When Roleplayers Chronicle asked me to summarize my latest Kickstarter and roleplaying game, Killshot Reloaded, I struggled for a moment. Not because I didn’t know how to explain it, that’s the not the problem. If anyone’s watched the daily Video Updates provided on the Kickstarter, you’ll see I can’t shut up about it. No, the problem was finding the right way to encapsulate this new edition’s approach to tabletop assassination in a way that would grab your attention right off the bat and make you want to learn more.
I could start by reviewing everything about the Killshot RPG, a game where players take on the role of professional assassins in a modern day setting ripe with intrigue, investigation, and Machiavellian plotting. I could tell you about the expanded reach of the game’s core, the Optional System, and how it’s been fine-tuned after an additional two years of playtesting and fan input and how it’s been revised to provide a cleaner, faster presentation capable of handling any level of action you want in your games, anything from gritty realism to hard core Hollywood action.
Any of those options were valid, but they wouldn’t explain why I wanted to make a new edition of this game. It’s because there was something missing last time, something I’ve learned is completely possible in a game many assume to be a straight-up one-shot game of assassins taking out marks and getting paid. There is more to this game than a simple contract hit; there’s a story under there. Killshot Reloaded is about bringing the story to the job and creating a vivid world in which players can engage in more than just a job – they can play out an entire career.
Nothing demonstrates this more than the most ambitious part of this project: themes. One of the main functions of the Kickstarter is to help us include a collection of five different themes analyzing unique and challenging functions of the game and assassination as a whole. Whether you’re looking to keep things simple but dynamic (using the default Killshot Noir theme where assassins make a living in the tumultuous wheelings and dealings of the Five Families in the City) or travel back to a different era or even a different land (such as working as a ninja in ancient Japan’s Way of the Killshot theme). Each theme offers players and Directors an opportunity to craft unique and engaging stories pitting the assassins against impressive challenges, fight scenes, and interesting characters to create a cohesive and continuous storyline documenting the rise (or fall) of this Team of assassins.
Yeah, that’s the ticket.
Revealing how each theme ponies up its own adjustments and challenges, you can check out these brief descriptions explaining what the theme is all about and how it shifts the mechanics to create a unique career versus the others.
Designed as the default setting for Killshot Reloaded, this takes the modern day crime saga and gives it a Dick Tracy tone, playing up on the pulp crime novels set in the current early 21st Century. In a place its people refer to simply as “the City,” there are Five Families vying for control of the underground’s major operations: drugs, gambling, smuggling, prostitution, and money laundering. If you want to make it anywhere in this business, you need to choose a side and find your loyalties unless you want to get caught up in a mob war. Or perhaps you’ll become mixed up with that Black Market mistress known only as the Red Queen and make a living balancing precariously on the fence.
This is the version of Killshot you may already know and love, but with depth. Establish connections both professional and personal as your name goes up the ranks and your Team takes on some of the most important and influential jobs the City’s ever seen. Play your cards right and you could find yourself taking an oath to one of the Five or staring down iron bars for the rest of your life.
The world’s a dangerous place and every nation has their dirty laundry to clean. There has never been a time in the 20th Century where clandestine organizations have sent out operatives to investigate the rumours, document the truth, and turn the tide in their favour. Whether you’re poking through Nazi offices looking for secret codes and troop movements, walking the streets of Germany during the height of the Cold War, or tracking down terrorists in the deserts of the Middle East, operatives take the assassin’s work to new levels of complexity and danger.
Boosting these jobs are advanced mechanics designed to offer compelling challenges and difficulty to a higher level of operation. Use threat levels to simulate the intense pressure of avoiding Mosaad agents, mix it up with non-assassination operations, and force players to think outside the box by squeezing away their resources. Designed as high-level work for experienced characters, think of Operation: Killshot as Advanced Killshot and you’ll get an idea of what we’re going for here.
There’s a place they call the Wild West and a time where the law was enforced by a proud few and broken by many. Out here, bounty hunters and gunslingers seek a new life away from the growing cities only to find others willing to spill blood for the same rights. Out here, you have to make a name for yourself and live by a code. Out here, your actions carry further than a gun shot and your word is your bond. You can become a vigilant lawman or a scheming outlaw, but the fact remains you won’t last long if you don’t know how to shoot straight.
Not only does this theme allow Directors to play a historical version of Killshot, but it provides players with an incentive to engage in heavier roleplaying and morality tales as gunslingers struggle to make a living in the Wild West. More than just choosing sides, it’s all about how you make your name and become a legend in the dust bowls and rugged plains of 1890s America.
If you can survive Hong Kong, they say, you can last anywhere. The flashing neon lights, the bustling wealth, and the violent mayhem of this chaotic city has given rise to a classic cinematic style known as gun-fu. Everyone knows how to shoot two guns and it takes a few rounds to bring a man down. Blood is as frequent as nightclubs in a land where the world meets to conduct business. Where dedicated killers and fierce detectives find themselves working together to bring down a major crime boss on a quest to gain ultimate power and authority. Where the only rules you need are the ones you live by.
Those looking for high-packed action will want to check out Hard Boiled Killshot, a loving tribute to the films of John Woo, the Shaw Brothers, and many more. Energetic gun battles, explosions, and sweeping action are all possible with the modifications to the game’s fight management system, plus you can choose between playing the tried-and-true killer or the rogue detective investigating crimes from inside the police tape.
Finally, why restrict yourself to using guns in modern times? Step back centuries in time to an ancient land of tradition and honour as you learn the ways of the ninja. Start as a struggling apprentice or begin your career as a full-fledged ninja master targeting those marked for death by your clan. It’s about causing fear in your mark and those closest to him, about spreading a message with every kill. Are you a magical demon or a highly trained specialist? Decipher the mysteries of the ninja and become that most dangerous of all targets: a killer willing to die for a cause.
In many ways, this theme is the polar opposite of Killshot’s original goal. This intense, bloody storyline provides plenty of opportunity for players and Directors to engage in any style of play, even allowing for ninja magic, with an emphasis on terror and stealth over brutality and mayhem. There are no firearms to hide behind; this theme requires you to get up close and bloody with your marks to invoke fear in your enemies.
So what do you say? How do you plan on starting your first Killshot Reloaded career?