Saturday, June 5, 2021

Þe key of Fanſie: a game for monks and scribes

(the key of fancy)

   Monks were literate, had leisure time, and were prone to both gambling and creativity. It is inconceivable that they did not play RPGs. Nonetheless, RPGs written in the monastic context are not forthcoming. Thus, we must make do.

 As in our age, the d6 was by far the most common of dice in medieval times. Though in many times and places, dice were forbidden by both common and monastic law, in practice, it was treated much the same as the monastic law against indulgence in food and alcohol.

Though, of course, not all monks were so flagrant. It is possible some monasteries would have used a point-based resolution system, or, more likely, coin flip based. In fact, given that dice were very commonly weighted in the medieval era, coin flip based decisions would've probably been more fair (can coins be weighted?). Considering these factors, we will give our game a coin (or coin like token, like a wood nickel) based resolution system.

It seems to me unlikely that there would exist classes as we would think of them (i.e. as a bundle of special rules and bonuses). There would however be specific archetypes accounted for. I'd imagine something like a list of archetypes and descriptions. For instance:


A foolish one who trafficks with fell powers. Despised by the good and christian when recognized, beloved of the pagan and worldly. May tell the future, or ensorcell the unwitting.

Rather than:


A wielder of magic. May cast spells from the list found on page xx a number of times per day equal to their level. Has x hitpoints, and saves as y.

So a sort of class restricted FKR. You are restricted in which things you might be, but those things don't have strictly defined mathematical benefits or universal features. 

And speaking of classes, lets talk about what those might be. The fantasy analogue of the middle ages (for fantasy did not truly exist yet) was a mix of oriental, biblical, and classical tropes, filtered through the medieval worldview. You'd have greek gods, heroes, and monsters, except they wear tunics and hose rather than chitons and sandals, and the gods are called fairies or spirits or allegories. King Solomon is there, so are the ruins of babel. There may or may not be demonic antagonists (whether demons were a matter to tell stories and joke about seemed to vary). Dragons are there, but likely compared with other fantastic beasts like lions and giraffes. Magic exists, but is more like medicine or astrology, and also is morally neutral at its very best. Christianity may or may not be depicted. Anachronism is high.

The Key of Fancie 

Notes: I am dissatisfied with this as it exists now, but I'm unsure of my expertise, ability, and free time to fix it, so if anyone has any suggestion or edits, feel free to suggest them. As well, if you feel the desire to make your own Game for Monks, I would be ecstatic to see them.



  1. The most interesting bit is the Moor as a PC. Where is the line between the DM's control of the wilderness and the player's? Very interesting, love the concept, and it's well executed!

  2. (I think it’s a reference to the Muslims who used to occupy Spain.)