How to build the best 5th ascendant dragon monk in DnD

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Path of the Ascendant Dragon is a new subclass for D&D Monks introduced in Fizban’s Dragon Treasure. Here’s how to get the most out of it.

Dungeons & Dragons‘last source book, Fizban’s Dragon Treasure, comes with an assortment of options for players, from spells to new subclasses for monks and rangers. All of these new customization options are themed around dragons, and the new Monk subclass is Way of the Ascendant Dragon. The Ascendant Dragon gives monks several dragon abilities and ways to spend their ki. However, there is little cohesion between the different abilities granted, focusing more on the general theme rather than mechanical synergy.

The subclass gains a breath weapon attack that they can use multiple times per day before needing to burn ki points to reload them. They also gain limited flight when using the Monk’s Wind Step ability and an aura that mimics a dragon’s frightening presence. Their Class Cornerstone enhances all of these abilities, making it difficult to find a good build that uses them all together. Let’s break down the strongest build for a complete Ascendant Dragon Monk, primarily focusing on effective combat options.


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Focus on the wisdom and dexterity of the ascending dragon monk

Art of a martial artist emerging from a drawing on a scroll

The blast attack and aura of fearful presence granted to the subclass cause enemies to make saving throws (dexterity and wisdom, respectively). The DC of these saving throws is the saving DC of the Monk’s ki, equal to 8 + bonus proficiency + Wisdom. This means Wisdom is by far the highest ability score in the class.

Wisdom also improves the AC of the Monk thanks to the Defense function without armor. The other half of this unarmoured defense bonus is the monk’s dexterity, which also determines his hit and damage bonuses. After Wisdom and Dexterity, the Monk must prioritize Constitution and can affect Charisma and Intelligence in any order while leaving Strength last.

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The best racial choice for the ascendant dragon monk

Due to changes to the racial ability score increases introduced in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, players can be a little more flexible when choosing their character’s lineage. This means that it’s hard for players to go wrong, but a good choice in this case is the Metallic Dragonborn sub-race imprinted next to the Ascendant Dragon’s Path in Fizban’s treasure.

Metallic dragonborn get a +2 and +1 at two different ability scores, which in this case should be Wisdom and Dexterity. They also feature two different types of Breathing Weapons, allowing the Ascendant Dragon to pump area-of-effect attacks without depleting ki points. Their last racial ability is resistance to some type of elemental damage. Players can choose any type of fire, cold, acid, or lightning, but fire is by far the most useful.

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The best feats for ascendant dragon monks

There isn’t as much customization available for martial classes like the Monk compared to spellcasters, but they have to decide whether to take feats or increase the ability score at certain levels. Once they reach their Wisdom at 20 and their Dexterity at 16 or 18, Monk can take a few feats to complete his build. Most important is Sentinel, as it harmonizes exceptionally well with the Monk’s 10ft Fearful Presence aura. Most frightened enemies would simply lack the aura, but Sentinel means any attack of opportunity will stop them in their tracks.

Frightened enemies will have a hard time achieving the Monk’s higher AC, but spellcasters will still be a threat. To compensate, it is also important for the Ascendant Dragon Monk to take the Mage Slayer feat. This gives them an advantage on all saving throws against those creatures and increases the likelihood of disrupting the focus that is maintained on powerful spells.

Both of these feats are strictly necessary for this build, but players who don’t need that many Ability Score boosts can also choose to take Magic Initiate, Lucky, or Gift of the Metallic Dragon. Magic Initiate allows them to take the spell of Cleric Bane, further reducing enemy attack rolls and saving rolls. Gift of the Metallic Dragon grants the Cure Wounds spell once per day, as well as a pale mimic of the Shield spell to make the Monk even harder to hit. Finally, Lucky is a powerful choice for any character, allowing them to redo almost any roll multiple times a day.

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