Monk Level Advancement Combat Competitive Advantage


Is there a fair way to give a character monk an advantage in the monk’s combat to advance a level in AD&D 1st edition? What has worked for you?


A Fair Competitive Advantage would be some inherently, built-in advantage like more hit points than the opponent. Or it could be an unarmed combat choice of skills per attack. But it does not allow a magic item which would violate the Lawful code of the Monk’s combat.


  • Unearthed Arcana (UA) describes Vanquishing as non-lethal combat on p109.
  • Dungeon Master’s Guide (DMG) describes Pummeling Grappling Overbearing on p72-73. It states,

"Monks: Even if grappled, pummeled, or overborne, monks are able to conduct open hand combat normally until stunned or unconscious."

  • The Player’s Handbook (PB) pages 30 to 32 PHB says
    • strictures 6)

    "The monk must find and defeat in single combat, hand-to-hand, without weapons or magic items…" "The loser of these combats loses enough experience points to place him or her at the lowest number possible to attain the level just below the new level."

    • stunning

    "the monk has a chance to stun, or even kill, an opponent. An opponent is stunned by a monk for 1-6 (d6) melee rounds if the score of the monk’s ‘to hit’ die score exceeds the minimum number required by 5 or more."

Combat table

The combat tables show a 15% to 25% chance of stunning from levels 8 through 17. By level 9, a monk attacks twice per round or more. A monk could stun and then attack the stunned opponent up to 12 times at level 9 . This means the winner is effectively decided by the first one to stun.


Things I thought of as a Fair Competitive Advantage so far are:

  1. The character has a 16 CON, but the NPC has <= 14 CON. The character would get 2 extra HP per level. But any NPC that made it through 2 or more combats would likely have a 16 CON anyway.
  2. Module X2 Castle Amber has encounters that reward a chance for permanent +d4 hit points or a permanent bless ( +1 hit +1 damage +1 save ). This is not enough to overcome an unlucky stun or 2 stuns.
  3. Some combination of pummel, grapple, overbear and monk hand to hand. Does a monk get multiple pummel, grapple, overbear attacks per round as the monk advances levels? For example, do you overbear once and then attack hand-to-hand the rest of the combat?
  4. Oriental Adventures (OA) The book contains differentiated martial arts styles, damage and AC. This question is about advantages or style differences not in the OA. It’s fine if that is the best solution, just wanted to know about other alternatives too.
  5. Is there some ability, module, monster, or encounter that provides a permanent Save vs Paralyzation when stunned instead of automatic stun?
  6. Can a monk self-heal (Special Ability E) while stunned?
  7. Something else you have used.


Without an advantage, the monks have the same probability of hit points, same AC, same to-hit, and same damage. The winner is a coin toss, effectively doubling the experience needed for a monk to advance beyond level 8. What have you tried that allowed you to advance a monk through the higher levels?