Wednesday, 20 February 2013

This Ain't Your Assassin's Game [Optional Core]

From the film, The Warrior's Way.
I am the Warden!!

This morning is spent hanging out in a McDonalds in Ottawa, of all places, while I'm waiting for the missus to write her admission exams for a (fingers crossed) spring college course. Laptop in hand, riding off the free wifi, and loving how things are so different for adults hanging out in public places than with teenagers.

After producing an intro trailer for High Plains Samurai and revisions to the Optional System character record, it's time to nail down some of the new rules and concepts for Friday's first foray into this mini-campaign/playtest. And it's become entirely clear how different a martial arts campaign is from Killshot.

Don't get me wrong, it's still the Optional System in every way, but there are some distinct differences between one and the other. Would you like to see a list? Some of these are direct quotes from the original documents I'm working on this morning.


Realism is taking a back seat in HPS as it's not as much fun for heroes to work within normal limitations of damage and wounds. Perhaps one of the most dramatic changes to the character record is the Damage/Health portion (the name depending on your glass' half-full/half-empty perspective). Heroes and villains (replacing the terms assassins and marks) now have 10 Health (replacing Killshot's 5) and wounds are no longer automatically inflicted based on the amount of damage accumulated. Wounds can be inflicted at the player's choice when they score a critical hit, substitution their usual Critical portion of whatever option was applied.


Instead of gaining 2 actions in a series, villains start with a number of actions equal to the total number of heroes involved in a scene. For example, a villain facing off against 4 heroes will find themselves starting the series with 4 actions. This has not been tested yet, but the intention is to allow a single villain to give the heroes a run for their money in a fight scene.


Guns are limited to single shot weapons (save for the repeating rifle, but this is only available to military outfits) requiring the wielder to actively cock the hammer or load another round in the chamber manually. Unless otherwise noted, all firearms require the user to declare a Free option to rearm the weapon, thereby limiting the average character to 3 shots per Edge. Gaining the Gunslinger focus allows you to ignore this restriction and take as many shots as your firearm's ammo will allow.

If the user rolls a critical on an attack roll, they can substitute the attack option’s Critical event with one additional shot from their firearm.

Ammo slots are eliminated; all weapons fire a certain number of shots before the user must declare a Quick option (or more) to reload the weapon. The longest range on any firearm is 2 Move options for pistols and 5 Move options for long-barrelled rifles. 


Representing each character's supernatural abilities, their Qi (pronounced "chee") can also define their path in life. There are many ways to gain and spend Qi in High Plains Samurai.

Blunders: If you receive a blunder to your Qi focus, you cannot gain any of the Qi benefits described in this section, including the spending of Qi points already earned.

Bonus Dice: As characters with Qi perform in their careers, they can enhance their basic functions and enhanced abilities by gaining bonus dice. They can spend Qi points to gain additional bonus dice (d4s) to their roll. Bonus dice can also be earned from non-Qi actions, including roleplaying and story based awards. (P.S. These dice were original known as "death dice" in Killshot.)

Signatures: A signature is a physical description or event in a scene designating that character's unique power and abilities. For example, whenever the Jade Palm rolls a kill shot on a successful unarmed melee attack, her opponent turns into jade and shatters into brittle shards. Whenever a character performs a signature, they gain 1 Qi point.

Superhuman Abilities: Aside from any individual applications based on individual martial arts and focuses, all Qi character can ignore a number of difficulty dice equal to their Qi focus dice and can spend a Qi point to ignore another +1d10 of difficulty or perform any untrained option.

Training: All components of a character's training require Qi points to increase (replacing the standard training points referred in other OSRPG supplements). At the end of a session, the character can choose to spend their Qi points for additional training in options, reactions, traits, and more.

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