High Plains Samurai

Created by The Warden

An action-heavy tabletop RPG of gunslingers, samurai, gangsters, barbarians, steampunk, and superpowers on the brink of destruction.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Ballad of a High Plains Samurai Chapter 3: Destined To Lead
almost 2 years ago – Thu, Jun 15, 2017 at 06:26:47 PM

Fate is cruel, make no mistake about it. For Scorpion to become the leader of the Desert Sun Gang, Ho-Sun must fall. The third preview chapter for Fraser Ronald's Ballad of a High Plains Samurai continues as we witness a major shift in the leader of this mountain rebellion and Scorpion takes control of her life for the first time. 

You can read all about it on the Broken Ruler Games website right now! 

If you haven't heard Fraser and I talk about High Plains Samurai, Black Scorpion, and how scenarios will help shape your own version of Black Scorpion's Revenge when we hit $7,000, plant this audio in your ears! 

Special Stretch Goals
almost 2 years ago – Mon, Jun 12, 2017 at 07:39:27 PM

Welcome to Week 3 of the Kickstarter! 

As we close in on two milestones (no, not the kind you earn as Writers playing HPS), I want to draw attention to two non-monetary stretch goals. One new, the other part of the initial launch of this KS. 

New Stretch Goal: An Online Session With Todd Crapper at 200+ Backers

We're so close to getting 200 backers on this project (wow!) that I thought it was worth throwing in a little extra. When we do hit this milestone, one random backer (from the Noble Warrior backer level and up) will win an opportunity to play an online session of HPS with me. This will be done using Google Hangouts, Skype, or other possibly methods at an agreed upon time in 2018. 

But it will go further than that. For every additional 50 backers after that, I will draw another winner for an additional online game. 

These sessions will give new Directors a chance to see how the game works from its creator, help provide some feedback and guidance on setting your story's targets, initiatives, and play out some wire-fu action for shits and giggles. I will set up the draw by accepting entries through BackerKit (no need drawing a winner who's not interested) once this project moves closer and closer to completion. 

Hashtag Wars: Todd vs. Chaos

Do you want to see a free PDF alternate version of any published HPS treatments (such as Black Scorpion's Revenge) where the lead characters aid Chaos in finishing off the One Land once and for all? When I launched this Kickstarter, I challenged everyone to show their support for saving the One Land or destroying it by using the hashtags #SaveTheOneLand or #DestroyTheOneLand. This has drifted off a bit lately, so I'm going to add a running tally of hashtags to the stretch goal chart. If #DestroyTheOneLand gains more traction than #SaveTheOneLand, I will provide a free PDF to backers only detailing how their leads can help burn this place to the ground. Keep your eyes peeled for that special stretch goal as I'll be updating the Stretch Goal Checklist graphic later today. 

Interview with Fraser Ronald Tomorrow Night

Starting at 6:30pm EST, Fraser Ronald (author of the Ballad of a High Plains Samurai origin story) and I will be chatting it up about HPS, Black Scorpion, and other details about the game, setting, mechanics, etc. If you have any questions you'd like us to address, hit us up in the comments for this update. You can catch the interview live on YouTube

Ballad of a High Plains Samurai, Chapter Two: Raised A Scorpion
almost 2 years ago – Thu, Jun 08, 2017 at 06:07:07 AM

It's Thursday and that means it's time to bring you the next instalment of Fraser Ronald's origin story for Black Scorpion. Taken in by Ho-Sun and the Desert Sun Gang, the girl formerly known as the Dog has found a home, people who accept her, and someone who believes in her. As she finds herself thrust into a position of influence within the gang, a bounty hunter is hot on Ho-Sun's trail and will soon force Scorpion to accept what she has been fighting all along.

To read Chapter Two: Raised A Scorpion, visit the Broken Ruler Games website. 

Read the High Plains Samurai Q&A

The complete transcript from last night's Q&A (thanks to Dan Davenport for inviting me) is now available on his blog and I'd like to thank everyone who turned out to ask questions on what makes this game tick to why qi is spelled with a q. 

Who Is Black Scorpion?
almost 2 years ago – Wed, Jun 07, 2017 at 04:56:43 PM

Every story needs a villain but great stories need a sympathetic villain. The difference between someone out for world domination because they go on power trips when they're not kept in check and someone seeking retribution for the death of a loved one can be vast. That difference is what Black Scorpion brings to High Plains Samurai; she is a tragic villain who has played the cards she's been dealt all her life. Buried deep within the little girl everyone called the Dog lurked a tremendous power that was untapped until Ho-Sun saw what she could do and brought her into the Desert Sun Gang.

When I look at Black Scorpion now, as Fraser Ronald has so elegantly defined her and especially compared to the single-minded “simply because” villain originally conceived so many years ago, this defining moment has made me ponder. Would she have been better off as the Dog? What if she had never tapped into her qi, never tore the Iron Beggar apart or what if Ho-Sun had turned a corner a second before she made her move? What would the One Land be like without her? And as tragic as it is to consider a young urchin's death as the better option to a life of power, it's exactly what makes HPS a game set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. This is a game of people overcoming tragedy, even if their fate leads them and their world to darker times. It can be easy to forget when you're busy running up walls, delivering a volley of rapid-fire punches, and shooting lasers from your eyes.

Black Scorpion has undergone significant changes over the past month leading up to this Kickstarter, let alone over the years. From day one, I've personally focused on making him (yes, BS started off as a man) one powerful sumbitch who could take on a whole party of lead characters single-handedly. Not that this always worked out and the benefits of this mechanical fixation on creating “the ultimate villain stats” has lead to many advancement revisions for all types of characters. His origin story remained the same for years: rose to power as leader of the nefarious Desert Sun Gang, pissed off a lot of warlords, they sent an army to stop him, he went into hiding with the monks of Heaven's Peak, fell in love, warlords found him again, brought everything that was finally good and peaceful in his life crashing to the ground, takes an oath to punish every warlord, Chaos notices and helps out. And Black Scorpion remains a serious ass-kicker. This has not changed.

It's what Fraser has brought to the character that has changed everything. From the first time I read his first chapter, I felt an unfamiliar empathy for her. Suddenly, her role was more than a mere killer. As the Director, I wanted to see this character succeed in her deadly mission because I understood her better. I understood that emotional toll of the world conspiring against you to the point of trying to kill you (though hers turned out to be true) and how embracing rage and vengeance could drive someone to do terrible things. Yet once those terrible things begin to happen to innocent people, that sympathy is questioned and I'm conflicted by this character I thought I understood. I equate her to Bruce Willis' character in Looper; there is a clear moment when he shifts from sympathetic villain to a bastard and yet I could still understand why that bastard was doing it.

This is the goal in publishing Ballad of a High Plains Samurai and one I wanted to reflected on with all of you. Ballad is an opportunity to look into the heart of the story, beyond all the flashy violence and gonzo setting material. This is the substance that can make your game memorable to the Writers. It's what helps make post-apocalyptic games what they are and it's more than violent people with Australian accents. These are people and each of them have suffered in the moments leading up to your first opening shot. Never forget that. The One Land is a world torn apart by itself and that reflects down to the tiny ants Chaos tried to extinguish long ago.

Black Scorpion's Revenge: A Chapter-By-Chapter Breakdown 

As we begin to close in on our $5,000 stretch goal, I'd also like to take some time to show everyone what we're going to unlock at the $7,000 mark... and it's a big one! This milestone will convert the HPS core rulebook (projected at 96 pages) to a 160 core rulebook/treatment (a term for adventures in the ScreenPlay system) retitled High Plains Samurai: Black Scorpion's Revenge and it is all about your lead characters directly confronting BS as she slices her way across the One Land. BSR will include two additional volumes for a total of nine new chapters and this is what we currently have in mind. (You will also see which Elemental Spirit "writes" these chapters.)

Volume One: The Order of Things (70 pages; 28,000 words) 
What is HPS and how do you play it? 

Book One: Hope Cracked (8 pages; 3,200 words) (3,270 actual) – written by Innocence 

  • Story: the end of the Massacre of Heaven's Peak 
  • an introduction to HPS – style, tone, theme 
  • creating your own version of HPS 
  • Writers and Directors; players and characters 
  • Rule of Initiative, “Yes, and...” 

Book Two: The History Of It All (10 pages; 4,000 words) – written by Patience 

  • how Chaos destroyed the One Land and the Five Cities 
  • Black Scorpion's plans for revenge 
  • The Five Cities and the Wastes – setting details 
  • The Elemental Spirits – Chaos, Honour, Balance, Innocence, Patience, Strife 

Book Three: Endless Possibilities (25 pages; 10,000 words) – written by Balance

  • character creation/rules to play 
  • qi powers 
  • perks (choose one for homeland + role + qi power) roles (8 lead roles; possible secondary roles)

Volume Two: The Weight of the World (20 pages; 8,000 words)
All about directing High Plains Samurai... 

Book Four: Out of Hell Comes Darkness (8 pages; 3,000 words) – written by Honour 

  • tips for directing HPS 
  • starting a new story 
  • building a scene 
  • fleshing out your group's version of the One Land 
  • supporting characters and extras 

Book Five: A Road Paved In Blood (7 pages; 3,000 words) – written by Strife 

  • keeping the story moving forward in a co-operative game 
  • Black Scorpion's plans for each of the Five Cities 

Book Six: The Fall of the Five (5 pages; 2,000 words) – written by Chaos 

  • Chaos' touch/Black Scorpion dies – how the story changes 
  • the other Spirits interfere with Chaos' plans 
  • the Wrath of Chaos trilogy

Volume Three: The Beginning of the End (10 pages per Book = 60 pages; 24,000 words)
The story of Black Scorpion's revenge & the return of Chaos, divided by six major locations. 

Book Seven: Hunan, City of Despair (written by Innocence) 

Book Eight: Yung Zhi, City of Lights (written by Strife) 

Book Nine: Monsoon, City of Ruins (written by Honour) 

Book Ten: Khar'tep, City of Mountains (written by Balance) 

Book Eleven: Rust, City of Industry (written by Patience) 

Book Twelve: The Wastes, Scar Upon the World (written by Chaos)

Appendices: The Dust Settles 

  • Character & Scene Records – 4 pages 
  • Major Supporting Characters – 4 pages 
  • Cast of Extras? – 4 pages 
  • Random Qi Powers – 4 pages

Volume Two will provide the advice chapter for Directors to interpret the rules and apply them in ways that help keep the story moving forward and challenge the Writers and their characters. Volume Three is what you would consider the adventure and they are broken down into chapters detailing the six major locations in the One Land. The first couple pages will feature enriched content on who and what makes up those locations, followed by a series of scenarios... but we'll get into those once this stretch goal is unlocked.

While some details are subject to change, I wanted to show everyone what you can unlock at $7k. This upgrade in our first book for HPS will be automatic to all backers! If we are fortunate to reach this level, everyone's PDF, softcover and hardcover books will automatically upgrade to BSR.

Ask Fraser and Todd About Black Scorpion

On Tuesday, June 13th, Fraser and I will conduct a Google Hangouts interview/conversation about Black Scorpion, the One Land, and everything involving the setting of this game. Once a link has been created by Fraser (the host), I will share with everyone here. We encourage you to come on out and ask us questions, provide feedback on what you've learned so far, maybe gush about how much you're looking forward to playing with your group. (Hey, a fella can dream!) And get ready for the second chapter of Fraser's Black Scorpion biography tomorrow evening as she grows from a street urchin to the Ho-Sun's second in command.

New Backer Level: The Unstoppable Hunter
almost 2 years ago – Tue, Jun 06, 2017 at 09:30:24 PM

I've been holding onto this idea until a reasonable price for a better-than-your-average substrate (paper) arrived and that time is now. The High Plains Samurai Kickstarter now includes the Unstoppable Hunter backer level at $100 CDN and includes these new goodies. 

  • It includes a signed hardcover copy of High Plains Samurai's core rulebook (which is upgraded to High Plains Samurai: Black Scorpion's Revenge if we hit $7,000)
  • It also includes a 24" by 36" poster map of the One Land that also acts as a "playmat" featuring tables and references from the core rulebook for use during play. This will be designed to rest in the centre of your game and infuse players with ideas as you see the One Land (in all the glory I'm positive Jeff Brown will create) laid out before you. While the substrate name is not one I'm familiar with, it has been described as a "banner material" to indicate it is far better than your average poster shop material. 

All this plus all the other features of the Hardened Outsider. This is the premium backer level for those who have been drooling over this game and it's the one I've been waiting to present. There are no limits to how many can back at this level and existing backers are more than welcome to upgrade to this enhanced level. 

The Atlas of the One Land

I've also added an additional stretch goal at $5,000: the Atlas of the One Land. This will be a living document exclusive to all backers of this Kickstarter and will allow all of you to submit new sites created in your renditions of the game to Broken Ruler Games for inclusion in this free supplement scheduled to be published in the Fall of 2018. Plus your sites will also be included in an online version of Jeff Brown's map. This will become a great resource for all players to help them bring their version of the One Land to life but only backers will be able to submit content. More details will be announced at a later date and this will only come to life when we hit $5,000 (along with Fraser Ronald's origin story of Black Scorpion). 

We're less than $1,000 away from making these stretch goals happen! Grab your gear, pick up those dice, and let's make it happen! 

Join Me For The #rpgnet Q&A Tomorrow Night!


I'll be on this live chat Wednesday, June 7th starting at 7:30pm CST to answer any questions you may have about HPS. Join us and discover everything you've ever wanted to know about what the hell I was thinking when I came up with this.