks and our AC. Thankfully, our base class is fighter, and we'll have the opportunity to spend an ability score improvement on a feat in addition to boosting up our core stats.

Our next highest ability score should be Wisdom, as it will fuel many of our monk features and adds into our AC thanks to unarmored defense.

For both Dexterity and Wisdom, we want to get to a minimum ability modifier of +3.

Next, every hit point could matter. Like any martial character that wants to get up in the front lines, we’ll want too make Constitution our third highest ability score to pad out our hit points and make ourselves a bit more survivable.

Finally, everything else can be a dump stat. Intelligence and Charisma won’t factor into our build at all, and neither should Strength (though keep an eye on Strength depending on what route you go).


Fighter / Monk Equipment

We’re going fully unarmed here, so the answer is no equipment at all! There are some exceptions for the variations on the build, but generally you don’t need any weapons or armor for this build whatsoever.


Which Class Should I Start With?

This is a close call, but I’d advise taking your first level in monk. Starting with monk gets us a bonus tool or instrument proficiency, and starting with fighter would net us heavy armor proficiency. Now normally heavy armor proficiency is much more valuable, but since we plan on going unarmored anyway, we might as well get the bonus tool. Starting out as a monk also gets us unarmored defense right out of the gate, so we don’t have to awkwardly wear armor for our first level just to ditch it at level 2.


Fighter / Monk Feats

There are a slew of feats that seem like they’d fit into our build, but I find most of those are traps. Tavern brawler mostly gives us redundant features, and the bonus action grapple clashes with our flurry of blows. Similarly, Grappler feels like it could work but the feat only grants us advantage after we’ve grappled a creature, and the pinning feature is confusingly bad. There are a couple feats that may be worth taking.


Crusher deals with bludgeoning damage, conveniently the damage type dealt by our big meaty fists. It gives us a single point of Strength or Constitution, and two pretty interesting bonuses:

  • Once per turn, we can shove creatures 5 feet when we hit them with bludgeoning damage.
  • Whenever we critically hit with bludgeoning damage, we and our allies all get advantage on attacks that target that same guy until the start of our next turn.

Normally this feat is a bit underwhelming when using a single big bludgeoning weapon, but with a flurry of attacks all potentially critically hitting our odds of triggering the free advantage is pretty high. Keep in mind this is all attacks with that target, not just attacks from you. This means you can potentially give your entire party advantage against a boss for a whole round.



Gunner revolves around firearms and is obviously only going to be useful if we go down the “gun monk” build. It’s a half feat as well, giving us a point of Dexterity along with the following features:

  • Proficiency with firearms.
  • We get to ignore the loading property on guns.
  • Being within 5 feet doesn’t impose disadvantage on ranged attacks for us.

All of this is predicated on the setting having access to firearms, but in those settings it does everything we could want. Ignoring loading means we can pick guns with a higher damage output, and no disadvantage means we’re free to shoot and punch in any combination.


What’s the Core of the Build?

The core interaction we’re going to take advantage of is the combination of the fighter’s unarmed fighting style and the monk’s martial arts feature, both of which are gained at the first level of each class.

Both features interact in a weird way, unarmed fighting style lets us deal 1d6 + Strength (or 1d8 if completely unarmed) with our unarmed strikes. Martial arts at 1st level lets us deal 1d4 + Dexterity for unarmed strikes. And because of the way the features are worded, the end result is that with both features we’re now allowed to deal 1d8 + Dexterity with each punch. Normally, a monk wouldn’t be able to do this until their 11th level when their martial arts die increases, and by taking unarmed fighting style we can essentially skip ahead and do the same thing at 2nd level. At just our 2nd character level, we’ll be able to make two attacks in a turn, each attack dealing 1d8 + 3 damage per hit. With just one more monk level, we’ll have access to ki and flurry of blows, making us capable of 3 attacks a turn for a total of 23 (3d8 + 9). 

Fighter / Monk Multiclass Builds

All of these strategies utilize the core of the build, but we can tweak and improve upon it, taking it in some interesting directions.

Battle Fist

This is what I would consider to be the default route for this multiclass combination. We start with the core of the build, take one additional monk level for Ki and Flurry of Blows, and take all our remaining levels in fighter selecting the battle master fighter archetype. 

Battle master is already arguably one of the strongest and most versatile fighter archetypes, and it doesn’t use up our bonus action since many of the more powerful maneuvers trigger on hits. The battle master gets 4 (and eventually more) superiority dice, d8s they can use to activate a set of different options called maneuvers, and they recharge on a short rest.

You get to select 3 battle maneuvers, and we really want to prioritize options that can take advantage of our numerous attacks and that don’t use up our bonus action. I recommend choosing at least one of the following: disarming attack, menacing attack, and tripping attack. All three function in similar ways, adding our superiority die to the damage of an attack, while either nerfing their ability to attack you or buffing your ability to attack them.

Disarming attack forces the target to save or drop their weapon, menacing attack causes the target to be afraid of you until the end of your next turn on a failed save, and tripping attack knocks them prone on a failed save. Tripping is especially brutal for us, since we’ll get advantage on all our remaining attacks while we pummel our opponent on the floor. Finally, it’s probably prudent to take parry which lets us reduce the damage of an oncoming attack by our superiority die + Dexterity modifier, effectively padding out our hit points when needed.

To put this all together, let's take a 5th level example with 2 levels of monk and 3 levels of fighter. Using a bonus action for a flurry of blows, we’ve got 3 unarmed attacks, all of which deal 1d8 + 3 bludgeoning damage for a damage output of 23 (3d8 + 9). Where it gets interesting is when we through one of our maneuvers in there as well. Once one of our unarmed strikes land we can trigger tripping attack, dealing an extra 1d8 damage along with a solid chance of knocking our opponent prone, granting us advantage on the rest of our attacks and likely for our allies’ attacks as well. All in all, as a 5th level character, that gives us 27 (4d8 + 9) damage a turn, with high odds on a full party advantage buff for massive damage!


Champion of Harm

For this build we’re going to do some critical hit fishing while also taking advantage of a weird additional damage interaction to try and get some devastating crits.

To start off, we’re going to stick with the core of the build, taking a fighter level and the unarmed fighting style along with our monk level. We want a total of 3 monk levels selecting the way of mercy monk archetype, and all our remaining levels should go towards fighter taking the champion archetype.

Champion fighters are a bit bland, but importantly at 3rd level their critical hit range increases to 19-20, and since we’ll often be attacking 3 times a turn, our odds of snagging the odd critical hit are statistically quite high.

The way of mercy is a bit of an odd duck. Designed as the “healing monk”, we can use ki points for healing (not our focus but still useful), we get proficiency in Insight, Medicine, and herbalism kits. And we get a weird plague doctor mask that does literally nothing but looks cool. The feature we’re actually going to care about however is called hand of harm which lets us spend a ki point to do bonus damage on an unarmed strike equal to our martial arts die plus our Wisdom modifier.

All that doesn’t sound like an amazing use of our ki points but it has some unique functionality for us. Firstly, we don’t have to decide to apply this extra damage until we’ve already hit with the attack. Next, and most importantly, this is treated as extra damage dealt by the attack itself, which means it is also doubled on a critical hit.

Armed with improved critical and multiple attacks, we can fish for our crits and pop hand of harm whenever we land one. At 7th level, one of our critical hits with hand of harm applied will deal 13 (2d8 + 4) bludgeoning damage and 13 (2d4 + 8) necrotic damage for a nasty 26 damage punch!


Gun Monk

Here we’re going to make the biggest departure from the core concept and turn our monk fighter into a revolver twirling and quick punching desperado. A bit of a warning though, the odds are high your DM isn’t playing around with guns, and even if they are, they may not allow Matt Mercer’s Gunslinger fighter archetype, since it’s still technically unofficial material.

Firstly, we’ll be starting out with the same core build, but we’ll be getting up to 3 monk levels and taking the Way of the Kensai monk archetype, and all our remaining levels should go into fighter taking the gunslinger archetype. Finally, at our first opportunity we’ll want to take the gunner feat, either at our 7th level with our first ASI, or at 1st level if your DM is allowing variant humans with their free feat. We’re still going for the same ability scores of Dexterity and Wisdom, since thankfully the gunslinger grit ability is also based on Wisdom.

We’ve now put quite a few strange features in a pot here, but I promise they’re going to melt together into something wonderful.

To get this high-falutin party started though you’ll need to figure out what firearms your DM is giving you access to. There’re the Matt Mercer firearms included as a part of the archetype, but there’s also the renaissance, modern, and futuristic firearms found within the DMG.

If you’re using the Mercer firearms, your best option (without unique weapons) is going to be a blunderbuss, which is a short-range one-handed gun that deals 2d8 damage.

If using renaissance firearms, your best option is the pistol, a 1d10 damage weapon.

If you have access to modern firearms, your best bet is the revolver, which deals 2d8 damage.

And if you’re lucky enough to be playing around with futuristic firearms, your best option is the laser pistol, which deals an insane 3d6 damage.

Next, and I know this will be very weird for our unarmed build, but we need to put a one-handed monk weapon in our other hand. This can be practically any one-handed melee weapon, just pick whatever you think is coolest.

Alright, now that we have our weapons, we need to select both of them as our “kensai weapons”. This not only converts them to monk weapons but gives us two special benefits, one intended for range and the other intended for melee. The ranged one is a bit meh but the melee one is worth going after. Whenever we make unarmed strikes while also holding onto a kensai melee weapon, we get +2 AC until our next turn.

Ok, so now we’re 7th level, we’ve got a blunderbuss in one hand, and a dagger in the other, how does this work? Well, we’re going to be playing some silly games with some rules minutia, but the end result should be glorious. Firstly, we run in and shoot our target with our blunderbuss point blank (ignoring the disadvantage due to the gunner feat). Then, even though both our hands are full, they’re full of monk weapons and because of martial arts we can still make unarmed strikes and we get to make our two unarmed strikes using flurry of blows. Because we aren’t completely unarmed they’ll be d6s rather than d8s, but that +2 AC is too juicy for just holding a dagger that is now essentially our shield. Also because of the gunner feat, we completely ignore the loading property on our weapons.


And we’re not done yet, because we still have all of the gunslinger’s grit and trick shots to play with, that all give us secondary effects on our gun attacks. We can activate a trick shot by spending a grit point, and we regain all grit points on a short rest. We really want to take winging shot, that’ll knock our enemy prone when we blast them in the face.

So, to put all this together, we use our extra speed to rush up into our opponent’s face, and we blast them with a blunderbuss, using winging shot to knock them prone. We then immediately headbutt or elbow our target for flurry of blows and make two unarmed attacks against our prone target. We’ve now done 25 damage (2d8 + 2d6 + 9) and are standing above a prone target with a +2 bonus to our AC until our next turn. Due to gunner ignoring the loading feature entirely, we can repeat this every turn so long as we have the ki and grit points remaining. And more importantly, we got to be a cool martial arts cowboy while doing it.

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Last updated: January 27, 2019

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