Monks practice martial arts and physical magics. The martial skills they hone focus on either unarmed combat or combat with specific sacred weapons. They generally wear no armor, instead using magic concentrated inside their bodies to boost their defensive capacity and mobility. Their magic can also be used for offense.
There are three distinct monastic traditions
The Way of the Open Hand
Monks of this tradition channel all their focus into combat mastery. They are adaptable, resourceful, and skillful at using their magic to heal their bodies in the event of damage.
Monks of the Open Hand live in large, open monasteries. Although the monasteries are usually in rural locations, they are still always as connected to nearby communities as possible. Often the monks of a given monastery will make some sort of craft or offer a resource that they can exchange with locals. They always keep rooms available for travelers, their healers are always available for the sick, and it’s not unusual for for monks to act as mercenary troops for the protection of their regional neighbors.
The Way of Shadow
Shadow monks spend all their time working on stealth, speed, grace, subterfuge, and operating in the darkness. These monks typically live in very secluded hermitages or anchorholds, with very austere rules of discipline. Once their skills are fostered to a satisfactory level, they’re hired out to those who can afford their skills.
The Way of the Four Elements
These monks focus their training almost entirely on their physical magic, especially so far as it allows them to interact with the natural world. Monks of the four elements are easy to identify because they’re covered in stick-n-poke style tattoos. They look like Russian ex-cons.
Four-elements monks also live in open, cenobitic monasteries, but theirs are situated in more isolated locations than those of the open-hand monks. They also build into natural features when possible. For example, several of their monasteries are cave-monasteries.
While they still depend on trade with communities in the region, traffic to and from their cloisters is more difficult. However, they do still take in any weary travelers who may come their way and help out their neighbors, though distant, if they are in crisis.