Posts Tagged With: Warrior-Monk

Listen! Did you smell something? (1e)

People don’t realize, but AD&D has always had a Perception system and Perception checks, if you check out page’s 59 and 60 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide it has rules for both “Detection of Invisibility” and “Listening at Doors” that apply to all classes – outside of the Surprise rules or the Thief’s ability to “Hear Noise”.

This also ignores the whole set of special racially-based detection abilities of Elves, Half-Elves, Dwarves, etc. and the rules for detecting Poison in the Player’s Handbook

First off, it says that Humans, Dwarves, and Half-Elves has a base 10% chance to Hear Noise, Elves and Half-Goblins have base 15%, and Gnomes have a base 20% (which matches the bonuses in the Player’s Handbook for racial bonuses to Hear Noise). Furthermore, at character creation roll a d20, on a 1 you have a +5% and on a 2 you have +10% to this base chance due to “Keen Hearing”. There is of course, no statement as to how this applies to Thieves…

Furthermore, in the Detection of Invisibility table it is a function of Level or Hit Dice as indexed with Intelligence on a matrix – starting at 17+ Intelligence and a 7th level character having a 5% chance to Detect the Invisible. At 15th level this character will have a 95% chance, and the progression is rather clunky and uneven across the matrix. But according to this, a character of average Intelligence will have about a 5% chance to Detect the Invisible roughly around name level and will have about a 50% chance at 15th level and higher.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just integrate these two things into one damn table with a more even progression?

Perhaps even something that might grant some of those of those Roguish types something even a bit more to make them a tad bit more special that just a fighter?

Perception / Hear Noise: Base 10% (Note some races have different bases)

  • Roll 1d20 at Character Generation, on a 1 you have Keen Senses and gain a +5% to that Base, on a 2 you have Very Keen Senses and have a +10% to that Base. (Note, this also gets used when checking Surprise)
  • Rogues and Warrior Monks get +5% for every odd level.
  • Entertainers and Psychics get a flat +10% to the Base.

If attempting to Detect the Invisible, characters add their Level (or creatures their Hit Dice) to their Intelligence score and multiple the result by two, they then add this to their normal Perception / Hear Noise percentage. Penalize it by -60% (-30% for Name level characters or higher), and this is the chance to Detect the Invisible.

When there is the chance to Notice Poison, easy checks (poison on a blade) tend to use the normal Perception base while determining if food or drink has been poisoned generally uses same percentage as Detecting the Invisible. This is a non-cumulative roll, and is instead merely checked against the base each relevant interval of time (usually per round of exposure).

There, now that is a simple and unified system rooted in the Dungeon Master’s Guide ideas and rules. You can use it to roll on all sorts of Perception checks if you want, but between this and the Surprise rules, you have pretty much everything you might need to figure out what people notice, and how surprised they are if they don’t. All of these percentages can be adapted to use for other related situations, and all of them can be modified up or down as the DM sees fit depending on the circumstances. I don’t tend to modify them down, but am more like to have a character roll and see how well or how badly they make it in order to dole out less or more information – but that’s also my DMing style.


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Surprise! (1e)

It really shouldn’t be a surprise that I have a house-rule for Surprise in my game given that rules for Surprise in pretty much every edition of D&D before 3rd are considered kludgy and screwed-up – and for all I know 3rd and 4th are just as bad, I just haven’t played those systems so I have no clue.

Mine is an infinitely more simple system that tries very hard to keep the flavor of the original system. In short, roll 1d6 (I have my players do this individually, monsters I tend to roll in groups) – if you roll (three or more (3+) over your opponent you get a round of surprise. This is then further modified by a number of things:

  • Dexterity Reaction Modifier: -3 (for low Dex) to +3 (for high Dex)
  • Distracted: -4
  • Asleep: -8
  • Keen Senses: +1 or +2
  • Encumbrance:
    • Normal Gear (35#- and Low Bulk): No Penalty
    • Heavy Gear (70#- or Fairly Bulky):  -2
    • Very Heavy Gear (105#- or Bulky): -4
    • Encumbered (105#+ or Very Bulky): -8
  • Armour:
    • No Armour: +1
    • Wearing Chain & Plate or Plate Armor: -2
    • Wearing a Great Helm: -4
  • Intoxication:
    • Moderate Intoxication: -1
    • Great Intoxication: -5

There are also a handful of other bonuses based on class or race. Here is a representative sample:

  • Goblins: +1
  • Rangers: +1
  • Barbarians: +1 (+2 in Familiar Terrain)
  • Warrior Monks: +1 per 3 Levels
  • Rogues: +1 per 4 Levels (Bounty Hunters get an additional +1)
  • Gnomes, Half-Elves, and Elves when not in metal armour and only in the company of other Gnomes, Half-Elves, and Elves that are similarly clad, or are 90′ distant from the rest of party: +2

Now, Scouts and Barbarians still have their “Back Protection” as per the normal rules (and I give that to Warrior-Monks as well) so while they may or may not always Surprise opponents they have an additional chance to avoid being Backstabbed or Assassinated. I also tend to give hunting predators and skittish prey a bonus to their surprise rolls equal to their Hit Dice. In general, I allow Backstabs and Assassinations when there is surprise – and this lets Rogues be somewhat more combat effective (though not overly so). This system seems to work pretty well, and it replaces all of the oddly mismatched dice of the different character classes and gets rid of the utterly contradictory rules in the Player’s Handbood and the Dungeon Master’s Guide.



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Warrior-Monks and Martial Arts (Part Two)

So, in Part One of this two-part post, I sort of went over my history with martial arts and the AD&D monk. It’s been a long one, and as someone who studied a couple of different styles of martial arts, I always had problems with many of the ways things were handled. Oriental Adventures went a long way to solving the problem, and then a series of articles from The Dragon magazine filled in large numbers of the holes. For those that are interested the articles are as follows:

  • Marshalling the Martial Arts: Twelve martial arts styles for Oriental characters by Wayne Goldsmith and Dan Salas (Issue #122)
  • A Menagerie of Martial Arts: Twenty martial art styles based on man, nature, and animal by Len Carpenter (Issue #127
  • Flying Feet and Lightning Hands: Special maneuvers for Oriental Adventures martial arts by Len Carpenter (Issue #164)
  • Things Your Sensei Never Taught You: Add some kick to Oriental Adventures martial arts by Rudy Thauberger (Issue #164)

A couple of basic ideas when it comes to unarmed combat. An unarmed, essentially untrained individual does 1d2 damage with a punch or 1d4 with a kick. They can punch twice in a melee round or kick once – and fighter types with multiple attacks can mix in kicks with his punches at higher levels. People can also choose to grapple for 1d2 points of damage, which also immobilizes people and prevents them from attacking with anything larger than a dagger. Targets can then make a grapple roll to either grapple back, or escape. Finally, characters can attempt to throw, push, overbear or otherwise knock someone to the ground. This does no damage, but forces the opponent to use an action to get back to their feet. Fighting on the ground or while grappling is at a -2 to Hit and Damage without special training (aka Martial Arts). In all cases, Strength and Dexterity bonuses apply. Yes, people can Specialize (or Double Specialize) in Unarmed Combat without studying a martial art – and this is the most common way people get better at it…

Now, with the martial arts, things are a bit different. First I modified the chart from page 102 in Oriental Adventuresto create a bit more range in options, and second I codified the rules a bit on martial arts attacks. This creates a range of up to an AC9 to AC5, from 1d2 to 1d8 damage with an attack, and between 1/1 attacks to 5/1 attacks per round. Martial Artists have two basic attacks. The first is that they can strike for whatever damage that they do using the principle body part. The second is that they can throw (trip, sweep, etc) a target to the ground (this also results in normal striking damage if a save vs. Paralyzation is failed). On a Natural 20, the attack of the Martial Artist will stun the target for 1d3 rounds if they fail a save vs. Paralyzation (in addition to the normal doubled damage).

A Martial Artist can grapple like an untrained combatant, but this removes many options for most Techniques so unless they have studied a grappling art they will avoid it.

Taking pages from the articles, I expanded the martial arts listing of Techniques (aka “Special Maneuvers”):


  • Grappling: 1: Choke Hold – 2: Locking Block – 3: Incapacitating Grasp – 4: Immobilizing Grasp  – 5: Crushing Hug
  • Movement: 1: Feint – 2: Prone-Fighting – 3: Immovability – 4: Missile Deflection – 5: Leap – 6: Flowing Water – 7: Great Shield
  • Push: 1: Concentrated Push – 2: Sticking Touch – 3: One Finger – 4: Charge Breaker
  • Strike: 1: Iron Fist – 2: Crushing Blow – 3: Eagle Claw – 4: Thunderpunch – 5: Thunderclap
  • Throw: 1: Fall – 2: Instant Stand – 3: Hurl – 4: Great Throw – 5: Crushing Drop
  • Vital Area: 1: Destruction Block – 2: Pain Touch – 3: Stunning Touch – 4: Paralyzing Touch – 5: Shattertouch – 6: Poison Chi – 7: Distance Death – 8: Death Touch
  • Weapon: 1: Sweep – 2: Weapon Break – 3: Throwing Mastery – 4: Arrow Cutting – 5: Steel Cloth
  • Slash: 1: Disarm – 2: Blind – 3: Vein – 4: Artery
  • Blunt: 1: Heavy Blow – 2: Limb Paralysis – 3: Stunning Blow – 4: Great Blow
  • Mental Training: 1: Meditation – 2: All-Around Sight – 3: Pause & Silence – 4: Blind Fighting – 5: Mental Resistance – 6: Stillness – 7: Balance
  • Physical Training: 1: Quick Strike – 2: Controlled Breathing – 3: Featherwalk – 4: Summon Strength – 5: Focus Dexterity – 6: Speed – 7: Contortion
  • Mystical Training: 1: Meridian – 2: Suppressed Desire – 3: Inner Flame – 4: Ironskin – 5: Levitation – 6: Slow Resistance – 7: Slowed Aging – 8: Invulnerability

From there, the other significant change is that instead of forcing martial artists to spend proficiencies on learning Techniques, martial artists simply learn a new special maneuver each level. Yes, this makes people who learn martial arts somewhat “powerful” but I like four-color games and I control who gets to learn martial arts so it isn’t horribly unbalancing. Plus, I can throw in any number of specifications to individual martial arts – that restrict the ability to learn Techniques. So from there we have martial arts like the following:

Endorian Dragon Style: AC7 – Attacks: 3/1 for 1d3 each
Mystic: 1,4,7 – Push: 2 – Grappling: 1,2,3,4 – Kick: 1,2,3- Mental: 1,4,5 – Movement: 4 – Strike: 1,2
Those who study Endorian Dragon Style must be Lawful in Alignment, those who do not meet the statistic requirements for a Warrior-Monk may not learn any Technique greater than Difficulty 3.


Endorian Cat Style: AC6 – Attacks: 4/1 for 1d2 each
Movement: 1,2,5 – Throw: 1,2 – Push: 2 – Kick: 3 – Physical: 1,3,5 – Mental 2,4,6,7
Those who study Endorian Cat Style must have a Dexterity of 12 to learn the basic Art, a Dexterity of 13 to learn Difficulty 1 Techniques, a Dexterity 14 to learn Difficulty 2 Techniques, a Dexterity 15 to learn Difficulty 3 techniques, Dexterity 16 to learn Difficulty 4 Techniques, Dexterity 17 to learn Difficulty 5 Techniques, and Dexterity 18 to learn Difficulty 6 & 7 Techniques.

The Techniques must also be learned in a specific order – from lowest Difficulty to highest, and from “left to right”. In Cat Style, Movement 1 is learned before Throw 1, and then finally Physical 1 is learned – only then is Movement 2 learned, then Throw 2, then Push 2, then Mental 2. For those who study multiple martial arts, if a Technique is learned in one Art, then it can “leapfrogged” in another Art. So someone who studied Cat Style and had learned Kick 3 would not have to learn it again in the study of Endorian Dragon Style, they would automatically leap to Mystic 4 (following the normal model of progression). Warrior-Monks automatically have some abilities that duplicate Techniques and they get to treat these as “already learned” – notably Meditation and Missile Deflection.

For Weapon Forms, things are basically the same save that Attacks and Damage is treated a bit differently. In all cases, the number of attacks is the same for character class. For Soft Styles, there is no bonus to hit or damage, for Mixed Styles it is +1/+1, and for Hard Styles it is +2/+2.  They are also able to either fight with no armour and a certain base AC, or possibly gain Armour Optimization (ganked from Dark Sun)  with certain classes of armour (or possibly even specific types). So, here is a pretty typical version of a somewhat common fighting style:

Tyrsfarian Knife-Fighting: AC8 or Armour Optimization (+1 to AC) with Light Armour – Attacks as Class at +2/+2
Slash: 1,2,3,4 – Movement: 1 – Weapon: 1,2,3 – Mental: 2,3,4 – Physical: 1,2,5,6
Tyrsfarian Knife-Fighting can only be learned by characters with a Strength and Dexterity of 13+, it requires a Dexterity of 15 to learn Difficulty 3 Techniques, and a Dexterity of 18 to learn Difficulty 6 Techniques. It may only be used with Daggers (all types) and Shortswords (Great Khuri only). Tyrsfarian Knife-Fighters are most commonly Fighters or Gladiators, though the style is also studied by Rogues of all types – and those who are generally considered the greatest masters are Duelists.

It is matched with proficiencies in Dagger and Two-Weapon: Dagger/Dagger, plus Specialization in Dagger if they have the slots to spare. Plus, often, taking a proficiency in Shortsword as well when they get the chance. Tyrsfarian Knifefighting came about from a bit martial arts geekery as I contemplated what the “best” sort of dagger I could envision would be and came up with a Gurka Khukuri that was also sharpened along the first half of the spine – probably as I think of it with a few more years of experience and knowledge now, at least a hint of a swage and trailing point, and likely a gut hook in there somewhere and certainly finger grooves for a better grip as well as at least some examples having a forward finger ring (rather than a rear/bolster ring like a kerambit) – it does 2-7/2-5 damage and sits rights at the 14″ of overall length that is the limit for daggers.



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Warrior-Monks and Martial Arts (Part One)

I always loved the AD&D Monk class, and would certainly agree with arguments that it is somewhat misplaced in the nominally “European” setting of standard AD&D. Plus, I always thought is was incredibly poorly though-out class based on what seemed to be arbitrary and illogical rulings – no Strength or Dexterity bonuses, etc. I quickly moved to a conception of the Warrior-Monk that had more in common with the “wierding ways” of the Bene Gesserit and the ferocity of the Freman and the Sardaukar – combined with a more widely encompassing vision of the weapons available to martial artists.

So, the Player’s Handbook vision of the “monk” was tweaked early on and the “Endorian Warrior-Monks” were born – the Masters of Endorian Dragon Style. There were some quick changes that were made immediately – Warrior-Monks were given Strength and Dexterity modifiers, were allowed Percentile Strength like a Fighter and given the Constitution bonuses of a Fighter as well. I also gave them d6 for Hit Dice instead of d4. What was taken away was the abilities to Open Locks and Find/Remove Traps – and instead the ability to Track like a Ranger was given, plus an ability called “Aura Sense” (40% Base, +5% per level as the notes in my PH indicate) – this was essentially a True Sight style ability back in the day and it has been somewhat downgraded at this point. Instead of Special Ability A as listed they instead had Warmth as the ring (the Endor Monestary is way up in the peaks of some nasty cold mountains), they had the ability to do a Suggestion in addition to Special Ability D at 6th Level (ala the Voice), and finally the other major change was that 8th level, Special Ability F was replaced with Fire Resistance (again, as the ring). They were also allowed to use short swords and shortbows as weapons of proficiency and lost crossbow and javelin. My vision the Endorian Warrior-Monks were of a reclusive and self-reliant group of religious warrior mystics – not …whatever it was that they were modeled on in the PH.

I think I also let them strike creatures that were only hit with magical weapons like they were a monster with Hit Dice equal to their level. All of this actually made a monk class that was fun to play. I know that I experimented with the Monk from Dragon Magazine #53, possibly as some other order of monks someplace, but I don’t remember anyone ever actually playing with them. The only other martial artists for years were the Lictors (aka the Ninja from the Best of Dragon Vol. 2), but that all changed when Oriental Adventures came out…

Ok, there were also the Feyhd, my homage to the Fremen. They were all “monks” as well, but I don’t think anyone ever played one. Plus there was the mysterious and terrifying “Old Race” that haunted the Outer Planes.

Suddenly there was a way for anyone to learn martial arts, and it was merely monks who were vastly better at them. Plus, the “base” martial arts weren’t so horribly underpowered as to make it worthless to use. Plus martial artists of all stripes had all sorts of very cool things that they could learn how to do if they wanted to invest the proficiencies into them. Quickly I had Tyrsfarian Knife-Fighters (with the special Tyrsfarian Khuri), the sworn brotherhood of the Black Watch with their bastard swords, the Battledancers of Ulstem and Ith, and a host of places where people could learn all sorts of martial art styles.

But other problems raised their head.

For one, studying martial arts was far too much of an investment of proficiencies. It was kind of ridiculous actually, the sheer amount of “time and energy” a monk, let alone a non-monk, had to put into learning the “cool stuff”. Second, it was basically impossible to model any sort of martial art weapon style in this system. Now, some articles in Dragon Magazine helped round these things out (and birthed the Tyrsfarian Knife-Fighters for that matter), but it was still a pretty broken system in some respects.

Some folks would also point at the martial arts rules as being the ancestor of Feats – and I wouldn’t disagree. In my home-brew rules engine I essentially adapted these rules into “fighting styles” for all sorts of weapons. It was learning and mastering them that made you an effective fighter. It was also a far too complicated system in many respects – and there is a large part of me that is happy to never look at that home-brew ever again. But from there is where the various martial arts of the Dakini, the Tantric-Assassins, were first spawned, along with the deadly arts of the Bloodmoon Adepts (the title ganked from an old Citybook from Flying Buffalo).

Next up: How do we make it work?



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The Society of Light and the Order Luminous

This was the intersessionary email (slightly tweaked for context) for the Society of Light folks. It’s worth noting that the Order Luminous is directly stolen from the “Luminous Order” from the Shattered Gates of Slaughtergarde module, as are the Serene Guardians (a prestige class). The description of the Order is pretty much verbatim taken from the module.

Now Frater Nikolai was off dealing with the Caves of Chaos because he was tasked with it after getting a break on his training for 3rd level, and Brother Illya has merely been accompanying him. It is worth noting that while Castle Seraph is an outpost of the Society of Light, it’s a very small one. It isn’t exactly brimming with Lightbringers and Paladins, there are a grand total of five priests on hand. The Curate, Frater Lionel, and his three acolytes, the Brothers Hugh, Tomas, and Emile – plus a Cloistered Cleric by the name of Brother Simeon who acts a scribe for the castellan. This gentleman goes by the name of Sir Lucian Sc. Valour, Guardian of Seraph Keep, and he is the only paladin at the Keep. There is also a half-elf warrior/mage by the name of Raeburn who acts as an advisor to the Sir Lucian and seems to be highly trusted. There is also a wandering Warrior-Monk by the name of Master Birinaj, not of the Endorian Monastery to the south in Albion where Brother Illya hails from, but of the much smaller and reclusive Monastery Tel Hazor from deep in Shahuda Mountains to the north (also known as the Mountains of Witness or the Mountains of Martyrs). Commonly known as the “Serene Guardians”, these Warrior-Monks are quite friendly with another obscure group, the Order Luminous. Perhaps unsurprisingly, both Frater Lionel and Sir Lucian (as well as the officers of the Keep) are members of the Order Luminous, an obscure order that dates back to Wars of Binding and has always been located here in these mountains where they are concerned with incursions of the Dearth and the machinations of the Fallen.

The actions of Frater Nikolai impressed Frater Lionel and Sir Lucian to such a degree that they are offered membership in the Order Luminous. This is, by the way, not exactly something you can refuse without giving offense – it doesn’t conflict with membership in other Orders, nor does it particularly conflict with either of your other religious directives. It’s an Order basically on the lookout for evil, especially the sorts of hidden inequity that might lead to greater woe down the road. The Order Luminous was created to stop demonic invasion, so it is particularly concerned with anything that lets evil gain a foothold such as a secret demonic cult engaging in foul rites within a forest, or an evil lycanthrope hidden within a community. It strikes at any growing evil, uprooting it before it can bear bitter fruit.

The Order Luminous places great faith in the self-reliance of its members. Once accepted within its ranks, the Order is confident that you take its mission to heart. Thus, the order demands few specific duties from you beyond those expected of other members of the Knights-Militant of the Society of Light. If evil shows its face, then the Order Luminous asks that its members to vanquish it. But the Orders leaders rarely demand that a specific agent undertake a specific mission. While its members are always welcome in the shining citadels of the Order, it is common for Luminaries to be away from order for months at a time, even if they aren’t on any specific quest or mission. Joining the Order advances one’s career as a hero, it doesn’t constrain it.

It is made perfectly clear to Gregor that once he takes his next initiation as a paladin (at 3rd level) he will be welcome to take a place in the Order Luminous as well.

Brother Illya continues to study with Master Birinaj, and the two spend a great deal of time discussing philosophy as well as honing and practice the skills and abilities of the Warrior-Monk – such that Brother Illya is relatively certain that if he continues to study with Master Birinaj he might very well be able to understand the mysteries of the Serene Guardians who seem to be especially in tune with the harmony and resonance of what they call the Divine Song.

This is how you link modules together by the way. Find something from one that works with something from another and build a bridge. It isn’t rocket-science, it isn’t even very hard nor does it insist that the players ever do anything to follow-up on the things that would take them towards the next Slaughtergarde. Heck, I’m ignoring most of the “mini-campaign setting” for that module (which doesn’t fit my world much at all) and I can scatter the bits all over the Shahuda Mountains as i desire.


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