Baldur’s Gate 3 – Build Guide / The Bonk Monk (Tactician)

The Bonk Monk is a super good build that has carried me to victory in Tactician. Not only is it powerful as ♥, it also is really fun to play and has a nice power curve where most levels are super useful.

The goal is obviously to make unarmed attacks hit as hard as possible, with a nice emphasis on movement and versatility.

I will try and walk you through everything you need to know to play this build: which multiclassing to take and when, which loot to use, etc. There are minor spoilers regarding items locations. Spoilers tags will be used where necessary.

Character Creation

Characteristics

Usually, the two most important characteristics for a Monk are Dexterity and Wisdom. The first one both gives you more defense and can be used in lieu and place of Strength for unarmed attack rolls, and the second is also added to your defense so long as you wear no armor.

That said, with this particular build, we’re going to use a particular perk that requires high strength rather than dexterity. So this is what we want to go for:

STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
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What this means is we’re going to have less defense, but a lot more damage than a dexterity based monk.

Species

Species honestly doesn’t matter too much, so you can go with what you like.

I went with Half-Orc because I was hoping the brutal critical perk would work on unarmed attacks, but it didn’t seem to be the case. That said, getting the free revive once per long rest is pretty nice for this build as it is kind of risky.

You can also go for Wood elf to have (even) better movement. But as I said, it’s really up to you. This build doesn’t require any particular species.

The Leveling Plan

Levels 1 to 5 – Monk basics

If you’re familiar with multiclassing in this game, you probably know that you usually want to get Extra attack as fast as possible – that is, at level 5 – before multiclassing. This is pretty much what we’re going to do here.

Of course, a Monk can do two attacks per turn starting at level 1, using a bonus action. But having two attacks in a single action is even better!

Level 2 – Step of the wind actions

With this level, you can dash and disengage using a Ki point and bonus action, rather than a regular action. This can be very useful.

Level 3 – Way of the open hand subclass

The way I see it, all Monk subclasses are pretty fun to play, and you could probably make your own choice here. My personal preference goes to Way of the open hand, which is going to allow us to add special effects to your “Flurry of blows” skill.

Beind able to make an enemy go prone, push them away, or simply deny them reactions is incredibly useful, especially with a build that is going to be rather squishy.

Level 4 – First perk

This is the first big power up of the build. We’re going to use Tavern Brawler, which lets us add our strength modifier twice to attack rolls and damage rolls for unarmed attacks (it also affects throws and improvised weapons, which is nice, but doesn’t really matter to much).

You can also get a Strength or Constitution point. I chose the latter to have a bit more health, and because 16 and 17 strength both give us +3, so it doesn’t really change anything in terms of damage. At level 4, our characteristics should now look like this:

STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
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Level 5 – Extra attack and stunning strike

This is another big power up. Now, you can attack twice per action, and then use a bonus action to do a third attack or a flurry of blows for a total of four attacks. But you can also use the bonus action for something else and still be able to attack two times.

We also gain access to stunning strike. It deals less damage than a flurry of blows, but if you stun your target, that’s a turn they don’t get to play, which is very powerful.

With these first five levels, we have the bulk of our monk build. Now, we’re going to multiclass into something totally different that will let us do even more damage and have a bit more versatility as well.

Levels 6 to 9 – Rogue multiclassing

The next four levels go into rogue. We’re mainly aiming to get a specific subclass and a perk.

Level 6

Honestly, this will probably be the least exciting level up of the playthrough. You only get sneak attack for your melee and ranged weapons; which, in your case, only means you get to use it with ranged weapons. Needless to mention, when you reach level 6, +1d6 of damage on a conditional attack is… not very exciting.

Use it when you can, just don’t expect it to be a big deal.

You also get Expertise in two skills. If, like me, you can’t stand Astarion and have no rogue, you should take Sleight of Hand for lockpicking tests. Failing DC 10 checks only on critical misses is pretty nice, not going to lie.

Level 7 – Cunning actions

This looks like another underwhelming level up, as you can already dash and disengage as a bonus action as a Monk. However, having these rogue class actions means you no longer need to spend Ki points on that, which is actually super useful.

Level 8 – Thief subclass

This is the second big power up of the build. We’re going to get the Thief subclass, which gives us an extra bonus action each turn. That means we can do four to six attacks in one turn:

  • Regular attack (Action)
  • Martial arts attack or flurry of blows (Bonus action)
  • Extra attack (Action)
  • Martial arts attack or flurry of blows (Second bonus action)

Level 9 – Second perk

Ability improvement into Strength. Pretty simple. Our characteristics should now look like this:

STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
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Levels 10 to 12 – Monk

Our last three levels are going into Monk. At level 12, our character will be level 8 monk and level 4 rogue.

Level 10 – Passive damage and ki regeneration

This level is a nice boost. First, we get access to three different passives to add 1d6 + Wisdom modifier of damage (radiant, psychic or necrotic) to our unarmed attacks. This can be toggled freely during combat, so you can easily adapt and exploit vulnerabilities.

Second, you get Wholeness of body which is a perfect skill to use mid combat to regen Ki points and some health. The action cost is largely mitigated by the extra bonus action for three turns (which means you get to three bonus actions total)

Level 11

A couple of nice passives. Next.

Level 12 – Last perk

This is our last perk, and once more, we’re taking extra strength. Our final characteristics should look like this:

STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
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Other powers

Act 1 spoilers!

Depending on how far you’re into the game, you may be aware that you can use illithid powers.

Some of those are extremely powerful with this build. Cull the weak (damage), Luck of the far realms (for a free critical once per day) and Psionic backlash (damage) especially.

Act 3 spoilers!

If you decide to go half illithid, we can get even stronger options. Flying is great for movement. Getting expertise in Intimidation, persuation and decepion is incredible as it will mitigate our low charisma. Psionic dominance is like a free counter spell. Mind sanctuary can be pretty nice, though I didn’t really use it in my run. There’s more, and these powers are super strong options. While they are not mandatory at all for the build, it is a nice boost if you choose to use them.

Loot to Use

Obviously, you have no need for a melee weapon. So on the weapons side, we’re going to look for any good shortbow or light crossbow (we can’t use other ranged weapons, unfortunately). We do not have a critical need for any specific weapon as we will not be using a lot of ranged attacks, but having a good option (like at least a +1 weapon) is nice when we have to use it.

A good number of monk bonuses require you not to wear armor. That said, there is a lot of items in the game that are tagged as clothing, not armor, which means you can wear them without losing on anything. And guess what, a good number of said clothing items are great for monks, if not outright tailored for them.

Rings and amulet are whatever, honestly. You can use whatever you like.

  • Act 1

We do not get a lot of options in the beginning of the game, unfortunately. We’re not going

The first couple of good gloves you can get are The Sparkle Hands (following Kahga’s questline and going to the Sunlit Wetlands) and the Bracers of Defense (found in the Necromancer’s Cellar, in the Blighted Village). The first pair of gloves gives you nice attack and damage buffs, while the second gives you more defense (and can also be given to a spellcaster or barbarian once you no longer use it).

Towards the end of Act I, however, are two very good pieces of gear you want to grab. Better yet, they are both a the same place: sold by Lady Esther, in the mountain pass. You can also pickpocket her, or fight her and loot her corpse.

Whichever you decide, you’re going to be looking for a pair of gloves and a piece of clothing.

Gloves of Cinder and Sizzle are going to be our gloves for a long, long time. They give us access to a super good spell which is Scorching Rays, and also add 1d4 of fire damage to all our unarmed attacks.

If you’ve been browsing the wiki or played the game already, you may know there are several variation of these gloves, one for each type of damage. So why do we pick these gloves, rather than others?

First, they are accesssible early. Most other variations (like gloves with 1d4 radiant or force damage on unarmed attacks) can be obtained in Act 3 which is a bit underwhelming.

Second, fire damage is great because few enemies can reduce or ignore it. So it is a consistant source of additional damage.

The Graceful Cloth is a super good clothing option as it increases our Dexterity (and thus, Defence) by 1, increases jump distance, and gives us advantage to all DEX checks.

It is worth noting that if you like to use Patient Defence, you can get the Armour of uninhibited Kushigo in Grymforge by returning the missing boots to the sergeant, which gives a nice combo to this skill.

  • Act 2

Unlike Act I, Act II gives us several good options very early. In fact, as soon as you reach Last Light Inn, there are two merchants you wan’t to speak to. The first one is Dammon, to get the Darkfire Shortbow. It is an incredible +2 weapon gives us resistance to cold and fire damage, but most importantly, grants us the ability to cast Haste once per long rest. What is better than our bonk monk? A hastened bonk monk, of course.

Then, you’ll want to talk to the quartermaster of the area to get the Cloak of Protection and The Mighty Cloth, which is the Strength version of The Graceful Cloth and will increase our attack damage (by 2 instead of just 1, as we have Tavern Brawler).

You could also buy the Hat of uninhibited Kushigo from them if you like.

  • Act 3

The first good monk item of the act is basically gifted to us by the game. Early in the act, you’re going to be fighting a group of – guess what – monks. On one of them can be looted the Boots of uninhibited Kushigo, which add our Wisdom modified to damage dealt by our unarmed strikes.

At this point, our Strength modifier is +4 (+5 when wearing The Mighty Cloth) and is added two times to our unarmed strike damage. With these boots, we will be rolling 1d6+13 of bludgeoning damage for each punch, not to mention elemental damage!

Then, once you reach Baldur’s Gate and the Lower City, you get access to several shops, including Sorcerous Sundries, where you can by the incredible Vest of Soul Rejuvenation. You get +2 Defence and a small healing bonus whenever you suceed a saving throw against a spell, but the best perk of this armor is the ability to make an unarmed strike against any attacker that misses you, using a reaction.

Finally, the last item we’re going to look for is the Gloves of Soul Catching. These will be harder to get, as you have to sign a pact with Raphael, then raid his House of Hope in Hell, kill him and save Hope in a big boss fight. But boy, are these gloves worth all this.

You get +1d10 of force damage on all your unarmed attacks, and each turn, after an unarmed hit, you may heal for 10 HP or gain advantage on attack rolls and saving throws until the end of your next turn.

And you get +2 Constitution. It’s crazy good.

Once you have everything, you’re basically an unkillable punching machine who’s dealing 1d6 + 13 + 1d10 (Force) + 1d4 (Psychic | Radiant | Necrotic) per strike, i.e. 16-33 damage per punch.

How to Play the Build

Setting yourself up to deal damage

We’re going to deal a lot of damage, so our main problem is to stay alive.

Party selection

The easiest way to protect a damage dealer is to have someone tanking for you. In my Tactician run, I always had Karlach (with the Alert perk and a lot of health) and Shadowheart (re-specced as a Paladin + Life Cleric for an immense amount of healing, protection + sentinel reactions, and 20+ defence with heavy armor and shield) with me to tank the attacks.

Karlach always played first and was able to immediately take the focus of some enemies, while Shadowheart was super resilient in long fights. Both their presences allowed my monk to basically hit and run for free.

Use your movement

One thing I find absolutely ridiculous in DnD is the 9m/turn movement system. It just feels artificially slow. Whether you have the same issues with this system as I do, the monk clearly does not care. Not only can he move a lot more per turn (so long as he does not wear armor), he can also dash as a bonus action (with Ki at Monk Level 2, and without Ki once you get your second Rogue level).

You can also use a jump (with +3 to +5 strength, you have big jumps) to close in the gap.

That allows you to start your turn away from enemies, hit them, kill the one closest to you and then go back into a safe position. If you positioned yourself correctly before striking, you will not trigger opportunity attacks.

If you can’t go back into a safe position, you can stay near a companion with Sentinel and Protection reactions.

Use your Ki abilities

Our Ki abilities give us a lot of options to manipulate the field to our advantage and maximize damage.

  • Flurry of blows: Stagger nullifies an enemy’s reactions. Perfect to be able to hit them and then back off without punishment.
  • Flurry of blows: Topple is great to cripple an enemy’s movement and give your allies an easier time hitting them.
  • Flurry of blows: Push can send an enemy into a chasm or a well placed hazard like Cloud of Daggers or Cloudkill.
  • Stunning Strike is super powerful as you can just completely rob an enemy of their turn. Great on any enemy that has annoying or powerful attacks.

Managing enemies

The less enemies attack you, the greater your odds of survival. When it’s your turn to play, pay attention to which enemies have not played yet. If you have enough damage to kill some of them before they take their turns, it is absolutely worth trying.

Enemies that are far away from you are likely to just Dash on their first turn (especially low level enemies). In that case, you can ignore them in the first turn, let them come to you, maybe place some hazards like Grease or Cloud of Daggers if you have good chokepoints.

Maximizing damage

We have a character that deals a lot of damage. Here are some tips to make sure not to waste that damage, nor the Ki that fuels our attacks.

Sequencing attacks and saving Ki points

Usually, fighter attacks go like this:

  • First attack (Action)
  • Second attack (Extra attack from Action)
  • Pommel strike, Flourish or other skills (Bonus Action)

A Monk is going to play this very differently. The maximum damage combo (once you’re level 8) is always going to be this one:

  • First attack (Action)
  • Flurry of blows (Bonus Action)
  • Second attack (Extra attack from Action)
  • Flurry of blows (Second Bonus Action)

But this isn’t the one you’re always going to be using. For instance, you can use a bonus action for an extra unarmed strike after a first strike. It deals less damage, but if your target has 10 hp remaining, you don’t need a Flurry of blows to finish them off – that would just be a waste of Ki.

Sometimes, you also need to jump or dash to reach an enemy before attacking them, which means you have one less bonus action – but less attacks are better than none.

You can always use Flurry of Blows whenever you want (before, after or between your 2 Action strikes). But you can only use the bonus, single unarmed strike after a first unarmed strike. So it is usually better to start with a standard (or stunning strike), then consider whether you want to use a bonus unarmed strike or a Flurry of blows.

Remember that as soon as you have rogue cunning actions, you don’t need Ki anymore to dash as a bonus action.

Using haste and other buffs

Once you have bought your shortbow in Act 2, you can use Haste once per long rest. While this is a greedier approach (if your concentration is broken for whatever reason, you get Lethargic and your next turn is forfeit, unless someone can cast Freedom of Movement on you), it is a huge boost to damage and a big help in tougher fights.

You can also use a speed potion (you can stack your 4 characters together, throw the potion between them, and apply haste to everyone). It lasts only three turns, but you don’t have to worry about maintaining concentration on a spell.

And if you have buffs like Bless, Commander’s Strike, Aid, Rally, etc. use them, especially in tough encounters.

Volodymyr Azimoff
About Volodymyr Azimoff 13573 Articles
I love games and I live games. Video games are my passion, my hobby and my job. My experience with games started back in 1994 with the Metal Mutant game on ZX Spectrum computer. And since then, I’ve been playing on anything from consoles, to mobile devices. My first official job in the game industry started back in 2005, and I'm still doing what I love to do.

2 Comments

    • I don’t think it matters too much, honestly. The build doesn’t require specific support from party members, apart from someone who can tank in the early game, which is arguably common sense.

      For reference, during my tactician run I was playing with Karlach (Barbarian 5 / Fighter 7), Shadowheart (Paladin 5 / Life Cleric 7) and Wyll (Warlock 5 / Sorcerer 7). But you can pretty much play with anyone you like imo.

      Also I’m in the process of writing other detailed build guides, so you can always have a look at them in the future and see if you want to apply them to companions! 🙂

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