D&D 5e: Tabaxi Monk Guide

D&D 5e: Tabaxi Monk Guide

If you’re looking to be the next furry Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee with little to no regard for clothing and want to knead your enemies to oblivion or just become a humanoid cat screaming “kamehameHA!”, then you’re in the right place.

The Monk class can be found in the Player’s Handbook. Click here to pick up your own copy of The Player’s Handbook!

The Tabaxi race can be found in Volo’s Guide to Monsters. Click here to pick up your own copy of Volo’s Guide to Monsters!

How to Make a Tabaxi Monk

Mixing this race and class does sound like you got inspired by that video of a Buddhist cat, Kung fu panda, or Ghibli’s the cat returns. There’s isn’t much to know about Tabaxi’s apart from being humanoid cats that enjoy a treasure or two… or more! Nevertheless, they’re mostly chaotic beings but rarely lean on the evil side just like our furballs in real life. 

As for the appearance, they are more similar to that of wild cats such as panthers, cheetahs, leopards, and tigers. Although Tabaxis that look closer to domesticated cats aren’t unheard of, they’re fairly uncommon. The distinction between males and females may vary in clothing but in terms of physical features, there is little to no difference or may depend on what feline type they are apart from private parts.

Way of the Monk: Charity, humility, and kick-ass

Being a monk does not mean you’ll be throat singing hymns your way into battle while slamming the philosophies of your religion on enemies -that’s a paladin’s job. If you think Rogues are OP, then you’re missing out on these martial art masters.

  • Ki– is pretty much magical energy that flows through every creature and is harnessed by monks. If you’re a fan of a show about an irresponsible father whose existence is to collect magical dragon spheres, then the concept of power from energy is pretty similar. Over time with proper training, you won’t just be able to gain power but also bend that of others- low key bending.

Monastic Tradition– These are subclasses for monks but instead of being different in religion, it’s more about differences in tradition. 

  • Way of the Open Hand– The ultimate martial arts master. Apart from butt-kicking skills you’re able to manipulate Ki, you’re able to heal damages on the body and keep your comrades from harm with meditation.
    • Open hand technique
    • Wholeness of body
    • Tranquility
    • Quivering Palm
  • Way of the Shadow– Darkness! Shadows! Sneaking! Not a Rogue ripoff!
    • Shadow arts
      • Darkness
      • Darkvision
      • Pass without Trace
      • Silence
    • Shadow step
    • Cloak of Shadows
  • Way of the Four Elements– Mastering all elements and taking down the Fire Na- er- You get a super cool tattoo that represents your ki powers (animals, creatures, symbols, plants, landforms). This category focuses on being one and harnessing the elements, though some focus on just one.
    • Disciple of the Elements
      • Casting elemental spells
  • Elemental Disciplines
  • Breath of Winter
  • Clench of the North Wind
  • Elemental Attunement
  • Fangs of the Fire Snake
  • Fist of the Four Thunders
  • Fist of Unbroken Air
  • Rush of the Gale Spirits
  • Shape of the Flowing River
  • Sweeping Cinder Strike
  • Water Whip
  • Clench of the North
  • Gong of the Summit
  • Flames of the Phoenix
  • Ride the Wind
  • Breath of Winter
  • Eternal Mountain Defense
  • River of Hungry Flame
  • Wave of Rolling Earth

*the aforementioned are the ones in the 5e player handbook, but you don’t just want to settle for just those options, do you? You can ask your DM if they’ll let you choose something apart from the updated handbook.

  • Way of Mercy– Manipulating lifeforce with the power of healing and harm at your fingertips. That doesn’t mean though you can bring the dead to life, kill someone instantly, or cure someone whose body was ripped in half.
    • Implements of Mercy
    • Hand of Healing
    • Hand of Harm
    • Physician’s touch
    • Flurry of Healing and Harm
    • Hand of Ultimate Mercy
  • Way of the Astral Self– Being able to go ghost and throw hands. Just be careful with your Ki use and you’ll be able to work with this category with the flexibility of your tinder match who’s stopped contacting you for a week.
    • Arms of the Astral Self
    • Visage of the Astral Self
      • Astral sight
      • Wisdom of the Spirit
      • Word of the Spirit
    • Body of the Astral Self
      • Deflect Energy
      • Empowered Arms
    • Awakened Astral Self
  • Way of the Drunken Master– No, this isn’t some kind of “find enlightenment in a bottle”. This monastic tradition takes ‘drunken’ movements and a sober mind keeping the monk alive and out of direct attacks. Unfortunately, intoxicated frenzy is your only DIRECT offense.
    • Bonus proficiencies
    • Drunken Technique
    • Tipsy Sway
      • Leap to your feet
      • Redirect Attack
    • Drunkard’s luck
    • Intoxicated frenzy
  • Way of the Long Death– Basically buff monks on steroids that are hard to kill. They are practically Barbarians minus the rage and with fewer weapons; there are only fists and feet.
    • Touch of Death
    • Hour of Reaping
    • Mastery of Death
    • Touch of the Long Death
  • Way of the Kensei– It’s a gamble to play in this category since it does grant you to use monastic weapons- even magical ones- and Agile Parry but you’ll have to wait until past level six for the boost to make much of a difference. Plus, access to strong magical weapons will depend on what your DM has laid out. Even then you’ll be spending more Ki left and right.
    • Path of the Kensei
      • Kensei weapons
      • Agile Parry
      • Kensei’s Shot
      • Way of the Brush
    • One with the Blade
      • Magic Kensei Weapons
      • Deft Strike
    • Sharpen the Blade
    • Unerring Accuracy 
  • Way of the Sun Soul– Through meditation and training the light in your soul shines out. Is there a way to be melee but with range? Yes, there is! Can you do it with little to no Ki? Absolutely! Will it give as much damage as Ki spending attacks? Er…
    • Radiant Sun Bolt
    • Searing Arc Strike
    • Searing Sunburst
    • Sun Shield

Tabaxis are agile and with their claws of fury are good for hand-to-hand combat.  You do get a useful+2 in Dexterity but the +1 in Charisma won’t be as usable as Monks value Wisdom, Constitution, and Dexterity more. There are two good builds for a monk:

  • If you’re into getting more points: Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Strength, and finally Charisma.
  • The standard: Dexterity, Constitution, Wisdom, Strength, Intelligence, then Charisma.

How to Play a Tabaxi Monk


Hit Dice: 1d8 per monk level

Hit Points at 1st Level: 8 + your Constitution modifier

Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8 (or 5) + your Constitution modifier per monk level after 1st.

Ki save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Wisdom modifier

  • Default features to being a monk:
    • Unarmored Defense– You don’t need armor! Heck, going into battle might guarantee you more protection. After all who would want to go hand to hand against someone exposing their ‘jewels’. Your AC equals 10 + your Dexterity modifier + your Wisdom modifier.
    • Martial Arts
    • Ki
    • Unarmored Movements- The longer and more exposed (less armor) you are the faster you go. Either that or everyone is just too shocked to move with your display of nudity.
    • Monastic Tradition
    • Deflect Missiles- Pulling the reverse uno card on ammunition and ranged weapons coming your way. When you do so, the damage you take from the attack is reduced by 1d 10 + your Dexterity modifier + your monk level.
    • Ability score improvement
    • Slow Fall
    • Extra Attack
    • Stunning Strike– You know that moment where something out of the blue stings or hurts in your body but nothing seems to be there to cause it. Yeah, you can cause that for your opponents.
    • Ki-Empowered Strikes
    • Evasion
    • Stillness of Mind
    • Purity of Body
    • Tongue of the Sun and Moon– You can speak and understand all languages
    • Diamond Soul
    • Timeless Body– It’s more like eternal youth than immortal body. A big plus is you don’t need to eat or drink to live.
    • Empty Body– This isn’t an out-of-body experience or going ghost to snoop on your enemies. For 4 ki points, this allows you to turn invisible for 1 minute.
    • Perfect Self
  • Being a humanoid feline comes with its own set of advantages too:
    • Dark vision
    • Feline Agility- Tabaxi goes nyoom! You’ve seen those cat videos of cats high and hyper? Exactly that but for a humanoid cat. This won’t be very useful, though, as a monk since your class makes you pretty fast already. If you want to mix the two and ‘GOTTA GO FAST!’ is best discussed with your DM. 
    • Cat’s claws– Your claws help you climb walls at a speed of 20 feet and act as your built-in weapons for some wolverine action. You deal slashing damage equal to 1d4 + your Strength modifier.
    • Cat’s talent- No it’s not the ability to look adorable and get a second serving of food. This feature offers proficiency in stealth and perception skills… which can be used to get another serving of food.

Tabaxis are social beings that will get along and work with others as long as they’re treated well and given their fair cut. Being humanoid cats, it shouldn’t be assumed they’ll melt at a kind touch and good ear scratching. Like humans, they’d likely only allow such affection with those they’re close to. Nevertheless, they’ll likely do good in a team and on their own.

How to Roleplay as a Tabaxi Monk

Little information is known about Tabaxi apart from their personalities, and they come from an unknown strange distant land by the shore. They’re taller than humans but live the same life span and know how to speak, read and write in common. They quickly get along with others and love all things treasure, legendary, and artifacts. 

Add in their natural curiosity and wanderlust; they make lovely storytellers and guides. Although, their thirst for “… leaving no secrets uncovered, no treasures or legends lost…” gives them a reputation of being nosy and thieving like conmen. They aren’t naturally good with magic either. 

For a Tabaxi to become a monk isn’t impossible but rather surprising as monks live a humble devout life. Not only would this be in contrast to the Tabaxi’s natural love for all things exquisite but also most monks have to be near monasteries unless they are commanded by their leader or a noble patron to serve as spies, assassins, missionaries, wanderers, or due to divine power/danger. Perhaps a Tabaxi decided that a life of charity was better than gain. You’ve gone far and wide and progressed in your travels but what about emotionally? Spiritually? There’s also a good chance you were orphaned and raised in a monastery where you were taught there was more than treasures that can be held like treasures in oneself- cheesy, isn’t it?.

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