It might seem unlikely to find an overlap between D&D and Dragon Ball Z, but it’s hard not to imagine Way of the Sun Soul Monks screaming “Kamehameha” as they launch blasts of pure ki energy at their foes!
Even if you’re not looking to build a character inspired by the show, the Way of the Sun Soul is a very interesting option worth exploring.
Today we’re doing just that with this guide to the Way of the Sun Soul Monk in D&D 5e!
What is the Sun Soul Monk in D&D 5e?
Discipline and meditation are the keys to unlocking the power within oneself. For students of the Way of the Sun Soul, this manifests as being able to produce bolts of radiant light with their ki.
These Monks understand that the sun’s energy flows through all living creatures. Properly harnessed, it can be a powerful tool to stand against even the mightiest foes and most terrifying darkness.
The Way of the Sun Soul Monk originally appeared alongside the Long Death Monk in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide. It was later republished in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.
According to the lore in SCAG, there are three key pillars to the code by which all Sun Soul Monks conduct themselves (also known as the Precepts of Incandescence):
- Seek physical perfection. Fitness, cleanliness, and well-honed physicality keep the body beautiful so that the light can shine through.
- Seek spiritual virtue. Grant and take each new chance to be virtuous. Look for the light in others and not just in the darkness.
- Shine light into darkness. Use your presence to light dark places, banish shadow, and share the soul’s light with the world.
Role in the Party
The Sun Soul plays to the Monk’s typical role as a skirmisher but adds in something that Monks typically struggle with: ranged attacks.
You’re still able to drop beatdowns on your enemies’ heads, but the Sun Soul’s ability to fire bolts of light energy means you won’t have to stay right up on enemies to do it.
Sometimes this might open up some new tactical options for you. Other times it helps you overcome something that would otherwise be nearly impossible (like fighting a Harpy that is mid-flight.)
We’ll go over the features of the Way of the Sun Soul in more specific detail in the next section.
Also Read: Monk Weapons in D&D 5e Explained
Sun Soul Monk Abilities
Like most of the Monk subclasses, the Way of the Sun Soul Monk has four features in total.
Three of these features are offensive in that they give you new ways to damage enemies or enhance your other offensive features. Your capstone feature at level 17 is more defensive in nature.
Radiant Sun Bolt (Level 3)
Starting at level 3, the Sun Soul Monk is able to launch bolts of radiant energy at their enemies.
This is your bread and butter ability as a Sun Soul Monk. There’s a lot to it, so let’s break it down bit by bit.
You gain a new attack option that you can use with the Attack action. This special attack is a ranged spell attack with a range of 30 feet. You are proficient with it, and you add your Dexterity modifier to its attack and damage rolls.
Monks typically struggle when it comes to taking on enemies at range. Combining the Monk’s mobility with a 30 ft ranged attack option means that you should have no problem attacking your target.
Your proficiency increases as you level up which will help you hit more often with your Sun Bolts. As with any Monk, make sure to prioritize getting your Dexterity to 20 as fast as possible.
Its damage is radiant and its damage die is a d4. This die changes you gain monk levels, as shown in the Martial Arts column of the Monk table.
Radiant damage is pretty solid. You aren’t likely to be fighting many monsters that resist it. Make sure to pay attention to your Martial Arts die as you level. Your Sun Bolt uses your martial arts die to deal damage.
When you take the Attack action on your turn and use this special attack as part of it, you can spend 1 ki point to make the special attack twice as a bonus action.
Effectively this works like your Flurry of Blows feature from the Monk class. Spending one ki point gets you two extra attacks as a bonus action. Except now those attacks are freaking laser beams!
When you gain the Extra Attack feature, this special attack can be used for any of the attacks you make as part of the Attack action.
You gain the Extra Attack feature when you hit level 5. Both of those attacks can be Radiant Sun Bolts. Spend a ki point and you’re shooting four bolts a turn!
Searing Arc Strike (Level 6)
Level 6 sees the Sun Soul Monk gaining a new way to use their bonus action. AoE features aren’t super common for Monks, so this is definitely interesting!
Immediately after you take the Attack action on your turn, you can spend 2 ki points to cast the burning hands spell as a bonus action.
You can spend additional ki points to cast burning hands as a higher-level spell. Each additional ki point you spend increases the spell’s level by 1. The maximum number of ki points (2 plus any additional points) that you can spend on the spell equals half your Monk level.
Not only is it useful to have an area of effect feature for a martial class like the Monk, but keep in mind that you’re able to do this as a bonus action.
Don’t underestimate the power of being able to weaken enemies with a couple of attacks (either melee or radiant sun bolts) then finish them all off with burning hands!
If you’re only going to catch a couple of enemies with this, it might be better to save your ki and use Flurry of Blows. If you can catch 3 or more, though it’s very powerful!
To really bring the pain, you might open with your Stunning Strike on an enemy that you NEED to focus down. Remember: if they’re stunned, they will automatically fail their Dexterity saving throw!
Just be sure to watch your positioning. Sun Soul Monks are typically blasting enemies at a range, so you’ll want to close the gap and catch as many enemies as possible in the 15-foot cone of burning hands’ effect!
As far as boosting this with your ki goes, it’s a bit of a tough call. If you’ve got several enemies in the cone and are pretty confident you’ll get a short rest in soon, it might be worth it.
Otherwise, you might want to play it safe. Ki points power your most important features and you don’t want to find yourself without any!
Searing Sunburst (Level 11)
At level 11, the Sun Soul Monk gains the Searing Sunburst feature. Especially for a level 11 feature, this one’s admittedly a bit weird.
As an action, you magically create an orb and hurl it at a point you choose within 150 feet where it erupts into a sphere of radiant light for a brief but deadly instant.
Each creature in that 20-foot radius sphere must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or take 2d6 radiant damage. A creature doesn’t need to make the save if the creature is behind total cover that is opaque.
You can increase the sphere’s damage by spending ki points. Each point you spend, to a maximum of 3, increases the damage by 2d6.
So, 150 ft range is nothing to turn your nose up at. Furthermore, you don’t need to spend any resources to use this. If you choose to spend 3 ki points, it’s basically a fireball with the same range and damage (though a Constitution save instead of Dexterity.)
In addition to being able to cover a huge area, this isn’t a spell which means you don’t have to worry about a pesky enemy caster using counterspell on it.
But we can’t ignore the downsides to this feature…
The biggest issue is that a creature that succeeds on its saving throw takes no damage.
Zero. Zip. Nada.
That’s fine for a cantrip, but this is a level 11 feature! I can’t say I wouldn’t be sour if I spent 3 ki points on an AoE feature only to have it deal no damage to the enemies.
A Monk using their action for something other than attacking is a pretty big thing. You’re giving up a ton of action economy, so you want to know that it’s going to count.
I’m not saying Searing Sunburst is a bad ability. Just know what you’re getting with it. Enemies like giants with high Constitutions likely won’t be taking any damage at all, so it’s best to figure something else out.
As far as spending ki to buff this goes, take it on a case-by-case basis. Generally speaking, losing your action to possibly deal no damage is pretty steep…
Sun Shield (Level 17)
At level 17, Sun Soul Monks gain their defensive capstone ability: Sun Shield.
You shed bright light in a 30-foot radius and dim light for an additional 30 feet. You can extinguish or restore the light as a bonus action.
If a creature hits you with a melee attack while this light shines, you can use your reaction to deal radiant damage to the creature. The radiant damage equals 5 + your Wisdom modifier.
So you reach the pinnacle of what the Way of the Sun Soul teaches and…
You can be a torch. If you want to use your reaction after you get smacked by an enemy to deal 10 damage, you can do that too…
I try to look at the good and bad of every feature, but this is just… underwhelming… It could be a reasonably decent feature at level 11 or even great at lower levels, but there’s really nothing particularly special about this as a capstone feature.
The damage that you can deal to an enemy that hits you is guaranteed, so that’s good. But 10 damage at these high levels is nothing. Plus, you used your reaction which means attacks of opportunity or Deflect Missiles is right off the table until your next turn.
If it’s right before your turn, you might as well use this. Otherwise, ask a level 1 Wizard to cast the Light cantrip on you and call it a day.
Sun Soul Monks are particularly welcomed in temples to deities like Lathander, Sune, and Selune. The teachings of the Way of the Sun Soul have a strong overlap with the teachings of these deities.
Monks and Clerics of these respective orders will especially get along well.
As a Sun Soul Monk, you have trained intensely with the goal of being a beacon of light to the world around you. Just as surely as you stand against darkness and evil, you also bring comfort to those you encounter.
When considering your character’s backstory, ask yourself why these drives are so important to you. Did your monastery also serve as a type of defense against a region overrun with the undead or some other such horror?
Considering how difficult it is to separate the Sun Soul Monk from Dragon Ball Z inspiration, I really think of Goku when it comes to how a Sun Soul Monk might carry themselves.
He’s all cheery and happy until it’s time to protect his friends. When that switch flips, he’ll do whatever it takes and strike with all he’s got to defeat the bad guys.
Also Check Out: The Full Monk Class Guide for D&D 5e!
Is the Sun Soul Monk Good?
Things start out a little sluggish for the Sun Soul Monk, but they start to hit their stride in the mid-levels. However, a rough early game, incredibly underwhelming capstone feature, and a heavy reliance on burning through ki to deal even passable damage make this subclass feel very “meh.”
In other words, the Sun Soul is hardly a good Monk subclass.
But I’ll try to look at things positively as well…
The Sun Soul Monk really benefits from the fact that radiant damage tends to go far in 5e. Unless you find yourself fighting Angels for some reason, you shouldn’t have to worry about enemies resisting your attacks.
The real draw to the Sun Soul Monk is their ability to still engage in ranged combat. Monks tend to struggle at range so the Sun Soul addresses that. While you’ll need to be pumping ki into your attacks to deal decent damage, at least it’s not required. If you’re trying to blast weaklings with your Sun Bolts, that should be easy enough.
Monks can typically put out solid damage but have a harder time taking it which makes the frontlines a bit riskier. As a Sun Soul Monk, you’ll have an easier time adjusting to the positioning on the battlefield.
At times, you’ll want to move in close to keep up the pressure in melee combat. Other times, you can overwhelm your enemies with a barrage of bright energy blasts from a mid-range position.
You can see how the Sun Soul Monk compares to the other Monastic Traditions in my ranking of every Monk subclass in D&D 5e!
Conclusion – Guide to the Sun Soul Monk in D&D 5e
The Sun Soul Monk is one of the more interesting Monk subclasses in D&D 5e. When you think of blasters, Monks generally aren’t what comes to mind.
As we wrap up this guide to the Sun Soul Monk in D&D 5e, I can’t help but think I was maybe a bit hard on it. What are your thoughts on this subclass? Let’s chat in the comments!
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