Adventures in the Hundred Kingdoms
Author: S. John Bateman
Publisher: WolfWyzard Press
Page Count: 17
Available Formats: PDF and print
PDF (DTRPG) – $3.00
Adventures in the Hundred Kingdoms a roleplaying game that is inspired and heavily influenced by the folklore of the Philippine Islands. The game is designed to tell epic tales of normal people who become heroes by overcoming extremely challenging situations.
I would like to note that players are encouraged to explore the breadth and depth of humanity and culture when creating their characters. All colors, races, genders, orientations, and religions are encouraged. Each tale is inspired by the folklore of Philippine islanders, but characters within these tales may be as diverse as the players see fit.
The game is a simple, yet robust, d6 dice pool system that requires players to get a certain number of successes to pass a test. The level of difficulty ultimately determines the number of successes needed. Success (“hits”) are die results of 4, 5, 6.
Characters are comprised of stats, lifepaths, traits, bonds, and their gear. Characters have two stats—Health (all things physical) and Will (all things mental). It’s from these two stats that all tests are based. Lifepaths represent who and what the characters are. Each of the five life paths available grants characters an array of skills, a distinct trait, and their starting gear. The skills define what the characters are particularly good at while traits grant them a special feature. Traits start at level 1 and can be advanced up to level 3. The characters are also bonded to someone or something; this provides for narrative prompts.
Character development is simple. Once a character has acquired a certain number of experience points (6, 14, etc) they advance to the next level. Experience points are earned at the end of each session if any of the following are met—fight for a bond, overcome a great obstacle, or use a trait to advance the narrative. Upon reaching the next level they can take a new life path or take their existing path again. A new life path grants the character a new trait on which they can call upon. Taking an existing life path allows the current trait to advance to level 2 and the added advantages that come with it. Players also select a new skill from the general skills list or from their new life path.
Physical conflicts are resolved first by determining initiative. Simply roll the appropriate stat for the type of conflict. The initiative is resolved in the order of the “most hits”, a +1 bonus is granted based on distance vs. weapon type. Opposing characters in physical combat will each roll their fighting skill, the side with more “hits” deals damage to their opponent. Armor and shields can absorb some of the damage. All damage is applied to the health stat directly on a one-for-one basis. Reaching zero health, a character falls unconscious. Recovery is only possible through rest.
Social conflicts are resolved in much the same manner as physical conflicts, but there needs to be a clear want or objective to the social dialogue—a goal. The players will decide who goes first, there is no initiative. Social conflict is literally a debate at the table with particular “in-game” aspects being used as weapons such as damning evidence, breaking an oath, etc. Opposing characters in social combat will each roll their fighting skill. The side with more “hits” damages their opponent. This time “hits” are applied to the Will stat. Once an opponent’s Will is reduced to zero, the other character wins the conflict and gets their stated goal.
The stories created at the table revolve around the idea of epic Filipino tales, but taking journeys to far and distant lands are also an option. Journeys are about overcoming obstacles along the way. This is where this game shines and differs from others. Not only are you pitted against foes and creatures of all shapes and sizes, but you’re also being opposed by the environment. Journey conflicts are easily resolved mechanically, but the narrative implications run far deeper. The journey includes things such as long sea voyages, arduous treks across mountains, etc; risk to life and limb is very real and everpresent. If the characters can successfully overcome the physical challenges presented by the journey itself and reduce the “journey” to zero health, they will survive the ordeal and arrive at their destination. Fail and all is lost!
With the mechanical overview now complete, let’s talk about the game as a whole. Adventures in the Hundred Kingdoms is a solid game engine packed into a mere 17 pages. The rules themselves are concise and tightly written, leaving little for the gamemaster to question. Gamemasters will challenge the players’ characters through narrative storytelling, threats to their characters’ bonds, and those things they fight for. They will face epic challenges, always playing to find out what happens. That is the guiding principle of the game.
The arrangement and layout of the book is nicely done. It’s easy to read and to follow its smart arrangement. There is little artwork included, but of what is there, it nicely compliments the book.
Overall, this is an interesting game and I can see lots of potential with it as a simple game engine. My only issue with the game is the author infuses the rules, skills, traits, and concepts with a Filipino flair, but has not included story seeds for those gamemasters who not familiar with this culture. That said, the stories themselves do not necessarily have to be Filipino-centric. The rules provide the mechanical engine, while the gamemaster uses the folklore vibe they are seeking. The Principles chapter does give gamemasters some ideas on how to populate their story with threats for players to face, but it could use a few solid story ideas to get an unfamiliar gamemaster up and running.
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