Tavern Brawler Monk Build – Baldur’s Gate 3

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
  • Abilities
    • 17 Strength
    • 14 Dexterity
    • 14 Constitution
    • 8 Intelligence
    • 13 Wisdom
    • 8 Charisma
  • Background – Outlander
  • Skill Proficiencies
    • Athletics
    • Acrobatics
    • Survival

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 Gameplan

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.

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Long time CRPG fan turned MMORPG gremlin. Handheld system aficionado and fan of playing dress up in every game that will let me.

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6 months ago

Personally dislike wearing armor for monk since it doesn’t fit the theme, plus you lose your incredible mobility.

My variation is to start as a standard Dex/Wis monk until you build up a stack of Hill Giant Elixirs, Auntie Ethel sells them 3 at a time per long rest in the grove. Once you get ~12 (or more, whatever you feel comfortable with), you dump Str and drink an elixir every time you long rest.

You’ll be hard pressed to run out, since you’re so ungodly powerful. This also gives you attribute points to put into Dex/Wis/Con, and you can wear some of the awesome monk gloves for more damage. I just beat the entirety of the “mushroom” Underdark and Grymforge on a single short rest.

Charalampos Koundourakis
Charalampos Koundourakis
8 months ago

Great build! Only one issue. This fellow will die like crazy! Medium armour with 10 dex is a pisspoor ac I’m afraid, you’have to bite the bullet and decrease cha to eight and wisdom to 14 to get that 14 dex stat. Sure the open hand maneuvers dc will suffer but at least youll be alive to do them.

Reply to  Passion
8 months ago

Hi, unless I’m missing something (first time playing BG3), there doesn’t seem to be a way to get my stats like the ones in this build… Maybe when you changed the build you miscounted the Ability Points?

Thanks for the build.

Reply to  Passion
8 months ago

You can actually get that stat spread. You just need to move around the +2 and +1 points you get on character creation.

8 months ago

Hey love this build. I think clearly the biggest weakness is clearly AC. To correct for that I would run Open hand Monk 6/Thief 4/Fighter 2, starting Fighter for heavy armor (and shield?). Action surge also gives a huge damage boost, greater than the open-hand lvl 9 features, i believe.

Reply to  Nathan
6 months ago

AC is only really weak at the beginning, and to be fair, this is when the game is actually the hardest for any class. With the proper spells & gear, you very soon won’t need the heavy armor/shield. Shield of faith from a Cleric is +2, and in the first zone of Act 1 you can find +2 bracers and a +1 ring. There’s also options like scrolls of Blur or Mirror Image for particularly tough fights.

Totally agreed for Thief multiclass, though. 3 Thief levels for more Ki, unarmed damage d8, AoE via Ki Resonation and more mobility, or 4 Thief for an extra feat. Two punches and two flurries a turn; throw on Haste and its absolute devastation.

2 months ago

I’m going monk on a new charactere, may be I missed something but i’m unable to set strength pass 13 at creation.
Is this normal ? The build seems great, i’d like to test it

Reply to  helfezer
2 months ago

Hmm, that seems strange… Make sure you’re aware of the +1 and +2 bonus boxes in addition to the regular distribution, that could be affecting things.

2 months ago

I think I found something amazing that pretty much any fighter can take advantage of. It takes advantage of how powerful Tavern Brawler feat is. This is also in the order that I would recommend taking the levels

Fighter 5 lvls:

  • lvl 3 – Eldritch Knight subclass. This gains you the class action to bond any weapon, allowing it to return to your hand with no additional action. Cantrips and Spells do not necessarily matter for the build.
  • lvl 4 – Take the Tavern Brawler feat and increase Strength. Now any weapon is viable to be thrown.
  • lvl 5 – Gain the Extra Attack feature.

Barbarian 3 lvls:

  • lvl 3 – Berserker subclass. While in Rage, you can use a bonus action to do an enraged throw. Essentially adding another time that you can make a thrown weapon attack, and even better because it can knock the target prone.

Rogue 3 lvls (hear me out):

  • lvl 3 – Thief subclass. This gains you an extra bonus action. Self explanatory, more actions are always better.

With this, you can make 4 weapon attacks a turn (after using a turn to enter rage, in which you are still getting 3) before other features or effects. This can be compounded further with action surge for another 2 attacks, and even further if you use the Bloodlust Elixir (gaining another action on a turn that you kill a creature).

There is 1 more level that can be put anywhere and no matter the class you would gain another feat, but I would recommend barbarian to get more health.