Monkeys on Mars

Monkeywrench is the kids’ RPG in which the players are monkeys on board a space station trying to get free.

Check it out and other free games at Zak Arnston’s wonderful site:

Conflict resolution is a simple d6 roll, 4, 5, and 6 are successes and 1, 2, and 3 are failures. Failures also mean aquiring a counter, that means their monkey is hungry, grump or crazy, that they must take into their role-play.

A few weeks ago I was running a Monkeywrench game with a very excited and creative third grade girl and in the middle had to leave to see to job responsibilities. The boy who I ran on the last Monkeywrench game was more than pleased to step in and take over as narrator.

But I never found out what happened. He told me that she got off of the space station, which is good. I had worries.

Today she asked if we could continue her monkey’s odyssey as it escaped.

Let’s call her Tarzana.


I asked, “What happened?”

“I escaped the space station with a space suit, a laser gun, a space ship and seven monkey clones with spaces suits, laser guns and space ships. I got away from the space station before the asteroid hit it,” Tarzanna informed me.


This girl wanted to take it to her former captors and when I asked her what she wanted to do, she told me she wanted to head directly to Earth.

She landed on the moon first and replaced the American flag with a monkey flag with a force field so thta the humans couldn’t destroy it. The monkey flag, by the way, is a yellow monkey, holding a banana on a green field.

I know this because when she mentioned the monkey flag I demanded that play stop so that she could draw the flag.

The boy from the first game wandered to the table and began to hand out bananas at appropriate times, until I aked him to take over the role of one of the Monkey Clones. He said, “Tarzanna, I’m your favorite clone.”

She agreed.

Then they began to stick it to the Man.

I ruled that they could get rid of the Hungry, Crazy and Grumpy counters if tehy rolled a six but a roll of a 4 or 5 just meant trading them back and forth.

In a blunder she blew up the moon, attempting to fiddle with the force field in a fight against human ships. I had to bite my tongue not to call them Simian Terrorists.

There was quite a bit of laser gun violence against humans but I just did some creative interpretation of the conflict resolution to both lessen the violence rating and show its harsh consequences without just entirely gutting the game.

Tarzanna realized that I was really lenient about how much could be accomplished in a single roll of the d6 if she turned to other means that weren’t violent. She began to push the boundaries after several attempts to reach earth in her space ship were foiled.

“I’m going to Mars to set up a Monkey society.”

*die rolls*


Enter Monkeys on Mars.

The game ended with the two kids drawing a picture of the capital city of the Monkeys on Mars and a delegate from earth landing to make a peace treaty with the Martian Simians.

Tarzana said, “No peace unless you unload 20 billions tons of bananas onto Mars immediately!”

She had the Hungry counter.

I was so proud.

They were quite excited about role-playing as leaders of their monkey society. This game has only just begun.

4 thoughts on “Monkeys on Mars

  1. hm

    Marvellous, Judd, marvellous. May those Monkeys make a better Mars than Paula and my jaded, tragic demiheroines did. (Much as I may love the bittersweet grit, oh yes…)

    Could you be a little more specific as to how you adjudicated/narrated the laser violence? I’m curious as to how you did it.

    • Re: hm

      Funny, someone on a forum I posted this to asked the exact same question. Here is the example I posted:

      They have broken into a space station in an attempt to take a space ship to Mars after their own blew up in the destruction of the Moon.

      Me: A guard approaches you. He is holding an electric prod used to herd the monkeys back into their cages. “Hey monkey! Get back in your cages!”

      Tarzanna: You’ll never put me back in a cage. Me and my clones level our laser pistols at the guard and shoot him.



      Me: Your monkeys go crazy, upset at the sight of the electric prod. You shoot the laser pistol and destroy the monkey prod and the electric shock knocks the guard out. BUt now the alarms are going off because you shot a laser gun in the space station. *INTRUDER ALERT* *INTRUDER ALERT*

      Outside, spaceships that were searching for the monkeys that blew up the moon begin to head for this space station.

      What do you do, Tarzanna?

      Does that make sense? Questions?

  2. Pingback: Mars & Monkeys « The Githyanki Diaspora

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