I don’t know what it is about the Monk class but every game designer I know has a problem with it and wants to “fix it.” I am no exception. I don’t recall if I ever offered my 3.x revision — I had one back in the day, I’m not talking about here on my blog — but I’ve certainly been working on one for 4e.

I have a problem with the 4e Monk being psychic.

It seems like a barefaced betrayal of the Martial Power Source. Martial characters represent the culmination of physical training and discipline. Where the Monk is clearly an ideal Martial controller, a Psionic Monk is a slap to the face — we didn’t get a Martial controller until Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms.

Psionic power notwithstanding, the 4e Monk doesn’t even play by the same rules as the three other Psionic classes — it doesn’t receive Power Points and doesn’t Augment powers — in fact many of the Monks powers could quite easily be made Martial simply by changing the keywords.

So, I started working on a Monk. Kind of.

See, I’m not really one to do the obvious thing — ever. What I’m doing is building a Martial class based on the Monk, and I’m even going so far as to lift class features and powers without much alteration — but I’m giving the class a different flavor.

The working name I have right now is “Cenobite.” It comes to us from Greek by way of Latin, and translates to something like “common living.”

My introduction to the basic concept of asceticism was through Friar Tuck, and D&D only modified that perception a little, let’s say added to it a little — a martial philosophy, primarily defensive, which eschews traditional weapons and armor.

Unarmed Strike [Martial, Implement]
Standard action * At-will * Melee touch
Target: One creature within reach.
Attack: Dexterity vs. Reflex
Hit: 1d10 + Dexterity modifier damage.
Level 21: 2d10 + Dexterity modifier damage.
Special: You can use the power as a melee basic attack.

Like the Monk in the Player’s Handbook 3, the Cenobite fights unarmed — rather than modifying the properties of weapons, which usually results in shenanigans, the Cenobite fights using an MBA-substitute “Unarmed Strike.” Also like the PHB3 Monk, the Cenobite will use the Ki Focus implement. What can I say? It’s handy.

I’ve been thinking about controllers a lot — like, part of the reason I got so into “hacking” Fourth Edition was to fix the “broken” controllers — and I think where combat roles have quirks in their traits, controllers ought to have their own.

Defenders have heavy armor, shields, and the most hit points. Strikers run light armor, low hit points, and double up on one non-AC defense. Leaders tend to be middle-of-the-road with access to the smallest heavy armor and shields, and medium hit points and surges. I think Controllers ought to get “all good NADs.”

That’s to say, trading hit points (many controllers have 10/4 hp) for +1 to all non-AC defenses. The Monk and Invoker already get them — it strikes me that the Wizard should probably get +1 to defenses too (+2 Will is probably a mistake).

I’ll keep you posted.