I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's. I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.

- William Blake

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Minimalist monk (B/X) - take 2

I've tried writing a minimalist monk a while ago... but maybe it wasn't minimalist enough. I was still too close to AD&D. Let's try something even simpler (and closer to B/X and Old School Feats' "monk package").

Minimalist Monk (v 2.0)

Requirements: Minimum WIS 9.
Prime requisite: DEX.

XP, HP, saves: as fighter.
Attacks, weapons, armor: as thief.

Special features:

Pick one on level 1, and one more on every third level (3, 6, 9, 12).

Martial artist. You deal 1d4 damage with bare hands/feet, which is increased to 1d6, 1d8, 1d10 and 1d12 on levels 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12. When attacking with weapons, you can choose to use this damage or simply add +2 to weapon damage.

Unarmed offense. You can make an additional attack per round, but it must be an unarmed attack (punch, kick, etc.)

Unarmored defense. When unarmored, you get a bonus to AC equal to half your level (round up).

Mobile. During encounters, your movement rate is half you base movement instead of one third (e.g., 120’ [40’] becomes 120’ [60´]).

Acrobatics. You take half the usual damage when you fall. You get a +4 bonus to AC during retreat and withdrawal. You get a +4 bonus to  ability checks and saves involving jumping, tumbling, etc.

Pure body. You are immune to disease and poison.

Resilience. You get +1 to all saves. You can pick this feature twice.

Regeneration. Once per day, recover an amount of HP equal to your level.

Thievery. You can use thief skills as a thief half your level. You can pick this feature twice to be as skilled as a thief of your level.


Monks cannot own more than they can carry, nor can they use more than 3 magic items at the same time.



The classic monk has more features - and is significantly more powerful, requiring more XP etc.

This one is about as powerful as a regular fighter (who gets to play with more weapons, armor, shields,. etc.).

I like this "pick a feature" approach to customize characters easily. If you like this customization without complication approach, try Old School Feats


  1. I'm not keen on the idea of allowing a class to do everything another class can, and then some. In this case, the monk can easily outshine the thief. A monk of level 3 could theoretically be as good at thief skills as a thief, and with d8 Hit Dice to boot. With each additional monk skill at levels 6, 9, and 12, he even further surpasses the thief. The extra XP required barely make a scratch; the monk is going to lag less than a full level, on average, behind a thief with the same XP total.

    1. Agreed, this is a valid objection if the party has a thief.

      I see the monk with thief abilities (which is in the original monk IIRC) as a thief replacement when you don't have one.

      Also notice the lack of backstab, read languages, scroll use, and requirements (taboo, WIS) in addition to XP.

      Balancing with XP is tricky; a thief/fighter multiclass is eventually much more powerful than the monk here presented.

      Which is why I prefer giving a few feats to everybody.