Wand User Monk (3.5e Optimized Character Build)

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Inevitably, every time I DM a new campaign, somebody decides to play a monk. After about level 3, they get bored of the class and ask me if they can just make a new character. I've found that monks look great in the rulebook, but starting out, they are just not as fun to play as other classes. They lack the punch and toughness of a standard fighter type, the skills of a rogue or ranger, and the utility of magic classes. But somebody always goes for them because they seem like a great long term choice.

After thinking about it for a while, I declared at a session that I have come up with the perfect monk build. I of course was asked what feats and skills make it that way so that the low levels are not so terrible. I am wise enough to know this build is far from perfect (saying it is just gets more attention from the group), but I got a good laugh out of them when I declared what the level 1 character build is. A cleric. Yes, that is correct, a cleric is likely the best level 1 monk available.

This article will explain the concept behind why a cleric is a better first level choice for a (nearly) pure monk, as well as some other options to spice things up.

Note: You could simply get the skill Use Magic Device for the wands. It is a cross-class skill for monks, but you could get cross-class ranks, perhaps with the Nymph's Kiss (Book of Exalted Deeds) or Able Learner (Races of Destiny) for support. Don't forget Skill Focus.


  • Players Handbook (Also available on D&D Wiki's SRD)
  • DMG - for magic item creation. (Also available on D&D Wiki's SRD)
  • Players Handbook II

Race and Templates[edit]



Cleric 1, Rogue 1, Monk 18


Honestly, most are up to your discretion.

Spells, Powers, Items[edit]

You'll get an explanation of this later :)


  • We don't care what spells you use. The Cleric level is for something better.
    • Lvl 1: Cure Light Wounds, Protection from Evil, Shield of Faith
    • Lvl 2: Light, Detect Magic (why waste what you have!)

Items High Priority

  • Wand of Divine Power
  • Wand of Cat's Grace
  • Wand of greater mighty wallop (Races of the Dragon)
  • Wand of Barkskin (possibly a higher caster level) Amulet of Natural Armor (slotless or in a different slot if available, since you'll also want an Amulet of Health)

Moderate Priority

  • Wand of CLW or any other cure wand for that matter
  • Wand of Owl's Wisdom Bull's Strength (+2 to hit, +2 damage!)
  • Other Monk items -- ring of protection, bracers of armor, etc
  • Handy Haversack -- with all the wands it may come in... well Handy.

Optional Arcane Caster Recommended Magic Domain Build Items High Priority

Moderate Priority

That seems like a lot, however most wands can be a party tool, so the party will likely pitch in a bit so long as you are not greedy with charges.


Starting ability scores:

Dex: Highest

Wis: 2nd highest

Str: 3rd Highest

ECL Class/HD/LA Feats Special
1st Cleric 1 Weapon Finesse (Human Bonus), Two-Weapon Fighting Magic Domain, Darkness Domain
2nd Monk 1 Stunning Fist (Monk Bonus) Flurry of Blows!
3rd Rogue 1 none Ascetic Rogue, 1d6 Sneak Attack
4th Monk 2 Monk bonus feat up to you. Evasion!
5th Monk 3 none nothing of interest
6th Monk 4 Point Blank Shot, Monk bonus feat up to you.
... ... ... ...
9th Monk 7 Rapid Shot Improved Evasion!
... ... ... ...
12th Monk 10 Improved Two-Weapon Fighting You have cool monk goodies at this point
... ... ... ...
15th Monk 13 Precise Shot You have a lot of cool monk goodies at this point
... ... ... ...
18th Monk 16 Greater Two-Weapon Fighting You have even more cool monk goodies at this point
... ... ... ...
20th Monk 18 none 2d8 base damage, potential of 10 attacks (1 must be ranged)


The whole point of this build is to gets lots of attacks while still playing a monk for the most part (a couple levels behind, but the sneak attack and wand usage adds so much more).

In the end with Divine Power active (via a wand), your character will make attacks at:

+16/+16/+16/+16/+11/+6/+1 primary hand (two must be with shuriken) and +16/+11/+6 off hand.

Add in haste for another attack.

Using Greater Invisibility or a Ring of Blinking, your targets lost their dex bonus to AC. This means all your attacks are sneak attacks (for +1d6 damage).

So if you somehow manage to hit with them all, you will deal an extra 10d6 damage in sneak attack damage (average 35 damage). You also will deal 16d8 + 8 times your Strength modifier. Nice!

And of course, you can get long range spell wands to deal with non-melee foes.


With some gold and a DM who allows you to buy items you need (not just ones printed directly in the book), the best level 1 Monk out there could very well be a level 1 Cleric

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