Why bother with clunky weapons or spells when you can punch, kick, and throw your way out of any solution? Leave the dexterous dancing to the Rogues and Bards, we are here to smash. Every fight is a brawl, complete with throwing the table and chairs.
In the guide below, we will go over the main features and strengths of the Tavern Brawler Build for a Monk, along with the best race, spells, feats, and equipment to pick for the build, as well as some tips to help you get the most out of it!
Tavern Brawler Monks are focused on Unarmed Attacks, scaling with high Strength instead of Dexterity. This not only scales your damage significantly quicker than other Monk builds, it also allows you to take great advantage of thrown “weapons” like Javelins and Goblins.
To best utilize our attacks, we want to subclass into level 3 Rogue, becoming a Thief. Not so we can steal things, of course, but so we can punch more. You could go to level 4 Rogue for the extra Feat, leaving you with 3 Feats by level 12, but you will most likely be better off sticking with Rogue at 3, as Monks get a damage boost at level 9.
Alternatively, you can start as a Fighter and subclass into Monk, and potentially even Thief later. Starting as a Defensive Fighter gives us +1 AC from Armour, and the ability to use Heavy Armour and Shields effectively. This can easily net you over 20 AC in Act 1 and will only get tankier.
Your choice of Race won’t make a world of difference for this build. I personally recommend Githyanki as you can use your racial Mage Hand to throw even more stuff at enemies, and they begin with proficiency in Light & Medium Armour. Shield Dwarves can also be used as they also start with Dwarven Armour Training. There are some items later that can effectively nullify these racial bonuses, but it will definitely make the early game easier.
You want to make sure you get as much Strength and Constitution as possible. Strength is where you get a lot of your damage, and Constitution allows you to survive up close and personal. Any more than +2 Dexterity can easily end up wasted with a solid set of armour. If you aren’t playing as a Gith character, you may want to opt for high Wisdom for the Unarmoured Defense bonuses it provides.
For the earlier levels I would recommend getting +2 Dexterity modifier, but once have items to bolster Dexterity, I would respec into higher Wisdom.
- Race/Subrace – Githyanki
- Starting Class – Monk
- 17 Strength
- 14 Dexterity
- 14 Constitution
- 8 Intelligence
- 13 Wisdom
- 8 Charisma
- Background – Outlander
- Skill Proficiencies
Spells & Abilities
Brief summary of why the below abilities are chosen as a whole, what the goal or thinking is behind this section/how it relates to the goal stated in the Summary.
Level 3 Subclass
At level 3 Monks are able to choose their subclass. For our purposes, this won’t make a world of difference. Way of the Open Hand is likely to be the most damage, but if you want to play a sneaky Shadow monk, or a part-time caster, go wild!
Once you reach level 5 as a Monk, you will want to try and pick up a few Rogue levels. Once you have Rogue at level 3 you can subclass into Thief, giving you another Bonus Action on every turn. This bonus action can be used for Unarmed punches, and combined with Monks’ extra attack, this can allow you to do double-digit hits every turn.
Level 4 Feat
- Tavern Brawler
- Obviously, we need Tavern Brawler to make this all happen, which isn’t available until level 4. You may want to consider respeccing into high Strength at level 4, instead of starting with it. This feat also grants us +1 to an attribute, and we use that on Strength, giving us a whopping +4 modifier.
Level 8 Feat
- Ability Score
- Combined with our base Strength of 17, the +1 Strength of Tavern Brawler, and +2 Strength from this feat, we reach a staggering 20 Strength and a baseline +5 modifier to work with.
Equipment for Monks always tends to lean towards the leaner side, able to get away with very little equipment while still being high damage and high survivability. Despite this, there are still a few items here and there you may want to equip if you stumble onto them.
Any item that impacts your Unarmed Attacks will also impact your Improvised Throwing Attacks. If an item gives you +1d10 to Unarmed Attacks, throwing a Goblin will also do +1d10!
Baldur’s Gate 3 has a lot of items that set your Ability scores to a specific number. These can be fantastic to use, allowing you to entirely dump a stat with no consequence. Something like Gloves of Dexterity can allow you to have 8 Dexterity and still have a +4 Dexterity Modifier, giving you massive amounts of AC.
- Gloves of the Growling Underdog
- Gain Advantage on melee attack rolls while surrounded by 2 or more foes.
- Gloves of Power
- On a melee hit, possibly inflict a -1d4 penalty to the target’s Attack Rolls and Saving Throws.
- The Sparkle Hands
- Conductive Strikes: On a hit with an unarmed attack, the wearer gains 2 Lightning Charges. While imbued with Lightning Charges, attacks against metal constructs and foes wearing metal armour gain Advantage.
- Springstep Boots
- When the wearer Dashes or takes a similar action during combat, they gain Momentum for 3 turns.
- Haste Helm
- At the start of combat, the wearer gains Momentum for 3 turns.
- Ring of Flinging
- The wearer gains a 1d4 bonus to throw damage.
- Amulet of Misty Step
- Grants one use of Misty Step per Short Rest.
- Elixir of Hill Giant Strength
- Increases your Strength to 21, giving a +5 modifier.
- Gloves of Dexterity
- Increase the wearer’s Dexterity score to 18. Attack +1.
The basic idea of Tavern Brawler is to enable things like Throwing, Improvised Weapon, and even weaponized Jumps. Combining Monk with Thief allows us to use our Actions to Throw enemies, triggering our extra Unarmed strikes.
Unarmed Strikes allow us to get some focused damage, while Throws handle the area-of-effect damage. Playing as an Open Hand Monk allows us to use powerful crowd control punches, knocking enemies prone, or removing their reactions.
This gives us a lot of room for creative gameplay. Throwing chairs is fun, sure, but what if we throw goblins at each other? What about the explosive barrel over there? There is no situation that cannot be improved by throwing something at someone. You can even throw Healing Potions underneath your allies to heal them; just be very careful doing this; if you hit them with the bottle, you will probably not help the situation.
We also have the ability to traverse **massive** distances by jumping. Combine Step of the Wind Dash with the Githyanki Psionics: Jump ability, and you can jump over 100 meters in a single turn. Out of range? Jump. Enemy on top of a cliff? Jump. There are very few places you won’t be able to jump to.
Thanks for reading! Let us know how the build worked out for you in the comments, and may all your hits be crits.