|Chi powers are where the monk distinguishes him or herself from the other warrior classes. They are amazing feats that require the focus and expenditure of the monk's formidable inner reserves of energy.|
The monk does not gain spells as a priest does. Instead, monks draw upon their inner strength, a form of willpower, which monks call "chi." This chi is used to perform incredible acts not possible for a normal person. Chi powers are kept track of using spell slots, just like priest spells. Monk chi power progression proceeds as the priest spell table progression. Monks also garner bonus Chi powers for high Wisdom as if they were bonus spells. Chi powers are broken up into levels like priest spells. However, chi powers are not magical, and cannot be dispelled or otherwise affected by anti-magic effects. Chi powers are much closer to psionics in nature, and can be affected by spells or items that suppress psionics. However, monks are not psionic in the traditional sense, and do not have PSPs or psionic attack or defense modes (unless they are wild psionic talents).
Monks must meditate in the morning and prepare themselves to call upon the desired chi powers for the following day, just as priests must pray to receive spells. Monks must conform to the usual spellcaster restrictions, like needing a full nights rest in order to renew their powers. Spell point systems, like those from Players Option: Spells & Magic, can be used for chi powers also if desired. Chi powers must be initially learned, like wizard spells. A monk can learn a new chi power from a teacher who knows the power or, less commonly, from a book or other source. Monks must make a Learn Spell roll according to their Intelligence after each two weeks of trying to learn a chi power. If the roll is failed, the monk has to start over and spend another two weeks learning the power before making another check, but this process may be repeated as often as desired. The monk may develop one new chi power per experience level without being taught. Different monastic orders know and teach powers to their initiates.
Some chi powers are continuous in nature - if they are "memorized" at the beginning of the day, they function continuously throughout the day and need no special invocation to use. For example, the second-level chi power Iron Skin gives the monk an AC bonus of 2 against all opponents the entire day if the monk selects that power. Other powers must be invoked when desired, like a spell. Chi powers each have a duration and a focus time (equivalent to a casting time) just like spells. Any chi power with a focus time of 0 can be invoked at will at any point in the combat round, and does not count against the monk's actions that round. Other powers with focus times greater than zero can be invoked upon any of the monk's usual attacks, taking the focus time to prepare as if it were a weapon speed or casting time, and using an attack as usual. The focus time supersedes any weapon speed that might apply for the attack. Chi powers can be disrupted during the focus time by dealing damage to the monk, just as striking a spellcaster in the midst of casting a spell can disrupt spells. Monks can use multiple Chi powers in a round, as focus times allow, as if they were simply multiple attacks. Remember that using the Combat & Tactics rules, any multiple attacks come one in each next action phase; using the core rules all multiple attacks wait until everyone has attacked first in the combat sequence, and then all second attacks go in order of initiative, and so on.
Though multiple Chi powers may be in effect at the same time, under no circumstance can two chi powers simultaneously be producing the same or similar effect. For example, only one power can be enhancing Armor Class against all opponents at the same time, or doubling damage of attacks, or providing a bonus to hit. Variations are OK (for example, a power giving an AC bonus versus all opponents along with a power giving an AC bonus versus a specific opponent), but the same effect is never "stackable." In the event of power conflict, just take the better of the two effects.
Example of Chi Powers in Combat
A 6th level monk character that attacks twice a round, and has the powers Axe Kick, Claw of the Dragon, and Bite of the Dragon memorized, is fighting an evil warlord. He rolls a 6 on his initiative and the warlord rolls a 5 (and is using a sword with a weapon speed of 5). The monk chooses to attack first with an Axe Kick (focus time 1), which means he executes a kick attack on the warlord per the Axe Kick power description on an initiative count of 7. He hits, gaining an automatic knockdown from the Axe Kick. After he hits he decides to use Claw of the Dragon to double the damage. This power has a focus time of 0, and thus does not use an additional attack the monks kick damage is doubled from its usual 1d4+2. The warlord then attacks the monk on 9, and then the monk can attack the warlord again during the second attacks part of the round, this time with Breath of the Dragon, with a focus time of 5. This attack routine uses up three of the monks chi powers for the day.
The monks strength in combat is not in straight-ahead damage dealing, but in making use of many of the optional combat maneuvers discussed in Players Option: Combat & Tactics and the Complete Fighters Handbook. DMs allowing this monk class should be clear which of these optional rules are allowed in their campaign, and should make sure and be familiar with them.
Breath of the Dragon
Blood of the Dragon
Arrogance of the Dragon
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