Psychic Assassin - Shadow Monk Build

Psychic Assassin - Shadow Monk Build - Baldur's Gate 3 (BG3)

By zanuffas
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The Shadow Monk Build - Psychic Assassin for Baldur's Gate 3. Use the shadows to become the ultimate Assassin utilizing the elusive Shadow Blade icon action bg3Shadow Blade. The deadly psychic damage will be maximized so that you can deliver an instant killing blow before the target comes to its senses.

Shadow Monk Build - Psychic Assassin

The idea of this build is to utilize the level 11 Shadow Monk action - Shadow Strike icon action bg3Shadow Strike. By itself the action is very expensive - 3 Ki points, and damage is not that spectacular. However, there are a few items that combined will make it a sight to behold.

I am talking of course about Shadow Blade Ring icon bg3Shadow Blade Ring and Resonance Stone (double psychic damage at the cost of lower spell resistance). This will make you a true psychic assassin. The build does come with a plethora of problems, that will need to be addressed:

  • Shadow Blade icon action bg3Shadow Blade​ - uses a Concentration slot, meaning that you can lose it from the smallest hit or condition. For this, having Constitution Saving Throw proficiency and Advantage helps a lot.
  • Resonance Stone - this special item, makes everyone in the area vulnerable to psychic damage. Moreover, it makes everyone weak to mental Saving Throws. In a situation where the enemy will use a spell or action that deals psychic damage, you will incur a lot of damage.

Still, with some optimizations, you will be able to have a unique and engaging build to utilize some of the rarer game mechanics. This will utilize the psychic damage type, fitting the theme.

Another downside is that the build is a late bloomer. You will need to reach the end of Act 2, and later level 11, to unlock its full potential. I will offer progression but I do recommend running other Monk Build until you fight Ketheric the first time on the Moonrise Towers. After that, you can start using this build.

Class Contribution

The build can be made in a few different ways. You could go pure monk, take a dip in Fighter, Rogue, or even Sorcerer. For simplicity's sake, I will be going with pure Monk.

12 Shadow Monk

So this is the core of the build that you will use the most:

  • Access to Shadow Strike icon action bg3Shadow Strike allows dealing 3d8 psychic damage which can be doubled with Resonance Stone.
  • Cloak of Shadows icon action bg3Cloak of Shadows​ and Shadow Step icon action bg3Shadow Step​ for ultimate stealth mobility and invisibility on demand.
  • Stunning Strike (Melee) icon action bg3Stunning Strike (Melee)​ to stun enemies so that they would skip their turns.
  • Shadow Arts: Hide icon action bg3Shadow Arts: Hide, and enter stealth using bonus action, which then can be used for a Shadow Strike icon action bg3Shadow Strike​ attack.
  • Access to 3 feats, to cover most of the weak points with the build.

There are more choices, but I will leave those in the build variation section at the end of the post.

Leveling Overview

Here is a concise table with all the main picks during your leveling progression. For more detailed reasoning, I go further in the article. Also, do not forget to check the recommended gear as it is crucial.

This is a leveling overview without respec, where you go for the Psychic Shadow Assassin build. If you are doing a playthrough from the start look at the detailed progression below.

Level Class Selection
1 Monk 1 STR - 8, DEX - 17, CON - 15, INT - 8, WIS - 16, CHA - 8
Skills: Stealth, Sleight of Hand
2 Monk 2 -
3 Monk 3 Subclass: Way of Shadow
4 Monk 4 Feat: Ability Improvement +2 Dexterity or +1 Dexterity +1 Constitution
5 Monk 5
-
6 Monk 6 -
7 Monk 7 -
8 Monk 8 Feat: Resilient: Constitution icon passive feature bg3Resilient: Constitution
9 Monk 9 -
10 Monk 10 -
11 Monk 11 -
12 Monk 12 Feat: Savage Attacker icon passive feature bg3Savage Attacker

Starting the Game - Level 1

This section covers the creation screen and what would go into the best Races, Abilities, and Skills for the Shadow Monk build. Some of these choices are impactful as you cannot respec them.

Races

Picking a race provides various benefits - abilities, dialogue options, looks, etc. Specifically for Shadow Monk build, they will give important armor proficiencies or advantages on stealth checks to better utilize the assassin playstyle.

If you are having difficulties making a choice, pick whatever you prefer in terms of looks or roleplay. "The perfect race pick" is important if you are into extreme min-maxing.
Race Features Description
Githyanki Baldur's Gate 3Githyanki
  • Martial Prodigy icon passive feature bg3Martial Prodigy
One of the best combat races getting excellent proficiencies and valuable actions. You will be able to wear Medium armors, specifically for this build, like - Dark Justiciar Half-Plate icon bg3Dark Justiciar Half-Plate.
halfling bg3Lightfoot Halfling Makes it easier to maintain concentration, or avoid being hit. This is one of those races that makes the game easier. Moreover, you will get an advantage on stealth checks.
gnome bg3Deep Gnome
  • Gnome Cunning icon passive feature bg3Gnome Cunning
  • Superior Darkvision icon passive feature bg3Superior Darkvision
  • Stone Camouflage icon passive feature bg3Stone Camouflage
The main attractiveness of Gnomes is that they have Gnome Cunning icon passive feature bg3Gnome Cunning, which will allow you to negate some of the Resonance Stone effects, thus improving your survivability.
dwarf bg3Dwarf Duergar
  • Dwarven Combat Training icon passive feature bg3Dwarven Combat Training
  • Superior Darkvision icon passive feature bg3Superior Darkvision
  • Dwarven Resilience icon passive feature bg3Dwarven Resilience
  • Duergar Resilience icon passive feature bg3Duergar Resilience
One of the best race picks overall. The Invisibility icon action bg3Invisibility​ action allows you to enter combat with the best possible position and always activate the surprise round.
Half-Elf Baldur's Gate 3Wood Half-Elf This is an excellent race, that gives so-needed movement speed, to reach important targets in one turn. Moreover, they have light armor proficiency which makes it easy to use medium armor together with Moderately Armoured icon passive feature bg3Moderately Armoured​ feat.
half elf bg3Drow Half-Elf
  • Fey Ancestry icon passive feature bg3Fey Ancestry
  • Darkvision icon passive feature bg3Darkvision
  • Civil Militia icon passive feature bg3Civil Militia
The main highlight is access to Darkness icon action bg3Darkness, which can be used to hide yourself in various combat situations.

Class

Overview
monk bg3Monk
Some reach enlightenment by languid meditation - others do so in the heat of battle. Monks manipulate ki to empower their own strikes and debilitate their foes.
Features
Flurry of Blows icon action bg3Flurry of Blows Very powerful attack, allowing you to do two hits with bonus action and Ki points.
ki bg3Ki A unique resource for Monk actions.
Unarmoured Defence icon passive feature bg3Unarmoured Defence Allows getting armor class from Wisdom modifier.
Martial Arts: Dextrous Attacks icon passive feature bg3Martial Arts: Dextrous Attacks Similar to how finesse weapons work, Monk attacks scale based on high ability between Strength and Dexterity.
Martial Arts: Deft Strikes icon passive feature bg3Martial Arts: Deft Strikes Set the base attack of unarmed attacks to 1d4, later this becomes 1d6 and 1d8.
Martial Arts: Bonus Unarmed Strike icon passive feature bg3Martial Arts: Bonus Unarmed Strike Gives an option to attack with your fists using bonus action.

Background

Backgrounds are mostly for role-playing and you can pick whatever you prefer. If you want to optimize, then it would be good to pick backgrounds that are based on your ability points of Wisdom.

Background Skills Description
Urchin Sleight of Hand
Stealth
Excellent pick for being effective in stealth and also disarming traps or pickpocketing.
Criminal Stealth
Deception
This is especially useful for the main character, as you will get proficiency in deception that helps with some dialogue options.
Charlatan Deception
Sleight of Hand
Makes pickpocketing, lockpicking, and trap disarmament easier. Moreover, comes with dialogue-based skill proficiency.

Abilities

Now let's take a look at the abilities of the Psychic Assassin build. Correct allocation will allow you to maximize the early gameplay and get good modifier bonuses.

Ability Value Description
strengthStrength 8 Not crucial for the build, as weapons that you will use can also utilize Dexterity. Moreover, you can also go with Strength Elixirs in the early game if necessary.
dexterityproficient_ability Baldur's Gate 3Dexterity 17 (15+2) The key ability of the build will give increased damage, initiative, and armor class.
constitution bg3Constitution 15 Having decent health is important, especially for melee martial build. We will be rounding it up to 16 if you will not use Auntie Ethel Hair for +1 Wisdom.
intelligenceIntelligence 8 Least important stat for the build.
wisdomWisdom 16 (15+1) This will be one of the main stats to increase Armour Class if you do not use Medium Armors.
charismaCharisma 8 Somewhat not an important stat for now, of course, you could remove 1 point from the Constitution and add it here.

Skills and Expertise

Overall, the skills should be impacted by your roleplaying and background decisions. However, you would still want those that will give you the best benefits. My recommendation would be to go for these, most relevant to the theme of the build:

  • Stealth
  • Sleight of Hand
  • Acrobatics

Leveling Progression - Levels 2-12

Here is the detailed progression for the Psychic Assassin to get you started. You can use it as a guideline because early games can be daunting and overwhelming. Later on, once you get a feel for the class you can start picking your options

The main caveat is that the build comes online fairly late. The first major step is at level 10, where you will forgo the Unarmed damage. So till then, I will be assuming you are using your fists, which together with Flurry of Blows icon action bg3Flurry of Blows​ can deal some serious damage.

You can go with weapons, but to be fair they will not come close to the damage potential you can do.

Level 2

This is where you will have left the tutorial area, and will start exploring the world. 

Feature Description
Unarmoured Movement icon passive feature bg3Unarmoured Movement Makes it easier to reach and move between enemies.

That is not all, by using Ki points you can get an improved version of some base actions:

Action Description
Patient Defence icon action bg3Patient Defence It's not something that I would use, as the bonus action has better uses.
Step of the Wind: Dash icon action bg3Step of the Wind: Dash It can be used to reach longer distances or jump on enemies on higher grounds.
Step of the Wind: Disengage icon action bg3Step of the Wind: Disengage A disengage option that you can activate with Bonus action and Ki Point.

Optional - Elixir of Hill Giant Strength

This is optional, and for some people breaks, immersion, feel free to skip it.

Well, there is a trick early in Act 1, after you reach the first settlement - Druid's Grove. There you can stock up on some powerful potions for Acts 1, and 2 - Elixir of Hill Giant Strength.

What do they do? They increase the Strength to 21 until a Long rest. More or less this negates any need to have strength investment if you plan to use them till the late game. This way you can utilize Tavern Brawler icon passive feature bg3Tavern Brawler​ to the maximum potential with unarmed attacks.

This is somewhat gimmicky, however, if you are interested here is a guide on how to farm Elixir of Hill Giant Strength.

In Act 3 there will be an upgraded version - Elixir of Cloud Giant Strength, that will set it to 27. This is the highest possible strength value.

As Shadow Monk this will cost you usage of other elixirs. However, your Flurry of Blows icon action bg3Flurry of Blows​ will deal unparalleled damage early in the game.

Level 3

As a Monk at level 3, you can choose the subclass. It impacts how you play the build and what combat options there are.

Overview
way of shadow bg3Way of Shadow
Features
Shadow Arts: Hide icon action bg3Shadow Arts: Hide Allows hiding with just bonus action instead of action.
Shadow Arts: Pass Without Trace icon action bg3Shadow Arts: Pass Without Trace Can be useful if you need to pass stealth checks with companions. For example, sneaking through areas where enemies may see you.
Shadow Arts: Darkness icon action bg3Shadow Arts: Darkness Very powerful action that can complement both Shadow Monk and Warlock with Devil's Sight icon passive feature bg3Devil's Sight. You can use this to hide from ranged enemy attacks, and safely attack anyone that dares to enter. I recommend Eversight Ring icon bg3Eversight Ring if you plan on doing melee combat inside to avoid getting blinded.
Shadow Arts: Darkvision icon action bg3Shadow Arts: Darkvision Not as good as it sounds. Sadly, it does not work with the Darkness icon action bg3Darkness​ spell.
Shadow Arts: Silence icon action bg3Shadow Arts: Silence Another powerful action, that you can use to break enemy concentration or immobilize mages.
Minor Illusion icon action bg3Minor Illusion You can use this while being invisible. Group enemies together and let your caster kill them, or cast Darkness to change the playing field.

All of these actions can play an important role in the combat based on the situation.

Level 4

Level 4 brings the first feat, it will be a huge improvement.

Feat

Here you can select from a few choices, based on your playstyle and what kind of playthrough you are doing.

Feat Description
Tavern Brawler icon passive feature bg3Tavern Brawler If you plan on using Elixir of Hill Giant Strength, this one is almost mandatory. It gives both damage and attack chance boost with unarmed attacks. Even if you will rely on melee weapons, your bonus action, can still do the highest damage with Flurry of Blows. Be sure to add an ability point to the Constitution, for a total of 16. This feat is only needed until you will reach level 10, and obtain Resonance Stone.
Ability Improvement This option is relevant if you are not using Elixir of Hill Giant Strength. You have a few options:
  • With Auntie Ethel Hair - you will have your dexterity at 18, so add +2 Dexterity to round it up to 20.
  • Without Auntie Ethel Hair - add +1 Constitution and +1 Dexterity.

Level 5

This is a huge milestone for Shadow Monk build as it unlocks a few powerful features.

Feature Description
Extra Attack icon passive feature bg3Extra Attack With the double attack, the build becomes significantly more powerful.

Monk class also gains special action giving a little bit of crowd control capabilities.

Actions Description
Cloak of Shadows icon action bg3Cloak of Shadows One of the best actions overall in the game. You will be able to enter combat with invisibility, easily creating Surprise rounds. Moreover, if the situation is dire, you can always use it to disappear and leave combat.
Stunning Strike (Melee) icon action bg3Stunning Strike (Melee) This can be activated when using melee weapons. Stun status makes the foes skip their turn.
Stunning Strike (Unarmed) icon action bg3Stunning Strike (Unarmed) It can be activated when using Unarmed attacks.  Stun status makes the foes skip their turn.

Level 6

This is another major level for Shadow Monk, you will gain another unique feature.

Feature Description
Ki-Empowered Strikes icon passive feature bg3Ki-Empowered Strikes You can now overcome physical resistances, as your fists count as magical attacks.
Improved Unarmoured Movement Significantly increases movement speed by 4.5 meters.

The highlight of the level:

Actions Description
Shadow Step icon action bg3Shadow Step This allows you to move freely between shadows. As it costs bonus action, it can be used indefinitely without a spell slot or other limitations. This is a perfect way to reach enemy backlines or set yourself up before the combat starts. It also grants you an Advantage that will be useful for increasing hit chance.

Level 7

The level unlocks a few class features

Feature Description
Evasion icon passive feature bg3Evasion Gives a huge survivability boost against spells.
Stillness of Mind icon passive feature bg3Stillness of Mind Allows for avoiding Charmed and Frightened conditions, making many combat encounters easier.

Level 8

The second feat of the build is unlocked and an additional Ki Point has been added.

Feat

As the build still uses Unarmed attacks, the feat pick will be based on that. However, later on, once you start using Shadow Blade icon action bg3Shadow Blade, this will change.

Feat Description
Alert icon passive feature bg3Alert Going first will allow you to jump on enemies and even stun them using Stunning Strike (Unarmed) icon action bg3Stunning Strike (Unarmed)​.
Ability Improvement You can add 2 points to a preferred stat. Remember if you are wearing The Graceful Cloth icon bg3The Graceful Cloth, it will work only up until 20 dexterity.

Level 9

There are a few features that a monk obtains.

Feature Description
Advanced Unarmoured Movement icon passive feature bg3Advanced Unarmoured Movement Can freely walk through difficult terrain, making it easier to reach foes. Perfect for situations where there is Ice, Grease, or other effects on the ground.

There is an unmentioned upgrade, the monk Martial Arts: Deft Strikes icon passive feature bg3Martial Arts: Deft Strikes​ at level 9 Monk gain 1d8 rolls, instead of 1d6. When using flurries this is an additional 2~ points of damage per flurry.

Level 10

Okay, this is an important level and I will cover a few important aspects. First, I will assume you have these items by now. You also should be in Illithid Colony:

For the big Act 2 fight, you might want to be careful, and not use the build yet. The major fight will contain enemies that use Psychic damage, and Resonance Stone can easily hurt you.

So with these items, we can start making the Psychic Assassin Build. There are only a few things that need to be updated, so I would not worry too much. First, you will need to do a respec at Withers.

The key is to pick these 2 feats:

  • Ability Improvement - you can allocate in two ways - first if using Auntie Ethel Hair with +1 Dexterity, then get +2 Dexterity. The second option, without the hair, is +1 Dexterity and +1 Constitution.
  • Resilient: Constitution icon passive feature bg3Resilient: Constitution​ - this is another important feat, that will give Constitution Saving Throw Proficiency. The build requires constant concentration when using Shadow Blade icon action bg3Shadow Blade. So if an enemy hits you and you fail the roll, you will lose the weapon until a short rest. So, the goal is to avoid this as much as possible.

So that's it, you are ready to play Psychic Assassin. Be sure to check the next sections on how to effectively use the build.

Here are other features that level 10 gives:

Feature Description
Purity of Body icon passive feature bg3Purity of Body A decent immunity, but overall nothing of high importance.
Improved Unarmored Movement Your movement speed gets additionally improved by 6 meters.

Level 11

So, we reach the pinnacle of the Shadow Assassin Build, and the main action is unlocked, which will allow reaching that high damage per attack:

Action Description
Shadow Strike icon action bg3Shadow Strike This action only works when hidden or invisible, the damage bonus will be doubled using Resonance stone.
Shadow Strike: Unarmed icon action bg3Shadow Strike: Unarmed This action only works when hidden or invisible, the damage bonus will be doubled using Resonance stone.

Level 12

For this level, there are a wide variety of options that you can do. At the end of the post, there is a build variation section, where I cover different setups that you can use. I will be continuing with pure Shadow Monk.

Feat

Feat Description
Savage Attacker icon passive feature bg3Savage Attacker This is the best feat to get for maximizing damage. More or less you will have all the aspects covered in terms of survivability.

Maximizing Ability Scores

Now, as the build progression is covered there are a few aspects and important decisions you will have to make throughout the game. These will decide your final score for abilities.

  1. Act 1 - Auntie Ethel Hair - you will want to get +1 Dexterity if you pick this choice.
  2. Feat - Ability Improvement - +2 Dexterity
  3. Act 3 - Mirror of Loss - pick +2 Dexterity.

This will allow you to reach 22 natural Dexterity. This is the maximum value. Without Auntie Ethel Hair, you will maximize it at 20.

Potions, Elixirs and Consumables

Let's take a look at what consumables you can use to further empower the build.

Potions

These are general consumables, and most of them are activated for a few turns. Potions are separate from Elixirs and can be active together.

Consumable Description
oil of accuracy bg3Oil of Accuracy The consumable can be useful because the Shadow Blade icon action bg3Shadow Blade​does not give any enchantment bonuses to attack rolls. So against some enemies with high AC, you may have problems.
diluted oil of sharpness bg3Diluted Oil of Sharpness Gives a bonus attack roll and damage. It is a good coating if you can apply it before combat to improve hit chances with Shadow Blade icon action bg3Shadow Blade.
potion of speed bg3Potion of Speed You can chug this potion before combat, or during combat using bonus action. It gives another action point that gives an additional attack or one more spell cast. Sadly its duration is only 3 turns.
potion of animal speaking bg3Potion of Animal Speaking Although not something powerful, it is worth stocking up and saving a spell slot.
potion of invisibility bg3Potion of Invisibility Can be used to get a perfect position before the encounter starts. It can also help trigger Surprise rounds.

Elixirs

Unfortunately, only one Elixir can be active at a time. However, the good thing is that they last until a long rest, making them very useful and economical.

Be sure to activate them before combat as otherwise, you will need to use Bonus Action.

Remember to activate one elixir after each Long Rest. These are found plentiful throughout the game, so don't save them too much.
Consumable Description
elixir of bloodlust bg3Elixir of Bloodlust As you will be able to easily kill at least the weakest foe, this ensures additional attacks per turn. This is one of the most powerful options that you can use for Psychic Assassin build.
elixir of vigilance bg3Elixir of Vigilance For some encounters, you will want to go first. This elixir will ensure that it overcomes even surprise mechanics.
elixir of hill giant strength bg3Elixir of Hill Giant Strength Sets strength value to 21 until the Long Rest. I recommend this elixir in the early game, while you are punching with fists and using Tavern Brawler icon passive feature bg3Tavern Brawler​ feat. Here is a farming guide for Elixir of Hill Giant Strength

Illithid Powers

This special mechanic in Baldur's Gate 3 allows you to consume tadpoles and unlock special Illithid Powers.

At first, you can only use the base powers. As you move to Act 3, you will be able to unlock the outer ring powers.

Illithid Power Type Description
Favourable Beginnings icon passive feature bg3Favourable Beginnings Base Beneficial power to take as it does not have any costs, and provides only benefits on the first hits.
Luck of the Far Realms icon passive feature bg3Luck of the Far Realms Base Guarantees a critical hit, use it on important targets, that you want to make sure are killed.
Psionic Overload icon action bg3Psionic Overload Base As this is Psychic damage, you will double it to 2d4 thanks to Resonance Stone.
Psionic Backlash icon action bg3Psionic Backlash Base A decent use for reaction to deal some bonus psychic damage.
Ability Drain icon passive feature bg3Ability Drain Base As you will be using Dexterity, this can help you to reduce enemy Armor Class and give an increased hit chance on the next attack.
Cull the Weak icon passive feature bg3Cull the Weak Base Can help to kill an enemy faster if it is left with a few HP.
Illithid Expertise icon passive feature bg3Illithid Expertise Elite As you are not a charisma-based character, these proficiencies help with dialogue checks.
Psionic Dominance icon action bg3Psionic Dominance Elite Can be used to save yourself from a deadly spell. This is especially relevant as you will have a disadvantage on mental saving throws.
Freecast icon passive feature bg3Freecast Elite Remove the cost of spell slots or charges.

Equipment Recommendations

Now I would like to go through some gear recommendations to maximize the Shadow Monk Build. Items are especially important as they take the build to the next level thanks to their unique effects.

So for most of Act 1 and Act 2, you will most likely run with clothing, to get all the monk bonuses like improved movement speed, bonus from Wisdom to AC, etc. However, in late Act 2 and Act 3, there are some options, especially for Medium armor that you might want to consider.

Act 1

Slot Item Description
melee slot bg3Melee (One-Handed) Knife of the Undermountain King icon bg3Knife of the Undermountain King Be sure to pick this weapon as it will be useful as a stat stick later on.
Corellon's Grace icon bg3Corellon's Grace A good staff, that can be used by Monk for additional unarmed damage. You will still have to attack with the weapon for the main hand and use bonus actions to attack with fists. I only recommend using this until you get the first gloves with bonus damage, like Gloves of Cinder and Sizzle icon bg3Gloves of Cinder and Sizzle. After that just use unarmed attacks.
ranged slot bg3Ranged Bow of Awareness icon bg3Bow of Awareness Gives bonus initiative, allowing one to go earlier in combat.
helmet slot bg3Head Diadem of Arcane Synergy icon bg3Diadem of Arcane Synergy One of the best helmets that gives a substantial damage increase based on the spellcasting modifier. For monks it is Wisdom.
Haste Helm icon bg3Haste Helm Improves movement speed, allowing one to reach important targets easily, early in the game.
cloak slot bg3Cloak The Deathstalker Mantle icon bg3The Deathstalker Mantle One of the best cloaks for Assassin-type builds. You can now become invisible after killing an enemy, being able to lunge on your foe with advantage the next turn.
armor slot bg3Armor The Graceful Cloth icon bg3The Graceful Cloth One of the best armors for this build throughout the whole game.
Infernal Robe icon bg3Infernal Robe Excellent robe in the early game, however, requires to make a very unpopular action.
- Before that use any kind of robe.
gloves slot bg3Gloves The Sparkle Hands icon bg3The Sparkle Hands Amazing gloves that after the first hit will give Lightning Charges. These then provide bonus 1 damage lightning and can stack up with more Lightning Charges.
Bracers of Defence icon bg3Bracers of Defence The +2 Armour class is a big boost especially if you do not have a shield proficiency.
boots slot bg3Boots Disintegrating Night Walkers icon bg3Disintegrating Night Walkers One of the best boots, giving a total advantage for movement on difficult surfaces. It also gives Misty Step icon action bg3Misty Step​ to increase that mobility.
Boots of Striding icon bg3Boots of Striding Excellent shoes, as you will be casting Concentration spells left and right. This will reduce your chance of getting the spell canceled.
Boots of Speed icon bg3Boots of Speed Excellent boots can be used to avoid getting hit while running away.
amulet slot bg3Amulet Sentient Amulet icon bg3Sentient Amulet Great amulet that will be useful for most of the game. With its actions, it is the perfect choice for Monk.
ring slot bg3Rings Ring of Protection icon bg3Ring of Protection The best option for Act 1. The bonus Armour Class is a great boost for survivability.
Crusher's Ring icon bg3Crusher's Ring One of the best rings for melee martials in the early game.

Act 2 - mid-game

Late into Act 2 (almost at the end), you will be able to start using the build's main mechanic of Shadow Blade icon action bg3Shadow Blade​ with a special ring. However, for most of Act 2, you will still be playing a normal Shadow Monk with unarmed damage.

Slot Item Description
melee slot bg3Melee (One-Handed) Render of Mind and Body icon bg3Render of Mind and Body Once you start using Shadow Blade Ring icon bg3Shadow Blade Ring, this weapon can be equipped with the main hand. Once you summon Shadow Blade icon action bg3Shadow Blade it will move to offhand, which you then can attack with using bonus action.
ranged slot bg3Ranged Darkfire Shortbow icon bg3Darkfire Shortbow Amazing bow that allows to precast Haste icon action bg3Haste​ before combat. This may not seem big as you can use Potion of Speed, but sometimes its short duration is not enough. Otherwise, stay with bows from the previous act.
helmet slot bg3Head Diadem of Arcane Synergy icon bg3Diadem of Arcane Synergy One of the best headwear in terms of damage.
Covert Cowl icon bg3Covert Cowl Another option, that gives a little damage boost via increased crit range. Fits perfectly for the assassin theme.
cloak slot bg3Cloak The Deathstalker Mantle icon bg3The Deathstalker Mantle Still a solid cloak option, due to its inherent invisibility feature.
Cloak of Protection icon bg3Cloak of Protection Improves survivability and Saving Throw success. You want to equip this cloak to maintain that good Armour Class.
armor slot bg3Armor The Graceful Cloth icon bg3The Graceful Cloth The clothing is still the best one, especially if you do not have medium armor proficiency. However, once you obtain Resonance Stone and start using the Psychic Assassin build, take a look at the next suggestions.
Moon Devotion Robe icon bg3Moon Devotion Robe One of the robes that you can use to obtain a Constitution Saving Throw advantage once you start using Shadow Blade icon action bg3Shadow Blade.
Dark Justiciar Half-Plate icon bg3Dark Justiciar Half-Plate These armors are relevant once you reach level 10 and obtain Resonance Stone. They give plenty of Armour Class, stealth advantage, and most importantly Constitution Saving Throw advantage to help maintain Shadow Blade icon action bg3Shadow Blade. However, this requires medium armor proficiency and you will lose some of the Monk benefits, like improved movement speed. THe Dark justiciar armors can be phased out once you obtain the Amulet of Greater Health icon bg3Amulet of Greater Health.
Dark Justiciar Half-Plate icon bg3Dark Justiciar Half-Plate
gloves slot bg3Gloves Dark Justiciar Gauntlets icon bg3Dark Justiciar Gauntlets Excellent gloves that give a powerful bonus action.
Flawed Helldusk Gloves icon bg3Flawed Helldusk Gloves The gloves give fire damage rider, which widens the damage rolls.
boots slot bg3Boots Disintegrating Night Walkers icon bg3Disintegrating Night Walkers Still one of the best boots to use. It's important to make sure that you don't fall on ice or get affected by other terrain statuses.
Boots of Striding icon bg3Boots of Striding As you will be concentrating on Shadow Blade icon action bg3Shadow Blade, the effect will also persist.
amulet slot bg3Amulet Amulet of the Harpers icon bg3Amulet of the Harpers Allows casting a Shield icon action bg3Shield​ spell, and can be a lifesaver if attacked heavily for one turn.
ring slot bg3Rings Shadow Blade Ring icon bg3Shadow Blade Ring This is the key item to make the build work. Without it, I would go for another setup.
Eversight Ring icon bg3Eversight Ring Being able to see in magical Darkness icon action bg3Darkness​ is great if you are utilizing its effects. If you are not using it, then I would skip this ring.
Strange Conduit Ring icon bg3Strange Conduit Ring The ring will prove useful once you start using Shadow Blade icon action bg3Shadow Blade​ with Resonance Stone. The 1d4 damage will get doubled.

Act 3 - Final Build setup

Act 3 is where the build will get the best items, to maximize its effectiveness and damage.

Slot Item Description
melee slot bg3Melee (One-Handed) Rhapsody icon bg3Rhapsody The best stat stick weapon, that will improve damage and attack rolls. The additional damage will be turned into psychic type.
Knife of the Undermountain King icon bg3Knife of the Undermountain King A bit inferior stat stick, that rerolls low damage rolls and increases crit range.
ranged slot bg3Ranged Hellrider Longbow icon bg3Hellrider Longbow The bonus initiative is an excellent boost to go early in combat. If it is not a surprise round, it is almost guaranteed.
The Dead Shot icon bg3The Dead Shot Provides a little bit of overall damage increase via crit range.
helmet slot bg3Head Diadem of Arcane Synergy icon bg3Diadem of Arcane Synergy Still the best headwear to use.
cloak slot bg3Cloak The Deathstalker Mantle icon bg3The Deathstalker Mantle The best mantle to use with the Invisibility effect.
Cloak of Protection icon bg3Cloak of Protection If you did not obtain The Deathstalker Mantle icon bg3The Deathstalker Mantle this is another option.
armor slot bg3Armor Robe of Supreme Defences icon bg3Robe of Supreme Defences This is the best option in terms of maintaining Shadow Blade icon action bg3Shadow Blade​ and also getting bonus AC. However, it does not provide a Stealth checks advantage, so you will have to get it elsewhere. This clothing is best used if you are playing the build more like a general martial and not a stealth one.
The Graceful Cloth icon bg3The Graceful Cloth Continues to be a solid pick, even in the late game with stealth ability check advantage and +2 Dexterity.
gloves slot bg3Gloves Legacy of the Masters icon bg3Legacy of the Masters The best gloves for martial builds, with bonuses to damage and attack rolls.
Helldusk Gloves icon bg3Helldusk Gloves Alternative gloves, that provide 1d6 fire damage rider.
boots slot bg3Boots Disintegrating Night Walkers icon bg3Disintegrating Night Walkers One of the best boots, giving a total advantage for movement on difficult surfaces. It also gives Misty Step icon action bg3Misty Step​ to increase that mobility.
Boots of Striding icon bg3Boots of Striding As you will be concentrating on Shadow Blade icon action bg3Shadow Blade, the effect will also persist.
amulet slot bg3Amulet Amulet of Greater Health icon bg3Amulet of Greater Health The best amulet for this build in my opinion. It will fully address the problems of losing concentration while having Shadow Blade icon action bg3Shadow Blade​ active.
Fey Semblance Amulet icon bg3Fey Semblance Amulet Gives an advantage on mental ability checks. This is useful to counteract the Resonance Stone effects.
ring slot bg3Rings Shadow Blade Ring icon bg3Shadow Blade Ring This is the key item to make the build work. Without it, I would go for another setup.
Eversight Ring icon bg3Eversight Ring Being able to see in magical Darkness icon action bg3Darkness​ is great if you are utilizing its effects. If you are not using it, then I would skip this ring.
Strange Conduit Ring icon bg3Strange Conduit Ring The ring will prove useful once you start using Shadow Blade icon action bg3Shadow Blade​ with Resonance Stone. The 1d4 damage will get doubled.

Build Mechanics

In this section, I would like to dive deep into how to play the Psychic Assassin. This will help you utilize it to the fullest and correctly use various actions and spells throughout the game.

Important Mechanics and Combos

Let's go through key mechanics and tips on how to effectively use the build.

Shadow Blade and Concentration

So the main weapon of this build to reach high damage is Shadow Blade icon action bg3Shadow Blade​. You will be able to activate it using Shadow Blade Ring icon bg3Shadow Blade Ring. The main thing that you will notice right away is that this uses a Concentration slot.

Most likely, you will have crappy Constitution Saving Throw rolls, and this is what I recommend addressing after you start using this build. Otherwise, you will lose the blade after the smallest enemy hit or spell effect.

With this setup, you should have no problem even if you get attacked multiple times if things go bad.

Using Shadow Strike

So the core idea of this build is to use the iconic Shadow Strike icon action bg3Shadow Strike​ from Shadow Monk. With all of the setup that I talk about this build, this is what it culminates to. However, there are a few caveats that I would like to cover:

  1. It should be used only on enemies that are affected by Steeped in Bliss from Resonance Stone. If not, then don't use Shadow Strike icon action bg3Shadow Strike​ as the double damage will not activate.
  2. You need to be in stealth or invisible. So I recommend either entering combat from stealth or using Shadow Arts: Hide icon action bg3Shadow Arts: Hide​ to enter stealth and use the striking ability.

Invisibility options

So this build does shine when using Invisibility. First, it allows starting with a Surprise round, giving you 1 turn advantage which you can use to either kill or weaken enemies. Second, there are multiple ways of getting it:

  • Potion of Invisibility - I think the most obvious one. If you can pickpocket or have plenty of gold, this option can be cheesy but effective.
  • Invisibility icon action bg3Invisibility​ - can be cast by various casters or activated via items.
  • Cloak of Shadows icon action bg3Cloak of Shadows​ - the iconic Shadow Monk feature, that allows one to become invisible at will.
  • The Deathstalker Mantle icon bg3The Deathstalker Mantle - one of the key items that you obtain during the Dark Origin playthrough. You enter invisibility after each kill.
  • Greater Invisibility icon action bg3Greater Invisibility​ - this is the most lucrative option. However, to use it you will want both proficiency and expertise in stealth, high dexterity, and stealth advantage. With this effect, you can outright clean enemies without them even understanding what is happening. This requires a high-level caster like Bard, Sorcerer, or Wizard.

Early Game Combat

So for the early game and most of Act 2, you will play as a standard monk with unarmed attacks.

  • Use Flurry of Blows icon action bg3Flurry of Blows​ to inflict heavy damage with bonus actions.
  • Cloak of Shadows icon action bg3Cloak of Shadows​ can be used to get into the perfect position and attack with Advantage. However, that will not be needed if you have Tavern Brawler icon passive feature bg3Tavern Brawler​ feat.
  • Use Stunning Strike (Unarmed) icon action bg3Stunning Strike (Unarmed)​ to disable foes that could be dangerous like casters or bosses.

Late Game Combat

This is where I cover the Psychic Assassin build with all its glory - Resonance Stone and Shadow Blade Ring icon bg3Shadow Blade Ring.

  • Try to enter combat with Invisibility, to activate Surprise Round. If you can, use Greater Invisibility icon action bg3Greater Invisibility, to inflict more than one hit.
  • Shadow Strike icon action bg3Shadow Strike​ is your bread-and-butter attack that should be used to eliminate foes. if you cannot use it, move away from enemy vision cones and activate Shadow Arts: Hide icon action bg3Shadow Arts: Hide. Then follow up with the attack.
  • Use Shadow Step icon action bg3Shadow Step​ when the situation requires you to move to a faraway position so that enemies would have to use Dash to catch up to you. This way you can protect yourself from damage.
  • Be careful of Resonance Stone effects. If you fight Illithid enemies, 90% of them will use psychic damage and could be lethal to you and your party.
  • Try to maintain the initiative, Resonance Stone will apply a disadvantage on mental rolls, so either have someone Counterspell icon action bg3Counterspell​ or kill them before they can cast a spell.

Build Variations

There are a few variations that the build could be changed about. I think it is more for advanced players who are likely doing some deeper optimizations.

Overall multiclassing with this build will either require you to delay Shadow Strike icon action bg3Shadow Strike​ to level 12 or do some additional respecs at level 12.

Setup Description
  • 1 Sorcerer
  • 11 Shadow Monk
The Sorcerer seems like a strange pair, however, it does bring a few benefits:
  • Constitution Saving Throw proficiency to maintain concentration
  • Access to Shield icon action bg3Shield​ spell 2 times per long rest, which could help you avoid being hit and maintain concentration on Shadow Blade icon action bg3Shadow Blade.
  • 1 Rogue
  • 11 Shadow Monk
Rogue gives one important benefit - expertise in Stealth. If you want to do some ridiculous stuff with Greater Invisibility icon action bg3Greater Invisibility, this multiclass dip is almost mandatory.

Conclusion

Thank you for reading the Psychic Assassin - Shadow Monk build for Baldur's Gate 3. This is a truly unique build utilizing one of the late-game items to deal huge numbers of Psychic damage. I hope you enjoyed reading it!

Cheers!

Discussion

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Post author zanuffas avatar zanuffas
Gamestegy Founder. I have been writing game guides and builds for 4 years. I like to push myself to create something wonderful for the readers!