Tuesday, September 28, 2010

the monk

it's quite unfortunate that no one edition of D&D has ever really been able to get the monk right. sure, we've all seen bruce lee or jackie chan totally school a bunch of goofs in black hoods without breaking a sweat and potentially using only an oven-mitt, but this always fails to translate directly into actual play. mostly, they suffer from MAD (multiple attribute dependency), because really, they need solid bonuses from almost every category if they're going to ever make it - or be enjoyable, for that matter - past the first few levels. at any rate, i've found one of the best ways to fix the issues with the monk is to slightly tweak their flurry of blows ability, because nothing's sadder than imagining a crowd-destroying jackie-chan whirlwind of fists and feet not only fail to explode anyone, but also largely fails to actually connect with anyone.

but then wait. to really repair the monk, you'd need to take into account many, many other such failings that this class has, such as wonky mechanics and no real definitions of what his "role" within a party is. honestly, instead of my sniping and choosing which aspects of the monk i like and dislike, i think it's honestly just in everyone's best interest to use the monk listed here. it's from the pathfinder roleplaying game, which is something i'll talk about at a later date. but i feel it's vastly superior to the previous monk, but also definitely puts him more into a "special forces striker" type character. i tend to envision this monk as one that can use his superior speed and resistances to close with enemy mages and psions, and bring them down before they know what's hit them.

however, in my campaign, i organized monks into the following monastic traditions. you don't need to do the same, and yes, they're forgotten realms (trademark and copyright NOT mine), but i sifted through the appropriate materials to uncover the following:

Broken Ones

This monastic order is dedicated to the spartan and simple god of suffering Illmater, and is easily the most popular and well-recognised within the North. The Broken Ones can freely multiclass as Clerics of Illmater to no ill-effect.

Children of the Passive Voice

These monks serve as guardians to libraries and abbeys, and are sometimes are sent to find lost stores of knowledge. They may freely multi-class as Truenamers, or Clerics of Oghma.

Disciples of the Phoenix

This order is very insular and has a rigid tradition of study and fighting style, as well as behavioral taboos. They are the most likely to espouse the purifying and redeeming aspects of Kossuth's seemingly uncaring element. Disciples of the Phoenix are able to freely multi-class as clerics, without violating their multi-classing restrictions.

Hin Fist

Halflings from far-off Lurien have trained in the monastic way of life in order to turn their unbridled confidence into a mastery of their own small forms and the world around them; although a rarity, they have been known to accept the occasional gnome or dwarf. They venerate the fair halfling goddess Yondalla. Those of the Hin Fist are able to freely multi-class as clerics, paladins or rogues without violating their multi-classing restrictions.

Old Order

Monks of the Old Order do not worship any particular deity, and instead come to view themselves as a group of like-minded practitioners of a truly ancient and formidable art. Likewise, while many of the Old Order do espouse a religious belief, this order does not specifically hold one deity over another. Its members may freely multi-class as Sorcerers or Rogues, but their monk levels must be more than all other levels combined.

Best I can tell, the Old Order are the default monks in 3e.

Shining Hand

A truly ancient monastic tradition from the more southerly lands, beyond the North, it’s influence and respect has slowly improved in colder regions as of late. These monks are in the employ of the god of mages, Azuth, and may freely multi-class as Wizards, as long as their monk levels as higher than their wizard levels.

Sun Soul

An allegiance of widespread but fairly disorganised monks in the duty of Lathander have a fairly low agenda, but can become vicious opponents to any who threaten the lands that good and fair folk live upon. Sun Soul monks may freely progress in a single other class without violating their multi-class restrictions, as long as monk is their highest class.

Note that monk-themed prestige classes do not count towards a monks multi-classing limitations. If an Order lists Cleric as a choice for multi-classing, the faith of the Cleric has to be the same as that of the Order. Also, for the purposes of multi-classing, ‘Cleric’ is interchangeable with ‘Favored Soul’ in all cases.

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