The crowdfunding campaign for Monty Python’s Cocurricular Mediaeval Reenactment Programme (yeah, that’s the real and full name) is closing in on $1 million on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, proving there’s still a vibrant fanbase ready to fork over money for a tabletop RPG steeped in British humour from the 1980s.
Published by Exalted Funeral and co-designed by Brian Saliba and Craig Schaffer, the constantly tongue-in-cheek Monty Python RPG insists at every opportunity that it is not, in fact, an RPG. Instead, the game’s description assumes a haughty and nose-upturned attitude towards tabletop roleplay in the sort of manner that invites everyone to laugh at such a ridiculous hill to die on.
It’s very much Monty Python, which could be an immediate sell or complete turn-off. As the one non-UK member of the regular Dicebreaker team, my early relationship with the venerable British comedy troupe started and ended with The Holy Grail, a piss-take of the Arthurian Legend that became the cornerstone of many teenage senses of humour, even decades after its release. Even now, I involuntarily cringe thinking about how often I and my friends replaced genuine personality with a word-perfect rendition of that one French knight on the ramparts.
The creators assured Dicebreaker in an interview that this RPG will be much more than a Holy Grail-centric game, as such a project would have been “the simple thing to do.” Although the core rulebook does assume a mediaeval English setting, the rules system can be adapted to any kind of rules-light storytelling that wants to embrace a fairly deep commitment to absurdity.
That detachment from reality, along with a characteristic Monty Python wink and nod towards the camera extends to the implements. Players will use a standard array of dice that has been expanded to include a 14, 16 and 18-sided polyhedral. Monsters and significant foes, such as the Black Beast of Argh, will likely force player to rely on their Special Serious Abilities, which are rolled with an unwieldy 30-sided die.
Also included is the Fetchez la Vache! minigame, a Backgammon derivative involving toy wooden catapults that fling wooden meeples of farm animals, knights and French nobles across the board. None of this is necessary for playing the Monty Python RPG, though neither is it expressly forbidden from cropping up. As someone who advocates for mixed media storytelling, this offers groups an interesting opportunity to mix up roleplay night with some dexterity game mayhem.
Players will have access to ten possible classes - Cleric, Enchanter, Hermit, Knight, Monarch, Monk/Nun, Ne’erdowell, Noble, Peasant and Troubadour - while the facilitator acts in the role of the Head of Light Entertainment, or HoLE. Character traits will fall along a binary ranking between silliness and seriousness, and how far it swings in one direction determines the die used when rolling its application. This value can and will be changed by the outcomes of play - rolling a 20 “strewthes” the test and makes that trait more serious, while rolling a 1 “spams” it, resulting in a silly slide.
As mentioned earlier, all of this could very easily miss an audience who either never encountered Monty Python or tolerated far too many rewatches of Life of Brian as a youth. The results of the RPG’s Kickstarter campaign show a dedicated contingent fully ready to lean into the goofier side of gaming. As of writing, the campaign is just shy of the $1 million dollar mark and already the most successful crowdfunding effort organised by indie publisher Exalted Funeral, surpassing both The Herbalist’s Primer and a boxed set for Old School Essentials RPG.
More information about Monty Python’s Cocurricular Mediaeval Reenactment Programme can be found on its Kickstarter campaign page. Backers can pick up either a digital or physical version of the game, which Exalted funeral expects to ship in October 2023.