The High Plains Samurai Roleplaying Game is a story game about gunslingers, samurai, barbarians, and gangsters in a post-apocalyptic steampunk world where honour and the power from within your qi have been the only things keeping you alive. You shall create epic tales of anti-heroes rising from the ashes of the One Land’s barren shadow to become saviours, villains, or martyrs to their cause. While these pages contain a game with rules and details on cities, major characters, goals and more, they exist only to provide a clear path for this epic story. Told with the ScreenPlay system, this game involves players creating a legendary story with these notes acting as a template, a starting line from which you and your allies will sprint to the very end at your own pace and on your own path. How the story will be told will be a shared experience as each of you work together to create a story for a very select audience – yourselves.
There is no single representation that locks down what the One Land is today. That is how torn our world has become since Chaos’ rage nearly broke us. Rocky deserts, steam engine trains, and horse drawn carriages fought over by gunslingers and bandits give way to the controlled sword dancing of samurai warriors in their fortresses of wood and stone. Suddenly it shifts again into frozen peaks harboring barbarian tribes whose tradition survives through steel and bow, before morphing into the murky underground littered with scrap metal and wild inventions. The truth is that no one angle offers the whole picture. Ours is a world of vast differences.
This is a setting of personal honour set against the greed and depravity of a broader world. Against forces of darkness and revenge, heroes rise up and fight for their beliefs as only a warrior can. Whether it is defended with lead from a bullet or the steel of a sword, a person’s honour is their best currency. Those who agree with this view are the heroes and villains we need and they will change everything for good or ill.
All who survived Chaos’ wrath and carried on in the ruins locked themselves within fortified communities known simply as the Five Cities, homelands to nine out of every ten surviving denizens of the One Land. This name does not begin to meet the definition, for each of these self-contained nations differ in size and scope. Khar’tep, for instance, is scattered across the northern mountains and exists as a collection of tribes united under one banner while Yung Zhi remains locked within the middle of a massive cavern.
Between them all lay the Wastes, where Chaos’ plan for demolition originated. What was once the home of a great and all but forgotten capital city and lush farmland that served as the source of all commerce and democracy in the One Land that once was is now a barren crater of radioactive abnormalities. It is also the origin of all qi power centralized in one nuclear apex. Its influence is global, though weakened and controllable by those born in the enforced safety of the Five Cities. Outcasts born to roaming gangs within the Wastes or along its edges are consumed by their unexpected qi power and grow to become freaks scarred by their own power’s manifestation. They scratch out livings in rudimentary clusters of homes, raiding smaller settlements outside the Five Cities or aiming for the big score robbing the Salvation, a massive armoured caravan crossing from one City to the next through the heart of our world’s terror.
Then there are those who have no home. They wander between the Five Cities, skimming along the edges of the Wastes surviving by any means necessary. They are unshackled by the restraints of the warlords and walk with their own codes, personal values protected above all others.They are bandits, ronin, bounty hunters, and anyone else unable to coexist within the walls of the Five Cities. They are the unknown factors in many stories, the unexpected obstacles to well laid plans. They are the One Land’s last hope.
Many of today’s generation have learned to tap into their inner qi and harness the chaotic radiation to great effect. These powers are harnessed from within to create exceptional abilities, from moving with impossible speed to turning invisible to impressive strength. Influential characters can still be untapped, as the term goes, yet those holding the highest ranks of power are always extraordinarily tapped into their qi power.
Behind all of this and soon to become forefront to the One Land’s future are the Six Elemental Spirits worshipped for their creation of humanity and also cursed for the wretched lives created for them. The sole creator, Chaos, birthed offspring to share in the care of his universe – Balance, Honour, Patience, Strife and Innocence – who in turn were allowed to create, between them, a single world of their own. When Chaos grew jealous of the devotion they gave to this world, he sought to wipe it out entirely and punish them for their transgression. This wrath yielded the state of the One Land today. In defending their creation, the five siblings defeated their parent and imprisoned Chaos within the Shard of Hope. This ancient history is about to become current events as dark forces have unwittingly unleashed the return of a great evil. Chaos has returned and his rage has only grown.
As a second apocalypse returns to the One Land, this is the tale of a single woman brought to despair and vengeance, a woman whose very skills and desires will mark the beginning of the end and lead to a confrontation of the ages. This is the story of the one who tried to bring justice and instead opened the gates of oblivion. Where only a handful of brave warriors can stand against her and prevent the death of everything.
This is the story of High Plains Samurai.