Today we look at how adventures work in Monkey. How Monkey supports the narrator creating them, and how the Players can drive and take control of the structure in play.
Adventures in monkey come in two different forms: Scripted Adventures and Adventure Seeds.
Scripted Adventures fall somewhere between traditional roleplaying game write ups, were every last detail and possible action is written down, and more modern approaches that rely heavily on improvisational techniques. The reason for this is because the Players are firmly the stars of the show and are playing lesser gods, whose only weaknesses are their own failings. So even the most cleaver plot or tough monster can quickly be overcome or even circumnavigated by the players. That’s where the fun lies for them and the Narrator’s job is to provide a ‘toybox’ environment full of thrilling locations, exciting potential Actions and a cast of engaging Major Story Immortals, their Supporting Characters and the mass of unnamed Extras for the Player Immortal to play with. Not only will the 2nd Incarnation have at least one example scripted adventure (the ever reliable “Bag of Wind” which featured in the first edition) with a second being added if the stretch goal is reached (see Day 9 “If you see Buddha on the Road”), but it will also provide a clear template for narrators to use to quickly generate their own Scripted Adventures.
Adventure Seeds have long been a part of most roleplaying supplements were an idea is worth expanding into an outline for an adventure, but page count is limited to prohibit a fuller write up. In Monkey the 2nd Incarnation it’s my intention to have a section of Adventure Seeds that can explosively act as the starting point for a full sessions play in a format that gives enough inspiration to Narrators and players.
While Monkey is very much like a traditional roleplaying game, in that it has a referee called a Narrator who is the adjudicates rules disputes, vetoes implausible player actions and reacts to player actions by describing how the environment and non-player characters change as a result, it is also does this in full cooperation with the players whose characters are firmly the centre of the story that emerges through play. Part of this ‘player-centric’ approach is that players can directly influence the structure of a scenario in three ways.
Stealing the Scene: Scenes are the building blocks of an adventure in the same way as in a film or play. Normally the Narrator gets to describe the location and circumstances that the players find themselves in. Under special circumstances the Players can ‘Steal the Scene’ from the Narrator. For example the Narrator is getting ready to describe the Palace of the Many Plumed Tyrant Demon, but the players collectively and unanimously decide that it would be better for them to have the next scene in the Western Heaven asking their Patron Deity, the Wise Planet Venus advisor to the Jade Emperor himself, how to defeat the Many Plumed Tyrant Demon, since they have no idea and have been defeated by it in previous scenes. Hence the scene shifts temporarily to the Western Heaven.
Being under the Spotlight: At the beginning of the scene one of the Player Immortals has the ‘spotlight’ and are able to put their character first in describing what they are doing. This happens naturally in the book, where some scenes focus on Monkey but others start out with what Pigsy, Tripitaka or Sandy are up to. It’s something I wanted in the new version of the game because it helps quieter players, who are perhaps swamped in all the banter produced as more outwardly players get excited.
Playing the Immortals Weakness: The player can gain an extra card to put to one side to play in a later action by briefly describing how their Immortal’s weakness gets them and the rest of the group into trouble. For example the light-fingered Fox Spirit Red Fur, whose weakness is Theft, and companions are trying to sneak through a large crowd of people avoiding the attentions of the local City Guards. Red Fur’s player mischievously reckons its worth playing Red Furs Weakness , and alerting the City Guards to the group’s presence in the crowd, to get an extra card for later on. So Red Fur cannot help herself and tries to unsuccessfully to pick the purse of a very fat and very loud passing merchant. Such extra cards, which the player may have no limit of, must be drawn without looking at and stored face down until played in an Action.
A player who has the Spotlight may also Steal the Scene and Play a Weakness. For example Pigsy’s player, who has the spotlight Steals the Scene by deciding the Pilgrims should abandon the dusty road to India and the Demons that await them, and take shelter in an Inn and partake of its food and wine to excess instead (playing Pigsy’s Weakness). Instead of encountering the Demons on the road, the pilgrims encounter them as they are hung over and debauched as they burst weapons drawn through the Inn’s main door. Pigsy’s player smiles slyly to himself and draws an extra card face down.
Day 20 of 23 Days of Monkey, 3 days until the Kickstarter opens on Sunday 8th January.