DnD 5e - Way of the Cobalt Soul Monk Handbook
Last Updated: October 29th, 2020
RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.
- : Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational.
- : OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances.
- : Good options.
- : Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character.
I will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, even if it is my own, because I can't assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. I also won't cover Unearthed Arcana content because it's not finalized, and I can't guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.
The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released and this article will be updating accordingly as time allows.
Written by Matt Mercer, the Cobalt Soul is an organization of scholars in Matt Mercer's world of Wildemount. While the Cobalt Soul contains bards, clerics, and other characters, the Way of the Cobalt Soul is presented as a monk subclass thematically similar to the Lore Bard and the Knowledge Cleric.
For more on the Cobalt Soul, see the Critical Role Fandom Wiki.
This is unofficial content. If you would like to use this content in your game, check with your Dungeon Master and the rest of your gaming group.
Way of the Cobalt Soul
Mechanically, the Cobalt Soul emphasizes knowledge and study of creatures' anatomy, using pressure points and Ki in order to weaken targets and to attack them when they're vulnerable. While the theme is really interesting, it introduces a minor Intelligence dependency to a class which is already famously MAD, and the subclass features don't go far beyond "good at knowledge skills" and "good at punching" with some fun window dressing.
- : This is good for a variety of reasons. The theme is really cool: you spend Ki to perform a Flurry of Blows, which sets you up to be more effective against that foe until the next time you rest. That provides a strong incentive to use Flurry of Blows early in a fight, then draw marked foes' attacks to try to get an extra attack when they miss you. Just be sure that your AC and your hit points can handle all of the extra attention, and consider using Patient Defense if you need some help.
- : Assuming that you have an ally in your party with decent Charisma-based skills, Advantage on checks with those skills makes it much easier to convince the target to give you information, especially since they can't lie while under the effect. Outside of combat, you can use this repeatedly on captives until they fail the save, but ask your DM if you can do so without dealing damage so that you're not literally torturing the creature for information.
- : Great skills to have in any party, but they're all Intelligence-based and monks typically dump Intelligence. The ability to take Expertise in a skill that you already have helps a lot since adding your Proficiency Bonus a second time will more then offset a -1 Intelligence modifier. The extra languages also make sense thematically, but monks also typically dump Charisma. So this is a really good ability, but it's on a class which is just attrocious at using it. You get the same ability at 11th and 17th levels, so you can get Expertise in a total of three skills from the list.
- : Helpful in conjunction with Extra Aspects and for Opportunity Attacks. This can eat through your Ki very quickly if you use this at every opportunity, but that may be worth it if it means ending fights faster without spending other limited resources like hit points.
- : Resist the urge to choose Bludgeoning damage. Monks do damage by making numerous relatively small attacks. You want to choose a damage type that's going to come in one big, singular hit. If you have a rogue in the party, choose whatever damage type they use. Otherwise, coordinate with your party's spellcasters to get extra damage out of big single-target damage spells like Disintegrate and Harm.