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.