Monks vs Brawlers

cyranni1sevroth1Cyranni and Sevroth, by Yama Orce

I don’t typically showcase the same artist two weekends in a row, but for a while now I’ve had this idea for discussing contrasts between monk archetypes and more in-your-face-type brawlers. I found these two charming ladies in Yama’s terrific galleries a few weeks ago, and have kind of been itching to take up the subject. I like that there’s both overlap and divergence between both styles, depending on personal character build.

‘Monk,’ at least to me, tends to suggest a more traditional, tempered martial artist. There’s a great deal of discipline and meditation that goes into their training. As well as being unarmed specialists, monks tend to learn quarterstaff, kama, nunchaku, fist-dagger, and similar… non-soldierly weapon proficiencies. Rather than focusing on brute-force or high-dexterity fighting, monks’ deadliness comes more from their overall awareness of their surroundings. This doesn’t mean that awareness and discipline can’t be part of a brawlers’ repertoire, these are simply traits that define the monk archetype.

The term ‘brawler’ I feel refers to more aggressive unarmed combatants. This isn’t to say that monks can’t be brawlers, but I tend to feel like the term could also include fighters, barbarians, rangers, rogues, or even paladins who’ve learned to fight barehanded. Brawl-style combatants may be self-taught or well-trained. They might be bare-knuckle fighters, Greco/Roman wrestlers, kick-boxers, or even competitive MMA fighters. A brawler’s style might be high-endurance or high-dexterity. Brawler weapons, if any, are more likely to be improvised, stuff picked up during a rumble: boards, chairs, bottles, steins, table legs, tables, small treants, or whatever else they can get their hands on.

cyranni1The lovely Cyranni is a monk character commission from Yama’s galleries. I like that her orange tunic is light and loose for flexibility during combat. The asymmetric sleeve is a little odd to me, but it could just be an indication that her left side is most commonly facing her opponent and thus requires that much more flexibility. Cyra’s padded girdle should offer decent protection to her abdomen against goblin darts and Drow knives. Her leggings are loose for unhindered dexterity and combat movement. Our heroine’s feet are wrapped, rather than shod, sacrificing durability for the ability to quickly kick some rogue’s teeth in. Lastly, Cyra wears padded bracers and greaves for protection when deflecting or delivering blows with her forearms or shins.

Cyra’s primary weapon is her quarterstaff, capped with iron tips for bone-shattering hits or even damaging heavy armor. Meanwhile, our charming elf has pulled her hair back into a whip-like ponytail, capped with a bladed iron head for use as an improvised weapon as well (could that even count as an extra attack on combat rolls? I mean, enemies with tails can make an attack roll for them, so why couldn’t Cyra’s ponytail work for that?). All in all, I feel like our elf monk makes for an excellent melee combatant in any kind of a scrum.

sevroth2A character from Pathfinder lore, Sevroth strikes me more as a high-endurance, melee powerhouse than a meditative warrior. The outfit suggests to me that her class might even be barbarian (I kind of like the idea of a bare-knuckle barbarian, actually… *prints out character sheet*). Oddly, or perhaps deliberately, the outfit’s coloration and fur mantle made me initially think of Sabertooth’s outfit from the 90s.

Unlike a monk, our brawler is free to wear armor without hindering her class abilities. It’s a masterwork studded-leather armor, made up of multiple leather layers and designed for unarmed combat. The inner layer is a light, flexible leather for effective movement in combat, protecting her legs and torso while allowing plenty of dexterity for kicking a half-orc in the head. Meanwhile, the outer layer is made up of flexible plates of leather and studded leather for effective absorption against kobold clubs. Her asymmetric spaulder is on her left shoulder, since that’s the side she keeps toward her foes at all times. Knee pads protect her joints from disabling blows and stay flexible enough for knee-shots to the crotch and torso. Her footwear is a pair of light boots for effective combat footing in a dense forest or on a blood-stained barroom floor.

While it would be interesting to watch these two ladies scrap, the question of “who would win?” doesn’t really interest me. I feel like they’re both skilled and competent in their particular styles and should be formidable against whatever foes they face. Excellent outfit and character designs on Yama’s part, all around.

It occurred to me partway through writing this that I could have had a similar discussion contrasting Avatars Aang and Korra. Anyway, another huge thanks to Yama for letting me borrow his heroines. The character Sevroth is property of Paizo Publishing. Thanks so much, as always, for reading, folks! Take care and stay awesome!

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2 Responses to Monks vs Brawlers

  1. seraph4377 says:

    (could that even count as an extra attack on combat rolls? I mean, enemies with tails can make an attack roll for them, so why couldn’t Cyra’s ponytail work for that?).

    Hmm. As a DM, I might allow it, but there would be hefty penalties. After all, creatures’ tails have muscles in them, while using a ponytail as a weapon would require a lot of uncomfortable contortions of the neck and body.

    • Hah! So we’re talking more than the regular ‘improvised weapon’ penalties?

      What gave me the idea was some slice-of-life webcomic where the protagonist gal’s badass older sister kills a bank robber with her ponytail. I don’t even remember the name of the comic, but in it, the robber grabs the sister to take her hostage. So she whips her braid back so it wraps around his head, then she whips her head forward so that her hair twists his head sideways and snaps his neck. All the while she’s talking to the protagonist on her cellphone like there’s nothing out of the ordinary going on. That could totally work, right?

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