Monk who stole his training. (Concept help.)
By - Steelquill
This isn't quite what you're pitching, but there's classic themes in wuxia of would-be martial artists who stole secret scrolls etc. (example: Jen Yu and Jade Fox from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and have rushed ahead in their training through those secrets, without acquiring the deep understanding which underlies those teachings (including the teaching of when not to use them). That way you can have proper members of the order seeking them out to get the scrolls back, find more scrolls in the future, and so forth.
Oh yeah, I’m well aware and that movie is great. Could make for a good plot hook, but in that case, Jen was already established as being gifted in Kung Fu. Jade Fox and the Green Destiny basically were cheat sheets.
In this, I was thinking there was a more explicitly magical version of a similar idea. And some _Wuxia_ have more clearly supernatural elements than CTHD did.
What about bullet proof monk style, not sure of you wver saw the movie, but the words on the scroll magically lifted from the scroll and basically embedded themselves in the flesh of sean william scotta character and he became an expert.
So maybe you're character discovered/stole/bought some of these magic scrolls and they absorbed into him for the powers and each level up signifies him having fully absorbed the words of the text. Maybe one big scroll and it takes a long time to absorb all of, or every few levels you get a new scroll
No yeah, that works a lot better with the concept.
Could be really nice as a flavour if adding to the scroll being magical, the PC is literally marked by it. And so the scrolls writings grow like tattoos on their body and they have to make sure to cover them up. Magical writing covers them more and more as levels progress
If you'll want a more edgy/dark story - those scrolls are made from the skin of a powerful warrior. When they die or are killed, they are skinned and embedded in magical writing
Your character would be hunted by people of the monastery that creates those scrolls and their goal is to kill and skin the character as that's the only way of getting back the full magic and knowledge of the sacred warriors of their monastery
And for how/why he actually got said scroll - he was part of the transport of said scroll and he heard that those can instantly turn a person into a fearsome and ferocious warrior. While being a merchant (or whatever background you wish for) he could go to a monastery, train for years... Or he could just take a peek into that scroll and maybe get really good at fighting quick
Once he opened it, the scroll disappeared and the markings appeared on his skin
Alternative version for an idea - he knew about those scrolls and bought one (noble), smuggled it (criminal), was part of an escort and used it as means of saving others (folk hero), got it as a package to be delivered to a higher up (soldier) etc.
I like the idea of the scroll’s contents being visualized upon him like glowing tattoos.
The skinning idea was a little darker than I wanted to go but still.
The concept where someone uses a suit that grants martial abilities or at least strength is not uncommon also, from the Battle Dougi worn by Akane Tendo to Jackie Chan's *The Tuxedo* to anything where the character wears a powered exoskeleton such as Sigourney Weaver's power loader in Aliens.
I think the Astral Self subclass is something you should look at. Magical arms, mask, body doing the punching for you.
Could be any source really, depending on how you style them. Tentacles like a GOO warlock, powersuit like iron man, or Spawn or Venom...
Elemental style lightning that strikes out when you attack...
I don’t disagree in terms of aesthetics, the thing I was wondering was more origin. Like _how_ did he “steal” his training without actually spending the years it takes to learn it?
Staying very classic here: the astral body is a master of the art. The player character found the master dying in an alley, covered in mysterious wounds. They attempted to rob the master for coin, only for the master, with his last strength, to perform a hidden technique. This transferred the master's spirit into the character's body, and the master now teaches this once street thug, hoping for the possibility of revenge. When the astral body manifests, the master takes over, helping to direct the character's strikes and using more powerful abilities.
This one right here.
That’s actually a pretty cool idea. Maybe not specifically the “tries to rob the dying man” part but I do like the idea of the “astral self” ironically not being one’s “self” but another person entirely.
Also creates an interesting dynamic because instead of the guy’s master being far off, dead, or what have you, he’s always with him. (Well I guess he is technically still dead, but you get the point.)
Which could be made even more interesting is if his master was someone who considered him unworthy of his teachings let alone to use his great skills.
Even picturing it, I imagine the ghost of the infamous Bak Mei, or White Eyebrow.
Or your character could've stumbled upon a master that was robbed and left for dead in an alley. With his last breath he performed the task to inhabit your body and is now using you to get revenge on his killers. Should give plenty of RP and sidequest material.
Hah, I was actually thinking of Hikaru no Go when I wrote it! And, yeah, however you bump into the master, there's different vibes & ways to set up their relationship.
Not a clue what that is. Although the Japanese name gives me an idea. Humorous, that my inspiration is from _Wuxia_ and Kung Fu movies, obviously Chinese. And yours are Japanese. Just funny considering the real life reoccurring rivalry between the two nations and martial arts communities within both.
Ooh, and you could play a Kalashtar with it! My single favorite race, it has good synergy with its wisdom increase, and it has the “dual mind” aspect that you get to roleplay through.
I admit, I’ve never played one before. Does one have to be born haunted/possessed by spirits to be Kalashtar or can one “become” one?
Entirely up to your flavoring! As per Eberron lore, it's someone who's been possessed or haunted by the Quori, but I don't think that's necessarily a thing that has to happen at birth. That being said, so long as it's mechanically the same I doubt your DM will care – the last two Kalashtar I played (one in a campaign, one in a oneshot) was an Ancestral Guardians Barbarian who communicates with his ancestors, and a Stars Druid who receives these strange prophecies he interprets to be signs from his god.
So Kalashtar aren’t so much a “race” with a distinct culture as they are like werewolves? People who happen to have something happen to them that makes them distinct from normality?
Basically! They're haunted by the Quori, which are basically spirits fleeing the taken-over Plane of Dreams.
Ooooo dream realm connections are always fun too.
Sounds like my guy is taking shape.
He was an initiate at some monk School but got shamed or dishonored before he could actually learn anything, in retaliation for his shame he did something really bad, Like killed the grandmaster in his sleep or stole the sacred relic, and in doing so he was possessed by either the grandmaster he killed of some great kung fu spirit and so now whenever he fights, he just lets the monk spirit do the fighting.
Kalashtar, astral arms monk
A deal with a powerful creature like a warlock..
Yeah, the idea has been posted elsewhere and I’m not against the idea. Just need some suggestions on how that would look. Since none of the patrons really lend themselves to _Wuxia_.
You astral self could literally be a stand
What’s a stand?
They are the manifestations of one's fighting spirit, they are from jojo
Oh that thing. Don’t watch it, so I don’t really have a desire to emulate it.
Could be an interesting rationale for a Monk/Warlock multiclass.
"I need to be able to fight to protect my girlfriend's honor, but I don't have time to train--the duel is in a week!"
"I might be able to help with that... if you'll make a *deal*."
I mean, you could just be a pact monk without the multiclass.
That’s more “master swordsman” than “martial artist.” Granted there’s a lot of overlap, more separated by culture and genre than practice.
And as I said, he’s not really desperate and justified. Part of the character is that he actually IS lazy and slothful and willing to take the easy road. Which isn’t a good thing but that’s what character development is for.
I like just reflavoring things to have a warlock vibe. It's not that this monk trained really hard for their abilities, they pledge their soul to a warlock who forces them to do more and more deeds on their behalf. I had a sorcerer once along those lines.
People in those comments keep mentioning astral self, that could be the way the patron shows themselves. These extra limbs sprouting out
I still want the whole martial arts theme and vibe though rather than a Warlock one. I don’t mind mixing a little bit.
Maybe instead of a patron, it's a monk ancestor who is forcing their great great grand whoever to finish a mythic quest on their behalf. Less stolen, more reluctant/lazy hero.
Some outside force making them train or giving them power consistently makes more sense to me than a single magic item that would imbue them with skill. Level ups make more sense to me that way
> Another is maybe seeking the ruins of a destroyed and/or ancient monastery and is endowed with the collective skills of its disciples or possessed by the ghost of a master.
Good backstory for an Astral Self Monk. You could prioritize Wisdom instead of Dexterity (although you could/should still keep your Dexterity high enough so you wouldn't be too much of a burden).
Why the wisdom over dexterity priority?
Because Astral Self Monks can attack using their Wisdom if they activate their Arms Of The Astral Self.
More specifically on why,
It would make you suck at being a monk unless you activated the power.
You can use wis for unarmed strikes, so if you had 14 dex 20 wis, then you go from a +2 to a +5.
If you go the 'possessed by a master' route then you can flavor leveling up as the spirit taking over when you get the head and body features.
At level 17 you get 3 attacks per round, but only if the arms do all the punching
Had a Kenku monk that was told he didn't have enough talent for martial arts to be worth teaching so he stood in the monastery wall and mimicked the teacher. He also made his own sound effects with every attack, so it sounds like he hits something even if he missed.
KENKU MIMICRY! Why didn’t I think of that?! That could make for a great monk character! He’d be like the ditto fighters in fighting games, watched his opponent then copies his style.
There is a classic trope in Irish mythology of a folk hero acquiring knowledge because they were tending something cooking for their master - the fish of knowledge in the case of Finn McCool, and another hero who's name I don't remember who was stirring a magic cauldron for a witch. In both cases, something from the cooking spatters on the hero's finger and they pop their finger in their mouth instinctually, as a result, they gain the magic knowledge. There's all sorts of stories like this in the world's mythology.
Like others have stated, such tropes exist in the WuXia tradition as well. One important thing to consider is that a PC class can be thought of as simply a package of mechanics which is described with some suggested flavor text. So maybe your monk somehow acquired his class abilities though magical means. There doesn't have to be any existing official magic object which would enable this. It's a reasonable enough thing to happen, assuming it feels right in the general tone of the game your DM is trying to run.
The thing is, I like it when classes are more than the mechanics, when they mean something to the world and story. There’s a reason Monk and Paladin are my favorites while Fighter and Rogue are not. The former have very specific and flavorful roles, the latter can be almost anything.
That said, I’m well aware the concept does not _require_ a mechanical magic item. I was just wondering if there were existing ones that would fit.
By bringing up the idea of classes being mechanical packages, what I’m really suggesting is that it makes it much easier to reflavor the class. I find a lot of people get really hung up on the class descriptions without realizing that one can very easily take the mechanics and make up their own descriptions.
Also: regarding the item, there are a variety of books in the game which give you a stat boost and then aren’t useable again for like 100 years. None of these items give you a new class, but there isn’t a reason something like that couldn’t exist. At the very least, you could use one as the basis for what you want to make up.
Yeah I know, and I don’t mind tweaking, as that’s very clearly what I’m doing here. At the same time, I hate it when people ignore or pervert the class until the mechanics are the ONLY thing left of it and it’s not even the same archetype.
Biggest pet peeve with this is when people take the Monk and they remove any aspect of Asian culture, asceticism, spirituality, philosophy, or even the bare minimum of formalized training to make “street brawlers.”
“Then why _play_ a monk?!”
Drunken Master! You were traveling in search and for a shortcut, made a devil's bargain while drunk, and now can only really do things while tipsy. You could also do it by drinking tainted magic.
Drinking . . . a special kind of potion. That’s actually a really good idea!
He gets the recipe of how to make it from an illicit source. Would constantly be brewing more of it during rests. Would be paranoid and covetous of his “medication.” And a string of bad rolls could be him loosing or running out of them.
For that route it's almost like Bane from DC comics but it's a "dex potion" instead of a steroid so he has to keep a lab running without people knowing which sounds legit in my book
Well he’d probably keep the supplies to make it on hand. But he’d also likely secret the actual process of making it away. Maybe saying he was going to take a leak or something. And if he is discovered, he calls it his “medication.” For a disease he doesn’t actually have.
I’m liking this idea more and more.
It keeps getting better honestly. Imma steal this idea for a one shot or something tbh
I guess I really can't copyright it or something.
Actually had this funny idea of doing Drunken Master, have him always drink from a bottle, mid brawl even to add to the drunken master bit, then when one of the other party says he "needs a drink" I give it to them then say out of character.
"It's just water."
And when they react in-character that it's non-alcoholic. I say,
"I'm a monk, I don't drink."
Here are a few premises that might hit your plot points. Since warlock and shadow monk is such a powerfulcombo and goes well with your premise I suggest looking into it. Living Weapon monk by Keith Baker (Eberron creator) is a homebrew that could be someone using ancient alchemy and forbidden techniques to modify their body.
- Your character started as a spellcaster or scholar of some kind. After some critical formative experience, he desired combative power and tried to study the publicly available texts. Quickly reaching a plateau in his training he reaches out to a wizard who possesses a spell matrix, a machine room serving as both a permanent holder of spellslots and an adaptive ritual casting space. So, after begging for help or perhaps establishing a relationship in another way the wizard plugs him into the spell matrix and inputs a variety of old combat texts. Therefore your character is "plugged in" to a great amount of combat knowledge and techniques learning them like Neo in The Matrix- very quickly, but lacking the experience and physical training to properly use them. See if your dm is willing to debuff you so you can gain more dex or wisdom over time or at critical moments. Or perhaps you get feats that demonstrate this magical origin like magic initiate, martial adept, fey ancestry, etc. So you "steal" the techniques by uploading through the wizard's fuckery.
- Your character was a child soldier forced to pick up various techniques in their traumatic upbringing. Somewhere along the line they find a secret scroll of a specific monk sect that his army had mostly destroyed. This begins a reevaluation of their life as they realize independence is now possible, but they lack a teacher to complete their training. Yet...the scroll itself speaks to them, giving them incredible training and techniques of its own volition through dreams and visions. This could go well with a warlock/shadow monk, a potent combo. So basically you steal what your army/commander should have gotten in spoils.
- Your character is an explorer/historian/cleric/acolyte that came upon hidden secrets suggesting the corruption of their order. After a secretive investigation their worst suspicions are confirmed and they must escape into the dark caves or forests of their home. Close to starving, ragged, pained they rest inside an enclosed structure with strange statues of mythical creatures half buried in the walls and floors. Upon waking...they feel much better, except for the fact the statues are openly discussing whether they are worthy. After some deliberation one of the statues declares they will teach you, if you are willing, to root out the corruption of your temple/city/order and bring honor to its ancestors. The walls shift and a grueling training begins, but ends quickly as time is if the essence. A tattoo upon you is the only evidence of your newfound powers, and meditation becomes the means to tap into it. In essence you "steal" the powers in order to destroy those who use them for ill.
The Eldritch Adept feat for the Devil’s Sight invocation as a human is a great way to replicate a Warlock/Shadow Monk multiclass without having to multiclass, saving you points you’d otherwise put into CHA. You get the flavor of an Arcane event in your background, but get to focus on straight Monk levels.
I really like the second and third options. They don’t exactly fit what I’m going for but they could be future characters.
I have a player in my campaign has a rather adjacent Character concept.
He's a Goliath rune Knight Fighter (we just got level 3) who stole the Runes for his Subclass from his village Shaman. Part of their coming of age ceremony to earn the right to access the Runes was trial by combat, which his opponent cheated to win. His character stole the Runes because he felt he deserved them, then ran away.
I think you might be able to pull off something similar with Scrolls to teach the Martial Arts. Alternatively, if you want to leave the option out there that your character could lose their class features you could say that they stole a kind of "ki vessel" that grants them access to their Ki features and they never learned to harness their own ki. Without the vessel, they lose access to Ki and Ki adjacent features, but not necessarily everything (you'd probably keep the bonus move speed from Unarmored movement, but not the ability to move up and down things. Additionally, your Martial Arts feature would stick around, but no Flurry of blows etc etc)
I like this, add on gauntlets of orge power or a belt of giant strength to act as a stolen artifact and boom stronk monk giant man.
Actually no, I would not mind that risk. Indeed, part of the character concept is that his prized skills are decidedly NOT innate or his own. Again, the idea is that he wanted to be a monk, maybe not even the best one, but for one reason or another, he couldn’t commit himself to the years of training.
So he uses magic, in this case, maybe some enchanted scrolls of forms that impart their stored knowledge as if one actually learned the techniques, to get the result without the time.
Staying in line with the idea of the "Ki vessel" it could be that just holding on to the vessel leaks a portion of the knowledge of Martial arts into your character.
Better yet, make the Ki vessel sentient and is obligated to teach its bearer. The monastery didn't want to teach you, but the Bound spirit of the vessel has to.
Edit: you could also take it this way. Your character stole the vessel because he had heard whoever bears it gains immense Martial power and they wanted it for themselves (pretty evil) The vessel is sentient and is actually using the monk teachings to redeem your character, in hopes that one day you will return the vessel to its rightful place.
Edit 2: more discussion on the idea, the vessel chooses not to teach you how to properly harness your own Ki and only use his own. In this way he has a hold over you to keep you from doing anything too heinous. This gives the DM the opportunity to include you as an evil character in what may otherwise be a good campaign and provides motivation to be working with the group (the vessel says it won't work with you otherwise) and doing good deeds, while all being a grouch about it.
That’s a good concept if I do want to play the “arrogant kung fu guy” a la Tai Lung. Not who I’m going for but definitely another concept I could use down the line.
Program illusion might be twisted to fit your narrative. But instead of projecting illusions outward it projects mental images into your mind. Something like an enchanted sash worn by a deceased master with the collective knowledge of masters before.
The knowledge is there but your ability to interpret or apply that knowledge is lacking but grows with practice. Kind of like watching a "how to" video.
Okay that actually really works well! And the idea that it’s something that can be taken from him or that he could loose could be roleplayed. Even more still, maybe his friends (and enemies) don’t know about the sash’s magic. Which could be a secret that gets revealed.
Tbh I haven’t read any of the comments so something like this may have already been posted but a player in my game is doing something similar. He was a regular guy that found a monk master dying on the road after a battle with some assassins and was badly poisoned. He didn’t want his martial arts prowess to be lost, nor his legacy to be tarnished by such a dishonorable end, so he asked the PC to take his prayer beads which he endowed with his spirit as his final breath. Now this guy slowly gains his martial arts abilities as he acclimates to them (leveling up) but he also can’t reveal how he received them, making that monks disciples see this guy as an enemy who stole them. The prayer beads are a magic item that cannot be removed from him without consent. This gives him the agency to pass them on to someone “more deserving” if his character ever feels the need, but he also has his own quest that would be impossible to accomplish without the abilities he’s gained from them.
Okay see that’s almost exactly what I was looking for. Nice to know I’m not the only one who thought of this concept.
How about reflavoring your monk to be mechanically a Monk, but thematically a Warlock?
Some ancient being with the martial arts mastery of a Bruce Lee (or something more eastern mythology if this is your preference) offered your character this power, this skill at a price.
If DM is down to RP it, it could be a price yet to be paid, or only partially paid off. In classic Martial arts movie fashion, this patron could be using the character for it's own, inscrutable ends, perhaps one day to betray the character and his party. (the plot of the video game RPG Jade Empire comes to mind.)
The idea has been floated around about a Warlock patron, but how does that translate in this instance to him getting all the skills instantly without the training?
About the same as a Patron just instantly giving a Warlock access to pact magic and cantrips like eldritch blast. Only difference is the more martial and ki nature of the gifted abilities.
Fair enough. Although I still want to be a monk in terms of themed around spiritual and physical pursuit of the martial arts.
I'm assuming a single level dip into warlock isn't what you want?
If not, maybe talk with your DM, and see if you could have struck a deal with a fiend/warlock patron, similar to the warlock.
I’m not _against_ it. Especially since “quick and easy path to power” is their shtick.
Here's the thing: The Hexblade has the Hex Warrior feature at level 1:
>At 1st level, you acquire the training necessary to effectively arm yourself for battle. You gain proficiency with medium armor, shields, and martial weapons.
The influence of your patron also allows you to mystically channel your will through a particular weapon....
The Hexblade patron gives the warlock the ability to fight up close and personal. So that could be an in-canon reason for it, especially if you went with Way of the Kensei Monk.
Using armor shield and weapons sure undoes a lot of what makes a monk a monk.
I'm talking just for flavour here, not optimization. Totally agree though, Monk and warlock isn't a very common combination for good reason :)
Which to my mind is kind of silly because it’s not like shields are absent in Chinese martial arts. Or historically monks didn’t also wear armor when it was appropriate to.
Sounds like material for a straight Warlock-Patron flavoring of the Monk class.
Who's to say that a Patron can't grant Ki powers instead of the archetypical Eldritch Blast / Inocations / Pact Magic bundle?
This was my thought on this as well. Making a deal to acquire martial prowess instead of mystical. Maybe a little touch of Reborn in there too. then you're getting some skills from a past master that is taking a ride in your head.
“Power at a price” being the Warlock whole shtick, yeah I wouldn’t mind that. Not sure how it would work mechanically but I’m not really concerned with that just yet.
The patron could be similar to a Death or Undying one (seems a little redundant to have both unless I’m missing how they’re different.) Only it’s the mummified corpse of a meditating master. (Look up Japanese Buddhist monks, for the real life inspiration.)
I am reminded of how Frankenstein's monster learned to talk. After escaping Dr Frankenstein, he ended up hiding in a large woodpile that sat against a rural house, against a basement window where a tutor was teaching a young child daily.
In that vein, perhaps he hid out around a dying out ancient monestary, learned a little and ancient magic did the rest?
Not a bad idea, especially if I wanted to play his motivation a little differently and make him more of a young, lost soul.
It sounds remarkably like you got yourself a Warlock Patron, and sold your services for an entirely different set of skills.
I also like borrowing some of the flavor from Phantom Rogue - You're a dope-ass monk because you're possessed by one. Reminds me of the old anime/manga Shaman King.
“Easy power at a price” is kind of the Warlock’s whole thing so I understand why there’s some overlap.
I’m kind of leaning towards him being possessed or channeling the ghost of an ancient master and that’s where he gets his skillset.
there's an easy way mechanically with 5E to do this. in his back story have him find the deck of many things. Have him draw the card that gives only been one wish and that wish is stipulated that he could be a certain type of martial artist pur your back story.
Way of the astral self
You don't do the fighting, once a young and not very strong boy stumbled upon the ruins of a monastery, that was destroyed years and years ago by the curse of a necromancer the goat of the headmaster had consumed all other gosts and their experience
Once the crazed host layed his eyes on the young adventurer, he tried to posses him, but the possession was only partial
Now, during fights, the goat comes out to fight instead In a bloodlust
And sometimes during not fighting
Bipolar characters are hard to RP, bit very interesting
No that does sound interesting. Way of the Astral Self but the astral self is not his own self. It could make for an interesting RP if the ghost also acted as his mentor but evil. Like the infamous Bak Mei or White Eyebrow. (More popularly known as Pai Mei.)
There are a few monks that fit this, and there's tons of examples from all sorts of martial arts stories. You defied your village elders to steal a forbidden scroll on a dare. You completed a secret rite intended for your older sibling and stole his birthright. You cheated in a competition for a mystical prize. You accidentally stumbled on a demon murdering the hero of your village, and they passed the power to you with their dying breath. Just go watch anime lol
Astral Self is perfect - it plays into 'discovering' your inner power over time quite well. Being able to have abilities you can activate plays nicely into the theme. Your power 'comes out' under stress, etc.
Sun soul - you're basically Goku. Radiant damage helps with a 'golden child' / 'chosen one' theme.
Way of mercy - this one is interesting, and you can play this as someone who has a mystical imbalance of energy they're struggling to control. Healing / harm can be done 'accidentally' to the wrong targets for RP factors.
I don’t watch anime. I watch Kung Fu movies. >:( (China vs. Japan.)
Yeah I’m well familiar with the trope, the problem is that most “rogue disciples too ambitious to listen who take what isn’t theres” usually are at least good enough to think they have a right to claim it.
This is coming from a guy who _knows_ he doesn’t have a drop of martial arts talent and barely any training, if any. So the archetype doesn’t justify the action.
And again, he’s pointedly NOT the Chosen One or particularly special. In other words, my character is not a Shonen anime protagonist. If anything, he’d be a one off antagonist who shows up later as a part time ally.
What about a ritual like in the Iron Fist show when Davos stole the fist from Danny Rand
If I wanted to make him straight up evil, or at least start that way, sure. Although in that instance Davos stole the signature technique but Danny still retained his training and Davos was already skilled before that. (They were both worthy to be the Iron Fist after all.)
Also should be noted that that happened in the comics as well but it wasn’t Davos that did it, it was another villain.
Considering the eldritch stuff in there, I'd suggest Hexblade rather than an actual monk. Not only does it pull its weight in combat, it also ties into the flavor you want and gives you magical abilities.
I’m not necessarily _against_ the idea but wouldn’t that limit me to weapon combat? A lot of _Wuxia_ characters are master swordsmen but that’s just one skill they have as part of an entire retinue.
The spell list is going to be a big help in that area. Warlock has a ton of versatility with their toys.
I know, I have one right now although he’s Archfey Patron.
You could play a Dhampir lineage character who feasts on psychic energy. My consuming more and more we gained fighting knowledge over time. It also plays really well with the idea of ki as you “consume” energy you are “releasing” it when you fight.
If I wasn’t allergic to all things vampire, that could work. Although maybe with some tweaking I could play it like he’s a kind of “living _Jiangshi_” with Way of the Long Death as a kind of grim foretelling of what will become of him.
You could just take 1 lvl of Monk, and then finish as a fighter with the unarmed fighting style.
Though I guess that's more gave up on their training instead of stole their training..
Works well with Samurai and Champion
Well exactly as you said, that’s more like someone who went to the monastery and got disillusioned. The exact opposite of a character I would make.
Yeah, but then I'd written it so it felt silly to not post.
No no, the contribution is appreciated regardless. That character could make for an interesting evil opposite or foil to my character.
The guy who dismissed the discipline and the wisdom of the Monks but whose skill at arms is totally genuine. To contrast my guy who _reveres_ the wisdom of the masters but whose strength is not his own.
As a note, maybe you are are looking for the Astral Self Monk?
When you are using the features, thinks cue off your WIS, but it's like a spirit (technically an Astral self) that takes over. Pretty sure the subclass is in Tashas.
No yeah, Astral Self would work really well with the concept. Ironically it’s not _his_ astral self being invoked but the whole “aura mimics your movement” can be easily tweaked to mean, “aura _controls_ your movement.”
There's an old ass Wuxia Television Drama (early 1980s), I sort of watched as a child where there this Monk/Priest guy who effectively gained his Martial ability/skill from a dying Ancient Master through mystical knowledge transfer.
Despite having the skill of an Kung Fu Master, he really sucked as a fighter at the beginning and slowly got better as the series progressed.
Was there a reason he sucked despite having the skills of a master passed on to him?
Experience if I recall (it's been a while and I was very young, so my interpretation may be flawed).
Raw skill and power wasn't enough. He lacked practical experience on the battlefield, he fell into traps, feints and other tactics experienced warriors used.
Also, as was common with the genre, as the protagonist, he was very naive and easily taken advantage of (he often served as the audience surrogate and had everything explained to him for the sake of the audience).
He could mop the floor with the common rabble, but he was often outclassed by more experienced warriors.
He did have what essentially an arsenal of "nuke" attacks that are very powerful. But they were big AOEs and often his allies/friends were in the fray too and he couldn't use them without harming his allies and friends. This was essentially part of the main plot as he was the last practitioner of a fighting style/school that many desired to learn for it's raw destructive power.
This works out great with the Experience/Level progression found in 5E.
I forget the name of the series (It was a Chinese/Hong Kong, dubbed in Vietnamese, and my Vietnamese is laughable at best).
Very much in the same style 1980's version of The Legend of the Condor Heroes and The Duke of Mount Deer.
I ran a one-shot that was built around rescuing a child (monk) who has been used as a battery for ki energy.
Priests of Shar had been killing monks and harvesting their ki, storing it in those with higher potential.
You could take something like Sylar from “Heroes” - a monk who found that he had no ki of his own, but that he could tap into that of those around him. When he realised that killing them let him harvest it…
(Mechanically, this would fit with Soul Knife I think)
That seems to have a very skewed understanding of what chi actually is, which is part of a deep annoyance of mine with its overuse in pop culture.
Oh ok; I didn’t realise! What’s the misunderstanding?
Well chi isn’t one’s soul for one. (Buddhism, Taoism, Shinto, etc. don’t hold the same concept of the soul as most in the West do.)
It’s not some stored energy in the body either, even in mythological sources.
What chi is, is the _expression_ of one’s inner life force as refined by training. In the same way that a sword’s blade can’t be “pure energy” because energy isn’t a thing.
It can be solar energy, or electrical energy, but can’t be pure energy because the energy is “the verb” not “the noun.”
Think of it like this, when benders fight, they’re apparently using chi to do the bending since chi-blocking stops them from being able to do that, but Aang isn’t hitting things _with_ his chi, at least not directly.
In real life, a punch or kick can be an expression of chi but again, that’s because it’s being actively channeled, it’s not “soul energy” it’s refined effort.
But so many Western sources (and to be fair, plenty of Eastern ones) just use the word “chi” as interchangeable with any spiritual or supernatural concept. Whether it’s magic, the soul, etc.
That’s really interesting, thank you.
Could a person steal that refinement, the expression, in the same way that you can use one knife to sharpen another (dulling the original blade)?
In real life, not really. Because you can’t really suck one’s talent or training out of them and put it into someone else. You could teach them, but that’s a copy paste, not a cut paste.
With magic though, obviously anything’s possible.
The trouble is simply that, in terms of the understanding of how the world worked, the Renaissance and Enlightenment drew a hard line in Western Europe between the natural and the supernatural. While in most of Asia, that distinction took much longer to really crossover.
Consider how Bruce Lee had to patiently explain to his American students that “Chinese Boxing” and really the entire pantheon of Asian martial art traditions were just as much philosophy and spirituality as combat techniques. Because to the descendants of the Enlightenment, like the United States, the material and immaterial were not innately married concepts.
So when you have something like “chi.” Which is a still living part of many martial arts traditions, being adapted to clearly magical worlds, it’s easy to extrapolate it into something mystical without understanding what it’s connection to reality (physical or mythological) is.
So when you’re looking at a character that “gained their skills through magical means”, could that include stealing them?
Oh it absolutely could. Just not like one is being used like a “soul battery.” It would be more similar to like a memory wipe plus maybe some premature aging. Where the victim can’t do the thing they trained at for years as they’ve been robbed of both the muscle memory as well as the muscle training.
Ok gotcha - thank you for the better understanding!
Meets a master in prison and after earning his trust is tattooed with the fighting style and must learn from the tattoos after the master escapes or dies under mysterious circumstances. He is constantly challenged by other schools because of his lost style of fighting.
Not a bad take. Especially if the campaign starts with all of the party in prison.
How about discovering/buying a magic manual which “teaches” your character how to do these things. It allows you to instantly learn techniques, but it’s very rigid and mechanical, as you lack the muscle memory of real-world use. It’s also very intense on the character’s mind the higher the technique learned is, so while they initially use it a lot to “master” the fundamentals (aka the lower levels of monk), they might decide to take breaks when trying to learn higher level stuff. Or, maybe the higher level stuff is for when they finally decide to grow beyond the easy route and actually master their power.
Ring of mind shielding allows you to communicate with the last wearer if they died while wearing it.
Perhaps you killed a master or otherwise were gifted the ring and now the soul of the master guide you?
If I was good enough to kill him, I wouldn’t need to kill him to take his skills. XD
I would suggest Inheritor for a background, as one of it's main characteristics is simply that you received/inherited *something*. This can be a tattoo or mark, a piece of jewelry, an ancient text, etc. Whatever you and the DM decide on can be what has him skipping ahead with power.
For subclass, I'd suggest Astral Self, Sun Soul, or Shadow, as they are the most magically extra subclasses. (Elemental monk also fits but is said to be really weak, so I'm not suggesting it.)
Elemental really wouldn’t fit with the idea anyway besides I already have an element monk. Astral self fits really well though.
Something that this reminds me of from a book I'm reading right now: In Please Don't Tell My Parents I Have Henchmen (3rd of a YA series, of which 3 & 4 are mostly character/world building in prep for 5 tbh) by Richard Roberts, the character Marcia Bradley, aka Miss A, who is basically that superhero universe's Robin, got fed up with being beaten by super-powered people (notably a classmate with new strength and speed courtesy of the series protagonist Penny) and stole two magic scrolls (the Pure Fist Scrolls, one white with black text, one black with white text) that had been entrusted to her father, The Original (basically discount Batman, at least sans the creature intimidation factor, debatable if he does a better job parenting depending on which canon you subscribe to, no eating rats but *damn* did he ever over-stress Marcia...).
The lore is that just *touching* these scrolls is enough for anyone to start absorbing the martial arts knowledge stored within that includes insane ki powers (the black one even grants energy blasts), albeit normally you have to read them to fully unlock them; also normally if you touch one and you're not a master of some level already, you die, or if you touch both, you die, and both grant different powers (white was never fully explained, it's implied the guy who currently has them is ashamed of them as he'd wanted to be a hero but became a villain instead).
In her case, she grabbed both, I suspect simultaneously (this happened off-scene, a later conversation about her punching her father through a wall and into an ER implies she woke up in a hospital shortly after this with her super-strength for the first time, either that or she was visiting him in the hospital for something else and got mad), and somehow not only survived but internalized the powers of both. Marcia later described her power as something akin to a pair of dragons (one light/white, one dark/black) that are eating each other, leading her to later take the name Ouroboros for her super identity (she mainly intends to be a villain when she grows up lol). Also eventually both scrolls get broken when someone attacks her and she falls on them, but I dunno how much impact that had (I suspect the dragon-spirits were able to fully transfer from them to her after this but I'm not positive).
One thing that's worth noting is that she does imply later that if either of the dragons starts to overpower the other, she gets sick, and it's suggested that if that got out of hand, as often happens when she taps into those powers too much, she could die as apparently they'll target her if they're not distracted with each other. Interestingly, at one point she gets attacked by basically a life force vampire/Frankenstein hybrid (Mourning Dove), and afterwards comments about it being easier now to control them after being drained; the vampire even commented in the immediate aftermath that there had been "no end to her;" this seems to imply that Mourning Dove was actually draining the dragon-spirits and somehow making them easier for the teen to manage (did I mention she's like 14ish?).
Some of the above might be from later books, I'm midway through 3 and can't quite remember how much was from where (Marcia is mostly in 3 and 5).
Anyhoot, hope this is worth the time it took to type lol
I don't know if this will help you but here is my idea.
The PJ entered in a forest running from something he the enters a abandoned dungeon and found a body in monk cloths the body have a ring and when he stole the ring the spirit of the dead monk entered in his body granting him the abilities of the monk in exchange he would have to complete the mission the monk have in life.
Srry if there are some parts weirdly written I'm from Argentina and my English it's not very good xd
"It normally takes 20 years to master inner peace and the claw of death fighting style. I got that down to 3 weeks by skipping the inner peace part, so don't piss me off."
Please tell me that’s from something.
It's a paraphrase of something I heard or read many years ago, but I have no idea where.
A bit late, but look to the Ring of Mind Shielding. Specifically the part where it can have the mind of a dead person in it. A small fragment of a person knowing lost arts stuck in an object, teaching the hero, is a common trop in * Wuxia* and *Xianxia* stories.
Your character doesn't need to have an actual ring of mind shielding, or maybe he had one once and it got stolen?
Might be a bit too dark but what if they stole someone’s soul or memories somehow? Perhaps even a past life?
Yeah I’ve heard that one. The past life one maybe as the former would push him into outright villain territory. Which would be fine for an evil campaign.
I don’t see any reason any of the others couldn’t have happened in a good or neutral way. The thing about evil acts is that the motive has to be evil for it make you evil for doing it. There’s no reason the monk couldn’t have absorbed someone’s soul or memory on accident, or perhaps even gallantly. Like, maybe their uncle was a monk and was dying but some curse caused his soul or memories to transfer to your character and now your PC has to try to redeem him. That’s definitely a good aligned path but still steals his soul. Make sense?
The idea of stealing a soul to redeem it sounds a little backwards for me. I feel like it kind of compromises the one doing the redeeming and there’s better ways to do it. The idea of the spirit of someone willingly guiding a protagonist though could be much more benevolent.
Well like I said the “theft” could be wholly accidental. Like, imagine you found some kid’s cherished toy and then decided to try to find said kid so they could be reunited with it. You didn’t steal it but you did end up with it then you chose to do the right thing and try to return it. That’s the idea I’m suggesting if the soul route is how you wanna go. There’s obviously a million ways to skin said cat.
Right right, accidentally having it happen is fine, like it’s a curse.
If you multi-classed warlock, you could have some strictures attached by the Patron (whatever Patron would convey martial prowess) and if they deviated or failed at their tasks, the Patron takes them away.
Do you have any suggestions as to what patron could fit the idea?
Honestly could be any of them! You could roll Long Death Monk with Undead Patron. Give up your life in exchange for the skills and power to take revenge!
As an example
Well revenge isn’t his motive but I get the idea. His patron/master could even be the long mummified corpse of a meditating master.
(Look up the Japanese Buddhist mummies for the real life inspiration of that.)
Yep, art imitates life. The Sheikah temple masters in _Zelda: Breath of the Wild_ are based on the same thing.
How about a wise old master who agrees to your character’s absurd request to “give me the power of a master monk?”
The elder gives the brash and foolish youngster a spark of their own ki. This does as they promise, and will slowly affect the nascent monk, granting him more fighting ability over time.
What they don’t tell the kid is the other effect, that their own ki has always been drawn to troubles in order to help. So, the kid with the ki will find fate and circumstance constantly placing him where he can do the most good (and often, be in the most danger), especially in situations relevant to the old master, like their ancient enemies…
Any Way would work for this, of course, but Astral definitely has some easy ways to flavor it and make it flow seamlessly with RP. I’d also suggest Drunken Master, with it representing his own natural untrained state being briefly taken over by the master’s skills, otherwise latent inside of him.
Ehhhh treats “ki” a little like it’s the One Ring or a Keyblade. “Ki” or chi, means something a lot more specific than most people think in real life martial arts, it’s not interchangeable with “magic.”
No, it treats it like a bit of the master’s soul entwined with his fate, which it essentially is.
I know exactly what it means, thank you. I’m not sure why you assumed I meant a physical magical object, as I didn’t remotely say that, but thanks for being condescending enough that I’m sorry I tried to help. Sheesh.
(And maybe don’t assume you need to explain cultural concepts to others until you know what their cultural background is? My grandfather was literally the first member of his family to be born in the US instead of China. Think I’m good on the concept.)
Dude, I’m sorry. I misunderstood what you meant, my bad. I my defense, I said “most people” I didn’t say you. Still, my sincere apologies.
I appreciate the input and ideas that you and everyone are sharing. And I’m honored that you took the time to share yours with your more informed background. You don’t need to bite my head off and insult me. As I said, I appreciate the input and I’m sorry if I came off as condescending.
Good starting point for A monk but not really this one. As part of the idea, as written in the post, is that he wants the skill quickly and without having to endure the hardship of training. Can’t imagine that kind of character willingly going to jail just to become a prison fighter.
Quite a lot, although with some repetition. Yours was unique.
"I know Kung Fu"
Well yeah, but I don’t know what could be “the Matrix” in that analogy, hence the question.
Kalashtar have symbiotes that might work.
Find a githzerai temple that has a zerth master that is willing to use a rare mind meld technique that imparts the skill in exchange for killing a mind flayer or they're servants.
There's a monastic order in Faerun that's mostly monks and cleric. Dark moon I think. Perhaps a cleric is willing to modify a revivify spell, kill a monk, and have the soul enter you, because screw that guy.
That last option sounds darkly comic.
“He was a prick, I never liked him.”
The Kalashtar option was something someone pointed out that could hold promise.
I also wanted to create a monk that was just a Githzerai himself.
What about a plain kensei with a spirit inhabiting a weapon that gives them more martial arts mastery when wielding it? The DM can roleplay its personality if they want.
Monk stole the weapon just to sell, but is now bound to it.
Kind of like She-Ra style.
Or a general street thief wanted to rob some priests but it turns out they were evil magicians. She interrupts their ritual and gets radiated with an eldritch energy, turning them into a sun soul monk. Now they can shoot lasers and magic fire about!
Kind of like a superhero origin involving spider or space radiation.
The second one is a little too out there for me, as the martial arts theme seems almost secondary where it’s supposed to be the point.
I like the idea of a weapon imparting the skills of its previous owner, although isn’t that functionally more similar to a Hexblade pact Warlock?
Ya, but you want to play a monk, not a hexblade.
And hexblades have powerful patrons. This is just a sophisticated magic weapon.
Isn’t the idea that Hexblade’s weapon _is_ their patron? Even if it’s not sentient? I stress I don’t think it’s a bad idea, in fact, you could make the argument that it makes the character similar to Jen from _Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon_ who could be seen as a kensei with the Green Destiny sword as her cheat weapon, that’s how the movie treats the situation.
Watch kung-fu hustle
Take all the flavour from the warlock class, but use the mechanics from the monk class
So basically a guy who speedran monk training? I'm thinking samurai fighter with the unnarmed fighting style. Wear medium armor and basically be a street fighter villain.
Maybe your character wanted to be a monk bad but couldn't because the monastery rejected them because of some vauge ***darkness in their heart***. In the dead of night, they stole sacred scrolls and fled, knowing well that what they're doing had terrible repercussions. Then for the next few years they trained themselves away from anyone who could have seen them, later joining the town guard to *some* form of success. Now, they're adventuring trying to find the glory and fame they've worked for.
See though, that period of training is the part he wanted to skip entirely through magic. If he had the self-discipline to teach himself, he wouldn’t have needed to steal the scrolls, he would have stayed at the monastery and just learned.
Divine Dungeon Series
just my 2 cents here, if you're going for rp a character that stole his abilities shouldn't have ideal stats to use them. I'd imagine your monk would have more int/cha than expected, and less dex/wis. I'd also talk to my dm to see if I could then have my monk swap a point or two from int to wis and cha to dex as your character levels up, and gains mastery of his abilities, starts being more intuitive about them and stops using flashy moves, going for efficient ones instead
Multi class as a monk/ warlock and your patron is the spirit of a dead master who uses your body in battles