First look at Defenders of the Dragon Empire

First off a quick catch up of where I’m upto.with Monkey.

In short I’ve been of the day job for good month now with a serious illness. This meant I missed 7 Hills and didn’t get to run Mandate of Heaven 🙁   I took a couple of weeks to get over the illness, during which time I worked on a couple of D101 things which were at final layout stage (OpenQuest Refreshed and Life and Death for Crypts and Things). After working week in week out on Monkey since before Chirstmas I took a break from it for a good three weeks. Once the brain fog lifted as a my illness  subsided and I felt like doing something a bit more mentally demanding my Monkey Mojo returned quite quickly.

The Quick Start Rules + adventure is done and just needs proofing+ layout before it hopefully makes its debut as a cute 60-page book at UK Games Expo and as a free pdf worldwide 🙂   We also have demo space on the stall this year, so feel free to rock up go “ook! ook!” and demand a quick demo of the game (about 30 mins to an hour) or a longer 3 hour game in the afternoon.

The main book is almost done too, with the stretch goals of The Defenders of the Dragon Empire Chapter and the solo adventure yet to be done. The former is how to run Wuxia heroes in the world of Monkey, defending their home city against the Demons. These two pictures show the in game city creation system, where you draw six cards and each card represents a city district. This models the ancient Chinese system were cities were built on a grid with square districts each having a different function (residential, administration, religious, entertainment etc). The second picture shows the city under demon attack. This is basically an in game adventure generator. Draw a card for each district. If the value of the attacking card is greater than the district it succumbs to the attack (which I’ve marked here with a glass bead) and will see its value decrease unless the Player Characters intervene and drive the demons off. Each suite of card is a different type of attack – corruption, physical, deception etc.

Defenders of the Dragon Empire, City Creation

Defenders of the Dragon Empire, City under attack by Demons

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 🙂

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.




Monkey Monday! Day 13 of the Kickstarter!

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 contempatles the illusionary nature of reality by Dan Barker.

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

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.

Ministry of Thunder cover by Jon Hodgson

Oh and if you are looking for a good overview of the game, I did an interview with Dan Davenport of 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.

Kickstarter Date + more Exciting News!

Kickstarter Date + more Exciting News!

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

Made from a Laughing Buddha beer bottle

That’s it until Saturday.

Until then stay Irrepressible!

As leaves gently fall…and the Monkey wonders why its gone so quiet?

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!!