October 7, 2016

Lightning Rider

Monastic Tradition
Comments from the Finger: Special thanks to Rendingthorne for making this one happen!

Way of Lightning

In old, weatherbeaten monasteries overlooking stormy coasts, there exists a scattered organization of monks dedicated to the gods of tempests. These ascetics practice ancient forms of weather magic, and sailors that pass by their monasteries during fierce storms will swear they heard unearthly screams and saw human figures, silhouetted in blinding light, flashing across the skies -- lightning riders. 
     Lightning riders are of a more chaotic bent than most monks, and are often regarded as slightly unhinged by their more sober peers. Ever since the Great Rain, monasteries of the Way of Lightning have been spotted more frequently along major coastlines. Some say the order is simply proliferating with new members. Others say the growth is the harbinger of a new Great Rain.

At 3rd level, your affinity to electricity grants you resistance to lightning damage. Additionally, on your turn, you can spend a ki point to charge your strikes with your choice of the essence of lightning or thunder. Choose one of the following abilities:
     Lightning. Until the end of your turn, your attacks deal lightning damage. A creature that takes damage from one of these attacks can't take reactions until the start of its next turn.
     Thunder. Until the end of your turn, your attacks deal thunder damage. A creature that take damage from one of these attacks is pushed 10 feet away from you.

At 6th level, you gain resistance to thunder damage. 
     Additionally, you can use your bonus action to move 15 feet in any direction without provoking opportunity attacks. You can also use this ability to travel through solid objects that are good conductors of electricity, like metal walls. If you end your movement inside a solid object, you are shunted to the nearest unoccupied space and take 1d10 force damage.

Ride the Lightning
Starting at 11th level, you can use your action and spend 4 ki points to channel your body and ki into a surge of lightning. Until the end of your turn, you gain the following benefits:

  • You can move up to twice your normal walking speed and do not provoke opportunity attacks.
  • You can pass through hostile creature's spaces, but cannot end your movement there. 
  • If you move through a creature's space, it must make a Dexterity saving throw. A creature takes 8d6 lightning damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. However, because lightning never strikes twice, a creature that takes damage from this ability can't be affected by it until your next turn.

The Body Electric
By 17th level, your ki constantly sparks and crackles around you. When you begin your turn, each creature you choose within 5 feet of you takes 2d8 lightning damage and can't take reactions until the start of its next turn.
     Also, you emanate a strong electric field. You gain a flight speed equal to your base walking speed. However, you must begin and end your movement on solid ground, otherwise you fall.

10/7/16: Spark: Removes reactions of targets that are hit. Ribbon removed. Lightning and Thunder options added
Arc: Distance increased to 15 feet
Ride the Lightning: Doesn't provoke Opportunity Attacks. Reworded.
Body Electric: Damage increased to 2d8


  1. If I was an element, I'd be lightning. If I could be a class in D&D, it'd be monk. These two things mashed together are like heaven to me. I really want to play this, and I also really want this to be a satisfying tradition, so I'm going to put a bit of extra effort towards this one.

    Firstly, I like how spark allows you to change your damage type. It really helps with getting around all of those physical resistances that you commonly find in early levels, especially since you normally have to wait until level 6 to have the same effectiveness with your unarmed strikes.
    However, I'm under the impression that the next part of spark is a bit too niche. Lightning and Thunder damage are so rare to come by, and tying part of an ability to a rare damage type doesn't feel all that potent. I honestly think I would forget about that aspect of spark because it would never come up.
    Something that would happen more often in combat like taking damage period, but making it cost 2 ki points instead to use would make it more useful. However, this also further burdens the already taxing resource economy of the monk.
    Another option could be simply gaining an extra reaction every turn. They're used quite often, but rarely encounter ending. This keeps within the theme of lightning because monks who follow this tradition would have absurdly high reaction speeds, and would be able to react twice as fast to anything any normal person could.

    Arc originally had the issue of partially being a redundancy of Spark as both allow you to move 10 ft. without provoking AoO. Having them used by different action types just wasn't enough diversity. However, if Spark would be changed, this would no longer be an issue.
    The second half of Arc is actually rather intuitive and opens up a lot of unique takes on dealing with encounters. There are so many uses for it that aren't game breaking and yet so very handy. I would say however to bump it's range to walking speed instead of 10 ft. to better keep it line with the shadow monk's shadow step ability, which has a max range of 60 ft.

    I like Ride the Lightning, however it further puts pressure on the monk's issues with ki management. Something like allowing the monk to use it an amount of times equal to their wisdom modifier every long rest could alleviate this. In comparison, Tranquility is a bit weaker than this ability, but Cloak of Shadows is a bit stronger, so I think this would slot nicely between the two on a balancing scale.

    Everything on The Body Electric is glorious except for the damage. That's on average 5 damage to creatures that you should be fighting at this level, CR 17 creatures, which have an average HP of 318. I'm sorry but they'd piss themselves laughing at this damage. Like I said, everything else on this ability is great, but there needs to be a 5 or 10 ft. range increase, or 4d8 more damage, or both. Something.

    Over all, it is something I'm very interested in playing. The abilities are something that would feel very unique and could offer a lot of flavor to combat. With a few taps to offer more relevancy, I think this could be a very fun tradition to pick up.

    1. Note that the spark ability doesn't specify melee attacks. You could fire lightning arrows, or throw thunder shuriken.

    2. I'm seeing a lot of the same thoughts, so I'll comment here at the top:

      Spark: The second part of this ability was intended to be a ribbon feature, but I think Phillip might be right that it's too niche to remember. For now, I think I'll cut that piece entirely, and start trying to think of a replacement.

      The first part of this feature might need work as well, since it loses a lot of its luster at 6th level, when your unarmed strikes become magical. For now, I'm also going to incorporate the 'can't take a reaction' think to this feature as well, to justify the cost.

      Arc: I think I'll increase this ability to 15 feet. For those of you that think it's weak, I encourage you to think about it as a Disengage action as a bonus action, with a situational teleport.

      The Body Electric: I'll buff the damage a little -- 2d8 should be a good start. The really nice thing about this is shutting down enemy Opportunity Attacks.

    3. So I think that adding a little diversity in Spark could make it feel more satisfying once you hit 6th level. A choice between lightning or thunder damage should have some mechanical differentiation to make it feel more like an impacting choice rather than a choice of flavor favorites.
      I'm thinking of if they choose lightning damage, the target doesn't get reactions, but if thunder damage, they get pushed back 5 ft. Adds more diversity and would make it feel more dynamic.

      To further follow the train of thought of adding in more dynamic play for these abilities, instead of taking 1d10 force damage for ending your movement in a solid object, I think forcing the player to stay in that object until the end of their next turn opens up a lot more options of play. It can be both a blessing, when used properly, or a curse if used incorrectly. To compensate, adding something like 'the first creature who comes in contact with the object you are trapped in takes 1d8 lightning damage and forces you out of the object,' could add even more dynamic play for both the party and NPC's.
      This is just food for thought. It may be a bit much to digest, but if it could be clearly written and understood, I think it really open up a lot of play options.

      Let me know what you think!

    4. Your first suggestion is great, since it makes that damage choice a whole lot more fun.

      Your second suggestion, I'm a little more hesitant about. After all, I imagine that movement as flashing through metal object in a flash of electricity. Also, being shunted means that there's a hard limit to how far you can actually travel, which is attractive to DMs.

    5. Fair enough. I do believe this tradition is something I'd really enjoy playing. I'm thinking it'd be pretty fun to multiclass it with an Arcane Archer and pick up spells that do lightning damage. I think they'd really accentuate each other on both the flavor and mechanical side.

    6. Maybe if Spark was a rider on Flurry of Blows? That way it plays into a widely used monk feature without having to expend extra Ki points.

  2. Monks already have tons of stuff to do with bonus actions. Arc is completely useless. Plus, monks already get Step of the Wind. I think arc should do something that does not require a bonus action.
    This monk gains 4 different movement options- reaction, semi-incorporeal, extreme speed, and flight. This seems a bit too much, considering the fact monks already are the most mobile class. the superspeed comes on a lightning, which is definitely ok, and the flight is a ribbon for a useful ability, but I really think the arc movement is unnecessary, and the spark reaction too (although it's very thematic).

    Overall I've gotta say this class is really exciting, and seems really fun to use. However, it's quite annoying that it has only one offensive ability. I think I would have given spark some sort of offensive bonus instead of the movement.
    Maybe your attacks can't provoke reactions because of their speed?

    1. See, all the movement options were what made the class exciting to me. Making the most mobile class even more mobile = awesome fun times.

      I love the ability arc gives you to zap through doors/ walls, though I would specify what the smallest space the monk can travel through. Are metal hinges on a door enough?

      I agree with phillip above that the 10 foot movement when taking damage is not much more than a ribbon ability. I like that it's a reaction ability. Perhaps moving 10 as a reaction whenever attacked in melee?

      I love the body electric power though. The damage is low, but I don't think that matters. It's a no-action whirlwind attack + shocking grasp. The utility is great.

  3. for some reason im getting a strong kennen vibe from this..

    1. People are asking for replacement abilities.... A ranged stun for arc perhaps?

  4. I love this monk so much, might be my nes favorite subclass.

    I'd agree that the second part of spark is too situational, and suggest a BA to not Provoke AoO (no Ki cost) for the revised second effect. You give up your martial arts or flurry to do it, but I think it adds interesting tactical options sans having to take Mobile.

    If you don't go that route, I think Ride the Lightning needs AoO protection so you don't get turned into a fine red mist by going through as many people as possible.

    Lastly, I agree that the 1d8 damage is kinda meh at 17th level and question whether removing the Ki cost of Spark and adding a 'can't take reactions' to it would be more in line.

    Overall, I'd 100% use this as-is and gladly give it a 4 star rating at present.

  5. I feel like Ride the Lightning can be majorly abused against a single enemy, as nothing states that the creature can't be hit multiple times by the effect. At level 11, a monk can have 50 base walking speed, +/- 5 from race, and the ability would give you 100 feet. This allows, assuming you must go fully through the enemy's square, 10 hits of 8d6 damage (avg of 280) against one creature, in one turn, without using up a bonus action. The saving throw knocks that down to 10 x 4d6 (avg of 140) minimum, but that feels like quite a bit of damage to allow for one turn against one creature. And at level 20 the movement speed bonus is increased to +30, so 12 x 8d6 (4d6 with saves).
    Also, if the DM doesn't require you to go fully through the square but turn around in the enemy's square, you could easily work it out to 20 (then up to 24) hits in a single action.

    I love the ability flavor and utility, and overall this Monastic Tradition seems really fun, but I worry that the lack of a limit on that ability, and possibly some clarity, is a bit overpowered. As an idea, maybe limit the ability to turn, or limit how many times a single enemy can be hit by the effect.

    In addition the way it is worded implies that you could use a bonus action dash to maintain the effect but lose the ability to avoid AoO.

    A proposed rewording to the ability could be along the lines of:

    Starting at 11th level, you can use your action and spend 4 ki points to channel your ki into a bolt of lightning. Until the end of your turn, you gain the following benefits:
    You can move up to twice your normal walking speed and do not provoke opportunity attacks.
    You can pass through hostile creatures spaces, but cannot change direction while sharing a space, nor end your movement there.
    If you move through a creature's space, it must make a Dexterity saving throw or take 8d6 lightning damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. A creature that is affected this way cannot be affected again for the duration of Ride the Lightning

  6. I do enjoy this tradition greatly, however I was wondering about adding a chain lightning effect somewhere? I see many people disliking arc, though I enjoy that it doesn't cost a ki to disengage.

    What if there was an alternate ability there, whether it replaces or adds on I am unsure. I am thinking of something like

    When you successfully hit an enemy with a spark effect, you may pay 1 ki to deal 1d6 to an enemy within 10 feet. This effect may chain to multiple enemies up to your Monk level.

    I don't know, maybe the damage could scale as you level too. Like the unarmed strike damage. I would love to see an ability like this added in somewhere.

  7. I love this subclass! Monks are one of my favorite classes, I'm a big fan of the shadow monk, and this is just so cool. I can't wait to try this one out at some point. It sounds like a ton of fun, plus a lot of flavor potential. It's essentially Raiden from Mortal Kombat.
    Ride the Lightning is just awesome for dealing with a bunch of mobs, or swarms and these moves give it great versatilit, emphasize the mobility, and up the damage, which is often the weakness of the monk.
    One thing that would be cool and would really round it out well, would be to do something like what Joe Walker mentioned and add some kind of chain effect to either spark as a scale feature at a later level, or to arc. Like chain lightning/thunder. Really emphasizes monks making tons of strikes per round.