Way of the Four Elements (5A)

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You follow a monastic tradition that teaches you to harness the elements. When you focus your ki, you can align yourself with the forces of creation and bend the four elements to your will, using them as an extension of your body. Some members of this tradition dedicate themselves to a single element, but others weave the elements together.

Many monks of this tradition tattoo their bodies with representations of their ki powers, commonly imagined as coiling dragons, but also as phoenixes, fish, plants, mountains, and cresting waves.

Source: Player's Handbook

Subclass Abilities

Essence Pool

At 3rd level, you get a pool of points that can only be used to power your elemental disciplines. This pool has a number of essence points equal to your monk level. Your recover all spent points when you finish a long rest.

Disciple of the Elements

When you choose this tradition at 3rd level, you learn magical elemental disciplines that harness the power of the four elements. A discipline requires you to spend ki points each time you use it.

You know the Elemental Attunement discipline and one other elemental discipline of your choice. You learn one additional elemental discipline of your choice at 5th, 9th, 15th, and 17th level.

Whenever you learn a new elemental discipline, you can also replace one elemental discipline that you already know with a different discipline.

Casting Elemental Spells. Some elemental disciplines allow you to cast spells. See chapter 10 for the general rules of spellcasting. To cast one of these spells, you use its casting time and other rules, but you don't need to provide material components for it.

Once you reach 5th level in this class, you can spend additional ki points to increase the level of an elemental discipline spell that you cast, provided that the spell has an enhanced effect at a higher level, as Burning Hands does. The spell's level increases by 1 for each additional ki point you spend. For example, if you are a 5th-level monk and use Sweeping Cinder Strike to cast Burning Hands, you can spend 2 ki points to cast it as a 2nd-level spell (the discipline's base cost of 1 ki point plus 1 for the additional spell level).

The maximum number of ki points you can spend to cast a spell in this way (including its base ki point cost and any additional ki points you spend to increase its level) is determined by your monk level, as shown in the Spells and Ki Points table.

Spells and Ki Points
Monk Levels Maximum Ki Points for a Spell
3rd-4th 1
5th-8th 2
9th-12th 3
13th-16th 4
17th-20th 5

When rolling damage for a spell cast this way, you can replace each die with your martial arts die.

Basic Studies

At level 6 you learn an elemental discipline available at level 3. Studies from this level and up do not allow you to replace a previous discipline choice.

Intermediary Studies

At level 11 you learn an elemental discipline available at level 3 and another available at level 5 for a total of two new disciplines.

Advanced Studies

At level 17 you learn an elemental discipline available at level 3, another available at level 5, and finally one available at level 9 for a total of three new disciplines.

Way of the One Element

A variant of this monastic tradition masters only one element: Air, Earth, Fire, or Water. If you take this variant, you can only use Elemental Disciplines that match your chosen element.

Elemental Essence Pool

As a disciple of the Way of One Element, you gain a larger essence pool. This replaces the Essence Pool ability of the Way of the Four Elements, above.

At 3rd level, you get a pool of points that can only be used to power your elemental disciplines. This pool has a number of essence points equal to twice your monk level. Your recover all spent points when you finish a long rest.

See Also

Designer's Notes

The essence pool ability, combined with the improved ki recovery of the base monk class, will allow these monks to actually use their elemental disciplines. Reducing all spell ki costs by one also helps, but the main reason for this is to make it attractive to actually continue using lower-level powers.

The original mixed the levels at which you could spend more ki and when you gained disciplines. I followed the half caster spell progression throughout, which means there is now a new tier of level 4 spells gained at level 13 (same as paladins and rangers).

The extra studies are there just to widen the repertoire of utility powers. Studies originally had the limitation that they could not be replaced, but since the number of replacement disciplines is so limited, I didn't feel this was an issue.

With so many disciplines, even if you choose only one element, you still have a lot of choices.