- Hostile or forceful action, fighting, combativeness or aggression: those abilities that apply directly to attack and damage, either in terms of how the fighting is done or how effective it is at reducing an enemy.
- Resistance to the above, defensiveness, resiliance: those abilities that sustain the monk against the enemy, from hit points to saving throws, avoiding attacks or the reduction of the damage taken.
- Consciousness of the self, things that apply to the body and mind of the monk: healing, meditation, inducing catalepsy, limitations, patience, equilibrium, fearlessness and fortitude - it is what causes monks to be deliberate enough to take careful actions, such as moving stealthily, that others cannot.
- Awareness of the universe, that which applies to everything else, consciousness of all that is happening: that which keeps the monk from being surprise, that which makes the monk able to see the world as a construct rather than a sense of physical laws, as these laws can be broken (completely stolen by many films, not just the first one that the reader thought of just now).
I've been dissatisfied with the above, however, because they seem so murky ~ but also because they lack sub-categories, which I need to make the sage system work. Every field has a group of studies, and every study has a group of abilities. It's all well and good to say that a monk can scale the corner of a wall in three jumps like Jackie Chan, but what study does it fit in? What other abilities does that study include? What makes it distinct from other studies? And does it belong in Consciousness, which enables the power to come from within, or does it come from Awareness, knowledge the world's laws can be overcome with training? Perhaps it is resistance, as it is certainly a defensive movement in a crisis. How do we know?
It is the categorization here that is the struggle. Not what abilities does a monk have, but how do we separate them out so that we limit the players at low levels to just these abilities and not those. We're not going to give the player everything. Especially since "everything" will include a lot more than was conceived of in the original book, just as I have done for the other classes.
The Wuxia page from wikipedia has a useful list, which I will reorganize without the least respect to the original page (so the reader better follow the link if a legitimate list is wanted). I am thinking only of my game, not a faithful representation of actual Wuxia. Using the Chinese names:
- Zhaoshi: real life Chinese martial arts, using a variety of weapons, intending for attacking the enemy and causing damage, but obviously also for defense and resistance against attack.
- Qingdong: the physical capacity to exaggerate ordinary human limitations, enabling monks to circumvent gravity, fly, possess impossible balance and bring force to bear without the need of a solid platform from which to strike.
- Neigong: internal skill and function, to possess superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability, healing, control elemental forces, dodge or catch arrows and thrown weapons, break stones and bricks, shadow-blending, chasing down a horse, this sort of thing.
- Dianxue: the use of super-precise attacks to kill, paralyze, stun or even manipulate characters by targeting their acupressure points with bare hands or weapons. These techniques can be used to halt wounds, relieve pain, remove fear or restore consciousness.
This is a more precise list, but it is heavily weighted towards Neigong, whereas it would be better if the four fields had more balance (that is, the "power" field wasn't immediately obvious). The second proposed list gives a better idea of what the studies might be, however ~ so if it were possible to somehow mix the first list of four fields with the second list, then come up with meaningful, somewhat game cool-sounding field names, I think I could start working on a list of studies and thereafter abilities to fit under those studies.
This is as far as I've gotten in my thoughts so far.