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.
So today’s update is Monday Monkey instead of a Monkey Morning, because hey I was busy this morning 🙂
Nearly half-way point, and let me remind you we’re we are up to.
The Main Rule Book has funded – and will include art like this:
Tripitaka contemplates the illusionary nature of reality by Dan Barker.
Stretch Goal 1: If you See Buddha on the Road , has funded. So we’ll have an extra introductory adventure in the rulebook + a Quick start rule book with that as the basis of the booklet.
Here’s the very rough sketch of the illustration Dan Barker is currently working on:
Stretch goal 3 Defenders of the Dragon Empire has been funded, which sees a chapter dealing with mortal wuxia inspired characters added to the main rule book.
Taoist Priest by Peter Frain
We’re nearly at Stretch Goal 3 The Ministry of Thunder, about 23 average backers away in fact. this is where all backers get a copy of a book of five adventures based around the Celestial Burocracy of the title.
Oh and if you are looking for a good overview of the game, I did an interview with Dan Davenport of RPG.net Chat last week that summed it up nicely:
So if you are sitting on the fence about funding Monkey, please get off it because the quicker we fund Stretch goals the more content and fun stuff we can provide.
If you’ve already funded us, please please tell your friends. Share the campaign on social media because this does get new backers in! We had some shares over the weeeknd and this kept things going.
OK this is the post-Dragonmeet shoot out about all that is happening in the world of Monkey.
Big one…is….I finally can announce a Kickstarter date for Monkey 2nd Incarnation
Sunday 8th January
Write it down in your diary or save the date to your calendar app of your choice.
Me kicking it at Dragonmeet
23 Days of Monkey!
Starting 17th December will be 23 daily post about the new game and stuff associated with it, in a run up to the Kickstarter. So expect previews and fun insights about the to get you all over excited about it!
Dragonmeet was a good con for Monkey. Lots of folk picked up a copy of Monkey (and you can too at the crazy cheap price of £5 (free postage in the UK) and expressed their appreciation
And look courtesy of Lloyd Gran, who was a living ambassador for the game, Monkey got a big shout out on the What’s Hot In Story Games Panel 2016.
(Lloyd kicks in at 1140 if you can’t contain your excitement and want to jump right in and hear what he has to say about the game)
Monkey #1 Fan Lloyd
New name for the system: The Balance System
I currently refer to the card based system that Monkey uses for action resolution as the Yin/Yang system, but thinking about the gentle interaction of Yin & Yang energies especially in light of a very Yang (active/in your face) Dragonmeet followed by Yin week after (passive to the point of almost succumbing to illness) its more about Balancing those two forces with your choices of card plays. So the Balance system is the new name for it. Not only does this play forward into the other Chinese Epics I want to use the system for but also makes it suitable for other action-thriller type games I have in mind.
Post-Dragonmeet meal I discovered what I’m now dubbing the Official Beer of Monkey – Laughing Buddha Beer.
Laughing Buddha Beer the official Beer of Monkey
I’ll be getting a case of this light refreshing tipple in for the Midwinter Festivities, and I’ll even be drinking it out of a glass made out of a recycled bottle, which you can get from the appropriately named Totally Funky online shop.
Made from a Laughing Buddha beer bottle
That’s it until Saturday.
Until then stay Irrepressible!
Update on the progress of the game and an upcoming event in 2017. All exciting stuff involving an imminent 1st Draft, Kickstarter date, and a Mega Monkey event at the 7 Hills Gaming Convention!
Now Crypts and Things Remastered has been released, and its add on adventures which are well on the way in the production process, my thoughts turn to Monkey as my next Kickstarter. First off I need a first draft – so I’m going to take a week off work and write it. Lots of good stuff has come out of showing the very patchy “Playtest Document” to the Monkey Army folk (my thanks go to Lloyd and Neil especially on this one for some of the game changing feed back they gave me), and also my own editorial has and further research (from the films especially) has got the ideas factory in overdrive. So I need a bit of quiet focused time to pull it all together. Then its a case of get it through proof/editorial, pass it to the Mighty Monkey Army for a quick bit of feedback and then Kickstarter either before or after Xmas.
MEGA MONKEY at 7 Hills Gaming Convention April 2017
Ideally I’d want the game out by April, so this event will hopefully double as a release party. If not it will be still a big fun game of Monkey, that will be unique and special. The MEGA MONKEY is going to be two tables of Monkey running side by side with space for the Narrator(s) and players to move about, partially due to the frenetic nature of the game, but also because one table will be the Western Heaven, the other will be Earth. Each table will have a Narrator and at their desecration players will be able to move between Heaven and Earth. I’ll be running the game twice over the course of the convention (Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon) for Eight Players each time. There will be other fun bits going on that I’ll reveal over time as the game gets developed.
If you want in you have to go register for the Convention first, then when it gets nearer to the convention the organizers will ask you which game you would like to prebook – let them know that you want to join the Mega Monkey. Also let me know, so I know numbers – if I know in advance we’ll be able to do character generation with you (but don’t worry if you don’t I’ll have a pile of pre-generated characters) and arrange some other Monkey Funky things 😉
Note you sort out accommodation yourself. The number of rooms at the venue the Garrison Hotel is limited and by this stage running low. I’d also recommend ringing the venue directly instead of using the online booking form, because there’s often rooms available when the online version says its full.
So despite the Earth going to sleep, this Monkey is very much awake and alive!
Westwards we go!!
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.
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 email@example.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