The Way of the Silver Chain, Revised

A bit more than two years ago, I posted the Way of the Silver Chain monastic tradition. I showed it to several friends recently and got some great feedback, leaving me completely dissatisfied with its original conception. I like to think that I’ve learned a lot about subclass design over the past few years, and I hope you’ll find this Castlevania-inspired monk to be compelling.

Way of the Silver Chain (Monk)

The monks of the Way of the Silver Chain bind their ki and their astral bodies to a length of silver chain, which becomes a physical weapon, a connection to the dreaming self, and protection against astral attack. They are a rare and esoteric order, fighting a secret war against nightmares, astral horrors, and creatures that are vulnerable to silver.

Silver Chain Technique

At 3rd level when you choose this tradition, you receive 10 feet of silver chain and the training to bind your ki to it, rendering it as strong as steel. You gain proficiency with whips, whips are monk weapons for you, and you treat your silver chain as a silvered whip. If your silver chain is lost or destroyed, you can make a new one from 15 gp of materials, with 8 hours of work.

If you attach a dagger to your silver chain as an action, your attacks with the silver chain gain the dagger’s damage type and any magical properties it possesses. If the dagger requires attunement to use its magical properties, you must attune to your silver chain to use those properties. You can attach only one dagger to your silver chain at a time, and you can detach a dagger from your silver chain as an action.

Dreaming Guardian

Also at 3rd level, you gain resistance to psychic damage. As a reaction when you or a creature within your reach suffers psychic damage, you can spend 1 ki point to halve the damage that the creature suffers.

When you use Patient Defense, you also gain advantage on saving throws against the charmed and frightened conditions until the start of your next turn.

When you are in the Astral Plane and an attack would damage your silver cord, you can expend all of your remaining ki points to reduce the damage to 0. You can’t use this feature if you currently have 0 ki points.

Dream Guide

Starting at 6th level, as part of any long rest, you grant powerful, strengthening dreams to up to five allies who also finished a long rest in the same camp, inn, or other building. The target creatures’ current and maximum hit points increase by 5 until they begin a long rest. This cannot affect creatures that do not dream. At 11th level, current and maximum hit points increase by 10 instead of 5. At 16th level, current and maximum hit points increase by 15.

Furthermore, you can cast the non-hostile version of dream without expending a spell slot. Once you do so, you must complete a long rest before using this feature again.

Chain of Iron Will

Beginning at 11th level, when you hit a creature with your silver chain, you can spend 1 ki point to roll a Dexterity (Acrobatics) check contested by the target’s choice of Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics). If you succeed, you grapple the target. You can grapple creatures up to two sizes larger than you with this feature. While the creature is grappled, you can’t make silver chain attacks against creatures other than the grappled target, and you have to hold the silver chain in one hand to maintain the grapple.

Psychic Lash

Starting at 17th level, a creature that you hit with your silver chain suffers an extra 1d6 psychic damage. You can choose not to deal this extra damage.

You can also spend 1 ki point when you hit a creature with your silver chain to insinuate your dreaming power into its waking thoughts. For the next minute, the creature suffers psychic damage equal to your monk level when it makes an opportunity attack.

Design Notes

This is a massive overhaul of the core concept, since the original leaned heavily on the frightened condition in a way that I don’t care for. I hope that the physicality of the silver chain, and getting a reach weapon as a monk weapon, is an exciting initial hook.

The whole business with the dagger is, on one hand, a reference to weapon upgrades in Castlevania (NB., I have not played any Castlevania games because I am a fake gamer guy; everything I know about them comes from Kainenchen, other friends, or wikis on the franchise), and on the other, a way to avoid a whole series of hyper-specific magic item upgrades for the silver chain. Oh, and I guess it’s also a distant nod back to the Lasher prestige class of 3.0.

The original Silver Chain writeup had a lot of two-feature levels so that I could hand out one thing for general use and another for when you’re in the Astral, i.e., almost never. They were intended to be ribbons, but I think that misled a lot of readers. I’ve cut way back on those, leaving one folded into a larger feature.

I do have some concern that I don’t sufficiently deliver on the promise of “good at fighting nightmare/astral horror creatures,” but I think that without an agreed-upon text of what those creatures’ stat blocks look like, the resistance to psychic and advantage on charm/fear saves is about as good as I can do.

Dream Guide is one of the only straight lifts from the original version, and it’s the feature I’m least satisfied with now. It’s obviously useful; I’m just worried that it’s too much, or doesn’t have enough narrative connection to its function.

As always, thanks for reading, and feedback is requested.

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