“For every tyrant there are many under his boot. Those trapped beneath him are nothing more than ants until they learn to move between the treads and finally break free.”
– from The Path of Innocence
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 blends the worlds of western gunslingers, samurai warriors, prohibition-era gangsters, savage barbarians, and more with the wild martial arts action of wire-fu. Visceral and aggressive tales of woe, vengeance, and bloodshed are created to either return The One Land to its former glory, or tear it apart into chunks of lifeless rock hurtling through space.
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 steampunkwhere 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.
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 $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) 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.
At $18,000 CDN, you will unlock the final chapter in the Wrath of Chaos trilogy: The FourthMark. 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)
Preview: Rehearsal Edition/Kickstarter Art
If everything you’ve read so far hasn’t worked you into a frenzy, then gaze upon these interior art pieces from HPS’ lead artist, Kieron O’Gorman.
Preview: Rehearsal Edition Layout
Constantly evolving, this work-in-progress layout for HPS seeks to push the boundaries of our previous games by mixing in elements from the various genres found throughout the One Land.
Follow Our Progress on G+
As the clock counts down to the next phase of HPS, be one of the select few to gain first access to playtest drafts, art previews, and more on our ScreenPlayers Guild G+ community.