Monkey chapter list

Here’s the contents for Monkey as it stands. Titles in italics are my take on the Monkey story, short excepts to set the scene and introduce the story to people who haven’t read the epic.

Players’ Section

  1. Introduction : Birth of monkey
  2. Character Generation: Monkey and Patriarch Subkobi
  3. Action rules: Monkey and the Demon of Havoc.
  4. Developing the story, Virtue & Fortune rewards. Player advice

Narrators’ Section: Monkey rebels against Western Heaven, and is imprisoned by Buddha.

  1. How to run the game: Tipitka frees Monkey and the quest begins.
  2. The Worlds of Monkey: Immortals & Locations
  3. Adventure: The bag of wind. (Linear adventure).
  4. Adventure: A Year in the City (Freeform adventure).

Appendixes

  1. Bibliography/Resources
  2. Chinese Animal traits.
  3. Character & Reference sheets

From a quick scan anything that I’m missing?

d101games lives!!!!!

After over a year of things being on hold, I picked up on D101 games as a living entity a couple of months ago.

The turning point was Furnace 2006, a nice cosy RPG convention that I help to run. Giddy off the success of that event everyone started thinking about what they were going to run in 2007. Empowered with confidence, since I managed to easily achieve my goal of getting everyone who came who wanted to play in a game with no one sat around bored, I thought ‘what would I do at Furnace 2007 if I could do anything?’

Launch Monkey and have copies for it on sale 🙂

So thats what I’m working towards. Not exclusively since I have a short Secret RPG project on the go mainly as an ideas tester (as well as to prove to the wife that I can publish something and I’m not all talk) which I’m going to reveal in the next couple of weeks. However I am more focused on it, since I’ve stopped writing for HeroQuest (which was a fun ‘apprenticeship’ but at the end of the day why should I write for someone elses benefit?).

Current status on Monkey is that I have a very rough play test draft which I’m turning into a robust manuscript. I’ve also gone away and done a shed load of research since there simply isn’t enough detail about the  gods and goddesses that feature in the book. Got a good grasp of Chinese magic and mythology, and how I want to present it in the game. I expect the first complete draft to be done by easter.

Progress

Well a second draft of the character generation and system rules has gone to the playtesters for comment. They are suspiously quiet so I’ll have to send Monkey down from heaven to qive them a poke with his staff!

I’m going to get a group together to run a game, with the aim of meeting up and playing once a month. Perhaps even catch a Wuxia or episode of Monkey before we start? If you are up for this give me a shout.

Next stage is to do a guide to Immortals and Places in the book. Both are helped by a recent purchase of Mythology of the Far East by Rachel Storm, a easy to read enclopedia of Chinese, Korean and Japanese Mythology. Not only does it cover the Gods and Goddess I need from the book, as well as a host of characters who would fit in, it does it in a clear and consise style, which is a joy to read and gives me something to aim at when I am doing the write up with stats.

Also re reading the epic,via David Kherdian’s translation which is much easier to read and more focused on the spritual elements than Arthur Waleys’ translation (which is the most popular- see the Penguin version) Very nice to get a different take of the book. Very consise though. Going to get hold of the 4 volume University of Chicago version next 🙂

People still love monkey!

From a comment from the ever lovable

“Fucking hell! Monkey! Long time no see.

How’s Piggy and that disturbingly attractive monk “boy” you used to hang around with? Do you see them much.

I know since the series finished and pantomime dried up you’ve turned to drink and become a pizza delivery driver. But I bet nobody gets pizza fresher than pizza delivered by hyper-fast cloud.

So chin up lad, we’re all behind you!”

In more serious news, nearly got the first playtest draft finished. Just got to give the Action chapter a quick once over, write some design notes and I’ll be putting up in an the Freinds of D101 games group I’m setting up. ETA either today or tommorrow latest.

Still irrepresible!!

Recently I’ve been pleasantly distracted by some writing work for Issaries Inc’s HeroQuest and setting up the Masters of Luck and Death demo team, not to mention a completely bonkers Real Life Tm!(see for details)

However work on Monkey has been quitely going on in the back ground when I’ve had the chance. I’m now at the stage where I’ll have a playtest draft of the rules done by this weekend. I’ll then be setting up a local group to test the mechanics, and possibly an play by post/or email if I have time.

Apart from playtesting the rules my next big job is to do lots of background reading on Chinese Mythology. This is because I realised that the book doesn’t really tell you much about the Gods and Goddess’s Monkey meets in his journey. When it came to start writing up the deities for the Immortals chapter of the game I realised that the detail I know about some of the immortals (Lao Tzu, Ki Yin) comes from other books I have read. The same goes for the mythological locations mentioned in the book.

Last thing to report is that this journal is now completely public. There is also a private Friends of D101 games mailing list for people who want to become actively involved in the development of the game. Please leave a comment below if you are interested in joining this.

MonkeyLite

MonkeyLite is a short version of the game. It will have the basic rules of the game, but be low on detailed examples and setting material. It will probably have the main heroes from the book, Tripitaka, Monkey, Pigsy and Sandy and a very simple introductory adventure. This is what I am currently working towards

The idea in the first instance is to have something to play test with. So MonkeyLite will be the 1st version of the rules. As detail and optional rules come up through the playtest MonkeyLite will be updated & developed. The detail & examples that that come out of the play test will go into MonkeyFull .

Then secondly MonkeyLite will also be offered as a free preview pdf with minimal illustration.

The main difference between MonkeyLite and MonkeyFull is that the former only contains only the bare bones of the game. It is not a crippled system, you could play a game if you know the book, but MonkeyFull has all the juicy background information with information on how to use it in the game already done.

UPDATE: 11 July 2007. Monkey lite is now known as the ‘coaster edition’ and if you want to know why, please read on.

D101 Games Wiki

I’ve set up a wiki for development purposes.

This allows me to work on stuff both at home and during my lunch hour at work. Also it allows me to easily put concepts and rules into nice self contained pages, which logically reference each other. It is a really productive tool and much better than working with an ever increasing word document.

Also it allow other people (that’s you) add stuff to it and change things. For example or can be pedantic and correct my spellings or grammar, while can add to the rules. Just give a name when you edit the page and you will be credited with the change. Use the sandbox to test the system.

At the moment all that’s in there is a very rough draft of the rules which I’m going to clean up over the Easter hols (so hold off pedants!!)

Here’s the link

UPDATE 11th Aug 05: The wiki didn’t really work as well as I thought it would, and it was a pain to edit all the pages into one document. So I’ve closed it down.

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.

Monkey

Synopsis

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)

The spirit of Monkey was irrepresible…….

One thing I often forget when I get down to the ‘serious business’ of putting a game/adventure together is that these things are meant to be fun. This is especially true in the case of Monkey. I was inspired by the philosophy/mythology of the book. Wu ch’eng-en’s parody of Taoist Culture, and his satire of Human nature. Not to mention his evangelical message that Buddhism is the way to salvation. None of which makes for fun role playing, were the main aim is escapism.

No the genius of Monkey is that it wraps all its meaningfully points in a very fun humor fantasy tale of flawed gods and outlandish fantasy. Monkey is my number one fantasy book anyday. Its far more cheerful and fun while still being deeply poignant than say the Lard of the Rungs. Monkey is going to be a narrative game, because of this duel nature. For action Narrative games shed all pretensions of war game like realism, which fits Monkey to a tee. Even in the book the combats are described as outrageous action packed wuxia kung-fu fests. Narratism deals with the action simply and meaningfully, be it combat or a heated debate, which believe it or not happens more often in the book were arguments are dramatic and overblown. This leads to quick and joyful fun, rather than ponderous referencing of rules.

Its important that Monkey has MAXIMUM GAMING FUN built into the rules. This is because as I was reminded today that when I mention that I am doing a game based upon Monkey, people automatically assume its based upon the Japanese TV series that ingrained itself in the consciousness of the British public via BBC2 in the 80s. Which it is, in a roundabout way since I would have never read the book if I hadn’t have seen the TV series. And if I hadn’t have read the book I would have never have started thinking about this game……..

BTW I have done some writing on the rules tonight. Its proved surprisingly fun and enlightening.