On the Shoulders of Heroes
Monks are powerful warriors that search enlightenment by tapping into mind and magic. They wander the lands searching for ways to prove themselves and to bring balance to the world. Monks are not inherently religious and in fact attempt to better themselves and the world in many different ways.
Adventures are a way for the monk to hone his skills and learn lessons. Monks see it as their sacred duty to balance out the powers of good and evil, siding with both and none depending on the situation. Monks posses many mystical abilities, flexibility and have excellent saving throws, making them wise and versatile companions.
Monks are prohibited from wearing armor, as it restricts their body. Instead they rely on a high wisdom and dexterity scores to keep them from harm. In addition, high strength and constitution enable the monk to absorb and dish out more damage in combat.
Part of the monk training is learning to accept certain values as one’s own. These are all geared towards preserving the balance of good and evil. The orders believe in karma, that every evil deed should be balanced out with a good deed. This means all monks are of neutral disposition. Additionally, as the monk requires almost super human patience and perseverance, all monks are lawful in nature. If a monk changes his alignment for any reason he loses all his monk abilities and is unable to gain more levels in the class.
Monks are not necessarily religious, although they generally have great respect towards the gods. If they do serve a deity they are encouraged to do so in moderation and to not let it affect their search of enlightenment. All monks are part of one of the three orders, which have different philosophies on life.
Unlike most professions being a monk is mostly a lifestyle. Monks first appeared among a cult of hobgoblins, although the tradition is now also practiced among the common people. The hobgoblins, which were called Kumo Senshi, or Cloud Warriors, raised high temples up in the mountain to honor the San. From their culture of fasting and meditation arose the first monastic order. Over hundreds of years the order branched into the multiple orders known today, each with a separate, but like-minded agenda. To this day many monks travel to hobgoblin lands to meditate among the ancient monks. If the stories are true, some of the founders of the order live to this day.
Becoming a Monk
Master monks travel the countryside in search of very young apprentices. In general the only participants deemed suitable are young children, older candidates are extremely rare and must be immensely talented. Monks are trained and indoctrinated for many years before they are deemed ready to venture into the world. In monasteries they are separated from the world to fast, exercise and meditate. Apprentices are allowed their freedom once they have passed a specific trial, after which they are allowed to come and go as they please. A monk must have served the order for at least a decade and pass a grueling trial before earning the right of calling himself a Master.
Many people mistrust the monastic orders, as they refuse to wear armor to protect themselves from harm. Some see the monk’s neutrality as apathy towards the common cause and feel monks are traitors.
Many monks are hobgoblins that hail from the White Mountains. Humans, being especially flexible in disposition, sometimes become monks as well. Monks of other races are rare but not unheard of. Many parents leave their children in the hands of monastic order, although only few of those children rise to become true monks.
A monk makes a great addition to a party of adventurers, as he is a quick, versatile combatant that is excellent at dodging traps and resisting enemy magic.