There are no major changes or restriction on monks in the setting.

All monk orders are known to be associated with one religious faction or temple on the continent of Onara. The Way of the Open Hand is practiced by all races and religions but is most common among the followers of Anshar, Larissa, or Althares. Monks who follow the Path of Shadow can only be found in any church that venerates Cadic and only the elorii take the Way of the Four Elements.

The Monastic Orders of Arcanis

During the glorious age of the First Imperium of Man, the peoples who would one day populate the Empires of Coryan and Khitan lived harmoniously with one another. Ideas, philosophies, and traditions flowed like Yarris’ tides and were adopted or discarded at whim.

But when the befouled Sword of the Heavens marched upon the majestic nation of the First Imperium, those of Khitani stock, the Uls, and their progeny fled northward, led by their Sleeping Emperor. They left the valiant and pure Val and their human wards to stand against the unstoppable flaming horde.

Many of the teachings and traditions of the Khitani were thus discarded, seen as the works of cowards. Except for one: the monastic orders. The tradition of the monastic orders survived the vilification that resulted from the Khitani exodus and that tradition still exists today.
– Welswick val’Inares, Historian to the King of Milandir, 1022 I.C.

The monastic orders of Arcanis have an ancient tradition, spanning thousands of years. Many of these orders were directly spun off from various temples due to the need for scholars and scribes to translate and copy their holy texts. Other orders were founded by individuals desiring greater understanding of esoteric philosophies. No matter how peacefully these orders began, however, inevitably they became mistrusted or feared by the common populace.

Mistrust leads to fear, and fear leads to violence. Many of these secluded monasteries were branded “heretical” or “evil” during the Shadowed Age. As a result, many monks began to train themselves in the arts of combat, not only to defend themselves from the misguided, but also to safeguard against the roaming bands of brigands and murderous humanoids. This training was significantly impaired by the lack of arms and armor available during these troubled times. Thus the monastic tradition of unarmed combat was adopted, partly from the desire to not permanently harm the ignorant masses, but also due to the scarcity of arms. Slowly, this training evolved into formalized schools, which became known as the “Fighting Orders.” After only a few skirmishes, these monastic orders had sufficiently demonstrated their martial prowess and were thereafter given a wide berth by bandits, brigands, and thugs.

Since adventuring monks are usually from one of the “Fighting Orders,” a broad sample of these orders is presented below. Although other more scholarly orders do exist, role-playing the copying of endless scrolls of holy texts can be a bit monotonous, so those orders are not detailed here.


The Order of Althares

Patron/Affiliation: Republic of Altheria/Temple of Althares.

Restriction: A character must be of Altherian nationality to join this order.

Location: The monastery for The Order of Althares is built into the side of a mountain and connected by bridge to the great city of New Althré on the Altherian Plateau.

Symbol: A tattoo of knowledge gained printed on the skin so that the monk themselves at as a form of book.

Monk Monastic Tradition: Most monks of Althares practice the Way of Tranquility.

Philosophy: As we are the children of Althares, we must serve as older siblings to other Altherians. We have learned that material things matter not. The safety and preservation of our people, our families, and our nation are paramount.

The vow of poverty and charity: The monk must forsake all material wealth. Any accumulated wealth is donated to the order, the Church of Althares, or the Council of Wisdom.

The vow of chastity: The monk vows to abstain from any type of sexual gratification.

The vow of love: The monk vows to treat every Altherian as a beloved family member. To enforce this belief, the monk must forsake all friends and family before entering the order, vowing to never show preference to them over any other Altherian. After taking this vow, the monk must treat each Altherian with the love and care he would normally reserve for his own child, sibling, or parent. He must protect all Altherians from those who would threaten them, and he further pledges to try to mediate any dispute between family members.

The vow of obedience and secrecy: The monk vows to become a sacred guardian of Althares’ Gifts. He vows to never let their secrets fall into the hands of others. He learns that his ancestors paid dearly for their hubris and comes to realize that people should not be permitted to learn such things before they are truly ready. He vows to follow the dictates of his elders, the abbots, and the Council of Wisdom. They will guide his hands, the hands of his brothers, and the hands of his nation. He vows to never betray his country his family, or his order.

Miscellaneous Notes: The monks of this order wear plain cloth robes dyed dark blue. Older members and abbots often have trained owls as pets or companions, due to the bird’s status as the favored animal of Althares.


The Order of the Blade

Patron/Affiliation: The Temple of Hurrian

Location: Sequestered in the Parthian Mountains in the Kingdom of Milandir.

Symbol: Members of this order have the image of a longsword pointing downward branded upon their arms, representing their status as a weapon of Hurrian.

Monk Monastic Tradition: The monks of Hurrian follow the Way of the Kensei choosing the longsword as their weapon or follow the Way of the Open Hand.

Philosophy: The monastery of the Order of the Blade stands as a sentinel over the ancestral lands of the val’Tensen family. Founded shortly after the fall of the Auxunite Empire, the order was granted the remains of an Auxunite fortress, from which it has instructed the scions of the val’Tensen family and any others who feel Hurrian’s call to defend the weak. The elder monks are primarily comprised of war veterans who, for physical or psychological reasons, are no longer fit for duty as warriors. These seasoned swordsmen instruct novice monks in the art of the longsword. Their rigorous training slowly guides the monk down the path of enlightenment that transforms the monk into an instrument of Hurrian’s will. After many grueling years of practice, the sword and the monk become one. The longsword is no longer a separate weapon, it has become like an arm or leg to the monk.

Unfortunately, this order is currently embroiled in a controversy not of its own making. The order has traditionally been a place where the val’Tensen family could send its best and brightest children to master the blade, and the monastery has always welcomed them regardless of their nationality. However, the recent invasion of Milandir by the Coryani General Menesis val’Tensen has caused many Milandisian nobles to call for an end to this tradition. The angry Milandisians seek to bar all Coryani from induction into the order. Compounding the tension is the well-known fact that the current Abbott is a Coryani national and a former member of the Legion of the Storm Lord, one of the legions currently occupying the captured portions of Moratavia. To date, the leadership of the monastery has been able to postpone any formal action by the Milandisian nobility, but the time will soon come when the monks will be forced from their precarious perch on the sword’s edge. Soon, they will have to choose sides, despite their great reluctance to do so, and woe be unto those who force their hands.

Miscellaneous Notes: Members of this order tend to shave their heads and wear as little clothing as possible. Typically, they only wear a short vest or tunic and loose breeches.


The Order of the Bronze Sepulcher

Patron/Affiliation: The Temple of Neroth

Location: Within the walls of the City of the Dead, Abessios, Coryani Empire

Symbol: Members of this order brand themselves with the holy symbol of Tzizhet somewhere upon their body, normally on their left shoulder.

Monk Monastic Tradition: Way of the Long Death

Philosophy: This order has existed since the days of the Myrantian Hegemony. The ancient Myrantians worshipped different gods than those accepted by the Mother Church of Coryan. The greatest of these heretical gods was called Tzizhet of the Many Limbs. Tzizhet was a strange amalgamation of Neroth and Sarish. Much like modern-day worshippers of Neroth, the ancient Myrantians revered their ancient dead and undead ancestors.

Unfortunately, some of these ancient ancestors became addled and disoriented when they received Neroth’s gift of “life beyond life.” To ensure that these confused undead did not harm anyone, an order of monks was created and trained to deal with these problematic undead without causing them permanent harm. To do this, the order developed a unique fighting style based mainly on grappling and throws. These techniques allow the monks of this order to restrain the undead without destroying them or causing them significant injury.

An initiate of this order is also instructed in the mysteries of the Nerothian religion and is attuned to the world of life beyond life. Eventually the monk will become resistant to some necromantic energies. For untold years, this order has tended to the vast necropolis near Abessios known as the City of the Dead, caring little for the activities of the outside world.

Miscellaneous Notes: These sallow-skinned monks ritually use a depilatory salve to defend against lice and other such parasites that thrive in the places of the walking dead. This cream has the unfortunate side effect of making the monk smell strongly of formaldehyde. The monks of this order usually dress in long funerary robes.


The Contemplation of the Elements

Patron/Affiliation: The Elorii of Elonbé.

Location: In the western Vastwood, at the Citadel of Convergence.

Restriction: Only Elorii may join this order.

Symbol: A small headband of tiny crystals with a gem hanging in the center of the forehead, or a similar tattoo

Monk Monastic Tradition: All monks of this order follow the Way of Four Elements

Philosophy: The Elorii monks of this order do not follow the same structure or traditions as their human counterparts. In fact, they do not consider themselves monks at all. Instead they call themselves selenestri, which means “he who thinks” or “philosopher” in the Elorii tongue. As immortal beings, some Elorii decide to spend a life time researching or simply observing a certain trade or philosophical lifestyle. For Elorii, this behavior is known as “walking a path.” Some walk the path of vengeance, some walk the path of the life-giver, and the monks of this order walk the path of the elements.

Those who choose to walk the path of the elements feel the need to better understand the inner duality of their souls, focusing on the elemental portion of their being. Deep within the western Vastwood is the sacred place where they seek this understanding, the Citadel of Convergence. Within the citadel’s walls, it is said that the ancient Ssethregoran Masters found, contacted, and invited the four great Elemental Lords to this plane. Inside the fortress is a nexus point where all four elemental planes intersect.

Miscellaneous Notes: Selenestri of this order tend to be more attuned to their elemental nature than other Elorii, and they act accordingly. Most wear simple clothing and lead unassuming lives. Those traveling abroad are usually searching for a deeper connection with their element and those of their kin


The Order of the Incandescent Flame

Patron/Affiliation: The Temple of Nier.

Location: Over a volcanic vent on Nier’s Spine, near one of the sacred Pillars of Fire in Canceri.

Symbol: Monks of this order receive a series of tattoos inscribed upon their forearms, beginning at their wrists. With each additional rank achieved, an additional ring of fire is tattooed further up the arm.

Monk Monastic Tradition: A majority of monks of this order follow a variant of the Way of Four Elements restricted to the element of fire or Way of the Open Hand

Philosophy: Nier is the ultimate warrior: fierce, relentless, and unstoppable. The monks of this order believe it is not the mastery of the weapons of war that makes a great warrior, but mastery over the body and the mind. In fact, the greatest weapon is a sharp, analytical mind coupled with a rock-hard body.

The monks of this order are taught to control and channel their emotions, focusing on the task at hand – annihilation of the enemy. They train constantly, tempering their bodies into iron hardness capable of withstanding inhuman physical abuse while still being able to deliver killing blows. Their single-minded focus has made members of this order some of the most feared warriors throughout the known lands.

Some monks of the order eventually become worthy of learning the deeper mysteries of their faith and they gain the ability to ignite their very fists. This process involves immersing one’s hands into the Fires of Irlagul. This is a dangerous mystery to unravel, for “Woe be to he who is found unworthy by Nier, for he shall be consumed in flames for his conceit.”

Miscellaneous Notes: Monks of this order are usually attired in reddish or orange-colored robes with the strong smell of smoke and ash clinging to them.


The Order of the Iridescent Scales

Patron/Affiliation: Black Talon Egg Clutch.

Location: A small cave system on the western edges of the Sulfur Marsh, Kingdom of Milandir.

Restriction: Only Black Talon ss’ressen may join this order.

Symbol: The iridescent green sheen of their scales marks the monks of this order as being different from any other ss’ressen of the Black Talon egg clutch.

Monk Monastic Tradition: Way of the Open Hand

Philosophy: It was the Great Fire Dragon who led us out of slavery and into the Promised Land. He also gifted us with the means to defend ourselves from our attackers. Why then, would we take up the weapons of man and layer ourselves within their useless armor when all that we need to survive has been given to us since we were hatchlings?

Ss’ressen monks of this order believe that their race was blessed with talons, fangs, and a vicious tail for a reason. Their god also gifted unto them hardened scales to deflect attacks. They believe that to gird themselves with extra armor or to embrace manufactured weapons is to turn their backs on the Fire Dragon. These monks train rigorously to turn their armored bodies into walking juggernauts, preparing for the day when they will fight alongside their human allies to wipe Onara clean of the last remnants of the hated Ssethregoran Empire.

Miscellaneous Notes: Monks of this order refrain from wearing any clothing and only don a russet colored hooded cloak when necessary in deference to Milandisian custom.


The Order of the Iron Soul

Patron/Affiliation: The Temple of Anshar.

Location: A secret location in the Western Marches, Coryani Empire.

Symbol: Members of this order burn scars on their inner forearms in the shape of a serpent.

Monk Monastic Tradition: Way of Tranquility or Way of the Open Hand

Philosophy: Founded by a sect of the Temple of Anshar venerating her “outcast” aspect, this order assists those who have tainted souls and pure hearts.

Many Tiefling, who are troubled by the malignant evil within them, petition to join this ascetic order, hoping to learn ways to control their Infernal blood.

Members of this order are taught that emotions are like the deadly whirlpools of Yarris’ oceans, always threatening to suck the tainted ones down into the darkest bowels of their Infernal souls. These monks become masters at controlling their emotions.

Unfortunately, repressing one’s negative impulses exacts a heavy toll, and monks of this order rarely show any emotion whatsoever, good or ill. Some believe that the cold, stoic reputation associated with most monks can be traced back to members of this order.

Miscellaneous Notes: Members of this order keep their heads shaved at all times. They usually wear the blandest of clothing, sometimes nothing more than a threadbare brown robe of coarse cloth.


The Order of the Pearl Maidens

Patron/Affiliation: None. Allied with the Royal Houses G’mel and val’Haupt of Censure, and the Nawal of the Bleak Coast and Pengik peninsula. It is rumored that the Pearl Maidens have taken steps to solidify a naval compact with Naeraanth and King Osric of Milandir.

Location: The monastery ship, The Way of the Pearl, home port Pearlspar, Hinterlands.

Restriction: Only women may join this order.

Symbol: The Sailesh. A Sailesh is a headband made of pearls with bejeweled strings that loop underneath the eyes.

Monastic Tradition: Way of the Kensei choosing their iconic painted bows and long oyster knives.

Philosophy: The Pearl Maidens are a matriarchal monastic order that promotes the independence and liberty of women. The order was founded to ensure the safety of the many female pearl divers of the Bleak Coast. But the order is sworn to protect all women from those who would harm or enslave them.

Miscellaneous Notes: Pearl Maidens usually carry elaborately painted bows and long oyster knives strapped to their legs. Monks of this order often travel in disguise, sequestering themselves in port cities or aboard ships for special missions.

The Order of the Perfect Union

Patron/Affiliation: The Temple of Illiir.

Location: In the Corlathian Mountains near Solanos Mor, Coryani Empire.

Restriction: All members of this order must worship Illiir.

Symbol: Members of this order bear the mark of Illiir, a stylized sun symbol, tattooed upon their brow.

Monastic Tradition: Way of the Sun Soul

Philosophy: This order strictly adheres to the scriptures of Illiir, calling for the perfection of both the mind and the body. Within the monastery’s white marbled walls, the monks aspire to create a perfectly pure environment to honor their divine patron.

Dwarves from Solanos Mor are warmly welcomed into this order. They are usually viewed as exemplary models because of their fanatical devotion to Illiir.

Many of these dwarves come to the order seeking the perfection of their own body for the express purpose of breaking their racial curse. In fact, the current Abbott of the order is an ancient dwarf named Morven who does not suffer fools lightly. He has expulsed many a member of the order at the slightest hint of impurity in action or thought.

Miscellaneous Notes: Haughty and assured of their superiority, members of the order are seen as cold, aloof, and smug by the populace at large. Monks of this order usually wear pure white robes, boots, and gloves, leaving only their faces exposed to the elements.