Monk Schools

Playing a Monk

The first thing you need ot know about playing a monk character is that you may earn the undying hatred of your GM! Monks, while respected and given leeway by the samurai of Rokugan, are nevertheless a complicating factor in a great number of political and social situations, and you should make absolutely sure you have your GM's permission before you even consider attempting to play one. Assuming you have permission, however, keep in mind the following mechanical considerations regarding playing a monk.

  • A monk's Traits all begin at 2, just like any other character. Monks begin with a Void of 3, however.
  • All monks in the Empire of Rokugan are affiliated to some degree with the Brotherhood of Shinsei. For our purposes, you may select one of the Monk Schools listed below, or you may choose to be an unaffiliated monk. Choosing the latter puts you at a significant disadvantage, however.
  • In addition to the benefits of their School, monks begin the game knowing 3 kiho. They must meet all prerequisites in order to use these Kiho, however. Brotherhood monk characters gain 2 new Kiho each time they advance in School Rank.
  • In addition to the Kiho listed above, a monk may purchase additional Kiho by spending a number of Experience Points equal to the Kiho's Mastery Level. These are essentially 'bonus Kiho', and a character may never know more of these than his cumulative School Rank in all Monk Schools.
  • Monks possess Glory 1 and Status 0. A monk's Status may increase normally but gains only half the normal amount of Glory, since they eschew fame.
  • All monks begin with the following outfit: Bo (or pair of jo), course and plain Traveling Clothing, a Scroll Satchel with passages from the Tao, and 2 zeni.

Monk Basic Schools

Monk Schools are like shugenja Schools in that they possess only a single basic Technique they learn at character creation, and never gain others. The other abilities possessed by a monk are represented by the Kiho he knows. Each of the follow Monk Schools, also called Temples, represents a network of temples devoted to a particular sect within the Brotherhood of Shinsei, and reflects where the character was trained and indoctrinated into the order.

The entry noted Devotion on each School describes the primary focus of that particular sect, whether it is on the Tao of Shinsei or the study of the Fortunes' strictures. All monastic sects study both, as dictated by Imperial law, but most study one or the other with greater emphasis.

Four Temples Monk [CR]

Many sects believe that monks must retreat into seclusion to achieve harmony with the elements. The monks of the Four Temples sect know that man is a social creature and it is in his nature to interact with others. The Four Temples monks believe they must maintain a strong connection with civilization to unravel the mysteries of the world. The Four Temples monks remain in direct contact with the political heart of the Empire - indeed, one of its biggest monasteries lies within the Imperial capital. Four Temples monks may become advisers to major generals or daimyo, or they may travel the road, helping the unfortunate who cross their path.

  • Devotion: Shintao
  • Benefit: +1 Awareness
  • Honor: 6.5
  • Skills: Courtier, Etiquette, Jiujutsu, Lore: Theology (Shintao), Mediation, any 2 Skills
  • Technique: Soul of Civility - Brothers of the Four Temples are accustomed to interacting with extremely important visitors and receiving invitations to influential courts. When you spend a Void Point to augment a High Skill Roll or a Social Skill Roll, you gain +2k2 instead of the normal +1k1.

Order of Heroes Monk [CR]

A small sect that is not well known among those outside the Brotherhood, the monks of the Order of Heroes are among the most proactive sects in Rokugan. Adherents are followers of the Tao, the Thunder Dragon, and the Fortune Goemon (The Fortune of Heroes). They believe the potential for greatness exists within the soul of all men. With the proper encouragement, any samurai can become a hero of legend to inspire and teach others. The Order actively seeks out threats and problems that exist within the Empire, and then seeks out individuals who possess the proper talents to deal with the matter conclusively. In this way, the Order has quietly assisted in the births of hundreds of heroes and legends, tales remembered in plays and novels throughout history. The Order remains all but unknown, however, since adherents consider it vital to perform their duties without ever drawing attention to themselves.

  • Devotion: Shintao
  • Benefit: +1 Perception
  • Honor: 4.5
  • Skills: Athletics, Defense, Jiujutsu, Lore: Theology (Pick an Emphasis), Mediation, any 2 Skills
  • Technique: Destiny's Hand - The Order's esoteric methods allow for the passage of chi from a monk to another without difficulty. You may spend a Void Point as a Free Action to confer a bonus of +1k1 to any one roll this round by an ally who has not yet taken his Turn. You may not enhance a roll that cannot normally benefit from Void Points (such as damage roll, for instance).

Order of Peaceful Repose [SE]

Pockets of this sect may be found throughout Rokugan, especially in places where warfare or local spiritual conditions make ghosts more common. They dedicate themselves to serving Emma-O by laying ghosts to rest, without regard for whether those ghosts are the spirits of heimin or samurai. In the twelfth century the monks of this Order form an alliance with the newly-formed Brothers of Rebirth, whose aims they see as harmonious with their own.

  • Devotion: Fortunist (Emma-O, the Fortune of Death)
  • Benefit: +1 Awareness
  • Honor: 4.5
  • Skills: Athletics, Calligraphy, Jiujutsu, Lore: Ghosts, Lore: Theology (Emma-O), Meditation, any one Skill
  • Technique: Emma-O’s Insight - You may detect the presence of ghosts (yorei or goryo, but not gaki) by spending 10 minutes in meditation and making a roll of Meditation / Awareness at TN 25. You may do this a number of times per day equal to your Void Rank. You may call Raises on this roll to learn the following additional information (one piece of information per Raise): the ghost’s identity, its manner of death, and its connection to the mortal world. For three Raises, you can gain specific insight into what will lay the ghost to rest. (GM’s discretion as to exactly what you learn, but it will always be directly useful to resolving the ghost’s presence in the mortal world.)

Shinmaki Order [EE]

The monks who are admitted to the small Shinmaki sect spend much of their lives studying the controversial Diamond sutra and meditating on the Seven Thunders, who are supposedly avatars of Shinsei from other cycles of the world. They remain in their dark and isolated monasteries for years, and some of their practices there are highly controversial (for example, some claim they copy sutras onto dried flesh). However, they do occasionally emerge to explore the world or to gather for meetings of the entire sect.

  • Devotion: Shintao
  • Benefit: +1 Void
  • Honor: 6.5
  • Skills: Divination, Jiujutsu, Lore: Theology (Diamond Sutra), Meditation 2, any two Skills
  • Technique: The Diamond Sutra - The monks who study the Diamond Sutra are known for their strange and bizarre behavior and esoteric practices, but also for their extreme spiritual purity and lack of respect for conventional etiquette. You start play with the Disturbing Countenance Disadvantage for no points, but gain a +1k0 bonus to Meditation rolls, Fear rolls, and to all Social Skill Rolls involving members of the heimin and hinin castes. You do not lose Honor for touching dead flesh (but lose Glory or gain Infamy normally).

Shrine of the Seven Thunders Monk [CR]

When Rokugan desperately called for heroes to defeat the threat of the dark god Fu Leng, seven mortals sacrificed everything to save their Empire. The monks of the Shrine of the Seven Thunders honor these heroes by dedicating their entire lives to enlightenment through contemplation and tranquility. These monks rarely leave the monastery, choosing instead to become one with their environment.

  • Devotion: Shintao
  • Benefit: +1 Stamina
  • Honor: 4.5
  • Skills: Athletics, Jiujutsu, Lore: Theology (Shintao), Lore (pick one), Mediation, any 2 Skills
  • Technique: Walk with the Prophet - Brothers of this shrine emphasize training in one element over all others. All three of your initial Kiho must be selected from the same element. Your Insight Rank is considered 1 higher for the purposes of meeting the Mastery Level of Kiho from this element.

Temple of Kaimetsu-uo Monk [CR]

The adherents of Kaimetsu-uo, the founder of the Mantis Clan, have a considerably different view of that heroic individual than the samurai who belong to the Clan he founded. They believe Kaimetsu-uo performed legendary deeds because he wanted to avoid the destruction that would have come if he had stayed and contested the claim to the Crab Clan's leadership. The monks of the Temple of Kaimetsu-uo believe enlightenment comes from conciliation and peace with others.

  • Devotion: Fortunist
  • Benefit: +1 Willpower
  • Honor: 4.5
  • Skills: Defense, Jiujutsu, Lore: Theology (Fortunes), Mediation, any 3 Skills
  • Technique: The Path of Purity - You soul dwells in a place of wisdom and serenity, and your ire is difficult to arouse under any circumstances. When making a Contested Social Roll initiated by your opponent, you may use any Ring in place of the normal trait used (typically Awareness) for the purposes of that roll.

Temple of Osano-Wo Monk [CR]

Perhaps the most militant of all Brotherhood sects, the Temple of Osano-Wo stands apart from the other Fortunist orders because of its extraordinary focus on physical prowess and martial arts. Adherents believe enlightenment comes with hard work and physical exertion, and a well-trained body leads to a well-trained mind and soul. Monks of this order are notorious for ritually scarring their skin to mark the progress of their training, giving them an alarming appearance.

  • Devotion: Fortunist
  • Benefit: +1 Strength
  • Honor: 4.5
  • Skills: Battle, Jiujutsu 2, Lore: Theology (Fortunes), Meditation, any 2 Bugei Skills
  • Technique: The Hand of Thunder - The emphasis of the Thunderer's monks on the purity of unarmed combat is obvious to all who encounter them. You gain a +0k1 bonus to all damage rolls stemming from unarmed attacks. This effect is cumulative with any other effects that allow you to roll or keep additional dice on unarmed damage.

Temples of the Thousand Fortunes Monk [CR]

Rokugan is a devout Empire filled with thousands of shrines and monasteries across the land. The Temples of the Thousand Fortunes are as diverse as the gods they revere. It is almost impossible to categorize all of the monks Temples of the Thousand Fortunes as one group, but most believe they must work diligently to prove worthy of enlightenment.

  • Devotion: Fortunist
  • Benefit: +1 Agility
  • Honor: 4.5
  • Skills: Jijutsu, Lore: History, Lore: Theology (Fortunes), any 1 Lore Skill, Mediation, any 2 Skills
  • Technique: The Thousand Forms - There is no limit to the variety of blessings bestowed upon the loyal members of the Brotherhood by their divine patrons. You begin the game knowing 4 Kiho, rather than the normal 3 possessed by all Brotherhood monk characters. These do not count against the additional Kiho you can purchase with Experience Points (which you may do as normal).

Alternate Paths

Barefoot Breathren [SE]

The Barefoot Brethren carry messages all across Rokugan, asking no price except food for their journey. They are famed for their endurance, regularly outpacing even Unicorn horses over long distances. Many of those they serve are heimin, who have few other ways to communicate with distant kin, but samurai also make use of the Barefoot Brethren.

  • Devotion: Koshin, Fortune of Roads
  • Replaces: Any Fortunist Brotherhood Monk 2 (may not belong to the Order of Osano-Wo)
  • Requirements: Ascetic, Meditation (Fasting) 3, Athletics 4
  • Technique: Koshin’s Favor - You gain only one Kiho at this Rank. The strength of Koshin prevents you from becoming Fatigued from travel or lack of sleep, but not from the lack of food/drink. You gain a +1k1 bonus to all Meditation rolls.

Pure Song Shrine [SE]

For this sect, purity is more than merely a standard – it is the road to Enlightenment. Pure Song monks not only refrain from eating the flesh of any living creature, they also forgo eggs and even root vegetables whose loss kills the plant. They refuse all garments of silk, wearing robes woven from hemp. Those who have taken full vows wear bells on their ankles and their staves to warn creatures of their approach. Under no circumstances will a Pure Song monk take violent action, even to defend another – though he will not hesitate to lay his own life down to save others’ lives, even if it is only a momentary reprieve.

The Pure Song is a movement within the Shrine of the Seven Thunders for some time before achieving formal recognition as a separate sect.

One odd talent of the order wins them admission to unexpected places: their beautiful music. Several Pure Song monks have risen to great fame as singers and musicians, rivaling even the best Kakita artisans. All members of the order habitually chant or sing while meditating, or improvise harmonies around their bells as they pursue their duties.

  • Devotion: Shintao
  • Replaces: Shrine of Seven Thunders Monk 4
  • Requirements: Willpower 4, Defense 4, Meditation 3, any one musical Perform Skill at 3
  • Special: You may not learn or use Martial Kiho
  • Technique: The Pure Song - You gain a +1k0 bonus to all Perform Skills that involve music. You may never deliberately attack another living creature; if you ever do so, the spiritual pollution causes you to permanently lose the ability to perform Kiho. However, while you remain nonviolent and thus spiritually pure, you gain a +1k1 bonus to all Defense rolls, and any time you spend a Void point to negate Wounds, you negate 20 Wounds instead of 10.

Silent Ones [SE]

This tiny order, never encompassing more than a dozen full members in total, is unknown outside the Scorpion lands and barely known within them. However, the upper ranks of the Scorpion Clan find the Silent Ones a deeply useful order, and keep careful note of the temple’s location. These monks spend most of their lives in meditation, but this is not merely due to preference; it is because they literally cannot speak. When an initiate takes the full vows to join the Silent Ones and serve the Fortune of Secrets, as soon as the last word is spoken his tongue vanishes from his mouth.

  • Devotion: Fortunist (Tsugumu, the Fortune of Secrets)
  • Replaces: Any Fortunist Brotherhood Monk 3
  • Requirements: Willpower 4, Meditation 4
  • Special: A character who joins this Path becomes mute (his tongue vanishes from his mouth)
  • Technique: Tsugumu’s Silence - A member of this order who is voluntarily told a secret can never give it up. The knowledge is guarded by the power of the Fortune of Secrets, and can never be taken from the monk’s mind in any way, even through torture or intrusive Air magic.
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