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FROM: D&D 3rd Edition
TO: HERO System 5th Edition


There are dozens of Martial Arts Maneuvers available in The Ultimate Martial Artist (UMA), as well as many pre-made Package Deals expressing real-world Martial Arts in Hero Games terms.
It is very viable for a particular Order of Monks to train in a style described in The Ultimate Martial Artist. Just give the style a new, fantasy-appropriate name and you are in business.
Following are some various suggestions for custom styles that might be used in a setting where Monks play an important part. Where applicable page references to The Ultimate Martial Artist (UMA) are provided.
Art of Empty Hand
Karate (UMA pg 33) is a broad enough art to support a diverse collection of related Monasteries or Schools and is a viable option for a Monk tradition. Each of the Karate sub styles on page 34 and 35 could correlate to a separate temple, monastery, or school of Martial Arts, or separate paths in one overarching system, or be broken into several subgroups by region or some other parsing.
The Path of Contention
Kung Fu (UMA pg 38) is, for obvious reasons, a fabulous option for a large and diverse art practiced in endless permutations by unaligned (and often competing) Orders of Monks and less formal Schools. The many sub styles listed provide plenty of grist for different types of Monks.
Way of the Four Winds
Pentjak-Silat (UMA pg 49) is an excellent Martial Art Style for a large and established Order of Monks with many monasteries; the many sub styles cited in the write up could each equate to the style as practiced by different monasteries, and/or as taught by various Masters.
To add a little flavor, consider grouping the styles in the following fashion (or some other way as seems appropriate):
  • Way of the West Wind: all of the Sumatran Styles (Baru Silat, Harimau Silat, Kumango Silat, Pauh Silat, Sandang Silat, Sterlak Silat, Tjampur Silat)
  • Way of the East Wind: all of the Javan Styles (Delima, Perisai Diri, Prisai Sakti, Setia Hati, Tapak Sutji, Tjimande, Tjingkrik)
  • Way of the North Wind: all of the Balinese Styles (Bhakti Negara, Tridharma,)
  • Way of the South Wind: all of the other sub styles (Kendari Silat, Pamur, Patai Silat)
The separation of the Four winds may be largely literal, with the Monasteries teaching the West Wind styles being to the West of some spiritual or geographical center point, and so on.
The separation could also be metaphysical; perhaps each of the Four Winds is attributed certain qualities or is symbolic of some conceptual focus, and styles which favor one quality over the other three are grouped accordingly.
The East Wind might symbolize meditation and rebirth (perhaps likened to the rising sun) and is more of a meditative art with some of the mental powers listed for Pentjak-Silat.
The West Wind might symbolize the terminus and the need to endure the ensuing darkness and thus favors stamina and raw power and is a physical art with some of the Pentjak-Silat body manipulation powers like the Paralyzing touch, and the animal affinity powers
The North Wind might represent austerity, survivability, and self reliance and is therefore more of an internal art with some of the more defensive powers listed for Pentjak-Silat such as Defense Maneuver, Missile Deflection, and Damage Resistance.
The South Wind might symbolize the cycle of life, warmth, and the interconnectedness of all things and is more of an external art, perhaps with some of the chi-projection powers listed for Pentjak-Silat.
Expanded Default Monk Martial Art
The default Generic Monk Martial Art Package provided in the Monk Conversion document could be used as a base, and expanded with one or more extra maneuvers, or have one or more maneuvers swapped out.
Some likely candidates you might consider for addition are: Offensive Strike, Fast Strike, Passing Strike, Reversal, Killing Strike, Grappling Throw, Counterstrike.
Way of Infinite Maneuvers
If none of the published Styles suit you as, there is always the option to just look at the Maneuver list on page 9 of the UMA and pick a selection of Maneuvers to build a style around. For instance, the following monastic fighting brotherhood was designed in exactly this fashion:
The Order of the Closed Fist is an ancient fighting brotherhood whose members are given to the Order as small children, no more than 3 years old, and trained from the youngest age possible in the fighting arts. The Order sustains itself by hiring out small contingents of Brothers to fight in the wars of others. The Closed Fist is a "hard" style and concentrates on arm strikes and grabs, with no kicks or throws.