[19:30] <+WardenHPS> I’m Todd Crapper (yes, that’s real) and I’m the creator and future publisher of High Plains Samurai, an ultimate mash-up of western gunslingers, arctic barbarians, samurai warriors, Prohibition era gangsters, steampunk engineers, and superpower mutants in a post-apocalyptic world fighting against a divine war that threatens to wipe out their homeland.
[19:30] <+WardenHPS> (Which can be a mouthful to say for an entire month, let me tell you.)
[19:31] <+WardenHPS> (done)
[19:32] <~Dan> Thanks, WardenHPS! The floor is open to questions!
[19:33] <~Dan> So how do you pull together all of these different elements into one setting?
[19:35] <+WardenHPS> There’s two ways the game handles them. The first is through the mechanics, which are focused on a player narrative style of play. This means that the game is about providing the players (known as Writers or the Director, who is the GM) with tools to encourage them to create first and the game is triggered by those descriptions.
[19:36] <+WardenHPS> HPS uses a fundamental rule known as the Rule of Initiatives as the only enforced component of the game, really. It states that all players must use the descriptions and outcomes already presented in the game and any player who introduced something into the story has final say on its application.
[19:36] <+WardenHPS> The rest of the game is triggered by the fiction players created, including through dice rolls. This allows everyone at the table to create their own version of the game as it suits them, how they like to play, how wild or serious they like their games, etc.
[19:38] <+WardenHPS> The second tool is through each character’s code of honour. Despite their variety, all characters have a code they live by and it’s this shared concept of living by a code that unites them all. Even gangsters from Yung Zhi have their own code; it’s not the same as a samurai from Monsoon but it works on a similar principle…
[19:39] <+WardenHPS> …of proving oneself against a swarm of resistance. The Raw Apprentice role (aka class) for example strives to prove he/she is not one to dismiss and they have valuable ideas to prove. This reflects in their code of honour and they gain honour by proving their mind is mightier than a weapon.
[19:40] <+WardenHPS> While an Unstoppable Hunter’s code of honour is to never let their target escape. These codes unite all character together and gives them common ground to fight as equals.
[19:40] <+WardenHPS> (done)
[19:40] <+Will> So, in practice, how do you manage the flow of a player communicating and enforcing the boundaries of their introduced elements? How is debate/conflict handled?
[19:41] <~Dan> Hmm… I’m still not clear about how the different elements fit together in the setting, though. HOw do you have 1920s gangsters alongside samurai, barbarians, and gunslingers?
[19:41] <~Dan> (brb)
[19:42] <+WardenHPS> Ok, let’s start with Will’s question first.
[19:43] <+WardenHPS> All players (including the Director) takes turns in the course of a round. A round is not complete until all characters in the scene have completed a turn and turn sequence is done by passing to any other player at the table who has a character yet to act in the round. Including the Director.
[19:43] <+WardenHPS> If you’ve played Marvel Heroic, you’ll know how this works.
[19:44] <+WardenHPS> In that turn, characters have a set number of details to build into their description and those details are determined by their potential (aka stat). These are open-ended concepts you use to highlight what makes your character unique in the One Land (name of the setting).
[19:45] <~Dan> (back)
[19:45] <+WardenHPS> Think of a detail as an action that moves the story/character/action forward in a meaningful way. You have unlimited room to add in as many narrative elements (camera shots, setting details, etc.) as you like but when you reach the maximum number of details based on your chosen potential, your description is over.
[19:46] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, guttedmicrobe!)
[19:46] <+WardenHPS> If the Director determines that a description attempts to complicate matters for another character, a complication roll is called for. This is not a dice roll about success/failure, but to determine the outcome of this attempted complication. You can build in details where numerous actions are taken during the description…
[19:47] <+WardenHPS> …but one in particular (i.e. shooting your opponent) will be chosen at the trigger for the complication roll. Take the dice value assigned to your chosen potential, roll against a Defence score. Equal to or higher than the Defence makes the complication effective, less means ineffective.
[19:48] <+WardenHPS> Ineffective means the rolling character now takes a complication. But it also comes down to odd/even numbers on the roll. If you roll an even number, the roller determines the complication. Odd number means the target sets the complication.
[19:49] <+WardenHPS> Characters can also spend their Stamina (hit points) to shift the dice roll result by one to reset who determines the complication, making for excellent back-and-forth combat scenes befitting great martial arts/action films.
[19:49] <+WardenHPS> Now back to Dan’s follow-up question…
[19:51] <+WardenHPS> All of these character types comes from different locations across the setting known as the One Land, which has become divided by a divine apocalyptic event. Each of them comes from isolated homelands that have evolved over the centuries in their own fashion. Some have developed firearms, some automatic weapons, some stick with traditional swords.
[19:52] <+WardenHPS> Connecting all these homelands are the Wastes, the central point of the apocalypse caused by Chaos, the deity who created the universe and was once known as the All-Father. When he became jealous of the love his divine children gave the One Land, he sought to destroy it as a message to his children.
[19:53] <+WardenHPS> Instead of pleading for forgiveness, his children resisted and a great battle was fought in the place now called the Wastes. Today, it exists as a radioactive wasteland infused with Chaos’ rage and this radiation is what infuses many people with “qi powers” (pronounced “chi”).
[19:54] <+WardenHPS> There are ways to cross the Wastes and many of the main characters in HPS (known as qi warriors) thrive as the few who travel back and forth between the Five Cities that dominate the One Land today.
[19:54] <+WardenHPS> (done)
[19:54] <~Dan> What prevents the more advanced lands from overrunning the less advanced ones?
[19:56] <+WardenHPS> A combination of factors. Perhaps the less civilized society belongs to the barbarians of Khar’tep, who dwell in the jagged mountains to the north. Their terrain does not accommodate vehicles or armies of soldiers and so the barbarians are able to remain safely out of reach.
[19:57] <+WardenHPS> In the case of Hunan, home of many gunslingers and bandits, the city has fallen to ruin and is a shamble of its former self. No one cares to take Hunan because there’s no value in doing so.
[19:58] <+WardenHPS> Many of the warlords who rule over the Five Cities also have allegiances between one another to protect each other from a joined assault. Or they have natural defences, such as the poisonous jungles of Monsoon or the toxic clouds surrounding the city of Rust.
[19:58] <+WardenHPS> It would be plausible to launch an assault on a city but doing so would require vast numbers that would leave your homeland defenceless. Plus, you have to cross the Wastes and that’s a place ripe with danger.
[19:59] <+WardenHPS> Picture a land where gargantuan elementals rise up at a moment’s notice, sandstorms turn into acid rain and a thick fog suddenly blankets the land and causes living creatures to rot from the inside out.
[20:00] <~Dan> Nasty.
[20:00] <+WardenHPS> In other words, it’s too dangerous to try. The land itself is poisonous and thrives on death.
[20:00] <+WardenHPS> Nasty, indeed.
[20:00] <+WardenHPS> (done)
[20:00] <~Dan> So there are monsters?
[20:01] <+WardenHPS> There can be, if that’s how you want to go. I had one player in my Development Team who was always coming up with monsters to populate our version of the One Land, such as the catar (feline ninja) and earth elementals.
[20:01] <+WardenHPS> But this is an option for each group to make. Character creation (including supporting characters and extras) takes only a couple minutes to whip up something that suits your story.
[20:02] <~Dan> Do you have a character sheet that you can share with us?
[20:02] <+WardenHPS> Basically, if your players can imagine it, it can exist in High Plains Samurai.
[20:03] <+WardenHPS> Let me get a link to the current version on Google…
[20:04] <+WardenHPS> (Link: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B6UoLi9crB8nZlh2b1pqd0poY28)https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B6UoLi9crB8nZlh2b1pqd0poY28
[20:04] <+WardenHPS> This is for a pre-generated lead character from the city of Rust (steampunk engineers).
[20:05] <~Dan> And what is the function of the Role, again?
[20:06] <+WardenHPS> They’re like a character class, a viewpoint on how someone survives in the One Land.
[20:07] <~Dan> So it doesn’t have a mechanical effect?
[20:08] <+WardenHPS> It does through its code of honour. Each role provides a code the character lives by (which is open to personal interpretation and definition). That code can then trigger a perk (special ability) to help them survive the environments and opponents they’ll face.
[20:08] <+Will> Revisiting part of my earlier question, so how do the mechanics interact with ‘I’ve declared something, and now Danielle wants to interpret/alter/use that something’? I just feel free to pipe up when it happens, or there’s a formal ‘Will, you good with that?’, or what?
[20:09] <+WardenHPS> So with the Raw Apprentice from Rust, whenever he gains honour by proving others wrong, he is able to increase his maximum Stamina.
[20:11] <+WardenHPS> All players are encouraged to incorporate anything brought into the story to their own descriptions. If a player who introduced something does not like the direction their element has been taken, they can ask for a rewrite. Let me give an example.
[20:12] <+WardenHPS> Say your character has a treasured six-shooter that’s passed down in his family for generations. You give it a name, go into explicit detail on what it looks like, make it something unique. You brought it into the story, that means you initiated it.
[20:14] <+WardenHPS> Another character describes how that six-shooter has a blade that whips out from the barrel and can be used to slice your opponents. You hear that and say, “Nope, that doesn’t seem right to me. Can you rewrite that please?” The other character must now revise that particular element of the six-shooter based on your requests and can simply the switchblade.
[20:14] <+WardenHPS> Make sense?
[20:15] <~Dan> I think so…
[20:15] <+WardenHPS> It’s a safety net that exists to keep everyone working together without butting heads or doing the whole playground “nuh-uh, I was wearing magical armour!” stuff. It’s rarely come up in any games I’ve ever run.
[20:15] <+WardenHPS> Here’s another reason for the Rule of Initiatives. It also keeps certain elements preserved for the Director, who is considered the initiator for many setting elements in the game.
[20:15] <~Dan> What are Resources in this context?
[20:16] <+WardenHPS> This means a player can’t suddenly rename or reassign anything in Hunan. It’s not theirs to change because it “belongs” to the Director. But they are encouraged to add to what the Director introduces to that location.
[20:17] <+WardenHPS> Resources are gear, weapons, armour, training, background, even religious beliefs that can be used to give your complication rolls a boost. Characters can have unlimited number of items and skills but only a set number of them act as resources.
[20:17] <~Dan> What determines that number?
[20:18] <+WardenHPS> Resources can be changed from scene to scene to suit the scene’s goal. For example, if you know there will be a fight, you can assign a weapon to a resource slot. Investigation scene? Good time to assign that lantern as a resource.
[20:18] <+WardenHPS> It’s based on the character type you play. Lead characters start with 3 resource slots; supporting character get 2; extras get 1.
[20:19] <+WardenHPS> Resources can either provide a step bonus (increasing either the dice value by 1 or the Defence by 2) or a damage bonus (based on factors like number of hands needed to use the item, firearms, explosions, etc.).
[20:21] * ~Dan nods
[20:22] <+WardenHPS> (done)
[20:23] * +Will nods, belatedly, re: rewrites
[20:24] <~Dan> You touched on this earlier, but can you say a bit more about how combat works? How is damage determined, for example?
[20:26] <+WardenHPS> Sure. Whenever a description implies a character trying to complicate matters for another character, it triggers a dice roll. This includes attempting damage in combat but can also work in numerous different ways.
[20:26] <+WardenHPS> So let’s say you’re literally trying to knock someone out. Unless it’s something your opponent wants, that’s a complication and triggers a dice roll.
[20:27] <+WardenHPS> You roll your potential’s dice value against the opponent’s Defence (determined by one of their potentials). Roll equal to or higher than the Defence and the opponent will take a complication. But roll lower than and you will take a complication instead.
[20:28] <+FraserRonald> Good evening all
[20:28] <+WardenHPS> Also, if the dice roll is even numbered, the roller determines the complication (including to himself if it was ineffective). If the roll is odd numbered, the target chooses (even if the complication was effective).
[20:28] <~Dan> (Howdy, FraserRonald!)
[20:28] <+FraserRonald> (Hi Dan)
[20:29] <+WardenHPS> A possible complication is damage, which reduces the opponent’s Stamina by an amount equal to the dice roll’s result minus the opponent’s Defence. So if you rolled an 8 against a Defence of 5, that’s 3 damage.
[20:30] <+WardenHPS> If you applied a resource with a damage bonus (let’s say +2), then the damage becomes 5. Damage bonuses are good for any effective damage complication because even if you end up rolling equal to the Defence, you’ll still do that +2 damage.
[20:31] <+WardenHPS> Other complications include restrictions (temporarily removing access to something in the story), inceptions (temporarily causing someone to believe something that is false) and penalties (ongoing decreases to either dice value or Defence with a particular potential).
[20:32] <+WardenHPS> When you face any of these other three complication types, they last until the end of the scene or until you describe your character removing them. This normally takes a full description but you can spend 1 Stamina to remove it with a single detail. It’s faster, but costlier after a while.
[20:32] <+WardenHPS> (done)
[20:32] <~Dan> How deadly is combat?
[20:34] <+WardenHPS> It all depends on whoever drops a character down to 0 Stamina. If you bring your opponent down to 0, you choose how they end the scene or the story. That can mean death, knock them out, make them run away in fear only to come back later… it all depends on where you want to go at that moment.
[20:35] <+WardenHPS> But it can get very deadly, very bloody, and very exciting. I like to think of these fight scenes as Jackie Chan films with dice.
[20:37] <+WardenHPS> (done)
[20:37] <~Dan> Ah, sounds like a ood Wetern game (and yes, I know there are more wines.
[20:38] <~Dan> How powerful can qi powers get?
[20:40] <+WardenHPS> There’s no cap on what you can do with qi powers but they must always come from within. Meaning there has to be a way your qi warrior can direct that power outwards to directly try and affect the world around them. Otherwise, if you can see that power in an X-Men comic, it’s good for High Plains Samurai.
[20:40] <+WardenHPS> Qi powers can also be assigned to a resource slot for a bonus or you can apply them as a narrative element. They’re a way to “cheat.” If your character can fly, you don’t have to worry about taking the stairs. Simple.
[20:42] <+WardenHPS> If your character is from the Wastes (and yes, some people have found a way to survive there), your qi power has scarred you. Think of a character who can control fire. They can look perfectly normal anywhere else. If you’re from the Wastes, you’re covered in burn marks because your power mutated you physically.
[20:43] <+WardenHPS> If you’re from Rust, your qi powers are seen as blasphemy in the eyes of the Council of Iron that rules of this city. A corruption of Chaos’ influence, they believe, so you have to keep your qi power hidden or face execution, banishment, imprisonment, or a combination.
[20:43] <+WardenHPS> (done)
[20:45] <+Lin_Chong> why did you choose the spelling of “qi”?
[20:47] <+WardenHPS> A suggestion from a member of the Development Team (who’s on here right now but I don’t know how to call him out on this style of forum). Everyone else goes with “chi” and we wanted something a little different. It was brought in from day one and has stuck ever since.
[20:48] <+Lin_Chong> just type in their username and it’ll mention them
[20:48] <+Lin_Chong> WardenHPS:
[20:48] <+WardenHPS> Ok, FraserRonald
[20:48] <+Will> I’ve seen qi and chi used fairly interchangably from various sources.
[20:49] <+FraserRonald> It was the form of anglicization that I was familiar with, like with the Qin Dynasty.
[20:49] <+WardenHPS> I believe “qi” is considered a more traditional spelling and “chi” was modernized to be readable to the average person.
[20:50] <+Lin_Chong> specifically “qi” is pinyin and “chi” is a more westernized romanization
[20:51] <+Lin_Chong> but also i wonder why it’s called “high plains samurai” but uses chinese terms
[20:52] <+WardenHPS> The name is largely based on the title High Plains Drifter. When HPS first started, it was only focused on westerns and samurai and the idea was inspired by the movie The Good, The Bad, and the Weird. Over time, more genres were added to make it stand out from other games but the name always stuck with me.
[20:53] <+Lin_Chong> i see
[20:53] <+WardenHPS> I personally like the idea of merging different styles, genres, and terms because it shows something more “international” to represent a setting that is very divided. Versus a shared approach to everything that doesn’t fit with the game.
[20:55] <+WardenHPS> I’ve toyed around with the idea of each City naming things differently but rejected that later. It’s something each group can build into their version of the One Land as they see fit or go with what’s written.
[20:59] <~Dan> Is there magic in the mage/
[20:59] <~Dan> in the game, rather
[21:00] <+WardenHPS> There’s nothing written specifically for magic but it’s entirely plausible. In a place that’s been corrupted by Chaos, you can use magic if that’s how you want to express your character and it’s something I’d be very willing to explore further if there was demand for it.
[21:04] <~Dan> How can the players survive opposition to Chaos?
[21:05] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Guest38!)
[21:06] <+WardenHPS> When the story begins, Chaos has been trapped within the Shard of Hope since it tried to annihilate the One Land… but now the Shard has been cracked when an army attacked the monks who were guarding it. During these early times in the story, Chaos is weak and uses a bandit leader known as Black Scorpion to spread anarchy throughout the One Land.
[21:06] <~Dan> What’s his claim to fame/
[21:06] <~Dan> ?
[21:07] <+WardenHPS> Chaos begins to feed off the destruction and violence to grow more powerful and this is the focus of our $7,000 stretch goal, Black Scorpion’s Revenge. If we’re able to fund additional stretch goals, we can complete a trilogy called “The Wrath of Chaos” as this figure returns to full power and must be brought down with the help of the other Elemental Spirits.
[21:08] <+WardenHPS> Black Scorpion is the leader of the old Desert Sun Gang who tried to start a revolution and create an alternative to living under the oppression of the warlords. Instead, the warlords banded together for the first time to eliminate a common threat and nearly wiped out the Gang, almost killing Black Scorpion in the process.
[21:09] <+WardenHPS> But she survived and was found by the monk of Heaven’s Peak (where the Shard of Hope was kept). She lay in secret for many years and found peace with the monks, a way to escape the violence that always surrounded her. Until the warlords learned she survived and returned to finish the job.
[21:09] <+WardenHPS> That’s how Heaven’s Peak was destroyed, the Shard of Hope cracked, and Black Scorpion swore a bloody revenge. Now she will not rest until every warlord’s head is on a spike.
[21:12] <~Dan> Are there qi powers specific to different reagions? For example, are there qi gunslinger powers?
[21:13] <+WardenHPS> Nope, they can be whatever a player wants to play with. Many have used their homelands as a reference point but they’re not restricted to it.
[21:14] <~Dan> So there’s no list of powers, I take it?
[21:15] <+WardenHPS> There will be a random list of qi powers to help Directors on the fly but there’s no preset list for lead characters at this point.
[21:16] <+WardenHPS> Qi powers are basically more of a statement on what a character can do, not in the same way as D&D feats or spells with limitations and other components. They are a way you describe what your character can do.
[21:16] * ~Dan nods
[21:16] <~Dan> In the time remaining, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
[21:16] <+WardenHPS> For example, you can have telekinesis and use it the traditional way (moving objects with your mind). You can also use it to create a force field, fly, give the appearance of super strength, etc. It’s all up to your imagination.
[21:17] <+WardenHPS> First, I’d like to thank you for inviting me here tonight, Dan, to talk about my game and thanks to everyone here for watching me type like a crazed monkey on twelve cups of coffee.
[21:17] * +Will grins.
[21:18] <~Dan> 🙂
[21:19] <+WardenHPS> Second, it’s important to stress how this is a game driven by the players at the table. It’s not about reacting to the situation presented by a GM, it’s about driving the story forward as players (the Writers, in this case) and the Director responding through the world and the other characters who live there. This is about creating your story.
[21:20] <+WardenHPS> The mechanics in High Plains Samurai are there to support this shared storytelling experience. Whenever a player provides a description on their turn, another players will provide the outcome to that description. Everything plays out equally at the table so there is no one person hogging the spotlight; everyone gets an equal chance to build on the story.
[21:20] <+WardenHPS> The rest is all about how far you take it.
[21:20] <+WardenHPS> Other than that, I hope you can discover more on the Kickstarter page at (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2091561925/high-plains-samurai)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2091561925/high-plains-samurai
[21:21] <~Dan> Thanks, WardenHPS!
[21:21] <+WardenHPS> We’re already funded and aiming to make this game bigger and better. I’ll be honest, I’d love to hit $10,000 (Canadian, so it’s like $8,000 American).
[21:21] <~Dan> Usual reminder: My tip jar is at (Link: https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/)https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/ for those so inclined. 🙂
[21:21] <~Dan> Best of luck, WardenHPS!
[21:21] <+Will> Best of luck with the game
[21:22] <+WardenHPS> Thanks, everyone. I’ll keep poking back here now and then, if that’s alright.
[21:22] <~Dan> If you’ll give me a minute, I’ll get the log posted and link you!
[21:22] <~Dan> Oh, yes! You’re always welcome!