Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Guide to Being a Monk by Molach

Though I fear the sudden burst of activity will shock the less bold-hearted of our readers, I am happy to present to you yet another guide. Molach is another regular poster on both the ADOM Hall of Fame forums and now the official forums as well. His guide provides a welcome relief from the wordiness I have displayed in three guides I wrote before!

THE GUIDE to Being a Monk by Molach

List of contents:
I. Introduction

II. Manual Information
a. The manual
b. Undocumented features
c. Understanding the manual
Part 1 - The monk’s special martial powers
Part 2 - The skillset
Part 3 - The class powers

III.Starting up the monk
a. Starting equipment
b. Starsigns
c. Races
d. Talents
e. Getting equipped

IV. How to play the monk
a. Playing styles
Part 1 - The mean machine
Part 2 - The Ninja
Part 3 - The Martial artist
Part 4 - The Hermit
b. 2 sample walkthroughs
c. Defeating special opponents

I. Introduction
”a martial artist, an almost inhuman fighting machine trained to fight without weapons or armor. The monk can use them, but, at higher levels particularly, often does better without.” (Bards' tale manual)

“Thirst for existence, O monks, has a specific condition, it is nourished by something, it also does not go without support. And what is that nourishment? It is ignorance experience levels!” (Buddha, with author’s twist at the end)

II. Manual Information.
a. The manual.
Monks are able martial artists striving to achieve perfect mastery of body, mind and spirit. They are experts at fighting unarmed, very good at dodging attacks and strong of will. Monks need to be unencumbered to be able to use their special martial art powers. Monks take vows of poverty at their initiation to prevent distraction by worldly means.

Monks are trained in the following skills: Alertness, athletics, concentration, dodge, find weakness, healing, literacy, and stealth.

The further monks advance, the more they hone their movement skills and unarmed combat powers. At level 6 monks learn to use a circular kick with which they can hit every opponent in the vicinity (but also all friends, so be careful). Using this kick costs 2500 energy points. At level 12 a normal move costs them but 800 energy points, at level 18 but 600 energy points. At level 25 monks become able to change positions with hostile opponents. At level 32 they can score instant kills in melee combat against up to human-sized creatures. At level 40 they can do so against humanoids of any size. At level 50 they have become so attached to the flow of the universe that they actually are able to resist Chaos to a certain limit - Chaos effects are lowered by 10%.

b. Undocumented features.
* The monk can kick down walls to at level 13. This ability will produce rocks as well as ore and gems if you have gemology skill.
* The monk does not receive true-berserking bonus when fighting barehanded.

c. Understanding the manual.
Part 1 - The monks special martial power:
Monks gain a bonus to barehanded combat. At the start they have a barehanded attack doing 1d9 damage, compared to 1d3 for other classes except beastfighter. Each level the max damage will increase with one, and each 4 levels you will get a +1 bonus to damage. First +1 bonus happens at level 4. There is a + to hit bonus too, it comes out to roughly +2 each level. In addition to there is the usual bonus from equipment, strength and weapon skill (unarmed combat)
Here are some typical values you might expect from a monk character at certain key levels in the game. The estimates put below are very conservative, it should not be hard to beat these values and do more damage. Also you will hit criticals from time to time leading over time to a higher average (AVG) damage. But this is also not considered.

Level 1. No bonus:
1d9 damage, AVG damage will be 5.

Level 10. No equipment bonus, +3 from skill (level 8-9), +2 from strength.
1d18 + 7 damage, AVG damage will be 16,5.

Level 20. +6 from equipment, +6 from skill (level 11-12), +4 from strength.
1d28 +21 damage, AVG damage will be 35,5.

Level 50. +12 from equipment, +10 from skill (level 14), +20 from strength.
1d58 +54 damage, AVG damage will be 83,5.

Monks also receive a bonus to DV equal to 2/3 per level, for an increase of +33 to DV at level 50.

Burdened status will eliminate both of these boni, as will wearing a shield.
Wearing «heavy» armor will remove the DV bonus. To be precise, the allowed armors are: Robe, Black robe, Shirt of the Saints, Robes of Resistance, Elven Chain Mail, Clean Robe, Clothes.
Notice the absence of «Ancient mummy wrappings» in the list even though it weighs the same as a robe. Also, strangely, “ugly clothes” are not tolerated. For those who dabble in smithing, note that the only smithable armor is the elven chain mail, made from mithril.

Note that weapons will NOT take away the DV bonus. Monks, unlike beastfighters, receive no penalties from using weapons. In fact, this means that using two-handed weapons actually can be very worthwhile, as the DV-bonus will negate the penalty of not using a shield.

Finally, as a light fighter, the monk receives +1 speed per two levels gained. This bonus will stay even if character wields weapons, wears armor, or becomes burdened.

Part 2 - The skillset
In my opinion, the monks have the best skillset of all classes in ADOM. Great for melee and magic, and containing 3 skills I have used a wish on with other characters. For detailed information about skills, see the ADOM guidebook. I will only comment on what makes these good for monks.

Alertness - Avoiding damage is good for low-armored charcters. DV bonus helps along with other means to making the character unhittable at higher levels.
Athletics - Extra speed along with class powers means that all monsters can be outrun. Also good for melee charaters attack speed, and for getting the crucial STR-increases on initially-weak monks faster.
Concentration - Allows magic to be a serious playing-style for any monk, even at low levels.
Dodge - Good for all characters, and like alertness helps the monk evade hits due to the extra DV bonus.
Find weakness - Lacking in the slaying department, unarmed monks have use for the double-damage hits to damage certain tough opponents.
Healing - self explanatory, if monks did not have this it would have made the early game a bit harder
Literacy - available in the game, having this at start allows monks to start training to become a spellcaster right away.
Stealth - available in the game, helps avoiding too-tough-to-handle early-game monsters.

Part 3 - The class powers.

Level 6 - circular kick. For 2500 energy points, attack all NPC around you with a kick attack.
Rating: Very Bad.
Discussion: This should almost never be used.
Firstly, the best way to play ADOM is not getting surrounded. Fight monsters one at a time, if you become surrounded you should move towards a hallway, or a corridor. While this attack may seem to have merit in clearing the area around you, it really is dangerous to use. Any monsters not killed in the attack will have 1-2 free rounds in which to hit you afterwards. In this time other monsters will have time to close in and mabye even attack. Summoners will have time to summon.
Secondly, while waiting out the time of your action you may not heal yourself like you could have if you had performed a low-cost attack instead.
Thirdly, your kick attack is a bit weaker than barehanded hit. Monks receive a bonus to kicking, but a typical 8th level character of mine had 1d16+9 on unarmed melee attack, but 1d14+7 on kick. It appears that boni from unarmed weapon combat skill is not factored in. This may well be a bug, since you gain melee marks from using the ability.
Fourth point is that normal attacks are pretty fast. 2500 energy equals 2,5 attacks at weapon skill 0. If you have unarmed combat skill level 8 or higher, this means you can take 3 attacks instead of the kick, at weapons skill 15 4 attacks. So normally you have to be surrounded by more than 3 creatures for the ability to be cost-effective at all. This is not a position one should find oneself in.
This really is a novelty skill, used if you are surrounded by harmless creatures. But I would rather be heading towards a corridor still, to mow down the enemies in one direction.
One possible positive use for the ability would be standing in the middle of low-level summons like spiders, in order to gain weapon skill marks. But again, why not just attack them normally....

Level 12/18 - normal movement costs 800/600 energy points.
Rating: Excellent.
Discussion: There is no argument that fast movement is very powerful and always useful for any character. For a monk, this ability is useful because it makes wearing seven league boots less important, as you will outrun anything anyway. Instead wear heavily smithed boots for DV/PV (remember you have body-armor restriction) or even boots of speed (in order to attack faster).

Level 25 - can switch places with hostile monsters.
Rating: Very good.
A potential life-saver, this ability can let you escape difficult situations, and also shuffle your way to take out a nasty summoner in the middle of a monster pack. On the other side, when you are level 25 your monks should be pretty tough (even naked) so you could easily go a whole game without ever using this ability.

Level 32/40 - can score instant kills against humanoids, man-sized and then every sized.
Rating: Mediocre.
Discussion: One of the coolest skills in the game, it is, sadly, nothing one can rely on. A little informal testing indicated that it would activate in about 1 in 30 hits against man-sized humanoids. At character level 32, there are few man-sized humanoids that can survive a hit anyway. At level 40 the power extends giants and demons, but again informal testing against balors made the activation about 1 in 100. Not something to rely on. It does give a nice way to off Emperor Moloch, and if it can work against AnRoR DrAkOn that would be fun.

Level 50 - chaos effects are reduced 10%
Rating: Poor.
Discussion: Avoiding corruption is very important in this game, but the reason for the low grade is firstly that at level 50 game is almost over anyway, and secondly that 10% is not a whole lot at all. It will help against corrupting hits from monsters, and from using elemental orbs, but it may have no effect on background corrution at all, as this occurs gradually over time and the 10% reduction gets lost when rounding. Unless mabye you are on Emperor moloch level or ChAoS plane.

III. Starting up the monk.

a. Starting equipment
A monk always starts out with a robe. Trollish have extra food and start with a heavy club equipped, the other races have a quarterstaff in inventory. Many races have sandals. Some may have tools. Robe and sandals can have +DV or +PV modifiers, but base is [0,+1] robe and [0,0] sandals. One lucky character I had started with [+3,+2]robe and [0,+2] sandals.

b. Starsigns
As monks are passable magicians in addition to being great fighters, both «brain» and «brawn» type starsigns are fine. Some starsigns that work particularly well with monk class:
Dragon: +strength is good for avoiding burden status.
Cup: Enhances the monk's already decent magic ability, also makes levelling faster which makes the level-related abilities come sooner.
Candle: Speedy healing combined with monk's bonus to movement equals being hard to kill.

c. Races
Races have effect on starting equipment, starting attributes, starting skillset, experience table and certain other factors. Skills listed are those not covered by monk class, doubly-trained skills are not listed. Lifespan I consider to be generic to any class and is not discussed. I will also not discuss Ap and Ch stats as I consider them mostly useless, and not connected to the monk class in any way.

Race skills: swimming and food preservation.
Starting attributes: Very average.
Level up: Fast

Discussion: Food preservation is good for all races, mabye somewhat less since monks have less food consumption. Swimming means that you could go for an early dive into the unremarkable dungeon without having to turn back when faced with a river. Fast levelup is extra good as a monk character.

Skills: Gemology, mining, food preservation and bridge building.
Starting attributes: High strength and toughness. Low everything else, especially learning and mana.
Level up: Slowest by far.

Discussion: Starting attributes leads itself to playing the monk as a melee fighter. Highest strength means burden levels will be little problem, and high toughness will give some +PV to make the easy game easy. Mining skill is useless as you can kick walls, but gemology means that you can kick walls for unlimited gems once you reach level 13, for example in the ID. This will take care of any money problem as well as giving gems like health, fire and of knowledge. These crystals of knowledge will likewise take care of problems with low learning. Food preservation is somewhat better for trolls as they have higher food consumption. A troll monk is about as hungry as a regular adventurer.
The big drawback is the terrible experience tables, bad for a monk who wants to be as high level as possible.

High Elf/Grey Elf
Skills: None
Starting attributes: Lower St and To, higher Ma and Le.
Level up: Normal

Discussion: Potentially a mighty character, elves start out weak and must be careful in the beginning game. If you find spellbooks you can probably read them and cast spells from the moment you find them.

Dark Elf
Skills: None
Starting attributes: Like other elves
Level up: Normal

Discussion: Pretty much same as high/grey elves. Dark elves are liked for their excellent skillset, but this is wasted on monks who cover the skills already. Bad shop prices in dwarftown is about as bad for monks as anyone else - you are not able to sell SI for as much money, which means slower precrowns and less gold to buy stats from Garth. Buying items is never much of a problem.

Skills: Metallurgy, Mining, Smithing, Detect traps.
Starting attributes: Higher St and To, lower Le and Ma.
Level up: Slow

Discussion: Smithing and detect traps are available in the game, but will save the character the gold to buy them. Detect traps is one of the most important skills in the game and helps with early-game survival. Metallurgy is useless as you can test most items by attempting to smith on them if you do not know what they are made of. Mining is useless for a monk. Dwarves can get the mithril skin talent, which will make up for lack of PV that can come from not using shield and heavy armor.

Skills: Gemology, Mining, Pick pockets, Ventriloquism
Starting attributes: Lower St, Higher mana.
Level up: Fast

Discussion: Gemology means that you can kick walls for unlimited gems once you reach level 13, for example in the ID. This will take care of any money problem as well as giving important gems of health, power, fire and knowledge. Knowledge in particular are good, as they allow Gnomes to become excellent magic-users once they find some books. Ventriloquism combined with high running speed will also make the gnome monk safer. Fast level up is nice, and the free talent will give some flexibility to the early game, making it easier. A very solid choice for monk, if only a little weak in the very early game.

d. Talents
Everyone has certain favourite talents. I will discuss some that relate directly to the monk class. In my opinion, of course.

”Carrying talents”: Porter - Master Packager - Beast of Burden
These are excellent talents for monks, because of burdened status giving penalties. 72% extra carrying capacity is simply very useful, and I have yet to play a monk who did not get these talents at one point.

PV talents: (Hardy) - Tough skin - Iron skin - Steel skin - (Mithril skin)
These are good for monks, as they make up for not having PV from shield and heavy armor. They will make early game manageable, especially for the frail races.

Money-giving talents:
Useless, as you have no starting gold.

Shield talents:
Not necessarily useless, as Monks can be played with weapons. Shields will eliminate the nifty martial arts damage bonus, so you have to be wielding a one-handed weapon to use shields. You will of course also lose the DV-bonus, but the shield bonus should more than compensate for this. If you plan on fighting like any regular character, these talents are as strong as usually.

Terrible. The heir gift is Padded clean robe of defense. That means a [+4,+1] (ap+2) robe which grants stun resistance. This is not something anyone should waste 3 talents on, especially as it is susceptible to destruction from burning and exploding runes.

e. Getting equipped

Beginning game (level 1-12):
As a fresh monk you will face an important question: To fight barehanded or use a weapon. Remember that Monks are not penalized for weapon use like Beastfighters are. Deciding to use a weapon actually has several advantages: All weapon skills give better bonuses than barehanded fighting, and you can use a shield for DV and PV if you picked a one-handed weapon like you should. More importantly, you can become burdened without severe penalty to your attack and damage. This is important for instance if you decide to dive down through the UD to HMV, as you can carry that bag of loot to sell at the shop. At the very start your martial art bonus is not too high, as your level will be too low. However, by using a weapon you lose training in barehanded combat. Also, if you happen to wield a cursed weapon it may not be trivial to remove it in the very beginning.

My advice to the starting monk is to pick up at least some weapons for emergency use. If you suddenly get burdened, this will allow you to deal decent damage even if your unarmed fighting suddenly dropped to a pathetic level. And if you find a decent shield early on, you would probably want to wield a weapon and wear the shield. This will really help you survive the harsh early game. You will only lose some unarmed melee marks, as you can throw off the weapon and the shield anytime you want.

As for armor, your special DV bonus from light armor will be very low, and you will probably be better off with the typical PV armor most characters seek. When you get to higher levels, factor in the hidden DV bonus when comparing armor. If you are, for example, level 9, compare a robe [0,+1] to a studded leather armor [-1,+3]. If you put on the robe you get an additional 2/3*9=6 DV. Which would you then rather have, a [+6,+1] or a [-1,+3] armor? That would probably depend on your other equipment, if your "basic" PV is covered through other equipment then high DV is probably better. Again, burdened status will remove the bonus, so maybe you should hang on to the PV one…just in case.

In the beginning game, as usual, hoard any scrolls and potions till you can identify them. Be on the lookout for girdles, footwear, headwear and gauntlets, as you can wear these freely and still have all monkish benefits. Girdles of carrying (thick girdle) are also very useful to you, just be wary of putting on a cursed one. Any books you find should be saved until you have 100 literacy and concentration, and personally I would probably save them until I had over 20 learning, which should be in the mid-game.

Mid-Late game (level 13-50).
Having survived the harsh early years, this is where the monk starts to shine. You will gather several artifacts, and will enjoy watching your damage output rise every level. DV from light armor is almost always too good to pass up, unless you found something really nice like eternium plate or some dragon scale armor. The mid-game is where you have plenty of time to gather equipment which will help you win. There is no clear distinction between mid and late game, because after you have all the stuff, you can just knock off the Ancient Chaos Wyrm, and then complete the game in what you wear, letting levelups increase your damage and DV.

I strongly advise that you employ smithing. As a monk you have access to unlimited ore, just by kicking in walls. Getting a hammer is trivial, getting an anvil can be done by cutting a deal with the greater demon, having it slay the dwarven smith. Just remember to buy the smithing skill first.

Some items to be on the watch for:
Body armor: If you find or get crowned with any of the monk artifact armors (shirt of the saints, robes of resistance) they will probably serve you well enough. For the not-so-lucky monks there exists a very decent alternative: Elven chain mail. This armor starts out at [0,+5], but is fully smithable and made from mithril. Added to this, it only weighs 10s. Perfect for any monk. You might find one in darkforge if none drop randomly for you. Eternium plate mails or dragon scale armor have a big enough PV bonus that they are desirable for all but very high-leveled monks.

Handwear: Elemental gauntlets are not very hard to get, and good hand wear for the +3 PV and resistances. If you have resistances covered elsewhere, some smithed-up gauntlets (of strength, preferably) could be better.

Neckwear: The Ankh adds [+2,+2], and luck too. Carry other amulets for use in certain situations, as always. Artifact amulet is of course your dream.

Girdle, Boots, Helmet: Get high-metal versions of these. If you smith like you should, is it a good idea to get different types of metal for each. Eternium girdle, adamantium cap and mithril boots, for example. It doesn't matter much, they all resist fire and they can be smithed up as high as you want them to be. You may of course have some seven league boots, but they might not be the best choice in the tower of fire where you are going. Also, monks already get good movement speed from class powers, and the boots do not add attack speed. Boots of speed, however, do.

Bracers: My recent favorite is bracers of speed. They add a nice little speed boost, and they are made of iron and can be smithed up. As a monk, you hit hard, and they might help you use hit and run tactics, or get in two quick fight-finishing strikes before your opponent can react. Waterproofing them with blessed oil of rust removal is useful. Bracers of toughness add that important attribute, and they can be improved with scrolls of defense/protection. Bracers of War is every monk's wet dream.

Rings: A blessed ring of damage on your right finger is, indeed, a blessing. Monks have just one damage die, which can lead to low minimum damage even at high levels. Weapon skill, strength bonus and rings of damage all push this lower limit upwards. For other ring finger good choices are really what is good for any class. With the monks' low food consumption they might get away with wearing a ring of invisibility all the time. Ultimate rings are of course ring of immunity and the ring of the master cat.

Cloak: You can wear them all without penalty. Invisibility might be easier to sustain than with other classes, and PV might be better than DV since you already get so much DV, but that is depending on your level and your other equipment.

Missile weapons: Bows might be better, if only for the high weight of crossbows. But I would still at least keep and stash away both kinds of missiles and launchers, hoping for rare slaying ammo. Humanoid and dragon slaying are your most important kinds of ammo. However after level 13 you have a source of unlimited sling ammo or thrown rocks, so it might not be too bad an idea to train with that either, for the early middle game.

Tool: The first orb you find goes here, and most melee monks will put the fire orb as soon as possible, unless they already have Herculean strength. Before or after you have access to orbs, a lit torch will improve your sight-radius.

IV How to play the monk
a. Playing style
Part 1. - The Mean Machine
“mean is the "standard" average”

The Mean Machine - mean as in “average”, is my name for playing your monk without using his special abilities, like you would any other class. This is done by picking up a weapon, and then using a shield. Staying in burdened status will also do the job.

This is a perfectly reasonable playing style. You get the fine monk skills, the reduced food consumption, and the reduced movement at level 12 and 18, the critical hit class-powers and the increase in speed. Every monk might use this style from time to time, in the early game, when suddenly becoming burdened or when finding a great one-handed weapon. If I find executor I *will* become the Mean Machine unless sworn to play as a true hand-to-hand monk.

Part 2. - The Ninja
"Sword and mind must be united. Technique by itself is insufficient, and spirit alone is not enough."
- Yamada Jirokichi

This playing style is a cross between regular weapon-using character and the martial artist. By not using a shield or heavy armor, you retain your great boost to DV. At the same time you can use any weapon or combination of weapons with deadly efficiency. Other characters will usually have a very low DV when wielding a two-handed weapon, but the Ninja does not. Carry with you a wide array of weapons, to dispose of your various foes with maximum efficiency. Two-handed wielding is generally not recommended, but you can do it just fine playing as a ninja. Avoid getting burdened by having great strength or using the strength of atlas spell. Or both. Again, advantages are your skillset, class-powers and increased speed.

Part 3. - The Martial Artist
"A one sided martial artist is a blind martial artist."

The Martial Artist is probably the most traditional fighting style for a monk. Unarmed attacks will be used throughout the game. You may use light armor for DV boost or heavy for protection and other benefits. Your focus on barehanded attacks only means that you quickly gain weapon marks. This is a character for people who do not trust the RNG (random number generator) as they are not relying on lucky equipment finds. You can fight barehanded and naked and still be king.

There are some opponents that may cause grievance to a pure weaponless fighter. Ancient stone beast is a tough nut to crack, with its heavy armor. You can still rely on raw damage to bring him down, or use construct slaying ammo. Emperor moloch is another juggernaut, demon or humanoid slaying ammo will do the job. Another way to bring him down comes if you are over level 40. You can keep hitting him in melee until you get an insta-killing hit. Not something to rely on as you could wait a long time, but extremely satisfying when it finally happens. The ElDeR ChAoS god can be melee'd, but when he dies you must be wielding a certain trident, otherwise something bad might happen. Use slaying ammo to finish him off if you for some reason choose not to ever use a weapon in melee. Easier solution to all these examples are of course to use a penetrating weapon (phase dagger or other) when attacking high-PV monsters, and of course to wield the certain trident once you get it.

Part 4. - The Hermit
“The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.”
- Eden Phillpott

While all monks can use magic for adventuring support or even as a backup attack, the hermit will attempt to use magic as a wizard does. This is not to mean as main attack, but rather as the preferred way to take down problematic encounters. Even wizards kill most of their enemies in melee, but when faced with a greater undead vault, they will certainly use their high-powered magical abilities. This is what the hermit is about, when the going gets tough, the magic starts flying.

To become a successful hermit, one must realize one’s limitations. I will point these out by comparing to the wizard class.
A wizard will start the game with an offensive spellbook. Hermit will not.
A wizard has 100 starting literacy, hermits do not. A wizard learns spells easier than an otherwise identical hermit. Literacy skill, learning score, concentration skill as well as class matters. A wizard gets reductions on spell cost with level. Wizards gain spell marks quicker than any hermit.
Also, wizards find a lot more spellbooks than a hermit.

So you will never be as good as a wizard. But there are ways to become mighty in the arts. First, choose a race with decent magic potential. Any elf will do, or try a gnome. There is also some starsigns that are more magical than others. Then, realize that you will not be using magic for a while. Thirdly, while fighting as any other monk through your early levels, build up your literacy and concentration skill. Literacy can be trained by getting the scrolls from SMC. One will vanish if you use it outside that area, but the scribbled scroll you can read over and over. It will seem to be empty, but you will train your skill. Concentration is not that easy, you pick it up as you level up. Zapping wands of wonder will take away PP, making it easier to train the skill. Next, get good magical talents. Book learner talents, charged talent, maybe strong magic/healing. If you are fortunate enough to find an early book, resist the temptation to read it too soon. 100 literacy, good concentration and high learning are all essential. You have a limited supply of books, so take care of the ones you find. It is best to ID the books before you read them, and save the tough books for later. You may want to start reading and casting non-vital non-offensive spells right away, to build up concentration skill and mana stat. Bless important books to maximize yield. Elves have good learning, and if you started playing a gnome, then you of course build learning by kicking walls after level 13. Your gemology skill will sometimes let you find gems in the walls, higher skill means more gems. Bless and use crystals of knowledge and your learning will rise above 20 fast enough. If you are not shy about using sickness/starvation to train stats, it is not hard to get it to 40.

The main problem is finding enough spellbooks. If you do not care to spend long hours scumming for items (walking around the ID, killing endless gremlins) then you should plan on visiting the Rift and entering the hidden library. This can not be done before you reach level 20, but that may be the time it takes to prepare for your spell-casting days. The library usually has dangerous monsters, so having emergency teleportation and/or healing is recommended.

b. Sample walkthroughs
A traditional start:
Started up a random race monk. Grey elf. Potentially great, but slow at start, so I decide to take it pretty slow. Start with 3 talents, but unable to select “hardy” for defense. Go with long stride, porter and alert. Go to the village and get quests, then village dungeon. Quicly get level 2, but have to retreat and heal up from time to time. At level 4 I have to use a prayer. Still, I can run whenever I want, due to long stride and + speed from levelup. Not much, but enough. I have to be very careful in combat, with 7 To. I try not to become satiated, as that kills my speed advantage. I do pretty good damage now, but am very weak in return.

A look at the character: Level 5 now. 1d13+3 damage dealt. At normal tactics, no DV from eq I have 16 DV. Speed is +3, but I stupidly got satiated, and due to monks low metabolism I have waited a long while for it to drop back to normal. I have picked up some rocks and am busy trying to improve that skill.

Finding a studded leather armor [-1,+3] gives us a choice. To wear or not. This very weak character will wear it, giving up +3 DV for +2PV, but it is close to a draw. If it is cursed we might not be able to remove it for a while, even if we would like to because our level-up DV is better. Also, it is heavy at 250 s, taking up precious carrying capacity.

No wonder, I quickly am faced with the question whether to become burdened or not. I decide to go ahead, because I just lost the DV bonus anyway (the armor was, of course, cursed), and with 13 strength I would like to train it by walking around carrying a heavy load. Also, a nice orc scorcher donated a crude spear I want to start using. My barehanded attack skill is only 2, no extra damage, so I would end up doing 1d3+0 if I attack barehanded while burdened. Guess I can do it against weak enemies to train barehanded, but on the other hand I see many uses of training polearms too. If the spear had been cursed I would be stuck with it, but that would not be a crisis. Holy water will become available, and the spear will be good enough for a fair while.

I enter D:7. And my advice at this point is to just enter the level to generate the druid, and come back after you have a few more levels. Level 6, 4PV, still weak attack. Come back at level 9-10 and everything will be better, weapons skill, speed, martial damage. I therefore decide to set out to destroy the evil druid and (hopefully) die, proving my point.

And true to plan - “Trad. L7 gray elven monk (M). 5766 xps. 4157 turns. He was killed by a cave bear in a sinister dungeon on level 7.” Don’t make this mistake, enter D:7, leave and grow a little stronger. I would recommend CoC, actually. Go down to arena, maybe a bit further, pick up lightweight food (you only need half as much) and pray for some early herbs. If so, stabilize the herbs, go back and finish the druid, and use your new-gained herbalism to reap the rewards.

Next try - fast & furious approach.
Started up a drakeling monk. 18 St and 17 To, a bit disappointing. Only one talent so I take long stride. Went immediately to SMC. Got to level 3, found downstairs. I got hurt a fair bit, but had prayers in reserve. Decided not to use spit, to prove that this can be done with any (somewhat strong) race.

I then have to bite back those words - a herd of blink dogs appear. They fall to acid spit, drop a corpse. I think a troll monk could have taken them, but this guy would have died horribly without the spit.

At level 5, I see that I can train athletics to 72. I go for it even if it wastes some training, knowing that it will give +1 speed now. Remember the breakpoints, 70, 75, 80, 85 etc gives +1 each, 100 gives +2.

Okay, the character died too. I got him sick by carelessness, and then he swam a river to encounter summoned spiders. Might have fought his way out, but I have a guide to write here! Monks have excellent survival skills for this kind of early rush, especially the drakeling. A trip through the UD will typically yield vaults, shops and herbs. Speed-playing the monk is a viable tactic, and killing high-risk monsters quickly will boost your level giving you more killing power.

c. Defeating special opponents
Monsters not mentioned here are not worth mentioning, either because they are too easy, or they are killed with stock-tactics and no special monk skills apply, or I forgot them.

Keriax, the Black Druid, is often the first special enemy encountered. The problem with him is that his monster level will be connected to your character’s level. Monks have no special attacks at the start, and their ability comes very much from character level. If you wait to be powerful, he will be more powerful too. So, either be a strong fighter race, or have luck finding stuff you can use against him (wands, spells) or use the simple but effective tactic of entering his level early, leave, and come back when you are stronger. Then you can laugh at his puny skills before dispatching him “mit eleganz”. The artifact is not generated when you enter the level, just when you kill him.

Yulgash, the Master Summoner, gets a spot here, too. If you wait till you are above character level 25, you can use your switch places with hostile opponents-ability to get close and personal to him, and end his summoning capers right there and then.

The Emperor Moloch is armored like a tank (200 PV). He will take a lot of critical hits with barehanded to croak. I suggest alternative tactics on him. Blessed demon/humanoid slaying ammo if you play a pure martial artist, otherwise penetrating or a big demon slayer. Rune-covered trident could work fine against him, and you’d have high DV if you were smart enough to be unburdened for the fight.

Elder Chaos God. You have to be wielding the trident while killing him. Humanoid slaying for style, otherwise bash him with the trident. Or scepter, if you took that route.

Final thoughts.
During the process of writing this guide, I have grown more fond of the monk class. Versatile, and with many unique abilities, they can easily become mighty, and are at least fun to play. I wish all potential monks out there luck with their attempts!

Silfir, for starting up the guides thus leading to this coming into being.
Soirana, for making a guide from which I borrowed some headings and general ideas.
F50 for making the direct request for this guide.
J. for providing the info about martial attack bonus
Kevin O’Connor for making the list on martial art bonus.
Hilter, Darren Grey, Silfir, Soirana, Nightmare, gut, J., for various input about the guide.


  1. Thanks for your guide. It has some good tips. Let's see if I manage to make a good monk.

  2. Somehow I won with a monk shortly after reading this guide. My first victory. I WON!

  3. Fantastic guide, thanks!

  4. I cannot find Drakeling (getting the ├╝berpowerful Music breeder-clearer and Food Pres) and Hurthling under the race discussion. Is this because these are so obviously powerful monks that no discussion is needed?

  5. Missing race info (sitting on my hard drive all year):
    Monk guide

    Skills added by race: Food preservation, cooking, archery, gardening
    Food preservation and archery are good skills, cooking is convenient and gardening is mostly useless. Archery gives the monk a tidy boost to missile weapons, at the cost of increasing the skill and getting the talent ”eagle eyed”. Food preservation is somewhat less useful for monks, as they have half food consumption. However most people like food preservation because it will generate more potentially beneficial corpses.
    Hurthlings start with thrown rocks skill at level 4, which will almost guarantee your very-early-game survival if you can find some rocks. The monks’ wall-kicking ability is good for hurthlings, as it gives them an endless supply of rocks to throw. However, coming at level 13 is a bit late, by that time other ranged weapons should be usable.
    Hurthlings level fast, which is great for getting martial arts boni faster.

    Skills added by race: Backstabbing, metallurgy, mining.
    Backstabbing is available in the game, metallurgy is useless and mining is usually decent but not so for monks as they can kick walls fast enough. Only digging with pickaxes produce stone giants which may be killed for ST-increase, which is the only reason mining isn’t totally useless. Overall, poor skills for a monk.
    Orcs’ short lifespan can be potentially dangerous with a melee character like the monk. The Orcs’ stats are melee oriented, so the first part of the game will probably be handled with the way of the fist.

    Skills added by race: Food preservation, music, swimming.
    Food preservation is good for more corpses but less needed because of low food consumption. Music can be useful, but maybe not as much for a monk who will have switch-places ability to get away from massive summons. Swimming is available in the game so its bonus is only helpful for the early game.
    The drakeling’s acid spit is very nice for monks. Firstly it is a completely different form of attack, acid damage is not resisted by many monsters. A monk may not find and be able to use spells for quite some time. Secondly, this attack uses up satiation level, so monks will be able to use it more as they consume less food. Thirdly the attack can be used to remove bloated status, to enable the player to eat. The need to eat something can for instance be certain herbs to remove sickness or poisoning, or to eat a corpse for effects. This kind of situation will make other monks curse their low food consumption, but Drakelings can spit it off.
    Drakeling have strong melee stats, making the early game very managable.
    The hot/cold special effect of drakelings is handled as with any class - but with magical abilities you should be able to master some fire-based spell to use after cold attacks or on D:50.

  6. helped me finish the game! thanks!