Jo sticks, aviator shades, Slim Jims and Danger Dog
Some character classes (like the assassin or magic user) are all about what you can do. They’re toolboxes applied to the problem of the dungeon.
Others (paladins, druids) are about the choices you make: they hold you to some ethical position and see what sparks fly when those ethics contact the spinning wheel of the adventure.
And then there are those classes that are all about taking your choices away. Forcing you to engage the game in a way you never normally would – that you could not, in fact, defend if your character weren’t making you do it. For that, I aver, there is no finer class that Chris Kutalik’s Chaos Monk.
The choices-that-are-not-choices-at-all begin at chargen. We learn that the Chaos Monk’s weapons are “bo and jo sticks, nun-chucks (sic), clubs, man catchers, bowie knives, and throwing stars.” Obviously (but not explicitly) if he has the money, the Chaos Monk must buy at least one of each – either from a dodgy mail order ad or from the kind of tourist shop that carries giant swords with half a dozen blades sticking out at odd angles, nestled among C. More Buns trucker caps and novelty bottles of rough hooch. And he must try to use as many of them as possible during play, as though selecting the right golf club for each shot.
No matter what he rolls for starting money, the Chaos Monk is always nearly destitute – not because his riches are spiritual, but because his judgment is terrible: all he ever has is badly made junk that was never meant to be actually used.
Equally obviously, the Chaos Monk is not a schemer. He doesn’t have Conan’s panther-like cunning or Cugel’s persuasive tongue. Instead he has a peculiarly demanding bravado – being Chaotic Stupid means he’s bound by iron laws of conduct.
So who’s first in marching order? The Chaos Monk, every time (fuck yeah!). First through the door? Over the parapet? Into the mystery goop?
If a monster bellows at you, enraged – do you attack or run? The Paladin can choose to retreat, nursing his strength for another opportunity, coolly judging the danger to innocents posed by a tactical withdrawal. The Chaos Monk has to have a go, even if it’s only to come tumbling grinning back a moment later, clutching his greatest treasure – a story to bullshit about later in the pub.
As a player I never have to think or weigh odds or anything. If he’s not in trouble now, he will be soon. And if he realizes he’s in too much trouble to handle… welp, just do something else mullet-headed – it’ll get better or worse.
It’s a total holiday, frankly. I have other characters with complex back-stories, unrequited drives, burning ambitions, ideas above their station and plans to hit the big time.
Not the Chaos Monk. Here’s everything I need to know about him to play him right now: