Game Design Document

Here’s the game design document I wrote a couple of months ago to keep myself on track while writing the game.



Based upon Cheng’en Wu’s Monkey, a Chinese epic also known as “Journey to the West”. The players play Immortals from Chinese mythology, who like Monkey, Pigsy, and Sandy is trying to regain favour in the eyes of the Immortal Bureaucracy so that they may enter either the Western Taoist heaven or the Eastern Buddhist Heaven. The game uses a rules mechanic based upon drawing playing cards, to model fast and furious kung fu and godly powers. The background details not only the characters from the book, but also other gods and goddesses from Chinese Mythology.

Aim of Game

To gain enough virtue to re-enter one of the two heavens. The Taoist heaven sees promoting natural harmony as the way to heaven, while the way into Buddhist heaven is a more straightforward easing of your fellow mans pain.

Physical outcomes.

A small compact rulebook, 150 pages long, color card covers, black and white interior illustrations.

Game Themes.

Chinese Mythology, with themes from Buddhist and Taoist traditions.

E.g. Karma. Harmony, the idea of the Celestial bureaucracy mirroring the Earthly Bureaucracy.

The player characters taking responsibility for actions. Killing things and taking their stuff is not a wining strategy for this game. Resolving the problems and protecting the mortals that the pcs meet is.

Rule system.

Homegrown, card drawing system. Each player draws one card per skill points, with bonus cards for equipment, magic, character traits (see below) and good role-playing. The opposition, be it an enemy or natural resistance, must then match or better the cards played against them. The player chooses which cards in his hand are used for what, allowing for multiple actions.

Core Rules concepts

Skills-simple skills, which are more akin to an area of expertise, say Crane Kung-Fu fighter, than individual skills. Ranked one to six, novice to master.

Traits-Both personality and physical Each trait has an opposite which cancels out the opposition

Karma system-for additional cards and character development.

Virtue system- to measure success of character in the eyes of Heaven. When reaches a maximum level through performing good/harmonious deeds the character is taken out of play, after being accepted into the ranks of heaven.

Character Concepts

Based upon Traditional Chinese Mythological character types eg;

  • Ascended Kung Fu Master
  • Animal Spirit
  • Immortal courtesan (Western Taoist Heaven)
  • Bodhisattva (Eastern Buddhist Heaven)
  • Demon, seeking redemption.

Player advancement

Primarily by accumulating virtue and Karma.

Page count

150 -200

Brief contents.

  • Introduction
  • Characters
  • Skills and Magic
  • Action system
  • The Mythological world of Monkey
  • Immortals from the books.
  • Scenario (The Lost Bag of Wind)

Published by


Games Designer, Publisher, Web Developer, Dad.

3 thoughts on “Game Design Document”

  1. This all looks to be a lot of fun! 🙂

    I looked to dig out my copy of the book to find it has walked :(( You have inspired me to re-aquire it. Should the use of humour also gain you more cards?!


  2. The bad pun extra card? Definatly!!

    I want the skill system to be like Paranoia/Feng-shui where you reward good roleplaying, and penalise dull play.

  3. I like this, and think that that is precisely where reward should be. If I’m a daoist and seeking to preserve internal harmony by moving with the natural order around me (or just doing what the sorceror said would keep me in balance!) I get the card 🙂 A good gag I get the card etc etc…

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