Broken Ruler Games recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for Killshot: Reloaded, the second edition of their assassin RPG. I was fortunate to receive an early copy of the backer preview, which you can get by pledging even $1 to the Reloaded Kickstarter.
The Kickstarter campaign is going from now, May 29th, through June 28th. Don’t wait to get in on the action though; the sooner you pledge, the sooner you’ll get your own preview copy.
Disclosure: I received an early copy of this backer preview for review.
Killshot: Reloaded is the second edition of Killshot by Broken Ruler Games. [URL] In Killshot, players take the role of assassins for hire in a modern setting. It uses BRG’s custom dice pool system, dubbed the Optional system, to resolve events within your game.
Killshot: Reloaded expands on the ideas and mechanics of the first edition to bring you several new Themes, or genres, in which to set your game. It also updates the Optional system with new rules that help it flow better and allow GMs, called Directors, to better tweak and customize the game they want to run.
The book isn’t all about the rules and game mechanics, though. It’s written from the perspective of someone talking to new assassins. It gives everything to you straight and doesn’t beat around the bush – being an assassin is not for the faint of heart, and The Warden will tell you as much. If you can’t take the bad with the worse, you probably shouldn’t be in this line of work.
Reading through Killshot is like listening to a hardened criminal tell you how best to go about dispatching someone. It’s grim, gritty, full of foul language, and paints some very vivid imagery. It’s not for the faint of heart, but neither is playing a game in which you’re the “bad guy” and your goal is to obliterate people. If you can take it it’s great and well worth the read. If not, perhaps you should just let your Director explain the game’s mechanics to you.
The Optional system is where the game really shines. It’s a little tricky to explain without going into great detail about the mechanics, but the goal of the system is to emulate fast-paced, action movie combat. It does so by allowing characters to act and continue acting until they fail a roll. It’s like watching Jackie Chan punch some guy six times before the other person has a chance to react; he doesn’t just punch someone six times as part of his turn and then waits for the other guy to move, he punches them until he misses and the other guy is able to exploit an opening.
On the whole, the system succeeds at what it sets out to do. Action scenes can be very back-and-forth. They use a mechanic called the Edge to indicate which side of the fight (which person or team of people) has the initiative. The Edge doesn’t just get passed back and forth based on an initiative die roll, though; it can be stolen by one side of the fight if the other drops the ball, which gives the new team the chance to act. It’s important to make good use of your options in combat, because you never know when you might screw up and leave that opening for someone to exploit.
The Optional system’s dice pool mechanic is also unique. Every roll starts with 1d20 with a target difficulty of an opposed d20 roll. Characters may then add additional dice to their pool based on Focuses, Skills, Equipment, Circumstances, and other options. It’s possible to wind up rolling, for example, 1d20 + 1d12 + 2d10 + 1d6. All dice explode, so if you rol the highest number on any given dice you roll it again and add that number to the total. If you’re the type that loves rolling a fistful of dice with every action, Killshot is for you.
The mechanics aren’t quite that simple though. There are degrees of success based on how many “hits” you achieve when rolling, and just knowing what to roll and when to take advantage of your character’s strengths, skills, and gear in order to achieve the maximum number of hits in any given roll is important. There is a lot of tactical thought that goes into each roll you make.
The mechanics all add up to make a fast-paced, action-oriented game that really drives home the feel of being a gun for hire. Even better though is that you don’t always have to play the guy with the gun if you don’t want to.
Most missions will take a team of highly-skilled individuals to complete. There’s room on the team for a gunner, to be sure, but you may also need a hacker to help you bypass security, a grifter to help you con a mark into letting down their guard, and a driver to man the getaway car. All of these roles are outlined in the book, and each has special character options and skills to make them feel unique.
In Reloaded, you have additional options. You’re not constrained to just playing assassins. Depending on your theme, you may also play a ninja or an outlaw, or you may even be a hard boiled gumshoe or a lawman in the Wild West. The new themes add a lot of extra flavor to the game, and each is detailed with new character archetypes to help you set the tone for a game.
The new rules are better than ever and the book is a fun read. If you have played Killshot you’ll know what to expect, but there’s enough here to be of interest to anyone who’s purchased the book before. The new themes and streamlined mechanics make the game worth a second look. If you haven’t played Killshot before, now’s the time to get started.