Best Way of Open Hand - Monk Build

Best Way of Open Hand - Monk Build - Baldur's Gate 3 (BG3)

By zanuffas
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In this post, I will go through the Open Hand Monk for Baldur's Gate 3. This martial class specializes in unarmed combat and hitting as many times as possible per turn. You are extremely effective even without weapons and can be one of the most balanced damage dealers in the group.

Way of Open Hand Monk Build

Going with Monk there are a few alternatives, and it mostly depends on your subclass. With Way of the Open Hand, you get effective ways of utilizing bonus actions - bonus damage and debilitating effects.

So this build can outdamage most of the other combatants early in the game. It is also possible to create exploding punches if you plan on using Ki Resonation. This is optional and will have minimal impact on the build.

Here is the setup of the build:

Level Class Selection
1 Monk STR - 8, DEX - 17, CON - 15, INT - 8, WIS - 16, CHA - 8
Skills: Acrobatics, Insight
2 Monk -
3 Monk Subclass: Way of the Open Hand
4 Monk Feat: Tavern Brawler icon passive feature bg3Tavern Brawler​ +1 CON or Ability Improvement +2 DEX
5 Monk -
6 Monk -
7 Rogue -
8 Rogue Skills: Perception, Athletics, Acrobatics
9 Rogue Subclass: Thief
10 Monk -
11 Monk Feat: Ability Improvement +2 WIS or Alert icon passive feature bg3Alert
12 Monk -

Build variations

As mentioned you can also take a different approach - obtaining a third feat. It's not mandatory as the option above already covers all the necessities. However, if you are not interested in Resonating Ki mechanic, pick below:

  1. Monk Level 8 - less Ki, and no Resonating Ki actions
  2. Rogue Level 4 - Unlocks third Feat, to improve combat capabilities. For example +2 WIS or Alert icon passive feature bg3Alert

Strength vs. Dexterity

There is also the question of the main ability points. There is an extremely useful feat - Tavern Brawler icon passive feature bg3Tavern Brawler, and it works with strength. The caveat is that no matter what Monk needs Wisdom and Dexterity. So third ability will thin out the build effectiveness.

This is optional, and for some people breaks immersion. It is enough to beat the game on any difficulty. However, if you are min-maxing, forgoing the Elixir loses some potential.

There is a solution - Elixir of Hill Giant Strength. It is available early in Act 1 and can be stockpiled for the rest of the game. With it, you will have, high, Strength - to use Tavern Brawler icon passive feature bg3Tavern Brawler, Dexterity - initiative and Armour Class, Wisdom - Armour Class and bonus elemental damage.

Here is a guide on how to farm Elixir of Hill Giant Strength. After you reach Act 3, in a similar manner you can get an upgraded version - Elixir of Cloud Giant Strength for a boost to 27 Strength.

Potions, Elixirs and Consumables

Let's take a look at what consumables we 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
potion of speed bg3Potion of Speed In case you or your other casters have a Concentration spell slot taken and cannot cast Haste, use this potion. It acts similarly, but the effect is just for 3 turns.
potion of invisibility bg3Potion of Invisibility Can be used to get a perfect position before the encounter starts.

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.

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. I would go with this option once you have 22 base strength, otherwise look at the options below.
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. With this option, you can easily gimp on strength in the early game. You can put those points in Dexterity or Strength. Here is a farming guide for Elixir of Hill Giant Strength
elixir of hill giant strength bg3Elixir of Cloud Giant Strength An upgraded version that is available mostly in Act 3 via crafting or purchasing. Sets Strength to 27, the highest value possible. if using this one, you could set the strength to 8 via respec.

Illithid Powers

This is a special mechanic in Baldur's Gate 3, that allows you to consume tadpoles and unlock special Illithid Powers. These range from somewhat useful, to extremely deadly. I would like to leave a few recommendations:

Base Illithid Powers

Order Illithid Power Description
1 favourable beginnings bg3Favourable Beginnings Very useful power to take as it does not have any costs, and provides only benefits on the first hits.
2 luck of the far realms bg3Luck of the Far Realms Guarantees a critical hit, a very powerful action to have.
3 concentrated blast bg3Concentrated Blast Taking only for progression, to unlock the next power.
4 cull the weak bg3Cull the Weak Passive feature that does not cost anything and automatically deals bonus psychic damage around the target, once it is close to death.
5 shield of thralls bg3Shield of Thralls Taking for progression, to unlock the next power, but it also provides a good bonus as temporary health.

Elite Illithid Powers

These become unlocked later in the game as you progress. They are extremely powerful additions to the build.

Order Illithid Power Description
1 freecast bg3Freecast Removes any cost of Ki from using Monk actions.

Equipment Recommendations

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

Act 1

Slot Item Description
melee slot bg3Melee (One - Handed) Corellon's Grace icon bg3Corellon's Grace This weapon gives bonus unarmed damage and also deals 1d8 damage, which is better than your fists. However, you should remove it once you have Gloves of Cinder and Sizzle icon bg3Gloves of Cinder and Sizzle or Tavern Brawler icon passive feature bg3Tavern Brawler​ feat.
ranged slot bg3Ranged Bow of Awareness icon bg3Bow of Awareness Gives bonus initiative, allowing one to go earlier in combat
Hunting Shortbow icon bg3Hunting Shortbow Excellent bow against monstrosities. There are plenty of them in Act 1.
helmet slot bg3Head Haste Helm icon bg3Haste Helm Provides increased speed at the start of the combat.
cloak slot bg3Cloak The Deathstalker Mantle icon bg3The Deathstalker Mantle The only option in Act 1 that is okay, is by providing once-per-turn invisibility. Only available to Dark Urge origin.
armor slot bg3Armor The Graceful Cloth icon bg3The Graceful Cloth Gives +2 Dexterity making it a very good choice for the end of Act 1 and the start of Act 2.
Armour of Uninhibited Kushigo icon bg3Armour of Uninhibited Kushigo Somewhat relatable first unarmed build armor. It is nothing special as I do not think you will utilize the effect.
gloves slot bg3Gloves Gloves of Cinder and Sizzle icon bg3Gloves of Cinder and Sizzle Gives fire damage, increasing the variety of damage types that you do.
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.
boots slot bg3Boots Disintegrating Night Walkers icon bg3Disintegrating Night Walkers Avoids slipping on various terrains and most importantly unlocks Misty Step each short rest. These boots can last till Act 3, as walking on icy surfaces can be deadly for melee build. The item removes this problem.
Boots of Genial Striding  icon bg3Boots of Genial Striding Allows the Monk to walk freely on difficult terrain.
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 Crusher's Ring icon bg3Crusher's Ring Improves movement speed, making it easier to reach your next target.
Ring of Protection icon bg3Ring of Protection Gives defensive bonuses to Armour Class and Saving Throws.

Act 2 - mid-game

Act 2 changes the landscape and there will be a lot of dark areas. Moreover, it will provide some amazing items for you to find, that will improve the build damage.

Slot Item Description
melee slot bg3Melee (One-handed) - Not using any weapons
ranged slot bg3Ranged Darkfire Shortbow icon bg3Darkfire Shortbow I recommend using this one if you need to cast Haste icon action bg3Haste​ before combat. Otherwise, feel free to use the ones from Act 1.
helmet slot bg3Head Haste Helm icon bg3Haste Helm The helmet is still useful for high mobility.
cloak slot bg3Cloak Cloak of Protection icon bg3Cloak of Protection Improves survivability and Saving Throw success.
The Deathstalker Mantle icon bg3The Deathstalker Mantle If you have this, it is still a solid choice.
armor slot bg3Armor Yuan-ti Scale Mail icon bg3Yuan-ti Scale Mail If you can wear medium armor, this is an amazing choice even if you lose the benefits of Unarmoured Defence icon passive feature bg3Unarmoured Defence.
The Graceful Cloth icon bg3The Graceful Cloth Still a solid option throughout Act 2 due to bonus Dexterity.
gloves slot bg3Gloves Flawed Helldusk Gloves icon bg3Flawed Helldusk Gloves Deals bonus necrotic damage with unarmed attacks and can apply bleeding. The best thing for Act 2.
boots slot bg3Boots Evasive Shoes icon bg3Evasive Shoes Bonus armor class for higher survivability.
Disintegrating Night Walkers icon bg3Disintegrating Night Walkers The boots are still a good option in Act 2.
amulet slot bg3Amulet Sentient Amulet icon bg3Sentient Amulet The amulet is great as it allows to restore Ki, which can now be easily used up using multiple hits.
Surgeon's Subjugation Amulet icon bg3Surgeon's Subjugation Amulet Can be an effective amulet against humanoid enemies, and fully paralyze them.
Amulet of the Harpers icon bg3Amulet of the Harpers Allows casting Shield spell, can be a lifesaver if attacked heavily for one turn.
ring slot bg3Rings Risky Ring  icon bg3Risky Ring Provides an Advantage on attack rolls. This ring is only useful if you did not take Tavern Brawler icon passive feature bg3Tavern Brawler​ feat.
Callous Glow Ring icon bg3Callous Glow Ring The ring effect can be activated easily by having someone cast Light on the monk. It does not work together with Shadow-Cloaked Ring icon bg3Shadow-Cloaked Ring.
Shadow-Cloaked Ring icon bg3Shadow-Cloaked Ring An offensive ring that gives bonus damage against obscured enemies.
Shifting Corpus Ring icon bg3Shifting Corpus Ring Gives two useful spells that allow becoming invisible or decrease the enemy's chances of hitting you.
Ring of Protection icon bg3Ring of Protection Bonus armor class is a good bonus, and the ring still takes place.

Act 3 - Final Build setup

This is the last act of the game, where you will get access to the most powerful items. To get them as early as possible you will need some planning, but overall, it should not be a problem.

Here there are a lot of options for glove slots. Each element has its own pairs. However, there will be only one most powerful legendary gloves close to the end.

Slot Item Description
melee slot bg3Melee (One - Handed) - Not using any weapons
ranged slot bg3Ranged The Dead Shot icon bg3The Dead Shot
(BiS)
Increases critical range, and is perfect for improving damage.
Hellrider Longbow icon bg3Hellrider Longbow Gives a big boost to the initiative, guaranteeing that you can go first.
helmet slot bg3Head Horns of the Berserker icon bg3Horns of the Berserker The best headwear for Open Hand Monk gives a solid damage boost. Just be sure not to have your HP full, decrease it a little.
Scabby Pugilist Circlet icon bg3Scabby Pugilist Circlet Early Act 3 helmet, that improves damage when surrounded.
cloak slot bg3Cloak Cloak of Displacement icon bg3Cloak of Displacement
(BiS)
Improves the chances of attacks missing the wearer until getting hit for that turn.
Cloak of Protection icon bg3Cloak of Protection
Bonus armor class is good for improved survivability.
armor slot bg3Armor Vest of Soul Rejuvenation icon bg3Vest of Soul Rejuvenation The best option for Open Hand Monk with unarmored clothing. Another aspect is that it provides additional reaction options when enemies miss you. To top all of this it gives +2 Armour Class.
Garb of The Land and Sky icon bg3Garb of The Land and Sky Best for additional armor class, other effects will require you to use bonus action, so it's best to activate them before combat.
gloves slot bg3Gloves Gloves of Soul Catching icon bg3Gloves of Soul Catching
(BiS)
The best gloves for Open Hand monk build. Provides 1d10 force damage boost.
Gauntlets of Frost Giant Strength icon bg3Gauntlets of Frost Giant Strength The only option for gauntlets is if you do not plan on using Elixir of Hill Giant Strength. However, without it, you lose other glove options with cool damage effects.
Servitor of the Black Hand Gloves icon bg3Servitor of the Black Hand Gloves Each of these gloves provides a different element damage bonus and various spells. Choose the element that you deal the least damage with, this way you will variety of damage. You want to be able to deal damage to enemies that will be resistant to Blunt attacks.
Seraphic Pugilist Gloves icon bg3Seraphic Pugilist Gloves
Snow-Dusted Monastery Gloves icon bg3Snow-Dusted Monastery Gloves
Thunderpalm Strikers icon bg3Thunderpalm Strikers
boots slot bg3Boots Boots of Uninhibited Kushigo icon bg3Boots of Uninhibited Kushigo The best boots hands down for Monk build. Be sure to have at least 16 Wisdom, to best utilize these.
amulet slot bg3Amulet Sentient Amulet icon bg3Sentient Amulet
(BiS)
The upgraded version of the amulet is a perfect choice for Monk.
Amulet of Greater Health icon bg3Amulet of Greater Health It makes any Constitution ability investment redundant as it maximizes it to 23 points. Gives a huge survivability boost. However, I would only use this, if your Monk has problems with survivability.
Khalid's Gift icon bg3Khalid's Gift The amulet gives +1 to Wisdom. However, to take full effect you will need to respec, to have Wisdom at either 19 or 17, to get that +1 proficiency bonus.
ring slot bg3Rings Shadow-Cloaked Ring icon bg3Shadow-Cloaked Ring
(BiS)
A perfect ring for bonus damage. It requires the enemy to be obscured, so check the stealth icon, whether the sun is half-empty or full-empty.
Callous Glow Ring icon bg3Callous Glow Ring The ring effect can be activated easily by having someone cast Light on the monk. It does not work together with Shadow-Cloaked Ring icon bg3Shadow-Cloaked Ring.
Ring of Protection icon bg3Ring of Protection Bonus armor class is a good bonus, and the ring still takes place.

Conclusion

Thank you for reading the Open Hand Monk build for Baldur's Gate 3. I hope you enjoyed reading the build. This should cover everything that you need to become the ultimate unarmed martial. The leveling is simple and it's easy to fill the build with very good items.

Cheers!

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Discussion

Anonymous

How do you feel about the mask of soul perception?

If you are using Tavern Brawler, your attack rolls are quite good already, so I do not think it is beneficial. But without it? I would say it is a great helmet.

Would have been nice if it would give at least 2 damage, then it would be the best helmet for Monk, period :)

Anonymous

How does the Callous Glow Ring work when you dont have any weapons equiped? And also it says at the Final Build setup thats is your BiS but also the Shadow-Cloaked Ring which works when they are obscured, so kinda goed against the other ring. Am i seeing it wrong?

Thank you, just tested myself, and you are right. Sorry for the oversight. I also included some other ring options.

Cheers!

Anonymous

With DEX 17 I'm assuming your build preposes hag hair?

yeah, but go for 16 if you will not use it. That's what I did on Lae'zel

Anonymous

does this build work for honor mode?

Honour Mode is about knowing game mechanics and encounters. Build is of the second importance. Of course, good build will make it easier, and this one is one of the top contenders :)

Anonymous

Love this Monk build! Astarion is usually my Gloom/Assassin Build, but when I play his Origin, I'm definitely making him Ascend as an Open Hand Monk since it works well with his Vampire Ascendant feature.

Yeah Ascended Astarion is a beast with Martial classes!

Anonymous

Ideal races would be Human, Half-elf both can wield shields and human also gain extra profession Half orc because better crit damage and they can also self help themselves once their hp reaches zero and Gith for the versality.

Hey! thanks for the suggestions. Sadly wearing a shield is counterproductive for monk as you lose Armour Class from Wisdom.

Half-Orc increased crit damage is not something to base the pick, it is only worth for builds that use weapons with 1d10 or 1d12 rolls. Monk has for the most of the game 1d6, so thats 3.5 damage, which is very small compared to how little critcials you will do. The resurection can be good.

Gith is great in general.

You really want a lot of movement speed, and Wood Elf/Half-Elf is what you really should take with this build if you are into optimizations.

Anonymous

Is it a good idea to pair Barbarian with this Monk Subclass? I figure going 6 Monk/3 Rogue/3 Barb is too much of a level split, but I'm trying to figure if Barb is worth it.

My question would be what you are trying to achieve by going into Barbarian? Also evaluate what you lose by skipping three levels of Monk

Anonymous

I guess I'm just looking at it from a roleplaying perspective. Nothing is more terrifying than a well-trained Monk losing his mind and throwing you off a cliff.

why not to go then berserker thrower - https://gamestegy.com/post/bg3/976/barbarian-berserker-thrower-build ?

I just dont see much benefit of going with this setup, also Barbarian stuff dont work with unarmed. Moreover, by using Frenzy/Rage you will waste a precious bonus action, that is your most powerful attack.

Anonymous

I looked at other builds focused on strength and in some (this one for monk and bard paladin), and you talked about the potion that boosts strength until long rest. What is your view on doing the same on a warrior, barbarian and focusing the distribution of attributes on dexterity, constitution and wisdom (cause there's a lot of wisdom throws)?

Yeah, I talk about the elixir in this post and others. I think it is for the player to decide. Some people think of this as a bug or exploitation and are against it. Others are okay with using it. In my builds, I try to include both options, how to allocate ability points with and without it.

It makes the game easier. In my playthrough, I use elixir if a class is Multi-attribute dependant or it would work well with Feat like Tavern Brawler. For example, Monk needs dexterity (for armour class, initiative, and damage, if it's higher than Strength), wisdom (for armour class and damage), and constitution (for HP). Moreover, if you want to utilize the Tavern Brawler (which is the most powerful feat), then you need strength. There is no way to optimize these 4 abilities and have them at 16+. So you either skip Tavern Brawler and Strength or use just Dexterity as the main unarmed damage ability.

However, with something like Barbarian Thrower or Fighter, I would not personally use Elixir of Hill Giant Strength, as you will naturally reach 22-24 Strength from in-game progression and quest decisions.

However, if I was fully minmaxing, yeah elixirs are the way to go.

Anonymous

Yo, awesome build.

I want to say I tested Caustic Band and it's not working on my monk, since it only works with weapons in hands.

Thank you, this has been an oversight from me. Fixed it! :)

Anonymous

Glad that you did it. Congrats, i'm want to play

I hope the druid comes soon

Nice! If you think anything is missing, or have ideas for improvements, please share :)

Anonymous
I didn't see anything about the race. Do you think it could be anyone?

Yes, any race works, you should not worry much about it. However, if you want to optimize, Wood Elf/Half-Elf, Githyanki are good picks thanks to their racial features

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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!