Thursday, August 23, 2007

Rosicrucian: The Occidental Monk

Before I started blogging about games I went through a five or ten year period where I did a lot of reading of kook books. Not cookbooks, kook books. It started with the Principia Discordia and the Book of the Subgenius and the Illuminatus trilogy but soon led me to conspiracy theory rantings and academic/pseudo-academic texts on Freemasonry, Rosicrucians, and such. I note that this was my obsession before I started my gameblog because what I'm about to tell you is something I would have reported immediately on my blog.

In a text compiling earlier sources on Rosicrucians, most of these source being in German as I recall, I came across a report of secret Rosicrucian fighting techniques. If memory serves the story was of a Rosicrucian adept who was thrown into a pit with a hungy lion. This fellow escaped his fate by using punches and throws taught to him by his Rosecroix masters. It was a brief account with little detail, but it was clearly a description of a Western occultist using the fighting arts. On a lion, no less.

I bring this topic up now for two reasons. 1) I had hoped I would find my source for this tale as I clean out my game room in preparation of moving. So far no luck. So I bring you my hazy secondhand report. Better than nothing. And 2) it looks like the kung fu Monk of old may be on the chopping block again in 4e. Now, I'm no big fan of the Monk class, but cutting the Monk from 2nd edition AD&D was boneheaded back in the day and it would be boneheaded to do it again. Some people want to play Monks and anyone considering cutting the class is doing a disservice to those players.

If the reason the Monk may be going away is that it is too Asian-themed, I present the Rosicrucian mysteries as an escape hatch. A new Monk that was built as a karate-chopping internal alchemist could be wicked awesome. Swap out the black belt for a white apron and let the asskicking commence!


  1. Anonymous11:14 AM

    What the heck is a Rosicrucian? wikipedia.......

    Aha. Ummmmm, interesting.

  2. That's what my eight-year-old self thought they were in the first place. :)

    Now I want to publish a D20 product in which all the characters are various stripes of western monk adventurers, operating out of a home abbey, retrieving relics and chasing off devils.

    "Brother Josephus! Pour the soma into the orichalcum cup now! Brother Reginald -- hold the hellspawn in place with your sacred tongs! Brother Mendel, are the holy peas ready? No, the wrinkly ones..."

    And so on. But perhaps more serious. And with art by Mike Mignola.

  3. Sorry, wulfgar. I thought in this modern DaVinci Code era everyone knew about those crazy guys.

  4. Just shove a quarterstaff in the Monk's hands and say it's been Friar Tuck all along, I say :)

  5. Anonymous1:38 PM

    When I was starting with AD&D when I was 9 or so, I hadn't heard of Asian / Kung-Fu Monks. I thought the Monk in D&D was like Friar Tuck... it took me a while to figure out why they had such weird class abilities. :)

  6. I have a feeling that if the Monk as a separate class is removed, it will be because they will give you the tools to build one using the Fighter class....but that's just my own musings at this point.

  7. Alexander, I want to play your game.

  8. I'd be much happier with western-style monks, who could be either cloistered or crusading academics...someone wants to be a barehanded fighting machine, make it a fighter variant.

  9. Anonymous1:33 AM

    Awesome, Jeff!

    I´ll now go and get me "Maria Szepes´ The Red Lion", which is sort of a Rosicrucian Bildungsroman, were the hero becomes something like a mixture of Da Vinci, Dr. Who and a Planewalker. The book was also burned and forbidden by the Communist regime, which gives it some interesting conspiracy backing.
    This oughta be awesome for my planned Wallenstein-Campaign.

  10. Anonymous6:41 AM

    This is all interesting, but real man's D&D only has 7 classes:


  11. Jeff, can you recommend any books on the subject? Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

  12. Anonymous1:30 PM

    Jeff, You ever read Bloodline of the Holy Grail? It's a lot like the Da Vinci Code but its "nonfiction" and it turns out that all the crowned heads of Europe are the descendants of blood sucking reptilian space aliens (and this is presented as a good thing!)

  13. ligedog, is that Holy Blood, Holy Grail, or another book on the same subject? It's so hard to keep the crackpots straight.

  14. Bloodline of the Holy Grail is a later work that hangs its hat on the earlier Holy Blood, Holy Grail. A whole industry festered around the latter, leading eventually to the Dan Brown novel.

    Jum: Both of the above books are great material for a conspiratorial campaign. For more information on the Rosicrucians directly, I think A Rosicrucian Notebook, by Willy Schrodter, would be a great starting place. Schrodter covers a lot of interesting ground in small snippets. And he goes by 'Willy'. Many authors in the field insist on going by ridiculous pseudonyms like Sir Drake Darkbritches. But he's just Willy.

  15. I choked down all of Holy Blood, Holy Grail when doing research for GURPS Warehouse 23 (which includes the necessary obligatory nods to it).

    I still have trouble accepting that there are people who'd willingly read an entire Dan Brown novel. I remain convinced that he's actually a digitially-synthesized parody of supermarket checkout line fiction.