The Monk

Human Monk

Class: Monk
Starting abilities: Distribute 8 points between Will and Health; neither stat may have a rating lower than 2 or higher than 6.
Skills: Fighter 3, Healer 2, Lore Master 2, Ritualist 2, Scholar 2, Theologian 2
Special monk skills: (Choose one) Survivalist, Peasant, Alchemist or Pathfinder
Trait: Ascetic—The monk’s acclimation to a life of hardship and poverty gives him strength of body, mind and spirit. This freedom from desire also makes him seem aloof and inscrutable to the average layman and his passive nature may prevent him from leaping into action required.

Monks may use the following weapons in combat:
Unarmed: Monks do not suffer the customary penalty for fighting unarmed.
Bo Staff: -1s Attack, +1D Defend. +1D Maneuver in open spaces. Spear-length weapon.
Peasant’s tools: Peasant monks have the equivalent of a dagger or a flail. Note that tools can be lost because of a Twist.
Armor: None

Alignment: Temple monks align themselves with Law. Hermits are Unaffiliated. Only fallen monks that turn to evil may align themselves with Chaos.

Raiment: Monks wear the vestments dictated by their order—woven cloth robes or loose-fitting garments. They carry prayer beads (holy symbols), wear sandals and sport a shaved head, tonsure or queue. Some orders are forbidden to cut their hair, while others use tattooing, branding or scarification to mark themselves.

Gear: Monks may only possess the following gear: their order’s raiment, a satchel or pack, tools for their skills, a mirror, a lantern and flasks of oil, a water container (jug or bottle), drinking water, flasks of holy water (for purification rituals), sacks/pouches and a staff (for use as a walking stick and for protection), meatless rations (preserved or fresh). Other items, if acquired, should be given away to those in need.

Forbidden gear: Monks may never carry or use these items: Meat, wine, garlic, animal skins (scrolls or waterskins), torches (open flames might harm insects!). Note that Drunken Monkey-style monks may drink wine when they learn this fighting form (more on that later!).

Circles: Many monks are orphans, either left at the monastery by poor parents that cannot afford to care for them or by survivors of some terrible fate that claimed the child’s parents’ lives. Others left good families behind when they took their vows. Still, there is a family of sorts to be found amongst the monk’s brothers and sisters. All monks of the same level or lower may call each other friend. Those older and wiser are treated as parents. Every monk has a mentor they trained with—those that do not now possess an enemy instead, either the killer of their mentor or the mentor himself, a fallen monk turned traitor and allied with Chaos!

Resources: Monks live as mendicants and rely on the charity of others for food, shelter and other essentials. Any unspent resources remaining after the town phase must be given away to the poor. Note: this does not include the party members, no matter the state of their resources!

Enlightened Nature
The monk’s normal human nature is an obstacle in his path to enlightenment; humility, charity and meditation are the most important aspects of a monk’s life. Speaking must become to listening, taking or sating must become giving or abstaining, constant agitation must become quiet stillness. Whenever the Monk taxes his nature to 0, he may replace one of his descriptors with an enlightened descriptor. Only when the three descriptors have changed can the monk turn away from desire and self-obsession and become one with the Universe.

Enlightened Nature: Listening, Fasting, Meditating

That’s some serious work.

I looked this over before the rules came out, and liked it, but had no frame of reference. Now I like the overall arc of it even more, but am starting to think that it would be incredibly hard to actually play and not die. Most of all, wouldn’t the long-term restrictions on resources would make it very hard to use the town phase to recover from conditions effectively? Was this monk intended to be uber-hardcore mode (not that there’s anything wrong with that)? Good leveling ability options could help alleviate this, though.

Also, I had some specific questions/thoughts (hopefully constructive):
-What would you think about an ability restriction like Paladin (Health cannot exceed Will)?
-I really like the idea for the bo staff, similar/based on spear. However, it is pretty drastically worse than spear (-1s to Attack, doesn’t ignore leather armor, can’t be thrown). Was this intentional? Also, is it 2-handed?
-If a peasant monk loses his peasant tools (weapons) through a twist as mentioned, did you intend that he be unable to acquire new ones?
-Why is a mirror ok? For shaving his head? Just curious, I like the idea. I would probably wish I could keep some rope, but I also like keeping the list short.
-Why no garlic? Because it would be wasteful of food?
-What would you think about broadening the Enlightened Nature descriptors a bit? (Maybe Perceiving, Abstaining, and Reflecting, or something?)

I really, really like the idea that rather than gathering loot, a monk’s purpose may be to go through a crucible to rid himself of his base human desires and ultimately remove himself as a playable character. The Enlightened Nature is brilliant.

The actual monk I have written up here on my computer has cool level benefits that help with conditions. “Fasting” could be tapped to help with health-based recovery tests. “Meditating” with will-based tests.

But still, the Monk is expert-level, hard-mode! :smiley:

  1. Maybe?
  2. Yes and yes
  3. Yes
  4. The ba gua mirror is a spiritual symbol (and yes, for shaving).
  5. It’s a Jain dietary restriction (pulling up garlic kills the plant). Potatoes and onions aren’t mentioned on the gear list but those would be banned as well.
  6. The Englightened Nature descriptors are all polar opposites of the Human Nature descriptors.

Why are you basic this off the Jains, when the classic image (and most of the ability list shown) is the Taoist Kung-Fu monastics?
Worse, Drunken Monkey is specifically Kung-Fu…

Just the garlic thing and a few of the prohibitions (open flames, for example). I liked messing with the gear the character could use, not just weapons/armor.

I totally agree with the observation though. These guys are Shaolin Kung Fu through and through.

I like the gear restrictions too, and didn’t know that about garlic/onions/potatoes or their prohibition in Jainism, that’s a nice touch. Definitely hard-mode, I’m not sure I’d be hardcore enough to play it as is, but I like it a lot. Care to share more of your details, if they’re ready?

Level 1
Monk: All monks are adept at unarmed combat and possess proficiency with the bo staff and with esoteric fighting weapons patterned after simple tools.

Level 2
Animal Styles: A level 2 monk learns one of the five animal-based boxing styles.

• Tiger Claw Style: The monk’s fingers become like the claws of a tiger, rending and striking with great ferocity. +1s to a successful Attack.
• Drunken Monkey Style: The monk bobs, weaves and tumbles like a monkey that drank too much wine. +1s to successful Defend and can fight with a full jug in hand!
• Fanged Snake Style: The monk’s pressure-point strikes are quick as a viper’s bite! Only the most skilled of opponents are able to avoid them. +1s to successful Feint.
• White Crane Style: The monk whirls and leaps, raining powerful blows on an opponent to distract, disarm and avoid attack. +1s to successful Maneuver.
• Praying Mantis Style: The monk mimics the movements of the mantis, blocking an opponent’s attack. Protects the monk with equivalent of leather armor

Level 3
Philosophy: The monk may use their Scholar skill instead of Persuade during test or conflicts to recount myths and legends, parables and paradoxes to sway opinion, or as a skill to perplex and befuddle their opponent during a Riddle conflict.

Meditation: Monks are trained to focus their concentration to conserve strength and quiet the mind. A monk with no conditions who spends a check to meditate becomes Fresh.

Level 4
The monk is able to control his emotional state. Choose one:

Patience: The monk accepts the ebb and flow of time. Patience is the same as the level 4 warrior ability, Cool headed.
Endurance: The monk is willing and able to withstand physical and mental hardship. Endurance is the same as the level 4 warrior ability.
Courage: The monk knows no fear, accepting his fate. Courage is the same as the level 4 elf ability, Fearless.

Level 5
Acolyte: The monk is now accompanied by a pupil or retainer. Acolyte is the same as the level 5 warrior ability, Henchman.
Iron Palm: Iron Palm Technique acts a sword (+1D to attack, defend, feint or maneuver).

Fucking cool.

That’s awesome.

Cool stuff, thanks for sharing.

Are the animal boxing styles and the Iron Palm technique intended to stack with each other? Do they also stack with a bo or peasant weapon, or are they unarmed fighting techniques? I’m guessing yes on 1, no on 2.

Is Meditation a red herring? I haven’t been able to get my group together for more than dabbling in the game yet, but I get the feeling that having no conditions AND a check almost never happens. :slight_smile:

Yes on 1. No on 2.
You have to choose a weapon during a fight, either unarmed or bo staff.
If you use Iron Palm, it stacks with your animal style BUT if you chose to get +1D on Attack and you use Crane-style, it only acts as +1D on Attack, not on Maneuver (where Crane excels).

As for Meditation, it’s totally possible. Either someone could give you their check, you could have two checks and recover from a condition and use the remaining one to chill out. Also, it doesn’t consider a taxed Nature so you could meditate before leaving town and voila.

Awesome, thanks. I may have to see if this monk would fly for my second character (assuming I die at some point). Shouldn’t be too hard a sell, since (IMO) the best homebrew ideas are slightly underpowered in interesting ways. I think this definitely appears to be on the challenging end of the balance scales, despite the potential for some serious punch (+1S & +1D to a single action type). So, basically, awesome.

This is somewhat off-topic, but would you know (and be able to share) how prayers work for non-clerics with Ritualist, like Paladins and this Monk? I assume they get some kind of access to prayers, but it hasn’t been spelled out to my knowlege.

I took a vow of silence.

Dang. I guess I’ll take a vow of patience.