Friday, March 5, 2021

You got kung fu chocolate in my sword & sorcery peanut butter!

 Yeah, age (and nationality) test in the post title. Plenty of my readers are old enough (and American enough) to get the reference, but maybe not all. 

So I continue to tool around with my TSR compilation rules. After chatting with JB in the previous post's comments, I took a look at the 1E Monk class, and Gary's description, which basically said it's a non-spellcasting cleric with thief skills. And in typical AD&D fashion, it's way more complicated than it needs to be. 5 attacks every 4 rounds? Seriously? Fighters getting 2 every 3 rounds with weapon specialization (or being 7th level without it) is ridiculous enough. And of course there is the mixed bag of special abilities. 

I hadn't read through that version of the Monk in a long time. I played one in my cousin's campaign back in our high school days, and when I ran an OA game after college, one of my players was a Monk. But it had been a while. And my ideas about Monks were really colored by what they are in 3E/Pathfinder and 5E. In those editions, they're basically variant Fighters with some skills that let them be a little like a thief. Of course, the Rogue in WotC editions is also really just a variant Fighter with more out of combat utility, so there's that. 

Anyway, to get to the point, today I decided to return the Monk to the Cleric/Thief slot in my symmetrical class construction system. Instead of the really odd archetype of the Half-Orc who can pick your pocket after he heals you, and unlock a trap after turning some undead (I mean, I love this, it's so random that half-orcs can do this in AD&D), the Monk is maybe the better fit, and more organic (by that I mean what the players will expect a version of D&D to have). 

I even wrote up a very simplified version of the class that I'm pretty happy with. Acrobat is already one of the Thief subclasses I've written up, so it uses the Thief-Acrobat skill tables (each Thief subclass gets slightly different skills and slightly different % numbers). I'd also already given the Acrobat unarmed fighting ability and AC bonuses despite not wearing armor (my previous version of TSR had combined the UA Thief-Acrobat and the 3E/5E Monk concepts), so it was a more natural fit than a standard Thief. None of my Cleric subclasses really fit, though, so following 1E and the RC (and later editions to an extent), I made a Monk class that is a lot simpler. It doesn't cast Vancian spells, and most of its magical/mystical abilities are self only (I did give them "lay on hands" healing instead of self healing, but that may change). 

They are the only non-Fighter class to get multiple attacks, but that can only be done with unarmed fighting, not with weapons. And they only get 2 per round, while high level Fighters get 3. Hopefully they will do alright in a fight, but not overpower the Fighter. 

Oh, and my Darkstalker concept (Van Helsing/Belmont family style vampire/monster hunter) will become a Cleric subclass, the way it probably should have from the beginning.


  1. I think adding the monk (in place of the cleric/thief) is probably for the best.

    A while back, I worked up my own version of the monk for the Holmes Basic game that might be interesting to you:

    I did that after doing an in-depth analysis of what the monk class has looked like over the years:

    Good luck!
    : )

  2. Interesting how you arrived at your Monk class. Thanks for sharing. I probably read those threads years ago when you posted them, the Remo Williams discussion seems familiar to me.

    My Monk:
    Requires Dex 13, Lawful
    Armor: none, uses Dex +1 as AC (ascending), additional +2 AC at 5th, 9th.
    Weapons: various martial artsy weaponry
    Prime Requisite: Wis & Dex, both 13 +5%, both 16 +10%
    Hit Die: d8 (I'm using AD&D die types, so same as Cleric)
    Saves: better of Cleric or Thief for each category

    I'm going with 10 levels max for the advanced classes, so my Monk does d6 unarmed at 1st level, d8 at 3rd, d10 at 6th, and d12 at 9th.

    Thief Skills: Climb Sheer Surfaces (including balancing), Hide in Shadows, Move Silently, Hear Noise as a Thief, Escape Artist (using find/remove traps chances), Tumbling (using pick pockets chances).

    2nd level: Restore Chi, basically lay on hands, heal 2hp per level per day, self or other

    4th level: unarmed attacks as magical weapons (this was actually in the Mentzer Master set before it was in 3E)

    5th level: 2 attacks per round, unarmed strikes only. 9th level 3 unarmed attacks per round

    6th level: 50% resistance to charm, hold, hypnosis, ESP if save fails

    8th level: 50% resistance to poison if save fails, immune to disease

    10th level: Death Touch - target hit saves vs death ray or dead (creatures with 15HD+ or double monk's hit points are immune).

    As it stands, there may be some edits by the time I finish. Gotta work on my Lark and Paladin classes now.