Whether your next campaign will be aboard a Spelljammer or you are able to craft a backstory of how an ooze came-to-be (perhaps through a wizard experiment gone wrong, or in this case, gone right), the Plasmoid race is an interesting choice for a Dungeons & Dragons™ character. Of course, if you are not participating in a Spelljammer campaign be sure to discuss playing a Plasmoid with your Dungeon Master before bringing this character to your table.
Our goals of this character build are:
- create a Wisdom-based monk
- exploit the Plasmoid’s Amorphous ability to squeeze through tiny openings and unarmed combat
- use Arms of the Astral Self + Plasmoid for wisdom-based Grapple checks
- use Feats to gain spell casting, wisdom bonuses and thematic abilities
Way of Astral Self Monk – Spelljammer Plasmoid Character
Check out my video on this character build for a full step-by-step astral self monk guide for levels 1 through 12.
Way of Astral Self Monk Character Sheets
We will be playing a Spelljammer game so it makes sense to select a race from the Astral Adventurer’s Guide. In fact, our character’s race is what will perpetuate the idea of playing the Astral Self Monk because of the smooth synergies between the two.
Our plasmoid is an ooze (non-humanoid), they have 60ft of darkvision and a walking speed of 30ft. They can hold their breath for 1 hour and have resistance to acid and poison damage. In fact, they also have advantage on saving throws against being poisoned. We will select medium size as it will help with grappling. Speaking of grappling, let’s take a look at the Plasmoid’s main abilities.
The Amorphous ability is our bread-and-butter. We will be able to squeeze through narrow, 1 inch wide openings and reform on the other side. This may occasionally lead to combat, but no worries. As a Monk, we will always have our unarmed strike capabilities and able to hold our own without having any equipment with us.
The Amorphous ability will also allow us to grapple opponents, thematically with our sticky, gooey arms (or is it pseudopods?).
The Shape Self ability, while not nearly as important to this character build as Amorphous, will provide some fun interactions with spells such as Disguise Self. We will chat more about that in the Feats section below.
Astral Drifter Background
We will be selecting the Astral Drifter background from the 5th Edition Spelljammer book. An interesting and extremely relevant part of the Astral Drifter is that we will get a 1st level feat, Magic Initiate (Cleric), by simply selecting this background. This will technically make our Plasmoid Monk a spellcaster which is a requirement of being able to attune to a Spelljammer Helm and pilot a Spelljammer ship.
The inclusion of a feat with the background is an interesting premise and something I am sure we will see more of once One D&D™ arrives on the scene in 2024. But, that is a topic for another day.
Let’s add Gith and Celestial languages, per the recommendation, and we also get the Insight and Religion skills. But, since we already chose Insight when we picked our class proficiencies, we can select any other skill of our choosing. Let’s go with Stealth. This character will have very little equipment, so it will be fun to sneak about and squeeze into places undetected.
The background for an Astral Drifter is that we have been floating about the Astral Sea without aging making us 20d6 years older than we look. Of course, how does an ooze look older? We also crossed paths with a wandering deity in the the Astral Sea and they made a lasting impression on us. Not that it is relevant to this character build, but I selected Fharlanghn, god of horizons and travel (neutral good), as the deity that my character encountered; in case you were wondering.
What is relevant is that this encounter with a deity gives us the Magic Initiate (Cleric) feat at first level. When One D&D arrives on the scene in 2024, I think you will see most, if not all, backgrounds incorporating a first level feat. Here are my recommendations for spells to select with the Magic Initiate feat:
- Guidance (Cantrip): One of the best cantrips in the game. We can help our allies or more importantly, give ourselves an additional 1d4 on our Athletics and Stealth rolls as I anticipate we will be using these skills regularly.
- Toll the Dead (Cantrip): We will be squeezing into areas with no gear or weapons, so we should ensure that we also have a ranged spell attack. Although I would prefer a cantrip that we roll to attack, this will still work fine since our DC will continue to increase with our wisdom-based Monk.
- Shield of Faith (1st Level Spell) is the first level spell I chose. It lasts 10 minutes with concentration and gives us (or an ally) a +2 bonus to Armor Class. A great ability if we need to participate in a more defensive posture in combat. We can cast this spell once per long rest. I also considered Protection from Good and Evil in this spot.
Ability Score and Skill Selection
We will be concentrating on our Wisdom score in order to best utilize our Arms of the Astral Self. Therefore, with we will use the point buy system and our +2 modifier to start with a 17 Wisdom. Prioritizing Dexterity and Constitution next.
DEX: 16 (15 plus the +1 modifier)
WIS: 17 (15 plus the +2 modifier)
As a monk, we will be able to select two. Athletics will be the most important for this build. Sure, it seems odd to choose Athletics when we have a -1 penalty on our Strength modifier, but, at 3rd level and beyond our Athletics skill will use Wisdom as the modifier while our ours Arms of the Astral Self is activated. We will be able to use Athletics for a number of different situations, including grappling.
The other skill we will choose is Stealth as outlined above in the Astral Drifter Background section.
This gives us an 18 Wisdom and access to Misty Step once per day. Perhaps one of the best 2nd level spells in Dungeons & Dragons™. This will give added flexibility for our Plasmoid Monk to be able to enter or escape areas.
The real gravy on the biscuit for this feat however, is getting access to Hex. This 1st level enchantment spell can be cast as a bonus action, requires concentration, and can deal an extra 1d6 of Necrotic damage per hit. With a monk we can usually attack at least twice per turn with our Action and an unarmed strike as a bonus action, but we also have instances where we get three attacks with Flurry of Blows and with our Extra Attack ability we get at 5th level. Landing 3 successful hits on subsequent turns on a hexed creature would be an additional 3d6 necrotic damage.
While extra damage is fantastic, Hex gets even more powerful if we choose to Grapple as a Plasmoid Astral Self Monk. We can give the target of this spell disadvantage on their strength checks and with our Astral Arms activated, we will have advantage on our wisdom-based Athletics checks to initiate (ore escape) a grapple, thanks to our Plasmoid Amorphous ability.
Our Wisdom score is now 19 and we get access to Invisibility once per long rest. Combine this spell with our Stealth skill and we should be able to slide through any small opening without being detected.
I recommend selecting Disguise Self as the 1st level spell that you get with this feat. If we use our Plasmoid Shape Self ability to have humanoid limbs, then Disguise Self can mask our oozey appearance and we can take on the appearance of a human, elf, tiefling, or other medium sized humanoid for one hour. OR, if we remain in our “blob” form, we can cast disguise self to appear as a treasure chest or similar sized piece of furniture. When used in this manner, it’s almost as if we were a mimic pretending to be a treasure chest. A great way to stay in an area undetected.
At 12th level our Wisdom is now maxed out at 20. This helps with our Astral Arm attacks, our wisdom based skills (including Athletics), and increases our saving throw DC. This also gives us proficiency in Wisdom Saving throws, a much needed safety net for a high level character.
Arms of the Astral Self
We will be most effective with our Arms of the Astral Self active. This gives us Wisdom based attacks, a 10ft range on our Astral Arm’s unarmed strikes, and our Athletics checks will be Wisdom based, rather than strength. Combining our Hex spell targeting a creatures strength and using our Astral Arms to grapple within 5′ gives us advantage on WISDOM Athletics to grapple as a Plasmoid and the target will have disadvantage because of the Hex.
What do you think?
So, that is how I would build a Way of the Astral Self Monk. If you roll for your ability scores and are not reliant on taking wisdom-based half-feats, then perhaps the Mobile or Crusher feats will be options for you. With that being said, what do you think of this character build? What choices do you like and what would you do differently. Be sure to watch the video for the full character build walkthrough for levels 1-12.
on to the next!