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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
One of the big drivers for doing the 2nd Incarnation of Monkey was a clean up and streamline the rules. Not that the rules were by any means awful, but there was certain areas where they could do better. Also they where very much of the early 2000s School of Narratist gaming and by now even the games that where part of that movement (HeroQuest, FATE spring to mind) have undergone changes to make them more accessible and easy to play. Just look at FATE Core or HeroQuest Glorantha and you’ll see where I’m coming from here.
The main changes are:
- Play one Card. If you want to upgrade to Monkey 2 the quickest change you make is you now only play one card out of all the cards you draw from various sources. This makes the game much more manageable, no more large spreads of Action Hands cluttering up the table and no more fiddly maths adding up the totals of cards.
- Fortune and Virtue are now gone and have been replaced by Te. This is a chinese term that represents Personal Power and Virtue, This allows more experienced characters to draw extra cards and take control of the narrative via Stealing the Scene, like fortune did before, and is a measure of how in tune with the Universe they are.
- More supportive frameworks for creating Scenes and Non-Player Characters, so that the Narrator can improvise and fill in the gaps in their adventure plan at a moments notice without breaking a beat.
- Mook rules! Take down hordes of nameless demon extras with a round house kick or get overwhelmed as they mob you!!
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.