Not one but two Monkey inspired films!

A big part of my ‘research’ for Monkey the 2nd Incarnation is catching up on all the TV and Film versions directly inspired by the book. In many ways they are useful for finding ideas, especially from a visual context,  on how to bring Monkey to the gaming table.

First of Stephen Chow’s Journey to the West Conquering Demons. Chow is firmly in directing chair, unlike Kung Fu Hustle/Shaolin Soccer which was also the lead actor, but it has the same brightly coloured Road Runner style of his other films. It’s comedic all the way, with occasional glimpses into a more profound themes that he is playing on. This is Chow’s take on the ‘origin’ story of Monkey and Co and the beginning of the Journey to the West. Instead of focusing on Monkey, the star of the show is Tripitaka the Hairy Monk who sports a large Robert Smith/Side Show Bob hair do and is the demon hunting disciple of a fat buddhist priest (who suspiciously looks like Bodai, the familiar fat or Laughing Buddha ). This is a major change from the canonical version of the Priest, who in the book is a middle-aged High Priest of the Tang Empire, and one that in context of the film works very well. Without giving too much away Monkey, Sandy and Pigsy are in their Demon forms, and Tripitaka must overcome them. Problem is he’s a young , soft and gentle but with an arrogant streak – obsessed with chasing the Demons as an expression of “Higher Love” and quite frankly incompetent at his job. He’s the comic fool/hero a reversal of his normal role as Straight man to Monkey’s shenanigans. It’s a great retelling of the origin tale, and makes it more dynamic as befits a kung-fu action film, without losing the essence of the reason why Monkey and Co are on their epic quest.  It all falls into place by the end of the movie and you are ready to embark on the Journey to the West proper. The sequel is apparently coming in 2017.

Surprise! On first glance seems to be cut from the same cloth, a brightly coloured comedic alternative take on the Monkey story. But where Conquering Demons rewrites the Monkey story, while staying true to its spirit, Surprise! writes a new chapter of the story starting with the familiar characters and then adds twists and turns all over. While not up to the sheer cinematic genius of Conquering Demons, it’s an engaging joyous film and worth watching for any Monkey fan.

Join the Monkey Army!

OK.

So UK Games Expo has been and gone, summer is here and no sign of the Kickstarter or even a low-key release of the Monkey 2nd Incarnation.  Mainly to be fair because I’m still finishing of the behemoth of Old School Gaming that is Crypts and Things Remastered (which should see the pdf in backers hands in July).

Progress has been made. After two or so years of playtesting at cons the central conflict resolution mechanic has been polished and streamlined, character generation as first session of play has been playtested at my home game and many other bits and bobs have been done. It all just needs that chunk of time for me to write it up and ease it into the existing text.

My home game is on hiatus, because two members are actually in China at the moment, one of whom, the indomitable Lynn, not returning until September.

I’m keen not to loose momentum despite this. I’m also conscious that there’s a small core of Monkey fans who are impatient for me to release the game. So help me help you by joining the “Monkey Army”. This will give you access to the playtest rules , pre-generated characters of the Four Pilgrims (Monkey, Sandy, Pigsy, Tripitaka) as well as a chance to feedback what you think of the new rules and results of your own playtesting. As the text develops I will send updates out to Monkey Army members and if you actively help me you’ll get a free complementary copy of the game in print and pdf.   The only thing I ask is that you have your own copy of the current rules (available in print/pdf via DriveThruRpg.com or directly in print/pdf from me £10 free postage in the UK) that you keep what I send you to yourself (you can blog about it, but no posting the text on the internet). No time wasters or jokers need apply 😉

Drop me a line at newt@d101games.com with the subject line “Join me up to the Monkey Army”

One man who was hammering down the door to join up and contribute was Dan Barker ,who long time Glorantha fans will remember for his covers and internal art for Tales of the Reaching Moon. Well I’m pleased that Dan will be joining Peter Frain in the Art Department for Monkey the 2nd Incarnation.

Here’s the piece that he did to secure the gig

Monkey riding his cloud by Dan Barker

Monkey riding his cloud by Dan Barker