There is a world beyond our own steeped in darkness and struggling in the aftermath of a divine war; a world where its people fight not only to survive but to amass power, riches, and honour. A place of intense, high-octane wire-fu action set against the background of desert landscapes, high speed train robberies, and mutant warriors battling it out for supremacy.
Nothing is as it seems in this world, and everything is possible. We call it... High Plains Samurai.
High Plains Samurai (HPS) is a storytelling game of extreme mash-ups battling it out in a post-apocalyptic fantasy world of gunslingers, gangsters, samurai, barbarians, and steampunk where the residual energies of a divine battle have bestowed superpowered abilities to a select few. Those with these incredible abilities are qi warriors; they are the lead characters of this setting.
Built using the ScreenPlay engine, HPS is a collaborative story game with all players taking an equal role in the storytelling process. Players take on the role of Writers working with the Director to draft complete stories of action, suspense, horror, and survival. Through their lead characters, Writers actively drive the story and create epic action sequences as the central storytellers; the Director reacts to their descriptions while simultaneously challenging their characters along the way. For every description moving the story forward, another player will deliver its outcome to push it further, react to events, and embellish details with camera angles, special effects, even a character's demise.
In a world where everything is possible, dice rolls are not used to attempt success or failure, but as complications against your enemies... and death is the ultimate complication. Characters roll dice based on the number of details built into their descriptions against an opponent's Defence for the right to choose their enemy's fate or perhaps allow the enemy to choose their own. Each complication becomes incorporated into the story and can also be countered or removed by spending Stamina until there is none left to give or the battle is over.
Together, you will create tales of heroic struggle against the machinations of the mysterious bandit known as Black Scorpion and her bloody plot for revenge that threatens the return of Chaos incarnate.
HPS is an open-ended setting and storytelling game where your group's vision of the story is the main focus. Set in the scarred and bloody setting known as the One Land, your story could begin in:
- Hunan, a desert-swept city of harsh depravity and lawlessness fuelling one warlord's insatiable greed
- Yung Zhi, where swaying towers loom above overwhelming poverty and overcrowded streets controlled by powerful gangsters
- Monsoon, the samurai compound where strict order keeps back the surrounding poisonous jungle
- Khar’tep, home of magnificent heights encompassed by jagged peaks and frigid blizzards controlled by the barbarian tribes
- or Rust, a hidden city of wild inventions and rotting depths oppressed by a xenophobic cult
Sitting between them all, its very essence seeping into both the land and its people, are the Wastes. The source of wild and destructive powers, the swirling madness of the Wastes hides the truth behind a terrible apocalypse.
Living in these conditions requires a cold heart, quick reflexes, and amazing power, the kind of power you can only unlock from your inner qi (prounched "chi"). An unforeseen effect of the Wastes, these powers allow some to tap into abilities never thought possible: breathe fire, leap ten times higher, phase through walls, and perhaps even turn flesh to stone. These qi warriors remain spread out across the land, using their powers to survive or thrive, sometimes at the expense of others. They fill many roles, like:
- the Unstoppable Hunter, fulfilling the orders of the cities’ warlords
- the Deadly Shadow, unseen puppet masters pulling strings behind the curtains
- the Rogue Scholar, seeking truth behind the mysteries that could save the One Land
- and many more!
Will your heroes succeed or will they fall into the hands of Chaos? Only you and your friends will be able to tell this story!
Many years ago, there was the One Land. Forged by the fires swirling beneath the earth’s crust and cooled by the oceans of her shores, this paradise was carved out with love and respect by five Elemental Spirits – Honour, Innocence, Balance, Patience and Strife. It became a beacon of hope to all creatures searching for both home and purpose. For centuries, there was peace as all the world's peoples thrived in its rich jungles, mountainous summits, and wide open plains.
Until one day Chaos learned of his children’s creation and was sickened by it. Seeing a landscape where all creatures could exist and multiply in harmony was a travesty for this Elemental elder. And so he lashed out with all his might. Without warning, the One Land suffered earthquakes, tornadoes, and fires of a magnitude never seen since the forging of the Land itself. As the smoke billowed into the sky, the Spirits were shocked by their creator’s homicidal anger and battled Chaos in an epic struggle for the fate of the One Land and its people. Triumphant, they locked him within the Shard of Hope.
The children of Chaos spared all life from mass extinction but the landscape was forever scarred with death and destruction from which it would never recover. The powerful energies of Chaos’s Wrath, as this moment came to be known, tainted the One Land with chaotic toxins that seeped into the very soil and blood of everything that made this world beautiful. The Spirits concealed the Shard of Hope within a spire of rock in the heart of the battlefield, now known as the Wastes, and sought out guardians to ensure the Shard would never break. Centuries have passed and what was once love and bounty is now struggle and depravity.
This is where our story begins.
High Plains Samurai will be published as a 96-page PDF/POD/softcover release when it reaches our $3,000 CDN goal. Featuring everything you need to tell your own stories in this wild and crazy world on the brink of annihilation, the game will include complete rules for Writers and Directors, core setting material for the One Land, character creation guidelines, major supporting characters, original artwork by HPS lead artist, Kieron O'Gorman, a full colour map of the One Land by Jeff Brown, and more.
To give you a preview of how you could back this project, here are the current backer levels for High Plains Samurai. Due to unpredictable shipping costs, this Kickstarter does not include shipping and will be collected through BackerKit close to delivery time.
Raw Apprentice ($1): You gain immediate access to the latest draft of the game and credit as a Raw Apprentice backer in the final product.
Rogue Scholar ($7): You will receive a 48-page PDF copy of Legend of the High Plains Samurai, everything a Writer needs to tell stories in the One Land and the complete rules to play. Plus immediate access to the latest draft of the game and credit as a Rogue Scholar in the final product.
Noble Warrior ($12): You will receive a PDF copy of the final product (and any additional stretch goals), plus immediate access to the Kickstarter Draft and credit as a Noble Warrior in the final product.
True Believer ($25): You will receive a softcover copy of the final product as well as a PDF copy, immediate access to the Kickstarter Draft, and credit as a True Believer in the final product. You will also receive PDF copies of all stretch goals.
Hardened Outsider ($50): This exclusive hardcover copy of High Plains Samurai will only be available through this Kickstarter campaign! You will also receive a PDF copy, immediate access to the Kickstarter Draft, and credit as a Hardened Outsider in the final product. You will also receive PDF copies of all stretch goals.
Unstoppable Hunter ($100): Along with the benefits of the Hardened Outsider, you will receive a signed copy of HPS upon completion and will receive a 24" by 36" playmat/map of the One Land. Featuring references and tables from the core rulebook, this map can sit in the middle of your table during play to help entice the imagination as you work feverishly to save the One Land from Chaos.
Additional backer levels and add-ons will be made available or unlocked during the Kickstarter. All rewards tracking and details will be handled by BackerKit. Please note this Kickstarter will not include shipping costs and will be paid by backers once all factors (product weight, shipping rates at the time of release) are 100% secured.
All money raised in this Kickstarter campaign will go towards additional artwork, writing (as needed to suit and finish the end product), editing, layout, and production costs.
High Plains Samurai has been envisioned as a trilogy known as The Wrath of Chaos, a dark time in the One Land's mythology. While the core version of the game offered at $3,000 will provide details to allow you to create any story in HPS, the trilogy will provide a detailed meta-plot involving the Writers' lead characters as they become intimately involved in Chaos' return to power. Completing this trilogy will require stretch goals.
At $5,000 CDN, you will unlock a short story by Fraser Ronald detailing the rise and fall (and rise again) of the Black Scorpion. Over the course of this Kickstarter, we will release the first four chapters of Ballad Of A Black Scorpion each Thursday of this campaign as a teaser. This completed version will recount how the One Land's most wanted fugitive rose to power as leader of the Desert Sun Gang, found herself under the care of the monks of Heavens Peak, and faced the full force of the Five Cities to become the Scourge of the One Land. (PDF only)
At $5,000 CDN, you will also unlock the Atlas of the One Land, a living document detailing the lost sites scattered across the world of High Plains Samurai... as discovered by you! Backers (and only backers) will be able to provide Broken Ruler Games with updates on unique locations their players create in their renditions of the game and we will place them into a living document detailing your accounts of the discovery and position them on the map of the One Land to be completed by Jeff Brown. This is your chance to help other players populate their version of the One Land! (PDF only)
At $7,000 CDN, you will unlock a more powerful game! High Plains Samurai: Black Scorpion’s Revenge will convert to a 160-page version of the game. This will replace the original version of the game offered at $3,000. A legendary bandit thought dead has returned and places a target on every warlord of the One Land. This first chapter in the Wrath of Chaos trilogy details Black Scorpion's quest for vengeance that could bring each of the Five Cities to their knees. Black Scorpion's Revenge will include an enhanced section for directing HPS and detailed chapters on all six major locations featuring the major supporting characters. Each setting chapter will include a list of major supporting characters and scenarios for telling your group’s story of how the most wanted woman in the One Land could single-handedly turn the world to dust. This version of the game is everything you need to tell the ultimate version of HPS that will shake this world to its very core! (All Noble Warriors, True Believers, and Hardened Outsiders will have their HPS copies upgraded to this stretch goal.)
At $12,500 CDN, you will unlock the second chapter of the Wrath of Chaos trilogy: The Fallen City. This stretch goal will be published as an additional product (known as a treatment) and would be available to backers in early 2019. Anarchy reigns in the aftermath of Black Scorpion's quest and the power struggles begin before the smoke can clear. Without the strict order of the warlords to keep the Five Cities' lieutenants under control, the bloodshed fuels Chaos' return to full strength. It all draws the lead characters to the long lost ruins of the Fallen City where the All-Father's atrocities began. (PDF only)
At $18,000 CDN, you will unlock the final chapter in the Wrath of Chaos trilogy: The Fourth Mark. This stretch goal will be published as an additional product and would be available to backers in late 2019. Chaos has risen and will complete what it failed to accomplish so long ago: the destruction of the One Land. Fighting alongside the essences of Balance, Honour, Patience, Strife, and Innocence, the lead characters must make the final choice to save their home from the ultimate end. (PDF only)
At 200 backers, I will run a single online session of HPS using Google Hangouts, Skype, or another agreed upon app for a randomly drawn backer (Noble Warrior or higher). For every additional 50 backers, I will draw an additional backer for an additional online session.
More information will become available at later times in this Kickstarter should we get the opportunity. For example, there will be updates regarding Black Scorpion's Revenge once we pass the $3,000 goal and updates for The Fallen City once we pass the $7,000 stretch goal.
Learn more about High Plains Samurai from these assorted interviews, podcasts, and more.
I sat in as co-host on The Misdirected Mark Podcast (episode 260) to discuss narrative combat and High Plains Samurai. Listen to it here.
The Gauntlet Podcast (Episode 101) interviewed me right before this Kickstarter launched to discuss what makes HPS tick. Listen to it here.
Fraser Ronald and I talked about HPS and paid special attention to the evolution of Black Scorpion from "bad guy" to villain and storytelling in the One Land on his Collateral podcast. Click here and give it a listen.
Jacob Wood from Accessible Games interviewed me about making HPS accessible to people with disabilities. You can read it here.
Read the complete transcript of my #rpgchat Q&A about HPS here.
Read the official press release for High Plains Samurai on Roleplayers Chronicle right here.
I also spoke with Dr. Tom the Frog back in December 2016 as HPS prepared to roll out our public playtest. Catch it on YouTube.
#SaveTheOneLand or #DestroyTheOneLand
Starting May 30, 2017 until the end of this Kickstarter, you can support this Kickstarter by vowing to become the hero this story needs by using #SaveTheOneLand or how you can aid Chaos and its minions by using #DestroyTheOneLand. The hashtag with the most tweets will be the winner and if more people threaten to destroy this world, special PDF supplements will be created for each of the Wrath of Chaos trilogy and released at a to-be-determined times. These supplements will provide alternate scenarios to help Writers take their characters down a darker path.
Risks and challenges
There are always bumps and hiccups along the way to producing any product (especially independent RPGs) where contributors are unable to meet deadlines, feedback may require some reworking of setting material or mechanics, issues with printers, shipping, and more. In addition, there are multiple versions of the game at stake here, from the players' guide (Legend of the High Plains Samurai) to the complete Wrath of Chaos trilogy. The completion dates listed for each backer level do provide expected timelines should we publish Black Scorpion's Revenge (at $7,000). Completion dates for stretch goals are subject to change.
What is needed to complete the funded version of the game depends on just how much this Kickstarter raises. If we hit the $7,000+ mark, there will be additional writing, editing, and artwork. Even if this Kickstarter surpasses $3,000 but does not reach the additonal stretch goals, more artwork will be provided to maximize the sexiness of this game.
Finally, I would like to address the matter of shipping physical rewards. SHIPPING IS NOT INCLUDED IN ANY BACKER LEVEL FOR THIS KICKSTARTER for the sole reason that shipping rates are so variable based on time that including them is a serious risk to both yourself and me. Instead, this will all be handled through BackerKit when final products are ready, weighed, and measured to ensure 99.99% accurate shipping rates. You will then be required to pay for shipping your individual rewards at that time (and you can even pre-purchase additional products or upgrades should that be the case).
If anyone has any questions regarding this Kickstarter, HPS, or anything else related, please do not hesitate to message me through Kickstarter.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)