23 Days of Monkey, Day 19 The Mega Monkey

The Jade Emperor, co-ruler of the Western Heaven.

Today I’m going to talk about the most ambitious game of Monkey I’ve ever written – The Mega Monkey.

I’m planning to run the whole thing at 7 Hills convention in April, after play-testing it with my home group. I’ll also run it again at UK Games Expo, but I’ve yet to organise this.

If the Kickstarter campaign is successful, The Mega Monkey will be one of the Stretch Goals available to backers. You can either run it as an event, with two to three tables, as I plan to do at 7 Hills or run it with a single group (as I plan to run it at home during my playtesting) or simply break it down into pieces and use the events and plots as Adventure seeds and expand them into full sessions of play.

The Mega Monkey in its full form is made up of three gaming tables. Each table is one of the locations from that features prominently in the Journey to the West.

First off is the Western Heaven, ruled by the Jade Emperor and the Queen Mother of the Western Heaven, who represent the forces of Yang (masculine/active) and Yin (feminine/passive) respectively. Their palaces are at the top of the Heaven, a city made of Jade and other precious gems and metals which floats on clouds above the holy mountain of Kunlun. Below them are the Ministries of Heaven that run various affairs, such as the Ministry of Thunder led by the Bat Winged Lei-Gong Lord of Thunder whose job is to bring to justice criminals that the mortal authorities cannot. The Western Heaven is also home to many deities such as Lao Tzu the Grandfather of Taoism, the Planet Venus and General Le commander of the heavenly hosts and his son the demon Hunter Prince Natha. As well as the Ministries and the palaces of the various Immortals are places like Lao Tzu’s Forge and the Peach Gardens of the Queen Mother.   The player immortals who start on this table are Mandarins, Guards and Magistrates of Celestial origin who were born to serve one of the Great Immortals directly or one of the Ministries.

The Wild Goose Pagoda from Chang’an (modern day Xi’an)

The second table linked to its heavenly counterpart is the capital city of the Tang Empire Chang’an. Here the Tang Emperor rules the teaming masses of urban Chinese. The city is made up of a grid of city streets and divided into districts, some residential, commercial (which houses the city’s great market), some dedicated to entertainment (with theaters and brothels) and of course the temple district that houses the wooden temples of Buddhism and Taoism. The Player Immortals are made up of Earthly Immortals who report to the local City God and are responsible for Earthly affairs, such as the smooth flow of the local rivers or the fertility of the local rice fields.

The finally the last table is the Ten Courts of Hell, were King Yama oversees the judgement and punishment of sinful mortals. This is a dark, dangerous place, with its own order and rules were the Player Immortals are Demon Guards and Judges responsible for keeping the sinners within its boundaries until their allotted time is up and it is time for them to drink the waters of forgetfulness and be return to earth in their next mortal incarnation.

Each table has its own collection of locations, events and characters, which are involved in various sub plots. The player immortals may start on the table of their origin, with all the responsibilities and relationships that that implies, for example all Celestial Immortals of the Western Heaven are subjects of the Jade Emperor by default, but at various locations and during certain events they can travel to the other locations, with the permission of the Narrators of the two tables involved. For example, the Palace of the Western Queen of Heaven has a magical Cosmic Pillar were not only communications between heaven and earth are possible but also transportation.

While very sandbox in nature, the wanderings of the Player Immortals and their interactions with the various plot lines, build up to a story of a demonic threat to the order of Heaven and Earth.  Of course this being Monkey this is all very light hearted with moments of high comedy and intense action.

Day 19 of 23 Days of  Monkey, Kickstarter opens on January 8th in four days time.

23 Days of Monkey, Day 9 If you see Buddha on the Road

This an introductory scenario for Monkey, that I’ll be including in the main rulebook if he Kickstarter funds as one of the Stretch Goals. The following is the pitch I gave when i ran it Furnace 2015 a UK convention in Sheffield held during October.

If you see Buddha on the Road

Five pilgrims on their way to India to pick up the lost scrolls of Buddhist cannon to bring enlightenment to a China beset by social ills, find their way blocked by a mountain range. Their only way through is a mountain pass which goes through a huge statue of Buddha himself! A winding stair leads up from a village nestled by Buddha’s feet, through temples and chambers carved out the rock in Buddha’s Lungs and heart, all the way up to the deity’s brow where the road continues onwards to India.

The pilgrims stop and gaze up at the giant statue:

  • Tripitaka, the Priest who leads the expedition wants to pay his respects at the many temples that line the winding stairs to Buddha’s brow.
  • Monkey is restless and after a long boring journey looks for opportunities for mischief.
  • Sandy is worried that all is not what it seems and despite the smiling local people and happy monks.
  • Pigsy hungry and thirsty after the trek through the desert just wants to gorge himself on food, wine and introduce himself to the pretty local women who live in the village built at Buddha’s feet.
  • Horse, being a shapeshifted Dragon Prince transformed into a stead for Tripitaka by the Goddess Kuan Yin momentarily wishes that he could transform back into a dragon and fly over the mountain, but is quietly resigned to plodding up all those stairs.

Come play a quick story inspired by the Chinese classic “Journey to the West”, using the four main characters from the book. Knowledge of the system, a straightforward fun set of rules using a deck of playing cards, or setting not required. Help celebrate 10 years of games of Monkey at Furnace, which saw the first convention game in its inaugural year!

Tags: Monkey Magic!, Comedy, Kung-Fu Action, MGF!

Sandy is right to be worried that all is not what it seems, since the village at the base of the Buddha and the three chambers within the buddha (corresponding to the three energy centers in the body or the 3 dantians) have been over run by Demons who have taken the villagers captive. Its up to the player immortals to rescue the villagers and cleanse the Buddha before continuing on to India.

The scenario can be played either as a standalone one off, using Monkey, Pigsy, Sandy and Tripitaka who all have write ups for the scenario, or as a chapter in your own home campaign. Its designed not only to be a rip roaring action scenario but also a gentle induction to some of the concepts of Chinese Religion and Philosophy.

Day 9 of 23 Days of Monkey, Monkey 2nd Incarnation Kickstarter opens 8th January 2017.

Monkey Goes to HateCon One

Daniel Barker, long time fan and convention Games Master, took the current Play Test Draft of Monkey 2nd Incarnation out for a run at London’s HateCon One on Saturday.  Sounds like he had a good time 🙂

OK, I ran it twice. Both went well. I liked the new mooks/goon mechanic. It meant players often got overwhelmed by mooks. in the first play through soldiers over ran Pigsy and tried to steal him off. In the second game Pigsy (again) got caught by bandits and was barbecued with honey but the “lovely ladies” saved him.

Play is much smoother, though people tended to stack a lot (trying to find ways to use every single ability at once). Monkey in both play throughs wanted to use his staff AND cloud all at once while using Kung Fu mischievously.[Newt: This is an area that needs tightening up in the current draft].

Some players didn’t get that being in “combat”  didn’t mean that they needed combat skills.[Newt: The final draft will give more examples of this] That said Tripitaka being 2 strikes down against a lustful demon only to deny the world of maya as she tried to strip him of his skin was pretty awesome. The second Triptaka was the epitome of party poopers, constantly giving sermons on right thought/action, and often bored parties of goons into submission
everyone seemed to enjoy, and one player, Lloyd was eager to see what the new rules were like. He liked the changes muchly, and told me tell you to pull your finger out 😉

All said and done, I’d run this version in a heart beat.

Hurrah its Monkey Monday!!

Welcome to Monkey Monday which from now on will be a fairly regular update of what is going on in the world of Monkey. Furture Monkey Mondays will feature reports from my home Sunday playtests as well as bits about the ongoing development of Monkey the 2nd Incarnation.

Art Update

This week I give the joyous news that Peter Frain has completed the first assignment of new art for the game. I asked Peter to do individual pieces of the four main characters form the Book/TV Series. This he has done to an outstanding job, surpassing even his high standards. Four black and white line pieces of each character and a group shot of Monkey, Sandy, Pigsy and Tripitaka have been complted, and out of the group shot Peter pulled this individual illustration of Monkey which I asked him to colour. Gowan click on the croutching Monkey and you’ll see him magically grow in size!

cropped-m2-sun-crouch-color-jpeg.jpg

Hello new Monkey Fans!

The  Super Asian Blast Bundle of Holding which saw Monkey featured in it has seen 650 new downloads of the pdf since it ran. Which means 650 new Monkey fans! I’ve already had eager souls who bought the game via the Bundle ask when 2nd Incarnation would be out. If you are new to the game sit tight, add the blog to your reading list ( via the Subscribe via Email box) and you’ll see how I’m growing the game to be more fun, easier to play and more colourful in its presentation 🙂

Ongoing playtests

Well I’ve started my home group on the Journey to the West using the 2nd Incarnation changes, and last session was the new playable character generation. This method sees the players actually play through character generation,  actually drawing cards to resolve Actions during key steps of their character’s back story, It was lots of fun and I’ll write it up in more detail for a future Monkey Monday 🙂

If you see Buddha on the Road

This is the convention game I ran at Furnace last month. It ran to a group of four players, playing the Pilgrims (Monkey, Sandy, Pigsy and Tripitaka) on a Saturday night, where to be honest after a day of hyperactive GMing and a social with Hobgoblin Beer on tap the night before I was a bit worse for wear. But I need not have worried. The Monkey is designed to give the players lots of freedom to play the game they want, while emulating the source material, without the GM being heavy handed, and the player’s got into the swing of things and carried the game with much gusto. I introduced the new tweaked rules for 2nd Incarnation, and a new way of dealing with large groups of opponents naturally arrose from the game. So much fun was had by all. I’ll do a more indepth write up of the game for a future Monkey Monday.

So that’s it for now.See you next Monday ! 🙂

 

If you see Buddha on the Road

Well I’ve done my duty and submitted my game descriptions for Furance games convention in October.

Amoungst them is this game for Monkey, featuring the four main characters from the book.

Slot 3 If you see Buddha on the Road
System: Monkey
Players: 4
Description:
Five pilgrims on their way to India to pick up the lost scrolls of Buddhist cannon to bring enlightenment to a China beset by social ills, find their way blocked by a mountain range. Their only way through is a mountain pass which goes through a huge statue of Buddha himself! A winding stair leads up from a village nestled by Buddha’s feet, through temples and chambers carved out the rock in Buddha’s Lungs and heart, all the way up to the deity’s brow where the road continues onwards to India.

The pilgrims stop and gaze up at the giant statue:

Tripitaka, the Priest who leads the expedition wants to pay his respects at the many temples that line the winding stairs to Buddha’s brow.

Monkey is restless and after a long boring journey looks for opportunities for mischief.

Sandy is worried that all is not what it seems and despite the smiling local people and happy monks.

Pigsy hungry and thirsty after the trek through the desert just wants to gorge himself on food, wine and introduce himself to the pretty local women who live in the village built at Buddha’s feet.

Horse, being a shapeshifted Dragon Prince transformed into a stead for Tripitaka by the Goddess Kuan Yin momentarily wishes that he could transform back into a dragon and fly over the mountain, but is quietly resigned to plodding up all those stairs.

Come play a quick story inspired by the Chinese classic “Journey to the West”, using the four main characters from the book. Knowledge of the system, a straightforward fun set of rules using a deck of playing cards, or setting not required. Help celebrate 10 years of games of Monkey at Furnace, which saw the first convention game in its inaugural year!

Tags: Monkey Magic!, Comedy, Kung-Fu Action, MGF!