Indiecon: Rad, as always

Back from Indiecon and recovering from the inevitable con-crud that has targeted my throat and guts. The bastard.

I ran games of ImagiNation, Irrepressible, PROJECT, Machinations of the Space Princess, Blood! and Agents of SWING. Various of those adventures will be polished up and published as time allows.

ImagiNation went brilliantly, everything I hoped it would be. The mixture of whimsy and darkness, creativity, gallows humour and imagination. Especially the game with the ‘dutch invaders’ playing it. I also had at least five people come up to me during the convention and thank me for writing a game centred around depression and mental illness and to also thank me for being open about my issues. I had a bit of a wobble at the start of the con so that was a great boost for me and made me feel that I hadn’t been wasting my time.

Irrepressible also went very well. People ‘got it’ and understood and appreciated the mechanic and the way the game reflected karma, ‘right action’ and the virtues of the pilgrims. All that and it was still wonderful, irreverent fun.

Machinations is what you’re probably all most interested in. The game went great though it also helped to identify a few rules and bits and pieces that need to be changed. Overall though I seem to have been able to project the setting into people’s minds and help them have fun without Satine’s art. WITH Satine’s art the game should produce multiple nerdgasms at a distance of up to fifty feet! I should probably charge extra for that. One thing people definitely seem to want are props (dice/cards) and rules for ongoing campaigns, carving out their own empires and businesses in a savage universe.

Sales were shite at the con, unfortunately. It seems that the recession is finally biting into gamers and the traditionally resilient hobby business. That’s a worry but we can hope that things will start to pick up from here and that Dragonmeet will go better – sales wise.


I hate to have to do this but I am really, really fucking ill. My depression/exhaustion has had me floored for over two weeks now and I don’t have the energy left to really struggle through it.

The timing is massively inconvenient as we’re now into the thirty-day push to hit stretch goals for Machinations of the Space Princes and we’re into my ‘convention season’ with IndieCon and Dragonmeet coming up.

I have outlines of demo adventures for ImagiNation, Irrepressible!, PROJECT and Blood! intended to be run at Indiecon but I don’t think that between the depression and imminent drug changes I’ll be able to actually get the adventures written up. I’ve spent most of last week and all of this week staring blankly at an open Word document.

Hopefully I’ll be fit and well for the conventions themselves, but that also remains to be seen 😦

If anyone can help me out by taking my notes and turning them into written-up adventures for these games I will be eternally grateful. I’ll provide PDFs as necessary and if the adventures are subsequently polished up and published I’ll compensate you monetarily.

Please let me know if you can help out.

Email: grim AT postmort DOT demon DOT co DOT uk

I feel awful having to do this, ‘giving in’ to being sick, but it’s becoming clear I’m not going to be able to manage otherwise.

If you think you can help out with the MotSP drive in some way let me know too. I could probably manage email interviews, Q&A and that sort of thing.



Full version of this review is HERE

As soon as I saw the name of this RPG I knew what it was about. That is the place the 1970s Japanese TV series ‘Monkey’ has on me. When it was on, I missed the first couple of episodes, but it didn’t matter. We soon picked up that a young boy monk was travelling to get some scriptures in the company of some rather powerful demons, if a bit prone to silly human failings. This one word evokes a lot of memories of when I was 14-15, watching ‘Monkey’ and of course, the ‘Water Margin’. A silly bit of martial arts fun after the all too serious and worthy “Kung Fu” of a few years earlier.

Underlying that is a tale of an aged monk who was once a disciple of Buddha, and a monkey who represents unrestrained thought, and former officers of heaven fallen from grace and a dragon travelling for scriptures from the West (here meaning India) for the Emperor of China. They gets into various scrapes, and lessons are learned, disasters met and enlightenment sought. This was written in the Ming Dynasty, but set in the earlier T’ang dynasty of the 7th Century.

But we were more into the colourful fight scenes and demons and the FUN!

Any thought of a silly intro I had for this review, showing that I knew the source, was blown out of the water, tha author is straight up front about it. If you haven’t seen it, try and get hold of the 1970s TV series starring Masaaki Sakai called, simply “Monkey”. If you call it “Saiyūki” and you aren’t Japanese, I may have to slap you. Watch a few episodes to get the feel, practice the slightly breathy style of the narrator. Go to this site and watch the wee video on the front page for how to call up a flying cloud, we all did at the time.

Adventures in this universe should be a mix of peril, a terrible threat (though possibly served with inept minions), human eating demons, demons that want to be human, vampires, ghosts, treasures, trickery, humour and a step on the path to some greater goal. If you can work in a misguided or evil Taoist magician or spirit so much the better.

So. Here is the game. System light as anything, so one for people to have fun with, not for those who need an airtight system to protect them from the players/GM. CHaracter driven not only in the role-playing sense, but the attributes are character driven, rather than physical. They are paired positive/negative e.g. Charity/Selfishness. You can use these as the basis of skills when making a skill check.

A nice touch is that, should you seen to enlighten yourself by moving towards the positive of a pair, if that attribute is negative, initially you reduce your effectiveness until you start building up the positive side of a pair. You have to unlearn bad habits after all.

Skill checks are by random draws from a bag, so you’ll need some coloured beads. One evil and the rest good. The author suggests black and white respectively, but I would suggest red instead of white, as red is lucky and white associated with mourning. He also refers to the West meaning Europeans but, of course, the West is also India which is the spiritual goal of the whole quest. 😉

The system of paired positive/negative character attributes is very stealable by the way, I have a thought for a Film Noir game based around it, and it should focus the players on their character’s character, rather than the physical abilities as so often happens.

The system very much suits the game though, and the emphasis is on the light style of the TV show as opposed to the original work of Wu Cheng-en. So cod accents, silly feats and grumbling about doing the right thing, or tricking you’re less bright brothers to help you, definitely the order of the day. THIS IS MEANT TO BE FUN. Yup. A bit of terror, a bit of laughter, some peril, a moral and character lesson, but FUN!

There is a handy list of proverbs to chuck in if your own imagination fails you, and a random magic item description table, though the GM will have to rule on what the power of the North Weeping Drum is. Whatever it is, I bet it will be misused. Bound to be.

If you are stuck for ideas, or want to be a bit more accurate in your description of Chinese Society, then an easy intro would be the Judge Dee stories of Robert Van Gulik, which are written as if Ming versions of stories set in the same T’ang time and you can plunder some of the supernatural there for more ideas for your group of Pilgrims to encounter. I’d also recomment the three books by Barry Hughart “Bridge of Birds”, “The Sotry of the Stone” and “Eight Skilled Gentlemen”

Two sentence summary?
If you like Mythic China and can have friendly fun, play this game. If you see RPGs as a competition, don’t.


[4 of 5 Stars!]

You can buy IRREPRESSIBLE! here or in PRINT here.

IRREPRESSIBLE! – Free today only for Free RPG Day

Get it HERE

Bits Missing From IRREPRESSIBLE!

When I originally planned out IRREPRESSIBLE! I was going to expand on it a bit with some other ideas. I wanted to include some ideas for playing other stories that are similar in character and feel to Monkey, such as Water Margin and even Big Trouble in Little China. I still think the game would be a good fit for these sort of things with a little modification.

I also wanted to cover taking the Monkey story to other genres, spaces and times. Inspired in no small part by Enslaved: Odyssey to the West.

I decided, in the end, not to include these things in the original book as I wanted to keep it fairly pure to the original story (I know, ironic given my second-hand source) and that including all this extra stuff would just get in the way.

Here’s a quick whirlwind tour though.

Important themes

  • Travel
  • Action
  • Comedy
  • Redemption/Enlightenment
  • World in Chaos

Everyman Heroes

If you’re doing something where your characters aren’t so strong then I’d drop the Curse and only give them three traits. I might also drop the points for Virtues/Demons to 12 rather than 15. This is the sort of level you could run a Big Trouble or Water Margin game at.

Other Settings

You can move the story frame to practically anywhere in space and time. The themes are timeless and wonderful. You might need to play fast and loose with the Curse section – or eliminate it – and instead of magic special abilities (the ones that drain karma from the Six Demon Bag – would be technological advantages.

Personally I think that post-apocalypse probably makes the best mirror for the story, but an empire in decline would also work extremely well.


Diceless, mythic adventure stories in a China that never was.

This game isn’t for you if you’re painfully serious about Chinese mythology, or Buddhism or… anything. If you like playing comedy monsters struggling for enlightenment in a mythic China/India (in a hapless fashion) and failing as much as they succeed, then you’re in for a treat.

This game is best played ‘poorly dubbed’.



PDF downloads will soon be available at other PDF outlets.


There’s some previews of the art.

Here’s me blithering on trying to sound like I know what I’m talking about:

General Update

What ho chaps and chapettes?

Quick update as to what’s going on lately…

I’m mostly working very hard on Outbreak and I crave your indulgence while I beaver away on that as it’s going to get in the way of a lot of other work that I’m doing. Outbreak is an Interactive Fiction game project that’s planned to come out across social and mobile media, all being well. It’s a lot of work and it needs to be good as money’s dependant on the success of the project.

Several short projects are in process to come up, Irrepressible! (based on Journey to the West), Lady Bexington’s Home for Wayward Zombies (a cheap board game produced in a similar manner to the 6-Packs),  ImagiNation (a weird post-apocalyptic Britain using the Neverwhere rules), Autopsy 4 and some clipart in the pipeline for when our sale finishes and a couple of other projects I’m not ready to announce yet.

Also in process are – still – Gosh, Spies! for Agents of SWING (Our teen-tween adventurer supplement with a focus on girl characters), Nefarious! also for Agents of SWING. We’ll also be bringing you more 6-Packs and, eventually, collected editions of those adventures. We may also be dipping into campaigns in the future, given the reasonable reception of our adventures.

Please bear with August was a tough month due to two illnesses and Outbreak is going to take up most of my time for the next month or two. There’s a lot of catching up to do and things are going to be done, when they’re done, possibly with little warning.

Keep a special eye out for Doxy – part of the history farce series – and Camelot Kosmos, arthurian fantasy amongst the stars.


Another imminentish release, since I’m trying to produce short products while I work on longer projects in the meantime, is IRREPRESSIBLE! My homage game to Monkey Magic (because nothing represents Journey to the West better than a Chinese legend, made into a TV series by the Japanese and dubbed into English by the BBC).

In the game you will take the part of pilgrims, seeking redemption for the crimes that saw you cast out of heaven. In order to earn your redemption and reach enlightenment you will wander a mythic China and India doing good, battling monsters, solving problems and trying to find ways to do such in an enlightened fashion without necessarily resorting to bashing things with sticks though, of course, that can be a lot of fun too.

Characters are defined by two traits from the I-Ching, the Six Virtues of Buddhism and a scattering of their own, self-chosen abilities which can be anything from magic powers and weapons to particular skills or proclivities. Characters are also defined by their transgression, whatever it is that made the Emperor of Heaven see fit to cast them down to the mortal realm as a monster in the first place.

The game is designed to be played in episodes and uses a dicepool similar to poker dice or Yahtzee. The more dice you have the more chance of getting a good result, doubles, triples, runs or more and the higher total you get. Whoever gets the highest, wins the challenge. It’s easier to act in a way that goes against enlightenment and easier to lose virtue than to gain it, but there are longer term rewards to acting enlightened, rather than succumbing to ease and violence. Ultimately, you may even achieve Nirvana or become a Bodhisattva.

As a quick little example of the system – which is still being shaken down:
Monkey is facing off against the Demon King Chen in a martial contest, despite Tripitaka’s protests that he not resort to violence. Monkey’s Passion is high, taking him deep into the Yin, he rolls 4 dice for Passion, plus 1 for Earth, plus 1 for Thunder, plus 1 for ‘I love to fight!’ and plus 1 for his Magic Wishing Staff. Monkey is damn good at fighting and this gives him a total of 8 dice, which is INSANELY good. Since he’s using his Yin he’ll beat anything using Yang on ties but the Demon King is very much a Yin kind of enemy so that’s not going to help.
Demon King Chen is ‘Gigantic’ and ‘Powerful’, has three dice of Passion and a Magic Fire Axe which gives him another dice for a total of 6. Not an enemy to be sniffed at.

Monkey rolls: 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 5, 5, 6 – The run 3/4/5 is the highest total, for 12.
Demon King Chen rolls: 2, 2, 5, 5, 5, 6  – The triple 5/5/5 is the highest total for 15.

Monkey is set-back in this battle and may have to come up with something clever in the second phase to win out! 

At the end of battle, win or lose, Monkey will slide his Passion down one because he took the unenlightened path.