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The Role-Playing Game

Quick Start Rules

By NEwt Newport
Editors Paul Mitchener and Lynn Yin.

Cover Art Peter Frain.

Internal art: Dan Barker and Peter Frain.
Releases for Monkey by D101 Games

Monkey the Roleplaying Game

Monkey Companion
Ministry of Thunder
Mandate of Heaven
The Golden Book of 101 Immortals

Copyright © 2018 by Paul Newport
All art copyright of respective artists.
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be
reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express
written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief
quotations in a book review and printing for personal use only.

First Printing, 2018.

D101 Games
4 Tandle Hill Road,
United Kingdom.
OL2 5UU.
The Story of the Stone Monkey 4
Earth, Heaven’s Mirror 6
Restless and Disobedient Immortals 6
What You Need to Play Monkey 8
The Action System 9
What this Quick Start Contains 10
What the Full Game Contains 10


Some Notes About the Four Pilgrims 12
Monkey 15
Pigsy 17
Sandy 19
Tripitaka 21

What Happens During a Game Session? 22
Starting the Session 22
Playing the Game 24
Action 27
Ending the Adventure: Resolution 36


Starting the Adventure 38
Lead in Scene: At the Feet of Buddha 38
Scene 1 The Village 42
Scene 2 The Entrance 43
Scene 3 Heart of Darkness 44
Scene 4 Third Eye Blind 46
Resolution: Reaching Buddha’s Crown 48

Blazing Lotus 51
Detective Lee 53
Rolling Thunder 55
Silver Fox 57
Monkey 4 Quick start Rules

1. Let’s go on a Journey
to the West
The story of the Stone Monkey
A new day dawns high upon an ancient mountain. From a stone egg, a fully-
formed Stone Monkey is born. Immortal watchers report this auspicious event to
the Jade Emperor, ruler of the Western Heaven.
The Stone Monkey is bold and energetic and goes on to lead the other monkeys to
the Water Curtain Mountain. By being the first to leap the high waterfall and see
what is at the top, he becomes their King.
Life in the Water Curtain Mountain is idyllic, but after decades of bliss, the
Monkey King becomes restless.
“What is it, our Lord?” his old monkey advisers ask.
“I am the ruler of all that I see, but one day I will be dead and forgotten,” the
Monkey King anxiously replies.
“I have heard that in the human lands, there are Taoist Sages who know the Secret
of Immortality,” says one of the old monkeys.
“Excellent! Then I shall find such a Sage, who will be sure to teach me. I will need
not fear death, and you will not need fear the loss of your beloved King, my little
monkeys!” exclaims the Monkey King.
Hugely excited, the Stone Monkey prepares immediately for the journey, and after
saying goodbye leaves his subjects for the lands of humans.

If, gentle reader, you wish to learn what becomes of the restless Monkey King, his
quest for immortality and the trouble into which it got it him, then please read on.
Monkey the Role-playing Game takes its inspiration from the 16th century
Chinese novel Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en. In the West, it is
more commonly known as Monkey, the name of its English translation
by Arthur Waley (published by Penguin). The novel is one of the four
great classical novels of Chinese literature (along with Water Margin,
Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and Dream of the Red Chamber) and
has spawned numerous TV, film and comic adaptations.
The story is set in a colourful version of 8th Century China, featuring
immortals and locations from popular Chinese mythology, weaving a tale
that is at once fantastic, satirical, action-packed and spiritual in nature.
Quick start Rules 5 Monkey

the Journey to the West

The novel tells the story of the exploits of the immortal Monkey King.
Born from a stone egg, he rises to become ruler of the monkeys of Water
Cave Mountain. Worried that he will not live forever, he leaves his
little monkeys and searches the world in search of a Taoist Master who
knows the secret of immortality. Finally, he meets one, the Patriarch,
who takes him on as a student and he learns what he desires. Monkey’s
mischievous nature soon lands him in trouble with his teacher, who
dismisses him, warning him never to mention that he was his student. He
returns to Water Cave Mountain only to find the little monkeys enslaved
by a Demon of Havoc. Immortal and now a master of Taoist magic,
Monkey makes short work of the demon and his demon brothers, who he
makes his vassals after defeating them.
Then Monkey sets his mind to attaining a place amongst the ranks of the
heavenly immortals of the Western Taoist Heaven. On the advice of the
wise Planet Venus, the Jade Emperor, ruler of the Western Heaven, makes
Monkey the Heavenly Stable Boy to keep him out of trouble. Monkey
eventually realises his lowly status in the ranks of Heaven. Feeling
slighted, he runs amok, causing all sorts of trouble. Meanwhile in the
Eastern Buddhist Heaven, Great Buddha hears that there is trouble in the
Western Heaven and pops over to see what is happening. Buddha tricks
Monkey into thinking that he has travelled to the end of the Universe,
where he urinates on five white pillars he finds there. In fact Monkey has
never left Buddha’s hand, which now becomes a fist and traps him under
a mountain. Buddha tells him that after 500 years a passer-by will release
him and provide him with the means to re-enter Heaven.
The story continues as Monkey is released by the Buddhist Priest
Tripitaka, charged by the Tang Emperor of China to recover sacred scrolls
missing from the Chinese canon of Buddhist writings. In the priest’s
service, Monkey accompanies him from China to India to collect them.
Two other fallen immortals also seeking redemption join them, Sandy
and Pigsy. After many adventures battling demons out to stop them, they
regain the scrolls and Monkey, who has been judged to have redeemed
himself, enters the Buddhist Heaven as the Victorious Fighting Buddha.
In this game, the players play immortals who, like Monkey, Sandy and
Pigsy, have fallen from favour with the Heavenly authorities and seek to
regain their place in Heaven, through their own version of the Journey to
the West to regain the lost scrolls of Buddhism.
Monkey 6 Quick start Rules

Earth, Heaven’s mirror

Monkey takes place in a mythological version of ancient China. On Earth,
the great cities of the Tang dynasty (7th-10th century AD) swarm with
mortals. The earthly Emperor is directly responsible to his Heavenly
counterpart, the Jade Emperor. The Jade Emperor sits in his court in the
Western Heaven, a fantastic city of jade and jewel encrusted buildings that
hang in the clouds above Mount Kunlun on the Western edge of China.
The Jade Emperor is surrounded by a celestial bureaucracy of immortals
who are responsible for the smooth running of the cosmos. In the Eastern
Heaven sits Great Buddha, who with the aid of the other Buddhas and
Bodhisattvas offers the good release from the eternal cycle of rebirth and
pain for those prepared to follow the Way.

Restless and disobedient Immortals

Each player controls an ‘immortal’. This is their alter-ego in the story
which the Narrator describes to them. In Chinese myth, immortality is not
only granted to the gods.
They may be:
Awakened intelligent Animal Spirits whose bestial nature gets them into
all sorts of mischief yet gives them abilities beyond that of any mortal.
Celestial Immortals who serve in the Celestial Bureaucracy in the heavenly
Local Deities who are responsible to Heaven via one of the ministries and
look after a local feature, such as a hill or a river.
Or they may be Transcended Masters, Kung fu experts and Taoist sages
who have trained hard in the mystic arts and attained immortality as a
They may even be Demons seeking to change their evil nature.
Each immortal has Skills which represent areas of broad expertise in the
areas of mind, body and spirit. For example, Monkey’s Kung Fu covers
not only the fighting methods of this martial art but also associated skills
of perception, stealth and balance. Each skill has a numerical rank, which
gives the base number of cards that the player draws when performing
an action with that skill (see “The Action System” on page 9 for more
details). For example, Monkey has a skill in Kung Fu with a rank of 2, or
Monkey Kung Fu 2 as it is written on his character sheet.
Attitudes describe an immortal’s personality or physical traits. These are
strong and noticeable to anyone meeting them. If skills tell you what an
immortal can do, attitudes tell you how they do it. Attitudes give a bonus
card when used to perform actions. They can be divided between the Yin
(feminine, passive) and Yang (masculine, active), neither of which are
better or more efficient than the other.
Quick start Rules 7 Monkey
All immortals are innately magical beings and have Magical Powers and
Magical Weapons. These stem from spiritual abilities, such as spells from
studying Taoism or Buddhism, innate powers and abilities gained through
Kung Fu practice, while weapons and tools have been acquired to help
them in their role.
Finally, each immortal has a Weakness. This is a flaw in their character that
prevents them from behaving with virtue all the time and detracts them
from the Way of Heaven. In the case of the player immortals, it’s the thing
that got them kicked out of the Western Heaven. For example, Monkey
is Undisciplined which means that he had a hard time obey the orders he
was given in Western Heaven. His rebellious attitude lead him to openly
rebel and run amok. As well as being colour for role-playing the character,
weaknesses can be invoked to give extra held cards that can be played in
later actions.
In this Quick Start set of rules, these immortals are the main characters
from the Journey to the West; Monkey, Pigsy, Sandy and the mortal
monk Tripitaka. In addition in chapter 5 More Immortals, there are
an alternative set of Pilgrims, which show the diversity of the sort of
immortals that can be created using the rules in the main rule book.

A note on Yin/Yang
Chinese philosophy centres on the idea of a unified cosmos where two
interacting forces hold the universe in delicate balance: Yin, the passive
feminine element and Yang, its active masculine counterpart.
Whether something is Yin or whether it is Yang is measured by what
you are relating the object to. It is not a negative/positive or even a
relationship of opposites. It is a principle that underlies much Chinese
philosophy, martial arts and belief systems, such as I Ching divination.
For example, the classic pairing is that Yin is Female while Yang is
Male, and another is that the side of a hill in shadow is Yin, while its
bright face is Yang. In martial arts, the leg on which the body’s weight
rests is said to be full, or Yang and the ‘empty’ leg is Yin.
Comparing like with like breaks the mould of comparing opposites.
For example, I am shorter than you, so my height is Yin while yours is
Monkey 8 Quick start Rules

What you need to play Monkey

One player takes on the role of Narrator, who describes the game’s setting
and plays all the supporting characters, while the other players play the
immortals who take centre stage in the story. While the game can work
as a very intimate and intense one on one game (one immortal run by a
player, with a Narrator) the game works best with a group of three to six
This Quick Start set has enough characters for four players and a Narrator.
The immortals given are the four pilgrims, the immortals, Monkey, Sandy,
Pigsy, and the mortal Monk Tripitaka. If you are playing with less than
four characters, Tripitaka should be a non-player character controlled by
the Narrator.
Each player needs pen or pencil and paper for writing out the player
immortals’ details, drawing rough maps and making notes during the
Print off copies of the player immortals for the players to write/make notes
on and refer to during play.
The players share a deck of cards, which they draw from for their
immortals, and the Narrator has a deck to themselves, from which they
draw from for all the non-player characters the immortals meet. players
and Narrators draw cards from their deck to resolve actions such as fights
and lively debates during the adventure. Make sure both decks are they
are thoroughly shuffled and that there is only one Joker in each pack at
the start of the session.
This can either be pre-written, such as the one included here, If you See
Buddha on the Road, or created by the Narrator. Guidance on how to
build adventures is given in the Narrator’s section of the full rulebook.
A game of Monkey is broken into chapters called sessions. Each session
typically takes between three and four hours. The adventure included, If
You See Buddha on the Road, takes one session to play.
Since the game does not have a physical board, all the action takes place
in the imagination of the players and takes the form of a conversation
between the players and the Narrator. The players describe their
immortals’ actions and the Narrator describes the reaction of the non-
player immortals and environment.
Quick start Rules 9 Monkey

One of the players needs to be the Narrator. The Narrator is responsible
for describing the surroundings and the situations in which the player
immortals find themselves. The Narrator also describes the actions and
plays the part of any other immortals and mortals, called non-player
characters (or NPCs), that the player immortals encounter. They range
from an elderly woman who works the ferry that the immortals are using
to cross the mighty river that bars their way to the angry Dragon King of
the Western Sea who they have just offended by their rude behaviour.
Narrators need to know the rules and guidelines, for they are the person
that the players will ask to resolve any misunderstanding or disputes
about the rules.
The Narrator’s section in the full rules provides lots of help and tips on
how to run the game smoothly and effortlessly. It also gives an overview
of the many exciting locations and immortals that populate the world of

The Action System

Most actions that the player immortals attempt can be resolved using
common sense; there isn’t any need to use the rules in this book. Simply
by talking it through between players, the action will be resolved. When
the outcome of an immortal’s action is uncertain, the Narrator may ask for
an action, which comes in three types: Quick, Simple and Dramatic. Quick
actions just require a quick comparison of the immortal’s skill rank against
a set difficulty to see if they either do the action with little difficulty or
suffer embarrassment as they stumble their way gracelessly. Simple
actions require the players and narrator to draw cards from their decks,
the number being equal to the skill being used with extra cards being
drawn for attitudes and magical weapons and powers when applicable.
Dramatic actions are a series of simple actions that make up a large set
piece that take place over several exchanges of card draws.
The action system applies to all actions, including physical fights, magical
duels and philosophical debates.
Monkey 10 Quick start Rules

What this Quick Start contains

This is not the full game, merely an introduction to it.
It contains:
• The Four Pilgrims from the Journey to the West. Meet Monkey, Pigsy,
Sandy and Tripitaka, the three immortals and the mortal monk,
Tripitaka, who are travelling from China to India in the West along
a demon infested road. These are pre-generated characters from the
book that you can pick up and play.
• How to Play. A quick, concise version of the action system that is used
for every situation where the immortals meet uncertainty and an
element of risk. This section also explains how an adventure is put
together using scenes and how players interact within this framework.
• If you see Buddha on the Road. This short introductory adventure is
suitable for both beginning players and Narrators. This adventure
guides you gently through it, introducing key concepts of the setting
and the rules in quickly absorb-able highlight boxes.
• More Immortals. Another set of three immortals and the Nun that they
are escorting to India, that demonstrate the sort of immortals that you
can create using the full rules.

What the full game contains

• Complete rules for immortal creation so you can create your own
• Rules for bickering for when the immortals fall out with one another,
so the arguments can be resolved quickly, turned into an advantage
for the ‘winner’ and take play forward in a fun and meaningful way.
• More art, both black and white and in full colour.
• A full frame work for creating your own Journey to the West, centred
on the immortals you create.
• A complete guide to the fantastic worlds that Monkey adventures in.
The Western & Eastern Heaven, Tang China, and The Ten Courts of
• More advice and help on how to run the game for Narrators and
• More adventures The Bag of Wind, more free roaming than the one in
this Quick Start, and The Great Cloud Race, a solo adventure so you
can learn the system

Now if you are sufficiently intrigued, please continue onto the next section where
you will meet the Four Pilgrims…
Quick start Rules 11 Monkey

2. The Four Pilgrims

The Tang Dynasty (7th -10th Century) is considered to be China’s Golden
Age. The Journey to the West takes place during the reign of the dynasty’s
second Emperor Taizong, who is widely considered China’s greatest
emperor. It is a time of great peace and prosperity. China’s borders are
at their greatest, and dedicated border armies keep out foreign invaders.
Meanwhile, China’s cities are cosmopolitan, and international merchants
trade freely. Some nobles incorporate foreign fashions into their dress. The
arts flourish, and both traditional Taoism and the more recent Buddhism,
an import from India, religions exist peacefully side by side, enjoying
great popularity both at court and amongst the populace at large.
Not all is harmonious. Criminals and evil doers still exist within the
Empire, and the Tang Emperor charges the Empire’s chief Buddhist Monk
Tripitaka to recover the scrolls of Buddhist lore missing from the canon
of Chinese Buddhism. With the aid of the Buddhist deity Kuan Yin, the
Goddess of Mercy, Tripitaka gathers up three immortal protectors who to
take him to far off India.
The Four Pilgrims are:
Monkey. The wild and unprincipled King of the Monkeys, who learnt the
arts of immortality before being promoted to heaven so that the Heavenly
Authorities could keep an eye on him. There he ran amok and was only
restrained when Great Buddha himself imprisoned him for five hundred
years under a mountain.
Sandy. This miserable Water Demon was once a Marshall in the Western
Heaven. He used to eat passing Buddhist pilgrims, his necklace being
made up of their skulls. Now Sandy has begged forgiveness and is an
active follower of the ways of Buddha.
Pigsy. Once a Marshall of one of the Armies of the Western Heaven,
Pigsy was cast down to earth to live like a pig demon after making
unsavoury advances towards one of the Queen Mother of the West’s Jade
Tripitaka. A Buddhist Monk. Once a high-ranking Abbot in the Tang
Empire, he has taken it upon himself to go to India and fetch the lost
scrolls of Buddhist lore.
Monkey 12 Quick start Rules

Some Notes About the Four Pilgrims

In the full rules, each player immortal is created using the same standard
rules. So at the beginning of the game, they are all comparable in abilities
and power. While the Four Pilgrims broadly adhere to these immortal
Creation rules, there’s the odd tweak here and there, ether to reflect
how the characters are in the book (in the case of the Monkey) or make
them more playable (in the case of Pigsy and Sandy who are supporting
characters in the book and gain more powers). Monkey is the star of
the book, and by the time that the Journey to the West starts properly,
Monkey has gained all sorts of adventures and gained more magical
magic powers. Put simply, in the book Monkey is the star of the show, in
this game he’s part of a larger cast of stars.
The spotlight rules (See”Being under the Spotlight” on page 26) go a
long way to stopping Monkey hogging the limelight and being the centre
of the attention. If all else fails, Tripitaka can recite the Headache Sutra
which Sutra Kuan Yin gave him to control the rebellious creature!


All the immortals can fly and shape change into a human form, since
such things are part and parcel of their immortal condition. Each magical
power has a limitation. For example, an immortal in flight cannot
carry mortals, because as everyone knows “mortals are as heavy and
immovable as mountains” and shape changing is always vulnerable to
being seen through by those who have the magical ability to see things in
their true form. This is how the Taoist Patriarch is immediately able to see
through Monkey’s disguise as a pine tree, which leads to his dismissal as
his student.


At the time of the Tang Empire, there are two main religions in China.
Taoism is a philosophy of living that has its roots in the shamanic
practices of the early Chinese. Its primary spokesperson is Lao Tzu
(literally, ‘Old Sage’), who wrote in the Tao Te Ching (The Book of the
Way) the core philosophies of Taoism. It holds that all creation is part
of a single whole, the Tao, which in itself is impossible to see except in
fleeting moments. By practising the Way, a Taoist seeks to be at one with
the Tao, achieving wisdom and immortality. Taoists are mainly interested
in observing the natural world, seeing it as being closer to the Tao than the
confused civilisation which has arisen in China.
Quick Stereotypes: Wise Old Sages quoting profound but relevant
wisdom, Vigorous Martial Artists seeking the perfection of their art.
Buddhism originally came from India, where the Prince Siddhartha
Gautama discovered the core teachings after an extended period
Quick start Rules 13 Monkey
of meditation on the meaning of suffering in the world. Upon his
enlightenment, he realised that life was a wheel of pain and suffering
in which a soul is reincarnated continuously. The body of each life is
appropriate to the person’s karma, literally the sum of their actions. So, a
man who is selfish in a former life may be reborn as a dog and a murderer
as an insect. Demons are the reincarnations of the foulest of evildoers, but
even they may gain good karma and be born into a better life.
What Great Buddha realised was that only by practising the noble
eightfold path of right understanding, right thought, right speech,
right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right
concentration can a person escape the wheel of reincarnation. In short, by
performing good actions, avoiding evil actions and by training the mind
through meditation, a person who successfully follows Great Buddha’s
teachings will himself achieve Buddhahood and the state of Nirvana,
freeing them from the wheel of reincarnation. As well as being literate,
Buddhist priests can also ward off evil spirits and demons with chants
and prayers. They are also vegetarian.
Quick Stereotypes: Gentle, but firm, Priests trying to help people and
ease the world’s pain, Militant Martial Artists defending the poor and the
Of the pilgrims, Tripitaka and Sandy are practising Buddhists, and
Monkey and Pigsy somewhat lapsed Taoists, who enjoy the spiritual
benefits of their philosophy but do not always act in accordance with the
Don’t worry if you don’t get it right , no one is marking your performance.
In fact, beyond broad principles, both Taoism and Buddhism are
wonderfully vague and ambiguous, because they seek to get their
adherents to experience their teachings themselves.


Unlike the other characters, Tripitaka is mortal and can be killed because
of a failed Dramatic Action. If this happens Monkey, Sandy and Pigsy
should immediately mount a rescue mission to the Ten Courts of Hell to
bring him back to life.

The format of the Pilgrims

• Name (and Aliases)
• Origin: A quick summing up of how the character became an immortal.
• Attitudes: Each immortal has two attitudes, One Yang and one Yin.
• Weakness: Which gets the immortal into serious trouble on a regular basis.
• Skills: Each immortal has three Skills, which define what they can do.
• Magic Powers: This section lists the powers that the immortal has and their
• Magical Weapons: Each immortal has a magic weapon to combat demons with.
• About :This section gives the immortal’s history.
Monkey 14 Quick start Rules
Quick start Rules 15 Monkey

Monkey dismissed Monkey and told him

never to mention that he had been
his student.
Also known as The Stone Monkey, Returning home, Monkey drove
The Great Sage Equal to Heaven, off the Demon of Havoc who had
Sun Wukong. taken over Water Mountain Cave
in his absence, before arming
ORIGIN: his monkeys with iron weapons
• Animal Spirit. and becoming the king of the
ATTITUDES surrounding area. It was then
• Yin: Mischievous. that the Jade Emperor’s advisor
Planet Venus decided it would
• Yang: Rebellious.
be a good idea to invite Monkey
WEAKNESS to heaven to keep an eye on him.
• Undisciplined. Monkey could not control his
rebellious nature and ran amok
in the Western Heaven. Monkey
• Monkey Kung Fu 3.
was only subdued by Buddha,
• Rogue 2.
who was visiting from the Eastern
• Taoist Sage 1.
Heaven and imprisoned him under
MAGIC POWERS a mountain for 500 years until
• Flight using a Cloud. Tripitaka arrived.
• Shape changing. Monkey has joined the monk in
• The Fiery Eyes of Demon his quest to collect the missing
Seeing. Buddhist scrolls from India.
• Produce Little Monkeys, copies Tripitaka controls Monkey when
of himself, from his hairs. he gets out of hand using the
MAGICAL WEAPONS Headache Sutra which contracts
• The Iron Staff of the Pole Star. the golden headband monkey
• Golden Headband of the wears. Monkey is armed with the
Headache Sutra (technically Iron staff of the Pole Star, which
Tripitaka’s but Monkey Wears can grow as big as temple column
it). and shrink to the size of a needle
ABOUT MONKEY which Monkey places behind his
Born from a Stone Egg acted on ear. Monkey often sees through
by elemental forces during ancient the human disguises of Demons,
times, Monkey became king of the with his fiery eyes of demon seeing,
Monkeys of Water Cave Mountain. although it gets him trouble with
Worried about growing old and his companions for attacking
dying Monkey travelled the Earth seemingly innocent people.
to learn the secrets of immortality Another magic trick Monkey
from a Taoist Sorcerer called the knows is how to produce Little
Patriarch. Unfortunately, Monkey’s Monkeys, copies of himself, from
mischievous nature got him into hairs he plucks from his fur and
trouble with the Patriarch, who blows life into.
Monkey 16 Quick start Rules
Quick start Rules 17 Monkey


Once a Marshall of one of the
Western Heaven’s army, Pigsy
Also known as Pig, Zhu Bajie. disgraced himself by lusting after
the handmaidens of the Queen
ORIGIN: Mother of the Western Heaven and
• Celestial Deity. was cast down to earth in the form
ATTITUDES of a pig demon. There he preyed
• Yin: Deceitful. upon unsuspecting travellers until
Monkey fought him, and Tripitaka
• Yang: Lusty.
brought him into the quest for the
WEAKNESS lost scrolls of Buddhism.
• Gluttony. Pigsy wields the Nine Pronged
SKILLS Iron Rake, which was forged by the
• Pig Kung Fu 3. Father of Taoism, Lao Tzu, himself
and presented to him during his
• Courtier 2.
time in Heaven as a reward for
• Rogue 1. his service as a Marshall. Pigsy’s
MAGIC POWERS demonic nature gives him the
• Flight on a cloud. magical ability to eat anything and
emit a loud deafening bestial roar.
• Shape Change.
• Eat Anything.
• Bestial Roar.
• The Nine Pronged Iron Rake.
Monkey 18 Quick start Rules
Quick start Rules 19 Monkey


Sandy was once a Marshall of the
Armies of Western Heaven until he
Also known as, Sandy Monk, Sand, broke the Jade Emperor’s Jade bowl
Sha Wujing. at one of his parties.
Cast out of heaven, Sandy became
a water demon, preying on passing
• Celestial Deity.
travellers. His skull necklace is
ATTITUDES made up of nine Buddhist priests
• Yin: Miserable. he killed and ate, but whose skulls
• Yang: Aggressive. do not sink in water because of
their purity in life. He fought
WEAKNESS Pigsy and Monkey, as a Water
• Clumsy. Monster, until he realised they
SKILLS were travelling with Tripitaka,
• Water Flowing style Kung Fu 3. who he knew was his source of
redemption. Throwing himself at
• Soldier 2.
the monk’s feet, Sandy dedicated
• Buddhist 2. himself to the Buddhist Way and
MAGIC POWERS protecting him on his Journey to
• Flight. the West, to bring back the lost
scrolls of Buddhism from India.
• Shape change.
• At home under water.
• Terrifying appearance.
• Skull Necklace of Buddhist
• Jade Halberd of the River.
Monkey 20 Quick start Rules
Quick start Rules 21 Monkey


Abandoned as a baby, Tripitaka
was brought up by Buddhist
Also known as, Tang Monk, Monks. When he was older, he
Xuanzang. found out that his father, a landed
noble, had been murdered by
ORIGIN another man and who had forcibly
• Mortal married his mother to gain his
ATTITUDES father’s lands. As an adult Tripitaka
• Yin: Gentle. exposed the felon, was reunited
with his mother and went onto
• Yang: Saintly.
become the Abbot of his monastery.
WEAKNESS Tripitaka became one of the most
• Fearful. foremost authorities on Buddhism
SKILLS in China. The Tang Emperor chose
• Buddhist 3. him to go and return the lost
scrolls of Buddhism from India.
• Abbott 2.
Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy,
• Courtier 1. gave Tripitaka a magical cloak to
MAGIC POWERS help him on his journey. After
• Headache Sutra. his first two mortal companions
were driven away by Demons,
• Sutras of Protection from Evil.
Tripitaka freed Monkey from his
MAGICAL WEAPONS imprisonment under a mountain,
• Kuan Yin’s Cloak. recruited Sandy and Pigsty and
began Journey to the West in
earnest. His white horse steed is
actually the dishonoured son of a
Dragon King, who steadily plods
along the road without revealing
his true nature.
After Monkey’s rebellious nature
had become a problem, Kuan Yin
taught Tripitaka a Head Ache Sutra
(a type of Buddhist Spell) which
causes a magical golden head band
that monkey wears to painfully
contract, causing him to stop what
he is doing and hold his head in
Monkey 22 Quick start Rules

3. How to Play
What happens during a game session?
A typical game session of Monkey moves through four stages:
• Starting the Session.
• Building Scenes.
• Action.
• Ending the Session.
These stages are detailed below. If you are looking for rough timings for a
three to four-hour session, on average the first stage lasts between ten and
thirty minutes but can go up to an hour if there’s a lot to discuss. Building
Scenes and Action is the meat of the session and takes up a good 2-3
hours. Ending the session could take 30 minutes if the story runs out, and
the group is in the luxuriant position of finishing early with time to spare.
Or as little as five minutes if they play right up to the moment that people
start to check their watches and saying, “I have to go soon.”

Starting the Session

The Narrator lets the players recap what happens the last session. This
part of the game is a group effort where everybody can contribute, the
reason being that everybody will remember different bits and between
them, they should be able to paint a good picture of events. If the Narrator
does it, there is not only a danger of the story being told from the referee’s
point of view but hidden bits of the story, which were not resolved in
the open, being told. Also, it saves the Narrator’s voice for the rest of the
session by avoiding the Narrator having to do an opening monologue.
During the recap, if there are outstanding book-keeping issues, such as
advancing characters (see “Ending the Adventure: Resolution” on page
36 ), sort them out now before play commences.
If you are just starting a new Adventure with new characters, read out
or paraphrase the Pitch, and go around the table and introduce everyone
(using both real and in character names) before launching into play.
Quick start Rules 23 Monkey


This is where the Narrator introduces the adventure to the players. They
should explain where the Pilgrims are at the start of the adventure, and
something about the initial situation.
For example, your Pilgrims are on the long dusty road to India, travelling
westwards through the wilderness. In the distance, you see the mountains rise
up and the colossal stone Buddha that sits at their feet. There are signs of human
activity, the lazy smoke of cooking fires drift up from the village that sits next to
the Stone Buddha.


During each scene, one of the player immortal has the spotlight. This
basically means that they get the option of saying what their immortal
does first. See “Being under the Spotlight” for more details on how this
plays out in game.
The order of who has the spotlight is determined by the following
procedure at the beginning of a session.
• Each player takes a card from the player’s deck of cards.
• The player with the highest card gets the spotlight first.
• In subsequent scenes, the spotlight goes around the table from that
player clockwise.
In the case of a draw in the card draw to determine spotlight, players who
have the same highest card draw again. All the drawn cards are put back
into the players’ deck, which is then reshuffled.
In the adventure given in this Quick Start, each scene already has a
character attached to it as being under the spotlight. This is in part because
the situation is tailored to the immortal in question, but also to make it
easier for new Narrators.


Once the Narrator has introduced the adventure, the players get their
turn. Either collectively, after consultation with one another, or by going
around the table clockwise from the player who has the spotlight first,
they say what their immortals are initially doing.
Play then proceeds from the introduction.
Monkey 24 Quick start Rules

Playing the Game

After the introductory parts of the session are out of the way, play then
flows into the main part of the session, where the players and Narrator
actively play the game. In this part of the session, as well as the gentle or
excited flow of conversation between the Narrator and the players, two
structured activities occur that underpin the game.
• Building Scenes. Scenes are the building blocks of your stories. They
provide a container to pour game experience into, and a structure to
maximise fun and let imagination fly.
• Action. Actions form the mechanical aspect of the game, where cards
are drawn to resolve situations where the immortals’ success is
uncertain. Like scenes, their partner in crime, the logic actions bring to
the table is designed to unleash fun and imaginative play.

Each Scene has the following elements
A location where the scene takes place. This is a discrete place that can
easily be described to the players and that they can easily mentally
A situation. What is already happening when the player immortals enter
the scene, or what happens at the time they arrive?
A cast. Who is present for the player immortals to interact with?
At the heart of each scene, there should be a central problem that should
provide a challenge to the immortals. Although Monkey is filled with
action scenes, there’s also a genuine sense that the action is fitting into
a larger scheme of things with precise consequences. Scenes in Monkey
should never be straightforward random violence.
When the players enter the scene, the Narrator describes their first
impressions of the location, who they can see and what is happening. Play
then follows from that point.
Work out who has the spotlight. At the beginning of the scene make sure
everyone knows who has the spotlight. For it is them that gets the option
to go first and potentially steal the scene.
Set the Scene. The Narrator asks the players if they want to steal the scene.
If they do, they set the scene with the help of the Narrator. Otherwise, it
defaults to the Narrator sets the scene.
Play out the Scene. Problems are resolved by either talking them through,
i.e. by pure role-playing, or by playing out an action.
Exiting the Scene. The Narrator and the players bring the scene to an
end, as the player immortals leave it and move onto the next scene. Any
consequences and rewards are noted, and their effect on future scenes and
Quick start Rules 25 Monkey
the outcome of the adventure overall noted.


Monkey is meant to be a very player-centred game. The role of the
Narrator is to help and guide the players, adjudicating rules disputes
and providing clarity when they are not sure of setting details or how to
progress the game. The Narrator should also give the players a sense of
ownership of the story and emphasise the importance of their characters.
Scenes are the building blocks of an adventure in the same way as in
a film or play. Usually, the Narrator gets to describe the location and
circumstances that the players find themselves in. Under exceptional
circumstances, the Players can Steal the Scene from the Narrator.
For example, the Narrator is getting ready to describe the Palace of the Many
Plumed Tyrant Demon, but the players collectively and unanimously decide that
it would be better for them to have the next scene in the Western Heaven. There
they ask their Patron Deity, the Wise Planet Venus, advisor to the Jade Emperor
himself, how to defeat the Many Plumed Tyrant Demon since they have no idea
and have been defeated by it in previous scenes. Hence the scene shifts temporarily
to the Western Heaven.
To steal the scene, the following must happen:
Either the all the players as a group unanimously decides to Steal the
Scene from the Narrator Or the player with the spotlight decides to steal
the scene.
The player can gain an extra card to put to one side to play in a later
action by briefly describing how their immortal’s weakness gets them and
the rest of the group into trouble.
For example, the light-fingered fox spirit Red Fur, whose weakness is Theft, and
companions are trying to sneak through a large crowd of people avoiding the
attention of the local City Guards. Red Fur’s player mischievously reckons its
worth playing Red Fur’s weakness, and alerting the City Guards to the group’s
presence in the crowd, to get an extra card for later on. So Red Fur cannot help
herself and tries to unsuccessfully to pick the purse of a very fat and very loud
passing merchant. Such extra cards must be drawn without looking at them and
stored face down until played in an action.
Monkey 26 Quick start Rules

A card from a weakness can be played either:

• At the start of a scene.
• At the beginning of a quick or simple action.
• As their Exchange, instead of drawing cards, in a dramatic action.
At the beginning each scene one of the player immortals has the ‘spotlight’
and are able to put their character first in describing what they are doing.
This happens naturally in the book, where some scenes focus on Monkey
but others start out with what Pigsy, Tripitaka or Sandy are up to. This
feature of the game not only helps quieter players, who are perhaps
swamped in all the banter produced as more outwardly players get
excited but also supports more outwardly players calm down and collect
their thoughts coherently.
For example, Sandy has the spotlight. His ordinarily timid player steps forward
and puts Sandy at the front of the action, confronting the Crab Headed Demon
the Pilgrims have just encountered, giving the monstrous creature a good telling
off for being on the beach threatening them when it should be in the deep sea.
A player who has the spotlight may also Steal the Scene and Play a
Weakness as their statement of what their immortal is doing at the start of
the scene.
For example, Pigsy’s player, who has the spotlight, Steals the Scene by deciding
the Pilgrims should abandon the dusty road to India and the demons that await
them, and take shelter in an inn and partake of its food and wine to excess instead
(playing Pigsy’s weakness). Instead of encountering the demons on the road, the
pilgrims meet them as they are hung over and debauched as they burst weapons
drawn through the inn’s main door. Pigsy’s player smiles slyly to himself and
draws an extra card face down.
During Immortal Creation and previous play sessions, the immortal may
have gained friends and enemies.
A player may call upon a friend to help them out during a scene, at the
beginning of a scene after the scene has been set. Some sort of reason why
the friend is present must be given. This is usually quite easy because, like
the player immortals, the friend is likely to be an immortal and therefore
is able to move around Heaven and Earth quite easily. A classic example
of this sort of call a friend is when Great Buddha just happens to pop into
the Western Heaven because he hears that there is some sort of grand
commotion (Monkey running amok) over there.
Likewise, the Narrator may put enemies the player immortal has made in
their lifetime into play, usually as extra help to the opposition that already
exists in the scene, if it makes sense to have them there.
Quick start Rules 27 Monkey

The action system is used when the story takes a dramatic turn, and
the outcome is uncertain. There are three types of action that might be
employed, depending on the nature of the situation:
Quick. The action is resolved automatically at the standard dictated by
the most appropriate skill’s rank. No cards are drawn. For example, if a
character jumps across a river, his Acrobatics or appropriate Kung Fu skill
rank determines whether he gets wet.
Simple. The player draws some cards equal to the rank of the skill
their character is using, and the Narrator draws some cards equal to
the opponent’s skill rank. The highest cards from each hand are then
compared, with victory going to the higher card.
Dramatic. This is a series of simple actions, usually between three and
five in number. Each Simple action represents a situation that needs to
be resolved before moving on to the next one. Dramatic actions are used
when merely beating the opposition in a single exchange of cards is not
enough for victory and does not satisfy the needs of the story.
Before we go into detail how these actions are resolved, we will look at a
few simple ground rules.

Card Management Rules

• The Narrator has one deck of cards to themselves.
• The players share one deck of cards.
• A player may store one card, face down, which they may swap into their
Action Hand at any given time. They may save extra cards, which are
drawn and stored face down, by playing their weakness (see page 25).
Once played, these additional stored cards are not replaced. This called
their saved card(s).
• Aces are high; Jokers are the highest and cause a reshuffle of both the
Narrator’s and the player’s decks when played due to the way they shake up
the flow of the Universe.
• You play one card at a time, to resolve an action.
• If you tie in an action, the player wins, barely. There may be a complication
if it makes sense in the context of the situation.
• If you make an action that you don’t have a skill in, you just draw one card
and may not swap in any cards that you have previously saved.
Monkey 28 Quick start Rules

Quick actions require no card drawing. They are actions which
automatically succeed eventually, by virtue of a character’s immortal
nature, but how well they succeed depends on the skill rank.
For example, suppose the player characters must cross a fast-moving
river. The task is easily accomplished by someone who has a skill of 3 or
over. Characters with appropriate skills at 3 or over cross the river with no
problem. Characters with relevant skills under 3 cross the river, but in the
course of the story fall in, get wet and have to be fished out by the more
skilled characters.
So apply this to a narrative say the Pilgrims (Monkey, Tripitaka,
Sandy and Pigsy) are crossing a fast-flowing river, which really needs
experienced swimmers to cross it. Sandy (who is a Water Demon and
an expert swimmer) cross the river with ease and sings a merry tune.
Monkey uses his magic staff and Monkey Kung Fu to somersault over
in style. Tripitaka is riding the Horse, a transformed Dragon who has
no problem traversing the river. Pigsy who is a poor swimmer struggles
against the current and eventually gets across wet, cold and ill of temper.
Quick actions add colour to the story, in that they show that not all
characters are equal and show the ups and downs of their quest, but are
quickly noted and resolved.
To resolve a quick action, look at the skill rank and base the level of
success on that. There are never any severe consequences for either the
character or their opponent (if they have one) in a quick action; a quick
action is mainly for colour and often dealt with humorously.
Note that all actions against static opponents, such as climbing mountains
and crossing busy rivers are dealt with this way.

What do the skills mean?

Rank Description Meaning
1 Trained A meaningful amount of training, but still
2 Journeyman Regularly performs this skill in a professional
3 Expert Other people look to this person for training
and advice.
4 Master Very accomplished and skilful, looked up to
as an acknowledged keeper of the tradition.
5 Grand Master The best in the world at that skill.
Quick start Rules 29 Monkey

If the outcome of an event, which impacts the direction of the story, is not
clear cut and needs to be quickly resolved before moving on, use a Simple
action. Simple actions always have some sort of opponent, usually a
demon or other character who is antagonistic to the player immortal in the
Example Simple actions:
Does the Scholar Turtle convince the stern Mandarins of Ministry of
Fire to let him pass an exam to join that Heavenly Civil Service? Can
the reformed demon Red Eyes convince the lynch mob of villagers that
he has mended his evil ways? Can the General of Cats sneak past the
Demon Shark of the Gloom Depths to enter the secret tunnel to the enemy
Step 1 Baddies go first!
The Narrator draws some card(s) for the opponent, depending on their
narrative importance:
Extras: Mooks, bit parts, the bloke on the street, the unnamed warrior.
One card.
Supporting characters: Lieutenants and another second in commands
to Demon Lords, named characters that are not quite the big bad of the
piece. Two cards.
Major characters: named opponents, demon lords. Three or more cards
depending on how threatening or nasty they are. The character has a base
of two cards, with an extra card for each magic power or weapon.
For example: The Spider Queen gets 2 cards (Base), +1 for extra legs, +1 for her
Poisonous bite, +1 for her Web attack for a total of five cards. So, if you want to
write that down as a ‘stat block.’ Its also noted that she is a Tough Opponent,
which has no baring in simple actions but is important in dramatic actions (see
“Dramatic Actions” on page 33).
Spider Queen
Card Draw 5.
Tough Opponent.
• Poisonous bite.
• Attacks up five characters with piercing leg ends.
• Spits entangling web stuff.
The Narrator picks the highest card to play, which is placed face down
in front of the player and gives a quick narrative of how the baddie is
threatening the character, coloured by whether the threat is Yin (black) or
Yang (red) as determined by the card that is being played.
Why do baddies go first? It’s a quick an easy way of sorting out who
Monkey 30 Quick start Rules

narrates first, rather than everyone shouting. If the player performing the
action wants to go first, and it makes sense in the story, reverse the two
Step 2 Next the Immortal
1. BUILD THE NARRATIVE DECLARATION from the combination of
skill, magic and the attitude you are playing. Note that the Narrator
has the power of veto on any part of your description if it doesn’t
make sense in the context of the story. Although if you are smart in
constructing your narrative, you can use the most unlikely of skills
to base your action on since they are broad skill groups rather than
specific skills. NOTE: Whether the action is Yin (black cards) or Yang
(red cards) is set here by the attitude, which you MUST declare as part
of your Narrative.
In short: Narrative declaration = Skill (what the immortal is doing) +
Attitude (how they are doing it) + Magic Power/orTool (what they are
doing it with).
2. DRAW CARDS FOR SKILL: For the skill that the character is using to
resolve the action, draw cards equal to skill rank.
3. DRAW CARDS FOR MAGIC: If using magic, draw a card for ONE
Magical power or tool that you are using. Note you do not have to
use Magic, and it may not be appropriate for the action in question
(in which case the Narrator may veto its use), but it does increase the
opportunity to get high cards.
4. DRAW CARDS FOR ATTITUDE: Draw one card for your attitude you
are playing.
ATTITUDE YOU ARE PLAYING. If the attitude you are playing is
Yin, discard all the red (Yang) cards. Conversely, if the attitude you
are playing is Yang, discard all the black (Yin) cards.
6. PLAY THE HIGHEST CARD: Pick the highest card that you’ve drawn,
and put that face up in front of the Narrator.
7. CLEAN UP YOUR MESS! Put all the cards that you chose not to play
in the discard pile. Before you do this stage, you may swap one of
these cards with your Saved Card.
8. DETERMINE THE WINNER: The character with the highest card
wins. In the case of draws, the player just about wins.
Example: King of the Hill
Monkey was scouting out the road for the rest of the Pilgrims who were slowly
coming up it several leagues behind. Suddenly a large dark figure appeared on the
road ahead.
“I’m the King of the Hill!” shouted the Bull-Headed Demon from the top of the
hill that the path climbed up and went over.
Quick start Rules 31 Monkey
“Why you obnoxious bull-headed moron! Do you not know that I’m the Monkey
King! Get out of my way now!”
“Yeah, you and whose army!” Shouted Bull Head back defiantly.
It was evident to Monkey that he would have to quickly prove that he was King
of the Hill to the upstart demon, before his Master and the rest arrived, or things
would get ugly.
Because this is a quick scene in the adventure, both Monkey’s player and
the Narrator decide that a win or lose simple action is appropriate. Either
Monkey gets around the demon, and the Pilgrim’s Journey can continue
peacefully, or he’s going to be a problem and the story will go in that
Step: 1 Baddies go first
Because the Bull-Headed demon is a supporting character (his boss is the
White-Boned Demon who is lurking with her army of demons further
down the path) the Narrator draws two cards for him: A Ten of Diamonds
and a Three of Hearts. The Narrator plays the Yang (red=Yang) Ten of
Diamonds face down and narrates it:
“The Bull-Headed Demon grinds his hoofs into the ground, lowers his halberd
and takes an aggressive unmovable stance.”
Step: 2 Next the Immortal
Now it’s over to the player.
challenging the Bull-Headed Demon on a hill, he decides that

“Monkey summons up his flying cloud, and flies up the hill past the Bull-
Headed Demon and tries to mischievously trip him up with his staff as he
flies past.”

2. DRAW CARDS FOR SKILL: Monkey uses his Monkey Kung Fu to

attack his opponent, His skill rank is three, so he draws three cards: A
Ten of Clubs, an Ace of Spades and a Ten of Diamonds.
3. DRAW CARDS FOR MAGIC: Monkey’s player decides to use his
Flight magic as this is Monkey whizzing past on his cloud while they
make his attack. The player draws another card: A Queen of Hearts.
4. DRAW CARDS FOR ATTITUDE: Monkey brings his Yin attitude of
Mischievous into play, drawing another card. The player draws one
card which is a Three of Hearts,.
ATTITUDE YOU ARE PLAYING. The chosen attitude that Monkey is
performing the action is Yin which corresponds to Black. So, all the
red cards that the player has drawn are discarded: Ten of Diamonds
(from the skill), Queen of Hearts (from Magic) and Three of Hearts
Monkey 32 Quick start Rules

(ironically drawn for the attitude) all go in the discard pile.

6. PLAY THE HIGHEST CARD: Monkey’s player decides to play the
Ace of Spades and places it face down in front of the Narrator’s card.
7. CLEAN UP YOUR MESS: Monkey’s player discards all the other
cards, except the Ten of Clubs which they move to their Saved Card.
8. DETERMINE THE WINNER: The Narrator and player turn up their
cards, and the player’s Ace of Spades beats the Narrator’s Ten of
Monkey’s player gleefully narrates the victory.
“Monkey flies up the hill on his cloud, with a glint of mischief in his eye, tripping
up the solid Bull Demon with the lightest of taps with his staff as he flies by.”
Consequences of Simple Actions
Simple actions are a pure win or lose situation. Therefore, they do not
involve grievous bodily harm, i.e. Wounds that carry over to next scene,
simply because that sort of thing isn’t part of the fiction they are designed
to simulate.
In the above example, the Bull-Headed Demon gets knocked off the top of
the hill and sulks his way down off the hill to go report the nasty people
to his boss the White Bone Demon.
The Fun Card
Note that if a player gives a cracking narration that has the whole table
in stitches or describes the action well in a manner fitting to the situation
they get an extra bonus card draw at the Narrator’s discretion.
Quick start Rules 33 Monkey

These are the big set pieces of the story. For example, the big climactic
fight against the main villain of the piece, or a big debate where many
immortals argue the future of the Universe. A dramatic action can also be
a sequence of short scenes, each spotlighting one of the immortals, which
together form a climatic ending to an adventure. Usually, there is at least
one of this type of action in a game session, with at most two or three.
The first thing the Narrator does is to set the scene and then outline what
simple actions the players must overcome:
For example, in If You See Buddha on the Road, the final climactic scene is where
the Pilgrims confront the Great Spider Demon who has been the mastermind
behind the demonic infestation, inside the hollow head.
The Narrator sets the scene by describing the large chamber the player immortals
find themselves in and how the Spider Demon is aided by Blind Guardians,
horrific looking demon extras with no eyes, and sits up in a giant web that hangs
from the ceiling with captured villagers. They decide to play out this scene as a
dramatic action made up of four actions.
Action 1: Defeat the Blind Guardian Demons. Each of the immortals fights one or
two of these horrors who swarm around them.
Action 2: Get into the web to fight the Spider Demon. The immortal must jump/
fly into the web to fight the Spider Demon, who tries to stop them by spitting
hindering webbing at them.
Action 3: Release the villagers. The Spider Demon menacingly threatens them
and kills them if the players don’t release them.
Action 4: Fight the Spider Demon. The final fight in the web.
To make sure everyone has a go, starting with the player whose immortal
currently has the spotlight and then proceeding around the table.
Monkey 34 Quick start Rules


Each dramatic action is a sequence of simple actions played out over a
series of Exchanges.
1. INITIATIVE: The order of actions is determined by going around
the table clockwise, starting with the player who currently has the
spotlight for the scene.
each player draws their card, they must declare their intent for their
immortal’s actions for that exchange.
3. MAKE THE EXCHANGE: The player and opponent draw cards in the
same way as for simple actions. However, the character and opponent
both go simultaneously. If the player wins, they succeed with their
intent. If the Narrator wins, they narrate what happens
immediate one is that the losing character takes a strike. Player
immortals have three strikes. Extras take one strike and are out,
supporting characters take two and major characters take three or
more depending on how much of a threat they are (see above for a
quick guide). When you are out of strikes, you are out of the action.
There may be other consequences (such as having a magical weapon
knocked out of your hand) which are up to the Narrator to approve or
impose. Strikes represent the immortal having their energy lowered,
either through it being bashed out of them in physical conflicts
or diminished by their opponents proving their superiority in the
situation through other means. Once the dramatic action is over the
immortal’s energy almost immediately replenishes, and all lost strikes
are regained.
The above is the basics of a dramatic action. The following are specific
rules that add to the basic procedure in the case of special situations.
Do Immortals Come Back if They Are Defeated?
If an extra is beaten in a scene that is it, they are out of the story, dying if
mortal, otherwise fleeing from the scene back to where they call home.
Either way, they are out of the story and pose no further threat to the
player immortals.
If a supporting character is defeated, then it’s up to the Narrator how
soundly they performed in the action. If they didn’t cause any strikes
against the player immortals, the player immortals resoundingly defeated
them. If they inflicted strikes, then they slink away to fight another day,
possibly later in the adventure if appropriate.
Major characters tend to show up in the last scene, so are usually fought to
the end there. If, however, they show up in an earlier scene, they usually
depart the action before being finished.
There are two possibilities:
1. A major character leaves as soon as they suffer their first strike. Demons
Quick start Rules 35 Monkey
are a cowardly lot, and a major character who is the leader of a group of
minions would rather go back to its lair and plot the player immortals
downfall from a distance, using its followers to do its dirty work.
2. If a major character is reduced to 0 strikes, their surviving supporting
characters immediately carry them to safety, while extras keep the
characters busy. Alternatively, a major character has a single use magical
power that allows them to escape, perhaps disappearing in a puff of
If a player immortal is defeated in a dramatic action, they sit out the rest
of the action. In the end, if the rest of the Pilgrims have been defeated they
might all be captured by their opponents, and end up their prisoners. If
the Pilgrims emerge victorious as a group, the defeated player immortal
gets up, dusts themselves down and perhaps suffers a joke or two at their
Assisting Other Immortals
Another immortal can give up their individual action for an exchange, say
how they are helping another player immortal performing an action, and
then draw cards as normal. They then pass their highest card to the player
they are assisting. This card need not match the colour of the card of the
player being assisted, assuming their narrative declaration makes sense
in the context of the narrative declaration that the assisted player made
The assist happens when the player who is receiving the assistance plays
their highest card in their exchange. Assistance happens either when
the player being helped cannot beat their opponent, either because their
highest card is still lower than their opponents, or they require two or
more cards higher than their opponent because of their toughness, to
inflict a strike (see Tough Opponents below).
Tough Opponents
Some opponents are declared as Tough. This means that you need to beat
them at twice in the same exchange of cards to perform a strike upon
them. This can be done either by the same player, who has plays two
cards higher than the opponent’s highest card, or more usually by the
player providing one higher card and another player successfully assisting
the character to provide another higher card.
If the player immortal fails to overcome the opponent’s toughness but
plays at least one card higher than the opponent’s highest card, they do
not suffer a strike.
Resolving Actions using Multiple Opponents (aka Mook rules)
The Narrator Shouts “MOB attack on [character name]!” and sends waves
of extras against the player character of their choice.
For each extra attacking a character, play one card face up in front of their
player involved.
Monkey 36 Quick start Rules

Then the player makes their regular card draw, and starting with their
highest card defeats the extras attacking their character. They carry on
playing cards until they can no longer beat the extras. If at this point there
are more extras with higher cards, then the character takes a strike.
Note that if the player gives a narration that includes flying whirlwind
kicks and other such methods of attacking multiple opponents, it can earn
the player an extra card draw (aka The Fun Card).
Major or supporting characters will use extras in this way to tie up
characters, so they don’t get attacked by the whole party or so they can
make their escape. If escaping, they can do so successfully if the player
immortal being Mob Attacked takes a strike (which shows they were held
up by the extras).
For example, Monkey is attacked by four Crab Guards while skulking around the
South Dragon’s Palace. The Narrator calls a mob attack and describes how they
all rush at him, pincers clicking. He draws four cards and places them in front of
Monkey’s player face up Five of Clubs, Four of Diamonds, Ten of Hearts, Five of
Monkey’s player describes how Monkey whirls his iron staff around and swings it
in an arc to hit all the Crabs. He draws three cards for his Monkey Kung Fu and
an extra card for his magic weapon: Three of Hearts, Two of Diamonds, Ten of
Spades, and Queen of Diamonds.
This means two of the crabs are knocked out by Monkey’s blows, but two remain
standing, and their pinching pincers cause Monkey to lose a strike.

Ending the Adventure: Resolution

The final scene of any adventure is the ‘Resolution Scene’. Here all the
loose ends of the story are tied up. If the opposition of the story has not
been confronted and defeated, this is where it happens. If it has, then this
scene covers the events following the climax in which clarification of what
occurred in the story occurs.
In If You See Buddha on the Road, the resolution scene is when the Pilgrims
have triumphantly reached the top of the Giant Stone Buddha’s head
and stop for a moment to take stock before continuing their journey

There follows an introductory adventure for both new players and narrators,
called If You See Buddha on the Road. If you are a player, you should stop reading
now in order not to spoil the fun for yourself. If you are a Narrator please read
4. If You See Buddha on
the Road
Monkey 38 Quick start Rules

Starting the Adventure

Give each player one of the four pilgrims. You can either let them choose,
or if they can’t decide, randomly allocate them. Let them review the sheet
and answer any questions.
If you are playing with fewer than three players, keep Tripitaka aside for
use as a Narrator controlled character.
Explain how the adventure is broken into scenes like a play or a film.
Explain how, in each scene, a different character has the spotlight, how
Stealing the Scene works, and finally how characters can bring their
weakness into a scene to gain extra cards (see “The Players’ Control of the
Narrative” on page 25).

Lead in Scene: At the Feet of Buddha

Read or paraphrase the following introduction for the players:
The pilgrims are on their way to India to pick up the lost scrolls of
Buddhist cannon to bring enlightenment to a China beset by social ills.
They find their way blocked by a mountain range. The only way through
is a mountain pass which goes through a huge statue of Buddha himself!
The giant stone Buddha sits serenely at the base of a cliff and is seventy
metres tall. A winding stair leads up from a village nestled at Buddha’s
feet, through temples and chambers carved out the rock in Buddha’s
internal organs, 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, tedious journey and looks for
opportunities for mischief.
Sandy is worried that all is not what it seems despite the happy people in
the village.
Pigsy is hungry and thirsty after the trek through the desert, and just
wants to gorge himself on food, wine and introduce himself to the lovely
local women who live in the village built at Buddha’s feet.
Horse, being a shape-shifted Dragon Prince transformed into a steed for
Tripitaka by the Goddess Kuan Yin, momentarily wishes that he could
turn back into a dragon and fly over the mountain but is quietly resigned
to plodding up all those stairs.
Quick start Rules 39 Monkey


The adventure takes place in a giant carved statue of Buddha that sits
against a cliff and is the only way up the cliff, via a staircase up from the
village through tunnels within the Buddha which lead to four chambers.
The village on the surface looks like a typical Chinese village, with rice
fields and huts on the terraced sides of the hill leading up to the Stone
Buddha. But all is not what it seems since the smiling peasants are being
held captive by disguised demons, and a good number of them have been
taken into the Stone Buddha for nefarious ends by more demons.
Up the winding stair that leads up from the village, through double
wooden doors, is an entrance hall. Here demons who feed on lust and the
baser desires of humans have set up shop.
Upwards from the entrance is the Heart chamber, which is full of darkness
and demons who torment the Village Priest.
Finally, in the chamber of the mind, in a large web holding the last of the
village captives is a Spider Queen and her children who cloud the mind of
the Stone Buddha.

What’s to stop Immortals Climbing

or Flying up the cliff?
Some devious players will ask the Narrator what’s to stop them
climbing up the cliff or even using their power of flight to reach the
top of the cliff.
If the Pilgrim’s insist on trying to climb the cliff or fly up:
Remind them that they cannot carry the mortal Tripitaka while they
are flying, since mortals are as heavy as mountains when the lighter
immortal is in flight. A mysterious magical force stops their ascent
about three metres off the ground. If they persist or try to discern
more about the opposing force, they will see the outlines of a giant
hand which gently glows golden in the air. Eventually, Buddha will
make his wishes known:
“Use the stairs to ascend, for that is the way for the holy to
overcome the unholy and cleanse my body!”
Eventually, players will get the message that there is more fun to be
had going up the stairs and following the tunnels through the Stone
Monkey 40 Quick start Rules


As well as being a huge stone idol and centre of worship of Buddha, the
inner chambers of the stone Buddha have correspondences in Chinese
medicine and martial arts. The three chambers directly correspond to
what are called in Chinese “Dantians”, which translates to energy centres.
When clear and unblocked, energy, or “chi” to give it its Chinese name,
circulates up through the body through the Dantians and then drops
down again forming a circuit, in the shape of a serpent of energy.
The Entrance Chamber corresponds to the First Dantian, which is the
physical power centre. Obviously, part of this is to do with eating, hence
the corruption of the chamber by a group of demons who are busy spit
roasting the villages sacred cow.
The Heart Chamber corresponds to the Second Dantian and relates to
emotions and thoughts. The demons that dwell here have made it a place
of fear. In the Heart Chamber lives a Tiger Spirit that awakens when
swift, decisive action is needed. While the demons hold sway in the Stone
Buddha, it sleeps, although the Pilgrims may be able to awaken it.
The Third Eye Chamber, just behind the point between the Stone Buddha’s
eyebrows, is the place where the energy moving up the body through the
three Dantians becomes spiritual, before circulating downwards again.
It is also the point where thought becomes clear and translates into the
spiritual force known as Wu-Wei, or “Action without Action”. The Spider
Queen has webbed this chamber, clouding any sense of clarity. An energy
serpent rises up from the First Dantian, goes through the second and
ends up in here before dropping back down. It is currently blocked by
the demon infection, but by the time the Pilgrims have reached the Third
Eye chamber, it is becoming sufficiently powerful to be seen as a ghostly
shadow on the wall. Perhaps they will find a way to awaken it?
All the pilgrims are aware of this energy system since it is common
knowledge amongst immortals. It is not likely to be at the forefront of
the pilgrims’ minds as they explore the insides of the Stone Buddha.
Only reveal the spiritual nature of the Stone Buddha and the energetic
associations if the players openly ask questions of about it, be very specific
in your answers and don’t volunteer information that you don’t have to.
In other words, gradually reveal the hidden wonders of the Temple. There
are some significant clues in both the Heart (the Sleeping Tiger) and in the
final chamber in the form of the shadow of the energy serpent.
Each chamber is reached via a tunnel from the proceeding chamber
which is dark and closed off by some sort of magical force field until the
problems in the chamber are dealt with.
Quick start Rules 41 Monkey

Each Scene has the following format.
Spotlight: Which of the four characters has the spotlight and gets to
act first. In this example, we’re presuming that you are using the four
pilgrims and for ease we’ve already allocated one of them the spotlight.
Location: A quick description of the scene’s setting.
The Situation: The immediate situation that the mmortals find themselves
Cast List: Which non-player immortals are present in this scene and their
game information.
Problems: Issues the player immortals have to face in the scene. A quick
set of notes for the Narrator to use to create Actions to resolve issues faced
by the player immortals.
Scene Exit: The physical exit from this scene and some notes about the
how to wrap up the scene satisfactorily.
The format of this adventure write-up is not a script that has to be
followed. You and your players may come up with ideas outside of this
write-up in play that are fun and appear to go off script. If you do so go
with the flow and follow the fun. What is presented here is a grab bag of
ideas to inspire and facilitate improvisation. Number one rule of Monkey,
While the Stone Buddha in this adventure is fictitious, it was inspired by
the slightly less fantastic, but no less inspiring, Meng Shan and Leshan
Stone Buddhas in China.
Monkey 42 Quick start Rules

Scene 1 The Village

A seemingly idyllic rustic peasant village nestled in the mountain’s foot
hills, which are terraced with rice paddies. Through the village, a dirt
road snakes its way to a giant stone staircase leading up to the Great Stone
Buddha. There are about fifty or so peasants out in the fields and another
ten at work in the village.

On closer inspection, all is not as harmonious as it seems. It should
gradually dawn upon the Pilgrims that the peasants are all women and
children, and they are being supervised by some rather rough looking
men. If questioned, the men say they are mercenaries hired by the local
lord, a good day’s journey to the north, to protect the peasants from
bandits. They say the whole area is off limits to travellers, for their
own safety, and that the Pilgrims should travel north and go round the
mountains and carry on west that way. If the Pilgrims ask where the men
folk are, the mercenaries respond that they are at the Lords’ estate to the
north. There they are doing important masonry work, which the villagers,
who built the Buddha at the behest of one of the Tang Emperors ten years
previously, are famous for.
The ‘mercenaries’ are actually demons in disguise. They are making the
women and children toil in the fields and the village, out of pure sadism.
The menfolk are being held captive inside the Stone Buddha.

Extras: Demons disguised as mercenaries and the Villagers (terrified out
of their wits)

Demons have infested the Stone Buddha and are seeking to corrupt it.
They have taken many of the villagers prisoner.
Deal with the demons disguised as bandits.
Keep the Villagers safe from harm. Not as easy as it sounds if the players
decide to fight a pitched battle against the demons.
Find out what is going on.

After the demons have been driven away, the Village Headwoman steps
forward and tells the Pilgrims that demons have overrun the Stone
Buddha and taken thirty or so menfolk prisoner. She asks the Pilgrims to
rescue them. Fearfully, the villagers point towards the Stone Buddha.
Quick start Rules 43 Monkey

Scene 2 The Entrance

Between the feet of the Stone Buddha is a set of two metre high wooden
doors. The doors are painted red, and seem to have been clawed by a large
carnivore. Characters who have Buddhism as a Skill will notice that the
claw marks are particularly intense around some gold painted characters
that upon close examination appear to have been a Sutra (or spell) of
Protection from Demons.
Through the doors is a large chamber, about fifty metres square by ten
metres high. It is roughly in the groin area of the statue, and the ceiling is
just under the Buddha’s navel. There is a smoke hole in the centre of the
roof, under which a cow is being spit roasted. Ten of the men from the
village lie on couches around the fire. A group of fifteen young women
courtesans caress them and generally make a fuss over them. The men
are completely entranced by the courtesans and oblivious to the world
The courtesans are of course demons in disguise. They will coo about how
they rescued the men from the harsh outside world and try and tempt the
Pilgrims to give up their hard journey and enjoy the pleasures of the flesh.
They are magically seductive, and if any of the Pilgrims seem the least
bit susceptible to their charms, they will mob attack them: Play a Quick
Action with the demons having a draw of Five Cards, with the player
immortal being reduced to an incoherent babbling mess if they lose.
The demons are easily driven off once their true nature is revealed. They
turn into hideous hags with claws for hands who fly around the room
screaming before leaving through the doors.

Extras; The Courtesans (disguised demons).

Rescue the Menfolk from the feminine wiles of the demons
Once the demons are driven off, the mood instantly lifts. The chamber
becomes light and airy. The cow on the spit (an offence in the eyes of the
Buddha who values all living things, and whose followers are vegetarian)
disappears or reappears as a rather confused cow standing in the centre of
the room chewing grass (narrator’s option depending on comic impact),
and the couches become meditation stools.
The chimney vanishes; the space where it was glows with light and
reveals itself as the passage way to the next chamber.
Monkey 44 Quick start Rules

Scene 3 Heart of Darkness

The Heart Chamber, which also corresponds to the Middle Dantian
The room is usually a bright pink crystalline chamber twenty metres
across, in a shape roughly corresponding to a human heart. Currently, it is
glowing dark and angry red due to the demonic influence at work.

In the centre of the chamber, tied with iron chains to an iron spike in
the floor is the Buddhist Priest responsible for the upkeep of the temple
– Weeping Willow. He is held prisoner by six hooded demons, who
circle menacingly around him cracking their whips. In the centre is the
Demon of Malice, Crab Claws. Crab Claws has the magical ability to
inflict damage by taunting his victims with his poisonous tongue. He is
currently taking great delight in telling Weeping Willow in graphic detail
how he and his demons of Torture plan to inflict pain and harm on the
villagers. Every time he finishes a taught the priest winces in pain, and a
small cut appears on his body, even though Crab Claws has not physically
touched him. Curled up against the far wall of the chamber is Weeping
Willow’s protector, a magnificent tiger.

The Buddhist Priest of the Temple
Demons of Torture, attacks with whips
Crab Claws, A Demon of Malice
Card Draw 2
• Razor sharp Crab Claws.
• Magical Ability: Mocking and malicious taunting.
Tiger of the Heart
Card Draw 2
• Razor sharp claw and bite.
Quick start Rules 45 Monkey

The Heart of the matter is releasing Weeping Willow from his chains and
his torture at the hands of the demons.
The most obvious way is to fight the demons to drive them off. The
problem is that this only adds to the pain and suffering of Weeping
Willow. For each strike that the demons take, Weeping Willow also
takes one. The Buddhist Priest can take three strikes before expiring.
Sentimental Narrators may allow him to linger on until the end of the
combat against the demons, enabling him to give a short monologue
thanking the immortals for releasing him from a life of pain and suffering.
He attaches no blame to them; it was an unfortunate trap set up by Crab
Claws who was compelled to do so by his demonic nature. He then dies of
a broken heart, and no amount of magic will bring him back.
The less obvious way- less obvious, that is, until Weeping Willow starts
taking wounds- is to argue a case for compassion and that the wicked
demons have no right to be in this chamber. Crab Claws will lead the
opposition using his Poison Tongue to launch scathing attacks against the
Run both fights as a Dramatic Action.
In the physical fight, two Simple Actions must be completed.
Drive off the Torture Demons.
Defeat Crab Claw.
In the verbal debate, run it as a series of exchanges with Crab Claws as the
opposition until he is reduced to 0 Strikes.
But what about the sleeping Tiger? It will stay asleep unless the players
try to wake it up during the action, or until the demons are overcome.
This scene is a bit more intense than the previous scenes, because of the
importance of the Heart centre, and to demonstrate the Dramatic Action
system. Make sure as Narrator that you emphasise the gravity of the
situation to the players.

With Crab Claws and his cronies defeated, the chamber lightens up. How
intensely depends on whether Weeping Willow is still alive. If the priest
made it through the scene alive, the Heart chamber is flooded with pink
light which pulsates with a rhythm of life. If he died, the room is filled
with a pale pink light which although happier than the red glow which
the scene started with seems to be tinged with sadness.
An opening appears in the ceiling, and a spine like ladder drops down.
The ladder leads to the Skull chamber in Scene 5.
If the Tiger is still alive it roars and leaps up through the hole in the
Monkey 46 Quick start Rules

Scene 4 Third Eye Blind

This chamber is just behind the eyes, and has a large dome like the inside
of a skull. The dome is covered with dense spider webs, in which are
trapped the remaining twenty male villagers.
This chamber corresponds to the mystical Third Eye and the last Energy
centre the Upper Dantian.

In the darkness of a corner of the chamber initially hidden from view
lurks the Spider Queen, a foul demon full of hate and spite, who is the
evil mastermind behind the invasion of the Giant Stone Buddha and
the enslavement of the villagers. She has the body of a giant spider and
the upper torso of a woman. The Spider Queen is aided by lesser spider
demons, who appear as humanoids with spider heads.
If the player immortals are playing attention they can see the shadow of a
serpent against the far wall of the chamber.

Spider Demons who fight with scimitars and bites.
Spider Queen
Card Draw 5
Tough Opponent
• Poisonous bite
• Attacks up five characters with piercing leg ends
• Spits entangling web stuff.
Quick start Rules 47 Monkey

This is the final big fight against the Spider Queen and her Spider Demon
allies to free the last of the villagers and cleanse the Stone Buddha statue.
Use a Dramatic Action to defeat the Spider Queen and his allies.
Here is a suggested list of actions; modify it if the players come up
with any alternative actions, such as the use of magic powers or verbal
Action 1; Defeat the Spider Demons. In this action, each immortal fights
one or two of these horrors who swarm around the Pilgrims.
Action 2: Get into the web to fight the Spider Queen. The Pilgrims have to
jump/fly into the web to fight the Spider Queen, who tries to stop them by
spitting webbing at them.
Action 3: Release the Villagers. The Spider Queen menacingly threatens
them and kills them if the players don’t release them.
Action 4: Fight the Spider Queen, the final fight in the web.
Monkey 48 Quick start Rules

The Serpent Awakes!

If the players are wise to the significance of the Serpent Shadow on the
wall, they may attempt to magically awaken it using Taoist, Buddhist
or Shaman skills. This should be an additional action with the Spider
Demons and the Spider Queen trying to interfere with the attempt, by
opposing the action with their cards.
Help Each Other!
Since The Spider Queen is a tough opponent and requires two cards
higher than its highest card to score a strike against it, player immortals
attacking it on their own may find it hard to damage it. This is one of the
areas where the Assisting rules (see “Assisting Other Immortals” on page
35) really come into their own. Using these rules another player who
has not had their turn yet can see that their friend needs help scoring the
second strike, and provide an assist. This is in keeping with the battles
in the book, were Pigsy and Sandy regularly go out of their way to help
Monkey fight a monster.

Once the Spider Queen is vanquished, proceed to the adventure’s
Resolution below.

Resolution: Reaching Buddha’s Crown

After the immortals defeat the Spider Queen, the webs fall away from the
dome/skull inside and beams of sunlight flood in through a hole in the
ceiling. This is the way out.
The spirit serpent freed from the demon’s influence flows freely through
the three chambers and out of the hole in the head. The Pilgrims can hear
the roar of the tiger as it moves up and down from the first chamber to the
heart chamber.
Once the Pilgrims have climbed out to the crown, they have a moment
of reflection while in front of them to the west the sun goes down on the
road that they must follow towards India.
Quick start Rules 49 Monkey

5. More Immortals
So, you don’t want to play Monkey and the rest of the Pilgrims from the
Or perhaps you want to see the diversity of characters that is possible
using the Immortal Creation rules?.
Presented here are four alternative characters to play with.
Detective Lee is a Transcended Master. A former magistrate who impressed
the powers of Western Heaven with his crime-fighting abilities while
alive, and was promoted to the ranks of heavenly immortals when he
Rolling Thunder is a Celestial Immortal, responsible to the Wind Lord in
Western Heaven, acting as a trouble-shooter when there is either too much
or too little rain over China.
Silver Fox is an Animal Spirit whose mischief and magic equally enthralled
and troubled her superior, the Queen Mother of the Western Heaven.
Finally, as a fully fleshed out player immortal there Is Blazing Lotus,
the Nun who the player immortals are charged with safely escorting to
India. This character replaces Tripitaka in this alternative take on the Four
Pilgrims. As the note Monk or Nun (see page 58) the male Monk could
easily be replaced by a female Nun, such as Blazing Lotus below, and the
guidelines concentrate on creating a character with their own personality
and reasons for making the arduous Journey to the West.
Blazing Lotus is a Buddhist Nun who the immortals are escorting to India
to collect the missing cannon scrolls of Buddhism. She has an infamous
fiery temper and has learnt martial arts in the temple she was raised
in, specialising in fighting with dual sabres. Her patron, Kuan Yin the
Bodhisattva of Mercy and Compassion, hopes that the spiritual Journey to
the West will cool the fire in her soul.
Monkey 50 Quick start Rules
Quick start Rules 51 Monkey

Blazing ABOUT
Blazing Lotus is the daughter of an
infamous warlord, Raging Blaze.

Lotus When Blazing Lotus was ten years

old, her father was killed by a
rival, and she entered a Buddhist
ORIGIN: Nunnery. Blazing Lotus remembers
• Mortal. and has inherited the explosive
temper that drove her father. While
ATTITUDES at the monastery, she learnt Kung
• Yin: Compassionate. Fu, specialising in fighting with
• Yang: Fiery. dual sabres. Guided by Kuan Yin,
the Bodhisattva of Compassion and
Mercy, Blazing Lotus has tempered
• Explosive Temper.
her inner fire with cool compassion.
SKILLS She has been appointed by the
• Dual Sabre Kung Fu 3. Tang Emperor to collect the
• Buddhist 2. missing scrolls of Buddhist Canon,
• Rogue 1. which can be found in faraway
India. Kuan Yin has gathered the
MAGIC POWERS disgraced Immortals, Detective Lee,
• Sutras of Protection against Silver Fox and Rolling Thunder
Evil Doers (Limitation: Only to protect Blazing Lotus on the
works against Demons, not Journey to the West.
• Twin swords of the Dancing
Monkey 52 Quick start Rules
Quick start Rules 53 Monkey

Detective ABOUT
Born into a life of poverty, in his
early years Lee was a criminal out

Lee of necessity. When he was caught,

he was given a second chance by a
Magistrate, Wu, who mentored him
ORIGIN: and made him one of his deputies.
• Transcended Master. Detective Lee learnt the martial art
of Tai Chi, the Supreme Ultimate.
ATTITUDES So impressed were Western Heaven
• Yin: Analytical. with his crimefighting abilities in
• Yang: Fast. life that he was promoted to the
Ministry of Thunder, the heavenly
ministry responsible for catching
• Arrogance.
supernatural criminals on Earth,
SKILLS and given immortality upon his
• Magistrate 3. death. His Tai Chi Broad Sword,
• Tai-Chi (including Sword form) the Silver Sword of Piercing Truth,
2. was presented to him when he
ascended to heaven by his master
• Rogue 1.
Lei Gong the Minster of Thunder.
MAGIC POWERS Unfortunately, all this rather went
• Flight. to his head, and in heaven, he
• Shape change. became insufferably arrogant. On
• Piercing Gaze that Discerns the the verge of being expelled from
Truth. (Limitation: must be able Western Heaven, Lei Gong tactfully
to physically see). suggested Lee join the pilgrims
escorting the nun Blazing Lotus to
MAGICAL WEAPONS India to learn some humility.
• Silver Sword of Piercing Truth.
Monkey 54 Quick start Rules
Quick start Rules 55 Monkey

Rolling ABOUT
Born amongst the clouds of the
western Heaven, Rolling Thunder

Thunder was soon earmarked for service

in the Ministry of Wind. Here
he made a name for himself as a
ORIGIN: skilled trouble-shooter, sorting out
Celestial Immortal problems when it either rains too
much or too little all over China.
ATTITUDES With his giant mace of Defiant
• Yin: Soft. Clouds, he dealt with errand
• Yang: Loud. dragon princes and malicious
• Pride. Rolling Thunder takes great pride
in his job, in fact too much pride.
SKILLS So, when his boss, the Wind Lord,
• Hand of the Wind Kung Fu 2. asked Rolling Thunder to tell the
• Taoist Sorcerer 3. Dragon King of the Southern Ocean
• Musician (Drummer). to send the annual monsoons,
instead of seeing as the great
MAGIC POWERS honour it is, Rolling Thunder saw
• Flight. it as a slight. In the ensuing blazing
• Shape change. row with his boss, he was expelled
• Create Taoist Paper Talismans. from Heaven. While in exile on
(Limitation: magic must be Earth he learnt how to make
based upon his powers of rain magical Taoist Paper Talismans,
and thunder). written with charms to help folk
and bring just enough rainfall
MAGICAL WEAPONS and keep local water supplies
• Mace of Defiant Clouds. clean and untainted. Kuan Yin,
the Bodhisattva of Mercy, invited
Rolling Thunder to join the Journey
to the West escorting, Blazing
Lotus safely as part of a group of
immortal pilgrims.
Monkey 56 Quick start Rules
Quick start Rules 57 Monkey

Silver Fox ABOUT

Born in the forests of China,
Silver Fox delighted playing
with her fellow Fox Spirit sisters.
She came to the attention of the
Animal Spirit.
Queen Mother of the Western
ATTITUDES Heavens for her magical ability.
• Yin: Other Worldly. Silver Fox served as a courtier
• Yang: Playful. in Heaven, as one of the Queen
Mother of the West’s assistants.
Silver Fox was kicked out of
• Thief.
her service because she dared
SKILLS to steal the Queen Mother’s
• Courtier 1. Peaches of Immortality so that
• Fox Kung Fu 2. her sisters too could become
immortal. But the Queen Mother
• Rogue 3.
regretted having to remove
MAGIC POWERS Silver Fox, and gave her the
• Flight. Sword of the Thousand Winds to
• Shape change. defend herself against demons
on Earth. Silver Fox joined
• The Hand of a Thousand
Blazing Lotus and the other
forms (Limitation: This is
pilgrims on their Journey to the
Silver Fox’s illusion magic,
West since the Bodhisattva Kuan
only real if believed).
Yin has promised her that it
MAGICAL WEAPONS will teach her the true nature of
• Sword of a Thousand Winds. reality and ease her restless soul.
Monkey 58 Quick start Rules

Monk or Nun?
The Journey to the West is a novel of its time, and as such reflects the
cultural attitudes of China in the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644 AD) when
it was publicly released, and Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) when it is
set. These times were distinctly male-dominated and hierarchical. Take
the institution of the Emperor, for example. Only males of the Imperial
line were considered heirs to the throne. The sole female “Emperor”
was Wu Zetian, who through the formidable strength of character took
control of the Imperial government, ultimately usurping her own son
and disrupting the Tang Dynasty. She took the title “Emperor” to show
she was in charge or all China. After her death, Emperor Wu was widely
reviled for being a woman who dared to usurp the Imperial Throne.
Despite this, the mythological world that Monkey is based in is more
tolerant of gender diversity. Yes, there are male roles and female roles,
which are especially enshrined in the co-rulers of Western Heaven the
Jade Emperor who embodies the male Yang principle and The Queen
Mother of the Western Heaven who represents the Yin principle, but the
female deities are not subservient to their male counterparts. In many
respects, the feminine deities show strength and depth that goes far
beyond their male peers.
A lot of this is due to the undeniably Taoist elements of the book,
which reflects Chinese Folklore (a mish-mash of popular Buddhist,
Taoist and Confucian elements).  Taoism holds feminine energy in high
regard because it sees the world being out of balance with overactive
masculinity causing all manner of ills. Only through a balance of
feminine (Yin) and masculine (Yang) energies will the world be
harmonious.  In the book, it’s the Goddess Kuan Yin, who can be of
either sex but chooses to be a woman, who guides the all-male group
of pilgrims. This idea of a feminine balancing force also shows up in
chapters where our boisterous group of boys aggressively attack an
equally macho male demon, and they are either defeated or fought to
a standstill. Then they have to go away and come back with a softer
approach using cunning to overcome the demon.
The idea of yin and yang balance is also a culturally and philosophically
important Chinese concept, one which even now influences many
aspects of Chinese life. The idea of seemingly opposite and contrary
forces interacting in a complimentary and interdependent manner is a
key philosophical principle and, in wider Chinese literature, this is often
played out through the balance of male/female relationships and roles.
For example, a shy and straightforward brutish male character might be
balanced by a mischievous and playful female character, or vice versa.
So, there’s nothing to stop you having the Monk as a Buddhist Nun, in
much the same way that your player immortal need not be a male.
Quick start Rules 59 Monkey

If you are now intrigued about the Journey to the West, and
want to learn more about the Monkey King’s adventures, I
now refer you to the full Monkey The Roleplaying Game,
available from and

If you visit to purchase the full game in print, use the
discount code MONKEYFUN5 to get a 10% discount on check out.
For more about the game visit the game’s blog at