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WoWJun 8, 2016 3:00 pm CT

Zen Meditation: Roleplaying your Monk with creative freedom

So you want to roleplay a Monk, but maybe you’re not sure of what kind of origin story to use. Or maybe you aren’t sure what kind of background works. Last time we met, I wrote up a piece about the Brewmaster artifact quest in an RP style. The character in that little story probably didn’t come across too clearly (I left it subtle in subtext), but it was a Brewmaster who’s not a fan of brewing or drinking — and basically became a Brewmaster because of a lost bet (this is why you don’t gamble, kids!). That’s definitely quite the mouthful, and maybe left some people wondering — how far is too far in RP? Does this character even make sense? Well, let’s take a look at the possibilities of Monk character creation in RP.

A disclaimer: I’m not a heavy roleplayer. I’ve friends who are. Instead, I’ll place my credentials in the fact that I enjoy writing in my free time, and thus have a pretty decent idea of how character development works.


Monks in Warcraft lore

The first place to look before deciding on the type of character to design is the Warcraft universe. We’ve taken a look at Monk champions in Warcraft lore before, which is a good place to start. There are some pretty unexplored aspects of the class, which acts more as an extension of Pandaren culture — which leaves a lot of options for the roleplayer but can also make things difficult. Still (as many commenters pointed out) there have been Monks in other areas of the game. For example, Scarlet Monastery had Monks — it would be pretty shocking not to find Monks somewhere like that!

Your first decision would be the type of Monk you want to roleplay. If you’re going the more devoted path similar to the Monks of the Scarlet Monastary, you might consider Windwalker or Mistweaver as your choice spec. The Pandaren route leaves more openings, though it favors Brewmasters and Misteweavers slightly more than Windwalkers. Or perhaps the answer is none of the above. Perhaps your character opted to become a Monk due to overcoming some complicated past that lead them to honing their skills for more self-reliance.

But whatever you do, don’t allow your character’s backstory to limit your fun. Choosing a spec just because of your background — potentially limiting how much you enjoy your character — would defeat the purpose of roleplaying. (That’s having fun, if you weren’t aware.) In other words, if you want to be a Scarlet Brewmaster, build a backstory that works and go for it!


Get some snazzy style

We haven’t discussed transmog nearly enough in our meetings. However, your transmog stands out as the most important aspect of your Monk as a visual representation of the type of character you’re playing. The problem lies in the fact that leather transmogs for certain origin stories can be hard to come across.

We’re basically handed a standard Pandaren outfit through in garrison salvage crates, which will be perfect for certain character types. You can even go as far as to try and be a Shado-Pan by adding the replica helm from their reputation rewards. The route of Scarlet Monk, however, would be slightly more difficult. Most of the matching sets are either mail, plate, or cloth. The Scarlet dungeons themselves don’t offer terribly many leather items.

If you’re not sure of the general look to go with, Wowhead’s outfits page might help you get some ideas. Otherwise, get creative! Roleplaying is not a strict set of rules that tell you how to (or how not to) play your character, so find something that works and rock it.


What about endgame?

Roleplaying a Monk through endgame content can mean many things. Maybe you want to PVP, maybe you want to go slay a few dragons (or Orcs, though Orcs are applicable to both). Regardless of what you want to do, you can use this aspect in some way to enhance your character’s personality as well.

Do you want to be the hero, always running into danger to protect your allies? Or perhaps you’re a bit more cowardly and unsure of yourself — preferring to stay behind the pack. Just be sure that if your RP breaks you out of the normal mold for your spec that your group knows about it ahead of time — other roleplayers will understand! While having fun is important, you still need to be respectful of other people and their own play styles. If roleplay in a raid isn’t what your group wants, finding a group that will play along is a good idea — and it will be more fun.

Crying monk. Screenshot courtesy of Caligraphy of Windrunner(US)

The rules of character development

The first rule for roleplaying is to develop your character — both with a backstory and with in-game storytelling that helps your character grow. The second and most important is to have fun (in a manner respectful to those around you, of course).

Following that, the many roleplaying communities, which may enforce their own standards for RP. If you haven’t done much roleplay before, them like guilds (and some of them will be guilds) — each has its own expectations for its members, and if you want to join the group you’ll have to meet those expectations. Choosing a server can be a part of this this because each server is its own community ecosystem in the world of roleplay.

While you probably want to have a believable character, keep in mind that sometimes concessions must be made. For example, my own brew-hating Brewmaster might at times decide to try Mistweaving instead — only to find they want to protect their allies and providing Brews has become more their specialty. It’s all about how you write the story (and thus, the character) yourself.

I look forward to reading about your own roleplay escapades in the comments!

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