Stunning Strike allows Monks to interrupt their enemies’ ki and force them to freeze up in combat.
While the enemy is stunned by the Monk’s attack, they’re left helpless against the all-out assault that comes next…
If you want to master this technique so that you’ll always have the upper hand in combat, this is for you!
This article is everything you need to know about the Monk’s Stunning Strike in D&D 5e!
How Does Stunning Strike Work in D&D 5e?
There’s a reason that Stunning Strike is both so loved and so feared. Failing the save against this attack has a STEEP cost!
Let’s look at the description in the 5e Player’s Handbook first before we dive in deeper.
When you hit another creature with a melee weapon attack, you can spend 1 ki point to attempt a stunning strike.
The target must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or be stunned until the end of your next turn.
See what I mean?
If an enemy fails their Constitution saving throw, they get stunned until the end of your next turn.
- The enemy can’t move and can barely speak.
- They automatically fail Strength and Dexterity saving throws.
- Attack rolls against them are made with advantage.
The first two are great, but it’s that last one that makes this REALLY exciting!
But because they’re stunned until the end of your next turn and can’t take actions or reactions, they’re basically losing their next turn.
Furthermore, that’s an entire round of combat where attacks against them have advantage. That means you and your allies are able to absolutely dogpile the now-helpless enemy!
Not bad for 1 ki point, eh?
Calculating Stunning Strike’s DC
When you hit an enemy with Stunning Strike, they have to make a Constitution saving throw to resist the effect.
The saving throw DC for Stunning Strike is calculated as:
Ki Save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Wisdom modifier
So, for example, a level 6 Monk with a Wisdom score of 16 would calculate their Ki Save DC for Stunning Strike as:
Ki Save DC = 8 + 3 (Proficiency Bonus) + 3 (Wisdom modifier) = DC 14
To avoid being stunned, the enemy must meet or beat your Ki Save DC.
The DC will increase as you level up and your proficiency bonus increases. Additionally, investing more in your Wisdom score will make it harder for enemies to resist.
Using Stunning Strike Effectively
You can use Stunning Strike anytime you hit an enemy with a melee attack. (Note that your unarmed attacks still count as melee weapon attacks.)
Monks rely on making several attacks against their enemies.
This means that you want to use Stunning Strike as early on your turn as possible. That way the rest of the attacks you make (especially if you also throw in a Flurry of Blows!) will be at advantage!
Because Stunning Strike can absolutely shut down an enemy, try to use it against a high-priority target.
Some examples of high-priority targets include:
- Targets that you need to drop quickly.
- Enemies with a high armor class.
- Enemies (especially spellcasting) with troublesome abilities.
Just be mindful that this won’t be as effective against enemies with high Constitution scores like Frost Giants though!
If the enemy is still standing when it comes to your next turn in combat, feel free to use Stunning Strike again. That resets the counter and they will once again be stunned until the end of your next turn.
“Stun-locking” enemies is a perfectly valid strategy, especially if they’re a high-priority target as we discussed!
You Might Like: Ranking Every Monk Subclass in D&D 5e!
Is Stunning Strike Good?
Simply mention Stunning Strike and you’ll almost certainly be met with a chorus of thousands of DMs screaming in a blind rage.
A popular opinion seems to be that Monks are weak, useless, and overcomplicated. But when you mention Stunning Strike, opinions suddenly change to claiming that Monks are overpowered!
If you’re a DM wondering how to deal with Stunning Strike in your games, this article is for you!
But, suffice it to say that Stunning Strike is absolutely amazing. It rivals the Monk’s Flurry of Blows for the top position as the class’s most iconic feature!
I mean, how many features let you completely remove an enemy from combat for an entire round? Especially at level 5 which is when Monks get access to Stunning Strike.
Even better, it lets the rest of your party dogpile the helpless foe if they’re still standing after the rest of your attacks!
Stunning Strike is a core part of your overall strategy when playing a Monk.
As you leave them locked down and helpless, you’ll be able to unload attack after attack with advantage to swiftly remove them from the field.
From there, you’re able to bring the skirmish to your next target!
Just make sure that you’re using it wisely.
It’s very easy to get carried away and find yourself burning through all your ki points. That will severely limit your capabilities until you can get your next short rest!
Stunning Strike FAQ
As always, let’s wrap things up by answering some of the most common questions that people have about this incredible feature.
If you still have questions, feel free to reach out in the comments and I’ll be happy to help you out!
When Do You Declare That You’re Using Stunning Strike?
One of the coolest things about Stunning Strike is that you can wait to make sure your attack hits before spending the ki point.
When you land a melee attack against your target, simply say that you’re using Stunning Strike and spend the ki point. From there, the enemy will have to make a Constitution saving throw to avoid being stunned!
This lets you avoid wasting your precious ki points!
Does Stunning Strike Replace Damage On a Hit?
No. The Monk still deals damage from their successful attack. They are spending ki to add the Stunning Strike effect on top of the damage.
Can You Use Stunning Strike Multiple Times?
Yes. As long as you have the ki points, you can use Stunning Strike as many times as you would like.
You might choose to use this against an enemy that you stunned in the previous round. If they fail their Constitution save again, they will once again be stunned until the end of your next turn.
Of course, desperate circumstances might require you to stun multiple enemies on the same turn.
Let’s say you’re a level 6 Monk who is using Flurry of Blows for a total of 4 attacks. You decide to make one attack against each of the four enemies that have you surrounded.
You spend a total of 4 ki points for your uses of Stunning Strike (one for each of the enemies) plus the ki point you used for Flurry of Blows.
If all goes well, you’ll have four enemies left stunned and helpless!
Talk about slapping your foes silly!
Can Stunning Strike Be Used on a Reaction?
Yes. Any time that you hit a creature with a melee weapon attack (including your unarmed attacks), you can choose to spend one ki point and make it a Stunning Strike.
This is especially useful if you’re making an opportunity attack against an enemy that is trying to run away. You’ll stop them in their tracks as you prepare to give them another beatdown on your turn!
Can Stunning Strike Be Used with Flurry of Blows?
Yes. In fact, the two go together like peanut butter and jelly!
Sometimes you’ll come across an enemy that you ABSOLUTELY 10,000% need to lock down. Even if you can just open that window of opportunity for one round, you and your party will be able to do some serious damage!
You make your first attack, but it misses.
Then you make your second attack. It hits but the enemy makes their Constitution saving throw.
So, you spend a ki point and unleash your Flurry of Blows to throw two more attacks at them!
The first FoB attack hits. You spend another ki point to attempt to stun them, but they once again manage to resist the effect!
With your fourth and final attack this round, you hit again and spend yet another ki point to try to stun them. But this time they fail their saving throw and stand motionless as their muscles seize up.
It cost you a ton of ki, but you look back to the rest of your party who all begin moving in to dogpile the foe with their strongest attacks.
Related: Flurry of Blows in D&D 5e Explained
Can Stunning Strike Be Used with Sun Soul Monks’ Sun Bolt?
No. The Sun Soul Monk’s Radiant Sun Bolt feature cannot be used with Stunning Strike.
This is because Radiant Sun Bolt is not a Monk Weapon and is actually considered a ranged spell attack.
That means that it doesn’t satisfy Stunning Strike’s requirement of “when you hit another creature with a melee weapon attack.”
You can learn more about this in my full Way of the Sun Soul Monk guide here!
Conclusion – Stunning Strike in D&D 5e
I hope you’ve found this guide to the Monk’s Stunning Strike in D&D 5e helpful!
There are a lot of excellent reasons to play a Monk in D&D 5e, but this feature just might top the list. Though that might also depend on which side of the DM screen you find yourself on…
Got questions or any entertaining stories about Stunning Strike in your games? Let’s chat in the comments!
‘Til next time, adventurers!