How do you fit monks into Occidental campaigns? - Page 5




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  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by ProfessorCirno View Post
    Side note - monks are bar none the worst class in D&D ever, and I don't (just) mean mechanically. They're literally "Racism: the Class!"
    In my game I remove the Dietary Requirement (rice) restriction, but I still make them either talk funny, or the player can delay his words by 1-3 seconds from when his lips start moving.

    Also I impose a -2 penalty on attacks if the player fails to yell "HAI-YA!" when rolling.

    Cheers, -- N

 

  • #42
    To quote from someone who said it much better:

    I don't like Monks.

    This is an old complaint, which is appropriate since Monks, like Barbarians, have been hovering around the edges of core D&D rules since the very earliest editions. Monks 'don't fit' the traditional medieval-Europe fantasy mold; the class is a take on the kung-fu-fighting Shaolin monks seen in dozens of cheap martial-arts films.

    It feels a bit forced, perhaps - that you've got all these knights and alchemists and pagans running around the streets and then, next door, there's all these kooky bald dudes from a whole other culture with 'kukris' and 'kamas' and this is apparently entirely normal somehow???

    It's the worst kind of Orientalism, I think; hundreds of years of eastern religion and culture (one specific religion from one relatively small area of Asia, to be precise) condensed into a single class so that a handful of players can feel a bit 'exotic'.

    Okay, okay, you're probably getting tired of me ragging on D&D and the Forgotten Realms all the time. But it's not just history-nerd-rage, I swear.

    Y'see, when you turn the Monks of Tyr into some kind of hybridised Euro/East-Asian martial-arts order, you immediately eliminate the concept of religious orders of scholars and ascetics who exist outside of traditional temporal/spiritual hierarchies. You no longer have any words to describe, say, the Order of Saint Benedict because "monk" has already been co-opted by the player class, with its fundamentally different fluff.

    The traditional European monastery is a terrific dramatic crucible. A small, rich, tightly-knit group of highly-strung men in dresses who spend all their time reading books and thinking about God and not nearly enough time getting laid? Narrative goldmine! So many rich themes available: knowledge and learning, purity and corruption, spirituality, masculinity and homosexuality, secrets, the forbidden and the mandatory, exclusion and inclusion... you ever read The Name of the Rose? It's just like that.

    But we can never have that, because in D&D Monks are these weird Stance-of-the-Tiger types that owe more to films from the 1970s than they do actual Buddhist tradition. It'd be like writing a wonderful campaign setting based on feudal Japan but replacing all the samurai with generic 'knights'. You know, like... dudes in armour who fight each other for their king or something, I dunno, I just thought it'd be nice to have some English dudes in there or whatever!

    This is the problem I have with Monks, and Shadow Thieves, and all the other stuff in D&D I whine about : not that it's not 'historically accurate', but that it's throwing away such rich and imaginative possibilities for tedious and mundane cliches. Forgotten Realms is not so much a high fantasy campaign setting based on medieval Europe as it is a high fantasy campaign setting based on high fantasy campaign settings.

    Tell me: have you been genuinely impressed with the Shadow Thieves plotline? Has it made you think about order, and control, and how society works its morality into law - and how that morality changes over time, and how society copes with that dissonance? Or is it obviously filler, typical "cops-and-robbers" that you find in every other fantasy story written, ever? And these monks: have you developed any insight into the traditions of Buddhist asceticism? Or are we still running on empty?

  • #43
    tl'dr version:

    Monks are not based on actual buddhist aesthetics, they're based off of terrible yellow-faced films from the 70's.

    Imagine if there were a group of weirdos in L5R who ran around praising "Jebus" and believed that stabbing people caused their soul to go into heaven by conversion. And that it was implied all westerners felt this way.

    Would you find that absolutely rediculous and in no small part racist?

  • #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by ProfessorCirno View Post
    Would you find that absolutely rediculous and in no small part racist?
    rediculous, adj. - arousing or deserving rosiness : INCARNADIGOUS, RUDDIFYING.

  • #45
    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    rediculous, adj. - arousing or deserving rosiness : INCARNADIGOUS, RUDDIFYING.
    Man, if you're going to be criticizing my spelling, you've got a long job ahead of you.

  • #46
    Quote Originally Posted by ProfessorCirno View Post
    This thread was eight years old
    I managed to catch that before replying because on of the posters was frequently referring to 3e OA. I'm thinking "huh?" with all the references to a 3.0 book, and then I saw the date.

    One of the web's biggest mysteries is how a forum newbie will always manage to dig deep into the archives and resurrect at least one long-dead thread that everyone else had forgotten. I'm not trying to be nasty about it here, it just confuses me as to how so many new people ignore about 5 pages of current topics, up to 20 pages of topics recently discussed, and then go down to Display Options and select "From the beginning" and just pick something apparently at random from the end of the list. It's probably isn't all that random, but it really feels that way when reading a necro.

    Why do people go back so far when this really isn't a dead forum?

    Quote Originally Posted by shidaku View Post
    I simply hybridize Western and Eastern fantasy. Though European fantasy lacked "kung-fu" monastic orders, they did have monastic orders. Considering that it's my world, I say "now they do." They train in the ways of the body because they believe it is a way of staying holy. I dunno, really if you're attempting to "reconcile" eastern and western fantasy, you're taking everything far to literally.
    I think this is the best approach. Tell medieval Europe to go shove it and just make a campaign that mixes stuff together. It's not like D&D has ever truely been historically accurate anyway. I've been wanting to do this for a while so I can actually use OA. There's some good stuff in the book, but if I seperate "eastern", and "western" I have to wonder if i'll every really use the book at all. If I mix the stuff together, and blend OA elements into core and spread it through the whole campaign, then I get more use out of it.

    Hey, maybe even try a more anime-styled approach. I'm serious. That stuff mixes East and West together like crazy, cranks everything up high-powered, and still manages to look fun. From what little I've seen, I swear it pulls off D&D better than other influences at times.
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  • #47
    Quote Originally Posted by Orius View Post
    I managed to catch that before replying because on of the posters was frequently referring to 3e OA. I'm thinking "huh?" with all the references to a 3.0 book, and then I saw the date.

    One of the web's biggest mysteries is how a forum newbie will always manage to dig deep into the archives and resurrect at least one long-dead thread that everyone else had forgotten. I'm not trying to be nasty about it here, it just confuses me as to how so many new people ignore about 5 pages of current topics, up to 20 pages of topics recently discussed, and then go down to Display Options and select "From the beginning" and just pick something apparently at random from the end of the list. It's probably isn't all that random, but it really feels that way when reading a necro.

    Why do people go back so far when this really isn't a dead forum?
    I often come across random old threads when searching on Google. I've necro-ed a couple before realizing how old they were. That's probably how it happens most of the time.
    Last edited by Dausuul; Thursday, 4th November, 2010 at 05:35 AM.

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  • #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by ProfessorCirno View Post
    Monks are not based on actual buddhist aesthetics, they're based off of terrible yellow-faced films from the 70's.
    They're based off Asian films. If I ran across a Japanese RPG where there was a Western culture based off "Dude, Where's My Car" and similar films, I would be amused. I suspect you can find Asian films where the martial artist kicks ass in the West.

    Imagine if there were a group of weirdos in L5R who ran around praising "Jebus" and believed that stabbing people caused their soul to go into heaven by conversion. And that it was implied all westerners felt this way.
    For one, the religious part has been stripped out of the roleplaying bits, which makes a huge difference. Secondly, I don't see the implication that all westerners felt this way.

    But there is an anime where a Christian American foreign exchange student joins a Buddhist and a Taoist to send ghosts back to where they came from. I'm amused, not offended, by this concept; how about you?

    Would you find that absolutely rediculous and in no small part racist?
    Japanese and American culture have spent years ripping each other off. Which might have something to do with the fact that Japan, the US, and the UK are the only three countries in the world that are net exporters of copyrighted material. There's some genuinely offensive material both ways but acting like anything that doesn't represent a full and representative section of one culture is offensive is silly.

    More directly responding to the original: Very little of my reading gets deeper than Terry Pratchett's Small Gods. If you check out the numbers, I bet there's a lot of roleplayers like me. I'm not seeing this deep reason to be upset that FR doesn't encourage me to get into deep ethical probing. Moreover, if I'm with a group where the Paladin doesn't understand why he can't torture prisoners, I suspect encouraging us to get into deep ethical probing would be a lot less fun then the way it is. There are games out there that play with it--Dogs in the Vineyard is one I keep hearing about but never played--but D&D is the standard entry game and is designed with no more ethical probing than most of its audience are interested in getting into.

    Personally, I'm not a fan of the monk. There's a reason why plate mail and long swords were invented, and that's when someone with plate mail and long sword goes up against someone unarmed, the usual result is pretty bad for the guy with the plate mail--he's got all this metal covered with the the other guy's blood and guts he's got to clean. But what the heck, some people like the supernatural martial artist idea better than I do.

  • #49
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  • #50
    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
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    Covered.

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