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Ashtagon
2013-07-07, 02:52 AM
TV Tropes: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RealityIsUnrealistic

I know I know, it's not monkday yet.

The common perception is that the monk class has no sensible place in a believable pseudo-mediaeval European society.

However...

* Only nobles were conventionally admitted into the monastic orders.
* All male nobles who weren't obviously unfit (and some where were) received considerable amounts of martial training in their youth. Any European monk would have received martial training before taking his vows.
* Some European monastic orders (Templars and Hospitallers) were explicitly martial in focus, albeit in armed martial arts.
* Nearly all the mediaeval European texts on martial technique were written by monks.

EriktheRed
2013-07-07, 03:08 AM
A few counterpoints:

1: The monk class, as presented, has a distinctly eastern, not western, feel. The selection of special monk weapons, the focus on unarmed combat, and class features like slow fall, fast movement, and quivering palm, and even the unarmored warrior monk focus are all eastern martial arts in flavor.

2: Just because they are called monks, doesn't mean they need to have the monk class on their character sheet. Templars and Hospitalers are better represented as fighters, knights, or possibly even as paladins.

3:
Nearly all the mediaeval European texts on martial technique were written by monks.

Zombimode
2013-07-07, 03:56 AM
* Some European monastic orders (Templars and Hospitallers) were explicitly martial in focus, albeit in armed martial arts.

I addition to what already has been said, I think you got it backwards here. True, there were some persons in medieval Europe that where monks and could fight. But they couldn't fight because they were monks. They could fight because they were knights that just happen to be monks too.

Vitruviansquid
2013-07-07, 04:01 AM
Not sure if off topic, but many Eastern monks who fought also fought with armor and weapons, such as the sohei of feudal Japan.

Yora
2013-07-07, 05:04 AM
Even when it comes to christian monks, there were great differences between regions during the earlier periods of the middle ages before everything was firmly catholic and all monks conformed to the rules of Benedict, which is basically the style of scribes sitting in their monastery.

Thrudd
2013-07-07, 05:47 AM
Monks fighting unarmed and unarmored against equipped military regiments is certainly a trope created by fiction and movies. Yes, there were regiments of warrior monks (or at least warriors who lived in/near monasteries and may have taken partial sets of monastic vows). They were certainly armed with conventional weapons when they went to battle, and probably armored, too. But then, pretty much everything in D&D is from fiction and movies, it is fantasy. It is definately not a game for historical reenactment and simulationism. The only reason people say that monks don't fit in is because they are based on fiction from China rather than from European fiction and classical mythology. And D&D can't even get their cultures straight, we've got a pseudo shaolin monk with Hong Kong movie powers mixed up with Okinawan (kama), Malaysian (siangham) and other weapons which had nothing to do with monks (but because they are used in various Asian martial arts, they must be "special monk weapons"). Unless the implication is that the monk class is intended to originate on a separate continent from the other classes, with a different culture to explain why they have "special" weapons that only they learn how to use. If we really want the monk class to be like shaolin, they should be proficient with staff, spear, scimitar(dao), rapier(jian), halberd(da dao), just for a start. The 1st ed monk was clearly inspired by the legends of shaolin, possibly even by the TV show "Kung Fu" which was popular when D&D was invented. No, it didn't make any sense to add them into a game which is largely inspired by European mythology and medieval culture, that is probably why they disappeared from 2ed. But they were cool, and if we know anything, we know the original creators could not say no to adding something cool to the game. :smallsmile: Now, 13 years after 3ed brought them back, the D&D monk has basically become its own new thing. Forget about D&D as any sort of simulation or realistic representation of any place or period of history, it never was. Forget about what Shaolin was like, what Japanese monastic orders or European monastics were like. The D&D setting has it's own monastics, and they are all ass-kickers without exception. :smallcool:

Eldan
2013-07-07, 06:05 AM
* Only nobles were conventionally admitted into the monastic orders.
* All male nobles who weren't obviously unfit (and some where were) received considerable amounts of martial training in their youth. Any European monk would have received martial training before taking his vows.
* Some European monastic orders (Templars and Hospitallers) were explicitly martial in focus, albeit in armed martial arts.
* Nearly all the mediaeval European texts on martial technique were written by monks.

1. Not necessarily. That depends a lot on the time period and the order.

2. You'd become a novice at a very young age. Probably before you got much fighting training. A boy would be sent away at 7 or 8 to become a page until about 12-14, when they'd become squires and actually go to war. Novitiates would start at around the same age.

3. The Knights Templar, especially, did not have the right to perform knighting ceremonies. If one wanted to join the order, they already had to be a knight first. I do not know about other military orders, but at least the Templars were knights first, monks second.

Morty
2013-07-07, 06:31 AM
Applying adjectives such as "all" and "only" to several hundred years of European history tends to carry the risk of being seriously wrong, you know.

Frozen_Feet
2013-07-07, 07:05 AM
The reason why the Monk class is seen as not fitting such settings is because D&D Monk is celarly and explicitly based around oriental archetype of a monk, drawing from buddhist and Wuxia archetype.

There is another class for occidental religious militants. It is called "Cleric".

Tengu_temp
2013-07-07, 09:21 AM
* Nearly all the mediaeval European texts on martial technique were written by monks.

I do love reading me some Medieval European manuscrypts about kung-fu, yes.

Madfellow
2013-07-07, 09:31 AM
I think the problem of the monk not fitting in a Western-inspired fantasy setting is a problem more of presentation than anything else. It's been said before on this thread, but the monk is presented with strong Eastern roots, but that does not necessarily have to be the case. Ashtagon pointed out a few key points, but I have a few alternative argument to make:

The East is not the only place you can find martial arts. It's not even the only place you'd find unarmed martial arts. The West has boxing, wrestling, the quarterstaff, and other various techniques. These traditions have parallels all over the world, not just in the East.

If I were to present the monk in a fantasy RPG, here's how I would do it:

"The Boxer has studied a variety of martial arts techniques, nearly achieving mastery in all of them. These techniques include boxing, wrestling, the quarterstaff, and in some cases fencing and other weapons training. He may or may not choose to wear armor in battle. A Boxer is usually not of noble birth, and is drawn to the fighting traditions of the common man, as opposed to the more refined sword fighting techniques of the gentry. In battle, a Boxer's attacks can be made non-lethal with no penalty."

Spiryt
2013-07-07, 09:44 AM
* Nearly all the mediaeval European texts on martial technique were written by monks.

??

Which ones? Save probably I.33?

Bulhakov
2013-07-07, 10:29 AM
This is what european warrior monks looked like:
http://fc06.deviantart.net/fs40/f/2009/039/e/6/Medieval_Warrior_Monks_by_WarriorMonk1118.jpg

On a side note - warrior nuns! :
http://video.interia.pl/obejrzyj,film,131018,sortuj,sm,st,136901,pozycja,3 ,Wojownicze_zakonnice

The Rose Dragon
2013-07-07, 10:36 AM
"The Boxer has studied a variety of martial arts techniques, nearly achieving mastery in all of them. These techniques include boxing, wrestling, the quarterstaff, and in some cases fencing and other weapons training. He may or may not choose to wear armor in battle. A Boxer is usually not of noble birth, and is drawn to the fighting traditions of the common man, as opposed to the more refined sword fighting techniques of the gentry. In battle, a Boxer's attacks can be made non-lethal with no penalty."

When I read this, all I could think about is the Boxer Movement.

Ceiling_Squid
2013-07-07, 01:56 PM
The East is not the only place you can find martial arts. It's not even the only place you'd find unarmed martial arts. The West has boxing, wrestling, the quarterstaff, and other various techniques. These traditions have parallels all over the world, not just in the East.

If I were to present the monk in a fantasy RPG, here's how I would do it:

"The Boxer has studied a variety of martial arts techniques, nearly achieving mastery in all of them. These techniques include boxing, wrestling, the quarterstaff, and in some cases fencing and other weapons training. He may or may not choose to wear armor in battle. A Boxer is usually not of noble birth, and is drawn to the fighting traditions of the common man, as opposed to the more refined sword fighting techniques of the gentry. In battle, a Boxer's attacks can be made non-lethal with no penalty."

See, now I just want to play a western monk with a quarterstaff or something, with the stereotypical brown robe and tonsured hair and everything.

I think the OP is fighting an uphill battle trying to justify the monk historically. It's a very Wuxia-flavored class by default. The trick is not to rely on history to make it fit in with Western fantasy, but to rely on existing western fiction and adapting the monk to it.

I can easily see a monk reflavored using tropes from the Robin Hood myth. It'd essentially be an amalgamation of several characters related to it. One part Friar Tuck, add liberal amounts of quarterstaff fighting and other stuff related to the merry men.

I know it doesn't cover all the bases, but its a start.

Madfellow
2013-07-07, 02:25 PM
I can easily see a monk reflavored using tropes from the Robin Hood myth. It'd essentially be an amalgamation of several characters related to it. One part Friar Tuck, add liberal amounts of quarterstaff fighting and other stuff related to the merry men.

I actually had Robin Hood's Band of Merry Men in mind when writing that post. :smallsmile: The version of the story that I read in school went into quite a bit of detail about the amount of boxing and wrestling that the Merry Men did, along with their quarterstaff training. This was all supplemental to Robin Hood's archery and swashbuckling schtick.

Thrudd
2013-07-07, 03:32 PM
See, now I just want to play a western monk with a quarterstaff or something, with the stereotypical brown robe and tonsured hair and everything.

I think the OP is fighting an uphill battle trying to justify the monk historically. It's a very Wuxia-flavored class by default. The trick is not to rely on history to make it fit in with Western fantasy, but to rely on existing western fiction and adapting the monk to it.

I can easily see a monk reflavored using tropes from the Robin Hood myth. It'd essentially be an amalgamation of several characters related to it. One part Friar Tuck, add liberal amounts of quarterstaff fighting and other stuff related to the merry men.

I know it doesn't cover all the bases, but its a start.

Totally, good idea. We can give monks whatever flavor we want. In my 1ed game, I simply wrote into my world that there are hidden monasteries scattered throughout the world that are basically like the mythological version of Shaolin (represented in movies like 36th Chamber of Shaolin, etc). So what, that they aren't like medieval European monks? It's a fantasy world. I didn't have monks in every town, people wouldn't see them wandering around everywhere. Mostly they stayed in their hidden monasteries, except for the occasional adventurer. If a PC was a monk, they knew where their own monastery was, and as an adventure plot may need to seek out the location of one of the others (in order to challenge its master and gain a new level, per the 1ed rules). They were unaffiliated with the common religious institutions.

Hiro Protagonest
2013-07-07, 03:42 PM
Except a martial ranger (CChamp) or Expert with a quarterstaff fits quarterstaff fighters better. A standard ranger makes a better wuxia warrior than a monk with a quarterstaff.

VeisuItaTyhjyys
2013-07-07, 05:45 PM
I think the issue, generally, is that monks are off in their own little world, more than anything geographically or culturally specific; the heroes of, say, Romance of the Three Kingdoms are just as armed and armored as their European counterparts. Think of how many martial arts movies based wholly or primarily around unarmed combat are framed around martial arts tournaments, feuds between rival schools, &c. in order to keep the focus of the movie on people getting into unarmed combat. In other words, a lot of the fiction that revolves around monks in the D&D sense is about monks fighting other monks. Most examples I can think of to the contrary rely on a modern urban setting to make fistfighting more practical. At least in my experience, warriors who fight unarmed and unarmored by default are pretty rare in traditional medieval fantasy that doesn't specifically revolve around unarmed, unarmored combat, regardless of where it's from.

Scow2
2013-07-07, 05:45 PM
Except a martial ranger (CChamp) or Expert with a quarterstaff fits quarterstaff fighters better. A standard ranger makes a better wuxia warrior than a monk with a quarterstaff.

Everything makes a better Wuxia Warrior Everything than a monk in 3.5.

However, in D&D Next, the Monk no longer has all the wonky weapons, and is just a simple-weapon user. I wish the Quarterstaff could be used as a two-handed weapon that did decent damage.

Arbane
2013-07-07, 07:14 PM
I do love reading me some Medieval European manuscrypts about kung-fu, yes.

"Kung-fu", not so much. Swordfighting, axefighting, maces, riding, wrestling, and so on, YES.

Europeans studied and systematized what fighting techniques worked just like the Chinese did - they were just more materialistic about it. (Mostly)

Scow2
2013-07-07, 07:16 PM
"Kung-fu", not so much. Swordfighting, axefighting, maces, riding, wrestling, and so on, YES.

Europeans studied and systematized what fighting techniques worked just like the Chinese did - they were just more materialistic about it. (Mostly)

And it was written in Western languages, not Chinese, which is given a level of artifical mysticism to western readers.

Thrudd
2013-07-07, 09:43 PM
I think the issue, generally, is that monks are off in their own little world, more than anything geographically or culturally specific; the heroes of, say, Romance of the Three Kingdoms are just as armed and armored as their European counterparts. Think of how many martial arts movies based wholly or primarily around unarmed combat are framed around martial arts tournaments, feuds between rival schools, &c. in order to keep the focus of the movie on people getting into unarmed combat. In other words, a lot of the fiction that revolves around monks in the D&D sense is about monks fighting other monks. Most examples I can think of to the contrary rely on a modern urban setting to make fistfighting more practical. At least in my experience, warriors who fight unarmed and unarmored by default are pretty rare in traditional medieval fantasy that doesn't specifically revolve around unarmed, unarmored combat, regardless of where it's from.

Yes. There are a few examples of shaolin and warrior monks in classic Chinese fiction, they normally have extraordinary strength and martial arts skill, but also fight with a weapon of some sort. Like Lu Zhishen, the sagacious monk of the Water Margin Heroes, he fights with the monk spade and carries a dagger, too. In movies (drawing from folklore), shaolin monks can defend themselves unarmed even aginst most weapons, and have developed iron body skills to the extent that they sometimes can resist blade cuts and stabs and any amount of bludgeoning, ala the beliefs of the boxers of the boxer rebellion. But when they go expecting to fight with armed opponents, they normally do bring weapons comparable to those of their opponents. D&D monks just take those boxer beliefs to an even more supernatural state, making their unarmed attacks as strong or stronger than other weapons. So D&D doesn't exactly mimic any fiction or culture, but clearly is drawn from the beliefs of the boxers of late 19th century China and the legends of the shaolin temple perpetuated through film.
As I see it, there are two general ways to create a D&D campaign world. you create the world concept first, independent of the game system, and then decide how the various classes and mechanics fit in your world (or don't). Or you can take D&D RAW and design a world around it, making a point to include a place for everything and hopefully have some logic to it all. Option one very often can lead to no monk class, unless it is explicitly an "oriental" setting or contains one. Option two can easily create a setting where they fit in perfectly (the world is designed exactly for that purpose). A part of the problem came from people running long-term 2ed AD&D campaigns who then tried to change over to 3ed. Besides very different mechanics, the monk is a very different class that understandably wouldn't fit with the established campaigns. Barbarian, no problem, just a sub class of fighter. Sorcerer, also just a variation of wizard. Paladins easily fit wherever there are clerics. Only the monk had no analogue already existing.

The Rose Dragon
2013-07-07, 09:45 PM
No analogue other than, you know, the monk.

Xuc Xac
2013-07-07, 10:02 PM
And it was written in Western languages, not Chinese, which is given a level of artifical mysticism to western readers.

It's not just the language, but it's also a matter of style. The European manuals are rather technical and plain. "Do this with the strong part of the blade. Do that with the weak part of the blade. For extra control, use your other hand to grip the sword halfway down the blade to better aim the point at joints in armor." They were written by Christians, but they weren't written as Christian texts.

The Chinese, on the other hand, were often writing about philosophy as well as practical techniques. A lot of Eastern martial arts are dressed up with Buddhism or Taoism. A lot of the less practical techniques are only included because they symbolize some point of doctrine and not because they are useful on a battlefield. Even the most practical and secular texts would have been written by someone educated under Confucian traditions. In the West, being literate meant knowing how to read and write. In the Sinosphere, being literate meant knowing how to read, write, and quote classic literature. There was just a lot of extra mysticism and poetry involved in describing Eastern martial arts, so you get a lot of texts that say things like "The ghost waves his flag while the dragon opens the little gate."

In a European text, you might be told "Punch him in the groin if you see an opening", but the Chinese would describe that situation as "When the orchard is undefended, Monkey steals a peach." It's not just important to have the right information; it has to be presented in clever, poetic, intellectual language that makes references to the classics so people know you're educated and take you seriously. (As an aside, there is still fallout from this attitude today in China, Vietnam, and Korea. Teachers are trying to modernize the curriculum, but it's really hard to get students to write essays featuring their own original ideas when they have a thousand years of tradition that says a "a good essay is one that quotes a lot of famous people".)

JusticeZero
2013-07-07, 11:14 PM
Well, the ones in my campaign are the main priests; I removed the "monk list" and gave them full BAB (flurry is, as per PF, perfect TWF with full str bonus) and proficiency in simple and martial. Their fighting skill is psychic/intuitive in nature, in keeping with the high-psionic nature of the setting. So you can do a lot of flavor tweaking in your campaign notes really without having to make too huge of stretches, but those changes that I made were pretty necessary for it to work.

In the historical case, a lot of military orders didn't have any way to retire. So you were a knight/samurai/whatever who would go into battle over and over, eventually you'd say "I'm getting too old and too shellshocked for this.." and the only way for you to quit having to pull out your walker and go into battle the next time your lord sent out the call was to 'discover religion' and retire to a monastery. As a result, monasteries overwhelmingly had a lot of great greybeard fighters.

Knaight
2013-07-08, 01:22 PM
I think the issue, generally, is that monks are off in their own little world, more than anything geographically or culturally specific; the heroes of, say, Romance of the Three Kingdoms are just as armed and armored as their European counterparts.

More than that, the weapons they are armed with are pretty conventional. Sure, weights get exaggerated and such, but if you list off the major characters and their preferred weaponry you pretty much get "spear, spear, guan dao (glaive), spear, sword, spear, spear, bow, sword, spear". Even in Journey to the West, which is literally about a group of traveling monks including one with a vow to stop at a bunch of monasteries to clean, what do we see? We see a club, a staff and a rake, which is still pretty close to a conventional polearm. The 3.x list of monk weapons doesn't exactly map well to even glorified stories of mythical monks.

nightwyrm
2013-07-08, 01:35 PM
More than that, the weapons they are armed with are pretty conventional. Sure, weights get exaggerated and such, but if you list off the major characters and their preferred weaponry you pretty much get "spear, spear, guan dao (glaive), spear, sword, spear, spear, bow, sword, spear". Even in Journey to the West, which is literally about a group of traveling monks including one with a vow to stop at a bunch of monasteries to clean, what do we see? We see a club, a staff and a rake, which is still pretty close to a conventional polearm. The 3.x list of monk weapons doesn't exactly map well to even glorified stories of mythical monks.

Coz weapons like swords and spears are good and effective weapons and things that you'd actually want to use on the battlefield. "Monk" weapons like nunchucks and others were basically modified farming tools which were used by peasants and those living under weapons ban by their feudal overlords. Those only got cool due to martial art movies in the 60s and 70s.

VeisuItaTyhjyys
2013-07-08, 02:04 PM
In the West, being literate meant knowing how to read and write. In the Sinosphere, being literate meant knowing how to read, write, and quote classic literature.

I'd disagree with this part. Quotation, reference, and imitation are a massive part of early Western literature; consider how many of Chaucer's famous works are, at least nominally, translations, not to mention how many of the works he was translating were, themselves, nominal translations. Plenty of classics were expected knowledge for an educated, literate person; the only difference is that the classics were in a different language for a long while.

Knaight
2013-07-08, 06:28 PM
Coz weapons like swords and spears are good and effective weapons and things that you'd actually want to use on the battlefield. "Monk" weapons like nunchucks and others were basically modified farming tools which were used by peasants and those living under weapons ban by their feudal overlords. Those only got cool due to martial art movies in the 60s and 70s.

Precisely, though they also saw use from people who liked to look like they weren't armed, as they are still a step up from just being unarmed.

holywhippet
2013-07-08, 09:03 PM
A few counterpoints:

1: The monk class, as presented, has a distinctly eastern, not western, feel. The selection of special monk weapons, the focus on unarmed combat, and class features like slow fall, fast movement, and quivering palm, and even the unarmored warrior monk focus are all eastern martial arts in flavor.


For medieval society yes. In the 19th century though the French did have savate which was an unarmed martial art using both kicks and punches. Arguably doesn't match some of the flavour like slow fall etc. But then again a lot of that flavour is from Hollywood anyway.

bobthehero
2013-07-08, 09:36 PM
I do love reading me some Medieval European manuscrypts about kung-fu, yes.

Are you implying the Europeans of the middle ages had no form of martial art?

Knaight
2013-07-09, 01:16 AM
For medieval society yes. In the 19th century though the French did have savate which was an unarmed martial art using both kicks and punches. Arguably doesn't match some of the flavour like slow fall etc. But then again a lot of that flavour is from Hollywood anyway.

Unarmed combat and systematized forms thereof have been around basically everywhere for a very long time, including Europe. The issue is that said forms have an unfortunate tendency to fail when brought to bear against people who are actually armed, and as such people had a tendency to not choose to ignore a weapon they had access to. The difference is just the extent to which practice in unarmed combat was specifically emphasized at monasteries.

Eldan
2013-07-09, 03:21 AM
Are you implying the Europeans of the middle ages had no form of martial art?

Maybe not Kung Fu, but it doesn't look too far from Judo to me:
http://www.getty.edu/art/collections/images/enlarge/14346201.JPG

Frozen_Feet
2013-07-09, 03:32 AM
That's because it is. Well, Jujutsu would be more accurate comparison point, but both European grappling arts and Japanese ones developed many of the same techniques, and were used against both armored and unarmored foes.

Human bodies work the same everywhere. There are only so many ways you can punch, kick, throw, choke or lock a person. These innovations have been made independently in a load of places.

It's just that traditional European martial arts fell out of favor when firearms became ubiquitous, and some of them walked the path from combat techniques to sports earlier or farther than their oriental counterparts. Fencing is a prime example.

But if you actually put boxing next to traditional karate, or savate next to myu thai, you'll see they have much more in common than is usually admitted.

Spiryt
2013-07-09, 04:20 AM
"Wrestling" probably would be simplest and most accurate name. It's being called like that - "ringen" in German manuscripts, and wrestling, both folk and 'courtly' has pretty continuous tradition all over Europe.

Eldan
2013-07-09, 04:24 AM
Yup. Still done here, including annual championships. Though by now, it's so formalized, I'm not sure it would have any use in a fight.

http://www.boss-foto.ch/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Schwingen-IMG_8555.jpg

Joe the Rat
2013-07-09, 09:48 AM
Coz weapons like swords and spears are good and effective weapons and things that you'd actually want to use on the battlefield. "Monk" weapons like nunchucks and others were basically modified farming tools which were used by peasants and those living under weapons ban by their feudal overlords. Those only got cool due to martial art movies in the 60s and 70s. This is the entire reason MONKS were added in the first place. Just be glad "Baby Balrog" didn't get standardized early.

Here's an oft-repeated anecdote of mine: Back in the dark days before editions had numbers and my age was in double digits, I was reading through my friend's (AD&D) Players Handbook. And I was looking at the Monk. Here's how it filtered through my "Medieval Fantasy setting, pre-Kung-Fu" brain:

"Monks... wear robes, hole up in monasteries... yeah, so like Friar Tuck. He doesn't carry a big honkin' mace or cast spells. "Open Hand"... So not a fist... So they slap people? Okay... controlled falls? Fast movement? Where does that come from? quivering palm? Master of Flowers? Okay..." Behold the western monk: A fat friar (toncture, big belly, brown robes, and no pants) that runs around at super-speed, bouncing down walls, and pimp-slapping monsters to death.

Scow2
2013-07-09, 11:34 AM
This is the entire reason MONKS were added in the first place. Just be glad "Baby Balrog" didn't get standardized early.

Here's an oft-repeated anecdote of mine: Back in the dark days before editions had numbers and my age was in double digits, I was reading through my friend's (AD&D) Players Handbook. And I was looking at the Monk. Here's how it filtered through my "Medieval Fantasy setting, pre-Kung-Fu" brain:

"Monks... wear robes, hole up in monasteries... yeah, so like Friar Tuck. He doesn't carry a big honkin' mace or cast spells. "Open Hand"... So not a fist... So they slap people? Okay... controlled falls? Fast movement? Where does that come from? quivering palm? Master of Flowers? Okay..." Behold the western monk: A fat friar (toncture, big belly, brown robes, and no pants) that runs around at super-speed, bouncing down walls, and pimp-slapping monsters to death.
...That's awesome. Words fail me.

A Tad Insane
2013-07-09, 11:37 AM
As a last ditched effort, you could always tap into the infinite, dark power that is

REEEEEEEEFLUFIIIIIIINNG!!!!!!1!11

For example, quivering palm is couting blow. Very friar Tuck, if you ask me

JusticeZero
2013-07-09, 01:55 PM
People training in unarmed combat tends to be a result of the fact that if someone is going to attack you outside of a battlefield, it will tend to be when weapons are less than readily available. It's like this:

"That boxing stuff isn't any good, i'd just shoot you if you tried anything!"
"Okay. So where's your gun?"
"It's in my car out in the parking lot two blocks away. They don't let you carry guns into places like this."
"*cracks knuckles*"

Prime32
2013-07-10, 06:19 PM
It's not just the language, but it's also a matter of style. The European manuals are rather technical and plain. "Do this with the strong part of the blade. Do that with the weak part of the blade. For extra control, use your other hand to grip the sword halfway down the blade to better aim the point at joints in armor." They were written by Christians, but they weren't written as Christian texts.

The Chinese, on the other hand, were often writing about philosophy as well as practical techniques. A lot of Eastern martial arts are dressed up with Buddhism or Taoism. A lot of the less practical techniques are only included because they symbolize some point of doctrine and not because they are useful on a battlefield. Even the most practical and secular texts would have been written by someone educated under Confucian traditions. In the West, being literate meant knowing how to read and write. In the Sinosphere, being literate meant knowing how to read, write, and quote classic literature. There was just a lot of extra mysticism and poetry involved in describing Eastern martial arts, so you get a lot of texts that say things like "The ghost waves his flag while the dragon opens the little gate."

In a European text, you might be told "Punch him in the groin if you see an opening", but the Chinese would describe that situation as "When the orchard is undefended, Monkey steals a peach." It's not just important to have the right information; it has to be presented in clever, poetic, intellectual language that makes references to the classics so people know you're educated and take you seriously. (As an aside, there is still fallout from this attitude today in China, Vietnam, and Korea. Teachers are trying to modernize the curriculum, but it's really hard to get students to write essays featuring their own original ideas when they have a thousand years of tradition that says a "a good essay is one that quotes a lot of famous people".)Plenty of Western fighting texts had a spiritual bent. Heck, there's a set of dueling regulations floating around where both participants had to agree not to invoke spirits or use magic charms. I also remember seeing instructions for entering some kind of trance where you gained improved fighting abilities by forcing yourself closer to God, with a warning that abusing/overusing the technique would have grave consequences for your soul.

SiuiS
2013-07-10, 10:48 PM
A few counterpoints:

1: The monk class, as presented, has a distinctly eastern, not western, feel. The selection of special monk weapons, the focus on unarmed combat, and class features like slow fall, fast movement, and quivering palm, and even the unarmored warrior monk focus are all eastern martial arts in flavor.

weapons are switchable and fluff is mutable. I could see these working. I'll have to try it sometime.


The reason why the Monk class is seen as not fitting such settings is because D&D Monk is celarly and explicitly based around oriental archetype of a monk, drawing from buddhist and Wuxia archetype.

There is another class for occidental religious militants. It is called "Cleric".

These are both true though, yes.



I do love reading me some Medieval European manuscrypts about kung-fu, yes.

I love that this makes perfect sense even without the sarcasm~

StreamOfTheSky
2013-07-13, 01:26 PM
The Western world had Pankration (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pankration), which was very similar to modern MMA...except sometimes to the death with few (or none, if Spartan) rules. Does no one know of it, or is it being excluded because it's too ancient? Which would be thoroughly ironic... Especially since Pankration possibly was the fore father to the Eastern martial arts, spread by Alexander the Great's armies. The ones that the D&D monk is based on...

A guy in a pseudo-medieval setting trying to piece back together an ancient martial art form that actually existed but has since been forgotten would be pretty freaking "realistic" -- considering that actually happened in real life, just not until modern times.

SiuiS
2013-07-14, 05:13 AM
The Western world had Pankration (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pankration), which was very similar to modern MMA...except sometimes to the death with few (or none, if Spartan) rules. Does no one know of it, or is it being excluded because it's too ancient? Which would be thoroughly ironic... Especially since Pankration possibly was the fore father to the Eastern martial arts, spread by Alexander the Great's armies. The ones that the D&D monk is based on...

A guy in a pseudo-medieval setting trying to piece back together an ancient martial art form that actually existed but has since been forgotten would be pretty freaking "realistic" -- considering that actually happened in real life, just not until modern times.

"Wrestling isn't a martial art" I think.

BayardSPSR
2013-07-14, 05:36 AM
As far as I can tell, the biggest difference between Western and Eastern fighting monks is that the Western monks seem much jollier.

Take this example:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/25/Ms_I33_fol_04v.jpg

They both seem to be having a wonderful time.

Zadhadras
2013-07-14, 07:55 AM
A western inspired martial monk would look like the Paladin..a chaste and righteous holy warrior. He would be rigorously trained in the martial arts appropriate to his way of fighting..mounted and unmounted combat with weapons and grappling, in armour and out of it. His martial arts would look a bit like this

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tm6P1boVkY0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0fV1oB3j4c

And yes, wrestling is a martial art. As much as Kendo or Muay Thai. Or boxing for that matter.

In a western setting I think the niche of martial artist could be filled by a pit-fighter type class that draws its inspiration from Mixed Martial Artists, Boxers and Professional wrestlers. He doesn't use Qi, he draws his powers from his incredible Determination.

Historically speaking real martial monks were quite rare. The monasteries did field bodies of fighting men, but most of those fighting forces were in fact mercenaries that were raised by the monasteries and trained to fight in formations. (buddhist sects devoted quite a bit of time to killing each other and meddling in politics...read up on how the current dominant sect of Tibetan Buddhism came to power some time.)

The modern image of martial monks fame that inspired the Monk class don't exist and never really did. Those guys in the robes doing martial arts demos are wushu dancers who are trained in schools around the old monastery and put on shows for tourists. The actual Shaolin monastery was razed to the ground centuries ago and its population of monks slaughtered. The only real monks in Shaolin are a handful of non-martial monks.

StreamOfTheSky
2013-07-14, 09:31 AM
"Wrestling isn't a martial art" I think.

Pankration was a lot more than just wrestling, though. It was called "all powers" for a reason. It had grappling like wrestling, hand strikes like boxing, but also was prominently known for its kicks, throws and takedowns, and joint locks.

I specifically mentioned Pankration instead of the other Olympic sports of boxing and wrestling specifically because it incorporates so many different unarmed combat elements...and because it actually was used in real battles and thus was clearly "practical." Then there's the legends (which becoming reality should be JUST FINE in a fantasy game...) of Thesues using Pankration to defeat the Minotaur unarmed, Heracles using it to wrestle and choke out the Nemean Lion, and regular hoplites using it to break foes' shields with a strong front heel kick.

DM Rage
2013-07-16, 11:21 PM
Did you know that some kata have been passed down through the Catholic church over the centuries? Chatan Yara no Broom and Matsu Higa no Crucifix among them.

SiuiS
2013-07-17, 02:26 AM
Pankration was a lot more than just wrestling, though. It was called "all powers" for a reason. It had grappling like wrestling, hand strikes like boxing, but also was prominently known for its kicks, throws and takedowns, and joint locks.

I specifically mentioned Pankration instead of the other Olympic sports of boxing and wrestling specifically because it incorporates so many different unarmed combat elements...and because it actually was used in real battles and thus was clearly "practical." Then there's the legends (which becoming reality should be JUST FINE in a fantasy game...) of Thesues using Pankration to defeat the Minotaur unarmed, Heracles using it to wrestle and choke out the Nemean Lion, and regular hoplites using it to break foes' shields with a strong front heel kick.

I know. But it's like the literal meaning of Kung Fu Pankration (and similar western arts) are either too narrow to feel like a martial art, or too broad. Pankration is... Saying "I'm skilled in Pankration" is like saying "I'm skilled at combat", and tells nothing of technique, strength or skill in general use. When we hear martial arts, we think one specific one and attribute that to the category. We are generally too familiar with western stuff to categorize it the same, despite boxing basically being upper body karate with rules.


Did you know that some kata have been passed down through the Catholic church over the centuries? Chatan Yara no Broom and Matsu Higa no Crucifix among them.

I am skeptical.

Zadhadras
2013-07-17, 08:34 AM
The idea that wrestling and boxing aren't martial arts is a new phenomenon. Before the spread of eastern martial arts, if you wanted to study martial arts in the English speaking world you went to a boxing gym or a wrestling gym.

Arbane
2013-07-17, 01:57 PM
The idea that wrestling and boxing aren't martial arts is a new phenomenon. Before the spread of eastern martial arts, if you wanted to study martial arts in the English speaking world you went to a boxing gym or a wrestling gym.

Or fencing, but yeah.

Prime32
2013-07-17, 06:50 PM
The idea that wrestling and boxing aren't martial arts is a new phenomenon. Before the spread of eastern martial arts, if you wanted to study martial arts in the English speaking world you went to a boxing gym or a wrestling gym.Likewise, wushu was referred to as "Chinese boxing".