Monk (Dungeons & Dragons)

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For other uses, see monk (disambiguation).
Monk / Mystic
Characteristics
Power source Psionic
Alignment Any lawful (pre-4th edition)
Publication history
Editions All
(as a standard class) 1st, 3rd, 3.5, 4th
(as an alternate class) OD&D, BD&D (as Mystic) 2nd
First appearance Supplement II - Blackmoor
Image Wizards.com image
Stats OGL stats

The monk (also mystic) is a playable character class in most editions of the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game.[1] A D&D monk is a fantasy martial artist, specializing in unarmed combat.

Publication history[edit]

Dungeons & Dragons (1974-1976)[edit]

The original monk character class was created by Brian Blume, inspired by the fictional martial arts of the Destroyer series of novels.[2] The monk was introduced in 1975's Blackmoor supplement.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977-1988)[edit]

The monk was a main character class in the first edition Players Handbook.[3][4]

In 1981, Philip Meyers argued that "the monk is the weakest of the character classes" in an article published in Dragon Magazine #53 (later reprinted in Best of Dragon, Volume III). Meyers offered an extensive unofficial revision to the class, expanding and strengthening many of its game abilities (for example, increasing the monk's hit dice by 50%, raising the maximum level from 17 to 21, and adding class abilities as a "form of psionic power").[5]

In 1985, the next official revision of the monk appeared as a character class in the first edition Oriental Adventures rulebook, by David Cook.[6] This version retained most of the class as presented in the first edition Players Handbook, but replaced the abstract hand-to-hand attacks with a more specific rules system to emulate different styles of martial arts (such as karate, judo, etc.). According to a reviewer for White Dwarf, this version of the monk was "altered to fit into an Eastern pattern", and was "at last in the proper context".[7]

Dungeons & Dragons (1977-1999)[edit]

The monk was available as a character class known as a "mystic" in the game's "Basic" edition, introduced in the Rules Cyclopedia.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989-1999)[edit]

The monk was dropped as one of the standard character classes available in the second edition.[4][8] The Complete Priest's Handbook did, however, allow for clerics to take on some aspects of the monk class via the monk kit. This version of the monk retained clerical spellcasting and gained unarmed combat skills.

The monk was reintroduced as a second edition class of the priest group in Faiths & Avatars and Player's Option: Spells & Magic. This version of the monk is a fully playable character class, but differs significantly from previous incarnations of the monk. This version of the monk gains priestly spells (though from different spheres of influence than the cleric) and retains skill with unarmed attacks and unarmored defenses, but no other abilities attributed to earlier versions of the monk.

With the release of The Complete Psionics Handbook, many of the psionic or psionic-like abilities of the 1st edition monk became available in 2nd edition, though the 2nd edition monk was not given these abilities.

The monk was also reintroduced in The Scarlet Brotherhood for the Greyhawk setting, along with the Assassin class. This version is a direct update of the first edition class, and has no clerical powers.

Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition (2000-2007)[edit]

With the release of the third edition rules, the monk was reintroduced as a class.[8]

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008-2013)[edit]

A preview version of the class was published online in the 375th issue of Dragon, released in May 2009.

The playtest version of the class published in May 2009 has the psionic power source and the striker role. Earlier in its development, the 4th edition monk was intended to use the ki power source. As strikers, monks are focused on mobility and single-target damage. Most monk at-will and encounter attack powers use the "full discipline" mechanic, powers with this mechanic have two modes: an offense-oriented mode which can be used by expending a standard action (the same action type used to make standard attacks) and a mobility-oriented mode which can be used by expending a move action (the same action type used for normal movement).[dated info]

As published in Player's Handbook III,[9] the Monk uses the Psionic power source, but may use ki focuses (similar in use to implements used by spellcasting classes) to add enhancements to his unarmed attacks. The monk class now makes it possible for them to use weapons effectively, even allowing them to be used as implements for some powers. In the absence of proficiency with high-damage weapons, however, the monk is still primarily an unarmed class.

Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition (2014-)[edit]

Gameplay[edit]

In D&D, gameplay typically focuses on a small group of player characters, often referred to as a party of adventurers. In such groups, the monk typically serves as a hand-to-hand combatant. Though less able to absorb damage than characters of the fighter classes, the monk class has several quasi-magical abilities (such as the ability to evade damage from magical attacks) in addition to their combat abilities. Monks typically use only their bare hands as weapons, delivering blows comparable in power to magical weapons as the character advances in game experience.

Beginning in the third edition, monk characters possess many supernatural abilities similar to those of martial arts monks in movies and folklore. These ki powers make monk characters able to resist disease, poison, and certain spells, to move more swiftly, and to reduce damage from falls and area attacks.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Livingstone, Ian (1982). Dicing with Dragons, An Introduction to Role-Playing Games (Revised ed.). Routledge. ISBN 0-7100-9466-3. 
  2. ^ E. Gary Gygax, "Preface", Oriental Adventures (1st edition, 1986): "In its early development, the D&D game was supplemented by various booklets, and in one of these the monk, inspired by Brian Blume and the book series called The Destroyer, was appended to the characters playable. So too was this cobbled-together martial arts specialist placed into the AD&D game system, even as it was being removed from the D&D game."
  3. ^ Turnbull, Don (December 1978 – January 1979). "Open Box: Players Handbook". White Dwarf (review) (Games Workshop) (10): 17. 
  4. ^ a b Schick, Lawrence (1991). Heroic Worlds: A History and Guide to Role-Playing Games. Prometheus Books. pp. 84–85. ISBN 0-87975-653-5. 
  5. ^ Meyers, Philip. Dragon #53, pp. 7-9.
  6. ^ Gygax, Gary, with David Cook, and François Marcela-Froideval. Oriental Adventures (TSR, 1985)
  7. ^ Shepherd, Ashley (February 1986). "Open Box: Dungeon Modules". White Dwarf (Games Workshop) (74): 9–10. ISSN 0265-8712. 
  8. ^ a b "Dungeons & Dragons FAQ". Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on 2008-10-03. Retrieved 2008-10-03. 
  9. ^ Mike Mearls, Bruce R. Cordell, Robert J. Schwalb (2010). Player's Handbook III Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 978-0-7869-5390-5.

Skip Williams, Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook. Player's Handbook (Wizards of the Coast, 2000)

Eric Cagle, Jesse Decker, Jeff Quick, James Wyatt. Arms and Equipment Guide (Wizards of the Coast, 2001)

External links[edit]