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Man_Over_Game
2018-12-27, 05:00 PM
At 3rd level, when you take the Way of the Savage Heart, you learn the ancient ways of combat by mimicking the ways that beasts establish their dominance in the wilds. You can now utilize a special attack in place of an attack from the Attack action, called your Primal Strike. Primal Strike is considered the same as an unarmed strike, however you can choose for it to deal bludgeoning, piercing or slashing damage by using various strikes, bites, or claws, and you are considered using a natural weapon when attacking with it. Also, natural weapons now count as Monk weapons for you.

Additionally, you choose a beast aspect and gain its benefit to your Primal Strike feature. Your body physically shifts to reflect these changes in a minor way that incorporates the beast aspect.


Monkey- Your hair grows more, either on your body, from your head, or both. After hitting a creature with Primal Strike, you move up to half of your speed to another location adjacent to that target without provoking attacks of opportunity. You gain Temporary HP equal to your proficiency for every enemy you're adjacent to when you end that movement. Additional temporary hitpoints gained by this feature can stack. The maximum number of hitpoints you can have with this feature is equal to your Monk level, and you lose these temporary hitpoints at the start of your next turn.
Crow- Your pupils become larger and your hair turns much darker. Creatures you hit with Primal Strike have disadvantage to attack you until the end of your turn, and they have disadvantage to attack creatures other than you until the start of your next turn.
Elephant- Your nose and ears seem more pronounced. Your Primal Strike can shove a Large or smaller creature back 5 feet when it hits. If the creature is light enough for you to lift, you can instead move them 5 feet in any direction after hitting them with Primal Strike. Also, you have advantage to hit with your Opportunity Attacks made with an unarmed strike.




At level 6, you can spend 4 Ki points to cast Alter Self. The spellcasting modifier for this spell is your Wisdom modifier, and you have advantage on Concentration saving throws made to maintain it. (Possible edit to double the duration to 2 hours, but may cause conflict with monks' short rest Ki recharging)
Also, you gain Proficiency in the Survival skill. If you already had Proficiency, you now have Expertise in the Survival skill.



At level 11, your bestial survival instincts come into focus. If you are at equal or less than half of your HP after attacking with your Primal Strike feature, your Patient Defense feature costs 0 Ki points until the end of your turn.



At level 17, your beast aspect evolves into a physical aspect upon your body, granting you additional abilities and enhancing your Primal Strike. You receive additional benefits based off of the choice you made at level 3.


Monkey- You grow a tail, which can be used as an extra arm. When you hit a creature with Primal Strike, you can make an additional Primal Strike when you use your Flurry of Blows feature in the same turn.
Crow- Your hair grows into thin feathers, as do the undersides of your arms. When you use Step of the Wind, you gain a Flying speed equal to your Unarmored Movement bonus, but doing so requires you to not use your Action for anything other than to Attack with Primal Strike this turn.
Elephant- You grow moderately large tusks that extend from the sides of your mouth. When using your Primal Strike feature on a creature, and there are no enemies adjacent to them, they must make a Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.


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Notes about the design:

My goal was to implement a monk that utilized a beast-like way of reckless combat, while also being something that naturally worked with the two existing beast-esc characters: The Moon Druid and the Barbarian.

The Moon Druid can continue to use their natural Wild shape attacks while activating features like Flurry of Blows without any mechanical problems. Due to the fact that they cannot use the Wild Shape Multiattacks and Primal Strike in the same turn, I don't see too many unbalancing issues. Monk simply becomes a choice of melee versatility rather than a strictly power increase. You can choose to do more damage attacking with Wild Shape, or you can have some versatile combination moves provided by the Savage Soul Primal Strike.

Barbarian has a lot of versatility in this build, especially since it doesn't scale off of Wisdom too much.

There are also a number of synergies with Fighter and Action Surge, due to how Primal Strike is limited to Attack actions.


The beasts follow this design scheme:

Monkey- Reckless damage dealer, who's incentivized to fight in the thick of combat, and does so with relative safety.
Crow- Uses trickery to annoy enemies and to protect their allies using wits and high mobility.
Elephant- Forcefully manipulates enemies into being isolated and easy to dispatch with shear power.


Overall, it's very similar to the Open Hand monk, but this is more consistent, deals less damage, but only gains versatility by spending Ki points or by forcing situations to occur via good strategy. The Open Hand monk has more tools, but can't always afford to use them.

Please let me know of any balance or thematic concerns you may have! It's still a work in progress.

Vogie
2018-12-28, 01:42 PM
At 3rd level, when you take the Way of the Savage Heart, you learn the ancient ways of combat by mimicking the ways that beasts establish their dominance in the wilds. You can now utilize a special attack in place of an attack from the Attack action, called your Primal Strike. Primal Strike is considered the same as an unarmed strike, however you can choose for it to deal bludgeoning, piercing or slashing damage by using various strikes, bites, or claws, and you are considered using a natural weapon when attacking with it. Also, natural weapons now count as Monk weapons for you.

Additionally, you choose a beast aspect and gain its benefit to your Primal Strike feature. Your body physically shifts to reflect these changes in a minor way that incorporates the beast aspect.


Monkey- Your hair grows more, either on your body, from your head, or both. After hitting a creature with Primal Strike, you move up to half of your speed to another location adjacent to that target without provoking attacks of opportunity. You gain Temporary HP equal to your proficiency for every enemy you're adjacent to when you end that movement. Additional temporary hitpoints gained by this feature can stack. The maximum number of hitpoints you can have with this feature is equal to your Monk level, and you lose these temporary hitpoints at the start of your next turn.
Crow- Your pupils become larger and your hair turns much darker. Creatures you hit with Primal Strike have disadvantage to attack you until the end of your turn, and they have disadvantage to attack creatures other than you until the start of your next turn.
Elephant- Your nose and ears seem more pronounced. Your Primal Strike can shove a Large or smaller creature back 5 feet when it hits. If the creature is light enough for you to lift, you can instead move them 5 feet in any direction after hitting them with Primal Strike.


Monkey Form seems odd, as the ability sounds like it's built to facilitate moving around multiple targets, Horizon-walker-style, but only gives the THP "reward" when you're jumping amongst a pile of enemies... maybe it should award you for the number of targets you hit?

I'd like some more variation here. When I was tinkering with this idea, I was tying what you call the "primal strike" with the Step Into Wind feature - basically, what Way of the open hand does with flurry of blows. This gives you the features of the monkey and Crow features, as well as gives you the ability to do a "charge" or "pounce" style attack. Something like


Whenever you use your Step into the Wind Ability as a bonus action, you can also make a single melee attack with your natural weapon as part of that bonus action. On a hit, it deals damage equal to twice your martial arts die.

Maybe instead of using animal forms, as a nod to Totem barbarian, you use the actual alterations to the body as the sub-subtype indicators. Something like Long Limbs, Horns, Claws, Jaws, Wings and Tendrils... so you're not as locked into specific nomenclature. Tendril could be Octopus, Monkey (tail), Frog (tongue) or Snake, Long Limbed could be a Monkey or a Mantis, et cetera.


At level 6, you can spend 4 Ki points to cast Alter Self. The spellcasting modifier for this spell is your Wisdom modifier, and you have advantage on Concentration saving throws made to maintain it.
Also, you gain Proficiency in the Survival skill. If you already had Proficiency, you now have Expertise in the Survival skill.

I like this, but would want a better version... maybe an Alter Self that lasts twice as long?


At level 11, your bestial survival instincts come into focus. If you are at equal or less than half of your HP after attacking with your Primal Strike feature, your Patient Defense feature costs 0 Ki points until the end of your turn.

While this is nice, I'd want it to be more active... This encourages the monk to hit-and-run (which is pretty much how most monks are anyway). Perhaps when you are missed after using the patient defense, you regain ki? and maybe hit points as well? That encourages the monk to be in the range of the targets, and fighting, instead of using a flyby-style of fighting

Man_Over_Game
2018-12-28, 04:20 PM
Monkey Form seems odd, as the ability sounds like it's built to facilitate moving around multiple targets, Horizon-walker-style, but only gives the THP "reward" when you're jumping amongst a pile of enemies... maybe it should award you for the number of targets you hit?

I'm not sure 100% how that'd work. Each unique enemy you become adjacent to during the move? How would you change that to be understood if you used the Primal Strike multiple times in the same turn? Would you get bonus THP by every unique enemy in the turn, or in the move?

I thought about changing it up a little bit, but I couldn't think of anything that satisfied me. I wanted something mobile, but not defensive, and I didn't want something that stepped on the toes of Crow, so this seems to work fine. It's a bit odd, moving around enemies, but that's the point of the Monkey. Chain across multiple enemies, reaching their backline in a blur as you knock out their smarty pants magi.


I'd like some more variation here. When I was tinkering with this idea, I was tying what you call the "primal strike" with the Step Into Wind feature - basically, what Way of the open hand does with flurry of blows. This gives you the features of the monkey and Crow features, as well as gives you the ability to do a "charge" or "pounce" style attack. Something like

I wanted to move away from Step of the Wind, as it focuses very heavily on the disengage-attack style of combat, which is already something that the Drunken Master is specialized in. Rather, I wanted each beast to fit a unique role, between an aggressive diver, a distracting tank, and a battlefield manipulator. Where the Drunken Master runs in and out, each of these beast choices actually WANT to be in the middle of combat, almost all of the time.


Maybe instead of using animal forms, as a nod to Totem barbarian, you use the actual alterations to the body as the sub-subtype indicators. Something like Long Limbs, Horns, Claws, Jaws, Wings and Tendrils... so you're not as locked into specific nomenclature. Tendril could be Octopus, Monkey (tail), Frog (tongue) or Snake, Long Limbed could be a Monkey or a Mantis, et cetera.

I considered something similar, but for Homebrew, that's an incredibly daunting task, and an even harder one to get reviewed. Maybe in a revision, I might change it up, but keeping it simple seemed the better way to go for the moment.


I like this, but would want a better version... maybe an Alter Self that lasts twice as long?

That's fair. 4 points, 2 hour duration and advantage on concentration checks. Good. The key point here is that I want this to be the source of a lot of the class's versatility and ki consumption. It can't be too expensive nor too cheap, and the 4 points is a sweet spot. I think your recommendation makes it a little bit too strong, but not enough to cause any real problems, I think.


While this is nice, I'd want it to be more active... This encourages the monk to hit-and-run (which is pretty much how most monks are anyway). Perhaps when you are missed after using the patient defense, you regain ki? and maybe hit points as well? That encourages the monk to be in the range of the targets, and fighting, instead of using a flyby-style of fighting

I don't think so, though. Take a look at all the level 3 features:


Monkey has defenses that scale with the number of melee combatants. He could run away to preserve health, but he can't keep his temporary HP by doing so. He's actually incentivized to Dodge and stay in the thick of combat. As a monkey should.
Crow has a built in pseudo-disengage feature that allows it to hit and run anyway. The dodge feature would only allow it to stay in the middle of combat safely while protecting their allies. The Dodge feature doesn't allow them to run, it simply gives them enough reason NOT to.
Elephant can knock enemies back, he has no reason to need for any type of disengaging movement when he can just avoid attacks of opportunity by forcing distance. This dodge allows him to push an enemy back from a front line and engage in melee combat against the target.

In all of these situations, providing them a dodge does not give them the means to run away but to maintain direct melee combat while enhancing their unique playstyles. It lets them be more aggressive, despite being at half health, which creates a unique dilemma for a player to consider a plan of action, which is what this subclass is all about: Very simple mechanics that incentivize aggression and can be used repeatedly while still having important decisions to make that drastically change the fight.

Note: I did change up Elephant slightly on their level 3 feature, to provide slightly more utility/strategy with their knockback, by adding enhanced opportunity attacks with unarmed strikes.