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Punching dragons in the schnozz since 1999.
Monks are a class essentially modeled after the heroes of kung-fu movies. They use either simple weapons or their fists and feet, and only wear leather armor. Some monks also use one handed bashing weapons, and in many cases it's the best way to go for the amount of damage that they do.
Although monks have low health and armor, their high avoidance makes them able to survive for a fair amount of time. They're particularly vulnerable to spell damage. Their feign death ability makes them highly useful for pulling, and it also helps them drop threat if they catch a monster's attention. They lack burst damage, but their ability to continually put out high amounts of death over a long period of time makes them highly desirable.
The monk class has been considerably changed since its original incarnation, with many of the abilities having more complex effects including damage-over-time bleeds, stuns and area of effect abilities. A skilled monk will weave together their abilities to be most effective while minimizing the amount of threat that they cause and feigning death when they gain too much aggro.
They make for a poor solo class, as they can't survive for very long when they are toe-to-toe with an opponent. However, at high levels with a lot of alternative advancement points, they can be quite effective solo or even in a tanking role if they wish. Their ability to mend, or self-heal for 25%, is particularly useful when they are fighting alone or in an incomplete group. They also now have access to a variety of disciplines, which they can switch out to give various effects such as increased defense, attack or enhancing the ability of a particular skill such as the dragon punch.
Abilities like Fists of Wu make it so that an ally will be more likely to execute a double attack, making monks a valuable addition to a melee raid damage group. Monks are strongly affected by the amount of weight that they carry, a unique mechanic for a class. This makes it so that monk equipment must be unusually light for them to use it well. In terms of equipment, monks should focus on agility, strength and stamina.
Statistically speaking, the Iksar is the best choice for a monk, but any race will do just fine so long as you cap out your important statistics relatively quickly.
A overview of the various races of the original classic Everquest MMORPG.