Monkey playtest!

Well it had to happen sooner or later and despite much procrastination on my part I finally got to run a playtest of my Monkey the Storytelling Game (which I’m more or less certain is going to be the final title) yesterday for my regular Sunday group.

The two players, Rob and Mr C play in my regular HeroQuest game, which they are having a whale of a time in, and are also quite into D&D. Monkey has some similiarities to HQ, in many ways it is a simplifed HQ lite, so they picked up the system quickly. They also have a reasonable interest in the orient, which meant they absorbed the background of the game pretty quickly.

Character generation went very smoothly, taking about an hour and a half. This was mainly chat about the setting and concepts, rather than explaining parts they had got stuck on. Both players quickly formed concepts, a demon hunter and a cunning fox spirit, after I explained the possible back ground to the player immortals (each player runs an immortal who is out of favour with the heavenly authorities and trying to redeem themselves). In fact they pretty much worked through the character generation chapter without much input from me. Which means that I must be doing something right on the writing front!

I won’t go into detail about the plot of the adventure, since I’m going to use it as my introductory adventure, but the game mechanics went smoothly and much to my amazement actually worked!!! The card drawing mecanic that the game uses worked straight out of the box and we got to play the game that I envisioned almost ten years ago when I first read the book and thought, hey there’s a rpg in this. To say I’m chuffed about this is an understatement 🙂

Sure there’s some polishing and clafication needed. The Fortune system, were players get to hold extra cards in fortune hand which they can subsitue for lower cards in their Action Hand (which is used to resolve actions), needs balancing. How the immortal’s Weakness works in game needs clafiying and a system for ‘bickering’ amoungst the player immortals, a main feature of the book, needs implementing. Also I need more examples for the magic section. Rob and Mr C were happy making up their powers, but I still think players less familiar with the setting and more used to having clear examples and rules would get confused.

This playtest game in many ways has been a milestone. For years I have been timidly working on it, not sure if it would work let alone match up to my lofty expectations. Yesterdays game exceeded my expectations and gives me the shoove I need to get it finished for its October release!!

My next milestone, after cleaning up and adding the bits that came out of this playtest, is to circlate the rules to other groups for playtesting since its highly likely that my playtest was very ‘protective’ (which is a software development term for a test conducted by the developer where only the posistives of the system are considered and the negatives are overlooked).

If you are interested in the game, here’s a quick five page introduction

Monkey Preview – Pdf

Life or Death, the secret project revealed

Well easter has come and gone. A combination of chilling out and being roped into decorating the Nursery  has meant that working on the Secret Project, which is my priority at the mo, came first. So no complete version of Monkey, yet 🙁

I did enough work on the ‘Secret Project’ so that over 70% of the writing is done. I’ve missed the deadline that Rachel my wife set me  but I’ve passed the tipping point where I’m happy it is going to get released. Therefore I can now let you in what it is.

Life and Death

A scenario/sourcebook for up to six starting characters using the RuneQuest Main Rulebook

“One day this city will have to choose between Life and Death”
The Prophet before being taken to his execution, one hundred years ago in the city state of Miraz.

Miraz the Golden is sees itself inheritor of the old Lion Empire. It is an oppressive military police state which seeks to dominate its neighbours. Some say the wrath of the gods has been brought down because of its hubris and it is currently stricken by a plague. Its Tyrant looks on from his remote palace as the victims of the plague shuffle round the streets as newly risen zombies. While his heirs fight amongst themselves to see who will succeed their father, when he is toppled by the rebellion that is fermenting in the streets.

Into this madness step the beginning adventurers out to make a fortune and a name for themselves.

This scenario/sourcebook features an open and non-linear adventure and information about the city state of Miraz and its surrounding lands.


The Shattered Lands. A generic fantasy setting, which is broad in depth of information, allowing it to be expanded or discarded in favour of the GM’s own setting. An example setting which is wide enough to support the variety of play that the RuneQuest rules encourage.

The Five Cities. Thumb nail sketches of the five city states which make up the starting player character’s homes. Enough flavour and information to create working adventurers while rounding them out with motivations and prejudices to drive role-playing.

The City State of Miraz .History, culture, people and events and locations that go towards making a dynamic city based adventure. Miraz is on the verge of a regime change and rules and guidance are provided to help the Games Master and players determine how the revolution plays out.

The Iron Mines. The slaves are in revolt, but politics and secrets guide the eventual outcome. The use of influence and negotiation drives many events in RuneQuest, and this section give suggestions on how to handle the resolution of such actions satisfactorily.

The Forbidden Zone. A deadly wilderness to the south of the city shunned by even the Iron Legions of Miraz. Encounters and advice on how to use foraging, navigation and the weather as challenges to give a sense of discomfort while out and about in the great out doors.

Bone Hill. The final resting place of the Lion Emperors of ages past. A living dungeon with its own inhabitants and ecology, that should challenge even the most experienced dungeoneers.

Gamesmaster’s advice. As well as rules suggestions and guidance through out the adventure, there are dedicated chapters on how to run this sort of adventure. Where the actions of the players drive the action not some preordained plot along which the GM rail roads the players. Finally there is a chapter on how to bring the adventure to a satisfactory conclusion no mater how widely the players have strayed from what the GM expected.

Monsters! Each section of the adventure features monsters and non-player character that have their own goals and motivations. This makes them similar in out look to the player characters, and sometimes just as deadly! Meet the Tyrant of Miraz, and his elite Death Watch guard. Battle with Plague Zombies and argue with the undead Emperors.

Six Pregenerated Player Characters to get you started or to use as NPC opposition.

The above when it is edited will probably be the back cover blurb, of a book that is begining to look like it is going to be around 60 pages long.  Its expanded considerably from something that I had originally intended only to be around 30 max. However I’ve enjoyed writing it so much that its been easy to get carried away. Plus I don’t want to realease something that is rubbish.

I’ve got a new deadline of the 1st of May, since thats when I’m playtesting it with my regular group. I’ll also pass out the manuscript to playtesters/peer review around then, so if you are interested in doing either shout out now.

I’m also thinking of commissioning art now, definitely the main cover and a few interior pieces, now that its expanded in scope. So time to set an art budget .  Campaign Cartographer 3 will be fired up for map work in the coming weeks. Oh yes and a website of some sort will have to be put together….

On the technical side its being released under the RuneQuest Logo Open Gaming License, which basically means its a supplement for use with the RuneQuest Main Rule Book.


 and Loz Whitaker have very kindly given me some advice on how to go about using the OGL.

While I’m a bit frustrated at the amount of time I’ve got to work on this due to personal circumstances, its the most fun I’ve had in years writing this and putting it all together.