Welcome to Hell!


The Mandate of Heaven is coming together nicely in anticipation of its first playtest this weekend. I’ve already got the Western Heaven in draft and Chang’an the capital of Tang Dynasty China in draft. Today I focus on the Chinese Hell.

One of the nice things about doing the Mandate of Heaven is that I’ve been researching the wider world of Chinese Folk Religon out side of the Journey to the West and learning lots of interesting fun stuff. For Hell I already knew about the Ten Courts, King Yama and his fellow Judges, and the specific ordered system of hells that wrong doers are assigned to before drinking the draught of forgetfullness and being reincarnated on Earth. But what I didn’t know was the ten courts of Hell exist in a city called You Du (or “Dark City”) which is an analog of Chang’an surrounded by darkness. Also beyond that is Avinci – described as “a cube buried deep in the divine earth” were those who are damned for eternity are held.

Today I work out who (or What) is being held in this maximum security Hell, and what plots exist to get them out 🙂

Monkey Monday: Mandate of Heaven Funded

Well the good news is that The Mandate of Heaven successfully funded. Big thanks to those of you who backed it. It went all the way not only funding the main book but the the pdf play aid pack. This means that there will be A3 location maps, player counters, a quick Whos Who of Immortals and printable Hell Money, to buy you or another character out of the Ten Courts of Hell if you get imprisoned there.

It was a bit intense cramming the campaign into a week, as per Kickstarter’s All in One promotion which they invited me to take part in after the success of  the Monkey campaign. It was a bit of a risk for me. Would it detract from getting Monkey out the door (answer no, I was working on Monkey as I was promoting Mandate)? If it failed to fund would it mean that the Mandate and any other planed supplements I have for Monkey, beyond the ones funded by the Monkey KS, fall flat on their face? Well I need not have worried since it steadily funded as the week went on 🙂  This means that Monkey has a future outside of the main rulebook. The audience was predominately returning backers from the Monkey Kickstarter, but although they only made up 10% of the numbers new backers made up 50% of the funding.

If you are worried that The Mandate Of Heaven/Dragons Ascending to Heaven will detract from me delivering Monkey, don’t I’ve firmly set the deadline for Mandate to be December this year. If anything Monkey will be benefit from me having to work on the full write up of the Mandate because the extra depth of research I’ve gone into. The Queen Mother of the West certainly has a much more interesting background than I was previously aware of, which Dan Barker’s illustration/cover incorporates symbolically (this is worth a post on its own in the future).

The campaign also brought up the self-contained adventure/game Dragons Ascending to Heaven, a Wuxia Tale of revenge and redemption:

A complete mini-game of revenge and redemption using a modified version Monkey RPG rules. Set the Tang capital of Chang ‘an during the reign of Emperor Wu, a group of Wuxia Heroes attempt seek revenge for the massacre of their clan. A standalone book complete with rules and adventure. The adventure can be set up to be different every time and the rules can be used as a basis for similar Wuxia tales.

During the campaign, both artists Dan Barker and Peter Frain submitted pieces that I shared as part of the campaign, which you may not have seen.

Dan Barker’s Queen Mother of the West, wip cover for the Mandate of Heaven

The Birth of Monkey by Peter Frain

Monkey Victorious by Peter Frain

Now back that all that excitement back onto finishing Monkey and specifically the Quickstart rules 🙂

White Dragon Horse

Tripitaka contempatles the illusionary nature of reality by Dan Barker.

Tripitaka riding on the White Dragon Horse by Dan Barker.

In the novel Tripitaka’s white horse is the son of one of the Dragon Kings of the Four Oceans, who gets into trouble for burning down a castle. Guan Yin saves him from execution on the promise that he will provide a service later on. He goes to live by a river and he encounters the pilgrims as they try to cross it. Giving into his fierce Dragon nature he eats Tripitaka’s horse, and a ferocious fight erupts between him and Monkey, Pigsy and Sandy. Eventually he realises that they are disciples of Guan Yin and manages to get this across to the Pilgrims. The fight stops and the Dragon pledges to carry Tripitaka to India without complaint and turns into a white horse.

During the course of the novel the horse only turns back into its Dragon form once to save Tripitaka when Monkey abandons them.  This write up assumes that the Horse takes a more active role in the adventure, and is in effect for the purpose of the game a fifth Pilgrim. The 1970s/80s Japanese TV series (known as Monkey Magic! In the UK) has the Horse take human form in just this way. This write up also assumes that the Horse uses the Horse Whip, part of a magical set of horse tack along with a saddle, stirrups etc. given to Tripitaka by Guan Yin, as a magical weapon.

Horse (aka White Dragon Horse, Yu Lung)

Origin: Dragon

Attitudes: Yang: Sturdy, Yin Perseverance

Weakness: Given to expressing his Savage Dragon Nature.

Skills:

  • Dragon Kung Fu 3
  • Courtier 2
  • Taoist 1

Magic

  • Flight
  • Shape change
  • Dragon Breath

Magic Weapon

  • Horse Whip

Monkey Monday: The Mandate of Heaven Kickstarter!

The Queen of the West by Dan Barker

The Queen of the West by Dan Barker

Yes I’m taking Monkey back to Kickstarter next week with the Mandate of Heaven Kickstarter, which opens on Monday 13th March and closes on Sunday 19th of March.

After the sucess of the Monkey Kickstarter, Kickstarter contacted me about running a one week kickstarter as part of thier All in One promotion. So under the rules of this promotion my kickstarter has to run for one week and have one stretch goal. So on a roll from the Monkey Kickstarter and busy writting up the Mandate of Heaven adventure to run at 7 Hills gaming convention (which would have been the next stretch goal to fund), I thought hey lets give it a go.

So the main goal will be  the Mandate of Heaven this large adventure details three mythic locations within the Monkey Universe. The Western Heaven, Chang‘an the capital of the Tang Empire and the Ten Courts of Hell. There numerous plots play out and evil demons try usurp the harmony between Heaven and Earth.

It’s the most epic Monkey experience I’ve ever written for the game, and it’s ideal for if you just want to run a memorable one shot or start your Journey to the West with a bang.  At 7 Hills I’ll be running it with two tables of four players and a co-Narrator who will run one of the tables while I run the other. Each table represents either the Earthly captial of the Chinese Empire or the Western Heaven, with a third table being used when the immortals visit the Ten courts of Hell.

I’ve written in more detail about the adventure during the 23 Days of Monkey….Day 19 The Mega Monkey.

Of course if you are running it at home you can run it with just your home group round your gaming table, taking your own time to run it as a multi-session experience. A drawn out TV serries rather than a Cinematic Film like the convention game is.

Physcially It’s going to be a standalone A5 or 6″ by 9″ book, that will detail dozens of locations. characters and events, as well as explaining how to run this ‘wandering toybox’ adventure within a framework that gives the players and entertaining and satisfying experience. Art will be by Peter Frain and Dan Barker who will be already running hot from illustrating Monkey. To the right is Dan’s take on the Queen of the West, the co-ruler of the Western Heaven.

I’ve currently firming up what the single Stretch Goal will be. At the moment  a collection of specially designed play-aids – like A3 location maps, player markers and player handouts – comes to immeadiatly to mind.

If you missed out on the Monkey Kickstarter earlier this year there will be a backer levels for you to get the main rule book and stretch goals as if you had backed the orginal.