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    Canonfire :: View topic - Monks
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    Monks
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    GreySage

    Joined: Sep 09, 2009
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    Mon Nov 21, 2011 3:53 pm  
    Monks

    Fellow 'hawkers,

    One of the most unusual classes (or subclasses, depending on your edition or perspective) is the Monk. This (sub)class has undergone numerous changes over the years. Not many have found their way in my campaigns, sadly, and I intend to introduce another into an existing game soon. In 1e, the monk was a completely separate character class, with its own XP table, hp, skills, abilities, and powers, though an offshoot of the cleric. In 2e, the monk completely disappeared as a class, but was remade as a cleric kit in the "Complete Guide to Priests." In the Options: Spells and Magic sourcebook, the monk was placed as another offshoot, subclass, but with some minor spell-casting abilities to boot. "The Scarlet Brotherhood" sourceguide later reintroduced the monk back into the fold as a separate subclass in its old 1e format. As a 2e player, I have no idea what happened to the monk in later editions.

    Here are queries I want to ask you all:

    1) What variation of the monk do you use, if any, at all?

    2) Why?

    3) What Greyhawk faiths (human) would have a monk (sub)class existing in its clergy ("Bastion of the Faith" clearly states that both Hextor and Heironeous do, as well as the Scarlet Brotherhood mentioned above)?

    4) Anything else you'd like to add.

    thank you,

    -Lanthorn
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    Mon Nov 21, 2011 4:19 pm  

    The monk was the very first class I played AD&D with. Personally, I love 'em, all flavors of 'em, from the one found in the pages of the AD&D Player's Handbook, to the better one in Dragon #53 (later reprinted in Best of Dragon #something), to the strange one of 3.0 and the slightly improved one of 3.5, and finally to the pretty good one Pathfinder gave us.

    I never played any of the 2nd edition sub-set monks, instead we just kept on trucking with a modified Best of Dragon monk as the class during those years.

    As to why? It isn't about the power: if that is what is drawing you to the monk, go play a wizard. It is the idea, I reckon, that by pursuing the path of physical and spiritual perfection, a mortal man (or woman) can transform himself (or herself) into a living weapon that can thwart the Undead, hordes of demi-humans, demons, devils, and even Dragons!

    One thing I don't see when I play a monk is modern wuxia films. Instead, I go back to the old concept (from the Kung-Fu series that Gary Gygax based the monk on) of a lone master who seeks to understand his own self, and through that internal understanding, understand the world. My monks have always been inquisitive and seekers of knowledge, and they understand that even the most inconsequential power (speak with animals) can allow to him to know things that often escape the other characters.

    I would imagine that pretty much any non-chaotic faith would have at least a few monasteries scattered around the Flaness. Many gamers feel that with Zuoken being Baklunish that they must make monks from the Baklunish West. But I don't agree. I believe that any religion devoted to a neutral or lawful deity would have its own order. And for stick fighting monks, I think an Order of the Cudgel following St. Cuthbert would be pretty nifty!

    With 3.0, 3.5, and Pathfinder, the monk has kind of diverged from the course that GG and the early writers charted. It has left behind all of the spiritual improvements to concentrate on attacks per round, damage, and the mechanics. It is workable, but to me in the conversion it lost a bit of its soul. Sure, there are folks that don't want all of those little things that made the 1st edition monks so cool, but they really don't know what they are missing.

    Finally, it takes a dedicated person who is willing to play with the concept to play a monk well. For this class, you really need to have someone who is willing to think outside the box, to stop and take a moment to think before just blindly charging in; to truely enjoy a monk being played in your game, you have to find a player who is able to devote himself to making his character better. If you find that player, then you will discover why the monk--through all the editions--has such a loyal fanbase.

    Just my thoughts on the subject. If you want to take a look at a 3.5/Pathfinder monk based on the old 1st edition class, feel free to glance at the thread I started here on canonfire: A Revised Pathfinder Monk for Greyhawk (or something like that, lol). It is on the Greyhawk 3.0/3.5/Pathfinder sub-forum.

    Anyway, now that I have made that shameless plug, Lanthorn, let me say that the monk is well-worth having in your games (if only as NPCs) provided that you take the time to use him well. May you enjoy your journey to spiritual enlightenment and physical perfection with the original AD&D monk.

    Master Arminas

    And here is link to that thread: http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=4706


    Last edited by masterarminas on Mon Nov 21, 2011 4:24 pm; edited 2 times in total
    GreySage

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    Mon Nov 21, 2011 4:20 pm  

    Zuoken and Xan Yae are both major patrons of monks. There are monk followers of Nerull in the generic-D&D novel Oath of Nerull, and those were adapted in 3e-era Dungeon Magazine (monks are a full character class in both 3e and 4e - in 4e, they're considered a psionic class).

    I really don't think monks need to be associated with gods at all. They're martial artists, not divine spellcasters (in most editions). They live cloistered, monkish lives, but they don't have to build their orders around honoring any particular deity.

    Mostly, I see monks as martial artists of one of two traditions, either Baklunish or Suloise. Baklunish monks traditionally worship Zuoken and Xan Yae, while Suloise monks might be substantially less religious.

    I'm skeptical about Oeridian monks; I'd rather keep the Oeridians on a European paradigm, and Shaolin-style martial artists fit poorly with them, to my mind. It's not impossible that a Baklunish or Suloise order of monks might decide to convert en masse to the worship of Hextor, Heironeous, Nerull, Rao, or whoever else, though.
    GreySage

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    Mon Nov 21, 2011 5:58 pm  

    If you're playing 1st or 2nd edition, I say stick with the version of the monk found in He's Got a Lot to Kick About, Best of the Dragon, Vol. III, as mentioned by masterarminas. The version re-introduced in The Scarlet Brotherhood sucked, to say it mildly. Neutral Masterarminas has also provided a good alternative in the thread he mentioned.

    The 3.5e and Pathfinder versions of the Monk character class are balanced well with respect to combat and stealth/scouting type abilities, but, as masterarminas mentioned, are lacking in supernatural spell-like abilities. This may or may not appeal to you and your player(s).

    Whatever version of the Monk you decide upon, you must know that it is a bit of a Jack-of-All-Trades, Master-of-None much like the Bard. It requires an intelligent player to pull it off well because if the player tries to use him like a fighter, he'll find the character can't compete. If he attempts to use him in place of having a Thief or Ranger in the party, again, he'll be a poor substitute. But, if he uses him as a backup to all three of these party roles, he will find that the character shines.

    SirXaris
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    Tue Nov 22, 2011 7:05 pm  

    I've played around for awhile with there being martial arts traditions among the Flanaess, mainly having developed after their conquest by the Oeridians and Suel. IMC where there are Flan minority populations they are usually peasants. Another idea was having Old faith traditions of unarmed berserker warrior societies who act as guardians of nature. Never did anything with each.
    I've only ever had one person play a monk. He was a Baklunish worshipper of Zuoken who in his first combat charged into a group of dwarven bandits to shield the wizard. They knocked him down to negative HP in one round then the wizard lit all of them up with burning hands, killing him. Shortest character life ever. Laughing
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    Tue Nov 22, 2011 11:16 pm  

    1) I now use the 3.5 rules, and so the monks in my campaign follow those rules - with the flaws. However, my campaign started off in 1st ed., and used that class. For 2nd ed. I created the "Psimidon" character class - essentially the 1st ed. monk, but with the special abilities drawn from the Complete Book of Psionics. At this moment, the player is trying to recreate this in 3.5 by having the monk multi-class with psychic warrior from Expanded Psionics Handbook, courtesy of a multi-class enabling feat from one of the Eberron books. The player has also shown interest in the variant monk classes from the article on "Monastic Fighting Styles of the Flanaess" in the articles section for 3.0/3.5/D20/Pathfinder.

    2) I use monks because it makes the players happy, and one of the monk PCs has now played a major role in my campaign. My personal dissatisfaction with monks keeps me from utilizing the Scarlet Brotherhood as a nemesis as often as I might.

    3) The previous posts cover my thoughts on the faiths of Monks.

    4) I would add that for purposes of background I have hinted in my campaign that the Suloise who unlocked monk abilities (lawful) were paralleled by other Suloise groups that eventually unlocked the techniques of raging as used by barbarians (unlawful). It was the 3.5 ed. rules for both classes that encouraged me (and perhaps others) to address this point. Also, I've never been satisfied that raging (and hence the barbarian class) is the result of being primitive/illiterate/tribal as suggested in 3rd ed. I have thought that both the monk and barbarian would have had different names in the old Suel Imperium: perhaps "Dread-hand Sentinel" for monks and "Tempest Scout" for barbarians. Different names might help avoid particular cultural images associated with "monk" and "barbarian."
    GreySage

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    Wed Nov 23, 2011 10:21 am  

    Thank you all who have added to this thread. I am very much enjoying reading your posts. Masterarminas, your response is especially well-constructed and thorough. Smile You have given me reason to delve into the monk once more. I like everyone's perspectives, opinions, variations, and suggestions on this perhaps under-utilized character class.

    1 and 2) For myself, I actually lean more towards the 1e variant even though I am a self-proclaimed, shameless advocate of 2e gaming mechanics. I have vacillated back and forth about what skills and powers monks should have, even considering using the Options variation wherein they had minor spell-casting. I never liked the monk kit from the Complete Guide to Priests (that is, by FAR, my least favorinte sourceguide of character classes). With the arrival of the Scarlet Brotherhood sourceguide and the entry of the monk (really a rebirth of 1e style), I wondered why that variation couldn't be used for ALL monks instead of just the Brotherhood. I like the physical and mental abilities granted to that version more than any other I have seen thus far.

    Like some of you, I have wondered what style or flavor of the monk I wanted to use. Although I don't really see the "European" style of monk as a butt-kicking, staff-wielding, acrobatic type, this is, after all, a fantasy setting of mystical monsters, magic, and the like, so I am willing to suspend disbelief of historical accuracy on that account. Perhaps someone with deeper knowledge in history (mainly my friend SirXaris, a history buff, and also Master Rasgon, a renowned sage in his own right) can illuminate me on the monks of Europe and their 'actual' roles and skills, besides making brandy. Wink

    3) I imagine most Lawful faiths would have monks, as a disciplined ethos and philosophy is needed to perfect one's mind and body. Primarily, I would see such faiths as those of Heironeous (mentioned earlier), Pholtus, St Cuthbert, and also Rao as developing a monk class, as well as LG Pelorians. For those faiths of Evil, Hextor and Nerull come to mind, though I imagine any LE character could work.

    These are merely my thoughts. Thanks again to all who posted, and I look forward to reading more.

    -Lanthorn
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    Wed Nov 23, 2011 2:58 pm  

    Well, if you a realistic order of head-breaking monks, look at the monks of Alexandria, Egypt during the 6th Century. These guys were little more than nasty thugs that would regularly assault, rob, and kill heretics, pagans, and Jews in that ancient city. If you want to look at what the official church posistion on them was at the time, start with the Fifth Ecumenical Council (convened in Constantinople under Emperor Justinian I) and see what the church leaders deemed as anathema.

    Monks were not always cheese and wine-making, singing, or silent friars of the later medevial period. In the 5th, 6th, and 7th century, entire wars (in all but name) were waged between different sects of Christian monks, over the most esoteric points of theology. Really, you could base a doctoral thesis on these orders (and many dissertations have been written about them).

    Master Arminas
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    Wed Nov 23, 2011 5:19 pm  

    Lanthorn, we hashed out some ideas for 1E monks in this thread a while back. You might find some of that discussion helpful.
    GreySage

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    Sat Nov 26, 2011 10:55 am  

    Thanks to all, and I will surely delve into that lengthy thread. I appreciate all the suggestions and links.

    -Lanthorn
    GreySage

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    Mon Nov 28, 2011 4:30 pm  

    OK, here are a few more questions pertaining to monks as you run them:

    1) How many of you 'tie' them with a specific mythos or religious order (ex: Heironeous, St Cuthbert, etc)...or do you prefer a non-denominational aspect?

    2) If you do 'tie' them to a specific religion, do you limit their use of weapons as a result of this (ex: blunt weapons like a staff and club for St Cuthbert or Rao, for instance, but would allow the use of a dagger or hand axe for a Heironean monk?)?

    3) Have you 'customized' monks according to religious order, or keep them pretty much standardized across the board?

    thanks,

    -Lanthorn
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    Mon Nov 28, 2011 4:35 pm  

    I think monks are like knights with regard to religion: They may be dedicated to a specific deity, but they don't need to be. While I do customize the class abilities of each order of knighthood, I don't do so for monks, since they're all ultimately part of the same order (in AD&D, at least).
    Master Greytalker

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    Tue Nov 29, 2011 5:00 pm  

    Must disagree DMPrata Sad

    Working on the gazetteers for the "beyond the flanaess" project, the monk class has been an issue.  Monks can provide cultural atmosphere as well as a rewarding character experience.
    Culturally, I drew inspiration from real world history as each monastical philosophy maintains its own separate hierarchical tradition. Tibetan monks do no look to Chinese or their Indian counterparts for guidance, let alone instruction. Therefore each order maintains its own independent traditions and spiritual philosophies. i have tackled the Gulf of Gharyar (baklunish) and the Celestial Imperium (oriental), both retain a strong monastic tradition providing ample opportunities for interaction and character creation.
      As for the character class, I have chosen a radical approach. Looking over the monk variations, I decided to synthesize the models of Ernest Mueller and MJ Young. It is a radical departure as these models remove the thieves skills and the level abilities however it incorporates numerous chi powers akin to priest spells. Most of these chi powers are universal to the martial arts but several are usable within restricted "fighting styles", for instance quivering palm is restricted to the scarlet brotherhood. Many regional fighting styles to differentiate the various cultures to provide more atmosphere rather then the same overall experience.
    As a result, various cultures and even individual monastic orders each have varying strengths and weaknesses which better suits players tendencies and allow more specialized concepts of the class.         
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Tue Nov 29, 2011 5:43 pm  

    Crag wrote:
    Working on the gazetteers for the "beyond the flanaess" project, 


    It seems that we are independently working on the same project. :D
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Tue Nov 29, 2011 7:57 pm  

    Lanthorn,

    A-Baneful-Backfire plugs my Monastic fighting styles of the Flanaess well. Yes different religions and cultural variations. The Celestial Imperium and Shaofeng empires follows the standard monk class. Though I'm sure variations can exist there as well. Lets hope all the ideas and half written articles come together for me soon. More monks amongst others things to come.

    Later

    Argon
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    Wed Nov 30, 2011 10:06 am  

    Glad to hear it Azzy1974 Smile
    Curious as too which area you are working on?
    Perhaps, we can discuss how to create hooks tie ins between them?

    Argon; as you are interested in the class, I would be be happy to send you the class variation for the baklunish and celestial monks. More then eager to receive feedback on the work.

    I'll pm or email me; you both Wink
    Paladin

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    Wed Nov 30, 2011 12:47 pm  

    IMC,
    I tend to separate fryers, Abbots, Nuns (as western based) and Monks as more mid eastern based. I realize this is not in tune "historically with our own past" (as the words depending on the script tend to interchange) but the firmer separation helps to maintain the ethos differences. So in this, I would list some followers as Fryers (of St Cuthbert for example had billets, stars, and chaps ) although each had differing subfaiths, some geared to bringing in the faithful, others upholding the belief structure, etc.
    As I would also treat those of the Scarlet Brotherhood as Monks (similar in hierarchy structure to the ninja assassin movie utilizing clans, except the clans in this case are thieves, fighters, assassins and monks) This helps to support the original 1e version on assassin's "grandfather position" which is where my campaign roots began.
    So, IMC Monks tend toward the dark side, Fryers to the light.
    Thats not to say there arent "rogues" that sway the other way. Evil Grin
    GreySage

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    Wed Nov 30, 2011 9:59 pm  

    Hello again,

    I am definitely reading all the responses, and thank you all for your input:

    How many of you allow monks spell-casting capability (or psionics)? If so, is it full-fledged as seen among clerics, or is curtailed/limited?

    -Lanthorn
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    Mon Dec 05, 2011 9:49 am  

    To respond to your follow-up questions:

    1) I guess I definitely tie monks to a culture than a particular religion/philosophy. I certainly retain the monk in its basic form for NPCs from an "oriental" environment. In my campaign, the monks of a Suloise background are my variant "psimidon" - I tend to put the psionics on the Suloise. I have not dealt with the monks of the Baklunish, but there are various battle dancer, dervish, and other classes that strike my fancy a little more - though I can see a genuine monastic as a rule-book monk in that culture.

    2) I've never given much thought to limitations on weaponry, though perhaps I should.

    3) Within cultural traditions, I've separated my monks by "orders." Some focus on the lawful evil, while others the good, and yet some preferring some other feature (I probably will add faith-based orders).

    Limitation of casting. My variant monk replaced the lettered special abilities of the Monk with specific psionic abilities from the Complete Book of Psionics. So such psionics were limited.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Mon Dec 05, 2011 11:02 am  

    I have not used Monks in 2nd Edition now that i am running the Slavers i think i will use the Monk as in the Scarlet brotherhood source book. seems that they are similar to the Dragon Mag one.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:20 pm  

    Crag wrote:
    Glad to hear it Azzy1974 Smile
    Curious as too which area you are working on?


    Right now, most of the work I'm doing is on maps and the historic and prehistoric spread of the various ethnic groups through expansion and migration (and with them, language distributions). Once I'm done with the foundations, I'd like to detail the "Zahindia" area (giving it a better name and some interesting history).

    It's worth noting that I don't take the "Heward Map" from Dragon Annual 1 as entirely accurate (even the fluff that accompanies it suggests that it's woefully inaccurate). Thus I've made some notable alterations to areas that exist outside the more reputable maps of Oerik (WoG Folio ,page 7; WoG Glossography, page 18; LGG, page 3). I don't see Oerik extending much further west or south than shown on the Oerik maps. I also don't pay much mind to the annotations of nations from the Heward map, preferring to use altered versions of the names from the Gord novels and expanding from there.

    Quote:
    Perhaps, we can discuss how to create hooks tie ins between them?


    Sure, I think that'd be great.
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    Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:28 am  

    I politely refrain from answering the OP, but instead I complain a bit about the monk (3.5).

    If you want to create ten fighters that are significantly different from each other, it's easy.
    Same with wizards. Same with clerics. Same with every class!

    Except monks.
    You can get some variation by using Unearthed Arcana, PHB II or some other source, but generally monks tend to be clones. All are fighting barenaked and with bare fists. Sure you can fight with weapons, but at 8th level your fists are so potent that you should only use them and nothing else. Alas, a clone army has been created...

    They are so heavily restricted and so railroaded, that I'm sad with the designers that they chose to make such mockery out of martial artists.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Wed Jan 04, 2012 5:38 am  

    @Azzy & Crag: What rules system do you use for your projects anyway? If 3.x or PF take a look at the PF qinggong monk archetype which is similar to Ernest Mullers alternate monk in that it gains variable spell like ki powers.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Fri Jan 06, 2012 10:00 pm  

    Thanks, Thanael. I'll look into that. I play 3.5 (if I didn't already have so much invested in it, I might have been persuaded to go with Pathfinder--as I have lot of respect for the people at Paizo). I'll give the class a good look-over and see if I need to make any adjustments.
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Jan 07, 2012 11:00 am  

    Appreciate it, Thanael. I use the 2nd ed. format as ducartharian wanted the "beyond the flanaess" regions to resemble the gazeteers of the sargent era. Which is good, as I am most comfortable with those rules.

    Myself and bubba have sought to create a workable monk archetype. We looked at several online sources including Ernest Mullers. We agreed the spell like chi powers was the format to use as it offers a more distinctive opportunity for the various orders.

    The monk classes within the various gazeteers: Celestial Imperium (shaofeng) and Gulf of Ghayar (baklunish) are based on this template. A synthesis of the earlier editions, online sources, board discussions and personal ideas hashed out between ourselves.

    Granted, bubba and I, are most concerned with the role-playing atmosphere and experience rather then mathematics. Nonetheless, we have created a compelling class but neither of us can claim to be a miraculous number cruncher.

    If you are truly interested in the class, pm me.

    My chief concern is the work, I am not proud, all help is welcome.
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    Sat Jan 07, 2012 4:35 pm  

    Although I cannot stand that name ( Shocked ), the qinggong monk was a brilliant contribution to the class by Paizo. It is exactly like the core monk--it is the core monk. Only, you decide what abilities you keep and which ones you can swap out for something else. Dont' like Slow Fall? Take Barkskin instead. For 1 ki, you can cast the spell--as a caster of your monk level.

    Perturbed by tongue of the sun and the moon? No problem, how would you instead like to be able to activate the fighter only feat Penetrating Strike (ignore a certain amount of DR) for only 2 ki? And it lasts for all of your attacks for 1 round.

    You need to take a look if you are really into customization: but, many of the abilities cost ki, which you don't have all that much of. So be wary of trading in a lot of the 'free' monk powers for something that drains your reserve even faster.

    By the way, how the heck do you pronounce qinggong? I haven't a freaking clue, here.

    Master Arminas
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    Sat Jan 07, 2012 5:05 pm  

    I'm a little rusty with my Chinese. Laughing

    So your guess is as good as mine.

    Later

    Argon
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    Sun May 25, 2014 3:19 pm  

    rasgon wrote:
    There are monk followers of Nerull in the generic-D&D novel Oath of Nerull, and those were adapted in 3e-era Dungeon Magazine.


    I stumbled back to this thread because I had a reason to actually look this up.

    The monks of Nerull are actually detailed in Dragon #299. In that article, Bruce Cordell expressed them as a prestige class called the Reaper's Child. The article also contained another prestige class for more benevolent monks not affiliated with Nerull, the Monk of the Enabled Hand.
    GreySage

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    Sun May 25, 2014 5:50 pm  

    The Savage Tide Adventure Path, Serpents of Scuttlecove, Dungeon Magazine #146 offers the Dire Hunger Monks as an example of Lawful Evil monks. They are cannibalistic and the city is disease-ridden and an easy place to be killed or worse. Though they originally served a trio of Ur-priests, they currently have no lord, so they may be looking for a new master to serve. Nerull, Incabulus, a powerful barghest, etc. would all work.

    SirXaris
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    Tue May 27, 2014 9:52 am  

    masterarminas wrote:

    By the way, how the heck do you pronounce qinggong? I haven't a freaking clue, here.
    Master Arminas


    Chinese, when using Roman letters to spell out their words, use the Q in place of 'ch'. So, qinggong, would be pronounced ching-gong.

    While I'm posting on this, they also use the X for a sound somewhere between an American S and sh. (in case anyone needs to know this later)

    Someone please correct me if I'm wrong. Otherwise, I hope this helps.
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