|Taking names and kicking ass would be my guess.|
Don't ban monks. Make Western martial arts masters, instead.
Give Your Monks A Makeover
I talked about this forever and a day ago in What's In A Name? How Character Class is Limiting Your Creativity, but the points made there need reiteration from time to time. So, power wash all of the flavor text away, and look at this class's skeleton. A monk, at its foundation, is a character who is a capable unarmed combatant, with the ability to achieve supernatural feats while wearing no armor, and who eventually becomes immune to disease, and the grip of aging.
Are you telling me you can't think of any way you can make that fit your local setting?
|Start with the Brothers of Fire, and go from there.|
- The Hammerhands: Warriors from the north, these men wade into battle with lightning in their eyes, and thunder in their fists. With bellowing war cries, they smash shields and break bones with their bare hands. They move with the speed and ferocity of the storm, leaving wreckage in their wakes. A group similar to this made it into my 100 Random Mercenary Companies, for those looking for additional fighting forces that would fit with a monk's skills.
- Burners: One part slam-music fight club and one part performance art, the Street-Corner Order of The Inferno both fascinates and terrifies. Called Burners by most, everything is frenetic energy and heat in their moshing war pits. Those who embrace the fire, though, can call on it to do the impossible. Heal over wounds with nary a scar, destroy diseases and poisons, and allow them to dance away from blows with the unpredictability of a flame's chaotic movements.
- Blackouts: The only thing scarier than an orc warrior with a sword in hand, is one who doesn't wear a sword at all. When the dwarven King Urdo The Overconfident moved on the Black Mountains to take them, he never expected what was waiting. Specially-trained orc commandos, called Blackouts, moved through the tunnels like ghosts, leaving dead sentries behind them without so much as a sound. It wasn't until one of these warriors infiltrated the king's own tent, and had a hand at his throat, that the King realized what a mistake he had made.
And that's just off the top of my head. You could even build a monk who takes inspiration from a real-world Western martial art like Glima, a martial art invented by the Vikings, as well as Greco-Roman wrestlers, old-time pugilists, or even Bartitsu, one of the original modern mixed martial arts.
The Sky is The Limit, Here
There really is no limit to how you can spin monks. Whether they're adherents to a religious order, trained by a select branch of the military, half-mad punk rock cultists, or something else entirely, make a kind of monk that fits your game if you don't like the stereotype associated with the class. And, if you're still having trouble, take a look at the 5 Tips For Playing Better Monks post I put together a while back.
Because it's true that PCs need to fit your world. But if your players really want a monk, then why not expand your world and meet them halfway? Especially if you end up with stick-fighting Friar Tuck cracking skulls and butting heads while quoting bits of battlefield wisdom at his foes in between slugs of communion wine... because that sounds like a pretty awesome character to have at your table.
That's all for this week's Fluff post. Hopefully it gave you all some ideas, and you're having fun following this rabbit hole down as far as it goes. For more content from yours truly, check out my Vocal archive, or head over to the YouTube channel Dungeon Keeper Radio where I chip in and make stuff with other talented gamers. To stay on top of all my latest releases, follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. And, if you want to help support Improved Initiative, head over to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page, or just Buy Me A Coffee. I really appreciate any help you can give, and it does make a big difference.