Dotted across the landscape are monasteries—small, walled cloisters inhabited by monks who pursue personal perfection through action as well as contemplation. They train themselves to be versatile warriors skilled at fighting without weapons or armor. The inhabitants of monasteries headed by good masters serve as protectors of the people. Ready for battle even when barefoot and dressed in peasant clothes, monks can travel unnoticed among the populace, catching bandits, warlords, and corrupt nobles unawares. In contrast, the residents of monasteries headed by evil masters rule the surrounding lands through fear, as an evil warlord and his entourage might. Evil monks make ideal spies, infiltrators, and assassins.

The individual monk is unlikely to care passionately about championing commoners or amassing wealth. She cares primarily for the perfection of her art and, thereby, her personal perfection. Her goal is to achieve a state that is beyond the mortal realm.

The key feature of the monk is her ability to fight unarmed and unarmored. Thanks to her rigorous training, she can strike as hard as if she were armed and strike faster than a warrior with a sword.

Though a monk casts no spells, she has a magic of her own. She channels a subtle force, called ki, which allows her to perform amazing feats. The monk’s best-known feat is her ability to stun an opponent with an unarmed blow. A monk also has a preternatural awareness that allows her to dodge an attack even if she is not consciously aware of it. As the monk gains experience and power, her mundane and ki-oriented abilities grow, giving her more and more power over herself and, sometimes, over others.

A monk typically trains in a monastery. Most monks were children when they joined the monastery, sent to live there when their parents died, when there wasn’t enough food to support them, or in return for some kindness that the monastery had performed for the family. Life in the monastery is so focused that by the time a monk sets off on her own, she feels little connection to her former family or village.

In larger cities, master monks have set up monk schools to teach their arts to those who are interested and worthy. The monks who study at these academies often see their rural cousins from the monasteries as backward.

A monk may feel a deep connection to her monastery or school, to the monk who taught her, to the lineage into which she was trained, or to all of these. Some monks, however, have no sense of connection other than to their own path of personal development.

The monk functions best as an opportunistic combatant, using her speed to get into and out of combat quickly rather than engaging in prolonged melees. She also makes an excellent scout, particularly if she focuses her skill selection on stealth.

Monks belong to the warrior class group. (See the Character Advancement page for more information about class groups.)

Starting Wealth

1d6 × 10 gp (average 35 gp). In addition, each character begins play with an outfit worth 10 gp or less.

Attacks & Saving Throws

The monk has a Good base attack bonus, and Good Fortitude, Reflex, and Will saving throw bonuses. (See Table: Attack & Save Bonuses By Level, on the Classes page.)

Weapon Proficiency

A monk is proficient with basic weapons and unarmed attacks, as well as the sai and shuriken. Monks can use a quarterstaff to make trip attacks.

Armor and Shield Proficiency: Monks are not proficient with any armor or shields. When wearing armor, using a shield, or carrying a medium or heavy load, a monk loses his Wisdom bonus to AC, as well as his centered, fast movement, and flurry of blows abilities.

Class Features

A monk has the following special abilities.

AC Bonus

When unarmored and unencumbered, the monk adds his Wisdom bonus as an insight bonus to his Armor Class (however, the actual amount of this bonus cannot be higher than the monk’s class level). He loses this bonus when he is immobilized or helpless, when he wears any armor, when he carries a shield, or when he carries a medium or heavy load.

Note: Insight bonuses to AC apply to touch attacks as well as normal attacks, and they even apply against surprise attacks.


When wearing no armor and carrying no more than a light load, a monk gains a +1 insight bonus to his Armor Class. This bonus increases by +1 at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter.

The monk loses these bonuses when he is immobilized or helpless, when he wears any armor, when he carries a shield, or when he carries a medium or heavy load.

Flurry of Blows

A monk can make a flurry of blows as a full-attack action.

When doing so, he may make one additional attack, taking a −2 penalty on all of his attack rolls, as if using the Two-Weapon Fighting feat. These attacks can be any combination of unarmed strikes and attacks with a monk special weapon (he does not need to use two weapons to utilize this ability).

At 8th level, the monk can make a flurry of blows as a standard action, when attacking as part of a charge, or when using the Spring Attack feat; he takes two attacks instead of one, as if using the Twin Sword Strike feat (even if the monk does not meet the prerequisites for the feat).

(Note: Any character, including a monk, who has a base attack bonus of +6 or higher, can make one additional attack when taking the full attack action (see Full Attacks on the Combat page for details). This is in addition to the extra attacks that a monk may take when using flurry of blows ability.)

At 11th level, the monk can make two additional attacks when he uses flurry of blows as a full-round action, as if using Improved Two-Weapon Fighting (even if the monk does not meet the prerequisites for the feat).

A monk applies his full Strength bonus to his damage rolls for all successful attacks made with flurry of blows, whether the attacks are made with an off-hand or with a weapon wielded in both hands. A monk cannot use any weapon other than an unarmed strike or a special monk weapon as part of a flurry of blows. A monk with natural weapons cannot use such weapons as part of a flurry of blows, nor can he make natural attacks in addition to his flurry of blows attacks.

Unarmed Strike

At 1st level, a monk gains Improved Unarmed Strike as a bonus feat. A monk’s attacks may be with fists, elbows, knees, and feet. This means that a monk may make unarmed strikes with his hands full. There is no such thing as an off-hand attack for a monk striking unarmed. A monk may thus apply his full Strength bonus on damage rolls for all his unarmed strikes.

Usually a monk’s unarmed strikes deal lethal damage, but he can choose to deal nonlethal damage instead with no penalty on his attack roll. He has the same choice to deal lethal or nonlethal damage while grappling.

A monk’s unarmed strike is treated as both a manufactured weapon and a natural weapon for the purpose of spells and effects that enhance or improve either manufactured weapons or natural weapons.

A monk also deals more damage with his unarmed strikes than a normal person would, as shown above on Table: The Monk. The unarmed damage values listed on Table: The Monk is for Medium monks. A Small monk deals less damage than the amount given there with his unarmed attacks, while a Large monk deals more damage; see Table: Small or Large Monk Unarmed Damage.

Stunning Fist

At 2nd level, the monk gains Stunning Fist as a bonus feat, even if he does not meet the prerequisites. The monk may spend a ki point (see ki pool, below) to attempt a stunning attack in excess of the feat's usual limit of such attacks per encounter. (See the Stunning Fist feat description for details.)

Bonus Feats

At 2nd level, and every 4 levels thereafter, a monk may select a bonus feat. (She must still qualify for any feat she selects as a bonus feat.) A monk may select from any of the following feats:

Fast Movement

At 3rd level, a monk gains an enhancement bonus to his land speed of +10 feet. This bonus increases by +10 feet at every 3rd level thereafter (6th, 9th, etc.). A monk in armor or carrying a medium or heavy load loses this extra speed.

Ki Pool

At 4th level, a monk gains a pool of ki points, mystical power he can use to accomplish amazing feats. The number of points in a monk’s ki pool is equal to 12 his monk level + his Wisdom modifier. As long as he has at least 1 point in his ki pool, his unarmed attacks are treated as +1 weapons (+2 at 9th level, +3 at 14th level, +4 at 19th level) for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.

By spending 1 point from his ki pool, a monk can do one of the following:

Each of these powers is activated as a swift action. Certain feats and abilities, such as Ki Force and high jump, allow a monk to use ki points in other ways.

The ki pool is replenished each morning after 8 hours of rest or meditation; these hours do not need to be consecutive.

Slow Fall

At 4th level or higher, a monk within arm's reach of a wall can use it to slow his descent. When first gaining this ability, he takes damage as if the fall were 20 feet shorter than it actually is. The monk’s ability to slow his fall (that is, to reduce the effective distance of the fall when next to a wall) improves with his monk level until at 20th level he can use a nearby wall to slow his descent and fall any distance without harm.

High Jump

At 5th level, a monk always counts as having a running start when making jump checks. By spending 1 point from his ki pool as a swift action, a monk gains an enhancement bonus on Athletics checks made to jump for 1 round, equal to +10 or enough to double his existing bonus (whichever is greater). A monk has no limit on his vertical jump distance.

Purity of Body

At 5th level, a monk gains immunity to all diseases, including supernatural and magical diseases.

Wholeness of Body

At 7th level or higher, a monk can heal his own wounds as a standard action. He can heal a number of hit points of damage equal to his monk level by using 2 points from his ki pool.

Tongue of the Sun and Moon

A monk of 8th level or higher gains a +4 competence bonus on Linguistics checks made to communicate with any living creature.

Diamond Body

At 11th level, a monk gains a +8 bonus to saving throws against poison.

Diamond Soul

At 13th level, a monk gains spell resistance equal to 10 + the monk’s total level in the warrior class group. In order to affect the monk with a spell, a spellcaster must get a result on a caster level check (1d20 + caster level) that equals or exceeds the monk’s spell resistance.

Quivering Palm

Starting at 15th level, a monk can set up vibrations within the body of another creature that can thereafter be fatal if the monk so desires. He can use this quivering palm attack once per day, and he must announce his intent before making his attack roll. Creatures immune to critical hits, or non-living creatures, cannot be affected. Otherwise, if the monk strikes successfully and the target takes damage from the blow, the quivering palm attack succeeds. Thereafter, the monk can try to slay the victim at any later time, as long as the attempt is made within a number of days equal to his monk level. To make such an attempt, the monk merely wills the target to die (a free action), and unless the target makes a Fortitude saving throw (DC 10 + 12 the monk’s total level in the warrior class group + the monk’s Wisdom modifier), it dies. If the saving throw is successful, the target is no longer in danger from that particular quivering palm attack, but it may still be affected by another one at a later time. A monk can have no more than 1 quivering palm in effect at one time. If a monk uses quivering palm while another is still in effect, the previous effect is negated.

Abundant Step (Sp)

At 16th level or higher, a monk can slip magically between spaces, as if using the spell dimension door?. Using this ability is a move action that consumes 2 points from his ki pool. His caster level for this effect is equal to his monk level. He cannot take other creatures with him when he uses this ability. Using abundant step is a spell-like ability that does not provoke an attack of opportunity.

Timeless Body

At 17th level, a monk no longer takes penalties to his ability scores for aging and cannot be magically aged. Any such penalties that he has already taken, however, remain in place. Age bonuses still accrue, and the monk still dies of old age when his time is up.

Empty Body (Sp)

At 19th level, a monk gains the ability to assume an ethereal state for 1 minute as though using the spell etherealness?. Using this ability is a move action that consumes 3 points from his ki pool. This ability only affects the monk and cannot be used to make other creatures ethereal. Using empty body is a spell-like ability that does not provoke an attack of opportunity.

Perfect Self

At 20th level, a monk becomes a magical creature, and can no longer be affected by spells and effects that specifically target normal creatures of his kind (such as charm person?).

Monk variants

The following are the variants available to player character monks in the Worlds of Adventure campaign.

Martial artist


The martial artist pursues a mastery of pure martial arts without the monastic traditions. He is a master of form, but lacks the ability to harness his ki.

A martial artist does not gain the following standard monk class features:

Instead, a martial artist has the following alternate class features:

Pain Points

At 3rd level, a martial artist’s advanced knowledge of humanoid anatomy grants a +2 bonus on critical hit confirmation rolls and increases the DC of his Stunning Fist and quivering palm by 1.

Exploit Weakness

At 4th level, as a swift action once per encounter, a martial artist can observe a creature or object to find its weak point by making a Wisdom check and adding his monk level against a DC of 10 + the object’s hardness or the target’s hit dice. If the check succeeds, any attacks the martial artist makes until the end of his turn ignore as many points of the creature or object’s DR or hardness as the martial artist's level. At 7th level and every 3rd level thereafter, the martial artist can use this ability one additional time per encounter. (If used outside of combat, this ability can be used once per minute.)

Extreme Endurance

At 5th level, a martial artist becomes immune to fatigue. At 10th level, he becomes immune to exhaustion. At 15th level, he cannot be dazed, stunned, or staggered. At 20th level, he becomes immune to death effects and energy drain.

Physical Resistance

At 7th level, if a martial artist suffers any effect that causes ability damage, ability drain, or temporary ability score penalties, the effect is reduced by 1 point. This reduction increases by 1 for every three levels beyond 7th (to a maximum reduction of 5 at 19th level).

Bonus Feat

At 12th level, a martial artist gains a monk bonus feat.

Defensive Roll

At 13th level, a martial artist may use the defensive roll advanced rogue talent once per day, plus once per three levels beyond 13th (to a maximum of 3 times a day at 19th level).

Quivering Palm

A martial artist may use this ability one additional time per day per level above 15th, but may not have more than one in effect at a time.

Martial Mastery

At 19th level, a martial artist can gain any combat feat he qualifies for, by training for an hour (as the fighter ability). He can do this once per day, and the feat gained lasts for a day.

At 20th level, a martial artist can gain two feats in this way (and can use one of the feats to qualify for the other).

Zen archer


Some monks seek to become one with another weapon entirely—the bow. The zen archer takes a weapon most other monks eschew and seeks perfection in the pull of a taut bowstring, the flex of a bow’s limbs, and the flight of an arrow fired true.

A zen archer does not gain the following standard monk class features:

Instead, a zen archer has the following alternate class features:

Weapon Proficiency

Zen archers are proficient with bows, in addition to their normal weapon proficiencies.

Bonus Feats

A zen archer’s bonus feats must be taken from the following list:

Zen Archery

A zen archer may use his Wisdom modifier instead of his Dexterity modifier on ranged attack rolls when using a bow. The zen archer loses this ability if he wears armor or carries more than a light load.

Way of the Bow

At 2nd level, a zen archer gains Weapon Focus with bows.

At 6th level, the monk gains Weapon Specialization, even if he does not meet the prerequisites. The monk’s fighter level for the purpose of applying the benefits of Weapon Specialization to bows (only) is equal to his monk level − 2.

Ki Pool

At 4th level, in addition to the normal abilities of his ki pool, a zen archer may spend 1 point from his ki pool to increase the range increment for his bow by 50 feet for 1 round.

Ki Arrows

At 9th level, a zen archer may spend 1 point from his ki pool as a swift action to change the damage dice of arrows he shoots to that of his unarmed strikes. This lasts until the start of his next turn. For example, a 9th-level zen archer’s short bow normally deals 1d8 damage; using this ability, his arrows deal 1d10 damage until the start of his next turn.

Ki Focus Bow

At 16th level, as long as he has at least 1 point of ki in his ki pool, a zen archer may treat arrows fired from his bow as if they were ki focus weapons, allowing him to use his special ki attacks (such as Elemental Fist, Stunning Fist, and quivering palm) as if his arrows were unarmed attacks.