Introduction

Monks always get the short end of the stick. Even when they get cool powers that sound real neat on paper, like ghost arms that punch people, they usually don’t stack up against the rest of the classes. But that’s fine. You didn’t pick The Way of the Sun Soul because it was a good idea. You pick it because you want to be Goku. I’ll do my best to make sure we can get the most out of this rather fun subclass.

So what do we get from the Way of the Sun Soul? Well we get some consistent radiant damage from one of the stranger attacks in the game, Radiant Sun Bolt. It replaces attacks during the Attack Action with ranged spell attacks, and that’s very bizarre. We also get burning hands for some reason and a spammable AoE. These are all nifty features, they just have trouble with how they are all used.

Our example build below, The Prince of All Hadozee, leans into the joke a bit, while still making good choices for actually playing this subclass. We take advantage of some of the optional class features from Tasha’s to help smooth out some of the trouble that comes with using all the features of a Sun Soul. If you like it, give it a try and let us know what you think.

Table of Contents

Disclaimer

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.

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
  • Green: Good options. Useful often.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.

We will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, in handbooks for official content because we can’t assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. We also won’t cover Unearthed Arcana content because it’s not finalized, and we 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.

RPGBOT is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.

Way of the Sun Soul Features

  1. Radiant Sun Bolt: Finally, a meaningful ranged option for the Monk! The damage die is admittedly small compared to using a spear in melee, but you can replace any of your attacks during the Attack action (not the one from Martial Arts), and the damage die will scale as you gain levels. What really makes this shine however, is the second half of the feature, solving the Flurry of Blows problem for ranged Monk builds.

    You don’t need free hands to make these attacks, so you can switch between your spear and Radiant Sun Bolt at will. If you spend the Ki Point to make two attacks as a bonus action, you can keep up with or even outdo real spellcasters in terms of ranged damage output. Even the Warlock with Eldritch Blast+Agonizing Blast may struggle to match Radiant Sun Bolt when you spend Ki to make additional attacks as a Bonus Action since you still add your Dexterity bonus to the attacks. The Warlock won’t catch up until 17th level when Eldritch Blast adds a fourth ray. Of course, Eldritch Blast doesn’t cost Ki to make all of those attacks, so by level 11 Eldritch Blast+Agonizing Blast will be more effective if you’re not willing to spend Ki.

    This attack does present a weird situation to explore. Certain magic items grant a bonus to spell attack rolls and they have various attunement requirements. Most require levels as a specific spellcaster and so only function when multiclassing, and only for that class’s spells. The Wand of the War Mage is a bonus to all spell attacks and requires “attunement by a spellcaster”, but the real question is whether the ability to cast Burning Hands with Searing Arc Strike is enough for a Sun Soul Monk to count as a spellcaster. Technically, no, but ask your DM if they’ll let it slide so you can have slightly more accurate lasers.

  2. Searing Arc Strike: A great option when you’re facing crowds of enemies in close quarters, but it can be hard to hit more than two creatures with such a small cone, and the damage isn’t great unless you spend a bunch of Ki. This also does fire damage, which is weird because everything else in the subclass deals radiant damage.

    If you can hit three creatures, this is a more efficient use of both your Action and your Ki than spending the same turn to attack and use either Flurry of Blows or the Bonus Action attack with Radiant Sun Bolt.

    Getting this feature at 6th level is frustrating. Cones work fine on martial characters who can survive in melee, but it’s a 1st-level spell that you get at level 6. Way of Four Elements has been casting Burning Hands for 3 levels already at the same Ki cost.

    Still worse, once you get Searing Sunburst, this is basically useless. For the same two Ki points, Searing Sunburst deals 6d6 damage (avg. 21 compared to Searing Arc Strike’s 13.5) in a significantly larger AOE and at 150-foot range. Adding more Ki widens the gap even further. This feature starts weak and becomes completely obsolete at level 11.

  3. Searing Sunburst: The base damage isn’t great, but it scales reasonably well and doesn’t cost any Ki Points to use at the base damage. Unfortunately, because the base damage is so low that you need to spend a ton of Ki to do any serious damage, and, since this is on a Constitution save your enemies are likely to pass the save which means they take no damage, not half damage.

    The best part of this is that you can use it for free. 2d6 damage still isn’t a ton of damage, but the range is great at 150 feet (compared to just 30 feet for Radiant Sun Bolt), so if you’re fighting at long range you can shell your enemies with this at the base damage until they either die or get tired of your shenanigans and move closer.

  4. Sun Shield: A nice deterrent. The damage isn’t huge (probably 10 damage at this level), but the effect is constant unless you turn it off, which you might do when you need to be stealthy. The biggest frustration is that this consumes your Reaction so you can’t use it for Opportunity Attacks or something like that.

Way of the Sun Soul Ability Scores

Like most Monks, we need too many good scores because our features are all over the place.

Str: Thanks to the ranged attacks, We get less out of this than most Monks who might want to leave Grappling open as an option.

Dex: Martial arts, AC, and anime laser spell attacks. Neat.

Con: Even if we stick to ranged fighting, don’t dump this.

Int: We need other ability scores too much.

Wis: This fuels AC as well as the Save DCs of Arc and Sunburst.

Cha: We need other ability scores too much.

Point BuyStandard Array
Str810
Dex1515
Con1513
Int812
Wis1514
Cha88

Way of the Sun Soul Races

Sun Souls want the same things from race as other Monks. Oh I guess with one exception.

  • HadozeeSJ:AiS: I’m just sayin’ that Hadozee make excellent kung fu anime laser Monks from space. Just sayin’. Not supa’ sayin’.

Way of the Sun Soul Feats

For anything not listed below refer to the Monk Handbook.

  • GunnerTCoE: But not for using guns, though Monks can make great use of those as well. The real reason is that, as a half feat that grants +1 Dexterity while also negating the Disadvantage to ranged attack rolls from being within 5 feet of a target, this is a great feat for us.

Way of the Sun Soul Weapons and Armor

We can use any Monk weapons we want as they don’t interfere with our lasers, but if you take the Gunner feat, I do suggest having a Musket for shooting outside of the 30 feet range of lasers.

As for Armor, while I don’t suggest wearing any, technically it doesn’t interfere with any of the subclass features. I mean it’d be really weird if you wore armor, but I won’t stop you.

Example Way of the Sun Soul Build – The Prince of All Hadozee

Shooting lasers is fun. This is not a great way to go about it but we’re not here to make good decisions. We’re here to be cocky and arrogant while making bad decisions. This build is totally optimized… For fun!

This build used the optional class features Dedicated Weapon, Ki-Fueled Attack, and Focused Aim, though the build is fine without those. They really just give a way to get some extra attacks when using certain features. In particular, the lasers can only be fired as a bonus action if the attack action was already used to fire at least one laser. These features keep us from wasting that bonus action.

Abilities

We’ll put priority on Dexterity, Constitution and Wisdom. We’re Hadozee and choose the +1/+1/+1 option.

BaseIncreasedLevel 20
Str888
Dex151620
Con151616
Int888
Wis151620
Cha888

Race

We’re taking Hadozee because we’re trying to be Vegeta. The glide is almost like flying so that’s cool. Hadozee Resilience will let us take less damage so we can get punched and keep fighting till Goku actually wins the fight. Yeah, I chose the race for the reference, but it also has useful features.

Background

You might think Prince Vegeta would have a Noble background, but no he’s very much a Soldier, so we are too. This gives us Athletics, Intimidation, Land Vehicles, and a Gaming set.

Skills and Tools

From Monk, we’ll take Acrobatics and Insight. From Skill Expert at eighth level we’ll learn Survival and get Insight Expertise. Soldier gave us Athletics and Intimidation.

Feats

At fourth level, we take Gunner. This gives us +1 Dexterity, some gun stuff we don’t really need to use, and the ability to make ranged attack rolls (our laser blasts) in melee without Disadvantage.

At eighth level, we take Skill Expert, putting another +1 into Dexterity and gaining Survival proficiency and Insight Expertise. Now everyone can ask us what the Insight check says about their power level.

At twelfth level, we take an ASI for +2 Dexterity, capping at 20.

At sixteenth level, we take an ASI for +2 Wisdom, reaching 18.

At nineteenth level, we take an ASI for +2 Wisdom, capping at 20.

Levels

LevelsFeats and FeaturesMartial Arts Laser DieNotes and Tactics
1Unarmored Defense

Martial Arts

Skills
-Acrobatics
-Athletics
-Insight
-Intimidation
1d4Punch and kick your way through these first few levels. And by punch and kick I mean grab a spear because it does more damage.

We’ll get lasers soon enough.
2Ki

Unarmored Movement

Dedicated Weapon (Optional)
1d4We get Ki now. We always have Ki points equal to our Monk Level.

We also move a little faster now.

Dedicated Weapon lets us make (almost) anything into a Monk weapon, which is really handy when we take Gunner later.
3Way of the Sun Soul
-Radiant Sun Bolt

Deflect Missiles

Ki-Fueled Attack (Optional)
1d4Alright, Radiant Sun Bolt. Now we can make laser attacks when we take the attack action.That’s pretty cool by itself, but we can spend the same Ki we would have spent using Flurry of Blows to get two laser attacks on our Bonus Action.

Unfortunately we can’t make a free bonus laser like standard Martial Arts.

Ki-Fueled Attack will help later when we start spending Ki during our action and also have a gun.
4Feat: Gunner+1 Dexterity (16=>17)

Slow Fall
1d4Gunner opens up two nice things for us:

Now we can laser even when foes are up in our face and we can also use guns if we want. For example, we can fire a musket as a bonus action if we trigger a Ki-Fueled attack, especially good because we can’t fire lasers as a bonus action unless we fired lasers with the attack action.

Musket is a great option so definitely get one if you can.
5Extra Attack

Stunning Strike

Focused Aim (Optional)
1d6Double Laser. Daka daka daka.

Stunning strike is nice, but it won’t work with lasers unfortunately. We’ll have to actually hit people for that.

Focused Aim can help us turn a near miss into a hit, and using it during your Action will trigger Ki-Fueled Attack.
6Ki-Empowered Strikes

Searing Arc Strike
1d6Our lasers were already magical damage, but now everything else can be too.

Searing Arc Strike is just burning hands at the cost of 2 Ki. It’s ok if we can catch a few guys, and it will trigger Ki-Fueled Attack, which is a great follow-up if we have that gun in hand.
7Evasion

Stillness of Mind
1d6Evasion is a really nice feature to have for negating otherwise halved damage.

Stillness of Mind is ok. Some charm and fear effects either already require an action (Wrathful Smite) or require certain conditions (Fear) to retry a save to end the effect, so spending an Action to just end the effect is sometimes great. Other sources just have the target save again after each turn, so gauge how bad the DC was before using this for those kinds of effects.
8Feat: Skill Expert
+1 Dexterity (17=>18)
-Perception Proficiency
-Insight Expertise
1d6Skill Expert is mostly chosen to have a half feat with Dexterity as an option.

Perception is a nice skill to have, we don’t want to be caught off guard.

Insight Expertise is also great, and we’ll have good Wisdom to use it even better. We could probably even get a good read on how powerful someone is. Maybe even put a numerical value on it.
9Unarmored Movement1d6Move even faster. Zoom.
10Purity of Body1d6Immune to Disease. Immune to Poison.

Disease isn’t super common in 5e, but tends to be debilitating.

Poison on the other hand is both a common damage type and an awful condition to suffer. Good feature.
11Searing Sunburst1d8An AoE blast. It’s good, but it suffers two problems. The first is that it’s not save for half but instead save to negate. This wouldn’t be too bad if it wasn’t also a Constitution save.

It also keys the DC off our Wisdom and that’s still low right now.

The upside, however, is that if we spend even one Ki to try for extra damage on it, we do activate Ki-Fueled Attack.
12ASI: Dexterity +2 (18=>20)1d8Better attack rolls and damage for lasers.

Oh, and also for punching, but really who would punch when they could laser?
13Tongue of the Sun and Moon1d8Weird built-in universal translator.
14Diamond Soul1d8Better saves all around and a reroll option. Actually a nice feature.
15Timeless Body1d8Can’t age and don’t need food or water.

It’s neat, but a lot of races already get this. Not our race, but plenty of other races. Nice for us, though.
16ASI: Wisdom +2 (16=>18)1d8Better AC, Better DCs. We’ll take it.
17Sun Shield1d10You’re not dealing with the average Hadozee Monk anymore.

Ok jokes aside, we light up the area around us and have a reaction to do minor radiant damage to anything that hits us with a melee attack. It’s nice to have.
18Empty Body1d10Empty body lets us be invisible for a minute for 4 Ki. Fun fact, this doesn’t prevent us from lighting up the area with Sun Shield. So we can be both invisible and coat the area in bright light.

It’s good invisibility too, letting us make attacks and such without ending it.

Oh and technically, this also procs Ki-Fueled Attack. Cloak and fire your Musket with Advantage.
19ASI: Wisdom +2 (18=>20)1d10More AC/DC.
20Perfect Self1d104 Ki for free when we start a fight with no Ki. It’s fine.