Dragonsfoot has been having a series of monthly contests on the forums for the past year or so... whoever won the last month's challenge gets the prize of creating the next month's challenge. I won the contest in January, and decided that this month would be "Monastic Orders" to use in your game.
This is my entry, for the topic that closes on Wednesday.
The Brotherhood of the Bond is an order of spies in service to an island nation. Unlike many monastic orders, most are not trained from their youth to service, instead entering after a time in the military (or prison), and demonstrating exceptional talent, loyalty, and drive... maladjusted young men and women who give little thought to sacrificing others to protect Queen and Country. Building on their basic military or criminal backgrounds, the Brotherhood of the Bond introduces them to the arts of covertcy, as well as extensive training in unarmed and improvisational combat. Most members of the Brotherhood are LN, but LE and LG are not uncommon; those who are LE are prized for certain assignments due to their practicality, while the LG members frequently serve on security details for their aged queen and her family. While not a truly mystical order, the Brotherhood of the Bond holds that immortality comes through service to something beyond oneself; in their case, their nation. Many monks believe that exceptional agents will be reborn, again and again, always to rejoin the Bond and serve in Her Majesty's secret service.
The Brotherhood of the Bond does not have many of the traditional strictures placed upon monks, save discipline. As part of their work, they are frequently expected to drink, eat, and consort with all sorts of persons, in all sorts of situations. What must not waver, however, is discipline. They drink, but they avoid drunkeness. They eat such foods as are presented, but they avoid gorging themselves. They may gamble, take lovers, lie, cheat, and steal... but never from or to Her Majesty, her government, or their superiors. They may deal with money, but keep little for themselves, returning or gifting most to the treasury as soon as they are able. Like standard monks, they may keep no more than two magic weapons, and three other magic items, and enough personal wealth to maintain their limited henchmen and household.
Brothers and Sisters of the Bond may take proficiency in any weapon, but the first must be a knife, dagger, or club; weapons that are frequently at hand and available. Unlike normal monks, they do not receive the ability to speak with animals or with plants; instead, at 3rd level, and every level thereafter, they gain the use of one bonus language spoken by intelligent creatures. At 8th level and beyond, that selection can include alignment languages and secret languages, such as druidic or thieves' cant.
The Brotherhood of the Bond does not use the traditional level titles. Instead, one's mastery is simply noted by one's level of experience, while one's assignment within the Brotherhood is noted by a complex code of one or two letters. This code is understood by all of the Bond, and so a simple three-character designation can tell a Brother or Sister much of what they need to know of another member. The Brotherhood, likewise, does not fight to gain levels at any point. Instead, those who seek to advance beyond 7th level must pass an onerous battery of tests designed to evaluate their potential. Each test requires rolling 1d12+the level desired under each attribute; fail more than two tests, and the applicant is returned to 0 XP, though they retain their current level. They may try again when they have enough XP to advance again.
The current head of the Brotherhood of the Bond is known to her underlings as M16, with M indicating one whose assignment is "Mastery", or leadership of other Brothers and Sisters. She is a formidable woman, even in her later years, and a frequent confidant of the Queen. Rumors within the Bond state that she has never failed a test of advancement, but that she has forsworn taking the final tests.