Monastic Orders

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

In the Realms

Monastic orders usually originate in civilized human lands. Among humans, the earliest monastic orders native to Faerûn seem to have arisen in Amn and Calimshan simultaneously with some orders immigrating from other worlds and the eastern land of Kara-Tur. Unlike clerics and druids, monks do not necessarily have to choose a patron deity (although most do), nor do monks have to associate themselves with one of the schools listed below. If your monk character belongs to a different monastic group, you and your DM should at least name it and place it in relation to the groups mentioned below.

Most Faerûnian monks are capable of gaining levels in another class before returning to the way of the monk and gaining new levels as monks. This is an exception to the rule in the Ex-Monks section above. The descriptions below specify into which classes an order's members can multiclass freely. The character may add levels of monk and any specified class without penalty. Violating these expanded limits (by multiclassing into a class not on the order's approved list) ends the monk's development as a monk, as described in the normal rules. Some orders place additional restrictions on multiclassing, as brought out in their descriptions. If a monk violates any such restriction, she can no longer advance as a monk.

Preferred Character Regions: Monks are most common in Amn, Calimshan, Damara, Mulhorand, the Lake of Steam, and Silverymoon. Strongheart halflings are also culturally inclined toward becoming monks.

Monastic Orders

Dozens of monastic orders exist in Faerûn. Most are small circles of no more than a dozen or so members, living in isolated monasteries in the wilderness. A few orders include hundreds of members and influence events across entire nations. Some of the prominent orders include:

Broken Ones (Good): Of all the popular deities of Faerûn, Imater is the deity most associated with an order of monks who act purely in his name. The Broken Ones can freely multiclass as clerics, divine champions, arcane devotees, divine disciples, hierophants and divine seekers of Ilmater. The Dalelands house no monasteries of great fame, but monks of Ilmater frequently travel through the Dales, sheltering in Ilmater's temples if they cannot find other lodging.

Dark Moon (Evil): Shar is worshiped by a powerful sect of monks who maintain open temples in lands ruled by evil overlords or hide among hills, back alleys, or the Underdark. Most of the Dark Moon monks are human, but occasionally they are joined by half-orc, shade, or drow. The monks of the Dark Moon can freely multiclass as sorcerers so long as their monk level and sorcerer levels stay within two levels of each other.

Hin Fist (Neutral or Good): The halflings of Luiren turn their confidence into belief in the power of a single halfling to master herself and the world. Enterprising Luiren monks sometimes establish monasteries in the north. Although only halflings can study Hin Fist in Luiren, some Hin Fist monasteries outside Luiren accept exceptional gnomes and dwarves. Monks of the Hin Fist order can multiclass as fighters, rogues, or paladins (usually of Yondalla).

Long Death (Evil): The Long Death order worships the principle of death without caring much which deity currently owns the portfolio. They are more than willing to share death and its antecedent, pain, with others. Clerics of the previous god of death, Myrkul chose to view them as part of their god's long-range plans. Kelemvor (the current god of the dead) views them as enemies, but is at least pleased that they do not actively promote undeath. Velsharoon (the god of necromancy and undeath) wants to woo them, but has not figured out how. Monks of the Long Death may multiclass freely as fighters, assassins, and blackguards. This order is quite strong in Thay, though not with the sanction or cooperation of the Red Wizards. See also Rand's Travelogues: Monks of the Long Death.

Old Order (Neutral, Sometimes Good, Rarely Evil): Monks of the Old Order do not worship any deity, but are devoted to the philosophy espoused by a deity who is either now dead or has never existed on the Material Plane of Toril. The monks contradict themselves on this point, but the deity's' identity isn't important to them, it's the message they care about. The Old Order never has huge monasteries, but has spread widely throughout Faerûn. Monks of the Old Order can multiclass freely as rogues, sorcerers, and shadowdancers, but must maintain more monk levels than their combined levels of other classes.

Shining Hand (Neutral): The Shining Hand is one of the oldest monk orders of Amn, mixing faith in Azuth and the practice of wizardry with monastic devotions. Amn's crackdown on the practice of wizardry has sent some Shining Hand groups underground and sent others out into the wider world. Monks of the Shining Hand can multiclass freely as wizards so long as their monk level equals or exceeds their wizard level.

Sun Soul (Good or Neutral): The allegiance of this widespread, but disorganized sect varies between groups, some following Lathander others Selûne, and a few devoted to Sune. The Sun Soul order, long with the Old Order, is the most likely to have monasteries hidden in far flung wilderness areas. Members of the Sun Soul order can gain levels in one other class and still progress as a monk as long as their monk level is their highest class level.

Yellow Rose (Good, Neutral): Also known as the Disciples of Saint Sollars, this solitary monastery of Ilmater worshipers in the Earthspur Mountains of Damara is known for loyalty to its allies and destruction to its enemies. Greatly respected on matters of truth and diplomacy, the monks work hard to survive in their harsh remote sanctuary. The monks often travel with Ilmataran paladins, particularly from the Order of the Golden Cup. They may multiclass freely as rangers and shadowdancers.

Organizations of Faerûn
Lands of Faerûn