Martial Arts Raptor (5e Optimized Character Build)

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Martial Arts Raptor[edit]

This build is intended to be played in the module Tomb of Annihilation, which is a jungle setting with dinosaurs, so it probably wont fit into every campaign. But this build is really good, so feel free to adjust the it to your liking, its highly custamizable. The basic idea is to make use of the monk features while in druid wild shape: unarmored defense for higher AC, unarmed strike as bonus action and generally using Ki abilities while wildshaping.


Almost anything will work, but I recommend a race with a bonus to wisdom as this is the main stat. Half-Elf, Wood-Elf, Human (variant), Ghostwise Halfling, Water Genesai etc. All are good choices.

Option One: Lizardfolk (if your DM allows non standard races)

Mainly because of their ethnological simularity to dinosaurs but also for numerous other benefits:

+2 Constitution (thats handy) 
+1 Wisdom (will be the main stat for weapon attacks, defense (AC), spells and monk abilities)
Bite: You can make a unarmed strike dealing 1d6 damage + your attack modifier (so basicly you have a 1d6 for your unarmed strike  bevore monk level 6)
A few other usefull but not crutial features:
Hungry Jaws: As a bonus action make a unarmed strike with your bite attack and gain 3 temporary hit points. (weak but its free, so why not)
Hunters Lore: Proficency in two of the following skills: Animal Handling, Nature, Perception, Survival, Stealth. (racial skill are always awsome)
Natural Armor: when not wearing armor your AC is 13+DEX. (this is overwritten by the monks unarmored defense witch is 10+DEX+WIS)
Cunning Artisan: creat weapons out of dead monsters. (can be used to craft darts or could be usefull to improvise weapons in a prison situation)
Hold breath for 15 min and a 30ft swimm spead. ( pretty neat for treasure diving and such)

Option Two: Wood-Elf

This is the more min max version for the build, here the stats:

+2 Dexterity
+1 Wisdom
Darkvision 60ft
Fleet of Foot: 35ft Movementspeed
Keen Sences: Proficency in Perception
Elven Weapon Training: Provicency with longsword, shortsword, longbow and shortbow.
Fay Ancestry: Immune to being put to sleep, advantage on savingthrows against being charmed
Trance: Do not sleep but Meditate deeply for four hours per day
Mask of the Wild: Hide when lightly obscured.

Ability Scores[edit]

When you roll for stats, just make wisdom your highest stat, dexterity and constituion second highest. You can distribute the rest as you wish. For now i will be using standard point buy system (27 points):

Option One: Lizardfolk:

STR: 8                = 8
DEX: 14               = 14
CON: 14(+2 from Race) = 16
INT: 12               = 12
WIS: 15(+1 from Race) = 16
CHA: 8                = 8

Option Two: Woodelf

STR: 8                = 8
DEX: 14(+2 from Race) = 16
CON: 14               = 14
INT: 12               = 12
WIS: 15(+1 from Race) = 16
CHA: 8                = 8

Or make DEX 17 and INT 10 if you are allowed to take UA feats, more specific Elven Accuracy (raises your DEX by one and when you roll with advantage you can roll three times insted of only two times)


Just pick anything you like, i find Far Traveler, Folk Hero or Hermit quite fitting. Or just Homebrew your own background. I would go with the Hermit, for proficancy with Herbalism kit, witch is very usefull if you pick Alchemy Supplies for your monk artisan tool.

Level Progression[edit]

1st Level: Monk[edit]

Start out as a monk you get saving throw proficencies in DEX and STR, which gives you good defence against physical threats. You could also start as a druid and get saving throw proficencies in WIS and INT, but your WIS will be your highest stat anyway so I think its better to have a more over all balanced defense. But afterall its just a matter of time before you get proficent in all savingthrows, because of the monk feature Diamond Soul, so just start with what ever you like. As a monk you also get proficency in one artisan tool of your choice, Alchemy would be the most useful in combination with the Herbalism kit (if you pick druid at level 1 pick a background that grants you one artisan tool, as you already get proficency in Herbalism Kit as a druid, so you can have the herbalsim/alchemy combo).

2nd Level: Druid[edit]

You now have the ability to cast a few handy spells, you can choose two Cantrips and have two 1st level spellslots. Key to this build is the Shillelagh Cantrip:

(You can avoid Shillelagh if you choose a race with a DEX bonus, as you start out with the same modifiers for DEX and WIS. Though it could be use full later on depending on how you spend your ability score improvements)

Cast as a bonus action The wood of a club or quarterstaff you are holding is imbued with nature’s power for 1 min. 
For the duration, you can use your Wisdom instead of Strength for the attack and damage rolls of melee attacks using that weapon, 
and the weapon's damage die becomes a d8. The weapon also becomes magical, if it isn’t already. 
The spell ends if you cast it again or if you let go of the weapon. 

For your second Cantrip just choose any you like, I recommend Guidance to support skillchecks out of combat. There are a few useful 1st level spells you can prepare: Entangle, Fearie Fire, Fog Cloud, Healing Word, Cure Wounds, Absorb elements etc. just pick what you think may fit your playstyle. I recommend mainly using Ferie Fire and Entangle, for advantage on attack rolls.

3rd Level: Druid[edit]

Pick the Moon Circle subclass and you ar now finally able to turn into a beast/raptor. You can now use your bonus action, to change into a land beast of challange ration 1 or lower, two times per short rest. You can use the Deinonychus (a small fethery raptor) found in the book "Volo's Guide to Monsters"(If your DM allows it), this would give you the following stats:

27 hit points; 
AC 12+WIS (from monks unarmored defense, your wisdom stat gets carried over into your new form); 
Multiattack Action 3x; 
+4 to hit 1d8+2 damage for your unarmed strike with claw or bite;
Pounce: If the Deinonychus moves at least 20 ft. straight toward a creature and then hits it with a claw Attack on the same turn, 
that target must succeed on a DC 12 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone. If the target is prone, 
the Deinonychus can make one bite Attack against it as a Bonus Action. 

This basicly gives you a total of 4 hits per round when in Deinonychus form. Use your action to make 3 attacks, 1 bite 2 claw, use your bonus action to make an unarmed strike bite or claw. this adds up to a total of 4d8+8 damage per round.

You could also use the stats of any other beast meeting the requirements, and homebrew it into a dinosaur (just work it out with your DM). For example use the stats of a brown bear and just asume its the dinosaur equvalent, for a bear maby a Gastonia. The Brown Bear stats would be:

35 hit points; 
AC 10+WIS; 
Multiattack 2x; 
+5 to hit with 1d8+3 damage for your bite attack; 
+5 to hit with 2d6+3 damage for your claw attack; 

So you would use your action to make 2 unarmed strikes, one with claw one with bite and a bonus action to do ether claw or bite. This adds up to 1d8+4d6+9 per round.

You can also consider your hit points in wildshape as additional hit points to your characters maximum hit points. When you revert to your normal form, you return to the number of hit points you had before you transformed. However, if you revert as a result of dropping to 0 hit points, any excess damage carries over to your normal form. For example, if you take 10 damage in animal form and have only 1 hit point left, you revert and take 9 damage. So you can wildshape 2 times per shortrest, basicly giving you 70 additional hit points if you use the brown bears stats.

4th to 20th Level: Monk[edit]

From now on just put everything into monk, for some sweet Ki abilities like flurry of blows (even more attacks), patient defence (dodge as a bonus action), step of the wind (dash and disengage as a bonus action), unarmored movement (10ft more movement) etc. All work in beast shape, except for missle snaring maby. At monk level 3 you can choose a monastary tradition: Everything works, the main features for this build come from the basic monk class, so just pick what ever fits your playstyle.

Way of Shadow: if you want to be stealthy martial arts tiger, go for it. You can teleport through shadows, turn invisible and cast some good stealth support spells( note that you cant cast spells in wild shape, but you can remain concentration on spells you cast befor wild shaping).

Way of the Open Hand: If you realy want to focus on meele and survivability, this is your way to go. You can add some effects to your flurry of blows (knockback, push and take away reaction), you get a nice selfheal, cast sancturay to be near untouchable when not attacking, kill everything in only one hit with quivering palm.

Way of the Four Elements I think this would fit the natury conection of our wildshaping Monk the best. I succest taking diceplins that are not based on actuall spell casting, like fangs of the fire snake. Though this diceplins are no actual spells, its arguable if you could use them while wild shaping (just ask your DM if he is cool with that). But just imagine a raptor expending its head into that of a firey snake and burning your enemies to ash, thats pretty sick.

As soon as you reach 5th level with monk, you get the multiattack feature to attack 2 times per action. This also carries over to your wild shape, so you can efectivly use beast shapes that usualy only have one attack per action. The recomendation here is the Dire Wolf, use its stats and asume its an Utharaptor. Here are the stats for it:

37 hit points; 
AC 12+WIS; 
+5 to hit with 2d6+3 damage as a bite attack; 
If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 13 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone; 
Pack Tactics: The wolf has advantage on an Attack roll against a creature if at least one 
of the wolf's allies is within 5 ft. of the creature and the ally isn't Incapacitated.  

This takes you to 6d6+9 per round for your 3 basic attacks, with each attack the target must succed on an DC 13 STR save (for every hit) or be knocked prone and you have advantage on attacks if the target is flanked. From this point on just continue collecting those nice monk abilities, like evasion, stillness of mind, Diamond Soul, Purity of Body" etc.

If you dont want to fiddle around with spells you could also get a level in barbarian, somewhere in between. As a barbarian you can rage for one minute, two times per long rest. This gives you the following benefits:

You have advantage on Strength checks and Strength saving throws; 
You gain a +2 to damage for attacks using STR witch are using as a dinosaur; 
You have resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage; 
You can cast spells while raging but you cant remain concentration on spells;

(Note that you will have to have a STR score of atleast 13 to be able to multiclass a barbarian).

Feats and Ability Score Improvement[edit]

Just max out WIS first and DEX if need be(If you took an elf race, pick up elven accuracy first and then max out WIS).

You dont need any feats to make the build work but there are a few usefull ones:

Elven Accuracy
Prerequisite: Elf or half-elf
You have uncanny aim. You gain the following benefits:
Increase your Dexterity score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
Whenever you have advantage on an attack roll, you can re-roll one of the dice once. 

Raise your DEX score and be able to (critical)hit more often.

You have mastered techniques to take advantage of every drop in any enemy’s guard, gaining the following benefits:
When you hit a creature with an opportunity attack, the creature’s speed becomes 0 for the rest of the turn.
Creatures provoke opportunity attacks from you even if they take the Disengage action before leaving your reach.
When a creature within melee range of you makes an attack against a target other than you (and that target doesn’t have this feat), 
you can use your reaction to make a melee weapon attack against the attacking creature.

More attacks for you to put out as a reaction. Also awsome with the dire wolfs knockdown on hit. When your opponent trys to flee knock them to the ground, unable to move any further or stand up.

Mage Slayer
You have practiced techniques useful in melee combat against spell casters, gaining the following benefits:
When a creature within 5 feet of you casts a spell, you can use your reaction to make a melee weapon attack against that creature.
When you damage a creature that is concentrating on a spell, that creature has disadvantage on the saving throw it makes to maintain its concentration.
You have advantage on saving throws against spells cast by creatures within 5 feet of you

More attacks for you to put out as a reaction, if your character hates mages.

Martial Adept
You have martial training that allows you to perform special combat maneuvers. You gain the following benefits:
You learn two maneuvers of your choice from among those available to the Battle Master archetype in the fighter class. 
If a maneuver you use requires your target to make a saving throw to resist the maneuver’s effects, 
the saving throw DC equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength or Dexterity modifier (your choice). 
If you already have superiority dice, you gain one more; otherwise, you have one superiority dice,which is a d6.
These dice are used to fuel your maneuvers. A superiority die is expended when you use it. 
You regain your expended superiority dice when you finish a short or long rest. 

Some usefull combat maneuvers to controll the battlefield.

You are exceptionally speedy and agile. You gain the following benefits:
Your speed increases by 10 feet.
When you use the Dash action, difficult terrain doesn’t cost you extra movement on that turn.
When you make a melee attack against a creature, you don’t provoke opportunity attacks 
from that creature for the rest of the turn, whether you hit or not. 

Even more Movement Use it to dart into combat and out again, with out your opponent getting a hit on you or even be able to chase after you, because you are lightning fast.


All in all a very versatile build, awsome survivability, awsome damage and can cast some support spells. There is only one problem is see with the build: The attack modifier for your beast form dosnt go up at all, you will always have a +5 to hit as a dire wolf. But advantage on flanked targets, stunning opponents to autocrit and knockdown chance on every hit gonna help you out. This is also where elven accuracy comes in very handy.

Props to my friend who gave me the idea for this build and the creator of the Barbearian build on dandwiki, who inspired me to make this guide.

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