Skype Playtesting

I’d like to set up a semi-regular playtesting group via Skype.

First up is off course Monkey (my own game set around the famous Chinese Epic). Then if interest holds I propose to run other games that I have in development, such as Blood and Sand – Ancient period fantasy using a modified Mongoose RuneQuest SRD.

For more details on Monkey see the preview

I’m in the UK and propose to hold short sessions of about 2 hours weekday evenings (either 7-9pm or 8-10pm GMT). These will be organised well in advance, a good five days.

If you are interested please get in touch via email, mrnewt@gmail.

Oh and if anyone is interested in contacting me via Skype, my username is mrnewt. Paradoxically I’m not on much at the moment due to time demands made by small child, so don’t be surprised if I don’t respond straight away.

UPDATE: Apart from the lovely Mr

 no one took me up on this one 🙁  Also I’ve come to realise I actually have more Face to Face time with my home group than pc time!! So one off playtesting sessions at my house are more likely!!


I’m off work today, hurrah, and work continues on Monkey. I’m going to focus on it exclusively for the next couple of weeks to get it done. Here’s a quick fun rule, that sits outside the main skill resolution mechanic.

Bickering Contests.
Bickering is a special type of action.

The during the Journey to the West, Monkey, Sandy and Pigsy continuously bicker with one another. They endlessly argue about who should carry the master’s baggage, which way to go next, the best way to deal with the demon that blocks their way….

Because bickering is such as major part of the novel, here is a quick game mechanic that players may use to resolve such arguments between the player immortals in a way that brings a clear in game advantage for the winner.

1. Each player involved in the bickering draw a card from their fortune deck.
2. The player with the highest card wins the exchange.
3. Play out three such exchanges.

The player who has won the most exchanges, wins the argument. The other immortals, even if they don’t agree with the winner must go along with the winner. The winner bolstered with success gains an extra card on his next action draw.
If the result of the three exchanges is a draw there is no winner, the Narrator quickly moves the action along to the next scene.

Note: Players may not transfer cards into or out of their fortune hands during a Bickering Contest.

The importance of games design

This came out from email discussions with

about the need to stop and think about design. I thought it be nice to post it here, since it gives a nice history of how I worked on Monkey.

I wrote a first draft of the game (version 1), which was based upon D6s. Went to playtest it with my mate Ginger Matt and immeadilty he exposed the central rule mechanic as the nonsense it was right at the start of the game – so we didn’t even start it was so broken. (but damn it looked sexy on paper).

Re wrote it (version 2),which saw dice replaced with cards, and despite more abortive playtesting,which turned into more discussions about the concepts and mechanics, found there was still problems. People agreed there was a germ of a good game but just didn’t get how it all comes together.

Then and only then just when I was about to jack it in did I take a step back and think about DESIGN. Immediately I stopped working on the writing and stripped back the game to the bare essentials. After a bit of thought and discussions the yin-yang card mechanic came about, which I think really is the ‘sexy’ part of the game rules that fits in with the Chinese setting to a tee. This eventually lead to version 3. This actually got my playtesters interested, were as before I only got silence (since the game as as presented was a confusing mismash of ideas. From this I wrote version 3.6 which was an attempt to get the game in its entirity, if only quick notes and headings for some chapters. Overall theres been been 3 versions of the game with about 4-6 rewrites of each.

About six months ago I started working on my Final draft which is the what I’ve been getting everyone excited about ,because it finally is a game , Not just an essay about an potential game.

I’ve learnt the hard way that having a clear design of your game is vital. Not only does it speed up the writing process, because you are less tempted to just launch into a rambling train of thought that then requires multiple revisions to sort out, by having chapters and concepts before you to work in a modular manner, but it also helps during playtest. My early ‘playtests’ broke down quickly because not only did I not have vital concepts and rules properly explained in the playtest rules, but I didn’t even have a clear idea of whats going on. My last playtest was a roaring success not only because the rules are in better shape, but the design and what the rules intend to do is clearer in my head.

You’ld think as a software developer all this would be obvious 😉