Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Monk who finally found true love

For a variety of reasons we haven't played our beloved game for several weeks now, so I've yet to try out my hybrid character.

However, I did get a look at the playtest for the Monk class (thanks to Crwth, as usual). Here are my usual half-assed opinions.

First off, the Monk is now Psionic. My initial reaction to that was... well, I was disgusted. I've always hated psionics going all the way back to AD&D. No good reason for that. I think that my problem with psionics started with it not feeling "in place" with the whole swords and magic theme. Anyways, I was young and it's a bias that has irrationally stayed with me ever since.

However, I quickly reminded myself of that and of the fact that it's just a word. With that in mind I was able to get past my hang up and approached it with an open mind (as open as my mind ever gets anyways).

Then, a funny thing happened. I realized that the Psionic power source is a perfect fit for the Monk. In fact, it totally changed a class that never seemed to find the right niche.

With Psionics however, the monk is suddenly associated with it's famous mental fortitude and discipline in a concrete way. What was once just a bit of flavor for RP purposes is now a central theme of the class. It simply works.

Emboldened by that shattered paradigm I continued reading. Much like every class in 4E the monk has some interesting powers, some that are only so-so and formulaic. The new twist of a "Full Discipline" is interesting. Sorta reminiscent of the old "full round action". I like it in that it really makes it easy to visualize the fluidity of the Monk in battle.

My only real complaint is in the weapon proficiencies. I'd like to see more for the monk, just because the real world inspiration (or the one that I visualize when I think "monk") could pick up anything nearby and turn it into a weapon. While I don't think farm implements need to be listed in a PHB, I'm hopeful that the traditional kama, sai, and whatnot find their way into the game as Monk implements. Frankly I'd be surprised if they didn't but for now it is an issue.

All in all, they've done a great job with the 4E monk. Should my current character die, or choose to "retire", I'm thinking my next character will be a monk. Perhaps if the playtesting is done and the PHB3 is out, I might get to try the hybrid monk/sorcerer I've been dreaming of since FR loosened the monk multi-classing restrictions. Now that's something to look forward to.


theinternetisbig said...


I believe this is a post that has some value and I don't feel I've wasted my time reading it.

I agree, psionics is the perfect power source for monks. Martial would work, but monks really rely on force of spirit more than force of muscle. I think it makes sense, and I harken back to my thri-kreen monks of dark sun... AAh, the badassness. Psionics did suck in AD&D, but in 2nd ed it wasn't awful.

I'm glad to see you are taking steps to overcome your 4th ed negativity! Hopefully, your group will benefit from this directly!

I think it's good to encourage monks to fight with their hands (they are really the only ones in D&D who do, excluding monsters.)

When will we hear from Crwth again?

Drake Wurrum said...

I can recognize how Monk fits well into the Psionics category, but it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I don't think I'll ever get rid of it, either; I picture Monk as the peak of physical prowess in my own mind, to the point that they don't need the armor or weapons that a traditional warrior relies on.

I guess I'll just have to suffer that bad taste. These "power source" aspects of the classes are really just flavor in the end. When you eat your full course meal, you eat the vegetables with everything else, even though they taste like crap.

Matthew said...

Hey, im new to 4.0, haveing played only 3.0 for the past 8 years. I just went and skimmed through the 4.0 books, looking over my favorite classes and races. While doing this i couldn't find the monk in the players hand book (1 or 2) so here's my question....Where is the monk in 4.0?

Crwth said...

Hi Matthew - the monk is coming out in the Player's Handbook 3, but D&D Insiders get a sneak peek at it now.

Generally, Insiders get up to a year's advance glimpse at new material, though not all of it -- some powers, some paths, that kind of thing.