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    Monks of Greyhawk. What's the story?
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    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Mar 15, 2004
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    Tue Jun 15, 2004 6:47 pm  
    Monks of Greyhawk. What's the story?

    A lot of people complain that monks aren't suitable for D&D. Fact is, they are an *official* part of the Greyhawk setting. Just take a look in the novel "Artifact of Evil" to get a taste of a Scarlet Brotherhood monk in action.

    I mean, you've gotta acknowledge that the Suloise race (and other races of the Flanaess) have been around for thousands of years so they're bound to have come up with this "eastern" (err. . . western?) concept of martial arts. (However, if you read "The Scarlet Brotherhood" by SKR then it says the Scarlet Brotherhood only invented monks *after* the migration -- when they'd settled down in the Tilvanot Pennisula to form their racist monastic order).

    Anyway, my question is: What other races have monks? And, what is the oldest recorded siting of a monk?

    "The Scarlet Brotherhood" seems to imply that monks are a relatively recent creation of the Suloise. One that is unique to the Scarlet Brotherhood.

    I do know that there is the Baklunish deity Xan Yae and Zuoken (Baklunish?) who have very monkish portfolios.

    Can someone please answer these questions?

    Master Greytalker

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    Wed Jun 16, 2004 12:02 am  

    I thinks that the Baklunish began the tradition of martial arts monks. Worshippers of Xan Yae and Zuoken aim for physical & mental perfection and I think that there was an Oerth Journal article detailing their background. I also recall seeing that worshippers of Tharizdun stole the secrets of martial arts from the Ancient Baklunish.

    There are also various monastic orders around the Flanaess, largely detailed on LGG forum websites. There's the Abbey of the Axe & Orange Grove Monastery (for little folk) in Gran March, a Heironean Monastery outside the town of Knurl, I think that there are several monasteries in Perrenland, and numerous others in other countries I'm sure. I'm a bit rusty on all the locations.

    There are no specifically dwarven or elven monasteries of which I'm aware.
    Master Greytalker

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    Wed Jun 16, 2004 2:35 am  

    Little attention is given to monks in Greyhawk material. Various articles have mentioned them briefly here and there. The following is the sense of the material as I understand it. There are certainly other ways to look at things.

    Despite what it says in the Scarlet Brotherhood book, its clear from other materials like the Oerth Journal, that most folks consider monasticism to have a long history in Oerth.

    Generally, the monastic tradition derived from the Baklunish empire, particularly the teachings of Xan Yae. Her faith focuses on mental power and physical discipline. If you use psionics in your campaign (I don't), then her followers would tend more towards psychic warriors and similar. Otherwise, they are clearly monks. Zuoken is the source for the specific focus on unarmed combat in the Baklunish tradition. Although the Baklunish monastic tradition stems from the teachings of Xan Yae and Zuoken, it is fundamentally a non priestly tradition, IMHO. The monks follow the path of perfection laid down by the gods, but without a great deal of religious practice in most monasteries. Xan Yae and Zuoken are teachers/examples more than focuses of worship.

    The monastic tradition spread to the Suel empire over time. However, there is was specifically affiliated with various temples. For example, one sect of the priests of Wee Jas are monks (Order of the Patterned Web). While they practice the martial and spiritual traditions, their daily lives are steeped in religious rites and duties.

    The Twin Cataclysms shattered both these traditions, the Suel worse than the Baklunish. A few Suel monasteries in the Crystalmists/Hellfurnaces survived, but most of the orders were wiped out. The Baklunish had a number of monasteries survive and the tradition remains pretty strong amongst them.

    I see three kinds of monks in Greyhawk today. The Baklunish monasteries, a couple of which are in the Flanaess, which practice the teachings of Xan Yae and Zuoken. A very few surviving Suel monasteries, mostly in the Sheldomar Valley and surrounding mountains. And a fairly large number of uncloistered monks descended from destroyed monasteries and runaways. These latter are probably almost completely divorced from any religious aspect of their discipline. Some live as hermits, others just wander from place to place. The SBs probably recreated their arts from such wandering monks.

    I would expect most PC monks to have been taught by a single instructor of this rootless, vagabond tradition. Thus they are free to go whereever they chose and do whatever is needful for their quest for XP, err, I mean enlightenment.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Thu Jun 17, 2004 3:07 pm  

    Thanks for the info! Happy
    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 11, 2001
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    Sat Jun 19, 2004 5:36 am  

    I'd agree with the Bakluni being one of the sources of the monastic tradition in the Flanaess.

    I have a theory though that it might have spread from farther west - like the hypothetical (if badly named) "Celestial Empire" from Dragon Annual 1 (which by the name seems to be some sort of vaguely Chinese style empire). Monastism and the study of chi/mind over matter might have spread east from there into both the Suel Imperium and the Empire of the Baklunish Padishahs (along trade routes etc) and from there into the Flanaess after the Twin Cataclysms.

    Encyclopedia Greyhawkaniac

    Joined: May 29, 2018
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    Wed Aug 04, 2021 1:31 pm  

    There are non-asian martial arts such as Savate, Pankranation and Systema. After Charlemagne there were many fighting monasteries across Europe so forcing a link between pseudo-Greyhawk asian martial arts and fighting monks in the Flanaess is unnecessary.
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 18, 2005
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    Thu Aug 05, 2021 12:52 am  

    The latest issue (35) of Oerth Journal has an article by yours truly on Monks in the Flanaess including some history on their origins, leveraging of some work by other people.

    There is nothing suitably official, so this is just my take on it.

    Essentially my take is that while I make anything possible in terms of races, and even extend alignments to include TN since you kind of need that for Baklunish monks, some are far more unlikely than others. So I don't have non-humans having their own orders, but I have 'open orders' who are prepared to accept anyone on their merits. This lets you have any character you need while not making it 'normal'. Halfling monk - sure can, but it is very rare.

    Link here:
    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Jan 05, 2002
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    Sat Aug 07, 2021 3:41 pm  

    PaulN6 wrote:

    There are no specifically dwarven or elven monasteries of which I'm aware.

    I seem to recall LG Perrenland having an elven monastery in the Yatils or Clatspurs...I could try to track it down if there is interest.
    My campaigns are multilayered tapestries upon which I texture themes and subject matter which, quite frankly, would simply be too strong for your hobbyist gamer.
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