Every car has its engine, every body its organs, and every roleplaying game its system. For Killshot, that lifeblood empowering every bloodthirsty and cunning assassin around the world is the Optional System, a tool devised specifically for this award-winning RPG. That’s all well and good, but what exactly is the Optional System?
There are five key features of this system you need to know for your mouth to drool with expectation, each one part of a strong chain that makes the Optional System unique among others in the field. In no particular order, they are Options & Actions, Bonus Options, The Edge, Dice Pools and Opposed Rolls.
Options & Actions
Unlike other RPGs, players using the Optional System act as a Team first and foremost though the number of actions available in a round (or series). Each Team starts a series with a number of actions based on their character type and each action allows for everyone on the Team to perform their individual options. Using Killshot as an example (as we’ll do throughout this page), assassins start each series with 1 action + 1 additional action per assassin on the Team while marks have exactly 2 actions per series.
When a Team uses their action (with what’s called The Edge), everyone on the Team can take turns to apply options assigned to their character during creation. Why is this so important? Because if an individual option fails a dice roll, the entire Team’s action is potentially over and another Team gets to act next (including your opponents). This method forces all players to work together first and not as a group of individuals working in the same direction.
One of the primary goals of the Optional System is to allow for fluid play, not strict turns. That’s why one of the proudest features of this system are bonus options. Basically, when you succeed on a dice roll, you gain another option to use immediately after completing the previous one. So as long as you roll real good, there’s almost no stopping you. However, that’s where opposed rolls come into play. (See below for that one.)
Another unique component of this system is how play is not bound to a locked turn order. As mentioned before, rounds of play are known as a series where each Team has a number of actions to do their thing before any opponents can do theirs. Deciding who can take active actions and who can only react to the situation at hand is based on a little thing called The Edge. Any Team with The Edge can use actions and options, potentially to make active dice rolls. If your Team does not have The Edge, all you can do is make opposed rolls and watch your enemies kick your ass.
Keeping all of this organized is a little device known as the Tracker. The one you see below is from Killshot and it simply uses a pencil (or a whiteboard, as was the case for our premium Kickstarter backers) and poker chips. The Edge is monitored along the top portion under the Team names and it passes from one Team to the next, sometimes in order, other times it can be stolen by another Team. With the Tracker in play, what seems like a mass of chaos flows like water down a river.
Whenever there’s a chance of success or failure in an individual option, it’s time to roll dice. And not just any dice… as many of them as you can muster! The Optional System employs the use of various features assigned to your character during creation and each one is broken into different categories with each category assigned a die type. For starters, everyone gets to roll at least one d20 as their base die (the purest chance of random luck working in your favour). From there, you can apply focus dice (d12s, representing your given focus – or profession – as it applies to your effort), circumstance dice (d10s, brought in from extenuating circumstances), option dice (d8s, assigned by the selected option you choose for your… well, option), trained dice (d6s, brought in from skills, martial arts, and other sources) and finally death dice (d4s, which are earned by killing marks and thugs – not innocents! – and can be assigned to your dice pool at the last minute to stave off failure). Built your dice pool with the resources available to your character and drop them all on the table.
But you’re not the only one rolling dice at this moment. Rather than assign static target numbers to roll against, the Optional System uses an active defence protocol for all dice rolls. This means that if someone goes to attack your character, you can build your own dice pool to resist and avoid the attack. Build your dice pool the same way as your opponent and roll higher to make your opponent fail miserably. The same applies with everything attempted using dice in this system. Whenever an option is attempted against an inanimate object or fate itself, the Director will determine the Difficulty Level and roll a d20 + a number of d10s based on the complexity of the attempt and roll against you.
Once success or failure is determined against the opposed roll, players and Directors can see how well they did by taking the difference of the roll (the active roll’s result minus the opposed roll’s result) and divide it by 10. This provides you with the number of hits. Then consult the chart below and BAM! You know just how well you did.
And that is how the Optional System works.