Friday, March 26, 2021

Monk-y business

 Just when I feel like I've got my TSR house rules for players finished, I get these thoughts. Looking at the 1E DMG (and the Mystic in the RC) got me to thinking...should the Monk be a basic class? Should I have five instead of only four? AD&D technically does that. The RC does as well, although it's always presented as optional there. 

One benefit would be that the Monk class doesn't really fulfill the role of a Cleric/Thief multiclass, so I could remake my Darkstalker idea (the Van Helsing/Belmont style undead/lycanthrope/demon hunting class) as the Cleric/Thief mashup class. Then the Monk could be its own thing. 

Another benefit would be that some cool subclasses for the Monk, to expand them beyond the whole Shaolin thing. Flying Swordsmen provides some ideas for that.

The drawback would be having to make another class out of whole cloth (well, not really, with 1E, RC, 3E and 5E as resources I can easily draw on, plus the 2E Complete Ninja's Handbook) to make it work. Not an impossible task by any means. But it will take some time and effort, and I'm not sure about the payoff. 

As I mentioned a while back, the Cleric/Thief is not a strong archetype in D&D. So do I really want to do all this work to make the Monk a 5th basic class, when it works fine in the niche it holds as an advanced class?


  1. I'd say "no". Keep it as an advanced class and I say that as a person currently playing a monk.

  2. In my D&D house rules, I'm happy to leave the monk as a basic class, because it's the only class with 13+ ability score requirements (and I actually make 'em even stricter), so the monk stays pretty rare. (And when I'm playing a game of RC D&D, I want there to be six base classes, because "fighter, thief, monk, mage, cleric, druid" is just so very Final Fantasy and doubtless the direct inspiration behind "fighter, thief, black belt, black mage, white mage, red mage.")

    In my AD&D house rules, meanwhile, I just treat monks as a sub-class cleric (which they're clearly stated to be in both Blackmoor and the 2e Scarlet Brotherhood sourcebook anyway). The only real effect this has on the game-rules is that the cleric/monk and druid/monk dual-class combinations become impossible, which makes perfect sense to me anyway. Monks turn inward for their spirituality and shouldn't be overly concerned with either deities or natural powers.

  3. Thanks for the feedback, guys. My thought after reading these responses is to just leave it alone, but part of me is also thinking a martial arts/wuxia subclass for the four basic classes (the Thief/Acrobat is already done that way) would allow for Flying Swordsman style PCs alongside normal D&D characters. And the Monk class could stay as it is.