Monk Roleplaying Guide

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Monk Roleplaying Guide

Post by Demurral on Mon Feb 24, 2014 4:28 am

I don't know how many of you have seen this, but there's a great article on the Roleplaying section of the Official WoW Forums, on Monks.
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Monk Roleplay Guide:
Hello there! Without further delay I'll explain the purpose of this guide. Hopefully by reading this you should learn all the necessary information to play a monk of any race, and perhaps other interesting lore. Maybe then you'll find the interest to roll one if you haven't already! (Get it? Roll?).

Consider the guide a work in progress; I'll update it with any new or relevant information if it is provided.

   What exactly are monks?



When put in perspective of the class we play, they're heavily based on the Shaolin monks of ancient China. They're not a new class to the Warcraft universe, but to the other races they are a mostly new occupation. They focus on achieving harmony and balance within themselves, rather than seeking it in a deity such as the Light, or dedicating themselves to spirits or nature as shamans and druids might. To be a monk is certainly a way of life, and not simply something one does in his spare time, as it takes years of training to be capable as a hand to hand fighter on battlefields, especially when they are often dominated by steel and magic. But a well studied monk has access to potent Chi energy; the life force within all people that only monks know how to fully control at will. Chi strengthens their punches to the strength of mace strikes, it even allows them to perform great feats of Chi magic, capable of healing or harming whoever the monk wishes in many ways.

They train mentally and physically to be as strong, yet agile as possible. A monk's athleticism is what makes him a deadly fighter. On the battlefield, they can easily outmaneuver footsoldiers in heavy armor, and perhaps even the spells of mages and projectiles of archers. They fight with their legs as well as their hands, and in one-on-one combat they would be amongst the hardest combatants to battle - in fact, well trained monks are competent enough to fight two enemies at once. They can serve as healers of their allies, skilled soldiers on the front lines, or bolster their rank's offence or defensive capabilities with pandaren brews that sharpen one's mind rather than blur and slow it. Monks have lightning fast minds, reflexes, and attacks.

   History - Pandaren Monks - How the monk as we know him came to be.



Most, if not all of this is taken from in-game lore texts but I have condensed it down to what I feel are the most important parts. Monk history is tied directly to pandaren and Pandaria history.

Reknowned monks:

Emperor Shaohao - the Last Emperor of Pandaria was presumably a monk.
Lord Taran Zhu - 'his prowess is legendary', say the Shado-Pan, whom he leads.
Chen Stormstout - the famous wandering brewmaster is also a skilled monk.
Master Bruised Paw - the Hidden Master of Pandaria.
Master Shang Xi - the last Master of the Training Grounds of the Wandering Isle.
Aysa Cloudsinder - student of Master Shang Xi and philosophical leader of the Tushui.
Ji Firepaw - student of Master Shang Xi and philosophical leader of the Huojin.
Kang the Fist of First Dawn - the first monk who taught the pandaren slaves under the mogu to fight unarmed.


How the monks began..

   In the days of the mogu dynasties, slaves were the lifeblood of the empire. Pandaren, hozen, and jinyu worked fields, dug mines, and built the mighty fortresses of their masters. To help combat fatigue, maintain morale, and return the wounded to work, the mogu permitted a special caste of slaves that specialized in the brewing of remedies. Simple teas and poultices were their specialty at first. Over the years these specialists became healers, community leaders, and brewmasters.

   A noble tradition was born, and these early "monks" became symbols of hope and pride amongst the pandaren. However, even by mogu standards, Emperor Lao-Fe was a monster among beasts. His favored punishment among pandaren slaves was to separate families. Slaves who displeased him would have their children sent to the Serpent's Spine, to suffer and die as fodder for the mantid swarms.

   This was the fate that befell a young pandaren monk named Kang. In a moment of clarity during his grief, he saw the mogu overlords for what they were: weak. They possessed dark magics and horrific weapons, but their empire was completely reliant on slave labor.

   The servant races were not permitted to carry weapons during the reign of the mogu, so Kang determined that the pandaren themselves would become the weapons. So it came to pass that pandaren monks began their training in the martial arts, and Kang became known as the First of First Dawn. It was these heroes who first learned how to fight without weapons, in secret. Monks taught the other slaves the secrets of martial arts. When the revolution came, the monks were the first into battle, inspiring the humble farmers, smiths, and masons to follow...

   They were quick, agile, deadly. In contrast, the favored weapons of the mogu were based on fear rather than practicality. They were large, cumbersome, and difficult to wield. Pandaren monks took advantage, developing fast strikes and the skill to quickly move around the battlefield. The larger, slower mogu were often completely disoriented by the speed of the pandaren monks in open combat.

   Over the years, fighting styles have changed dramatically, incorporating any number of other abilities, weapons, styles, etc. But the core foundation of pandaren fighting techniques remains the same: Defeat an opponent of any size with your bare paws if you have to.



Roleplay Specializations - Your mantis style is no match for my serpent style!

The three in-game specs are Brewmaster, Windwalker, and Mistweaver. However, it's rare for monks to refer to these styles by these names e.g, one doesn't study the path of a Windwalker or a Mistweaver, they are loose terms - as broad as saying you're studying the path of the warrior or the paladin - you don't say 'protection paladin' ICly either. Whilst it does give an inclination as to what kind of monk you are, there are more fitting ways of describing it.

Each of the August Celetial's Temples in Pandaria marks the location of defeat for the Prime Sha by Emperor Shaohao many thousands of years ago. Monks who train and study at these locations have developed different styles for combatting the Sha relevant to their location.

Pandaren monk martial arts are often seperated into styles developed under the guidance of the August Celestials - Fierce Tiger Style (Xuen, most similar to Windwalker - Devleoping fast, powerful and lethal strikes, aggressive and unrelenting), Sturdy Ox Style (Niuzao, most similar to Brewmaster - Focuses on adamant stance, defence and endurance). Wise Serpent Style (Yu'Lon, most similar to Mistweaver - Involves a lot of studying, meditation, advanced understanding of Chi energy), and Flying Crane Style (Chi-Ji - which inspires a few moves such as the Spinning Crane Kick, but is often seen as another mistweaver kind of martial art).

Many people will no doubt set their MRP titles as 'Disciple of / Master of (Some Other) Style. Whilst it's alright to develop your own style I'd put some thoughts into what the style is actually about and how it's different from something that already exists.

   Races and Monks



As far as pandaren style monks are concerned, and the playable class; monks as we know them have only really become available for the rest of the world and so it's arguable at this time there are very few masters that aren't pandaren. There have been the pandaren venturing from the Wandering Isle, but it is rare that they will take on the time and commit themselves to teaching someone until they have mastered it.

There are a few exceptions though. Brother Korloff of the Scarlet Crusade was taught by a wandering pandaren, and he then trained the Scarlets; hence why the Scarlets have monks. The Draenei also have Auchenai monks. You might also think of the Sunfury blood elf in Magister's Terrace who fights with fist wepaons (although he is arguably more of a runemaster than a monk, looking at his abilities).

Auchenai monks seem to be more of the Christian monastic variety, keepers of the dead and holy in their beliefs, rather than the Shaolin style that the pandaren are based off. These monks don't work with Chi energy either; so if you were to roleplay one, it wouldn't be quite the same monk you play as in-game. As for the human monks, it's not advisable to claim you were taught by a wandering pandaren who happened to have the time to teach your character until mastered it; unless you were a human of the Scarlet Crusade.

If you want to RP an already mastered monk outside of this there's nothing stopping you; but I can only warn that many people may be against the idea and that there's very little to back-up such claims. This was more of a concern back when MoP was released (19 year old masters being the new 19 year old archmages). There has been enough time between then and now to allow any race of monk to be very well trained ICly (but bare in mind how long it takes to actually become a master in real life.. years).

Monks also think about their body in the sense that a warrior thinks about his sword. It needs to cared for and be properly maintained as it is their weapon. Pandaren monks often pride themselves on being as big as possible (Chen Stormstout says: Why would I want to feel skinny? Size is strength.) Even with their massive size and strength, pandaren are able to move quickly and with great agility. Pandaren monks eat a lot, both to increase their size and because if they don't, they burn it off with constant training.
Part Two:
Chi



What is Chi? You've seen it mentioned already but may not know what it really is beyond the resource that monks use. There's little official information about what it is or how it works. But it is a real life reference to an energy of the same name also found in real life.

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"They believed qi permeated everything and linked their surroundings together. They likened it to the flow of energy around and through the body, forming a cohesive and functioning unit."

More on Chi here: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

Simply put, Chi is spirit energy within all beings; monks are the ones that learn to control, exploit and manipulate it, in themselves and in others. Chi is the pandaren word for Spirit, the same energy that shaman use to heal. But monks do not / cannot borrow this energy from elemental spirits. They use their own spirit. There is technique involved, and it's these techniques that monks specialize in training. Once tapped into, it can be expelled from the body in the form of something resembling magic, though it is not arcane, spiritual or divine in origin as it is not sourced from the Light, nature, or some omnipresent collective of spirits. It is one's own energy, re-shaped and re-applied however the monk sees fit.

It can cause great harm, be thrown as a projectile or channelled into one's limbs to strengthen their attacks. It can also restore wounds, both magic and physical.

From the variety of spells and abilities the monk has access to it is hard to find a way in which Chi energy cannot be used. The best word used to describe Chi's capabilities is 'potent'. It is a malleable resource and much like the arcane to a mage, only one's experience and knowledge in manipulate limits them - a more experienced monk could bend their Chi energy to far greater effect than a novice. It is the manipulation of Chi energy that separates him from a simple hand to hand fighter. In fact, Chi is an integral part of the monk's arsenal.

However, some things are beyond Chi capability. It is not magic, but reshaped, natural energy. Chi advances and strengthens a monk's fighting, and that doesn't mean they become mages.

Monk Abilities



Monks can do some pretty amazing things when it comes to fighting. They develop the agility and sharp senses to dodge their attacks rather than relying on heavy armour to protect them. They wear light armor so that they can move quickly. They have access to Chi magic as well. But how many of these things could a monk do ICly?

This is something for everyone to question and challenge, and some will agree whilst others disagree on the same thing. l am often asked in-game what spells should or shouldn't be usable ICly. I find it easiest to simply go by OOC context and plausibility first. For example, in-game abilities like Chi Wave / Chi Burst / Zen Sphere / Crackling Jade Lightning are all learned at relatively low levels (under 60), so we can assume that they are forms / techniques of manipulating Chi that most monks are familiar with because they are easier, much like how the first spells a mage might be asked to study are frostbolt, fireball or polymorph. However, some abilities are much harder and require more experience to perform, and are harder still to utilize in combat / desperate situations.

Abilities like Zen Flight is the kind of ability I imagine requires constant concentration to maintain, and only a well learned monk could maintain such concentration for long periods of time, because it is a state of advanced meditation. I don't approve of using it to conveniently fly over buildings and whirling around in the air like a lunatic ICly. I encourage the use of it as a short time thing if moving, something the monk can do to cross a lake or a river or safely descend from a mountain slope - or to simply simulate the status of meditating ICly by floating a little off the ground looking deep in concentration.

Moving even further up the ladder, I thought I'd speak about the new and upcoming monk ability, Storm, Earth and Fire. Naturally I think a lot of people are going to question this abilities' validity once it's released. Here it is for those of you who don't yet know.

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The Monk splits, summoning an elemental spirit to attack the target. The Monk can split into up to 2 elemental spirits at a time.



There is of course more to it than that, reduced damage and so on, it's mainly to give monks a cleave in PvE; but the RP concern is being able to split one's spirit. Contrary to what you might believe, monks can and do work with their spirits and already have two abilities that seperate their bodies and spirits from one another - Zen Pilgrimage and Transcendance (another ability I feel only higher level, more experienced monks could perform). For this ability in particular though, unlike Transcendence, the spirits fight, and you can split yourself into two spirits, not just one.

Storm, Earth and Fire I feel is an even more complex ability than Transcendence and so I will also consider it as something that can be done ICly but only by more learned monks - even though it is learned at a lower level - though I consider this to be more for gameplay reasons than anything else. Within my own guild for example it's going to be one of several 'advanced techniques' that must be slowly learned and developed over a period of time.

As for the rest of the monk's abilities, try and decide for yourself whether it would be something easy to learn or something hard to do, depending on what level you gain access to it at, or how complex of a move it seems, but I could do a breakdown of my thoughts on any particular abilities if requested.

Monk Ranks



We all know that in real life, many martial arts have a grading system, in the forms of belts or stripes. You could say that it is the same in-game, as there are belts availible from the vendor and different colours of belt are awarded as you level up and do the monk class quests (Yellow, Green, Red, and Brown). However, there's nothing explicitly stated about the significance of the colour of one's belt concerning your IC level of skill in martial arts. Some monks in-game have them, others do not. Some have different colour belts despite being the same rank or status. So how do you go about classifying your monk's level of skill? I would advise splitting it into three categories; students / initiates, disciples, and masters. One would spend most of their time training as a disciple.

Perhaps the more commonly asked question is, what defines a character as a master? This is a tricky subject as there are two ways of looking at it. You could regard yourself as a master, as others might, if you have mastered the martial arts. You have gotten to the point where no-one can teach you further and it's simply up to your character to develop his skills further.

It would be the courteous thing to refer to these people as masters, sort of like how we recognize doctors or professors. You could also be referred to as master if your character has students - because then you are effectively a master, you are tutoring someone. You may not be as proficient as the self-titled master character mentioned earlier, but most masters will not teach until they are confident that their arts are tried and tested, and most students will only want to train under a master who knows what he or she is doing.

So my advice to you, if you want to play as a master-ranked character:

Play a pandaren monk: Pandaren are frankly the only race where one could immediately play as a master character. It's why I made my monk pandaren on MoP's release. Why? All other races have only just begun to learn these martial arts. The pandaren people have developed them over thousands of years, they grow up with it and since before MoP, they have been learning it. As I mentioned earlier, it takes years to become a master and years haven't passed since MoP's release - and that whilst it's possible to play a non-pandaren master, some might not agree with it's legitimacy. On the other hand it doesn't mean you should play a master character, if you don't want to. It's a rank of experience, and you should have the confidence and knowledge to reflect that if you want to do it well. If you truly wish to RP a non-pandaren master, I'd advise waiting a while before achieving that master status.
Find some IC students.
There will be players out there who want to play as the young hot-headed disciple who slowly learns to control his energetic outbursts and become a true fighter. But they need someone to learn that from. Whether it's with a group of strangers you eventually become friends with or whether you rise to the rank in someone else's guild or establish your own.
Find a reason.

Let's put it this way; you see an Archmage walking by, or a High Magus. What exactly are they the High Magus / Archmage of? You want to make sure that no-one asks the same thing about you. Some might think they just wear it as a cool sounding title without knowing what it implies. If someone asks what you're a master of, and you replied Fierce Tiger and Wise Serpent Styles, Disciple of , of it sounds feasible and impressive.
That's all for now, if you have any requests or questions - IC breakdowns of abilities or anything, post!

What are your guys thoughts on this? Does it inspire your roleplay, or could you care less?

Demurral

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Re: Monk Roleplaying Guide

Post by siegmund on Mon Feb 24, 2014 5:17 am

I got a Pandaren monk but haven't really checked any guide out. Not an expert on monks and so so can't say anything about this guide even if i check it out.

Only one thing is that like in the guide i shortly looked trough the word monk can be used in many ways, for the Pandaren it's always that kung fu chi user for other races can be a bit diffrent.

I'll check it out least I supose, but never felt the need to read one up when i made my Panda monk.

I did get some inspiration from one link and that is this:
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Re: Monk Roleplaying Guide

Post by Darilas on Mon Feb 24, 2014 6:12 am

I have scanned through it, but most of it seems to be skils and abilities based. I'm way more interested in the spiritual part of playing a monk, really. My monk is quite the spiritual hippie type Smile

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Re: Monk Roleplaying Guide

Post by Izzifix on Mon Feb 24, 2014 6:44 am

The spiritual side of Monk-ing is really intriguing, tbh. I've started finding all the Lorewalkers-books just to get more into it.

Then again, I'm a sucker for the overlaps between Paladinism, the Church of the Holy Light, the concept of discipline priests IC, Naaru-ism, Titanology, Elunism and all that. Adding the Monk perspective to the list would make for a pretty amazing holistic faith.

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Re: Monk Roleplaying Guide

Post by Thelos on Fri Feb 28, 2014 9:36 am

You can't write a guide about the 'Spiritual Side' (tm) of monk role-playing because there's not much about it in the game, sans what you can extrapolate from what little mordels of ethics you get from the Shaohao and the Shado-pan. It's a all up in the air, basically.

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Re: Monk Roleplaying Guide

Post by Izzifix on Fri Feb 28, 2014 11:51 am

I found the Celestials good sources too. It's not like their philosophies are really exposed to us that much, but it helps a little for getting into the pandaren mindset.

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Re: Monk Roleplaying Guide

Post by Thelos on Fri Feb 28, 2014 1:09 pm

The 'wisdom' of the Celestials can be summarized in one stock sentence of incredible ham:

"Believe in yourself".

Yuck! Too Disney for me!

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Re: Monk Roleplaying Guide

Post by Izzifix on Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:05 pm

Note that it is very in line with the core beliefs of a shadow priest.

Elaborating slightly, the whole deal about Respect, Tenacity and Power could be legitimized by the wisdoms of the Furious Four. The whole belief in your right to be the alpha is quite amazing.

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Re: Monk Roleplaying Guide

Post by Thelos on Fri Feb 28, 2014 3:44 pm

That's... -

That's not...

Oh, forget it.

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Re: Monk Roleplaying Guide

Post by Jack Noodlemeister on Sun Mar 15, 2015 3:27 pm

One theory I have for monks is that they are able to form their chi into things resembling the elements. For example, I remember that there are monks who can turn their chi into fire (Can't remember exactly), and there's jade lightening (the Wind element, obviously), there's mistweaving (Water), and then there's imbuing yourself with your chi, i.e. making yourself faster and stronger, which I think personifies the Earth element.

This is just my theory crafting of how it all works. Feel free to criticize (but give reasons for it).

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Re: Monk Roleplaying Guide

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