Saturday, March 10, 2018

Holmes & Cook: Monk Redux (Saintly Saturday)

Today is the Feast of St. Quadratus of Nicomedia. He was from a rich family and spared no expense helping fellow Christians imprisoned for their faith during the reign of Emperor Decius (A.D. 249-251). When Decius sent his proconsul Perennius to persecute the Christians in Nicomedia, Quadrates voluntarily appeared before him. The saint wanted to encourage those in prison by demonstrating his courage in the face of certain torture and death.

These, of course, followed. In the end, a fire was lit under an iron grate in order to burn Quadratus to death. After the iron was red hot, the saint voluntarily laid down as if he were crawling into bed, unharmed by the heat and fire. Out of sheer frustration, the proconsul had the saint beheaded.

This past week I posted about a possible “Western” version of the monk for my Holmes + Cook thought experiment using the Turning mechanic as a means of fitting the concept into the idea of a cleric subclass. It produced some really interesting comments.

One theme was to make the monk a “buffing” class and the bard was cited as an example. While I think this is quite an excellent idea, my Holmes + Cook thought experiment already has a buff-type class. My suggested version of the Paladin is as a leader-type that has a floating bonus that can be added to various party members. Thus, to have the monk do the same through Turning would be to blur the lines between the two.

That being said, the story of St. Quadratus is a clear example of the type of miracles that inspired the cleric spell Resist Fire and suggests that JB’s idea that the monk be an “inward channeling” character might be a very interesting way to go. In other words, instead of buffing others (like my Holmesian Paladin), the monk uses faith to push himself beyond normal physical boundaries.

Here is a list of cleric spells from Cook that could possibly fit the bill:

  • Cure Light Wounds (1st level)
  • Remove Fear (1st level)
  • Resist Cold (1st level)
  • Resist Fire (2nd level)
  • Silence 15’r (2nd level) — in a nod to the idea of Cadfael and Friar Tuck having thief skills
  • Cure Disease (3rd level)
  • Remove Curse (3rd level)
  • Striking (3rd level)

As I have pointed out before, both Holmes and Cook have eight different types of targets for a cleric’s Turn Undead ability. Above is a list of eight special effects. The question is, what order of difficulty should each of these effects have in terms of the Turning mechanic?

If one were to duplicate the Turn Table exactly as it appears in Cook and replace each undead type with a spell effect from the above list, I would propose the following (from easiest to most difficult):

  1. Remove Fear
  2. Resist Cold
  3. Cure Light Wounds
  4. Silence
  5. Resist Fire
  6. Striking
  7. Cure Disease
  8. Remove Curse

This way all the first level spell effects are available immediately, with the most useful/powerful (Cure Light Wounds) being the hardest to accomplish. The most powerful 3rd level spell (Remove Curse, in my opinion) would be available at 5th level (approximately when 3rd and 4th level spells become available to a cleric at 6th level).

I would place some kind of limit on how many times each of these abilities can to used over the course of an adventure. Once per encounter? A set number of times per day/ per adventure?
Otherwise, a monk at 11+ level would be able to do all of these abilities at will and that seems way too much to me.

Since these Turning abilities are spell-like abilities, I would remove the spell-casting abilities of the monk, but leave their fighting ability alone.



  1. Indeed, I would leave their combat alone, and remove the spell-casting (or restrict it in some other way). The tough part is I wouldn’t want the list of turning abilities to grow excessive.

    Maybe include a couple MU spells on the table (like shield and protection from missiles)? And offer some normal clerical spell casting at a reduced ability? Some saintly monks WERE able to perform miracles for others after all.
    : )

  2. If the number you need to roll on the turning table is tied to the level of the spell (like the HD of the undead), then you can have a cumulative -1 to the roll each time it is tried. If you want some comfortable minimum times of success, then a bonus based of WIS or level, perhaps.

  3. Awesome example from the past, and excellent idea about using the turning table.

    I think at first pass, you have chosen the correct spells. I don’t think resist cold is very good. There might be a better one like water breathing.

    I allow my clerics to attempt a Turn each combat Round, which in my game is one minute long rather than the six or ten second rounds that are commoner.

    I will suggest that each spell can be cast successfully once per day. That means an unsuccessful attempt would not count but would still use up an action.

    Now, what about hand to hand ability? Western monks don’t wear armor and would use simple weapons. Would there be some armor class bonus?

    Let me suggest: level 1: AC 7, and AC 5 versus Chaotics.
    Level 3: AC 5, and AC 3 versus Chaotics
    Level 5: AC 1 and AC -1 versus Chaotics
    Level 7: AC 0 and AC -2 versus Chaotics.

    1. Scratch the Chaotics part. It’s probably too strong since so many opponents will be Chaotic.

  4. Here is a proposed list:

    1. Shield
    2. Read Languages
    3. Cure light wounds
    4. Resist fire
    5. Silence 15’ radius
    6. Cure disease
    7. Remove curse
    8. Protection from Missiles

    I don’t find Pro Cold to be very useful or flavorful. Striking is good but not great.

    What do you think?

  5. Part of what I use Resist Cold for is also exposure. If you are soaked to the skin in the wilderness, you are in trouble. If weather isn't big in your game, it might be less useful.

    1. that's a good take on Pro Cold. I don't see what's wrong with doing it that way.

  6. Here's my first pass at your class, Father Dave: