Monkey started as an idea back in the mid-90s. I was stuck for what to read in Fantasy and asked my mate Keary Birch for a suggestion. He pointed me in the direction of the Journey to the West or “remember that TV series on BBC2 during the 80s”, as he put it.
My next port of call was Monkey – the James Whaley translation and the abridged version published via Penguin Classics. The full version of the book, which I got to just after 1st edition was finalised, is a four-volume series of 100 chapters, with each volume clocking in at 1000 pages. James Whaley’s version is only 40 chapters, missing out much of the repetitive monster-of-the-week type chapters that make up the bulk of the Journey itself and heavily abbreviating the start and end of the Journey. This version is very accessible to English audiences but at the cost of some detail and narrative logic.
I was immediately struck by the fact that this could be a Roleplaying game. There was a party of Adventurers, the Pilgrims: Tripitaka the Monk and his immortal guardians, Monkey, Pigsy, and Sandy. They have the main goal, go to India to pick up the missing scrolls of Buddhist teaching and return them to China, and be admitted into Chinese Heaven as Immortals. Along the road, a mythic version of the real-life Silk Road, the pilgrims have to battle and drive off villainous demons who are keen to eat the Monk because doing so will gain whoever does so great power. So there’s a goal and conflict right there.
As well as the Whaley translation, I drew from two other sources of inspiration.
My shakey remembrance of watching the Japanese TV series Monkey, or Monkey Magic, from the early 80s every Thursday Night on BBC 2 as kids.
My young son was also a Monkey fan 🙂
What I’d learned about Taoism and Buddhism from my own life experiences at the time. For example, the central Yin / Yang card drawing mechanism was drawn from the importance of that concept is not only the martial arts that I had been studying at the time, which were forms of Taoist Internal Alchemy, but also I Ching divination system. The necessity of the characters to be nice and protect mortal characters came from the book’s reflection of Buddhist teachings and the fact that the characters, all through powerful immortals, were being coached by Buddhist gods to mend their wayward ways so they could be readmitted into Chinese Heaven.
I had spent a good fifteen years putting Monkey together when I finally go the first edition out in 2010. Internals were done on the cheap via clip-art.com where I raided their ancient Chinese category. Also of note on this front, the 15th Century woodcuts that illustrate Monkey Subdues the White Bone Demon, which is based on one of the chapters from the full novel. Because they were in the public domain, I could use these fantastic pictures of Monkey and the rest of the pilgrims to do full-page illustrations.
The cover was technically the first of the Jon Hodgson covers I commissioned. I consciously put Monkey to one side while I got more publishing experience putting out Hearts In Glorantha (see D101-03 to 06), OpenQuest (D101-06) and the Savage North (D101-07). It had to wait until July 2010.
Another D101 Games first, was that Paul “The Tweadmeister” Mitchener did proofing/editorial for the game. Neil Gow (publisher/author of Duty and Honour/Beat to the Quarters) was officially the games’ Monkey’s Uncle due to the excellent advice and encouragement that he gave over its rather wobbly development.
The book’s release coincided with Continuum 2010, a sell-out on a small (50 copies) but significant scale.
I was immediately aware of its shortcomings and planned a 2nd edition ( D101-045) which was finally released in 2018. It is available from the D101 Games web store.
OK as with most D101 projects this one started with a mad jolt of excited energy, a flash of inspiration a couple of weeks before Grogmeet 2019, at Fanboy 3 in Manchester where I was appearing as a trader. “Hey I’ll do a fanzine, Chris (of Dirk the Dice fame) likes Fanzines!”. So cue five days of frantic throwing articles and art together. Peter Frain graciously, or should that be gleeful, got on board with both the cover art and the interior art of the four versions of Grogzilla within the zine. Which I’m not previewing since they are flippin’ awesome (hint: buy the zine to see). The physical output was less than impressive, since my colour printer doesn’t do multiple pages very well, and I managed to struggle to put together six or so hand made copies. These sold or were given away to the lovely chaps who put on Grogmeet on the day.
So fast forward to ZineQuest 2, which is Kickstarters annual winter promo held every February. I had participated in the previous year’s event, to great success with From the Shroud #2, so it was a no brainer to give Grogzilla a second chance of a wider audience. This time however I wanted a proper printed version, and Glynn Seal (of Monkey Blood Publishing fame) pointed me in the direction of Mixam print, who he uses successfully for his Midderlands Zine. I really wanted to use it as an excuse to do something using a proper printer rather than being reliant on either Lulu.com or Drivethrurpg.com’s Print on Demand service. I wholeheartedly recommend it as a service, it was simple to use their web site to price up and upload files for production, and at a vastly lower price and improved quality than POD. The Kickstarter funded quickly, so much so that not only was I able to put in another three articles, I was able to fund another zine, Skyraiders of the Floating Realms Zero Edition, as a stretch goal.
As well as a mad creation, that matured into a more fully rounded 50-page zine, that allowed me to do a non-POD print run, Grogzilla is an excellent showcase of where D101 is heading. There’s a good mix of material for existing games.and previews of books in the works.
There’s a very limited quantity in print + pdf for £5, and when they are gone they are gone, and its also available as pdf only for £3.
If you are a regular follower of D101 Games you’ll have noticed the last State of Address was back in 2016, and that things have been a touch wobbly since then. Monkey was kickstarted in the first couple of months of 2017, followed by its mega-adventure the Mandate of Heaven, which was a great payday for D101 and put enough money aside to get the books done. All plain sailing from here you would think. In June I left full-time employ to go full time with D101 working from home (cynics would say that I was becoming a House Husband 😉 ). All good and I was just settling in, when the wheels came off the bus. In July my mother in law was suddenly hospitalised and did not get home until the end of the year. During which time my family, was my priority and D101 became an occasional concern. It wasn’t until almost April 2018 that things had settled down at home and I could seriously work on Monkey, other outstanding books (see below). All in all, I lost a good year of work and pay. If you bought a book or supported me with kind words during that period, you have my thanks for helping me through that difficult period.
2018 in review
I spent much of last year playing catch up with Monkey, the last of the add on adventures for Crypts and Things Remastered Kickstarter and making steady progress with the long overdue River of Heaven Companion, To the Stars. It was also the year that after a five-year hiatus Hearts in Glorantha made a reappearance.
Monkey the RPG
After a wildly successful Kickstarter in 2017 the main rulebook and the free Pdf Quickstart was released in towards the end of the first half of the year. This was an auspicious and fantastic moment for me, since its very much a niche game, as far away from D&D’s troupes as you can possibly get, and a project that is very close to my heart. So it was awesome to see it out in the wild, and hold the hardcover, crammed with lovely art from Peter Frain and Dan Barker.
I’m now catching up writing the supplements; the mega adventure the Mandate of Heaven (which is at first draft stage), the short mini-campaign The Ministry of Thunder (which is the final stages of writing), The Golden Book of 101 Immortals and the Monkey Companion (a book of extra rules and adventures), all of which I’m getting out this year.
Two issues of Hearts in Glorantha were released in 2019. Issue six was the resurrection issue after a five year hiatus and issue 7 was our tenth anniversary issue We featured scenarios and articles for all the published systems; Guy Milner provided his Beard of Lhynkor Mhy for 13th Age Glorantha, Stewart Stansfield provided an Anti-Hero Lunar Duck for RuneQuest Glorantha and I wrote a duo of RuneQuest Classic adventures Duck Hill in issue 6 and The Temple of the Golden Gorp in issue 7.
It was heartening to see the surge in interest in Hearts in Glorantha, due to the availability of new Gloranthan games and material from Chaosium Inc, and new names alongside the familiar contributors to the magazine.
On a sad note Glorantha Creator Greg Stafford passed away at the end of the year. Greg was a firm supporter of Hearts in Glorantha, who contributed a few one pagers on magic (featured in HiG 1-5 collected) in the early days as encouragement, and his warm words of support will be missed.
Want to try out Crypts and Things in a quick 3-4-hour scenario? Have your adventurers race to save the world of Zarth from a great evil? Then this book that came out in September, which features two such scenarios and a guide of how to write C&T convention scenarios is what you want.
In the last quarter of 2018, D101’s coffers were in need of filling and I struck upon the idea of doing a quick Halloween Themed adventure, and the Road to Hell (which was previously an OpenQuest adventure published in OpenQuest Adventures) was 80% of the way there, bar conversion to Lamentations of the Flame Princess (a horror-themed OSR game based of B/X D&D). Currently, it’s in fulfilment to the backers, but will soon be available to preorder via the D101 Web Store. Best way to know when its out Is to subscribe to the D101 newsletter.
Despite being free of the concerns of leave allowances, I cut back on my convention attendances. I made a conscious decision not to go the trade shows that require outlay up front, so UK Games Expo and Dragonmeet were dropped from my schedule.
7 Hills (April) and Furnace (October) at the Garrison Hotel in Sheffield continued to be a ton of fun as ever. This year they were also joined by new kid on the block Northstar in May, a small convention dedicated to Sci-Fi RPGs. Outside of the Garrison cons, there was Continuum (Leicester) in July which I’ve not been for a good six years due to family holidays, and it was a good show to launch Monkey upon the gaming masses. I also made an appearance at Grogmeet 2018 here in my home city of Manchester, were I ran Crypts and Things and the D101 Games Magic Stall made its most minimal appearance ever (see the photo below)
Catch up of outstanding books
As noted above I’ve a good chunk of Monkey books to release, and the Great Crypts and Things Campaign aka Under Dark Spires to get out. Rest assured while I work and release the new shiny things I’ll be announcing
Talking of which…
Coming to Kickstarter in 2019
I have two firm dates for your diary.
Into the Shroud #2 (now until Feb 25th)
On Kickstarter now at time of writing until Feb 25, as part of the ZineQuest initiative. This is your chance to get both the new second issue, which has been gathering dust on my hard drive for a year or so, and the first issue in print. Its already funded, and the first stretch goal (10 new monsters) has also been met.
This is Paul Mitchener’s post-D&D game of fantastic exploration of a series of dimensions by inhabitants of the Empire of Ys. This one has been in development for a couple of years now and it’s a true gem of a D20 game, whose system we’ve christened the Beyond 20 system. Well be getting the whole pool of recent D101 artists on board to illustrate this book, and Glynn Seal (aka MonkeyBlood design, 2018 Golden EnNie Award winner for Cartography) will be doing the many maps that show the worlds that Empire interacts with.
OQ is ten this year in September. I’m currently playtesting a new version of the game, and gathering a host of talent to illustrate the 10th Anniversary edition, which I want to be the best illustrated version I’ve put out. Once the main rulebook comes out I want it to be quickly supported by a regular release schedule of adventures. Tentatively the Kickstarter to fund OpenQuest 3 will this coming summer Jul/Aug.
River of Heaven, To the Stars!/Revised Rulebook
The long-delayed Companion book is done and to go with its release I’ve revised the main rulebook slightly to take into consideration the small but significant system changes I made to the OQ system in 2016’s OQ Refreshed Edition and another proof-read. Both of these should be out the end of this month or by mid-march latest.
Hearts in Glorantha/Gloranthan Adventures
After last year’s return to Glorantha, I’ve got more than enough enthusiasm to carry on. Call for contributions for HiG #8 will be made soon, with the aim of getting two more issues out this year. Also one or two issues of Gloranthan Adventures, including Defenders of the Dark (GA #3). I’m currently assessing how to do this given 13th Age Glorantha and RuneQuest Glorantha are now out.
The Further Adventures of Dr Dee’s Associates
I’ll be doing more adventures set in the Jacobean Period, and the sequel to The Road to Hell has already been partially written (look out for it
Blue Skies Development Department
These are things that I’m either thinking about doing or have a rough outline or even a partial draft, but they are not 100% done yet.
Project Darklight will return, as Reboot. Not 100% on the system yet (strong contenders are Fate or Yin/Yang or even HeroQuest OGL) . At some point, I’ll be sitting down and working it out.
I shall be doing something with the soon to be released HeroQuest OGL SRD, starting off with a self-contained version of the Ye Little Book of HeroQuest Fantasy (which was made up of two pdf releases Dungeoneering and Monsters).
Beyond Monkey. Once the backlog of supplements coming out of the Monkey Kickstarter is done and dusted, I’ll be doing something more with the Yin/Yang system that features in the game. Front runners are The Water Margin, but that requires me to sit down and do a TON of research so don’t expect anything more than a con game this year, or something else Kung-Fu/Wuxia related.
Some thing for D&D 5th. I’ve recently taken the plunge as a 1st Ed/Basic/Expert D&D Dungeon Master and run the game and liked it very much. It’s straight forward for me to run, and even at first level there were lots of fun things for the players to do with their characters. I’d go as far as there were points where the players were running the game themselves!
Isle of Death for Mythras. I’ve long been a fan of Design Mechanism’s D100 game Mythras. I’ve now got a framework for releases using that system, and a starter adventure that is full of drama and action. When I sit down to do this, I’ll be previewing and gathering my thoughts on the Sorcerer Under Mountain blog.
Crypts and Things. After Under Dark Spires is out I’m going to have a pause and look at what/where I’m going with Crypts and Things. There’s still a lot of adventuring to be had on Zarth 😊
The return of Fortune. This is our small Fate variant for which we released two-pickup and play small RPGs (everything you need in about 100-150 A5 books) Hunters of Alexandria and The Hollow West. Me and principal author Paul Mitchener have started discussions/planning to get the other various game books we have on our hard-drives out into the wild, and the (strong) possibility of an expanded Hunters of Alexandria.
Convention appearances for 2019
The Magic Stall shall be materialising at…
7 Hills (Garrison Hotel, Hillsborough, Sheffield)
Northstar (Garrison Hotel, Hillsborough, Sheffield) – A science-fiction rpg con that I’ll be running River of Heaven
Furnace (Garrison Hotel, Hillsborough, Sheffield)
Grogmeet (Fanboy 3, Manchester). Get on the Grogpod and you’ll get an invite to this awesome one-day event at the end of the year.
GoPlayManchester (Fanboy 3, Manchester) – this is a monthly meetup I run in Manchester @Fanboy 3. While I’m not trading as D101 there, I do run and run D101 stuff there.
I may add more to that list as the year goes on, but the above are dead certs.
Others flying the D101 flag are:
Neil Benson (aka OldScouseroleplaying on twitter) is running The Road to Hell at UK Games Expo and at Deva Con (Chester).
The D101 Games Newsletter
Stay up to date with all the new releases and news from D101 Games, by signing up to our monthly newsletter. Also, I’ll be running regular competitions, prize draws and giving discounts (this month there’s a code for Hunters of Alexandria).
I’ve weathered a rough patch over the last couple of years, and D101 Games has proven surprisingly resilient despite me feeling stretched thin at times. This is in no small part due to our supporters and contributors. You have my thanks.
Now that I’m refreshed expect a more frequent and aggressive release schedule as the year goes on 🙂
Been a good day, lots of things came together nicely.
Crypts and Things is in the final stages of print proof so should be out next week 🙂 Its been a long black hole the final stages of putting that one together, but I’m very happy with the book. It’s a big 248 page book with lovely art and a fantastic cover. A great team of people pulled together to get it done. But its been crunch time on it for what seems like for ever, but we are there now.
Next thing for C&T is scenario support. Its part of the Kickstarter but I’ve got a plan to land it all in the coming 3-4 months. David M. Wright who did the art for the main rule book and the same team who helped me proof C&T remastered are on fire to kick the adventures into shape. I’ve also plans for dedicated support for conventions/store demos via a program I’m calling the “Graveyard Shift”. Oh and watch out for a special Halloween release 🙂
Project Darklight, my rules light Cyberpunk/Ufology game is now out in both pdf and print, and I plan to get some support drummed up for it. Its had a very low-key release but plans are afoot to raise awareness for it 🙂
I’ve now got a webstore that you can buy stuff directly from me. It was greatly satisfying posting out the first batch of orders today. If you are in the UK post is free 🙂
We’re booked in for Dragonmeet in London in early December, so it will be nice to see folk at this one day trade show.
River of Heaven is getting an outing at the upcoming Furnace convention. I get to run a scenario called Starshine, which if all goes right will be the beginning of a short Living Campaign for River of Heaven. Stay tuned for details on how that one pans out 🙂 Also its crunch time for River of Heaven Companion, along time promised.
Hearts in Glorantha 6 is on its way in. All the content is in, we have a cover. So its time for editorial, proofing and art. Hope to land both this and the River of Heaven Companion by Dragonmeet.
Oh and the ram has touched the wall on Monkey the 2nd Incarnation – first chapter of the new version has just been completed. I’ll get it proofed and then post it as an early preview 🙂
So all is good. Glad that Crypts and Things Remastered is finally seeing the light of day, because it’s a great thing in itself and it frees me up to get on with a lot of fun releases 🙂
The Company (re-release) (Powered by OpenQuest, December)
Convention wise as well as my local cons, Furnace (which celebrated it’s 10th Year) and Seven Hills, D101 did UK Games Expo, which is the nearest thing we have to US Gen Con, which was a huge success for us. We came out with a profit and had a great time meeting new people, catching up with old friends and generally bringing D101 to a whole new audience. To top it all River of Heaven came third in the new RPG category of the UK Games Expo Awards, behind the mighty Mutant Year Zero & Mindjammer RPGs from Modiphius Entertainment.
Crypts and Things Remastered is going to be our big first release of 2016. Its written and illustrated, and the additional content (never mind the revision of the existing 1st edition) doubles the size of it. Currently I’m at the stage of getting the main rulebook extensively edited and proofed. Once that’s done I’ve got a stream of adventure modules ( 2 reissues, 1 conversion and 3 New) to release over the coming year. Then we move on to doing supplements for the game and “Oh what sights I have to show you” 🙂
Monkey the 2nd Incarnation is coming along nicely. Its in playtest and writing phase, and I hope to make some form of announcement on Monday February the 8th which the start of the Chinese Year of the Monkey about its immediate future 🙂
Despite its low key release Hunters of Alexandria really did well. This is Paul Mitchener’s Monster Hunting in Ancient Alexandria game, using his Fortune rules which is a version of Fate siting somewhere between Fate Accelerated and Fate Core with influences from Jadepunk, which are simple and written straight to the point (the core rules are only 10 pages of A4). So I’m currently planing more Fortune books for 2016.
The return of Wordplay! First off Project Darklight is currently being tweaked to fit in with Graham Spearing’s new Wordplay 2.0 rules (which will be out shortly via his Wordplay Games ). Then I’ve also got a Wordplay version of The Empire of Gatan (the setting that’s included with OpenQuest Deluxe) and Infinite Loop (an expanded version of Infinite War, which was last seen in Worlds of Wordplay) in the works. Both these titles will have a striped down version of the rules, which I’m dubbing Wordplay lite, and be self contained and pick up and play like Hunters of Alexandria.
Glorantha is Go!Hearts in Glorantha #2 (aka vol2 #1) is being assembled as we speak, Gloranthan Adventures #3 Defenders of the Dark is coming along nicely and I’m even planing a Mega Adventure for Gloranthan Adventures #4.
I know that the readership of this blog is rather small, but this is primarily to get me up to date with what we’ve got on. You see I’ve got two weeks off the day job and there’s been a blur of activity in the off hours with various projects being worked on.
Crypts & Things – This is the biggy that has to be delivered next. Good news is that all the art is in and we are doing a big edit of the text. When I say we…yes this means someone else as well as me 🙂 Next up is sorting out the adventures, working out what work needs to be done and some sort of realistic release schedule for the first half of 2016 after the main book comes out. C&T is going to be one of our BIG things for 2016 so I’m preparing myself for that.
Project Darklight – After the wheels came off rather spectacularly at public playtest stage (Feb 2015), I revisited the project back in October and laid out an “Ashcan” version, a rough pre-production version in time for Furnace. I figured that I could at least present it in its Wordplay version at least once, before porting it over to Fate. Thing was that once it was laid out I could see it more clearly, warts n all, I realised that actually I’m rather fond of it and with a bit more tweaking it will be ready for a quick playtest and then release! So if you’ve been watching this one look out for the second call for playtesting in very early 2016 🙂
Monkey 2nd Incarnation. Slow and steady is the name of the game at the moment. I’ve a solid base with the 1st edition, and I’m making lots of tweaks and changes that need to be properly playtested with my home group. Also I plan to do a more comprehensive guide to the non-player characters that feature in the book, which will take time. Fingers crossed though for a summer release 🙂
River of Heaven. Working on the River of Heaven Companion at the moment with John Ossoway and Paul Mitchener. Then a small break and reassess on what comes next. RoH was huge for us in 2015 and we’ve definitely got options for where we go with it next.
OpenQuest. Bit of a strange one. Recent developments with a revitalised and reinvigorated Chaosium, who are focusing on RQ, means I’m tempted to say “my job here is done” as far as carrying the torch for Old School D100 revival and put the whole line into what I call POD Stasis, i.e. the books will still be available on Drivethrurpg.com/Lulu.com but nothing new will be worked on. But I had a bit of slack time during my day job’s lunch hour recently, and was able to quickly work on what I’m calling “OpenQuest 3 Hacked”. I took the whole OQ2 SRD document and blitzed through it making the changes that I wanted to the system, and bringing it much more closer to the vision I originally had for the game when it was called SimpleQuest. Briefly – Random Character generation as standard, cleaned up and simplified Combat, Variable Armour points (eg. Chainmail is 1d8 Armour Points), One Magic system with no variable magic ( Healing for example now heals 1d6 Hit Points per casting) and no magic points, using the Goons system for stating out quick npcs and monsters. Whether I go anywhere with this is still at the planning stage and other things have priority. Saying this OQ has been good for me over the last eight years and it would be sad to see it gradually disappear. Fans of OQ2 don’t despair since I plan to keep it available via POD even if I go forward with OQ3.
Empires of Y – Dr Mitch’s epic tribute to 2nd Ed AD&D Multi-planar gaming, is currently in editorial with a batch of rewrites to do.
That’s it for now, I’ll be making a more formal State of D101 in 2016 post here come the New Year 🙂
It’s that time of year again where I dutifully get my arse in gear and submit my games details to Elaine the reigning Games Tzarina at Furance Games convention which is being held for the 10th year in Sheffield.
System: Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition
New Cairo 2271 AD
As part of the United Earth Federation’s (UEF) Interstellar Colonial Marines (ICM) your mission is to act as military advisers to the local Government forces on New Cario, who face an uprising from a religious minority – the Seti – on the edges of their society.
Your UEF superiors suspect that the New Cairo Government has goaded the Seti into insurgency as an excuse to commit genocide. You are instructed to tread lightly, protect the innocent and collect any evidence of war crimes committed by either side.
You are to be dropped right into the heart of Seti territory where the leaders of the independence movement are besieged by Government forces in one of their holy of holies, the Temple of Set.
Good Luck Marine!
Fancy a bit of fast paced 7th Edition Cthulhu in the morning? Then come put yer boots on the ground and sign up. Doesn’t matter if you are a fresh recruit or a hoary old Veteran knowledge of the setting or system not required.
Tags: Call of the Cthulhu 7th Ed, Military Sci-fi, Aliens, Cthulhu Rising, MGF!
Slot 2 Saviour Gods
System: Hunters of Alexandria (FATE)
The year is 753AUC (1 AD) in the great bustling metropolis of Alexandria. This jewel of Africa was established by order of Alexander the Great and his great work was continued by his Macedonian heirs the Ptolemies after his untimely death. The first of this great dynasty was General Ptolemy the First, or Sotar I as his Egyptian subjects called him when he passed sacred tests of Maht and became their Pharaoh. One of his first acts was to complete the Great Light house of Alexandria which towers above the mouth of the Great Harbour. The great fire in atop the tower reflected by great mirrors across the sea guiding all manner of ships to trade with Alexandria. Even the arrival of the brutish Romans thirty years ago, whose Caesar ordered the Great Library to burn, could not dim the light and diminish the protection of the Saviour Gods who look out across the sea.
Such things are important to you since you are members of the Venatores, a small and secretive group dedicated to hunting and destroying the beast’s that lurk in the shadows. While the great fire of the lighthouse shines across the sea you know that no great evil can come into the city from that direction. Unlike the ghoul infested Necropolis outside the walls to the west of the city or the haunted Palace of Cleopatra. Now you stand in the burning midday sun at the Great Docks awaiting the arrival of one who needs your help.
Hunters of Alexandria is a self-contained game of Swords and Sandals monster hunting action in Ancient Alexandra during the first thirty years of the Roman occupation using a rules light system known as Fortune, a concise version of Fate, developed by our very own Dr Mitch. Both setting and system are straightforward and require no prior knowledge.
Tags: Ancient Rome, Swords and Sandals, Monster Hunting, Mitchenator Magic, MGF!
If you see Buddha on the Road
Five pilgrims on their way to India to pick up the lost scrolls of Buddhist cannon to bring enlightenment to a China beset by social ills, find their way blocked by a mountain range. Their only way through is a mountain pass which goes through a huge statue of Buddha himself! A winding stair leads up from a village nestled by Buddha’s feet, through temples and chambers carved out the rock in Buddha’s Lungs and heart, all the way up to the deity’s brow where the road continues onwards to India.
The pilgrims stop and gaze up at the giant statue:
Tripitaka, the Priest who leads the expedition wants to pay his respects at the many temples that line the winding stairs to Buddha’s brow.
Monkey is restless and after a long boring journey looks for opportunities for mischief.
Sandy is worried that all is not what it seems and despite the smiling local people and happy monks.
Pigsy hungry and thirsty after the trek through the desert just wants to gorge himself on food, wine and introduce himself to the pretty local women who live in the village built at Buddha’s feet.
Horse, being a shapeshifted Dragon Prince transformed into a stead for Tripitaka by the Goddess Kuan Yin momentarily wishes that he could transform back into a dragon and fly over the mountain, but is quietly resigned to plodding up all those stairs.
Come play a quick story inspired by the Chinese classic “Journey to the West”, using the four main characters from the book. Knowledge of the system, a straightforward fun set of rules using a deck of playing cards, or setting not required. Help celebrate 10 years of games of Monkey at Furnace, which saw the first convention game in its inaugural year!
I can’t believe its February already, things are moving on so fast. I’m using the fact that it’s the Chinese New Year to do the State of D101 Address today, for reasons that will become clear below.
But first a quick report on the year just gone.
Last year overall was a year of sticking my head down and getting the last bits of OpenQuest 2 done and pushing River of Heaven out. It also was year of getting D101’s house in order, of pulling up bootstraps and of streamlining my working procedures so that I’m not up to silly o’clock doing layout and other D101 stuff. I also went back in time and looked at what made D101 exciting and fun in the first couple of years and how the heck I had managed to pump out so much. I realised a lot of it was my attitude and so I had a ‘reset’ of my head to put me back in that zone of excitement again…..wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
River of Heaven Kickstarter
This took up the majority of my time this year. It was more than worth it on both for personal satisfaction and for restoring faith and confidence in D101 as a fun business adventure. It set a nice achievable template for future Kickstarters, which I’ll be using for all D101’s big releases. Releasing the main rulebook just before Christmas was a satisfying way to end the year.
This year I seriously up the ante. 2015 should go down as our most Mega Gaming Fun year EVER!
Crypts and Things Remastered
MARCH 1st 2015 mark this date in your calendar. This is when I launch the Kickstarter to fund the remastered version of our popular Swords and Sorcery RPG, Crypts and Things. Remastered means that all the art is being replaced, the rules are being tided up and streamlined and if the campaign funds there will be extra content. More rules, monsters, spell and setting information.
An expanded version of the Sci-fi setting that first saw light of day in Worlds of Wordplay. This is a game of two rival conspiracies fighting each other, for the fate of the time stream itself. It is inspired by Fritz Liber’s Big Time and Moorcook’s Jerry Cornelius stories.
Lost Fools of Atlantis
April 1st mark this date in your diary. The Grand Ascended Masters demand it! On this day they will transmit information about the game that was previously sighted in the 2000s and is now finally making it’s descend through the ether into manifest reality. A rules lite humorous look at occult conspiracies vying for control of everyday reality.
Both Lost Fools of Atlantis and Infinite War are the first of a line of FATE-Lite game books, which will blend a quick and concise version of the FATE rules (codenamed FORTUNE and written by the esteemed Dr Mitch) with Setting and Adventure(s), in a 6” x 9” Black and White illustrated book, in MGF way 🙂 Dr Mitch’s Drownlands will also make it into this line eventually.
Hearts in Glorantha & Gloranthan Adventures
Hearts in Glorantha will be coming back in a new and improved format later this year and Gloranthan Adventures #2 is in its final stages of layout now (tentative release March/April latest). Life is returning to the lozenge after too many years away.
River of Heaven
Currently working on the next scenario release Last Witness and then onto the River of Heaven Companion, which will be a collection of scenarios, rules and setting material.
I plan to support OQ with smaller module releases, but the next big thing for this year is the Return to the Savage North, a follow on from our popular Savage North Setting. This 90-120 page supplement will feature more fun adventures and a deeper look at the lands and the personalities from this D100 Swords and Sorcery setting.
My rules-lite Cyberpunk game recently got to playtest stage, only to go straight back to development. Good news is that I’m already working on new system for the game, so it will be out later this year.
…and last but not least!
MONKEY! The 2nd Incarnation
I’ve started work on an expanded and revised version of our fun game of the Chinese Classic “Journey to the West”. Art duties are very capably being handled by Peter Frain. The game is in development this year, and if things go swiftly I intend to Kickstart it at the end of the year. If you are interested in helping out contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As well as our local cons of7 Hills(April 18 – 19 ) & Furnace (17-18 Oct Sheffield ), we’ll be pushing the boat out and attending UK Games Expo(Birmingham 29- 31 May) . Come drop by and see us in the Monarch Suite 🙂
What we won’t be doing in 2015
It’s better to aim high and miss, but sometimes reality sets in and you realise some projects have run their course or really shouldn’t proceed. Here’s a list of stuff I’ve previously announced but won’t be going forward with.
Ending in 2015
The Company, Worlds of WordPlay, and the Book of Glorious Joy (for Glorantha) have all run their course and are being retired at the end of this month. Last chance to buy over at DriveThruRpg.com.
Me and John came to the realisation that we have both moved on from the idea of doing Cthulhu Rising as a standalone game, since I first announced it. We’ve both got busy schedules and the required excitement to get Cthulhu Rising out the door just isn’t there.
Well in roughly three months time I’ll be making the final preparations to go to 7 Hills, the laid back spring sibling to autumn’s Furnace held at the same venue. If you live nearby I can thoroughly recommend it (see last years report) .
Here’s my offerings
Name of the game: Stainless Steel Providers
System: Project Darklight
Game Slot: 1
Number of Players: 6
They call you the Losers 242, since you come straight out of District 242 and to them you are just yet another street gang. A bunch of suicidal cyborg motorcycle gangers out to make mayhem and die in a blaze of glory.
But they don’t know the story. How you and your comrades from the infamous 5th Mechanised Regiment (Imperial Sterling INC) where demobbed to the **** hole of a planet they call New Oldham after the Galactic War. A burnt out, crashed, cesspit of belligerent idiots who claim descent from the clans of Northern England. You only ‘agreed’ since your Corporate Liaison said there would be a great relocation package. They even agreed to move your families to New Oldham. That’s where it all went to hell. The transport carrying your loved ones burned up in atmosphere – the victim of a terrorist attack- on the way to your new home. How you’ve spent the last year howling in grief fighting off constant attacks from racist hooligan locals. Now a beacon of hope has been lit. A signal from the transport ship has been detected coming from the wilderness beyond the city.
Time to jump on your steel stead and ride off into the dust!
Project Darklight is a rules light cyberpunk game using the WordPlay system, set in the bright Corporate future of the 23rd Century after a mass exodus from Earth.
Name of the game: Wootz!
System: Monkey 2nd Edition
Game Slot: 2
Number of Players: 6
Your great trek to India from China to collect the lost cannons of Buddhist lore is nearly over. Standing in your way is the great foundry where they make the famed Wootz metal. Wootz metal is famed for its sharpness and strength is misused by tyrants and warlords all over the east. In the hope of spreading compassion you and your fellow pilgrims feel compelled to end this factory of suffering and defeat the Demons of Pain that blight this place.
You are wary of the old saying that even the wise man must melt and dissolve to attain new form of enlightenment.
Come play Monkey, in its second incarnation which features a much streamlined and simplified version of the game system, a game of epic light hearted Chinese kung-fu flavoured adventures. You play an Immortal out of favour with Heaven. Help them cultivate their Te (or personal power/virtue) and amass awesome chi-powers in the process. No prior knowledge of the system or Chinese Mythology required.
Name of the game: Old Steel Ruins
System: Crypts and Things
Game Slot: 3
Number of Players: 6
In days of yore hot molten metal poured from the wounded Zarth. Mighty Sorcerers melded it into buildings of glittering Steel. They enslaved the land and the people. Until the Gods themselves were moved by the evil wizards hubris and buried them and their city under hot scolding sky fall ash! So the Steel Empire came to end, its treasures buried for millennia, its location a mystery. UNTIL NOW! Brave scouts have discovered the City of Steel and have shared its location. Join the expedition to explore the Old Steel Ruins and discover THE SECRET OF STEEL!
An adventure for up to six 5th Level characters, using Crypts and Things a distinctly British Old School game, based upon the classics from the late 70s/early 80s, of Swords and Sorcery Adventure.
Tags: OSR, D&D, Swords & Sorcery, Foul smelly Khaos, Hair caked with the Ash of Ages, Lightly Gritted Sinews.
Name of the game: The City of Ironsmash
Game Slot: 4
Number of Players: 6
The long lived Trolls of the Queendom of Halikiv have deep memories.
They remember the Gbjai Wars of the Dawn Age. How the men of light came out of the east over the mountains. How they conspired with Dwarfs and build a Forge-City on the Queendom’s borders, spawning iron armed and armoured warriors. If the Night Queen herself had not sent her son Arkat Kingtroll to lead the Black Legions against the city, how the Queendom would have been exterminated. Instead it was the Trolls who did the extermination and how the city is named after their deeds there. Happy memories of victory in the City of Ironsmash. Now the storm scum are back in dark Halkiv and a small band of Black Legionaries travel to the city of Blackrock to ask for reinforcements from the Great Hag of the city. For they fear the forges of Ironsmash have been seized and once again good Troll hunting lands are threatened.
This is a big straightforward war story of Troll Warriors getting their Darkness on to trash Human barbarians. It requires no knowledge of the system or Glorantha. All will be gently introduced in an entertaining way over the course of the adventure. A Mega Gloranthan Fun game, so no basket weaving, sheep herding or anthropological discussions, only big fun adventure !
Tags: Glorantha , Trolls, Steel, Mega Gloranthan Fun!
I’ve done 7 out of 8 Furnaces, missed one due to birth of Newtlet #2 did 1-3 as Games Tzar, and its all now so familiar its like a day or two before I turn up a big box of fun with the Furnace logo materialises in the air before me with a big red button on its side marked “Fun”. I press it then I’m pulled into a vortex of last minute printing off, gathering of books, dice and clothes and then off with my designated driver (the sublime Mr Guy Milner) from the wilds of Oldham via the beautiful bleak of the Pennines to the urban hillplex of Hillsborough in Sheffield where the venue The Garrison hotel sits proud on a hill.
Slot 0. A Game of BEEEEEERs!
Arrived in good time for once and after booking in at the Garrison it was time for an evening of chat after food. A feeeeeeew too many beers, but nothing the Gods of Gaming wouldn’t let me get away with (well until I got home and the adrenaline wore off 😉 ).
Mmmmn Breakfast was a bit slow arriving, We sauntered down at 8:15 to find the breakfast room well packed, and the kitchen was struggling to fulfil orders. Good chat with AndrewW and the GowBear as we waited.
Slot 1. The Company: Project Camphor
Fast furious and D100 🙂 This was everything I had hoped for. Kinda Call of Duty the RPG. A fast moving thriller, with twists, that thundered noisily (with stealthy bits) to a satisfying ending.
Big thanks to the players: Barry, Martin, Jemma, Michael, Andy and Tony
Then PIE TIME! courtesy of the annual pilgrimage to Morrisons across the parade ground.
Slot 2. Project Darklight: Take me to the Moon.
Project Darklight is my Wordplay powered Cyberpunk game. It works on three levels. First its a straight forward Punks in the Sprawl game (think Cyberpunk 2020). Then it opens up into a Punks in Space game as the players encounter some of the more out there aspects of the setting (23rd Century with officially no FTL or nano-ware, but it gradually opens up that the Corps are a bit more advanced technologically). Finally it all could go a bit over the top gonzo as the deeper secrets of the setting open up. Take me to the Moon is deliberately a Level 3 PD game, since I wanted to test if the game worked at this concept level, and the players really played along with it swimmingly (although there were some great moments of role-playing the utter shock and disbelief that the characters were feeling as they went ‘further down the rabbit hole’). The ending caught me a bit on the hop. After an hour or so of relentless weirdness I felt a bit like the ending of 2001 where Dave touches the Monolith, but with the players indulgence I managed to pull it back. Thanks to Ravi, Andy, Richard, Keith, Jason and Garry for bringing it all to life so magnificently.
Slot 3. Warriors of the Dragon Empire
This is my ‘hack’ of my own game Monkey: The Journey to the West. When Baz announced that he was going to be running four slots of Dungeon Crawl Classics, I decided to drop my traditional OSR Saturday night game so not to clash. But part of me didn’t want to drop the Dungeon Bashing (I don’t crawl) action and I’ve wanted to use Monkey to power a more straight forward Wuxia Kung Fu heroes game for some time now. So why not combine the two? Hence this ‘hack’. As well as rules for mortal characters Warriors WDE has a more striaghtforward central card mechanic, which I’ll be writting up for Monkey and making avialble for free. Pig Faced demons and Serpent men were fought as the Underworld beneath the 23rd Emperor’s tomb was explored and Bad Monkey was stopped in his nefarious plot to steal forbidden lore. Thanks to Barry, Tony, Martin, Jules, Steve(?) and Another who’s name I’ve forgotten (bad Newt!), for bringing the Kung Fu action and graciously allowing me to finish the game early as I was beginning to flag.
Its official Furnaceers break the Garrison’s breakfast system! Spotted by Elaine on the wall by the kitchen: “Furnace Gamers will all come down all at once 35 at a time!” 😀 Lesson learnt from day before we got the 8 before the rush and delay.
Slot 4. Angry Ducks
I was showing the new lovely OpenQuest 2 full colour hardcover off, so it made sense to run a game of it. I wanted to inject a bit of fun since I know from experience its all getting a bit fuzzy by Sunday Morning. So into the culturally rich milieu of Duck Swamp, with its detailed culture, myths and religions, came the intelligent Ducks of the title (the player characters) pig faced orcs, lost human catapults and other fantastic elements inspired by my four year old son’s obsession with the tablet game Angry Birds. It worked swimmingly. It could have been so badly a crass comedy game (and it did have elements of that), but it also had the grit of old school RQ (streamlined by OQ’s modern approach to that hoary old ruleset) which got me buzzing 🙂
Lunch = MOAR PIE! Thank choo Mr Morrison 🙂
Slot 5 Slack time
After running 4 games back to back time for my traditional lazy Sunday afternoon. Chatted about the state of the industry with Jim from Patriot games, enlightening as usual 😉
Then humped the remaining stock from the D101 Magic stall which popped up on my table between games. The stall had done very well, since I had brought a modest amount of everything (no more than 5 of each item was the rule). Sold about half which is a nice lump sum into the D101 bank account 🙂
Had a fantastic time. Lovely to see all the familiar faces and get to meet some new people 🙂
Big thanks as ever to the committee: Elaine, Graham and Dom.