Shaolin monk

OK, so I have a question.
A few days ago there was a show about Kong-Fu in the history channel, and after watchig it I thought about making a monk companion. So after creating one, I wanted to test him in battle against a knight. He was pulverised. Since he uses brawl for Kong-Fu, his damage is minimal (even though his other modifiers are rather high) and he has virtually no soak. So my super awesome shaolin monk is useless.
I've thought of a solution and wanted to hear you opinion on it, as well as hear you sulotions to this problem.
What I thought of was to create a virtue called "Shaolin Monk" which will allow a character to add his philosophiae or medicine score to attack and defense rolls when fighting unarmoured and unarmed/with a staff. Further more, it will force you to take the "Shaolin Upbringing" flaw (which will be as "Covenant Upbringing") at no cost. Would you allow that?

But that's assuming (if you layer on the assumption that the far east actually exists within the wider world of Mythic Europe) that a shaolin monk should be able to hold his own against a knight. I'm sure they're pretty spectacular, and I'm even more sure that their incessent ninjing around makes for a great travelling stage show, but I'm quite happy with the idea of a squsihy pink thing coming off worse if it attempts to get at the other squishy pink thing encased in shiny metal stuff and swinging a sharpened metal thing.

And what's the staff got to do with anything? Why a staff? What's so special? Why not a spear, or a blade? And why unarmoured? For my money, it just doesn't stack up. If you're looking to have a brawling specialist, I'd go for a high dex, focus his XP in Brawl (speciality in Fist or Kick) and Athletics, and give him Puissant Brawl. And if you're looking to model the increased proficiency that his training gives him, throw in an Affinity too.

That way you have someone who might get creamed by the armed and armoured knight, but who is likely very dangerous on his own terms. Personally, I think to do otherwise stands the risk of creating an eye-rollingly cliched, and I'd suspect unfounded, parody of what these guys are actually all about.*

As you may have guessed... I wouldn't allow the approach you've taken above. Nothing against it as a character type, I just don't buy into the mystique.

  • My opinions may have been coloured by years of playing various games with one guy whose every character was indeed a thinly veiled shaolin monk or ninjing git.

Depends. Do you want to recreate a historically accurate Shaolin monk or the legendary version of film and TV? I would suggest the legendary version, and use the Realms of Power, Magic book to write up this magically man from a far off, mythic land. That would seem to fit Ars Magica better, where the theme seems to be, the farther from Europe, the more magical things are.

And through some strange perverted logic, I much prefer that approach. Layering on the mysticism and downplaying the ninjing seems to make the character fit a little better.

Make the virtue a major one and have it add Athletics and/or Quickness and/or Perception to both attack and defense and/or to Soak. Your decision how powerful you want it to be and in what way.
I think it would be best to add little or none to soak but to Att/Def instead.
Concentration and Legerdemain may also be useful skills to somehow include.
Could also add Monastic Vows as part of the Virtue´s "package" if you want to balance it more that way.
Perfect Balance might be part of it as well.

If you want you could also steal my "Extreme/Supernatural Mobility" Virtue whose inherent problem is that it needs a bit of SG oversight, anyway, the minor version pretty much allows anything that is "possible", ie realistic if you have a world champion acrobat, an insanely skilled parkour or something(but not something normal people will be able(or dare) to do regardless score in Athletics), while the Major, Supernatural version essentially allows "cinematic" moves. As i said, totally needs SG watching, but can be totally cool.
And sounds rather suitable for this kind of character.

I quite like the idea of the shaolin monk traveling to Europe and being humiliated by an iron man. Humility is a monkish thing and the roleplaying possibility of a such a character are limitless (flaws like overconfident and proud). Not every character must be a fighter - maybe his Asian wisdom gains him respect where his brawling doesn't.

That's pretty much what I thought of. I thought that philosophae would be appropriate because of, well you know... Kong-Fu lol :slight_smile:

I think what you are clearly missing here is the awesome possibility of a Mythic Europe where Western monks developed Martial Arts (perhaps in conjunction with a Holy Tradition). Cue badly-dubbed scene:

"So, Brother Amos, we meet again. Before, your Penance of the Thousand Rosaries was able to defeat me, but now you will never overcome the power of the Crown of Thorns technique!"

"You Cistercians are heretics and apostates! I will prevail by the power of the Perfect Union of the Divine Trinity!"

:open_mouth: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing:


"You don't look so pious to me!" would be the quote taking over from the traditional quibs about the enemy's toughness=?

Even the legendary monks didn't fight unarmed, so feel free to give him a weapon.

Also (echoing the others), I think trying to do it as a skilled mundane is ultimately doing your inclusion of the character a great disservice. Iron Body, Iron Palm, Poison Fist, and all sorts of awesome stuff like that are best represented with magical effects. In some sense the RoP:F guidelines for a Focus Power provide some direction: for a Major Virtue, the martial artist gains 10 spell levels they can arbitrarily assign to "Kung Fu" effects, mostly Corpus stuff.

I haven't read RoP:M, but do NOT try to make some ancient Chinese badass without layering on some magic. :smiley:

I quite liked the idea of using magical abilities for the monk. A major virtue for 10 spell levels? I'll see if my troupe allows it...

10 floating levels, mind you - one moment they're assigned here doing A, then later they're doing B. The base Virtue in RoP:F is 25 levels, but that's hefty to be throwing around and really forms the main schtick of the Faerie PC. I suppose one needs to consider if this is a Companion or a Magi replacement. With a Magi replacement you're going to want to beef that allowable magnitude up to... 25? Something higher than 10 in any case.

Off the top of my head, you'd want a Supernatural Ability called "Kung Fu". You'd use this as Might for executing your Kung Fu powers to keep from constantly whipping out ridiculous effects, but make them easily-recoverable (night's rest/meditation/what-have-you).

Cute: the Assassins are a sect of Muslim ascetics, and they seem to kill an awful lot of people, through a mixture of suprise, fear and a fantatical devotion to the Old Man of the Mountain.

. . . and a night out with the neighbors. Oh, it's no good. Cardinal Direwolf, you'll have to say it.

I think the use of magical character creation is a good way to go with the creation of a Kung Fu character. I would suggest that he could only defeat a knight one-on-one in limited circumstances (knight mops the floor with unarmed fighter, historically or in-game), that leaves the majority of people whom he could easily be designed to outclass, especially if he can fly for short distances, shoot fire from his fists, etc.. Remember that, if he is going to make it across the continent, he has probably had to do a lot of negotiating, and give him enough social skills to get by, and a hook that will given him some kind of protection and status in Mythic Europe (perhaps a band of brigands, impressed with his abilities, have adopted him?). There are a lot of things he could be really good at relative to Mythic Europeans, especially if he is not adverse to working as an assassin or the like--he is completely outside of the social order, and kung-fu movies have established that Kung Fu masters make excellent assassins.

What are his goals? Is he bearing a message? hunting an enemy? seeking power or aid?

What is the source of his power? Is Eastern mysticism magical? Faerie? Does it come from a pact with an Infernal power, which he (thinks he) has bound by the force of his will?

Okay, I've given this some thought and pulled out a few books (and took a trip over to Wikipedia). Presented for your consideration, a set of rules for creating a Kung-Fu style character in Ars Magica. Comments are appreciated--if people like this, I will work on it some more.

Cathay is a fundamentally fantastic land, steeped in Magic, Faerie, and even the Infernal. Characters must have a virtue that represents their supernatural heritage and the long-lived nature of the people. For Companions, this would include Magical Blood or Monstrous Heritage(RoP:M) or Faerie Blood (ArM). Magi-level characters may be created according to the rules for magical characters in RoP:M or Faerie characters in RoP:F. Characters may take Infernally-tained virtues and flaws from RoP:tI, but must have at least one virtue or flaw that grants resistance to aging.

Shaolin Warriors are the elite practitioners of the combat techniques of Shaolin, and have been inducted into the mysteries of the Shaolin Temple, a magically-aligned Buddhist monastic order. Lower-ranking members of the temple may be created without the Shaolin Warrior Major Virtue. Shaolin Lore is the appropriate Mystae Lore for Shaolin initiations; note that a character who is in Mythic Europe is unlikely to be able to find a mystagogue, and must initiate himself according to the rules in TMRE. Note that characters in Mythic Europe have no way to increase their Shaolin Lore ability unless they have a virtue that grants them some form of communication with their tradition in Cathay or contact with relevant ancestors.

Magical Blood: Cathay
As Magical (Human) Blood, RoP:M. Character may add +1 to any ability, to a maximum of +3, has a -1 to all aging rolls, and may learn Magic Lore during character creation. Character has a distinctly foreign appearance, but unless he takes another flaw, suffers no penalties for it. If the character takes the Monstrous Blood: Cathay flaw, he is obviously and uncomfortably foreign, with exaggerated slanting eyes and an unpleasantly mongloid aspect. He gains another -1 to aging, and must take a -1 penalty to Presence, but not below -3. If a character has both Magical Blood: Cathay and Monstrous Blood: Cathay, he may choose to count neither towards his normal limit of virtues and flaws. Cathay characters in Mythic Europe should take an appropriate social status to represent their function in Mythic Europe, and may not take any social statuses that represent their being well-integrated into society. Possible statuses are: Wanderer, Outcast, Outlaw, Outlaw Leader, Outsider, Wise One. They should also have a virtue or flaw that represents how they came to be in Mythic Europe, such as Wanderlust, Well-Travelled, No Sense of Direction, Driven, Visions, or as is appropriate for the story that player and storyguide agree upon.

Shaolin Warrior (Major Virtue)
Requires Magical Blood: Cathay or Monstrous Blood: Cathay.
The character has been subjected to the harsh Gung-Fu training of the Shaolin Temple, and has been inducted into the higher mysteries. Character must take the Monastic Vows flaw to represent the rigorous requirements necessary to maintain his superior abilities; this flaw does not count towards his normal limit of flaws, and does not counterbalance virtues. He may take Martial and Academic (Eastern) abilities at character creation, and has an additional 120 experience points, which must be spent on: Athletics, Archery, Awareness, Brawl, Cathay Lore, Concentration, Etiquette, Six Arts, Shaolin Lore, Swim and Theology: Buddhist. Grants +1 to both Strength and Stamina, up to a maximum of +3, and character may choose two virtues from the following list, which do not count towards his normal limit for virtues and need not be counterbalanced by flaws: Improved Attack**, Improved Attributes, Improved Damage**, Improved Defense**, Improved Fatigue**, Improved Initiative**, Long-Winded, Perfect Balance, Tough. Character may take Personal Powers and Lesser or Greater Powers of Touch range to represent other powers.
**For virtues affecting natural weapons, the character may choose one of head, fists, or feet.

Six Arts
The Chinese version of Artes Liberales, granting familiarity with the basic texts of Confucianism. The six arts are Rites, Music, Archery, Charioteering, Calligraphy, and Mathematics. Like Artes Liberales, Six Arts only covers the theoretical aspects of Music; the ability play an instrument is represented by the Music ability. Similarly, Six Arts only covers the ritual and Mathematical aspects of archery: shooting a bow is an Bows check; If the character take a a round to aim, he may make a Six Arts check, ease factor 9, to decrease range penalties for a Bows roll by one step. Charioteering covers all aspects of handling and driving a chariot, but any rolls to influence the animals must use Animal Handling. Calligraphy represents a command of the Chinese system of writing and replaces Profession: Scribe for the Chinese system of writing only. Rites replaces Etiquette for Chinese characters.
Specialties (any of the six arts)

Sample Shaolin Abilities:

Lesser Power: Cinnabar Palm (PeCo25 T/Ind/Mom 5 fatigue levels Init: QIK-10)
By focusing a great amount of Chi and releasing it into his opponent, the character can cause a fatal unbalance in the target's Chi. After using this ability, it must be discharged within the next five rounds, otherwise the character will take a major wound from the unchannelled energy. Upon a successful attack that strikes exposed flesh, character may activate his stored power, which requires the target to roll a Stamina roll with an ease factor of 9 or be afflicted by a Major Sanguine Disease of Severity 17 (Stable: 12, Improve: 15, Interval: Month) [see rules in A&A, pp. 45-51].

Personal Power: Great Leap (ReCo15 Per/Ind/Mom 1 fatigue level Init: Qik)
Character may make a standing jump of up to 50 paces horizontally or 25 paces vertically, less 1 pace per encumbrance point. Character must make a Dex + Athletics -encumbrance stress roll, ease factor 3 to land safely, otherwise he takes a light wound; a botch indicates a medium wound. To make a stealthy landing, roll Dex + (the lower of character's Stealth or Athletics) - encumbrance ease factor 6.

I like what you say, larkvi and I'll present it to my troupe.

Anyway, what I've come up with after some thinking is giving the character what mean-liar said, but call it "Ki" (the score in Ki will serve as a might pool for kong fu powers), and combine it with what larkvi said.

I think you could expend Ki to do one of the following:

  • Add the ability score for the weapon used one more time, once for each point of Ki (Meaning: Say I have Brawl 5, and I spend a point of Ki I will add 10, instead of 5, to the roll. If I spend two points of Ki, I will add 15, instead of 5, to the roll)
  • Trigger a Kong-Fu power (some corpus effect, to the troup's discretion)
  • Move another 10 paces/point in a round.
  • Preform another attack/point with no further penalty (we house ruled multiple attacks, I will post it here if you like)
    Do you have any other uses?

Would you allow that?

Well, if you use the rules from RoP:M, then you already have both might pools and fatigue costs, both of which seem to be sufficient, in my opinion, and interact with other rules in the game. Having a 'Ki' ability is more along lines with a Purity tradition, and seems entirely appropriate, but it should be designed as an alternative/equivalent form of Purity in that case.

Normal magical blood applies to a given, fixed characteristic or skill. I don't see why this should be any different, especially as it makes this more powerful than "normal" magical-blooded characters.

This, too, is unnessessary IMO.
Why should it be this way? Unless you want to encourage your players to have a monstruous appearance? If this ain't the goal, it'll only, in average, mean that magical-blooded characters from cathay will be more powerful than those from europe.

Your shaolin warrior virtue is very powerful IMO, too much for a major virtue, in fact.

Maybe you should rather drop it encourage your shaolin characters to spend points on:

  • Improved and Great characteristics (the Str and Sta thingie)
  • Warrior, Educated and such
  • Allow them to take the Improved damage, initiative... as virtues.
    And have an Heroic, no cost, "Shaolin Master" virtue, akin to Blood of Heroes, allowing creation of shaolin warriors as Mythic Companions.

IMO, this'd be closer to RAW and more balanced compared to similar characters from European extraction: I can't see any reason why, of 2 players having the same character concept, one would be given more power simply because he comes from cathay (or else).

Unless you want your player spending 5 points in order to have +25 and 1-shot your major opponent in one-strike, taking him to Incapacited or dead, you should limit this to one time.
Another, maybe better solution, might be the use of Ki as Confidence. Not only would this be more balanced (IMO), but this'd also reflect the fact that, contrary to European thinking, Kung Fu is the way of mastery and perfect accomplishment in every domain, not just kicking butt.

Same thing goes with multiple attacks: I spend 6 points of ki and do 2 attacks at +25... Unless you're facing dragons on a regular basis, he'll go through any human opponent :wink:

IMO, you could have Magic Might, being called "ki" by the character, and use RoP: tM "superpowers" rules as they are, without adding any rule element to the setting