Scattered across the world in remote, difficult to get to places, nine Monasteries were found. They were all already standing when they were first discovered. The first of these strange, castle-like complexes was the Monastery of Onisama.
All of them have the same layout, are fashioned from seamless stone, and look identical – as if they were simply carved out of the mountain crags in which they reside. All of them have a large, stone walled vale that is part of the complex, and all of them have an abundance of water and nearby woodlands.
Onisama, a human veteran of the last years of the God’s War, stumbled into the one that is named for her after having wandered for years. The carvings on the wall of the Great Audience told the history of the world, and she found herself feeling a need to find a way for people to live without the constant wars and struggles – a new way to find peace and harmony with the world, that wasn’t dependent on the Gods.
She lived there, alone, for nearly twenty years, listening to the wind, and from that experience came the Way of the Open Hand, the first Monastic tradition. First, there was one who came to her. Then another. And so on, and so forth, and eventually there were too many, and as she lay on her dying bed, she heard the Wind speak to her, and sent one of her best students to find the Monastery of Heart, and so has the tradition as the Master of Each Monastery has come to be named by the one from which they left, and each of them has learned a new Tradition from the Wind, or expanded the teachings of one.
A Monk of Wyrlde is one of the students from these Monasteries, usually on the required Quest that all students must finish, so that they are not isolated from the world, merely removed from it.
Monks are deeply committed to self-knowledge, self-discipline, self-reliance, and self-improvement. Personal Perfection through contemplative activities, rigorous training, and more.
Often, an adventurer who leaves a Monastery has gone to seek their family, perhaps, or to taste the world. For one thing Monks are known for is their love of the nicer things in the world. Monks adore the world as it is, the beauty of the world, the natural power and grace in it, and they do not give much thought or consideration to the Gods, at all. Like Druids and Sorcerers, they are not interested in turning to the Gods, for they are the source of much harm and hate in the world.
Creating a Monk
Your Monk character has a choice of locations where they trained – one of the nine monasteries scattered around the Bright Lands. Monks may have come from somewhere else, but if they were born near the monastery, then they originate in that ethnicity.
Located in Shangrila, it is the oldest of the traditions, and one of two where the Way of the Open Hand is taught.
Located deep in the mountains west of Dorado, the Heart is named after the guiding principal that its founder followed, which is to have an open heart. They teach the Way of the Open Hand here, and this is the only monastery were halflings are able to train, being on the border between Hyboreal and Dorado.
In the mountains west of Thule, on a spur that is approachable only by a narrow stone path, lies the Monastery of Blood, where the Way of the Four Elements is taught. Blood is sacred here, and there is a command that it never be shed within the walls of the complex, lest nature strike down the rulebreaker.
Thunder Monastery (F)
In the mountains southwest of Durango, lies the very competitive Monastery of Thunder, sometimes called Thunder Rock. When Di’ne of Thule was told to find the monastery, she wandered for seven years, following the sound of Thunder, until she came to the seemingly unyielding walls of the cloud wrapped place she would call home for the rest of her long life. Two things are special about Thunder Rock; first, it only allows women within its walls. No man is permitted to set foot on the lands. Legend has it this is because Di’ne was badly treated b the monks of her original temple, but some have said it is because of how she was treated in her travels. The second thing is that here they teach the Way of the Four Elements, that they can resist the incursion of the Wasting that seeks to cross to the Bright Lands.
Eridian Monastery (M)
In a vast sunken region on a spur southwest of Aztlan and southeast of Durango lies the Eridian Monastery, where B’rus t’Lian, once the Scion of Aztlan and in line for the throne, found home and purpose and reason. Eridian holds yearly, friendly competitions with Thunder Rock, and like them has a requirement that only men are allowed within the walls. Eridian follows the Way of the Drunken Master, and teaches that moderation is a source of great personal power.
In a moment when moderation was not on the table, Ducati of Thule managed to get genuinely drunk and started a rowdy fight over a woman from a nearby town, and so the next day found himself called by the wind to found the next Monastery. He wandered for a full fortnight before coming to the complex of the water, where he teaches the Lemurians that would come the Way of the Drunken Master, with a peculiar twist. It is said he has not had a drink since his exile, and that his style comes from the waves that beat upon the walls and the floors and the sprays upon the roofs of the Waves Monastery in Lemuria’s eastern mountains, perched on a basalt cliff overlooking the vastness of The Sea of Storms.
Most monasteries eschew weapons for the most part, though they are not unwilling to take them up. Dragyn monastery was founded by Kensei, who was called from his training following his victories in a Match of Champions in mid-strike and listened to the wind as it led him into the world. The wind carried him into the mountains to the far northeast, and there he found a monastery marked by a dragon and two polearms crossed within its jaws upon the door, and he took up the arts that have become the Way of Kensei. Dragyn Monastery has not participated in a Match of Champions. It is said they are too far from the Path.
In the heart of the sand desert north of Shangrila lies an oasis that is the home of the Burning Monastery and the Town of Sande, carved into the rocks that jut from the ground like stone mushrooms. The Burning Monastery is a hot, arid, dusty place, where many have come to bathe in its warm springs and cold springs that support the town, while others have come to follow the Way of the Sun Soul in a place nearest it.
South of Shangrila, in the mountains between it and Lemuria, there lies a pass that has a wall across it, for that pass travels through the Monastery of the Wind. Windhome, it is called by Lemurians, Windswept it is called by Shangs, and Vale of Passage it is called by those who follow the Way of the Long Death, while they also apparently do a brisk business in guarding the caravan route that uses the pass. The stone of the Monastery of wind is black and shiny, like obsidian, but strong and featureless. Unlike other Monasteries, its walls have no carvings, for to date nothing has been able to pierce the stone. It the main courtyard, a single spire of black stone rises, and somehow inscribed in it is a message in Ancient, that declares the breaker of the stone to be the Master of Winds.
The Match of Champions
B’rus and Di’ne were both disciples of Chan Tien, who was, for a time, the Master of Onisama. Each came to favor a different Way, and each felt that their way was the strongest, and so the Match of Champions was founded, taking place once every seven years. While these days all the Monasteries take part, it was started between Eridian and Thunder Rock, and the absolute loser of each event hosts the next event. The next Match is scheduled to be held soon, at Heart Monastery, which is rumored to have thrown the previous Match – their five fighters were all injured in the journey, with one dying soon after they arrived. The Monks themselves swear they were set upon by Devils seeking to use the match for an evil scheme, but this is likely merely an excuse for their poor performance.
Those studying in a monastery are subject to long hours of learning and dedication and must reach at least an adept level in their skills before they leave, requiring at least ten years. Fortunately, your Monk has most likely been raised by them, and started learning early.
If your Monk came to the monastery late in life, your age is based on ten years after you arrived, which is at least five years after you reached adulthood for your race.
|Race||Starting Age||Race||Starting Age|
|Halfling||15||(only Heart Monastery)|
The Following Monastic Traditions are available. There is one from the Sword Coast Adventurers Guide (SCAG) that is presented here following the table.
|Way of the Open Hand||Onisama, Heart||Shangrila, Dorado||Y (Shangrila)|
|Way of the Four Elements||Blood, Thunder (F)||Thule, Durango||Y (Thule)|
|Way of the Drunken Master||Eridian(M), Waves||Aztlan, Lemuria||N|
|Way of the Kensei||Dragyn||Shangrila||N|
|Way of the Sun Soul||Burning||Shangrila||N|
|Way of the Long Death||Wind||Shangrila/Lemuria||Y|