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Version 0.19: This article may not be up to date for the latest stable release of Crawl.
The Monk is a member of an ascetic order dedicated to the perfection of one's body and soul through the discipline of the martial arts. Monks start with very little equipment, but can survive without the weighty weapons and spellbooks needed by characters of other backgrounds. When they choose a god for the first time, their spiritual training gives them a piety boost.


Preferred Races

Hill Orc, Troll, Merfolk, Minotaur, Gargoyle, Ghoul, Deep Dwarf, Centaur and Vampire are the recommended races if you pick a Monk Background.

Starting Equipment

Some species may receive different items based on their unique restrictions.

Starting Skills and Stats

These are adjusted by your species' aptitudes.

Choosing Monk adds 3 to your starting Strength, 2 to your starting Intelligence and 7 to your starting Dexterity.


  • Monks do not start with a god, but automatically gain ** piety when they first convert to a god. This does not apply to Ru, however; instead, they are immediately given a set of sacrifice options to make upon conversion. Since Gozag doesn't use piety, they skip the entry fee instead.


This is a good background for strong monstrous species, especially those with claws (Trolls, Ghouls, and sometimes Demonspawn), as those claws increase your Unarmed Combat base damage.

Unarmed Combat can hold its own damage-wise once the skill is at extremely high levels, especially if you have the aforementioned natural weapons to increase damage output. That it needs to be at high levels is the downside - at lower skill levels, weapons (especially branded ones) can outperform Unarmed Combat.

Note that heavy armor penalizes Unarmed Combat speed, so unless you develop other weapon skills, keep it light. If you want a heavily armored melee character, you're better off with a Fighter or one of the religious backgrounds, though massively strong Troll Monks can often manage quite fine in even the heaviest dragon armours.

If your species is not horrible with magic, consider branching into Transmutations, as that school contains several spells useful to unarmed combatants, including Beastly Appendage, Blade Hands, and the various "form" spells.

The piety boost you gain upon choosing a god is very handy if you want a god that lacks a starter background, especially Okawaru, Makhleb, and other gods who offer bonuses right at * piety.


Prior to 0.19, monks could not choose a starting weapon.

Prior to 0.10, there was no piety bonus gained upon choosing a god.

Warriors FighterGladiatorMonkHunterAssassin
Zealots BerserkerAbyssal KnightChaos Knight
Warrior-mages SkaldEnchanterTransmuterArcane MarksmanWarper
Mages WizardConjurerSummonerNecromancerFire ElementalistIce ElementalistAir ElementalistEarth ElementalistVenom Mage
Adventurers ArtificerWanderer