Creating your own organizations

Much of the following advice can apply to any type of organization, but is intended primarily for those composed of monks and martial artists. Through an example, we'll build an organization called the Singing Crane that you can drop into your campaign world.

Decide on a theme: Determine its purpose, membership, goals, a name, an alignment (or multiple alignments if the organization has different factions working against each other), and the overall size, power and reach of the organization.

For example, the Singing Crane is a lawful good order of monks and monk/clerics dedicated to protecting the innocent villages near them from the oppressive knights and petty warlords that periodically rob them. They are a local order without much reach or influence, but highly respected by the commoners they protect.

Develop their fighting style: Fighting styles are sometimes well-guarded secrets, and sometimes commonly taught to peasants. Just about every organization has a particular style that it either teaches or guards. A style can be more than a style mastery feat. It can be a combination of multiclassing, skills, martial secrets, and feats, and usually leans in the direction of one method. For example, a military organization may teach a hard style that emphasizes unarmed punches and kicks, and require that students take certain feats and martial secrets in a certain order. Creating "style recipes" is a useful tool for DMs. When you need an NPC from a particular organization, you can quickly choose their feats and skills according to your recipe. First, choose the overall methods used. This should reflect the personality of the organization.

The Singing Crane temple, a group of monks and martial artists, has a soft method of fighting, with some hard/soft grappling and mental disciplines. Their monks typically use the Reduced Movement option (see above) to sacrifice Fast Movement and Slow Fall to gain extra feats at levels 4, 8 and 12. They attempt to master the Willow Branch style as soon as possible, and prefer the monkey footwork martial secret. Most take 1 to

5 levels as a cleric of the good and healing domains.

Create key NPCs: Your organization may have a single leader, a group of leaders, or a complex bureaucracy with multiple levels and divided responsibilities, or it may have no formal rank structure at all. Even in an organization with no leaders, there will be some individuals that stand out. Detail the leaders and the most interesting individuals. You don't have to roll up their statistics, unless you expect to use them in combat soon, but you should make some notes on their personalities and general ability.

Red Bird is the leader of the Singing Crane and a monkl5/cleric3. She grew up in terror of the surrounding brigands until a wise old man taught her the secrets of the Willow Branch style. Now an elderly lady, she is determined to defend her homelands. Red Bird fears that a great battle is coming some day soon, and struggles to train her acolytes for the inevitable day when their marauding enemies unite against them. Her son, Dariax, a martial artist 10, is headstrong and eager to crush their enemies in a preemptive strike, but doesn't have a clear idea of which enemy to assault. The average acolyte is a human monk or martial artist 2/cleric1, but there are a few mid level martial artists, a monk8/tanterist3, and a dozen low level halfling monks from a nearby shire).

Design a headquarters: Monasteries, schools and temples aren't the only types of establishments an organization can use to meet and train. A residence, a tavern or merchant house, a remote mountaintop, an island fortress, a traditional castle, a warehouse, a walled garden, a dungeon, a hidden grove, or even a pocket dimension can all serve as a headquarters. More wealthy organizations will have elaborate defenses and comfortable surroundings, while the poorest may just meet in a barn or field near town.

The Singing Crane temple is a fortified stone and wood shrine on a crossroads leading to four villages the monks protect. It consists of a large wooden hall, surrounded by a large courtyard encircled by a low stone wall. The monks train both inside and outside, and constantly watch the skies for messenger pigeons warning of an impeding attack. They also meet with the leaders of the nearby towns in training halls that they run. One of the towns has also given them space in the watch barracks.

Create events: The best campaign worlds are dynamic, and that's the way your organizations should be. Decide where your organizations are heading, and create plot twists in advance. Internal power struggles, natural disasters, corruption, assassinations, natural deaths, outside aggressors, and magical happenings can all make an organization prosper or suffer. Write up a short calendar of events, and decide how these events affect the player characters, and think about how the player characters might affect these events. If the organization is not really involved directly in the player character's lives, just create a couple of events that they'll hear about as rumors or news. However, if the player characters are members of the organization, or are nearby, you may want to spend more time on these events and weave them into your campaign.

Red Bird looks as fit as an athletic 30 year old, but is actually over a 100 and secretly dying of old age. The self-absorbed Dariax doesn't have any idea that his mother isn't well. She will likely die within the year, but before that, the battle she fears will certainly happen. A barbarian tribe is secretly pledging fealty to a group of knights called the Brotherhood of Nine. The Brotherhood plans to use the barbarians as a diversion while their hired assassins help them assault the temple. The Singing Crane will be hard pressed to defend all four towns and themselves, and will certainly suffer devastating losses, and possibly outright destruction. If the player characters are in the area or are members of the Singing Crane, they may hear of rumors of the barbarian alliance and if they take the initiative to investigate, may avert the disaster. Red Bird will certainly fight to the death in such a battle, and will be fearsome indeed as a mother bear protecting her cubs.

Multiclassing Monks

The multiclassing restrictions on monks and paladins are for flavor only, not game balance, so feel free to change them. A great way to personalize the monks in your campaign is to allow them to freely multiclass with certain other classes based on their organization.

For example, a war-like order may be able to freely multiclass as fighters, martial artists, or as clerics of a god of war. Certain prestige classes like the sylvan monk or ki blaster are especially appropriate for multiclassed monks. An order of Lawful Good monks might even be able to freely multiclass as paladins.

For guidelines on multiclassing monks with martial artists, see page 8.

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