August 12, 2016

Shadow Sun Ninja

Monastic Tradition
Comments from the Finger: By popular demand!

Way of the Shadow Sun

Monks who pursue the Way of the Shadow Sun study good and evil, light and dark, and seek to find power in their balance. These monks are highly skilled at manipulating ki, both to heal and to sap vitality. However, a Shadow Sun monk derives his or her power from within, by understanding their own righteousness and their personal shadow of evil. Only when a student of the shadow sun has accepted his or her own duality does he or she graduate to become a shadow sun ninja.

Touch of the Shadow Sun
Starting when you choose this tradition at 3rd level, your touch drains vitality and heals wounds. You can spend a ki point as an action to make an unarmed strike against a creature within your reach. On a hit, the target takes an additional 3d6 necrotic damage. Record the amount of necrotic damage dealt. You can't use this ability again until you use your action to touch a willing creature within your reach, restoring an amount of hit points equal to the damage recorded.

Shadow Sun Void
At 6th level, while you are not carrying a shield, you can use your bonus action to manifest a barrier of light. For 1 minute, or until you are hit, you have a +2 bonus to AC, as if you were wielding a shield. When you are hit, the shield shatters in a wave of inky black energy. Each creature within 5 feet of you must make a Dexterity saving throw or take 1d10 + your Wisdom modifier necrotic damage.
     Once you use this ability, you must finish a short or long rest before using it again.

Blinding Darkness
By 11th level, when you begin your turn hidden in dim light or darkness, you can emerge in a blinding flash of light as a bonus action. Creatures within 20 feet of you must make a Constitution saving throw. A creature is dazzled on a failed save, and you have advantage on attack rolls against it until the end of your turn.

Balance of Light and Dark
Starting at 17th level, when you use your Flurry of Blows, your first additional attack deals an extra 1d10 radiant damage, and your second additional attack deals an extra 1d10 necrotic damage.

Changelog: 8/12/16: Touch of the Shadow Sun: Typo
Blinding Darkness: Reworded


  1. Love the idea and the flavor!
    Only the 3rd levels Touch of the Shadow Sun seems a little too strong for the cost. Maybe have the healing effect also use up a ki point or something.

    1. I balanced this on the idea that it takes two actions to pull off, which have to be done one before the other. It's pretty limiting, so I think I'm happy with the healing amount.

  2. As usual solid work. I normally do not like monks that much but this one is flavourful as well as seeming quite fun to play. Here is what I found:

    Small typo within the 3rd level ability. "drain" instead of "drains"

    I also feel that the level 11 feature is a little bit on the weak side. I love the idea and the flavour but:
    -You first need to be hidden to utilize it, costing you an action and a successful check as preparation
    -Since you need to spend your bonus action to pull it off you cannot use it with Flurry of Blows
    -Since the dazzle effect only lasts until the end of your turn which all in all comes down to:
    1 Turn preparation, 1 Turn execution, 2 attacks (via extra attack) at advantage.

    I understand being cautious and not wanting to overshoot, but why not just inflict the blinded condition? This way one could at least savely retreat. Another way to make it more viable would be to somehow be able to hide as bonus action.

    Minor gripe really. Apart from this (and the aforementioned typo) I dig it

  3. Awesome sub-classes like this make me wish you could go deeper and rejig all of the Monk upgrades to fit the flavor.

    Awesome work. It's at the top of my list next time I roll up a character... after I make a Halfling Barb :)

  4. Blinding Darkness: Is "dazzled" supposed to refer to anything besides the advantage on attack rolls you get? It was a condition in the edition this class' concept came from, but not so in 5.

    This is probably my favorite subclass on this blog.

    1. Nope, I just intend to make 'dazzled' to be a description. I'll reword this to make it clearer.

  5. Two questions.

    If I'm playing a Dvati Shadow Sun Monk, can I use an action one turn to have a twin deliver the Level 3 ability, then have the second twin deliver the healing next turn?

    Additionally, would the level 6 ability affect both twins or just one?

    1. Also, this sounds like an amazing character. I could imagine one dvati is obsessed with the Light, and the other with the Dark.

    2. I was certain that your Dvati had some form of Coordinated Attack for advantage if they are next to each other, but I guess not. I was imagining the twins flanking for a flurry of advantaged stunning strikes, followed by a Touch of the Shadow Sun. Additionally, can one twin use the healing clause of Touch to heal the other twin?

    3. Yeah, one twin can heal the other, a different creature, or itself.

    4. Awesome. I'm so excited to use this in a game. You guys always make such amazing stuff. Keep it up.

    5. I have no intention of stopping :D

    6. I love the concept of a Dvati Light/Dark duo! So good!

    7. Have to agree, nice character idea!

    8. Well my current group has all the basic roles filled, so I wanted someone versatile and mobile. Dvati allows me to be two places at once, and shadow sun allows me to be a secondary striker, healer, tank, and controller, at will. Blinding Darkness helps cover some of the weaknesses of the Dvati with extra AC. Also I really liked the duality aspect.

  6. I think that the 3rd level feature is overpowered. For comparison, here are the other uses for 1 ki point at level 3 (PHB only):
    - Make an extra unarmed strike (1d4) + one of the following (at level 3)
    * And cause DEX save or knocked prone
    * And cause STR save or pushed 15 ft.
    * And enemy can't take reactions
    - Dodge/Disengage/Dash as a bonus action
    - +10 ft. range with unarmed strike and deal fire damage
    * Spending another ki point adds 1d10 fire damage
    - Change ice to water or vice versa.

    The 'Touch of the Shadow Sun' feature allows you to deal an extra 3d6 damage AND healing for 1 ki point. I realize there are some limitations, and it forces you to attack with an unarmed strike instead of a quarterstaff. But that's still 2d4 + 3d6 damage (15.5 average, less likely to be resisted) and 3d6 healing (10.5 average). Other monks using flurry of blows and a quarterstaff will get 1d8 + 2d4 damage (9.5 damage, maybe knock prone/push/prevent reactions) and no healing. Cure wounds from a Life Cleric with 16 WIS will heal 1d8 + 6 for an average of 10.5...

    So I find it problematic that this monk is getting a free cure wounds that is as good as what a Life Cleric will have, and dealing more damage than any other monk as well. I realize that it takes another action to use the healing, but the monk can easily wait until combat is over to use it in most cases...

    Think you need to re-think this a bit.

    1. I agree with you somewhat based on you math. But said math only holds up until level 5 at which point a Monk utilizing Flurry of Blows and Extra Attack deals 2d8 + 2d6 (16 + 4x dex mod) and the Touch of Shadow Sun deals 5d6 (17.5 + 2x dex mod). Let's assume a Dexterity Score of 16, then this would translate to 28 damage vs. 23.5. At this point you deal about 4.5 damage less for the 10.5 healing needing another turn and limiting the spamability of this feature. The damage discrepany widens as you unarmed damage and ability score increase. The last factor is probably that necrotic damage is a potentially weak damage source in most "standard" enviroments.

      I agree with you that is a little bit too strong at 3rd level but since the damage (and healing) are a static 3d6 it quickly uses said potency.

      In conclusion I would advocate for an approach based on Monk unarmed damage dice if you want to "revamp" it. But even as it is, it is by no means gamebreaking. If you compare different PHB Archetypes throughout their full 20 level span you will allways see some fluctuation and certain ones coming out stronger or "peaking" at different levels.

    2. It's possible this needs some changes, but let's dig into the math a little more for discussion:

      Unless I'm mistaken, a normal monk can use one ki point to blow 2 additional unarmed strikes: 1d8 + 2d4 + Dex*3. (Assume 18 Dex) Avg: 22.

      A monk of the shadow sun can blow a bonus action for an extra 3d6 on top of the first unarmed strike: 4d6 + Dex, avg 18.

      So a normal monk gets /more/ damage, as was the intent here. Of course, the healing is somewhat potent if you roll well (and its free), but I balanced the damage and healing off the fact that you needed to use your action to heal before you could use this feature for damage again. Admittedly, I thought this was going to be more limiting than it, under further inspection, probably is.

      Now, I think there's a couple of things I can do to mess with this: I can make the healing cost an additional ki point, or I can make the damage scale, starting at 2d6, and getting larger with levels. Thoughts?

    3. A few things being said in this conversation that are off.

      First, Jonathan S says that at 3rd level, Touch of the Shadow Sun is giving you 2d4 + 3d6 damage, but I can't think of any way that would work, because you're only getting one unarmed strike, or 1d4 + 3d6.

      It's important to keep in mind how Touch of the Shadow Sun is worded, and how some of the PHB monk abilities are worded. Touch of the Shadow Sun does not make use of the Attack action, it prescribes its own action that involves one unarmed strike. This is normal, there are official abilities that prescribe weapon attacks, but do not call for the Attack action. Because it does not invoke the Attack action, it is incompatible with any ability that specifically requires that action. Martial Arts, for example, grants you a bonus action unarmed strike only if you use the Attack action with an unarmed strike or monk weapon. Flurry of Blows also requires the Attack action. Because Touch of the Shadow Sun does not involve the Attack action, but is rather its own special thing, it grants neither of these abilities.

      Then, Neyd The Harlequin says that at 5th level, Touch of the Shadow Sun is dealing 5d6 + 2x Dex. Which is again saying there is more than one unarmed strike happening, which can't be. No Martial Arts bonus action unarmed strike, no Extra Attack. So it's 4d6 + Dex.

      Finally, The Finger mentions a bonus action being taken as part of the ability, but the ability uses a regular action. Two, in fact.

      Touch of the Shadow Sun is only a good damage dealer at levels 3 and 4. At level 5 and after, a normal attack routine blows it out of the water thanks to access to Extra Attack and Flurry of Blows. I assumed this was the intent, as Touch of the Shadow Sun grants 3d6 healing on 1 ki point. Potentially used to good effect with some planning and a little luck, but never a serious "every turn" combat ability.

      If the intent was actually to have it be an easy to use and viable damage option, then yes it definitely needs more consideration. Scaling damage could be one way.

    4. My bad on the bonus action thing - though it doesn't change the damage output really.

      You're right that the intent is for it to be a viable damage dealer for the first fee levels, and a useful (if not outright powerful) healing option at higher levels. That being said, I'm not sure if the lack of scaling makes this underwhelming, or if it remains valuable due to providing some healing.

    5. Nick - I think you're right, my assumption was that the monk got an unarmed strike to trigger the extra damage, and then could use their bonus action to make another. The wording supports this, but isn't obvious from a first reading.
      I also mostly have experience with level 5 and lower games, where this is the most powerful. I hadn't considered how much it drops off at higher levels.

      Finger - I would be happy to see it scale with level, with monk damage dice, with amount of ki spent, something like that. I think it's quite strong for level 3, but might be too weak later.

      Also, last point: basic monk flurry of blows adds one extra unarmed strike for one ki point, not two. The other unarmed strike is the monk using their bonus action unarmed strike.

    6. Not quite. Martial Arts is a 1st level monk feature that allows you to make 1 unarmed strike as a bonus action any time you use the Attack action with an unarmed strike or monk weapon. Flurry of Blows is part of the 2nd level monk Ki feature that allows you to spend 1 ki point to make 2 unarmed strikes as a bonus action immediately after taking the Attack action (no restriction on what weapon you attack with using the action). They're separate features, with different triggers, and they both use your bonus action, which you only get 1 of per turn.

      This means that if you took 2 levels in monk and 5 levels in fighter, you could:

      Take the Attack action and make 2 attacks with a greatsword, and then use Flurry of Blows to make 2 unarmed strikes as a bonus action.

      But you could not:

      Take the Attack action and make 2 attacks with a greatsword, and then use Martial Arts to make 1 unarmed strike as a bonus action.

  7. Blinding Darkness: There is no such condition 'dazzled', you probably mean blinded.

    1. I'm just using dazzled as a descriptor to refer to giving you advantage on the attack roll. Still might need some rewording to make it clear, but I'm not using it as a type of keyword.