The Father of Sword and Soul Speaks: Ki Khanga: Always Something New Out of Africa

Charles R. Saunders, the Father of Sword and Soul and the man who coined the term, chimes in on Ki Khanga.
Read on, and enjoy!

Diversity is the watchword for the Africa of the world we know. In terms of differences in climate, culture and creativity, the continent that gave birth to humanity is beyond compare. Language alone is one example: more than 700 distinct tongues are spoken in Africa. And there is more genetic variation among the African people than there is anywhere else in the world.
It is no wonder, then, that such a place can serve as a nexus for the literature of the imagination – a foundation upon which new additions to the already vast history and mythology that thrived in Africa during pre-colonial times can be built.
Ki-Khanga is one of those additions.
Ki-Khanga is an Africa that could have been, located in a world that might have been. Sprung from the fertile minds of Milton J. Davis and Balogun Ojetade, Ki-Khanga is a place of magic and mystery, heroism and horror, spears and seduction. It is a place roiled by the long-reaching repercussions of an ancient feud between pre-human races and the subsequent wrath of an affronted deity. Not only does magic work in Ki-Khanga – magic defines Ki-Khanga, in more ways than one.
Conceived originally as the setting for a forthcoming role-playing game, Ki-Khanga provides fertile ground for Sword and Soul fiction as well. Together, Milton and Balogun have spun a series of fantasy tales for this book that do full justice to the alternate Africa they’ve created. The stories take place in a wide range of cultural backgrounds that both mirror and diverge from those in the Africa of our world’s past, from Khem (Egypt) to Oyo to Zimbabwe. Creatures from both African folklore and the authors’ fertile imaginations abound.
The human characters populating Ki-Khanga are memorable as well. In the stories in this book, you will meet the likes of Nubia, a vengeful warrior-woman; Adjoa and Kwadjo, a pair of royal twins who vie for their father’s throne; the Old Hunter, who protects his homeland from arcane threats; Kiro, a fisherman who is more than he appears to be; Shaigu and Pandare, a team of reluctant assassins; Timneet, a sorceress and patient mentor; Akhu, an inventor and animal-trainer extraordinaire; Edfu, a foppish noble who must defend a fortress against a mystical threat; Anju, a prince who lives in the shadow of a dire prophecy; Akinah, a king’s daughter who is also a sorceress; Omolewa, a resourceful young woman with a ferret and a secret; Zaakah, a tattooed woman who is a potent user of magic; Omari Ket, a mercenary warrior who squeezes out of scrapes he just can’t seem to avoid getting into …
This anthology is more than just an introduction to the wonders of Ki-Khanga; it’s an immersion.
With the breadth and depth of their new and different Africa and its inhabitants, Milton and Balogun have accomplished a significant feat of world-building and character-creation. It is a milestone in the continuing evolution of Sword and Soul.
There are twelve days left for you to help make history as we give the world its very first Sword and Soul Role-Playing Game!
Ki Khanga
Ki Khanga
Ki Khanga

9 Reasons YOU (and Your Children) Should Play Ki Khanga

Ki Khanga: The Sword and Soul Role-Playing Game is a table top role-playing game.

Yeah, I know, tabletop RPGs have long been associated with nerdy teenage boys huddled around a table in someone’s mother’s basement living out their fantasies of being the hero. This image – along with a renewed interest in role-playing games among our youth – has been renewed with the hit Netflix series, Stranger Things. This love letter to the ‘80s horror and science fiction pop culture that captivated a generation is set in 1983 Indiana, where a young, nerdy boy vanishes into thin air after playing a tabletop role-playing game with his nerdy friends and fellow gamers, who – along with the boy’s family and a few others – become the heroes of the story. As they search for answers, they are drawn into an extraordinary mystery involving top-secret government experiments, terrifying supernatural forces and one very strange little girl. All the while, the children rely on strategies and principles they learned from playing the tabletop role-playing game.

Ki KhangaWhile so-called nerds – and self-proclaimed “blerds” (“Black nerds”) – DO play tabletop AND MMO-RPGs (role-playing games), Ki Khanga has something for everyone. In fact, here are 9 reasons why YOU – and certainly any tween or teen you know – should play Ki Khanga:

1. You Get to Be the Hero of the Story

Ki Khanga, similar to, but even more so than, video games, gives you the chance to be the hero. What happens throughout the game is largely up to the players, who all have an equal chance to “save the day.” Or, if being a hero doesn’t appeal to you, playing a villain or playing an anti-hero is also acceptable.

You can be anybody you want to be; YOU have a lot of freedom when it comes to creating your character. Unlike many games that limit you to a certain character class, Ki Khanga; The Sword and Soul Role-Playing Game gives you complete control of who your character is.

2. Stress Relief

In Ki Khanga you can experience anything from one on one bar brawls, to solving an ancient mystery, to battles of epic proportions. Nothing is more satisfying – or more stress relieving – than hearing the Griot (the Game Master) describe how you met an enemy, or an obstacle, and you overcame it.

3. The Sense of Camaraderie You Develop

A group of three or more people is required to play Ki Khanga – one person to be the Griot, and then, at the very least, two people to play. Since the average campaign lasts months, if not years in some cases, you tend to build a bond with the people you play with, both in, and out of game. As you defeat wicked sorcerers, hoard enchanted treasure, and train your skills and abilities to a razor’s edge, you start to develop a strong camaraderie between yourself and the other players.

4. You Learn to Work Together

True to the universal African principle of success through cooperation and community, Ki Khanga is a cooperative game. In order to excel you have to work with the rest of your party to accomplish goals and overcome adversity. Ki Khanga provides no space for any one person to hog the spotlight and act alone. Learning to work effectively with others in a Ki Khanga environment is a good way to foster transferable, real-life skills that are easily applied to situations in your everyday life.

5. You Learn to Solve Problems

After you have learned to work together you need to learn to solve problems. Ki Khanga is a thinking man and woman’s game. You are often presented with challenging scenarios and have to come up with solutions given the resources at your immediate disposal. Solving these problems within the parameters of Ki Khanga is a lot of fun. Most Ki Khanga adventures enforce the idea that there is almost always more than one way to solve a problem, and that you should not always take the predicable course of action.

6. Learn Practical Applications for Math

Ki KhangaKi Khanga involves some mathematics. But do not worry; it all makes sense in the context of the game. Every action that requires the playing of cards is an extension of a probability matrix. Every time you attack with your sword and play one or more cards to determine whether you hit your opponent or not, you are testing the probability and statistical likelihood of hitting the opponent. When you decide to take one weapon over another because it has a better attack modifier you are thinking about probability and statistics. Every time you are in battle and you determine the size of your fireball blast and who is affected or not because of cover, you are applying the basics of geometry. The math is not in your face, but it IS there. Players will often number crunch to create the most optimized character – another in-game application of math.

Playing role-playing games, and especially creating adventures, developed my love for math and greatly improved my math skills. Math could actually be used to have fun? Once I realized every game uses math to some degree, math became my second favorite subject in school, after Creative Writing.

7. It Stretches Your Imagination

Ki KhangaAlthough I have never actually seen a joka – a dragon – or slain a tokoloshe, I can picture what each creature looks like with incredibly accuracy. During a Ki Khanga game the Griot describes the setting, the supporting characters and the events and it is up to the players to fully imagine what these things look like. A friend of mine often refers to playing Ki Khanga as Theater of the Mind. The more detailed the description,s the easier it is to picture in your mind exactly what the situation looks like. Today there are video games that present most of the visual elements for you, but Ki Khanga has always been – and will always be – played in the imagination of the people.

8. You Learn to Love Research

Ki KhangaKi Khanga Co-Creator, Milton Davis and I have taken it upon ourselves to make Ki Khanga: The Sword And Soul Role-Playing Game as cool as possible. To make Ki Khanga more interesting we have done extensive research on African history, politics, geography, sociology, folklore, theology, architecture and warfare. When was the last time YOU read a book or encyclope because you wanted to and not because you were doing an assignment for some class? My love for Ki Khanga has motivated me to visit museums and art galleries. I have grown much more cultured and educated in the process of fact-finding for Ki Khanga: The Sword and Soul Role-Playing Game.

9. To Have Fun

Ki KhangaNo matter what your reason(s) for playing Ki Khanga, HAVING FUN should be somewhere at the top of the list. After all, Ki Khanga IS a game. It may not be the kind of game that has winners and losers – which makes it even COOLER – but it is still a game; a game that will provide you…and your children…and your children’s children a lifetime of ever-increasing enjoyment.

 

We have reached our 2nd Stretch Goal with our crowd-funding efforts for Ki Khanga: The Sword and Soul Role-Playing Game and are now racing toward the 3rd Stretch Goal. With YOUR help, we will get there in no time.

Get ready for YOUR adventure in Ki Khanga to begin!

 

Custom Ki Khanga Cards Coming! Choose YOUR Favorite Card!

Ki KhangaThank you, to each and every one of you for deciding to join our journey to Ki Khanga!

We are less than $200 dollars from those custom playing cards for this exciting game!

Excitement over the cards has led to much discussion about playing cards as of late.

Playing cards, used for games and magic, are so familiar, and so beloved, yet we know very little about the way we perceive and think about them. Are some cards more memorable than others? Are some easier to identify?

Recently, a study was conducted that tested if some playing cards are easier to spot than others.

Ki KhangaNinety-six students were shown visual streams of 26 playing cards on a computer, each displayed for a tenth of a second, and they had to say if a certain target card was present in the stream or not. The students detected the Ace of Spades more easily than any other card, and they detected Aces in general more easily than other cards – probably because of their simple, distinct pattern.

Surprisingly, face cards – Jacks, Queens, Kings and Jokers – were no easier to spot than number cards, despite being more distinctive. Another curious finding was the students’ particular tendency to say the two red sixes (Six of Hearts and Six of Diamonds) were present when they were not. It is not clear why.

Ki KhangaTo test how memorable particular cards are, another study was done. The students saw a stream of cards, each displayed for a quarter of a second, and then they were asked to say whether a particular card had been in the stream or not. Again, the Ace of Spades especially, and all Aces to a lesser extent, were more memorable than other cards.

What about likeability? Students were shown pairs of cards and in each case had to say which they preferred. Regarding numerical value, the participants liked the highest (10) and lowest (2) cards the most. And they had a tendency to prefer Spades and Hearts over Clubs and Diamonds – maybe because of their rank in games, or their curved shape. Two cards were especially popular – the Ace of Hearts and the King of Hearts. There was also a gender difference in taste. Men tended to prefer higher value cards and women to prefer lower value cards.

Ki KhangaFinally, the researchers looked at the verbal and visual accessibility of cards. To do this they asked a new batch of hundreds of students to “Name a playing card” or to “Visualize a playing card” and then say which it was. There was a strong bias for naming the Ace of Spades, followed by the Queen of Hearts and then other high-ranking cards. When participants chose a number card, there was a bias for naming 3s and 7s the most and 6s the least (a phenomenon well known by magicians). Overall, cards from the Spades and Hearts were named more than the other two suits. There was a gender difference again: men tended to name the Queen of Hearts more than women, and women more often named the King of Hearts than men. These same results were pretty much repeated when participants were asked to visualize a card before naming it.

Which playing card do YOU like best?

When you play Ki Khanga: The Sword and Soul Role-Playing Game, will you play with a standard deck of playing cards, or with the custom Ki Khanga playing cards?

Ki Khanga

Mbaya Mbwa (Bad Dog): A Ki Khanga Story

With the ongoing success of our Kickstarter, Ki Khanga: The Sword and Soul Role-Playing Game will soon be available worldwide. Time to start thinking about your adventures.

Here is a story, written by Yours Truly, that features one (or more) of the many fearsome creatures that roam the world of Ki Khanga. You’ll find stats and descriptions of creatures in the Ki Khanga: The Sword and Soul Role-Playing Game rulebook.

Yoro stood outside of the hen house, glaring at the carnage. Feathers and blood littered the yard around the long wooden structure. Dozens of cackling hens stood around Yoro; the rooster wandered around, mute. A few hens pecked at Yoro’s feet, impatient for the feed he carried.

Yoro walked off to one side, scattering the chicken feed about. The birds flocked to it.

Yoro sauntered back to the scene of destruction. He dropped down to one knee and then studied a single, large paw print that stamped the blood-soaked earth.

A dog, Yoro thought. He straightened up. Damned big one too. He checked the birds’ water and then he went back to the house. Rediet was in the galley by the clay oven, sweeping the ash on the earthen floor. She paused and smiled at him. Upon studying Yoro’s expression, though, the smile quickly faded. 

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

“A dog got into the hen house this morning,” Yoro replied, putting the feed bucket down by the back door. “It must have happened when we went out for our walk.”

“Not rakuni?” she asked.

He shook his head. “There’s a single track out there, and it’s huge; too big for a rakuni.”

“No one around here has a big dog,” Rediet said, brushing a lock of curly black hair back behind her ear.

“Must be feral,” Yoro said. “Maybe living in Haisale.”

“Are you going to inform the constables?” she asked.

“No,” he said. “They won’t do anything. People don’t care if a few chickens get taken. I’ll track it as far as I can; see if I can take care of the damned thing myself.”

“Okay,” Rediet said. “We’ll take the punda.”

“We?” Yoro said, raising an eyebrow. “And it is difficult to track from the back of a donkey. I will walk…alone.”

“I can ride Tesfaye and guide Girma along,” Rediet said. “We’ll stop just outside of Haisale. You can meet us there and ride back. I’d prefer that to having you walk all the way back.”

“Alright, love,” Yoro sighed. He stepped close, gave her a quick kiss on the mouth and then left for the capacious family room that dominated most of the house. He walked over to an old wooden cabinet, opened it and then took out his repeating scatterbow and a quiver of sabots. He quietly loaded ten sabots – each holding eight tiny steel balls – into the magazine atop the weapon, which had served him well during his time in the Haiseti light infantry division.

Yoro cradled the scatterbow in the crook of his arm and then left the room. Rediet was back at the oven, and he could not see what she was so focused on as warm morning light streamed in through the window making only her curvy silhouette clear.

“I’m ready” she said as Yoro went to the back door. “I’ll get the donkeys ready and we will be right behind you.”

“Okay,” Yoro replied, and then he left the house.

Quick steps brought him to the back of the hen house. He spotted a hole in the chicken wire. On the other side, he found another paw print on a small game trail opposite of the break. Yoro focused on the path before him, and he started to track the dog.

Broken branches. Disturbed leaves. The occasional mark of a paw. A bit of fur.

And as he had thought, the trail continued on northwest, toward Haisale.

Soon, he caught sight of a huge clay oven, with a brick chimney protruding from it. It stood alone, without a house around it. The remains of a foundation burst forth from the earth like the jagged fingers of some long-buried stone giant.

In less than five minutes, he found himself on a pebble road, much of it hidden by fallen leaves and broken branches. The remnants of houses appeared on either side, and occasional side roads branched off. 

But the tracks of the dog continued on.

The trail was easy to follow – leaves kicked up and pebbles shifted to reveal the rich soil beneath as the dog had made its way straight down the center of the road.

Finally, Yoro came to a wide street, and he paused.

The stretch of road frightened him.

Only a dozen or so buildings populated the street. There was something off about the structures. Some of the windows were boarded up. The signs on what were obviously once businesses were faded and difficult to read. It was the total abandonment that scared him. The emptiness of the town.

People had left Haisale. No one really knew why, and former residents were hard-pressed to admit they had ever lived there. Like any town or city, it had its morbid spots. The old Joka Mkahawa – the Dragon Inn; the Haisale Maziko, where those too dishonorable to be buried in their family’s home, or on the family’s compound, were laid to rest. Hell, someone had even told him once the maktaba was haunted.

“I did not know ghosts like to read,” Yoro had joked. He snickered at the image of ghosts sitting at tables reading the old tomes in the abandoned library.

The “dog” suddenly trotted out between the old well and the smithy.

Yoro gasped as a chill slithered up from his tail bone up his spine and then coiled around his neck.

It was an mbwakawi – a two-headed dog built of thick bone and dense muscle. This one was obviously still a pup, for its shoulders looked to be only the height of Yogo’s waist. A powerful neck supported each head and the creature’s eyes were in constant motion, scanning its surroundings for danger or potential prey.

The dog swung one of its short, broad muzzles toward him. Yoro could see dried blood on the animal’s snout.

Yoro inhaled deeply to calm himself. “I see you,” he murmured. He swung the scatterbow up to his shoulder, pulled its vertical handle backward to notch a sabot in the chamber and draw the bow-string.

The mbwakawi broke into a sprint away from Yoro’s position. Yoro released the handle. A sabot flew from the bow’s muzzle. The shot missed, but not by much. The round split, sending a cloud of pellets flying. The steel balls hammered into a tethering pole, biting out a chunk of wood.

Yoro darted after the mbwakawi. He raised the scatterbow to fire again, but the two-headed creature leapt through the open window of a building.

“Damn it,” Yoro spat. He lowered the scatterbow slightly and then walked forward. He angled towards the building, keeping a wary eye on the window the mbwakawi had jumped through. Reaching the door, he tried its handle. The door was unlocked. He crept in and found himself in a room with small chairs and small desks. Empty shelves, just one-to-three feet off the ground, lined the walls. Faded drawings depicting children at play covered the walls, and spider webs filled the corners of the ceiling. Leaves and small bones lay scattered about the dirt floor.

It’s the dog’s den, Yoro thought. But where’s the dog?

A broken door, which hung haphazardly from the top hinge, was the only other way out of the room. Yoro smiled as he crept toward it. He heard a soft whine, followed by several scratches. With a deep breath, he readied the scatterbow and then pushed the door open. The room beyond was dimly lit. The light from the front of the building barely breached the darkness. At the edge of his vision, Yoro saw the mbwakawi. It slipped into a darker shadow to the right and whined again.

“I’ve got you,” he whispered, cranking a round into the chamber.

“What are you doing?” a small voice asked, issuing from the same darkness the mbwakawi had disappeared into.

Yoro paused, shocked. The dog’s not alone? 

“What are you doing?” the voice asked again.

It was a child. A little boy? A girl? Yoro could not be sure. He lowered the scatterbow, glad he had not just fired into the shadow.

“I’m chasing an mbawakawi,” Yoro said, squinting and trying to see. “A dog with two heads.” All he could make out was the mbwakawi. It sat quietly.

“He’s my dog,” the child said.

“Your dog ate my chickens, son,” Yoro said.

“I’m a girl,” the child spat. “My name’s Wubit.”

“Well, Wubit, your dog,” Yoro began.

“Gedeyon,” she said.

“What?” Yoro asked.

“His name is Gedeyon.”

“Well,” Yoro said, trying not to become angry with the girl. “Gedeyon ate my chickens.”

“He was hungry.”

Yoro rolled his eyes. “Doesn’t matter, Wubit. It can’t be eating my chickens. And besides, you two can’t be out here. Do your parents know where you are? Did you run away?”

“He was hungry,” she said again.

Daarila, help me, Yoro thought, sighing. “Wubit, did you run away from home?”

“I am home,” she said.

“Wubit,” Yoro said.

“Gedeyon is my dog. We’re home. He was hungry,” she said. Then, in an angry voice, she asked, “Were you going to shoot my dog?”

“He killed my chickens,” Yoro said defensively. “Now listen, I’m going to pa a visit to the constables. They’ll come and get you.”

“What about Gedeyon?” she asked.

“They’ll take him to the jeshi,” he answered.

“What’s the jeshi? Is it like the Mikijen those fat, old men from Kiswala pay to fight for them?” she asked.

“Yes,” Yoro said. “Kind of.”

“No.”

“You can’t say ‘no,’ Wubit,” Yoro snapped. His patience was growing thin. He reached down to his belt and then unhooked a tiny lamp from it. He shook the lamp and the glowflies inside it began to glow, bathing the floor in soft, yellow light. He held the lamp up to look at her.

Gedeyon sat perfectly still, all four of his ears up and all four of his eyes trained on Yoro. There was no girl.

“Put the lamp away,” Wubit said, her voice coming from beside the dog.

Yoro swallowed nervously and looked around. Then, down by the dog’s right paw, he saw a small stuffed doll, made from soft cloth and probably stuffed with straw. The toy was dressed in a faded orange tunic. Its hair, made of black yarn, was matted, and one of its brass eyes was missing.

“I said put it away!” she screamed. The glowflies fell dead inside the lamp. Yoro shook the lamp furiously in an attempt to turn the lamp back on. It did not work.

The mbwakawi whined.

“You tried to hurt Gedeyon,” Wubit said, her voice closer to Yoro now. Yoro dropped the lamp and then clutched his scatterbow with both hands.

“And you want to give him away to the army,” she hissed. The voice came from behind him.

Yoro spun around and something hit him in the small of his back. He stumbled, hit the wall and fell, but he did not let go of the scatterbow. He scrambled into a seated position and kept the weapon in front of him. Small hands closed over his. The feeling was terrible, ice-penetrating his flesh, digging deep into his bones. It seemed as though his fingernails were being ripped out at their roots. He tried to shake the hands away, but he could not even let go of the scatterbow.

And then the mbwakawi was there. Yoro could feel Gedeyon’s breath on his face and smell the rot of old flesh caught between the dog’s teeth. A low, primal growl settled in the creature’s throat. Goosebumps raised along Yoro’s arms.

“You wanted to kill my dog,” Wubit whispered. “You’re not nice. I bet you’d try and steal my Ras Jalene doll, too. You’re mean. Mean.

The scatterbow moved in his hands. The barrel rose up, and he fought it, tried to push back. He could not. Wubit was too strong. A scream erupted from his throat as she continued to bring the weapon up.

The fingers of his cocking hand snapped, bending at odd angles away from each other. The wrist of that same hand was twisted out of its socket, and so was his elbow, and then his shoulder. He gagged on the agony and writhed against the wall.

Still, Wubit would not let him go. The barrel of the scatterbow slammed into Yoro’s eye.

He shrieked as Wubit continued to push it back into his face. The orb was forced out of the socket.

Yoro’s scream became a high-pitched wail as his arm twisted beyond any semblance of normalcy.

“You were going to hurt my dog,” Wubit whispered. “My dog.”

Yoro felt her small, cold hand push down on his mangled fingers. He focused through the pain and, with his remaining eye, saw a young girl, perhaps seven or eight. She had pallid, brown skin; her eyes were empty and black. Her crooked lips were pressed tightly together and she was thin. Painfully so.

“My dog,” she hissed.

She started to push the scatterbow’s lever back with his ruined fingers, and Yoro realized, with the way she had twisted his arm, it would look as though he had committed suicide.

And then Wubit released his hand.

Yoro’s faceless body fell over with a wet thud.

Wubit smiled at the mbwakawi. “Asante, for bringing me this meal, Gedeyon! You’re a good dog!”

Ki Khanga: Changing the Game…Literally!

I grew up on science fiction and fantasy, loving both genres equally, however, when I discovered Dungeons and Dragons back in 1980, my greatest love became fantasy.
Forced into game-mastering due to the racism of the white students who refused to teach Black students to play, or who treated us like “orcs” when they did teach us, my storytelling grew from the simple stories about Shaft, Billie Jack, Luke Cage and the Falcon I would tell to entertain my friends and family, to the building of complex worlds inhabited by complex characters – Fantasy worlds filled with intrigue, adventure, horror and humor.
Wanting to tell better Fantasy stories and to create a richer world for the players in my Dungeons and Dragons campaigns, I became a voracious reader of fantasy novels, reveling in the richly-textured worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Robert E. Howard.
After two years of enthusiastic play, however, I – and my friends, it turned out – was tired of playing such a Eurocentric game. We had grown tired of lands that were obvious representations of England, Germany and Poland. These settings were not offering us anything new; anything we had not seen in slightly different forms over and over again. To make the game interesting, many of my friends would create a character that was a ninja or samurai – because they were people of color, which made them unique and because they were ninjas and samurai, which made them cool.
When I decided to introduce a Mandinka king who had come to the Land of Nod – we called all Eurocentric settings “The Land of Nod” because, for us, they had become boring and powerful sleep-inducers – to hunt the vampires who murdered his family, however, our interest in the game resurged. The players in my group begged to have their characters accompany the king back to Mali once they helped kill the vampire hordes infesting the Land of Nod. I agreed and everyone went into a frenzy; they, to find armor, clothing, weapons and spells appropriate to the terrain; I, to research ancient Mali and African folklore, creature lore and social, military and ecological systems and to create a world worthy of my players and of Africa.
From this experience, I learned that a writer has to do three things in order to create a fantasy world that is real enough for readers to escape to; to immerse themselves in; to feel:
  1. Know it personally.
  2. Research; research; research.
  3. Make it up.
For my friends who do not write fiction, you probably think that writers of fantasy rely entirely on “making it up”, but you would be wrong. For the most part, fantasy worlds – just like worlds in hard-boiled crime, horror and romance – are based on something.
Very often, fantasy worlds are an altered or hybridized version of a pre-modern, non-technological human society, which means, to create a world that readers will accept as real, you gotta research, research, research!
The best places to find new ideas for fantasy world-building are in reading about history, culture and “real-world” systems of belief. If an author’s only research is other fantasy novels, he or she will wind up borrowing Eurocentric milieus from the rest of the genre – and give us even more cliché from the Land of Nod.
We need more worlds like Charles Saunders’ Nyumbani – “home” in Swahili – a world based on the traditions, legends and lands of Africa. Saunders, the founder and father of the fantasy subgenre Sword and Soul, has created a world that is fantastic, yet very real. Nyumbani is home to Saunders’ Imaro, one of the greatest and most interesting heroes in the history of fantasy fiction.
Taking inspiration from Charles Saunders, authors Milton J. Davis and Balogun Ojetade (full disclosure: that’s me), no strangers to world-building themselves, joined forces to create Ki-Khanga, a unique world that draws readers in and keeps them there. What, exactly is Ki-Khanga? How does this world “work”? Well, Charles Saunders says it best:
“Ki-Khanga is an Africa that could have been, located in a world that might have been. Sprung from the fertile minds of Milton J. Davis and Balogun Ojetade, Ki-Khanga is a place of magic and mystery, heroism and horror, spears and seduction. It is a place roiled by the long-reaching repercussions of an ancient feud between pre-human races and the subsequent wrath of an affronted deity. Not only does magic work in Ki-Khanga – magic defines Ki-Khanga, in more ways than one.”
I invite you to join us on the sandy shores, perilous mountains and mysterious savannahs of our world. I invite you to ride beneath the dunes of Targa in the bowels of the oga’koi-koi or to do battle with the Ndoko in the Great Circle. I invite you to share in our tales of triumph; of tragedy; of terror and tenacity. I invite you to free yourself from the Land of Nod…and flee to Ki-Khanga!
Help us change the game by supporting the Kickstarter for Ki-Khanga: The Sword and Soul Role-Playing Game.
Sword and Soul forever!

Ki Khanga: The Sword & Soul Role-Playing Game Update

Our Kickstarter campaign for Ki Khanga: The Sword and Soul Role-Playing Game was successful and now we are heading into our stretch goals!

An African-based RPG is something long overdue for the market. We expect Ki Khanga to grow along the lines of companies like Pathfinder, which means there will be opportunities for writers to pen stories based on our adventures, so get ready!

Take a look at the Kickstarter campaign and spread the word!

Journey to Ki Khanga: The Game Mechanics!

Ki Khanga: The Sword and Soul Role-Playing Game provides a framework for players to create characters that are interesting and diverse and for those characters to adventure in a world that is just as interesting and diverse.

Ki Khanga: The Sword and Soul Role-Playing Game is a fast, narrative focused, card based system that uses player created traits in a single explosive resolution mechanic.

Scenes are generally outlined by the Griot (Game Master) and then left open for the players to fill with narrative. The Griot presents challenges in these scenes for the players to overcome. If they are successful, their narratives happen, if they fail, an unfavorable event, told by the Griot, unfolds.

Scenes in the game are cinematic and like a good movie, can be comedic, dramatic, or filled with non-stop, pulse pounding action. Players are rewarded for dynamic and inventive play.

Actions

Players narrate the action they want their characters to undertake in the scene.

Unlike some roleplaying games characters are not limited to a single action of some description like taking a swipe at an opponent with an axe or retrieving an item from a backpack. They can take several actions much like a hero does in the action sequence in a movie.

Scenes

A scene could be a 5 second brawl in Mahmoud’s Dibi Shack in Central Sati Baa, or a 5 hour climb up a mountain in Menu-Kash. It all depends on what is involved and how it is narrated. A Horo cavalrywoman, chased by a raging were-elephant through the streets of Fez, for example, could be a nail-biting, epic 90 minute game of cat-and-mouse or a dramatic 10 second trampling.

A scene may contain only a single play (one round of cards) or, if not resolved in one round of cards, may contain several other plays until it is resolved. Cards are not shuffled during a scene.

RESOLUTION

Whenever you attempt something where the outcome is in doubt, it requires a check of an appropriate trait – Ability, Skill, Talent, or Effect.

Determining if you succeed at a task is done as follows:

  1. Decide what you want to do (“Action”).
  2. Decide what Trait(s) you will need to perform the Action.
  3. Draw your Hand for the challenge from the Action Deck (the GM draws from his own deck, which contains no Jokers and his Aces are “Wild”, valued at 11 points, regardless of Suit) – the number of cards is equal to the rank of the trait needed to perform the Action.

For example, Milton wants his character, Kola Kujo to somersault into the chair next to Princess Fine Mama Jama – he uses Kola Kujo’s Acrobatics skill, which has a rank of 4. Milton Draws 4 cards to make his hand.

  1. Play as many cards from your hand as the Difficulty Rating (DR) of the task. The Difficulty Rating is a base number, plus a card played from the Griot’s

For example, Balogun, the Griot, determines that Kola Kujo to somersaulting into the chair next to Princess Fine Mama Jama, is a fairly easy task, thus it has a DR of 2. Balogun draws a card from his Deck – a 4 of Clubs, for a total DR of 6. Milton must play 6 cards. However, he only has 4 cards in his hand. He must play those 4 cards and draw 2 more from the deck and play them, as well. If he had an Acrobatics of 8, he could have drawn 8 cards and then played 6 cards of his choice.

  1. Add or subtract a number equal to the Ability associated with the skill used, as long as you do not go over 21, or the designated “Bust” number (21 is recommended, but the Griot has final determination; however, this number stays the same throughout the campaign, so if you pick 22 as the designated number at the beginning of a campaign, it stays 22 until the campaign is finished). The entire number of the Ability must be used. It can be added, subtracted, or not used at all – the player decides.

For example, Milton draws four cards (because his Acrobatics skill level is 4): he draws a 9 of Hearts; Ace of Diamonds; King of Spades; and 3 of Clubs. Numeric cards use their value, so the 9 of Hearts and 3 of Clubs are added together for a sum of 12. Kings have a value of 12 points and Aces either equal 1 point or they cancel themselves and the highest card.  Kola Kujo has an Agility (AGL) of 6, so he decides to add the King and use the Ace as a 1 and then add it, too. His total is now 25. He subtracts his AGL rank of 6 from the score of 25 for a total score of 19.  He does not go bust. Kola Kujo’s somersaulting show-off attempt is a success. But how successful IS it? See below:

  1. The outcome is determined as follows:

Your Total is…                                    The result is…

5+ points greater than Bust Number      Fumble

1-4 points greater than Bust Number     Failure

Bust Number                                              High Success

1-4 points less than Bust Number           Full Success

5+ points less than Bust Number            Partial Success

Milton compares his Total of 19 against the Result Chart.  His Total is 2 points less than the bust number of 21, thus he has achieved a Full Success.  Kola Kujo soars through the air, rolling like a ball toward the empty seat next to Princess Fine Mama Jama. He twists at the last second, lands in the chair in a seated position with one leg crossed over the other and then flashes Princess Fine Mama Jama a bright smile. Princess Fine Mama Jama returns the smile and says “I liked that. Now, can you go back and do that with a round-off, tuck and double gainer?”

  1. Once the challenge is resolved, you and the Griot discard your cards back into their respective decks and shuffle them.

Performing several Actions at once: When performing several Actions at one time by combining traits, the GM decides the most important trait needed for the Actions.  For each additional trait used, the GM raises the DR by one level.

For example, Milton wants Kola Kujo to leap from the window of Kamau, the Castrator’s bedchamber after he awakens beside Kamau’s wife – Fatou, the Cheetah – to the sound of heavy footsteps in the courtyard.  In mid-leap, he wants Kola Kujo to grab a hanging vine and then swing through the window of his house – which is across the road – and land quietly in bed next to his sleeping wife, Makeba Dasnora, without rousing her.

The Griot decides that Jump is the most important trait (if Kola Kujo misses the Jump, the Swing never takes place and he will end up on the receiving end of Kamau, the Castrator’s Mystic Nutcracker of Agony). Leaping to the vine requires a Great (GR) level of difficulty (DR8).  The Swing adds one level to the DR, raising it to Extraordinary (EX) (DR10); and landing in bed with Silent Movement raises the DR one more level to Impossible (IM) (DR12).

Combined efforts: You can combine efforts with others to accomplish a task.  All can pitch in one or more cards of their choice to resolve a task (all involved must play at least one card). Add or subtract the lowest Ability score of all involved.

 

DIFFICULTY RATINGS

DR                               Example

Easy (1-3)            Bash open a simple wooden door; run on dry, even land

Average (4-5)        Bash open a wooden door with a moderately complex lock

Tough (6-7)          Resist an Asonbosam’s hypnotic gaze

Heroic (8-9)          Cast fireballs while being shot with blowgun needles

Epic (10-11)         Sneak quietly past a pride of lions

Impossible (12+)   Track man who passed over hard, wet rocks a week ago

 

CARD NUMERICAL VALUES

2 – 10

Jacks = 11

Queens = 12

Kings = 13

Aces = 1 or cancels itself AND the highest card played

Jokers are “Wild” cards.  They are considered to be of whatever Suit is applicable and give either an Automatic High Success, or an Automatic Fumble.  When you play a Joker, immediately draw a card from the Action Deck and turn it over: a Black Card = High Success; a Red Card = Fumble.

 

SUITS

Hearts ♥ – Emotional, Spiritual and Healing Actions

Diamonds ♦ – Mental and Intellectual Actions

Clubs ♣ – Physical Actions

Spades ♠ – Social and Status-related Actions

 

COMBAT

Combat is checked almost like any other Action:

  1. Determine Fighting Total, which is equal to your Fighting Score, plus any applicable Skills, Talents and Effects. Draw a number of cards equal to this score. All other combatants in the battle do the same.
  2. Determine Initiative, which is the order in which you take your Turns in combat. Your initiative equals your Agility (AGL) rank, plus a card played from your Hand, plus any other modifiers.  If you play a card of the same Suit as AGL (which is related to the Clubs suit), use the card’s face value.  If you play a different Suit, divide the card’s face value by 3, rounded down, and then add it to your Total.

For example, Kola Kujo has an AGL of 6.  Milton plays a Ten of Hearts.  Kola Kujo’s initiative = 6+(10/3) = 6+3 = 9.  This rank lasts for the entire conflict. If Kola Kujo entered conflict after it had begun, Milton would determine initiative and act when Kola Kujo’s turn came up in the existing order.  If Kola Kujo had the same initiative as another combatant, whoever had the highest AGL would go first.  If it was still a tie, Milton and the player of Kola Kujo’s opponent would both draw a card.  The one with the best Suit would win, as follows:

beat

beat

beat

beat

  1. Play as many cards from your hand as you want, but you cannot go over the designated Bust Number. Place your cards face down. All other combatants do the same. Everyone turns over their cards at the same time. The player closest to the designated Bust Number, without going Bust, wins. Skills, Talents and Effects are added or subtracted before the cards are turned over (each combatant must declare their plus or minus amount; the entire Skill and Talent ranks are used, but Effects may allow a variable amount to be added or subtracted). The Griot writes the declared modifiers down and THEN everyone turns over their cards.
    Those who Bust (go over the designated Bust Number) suffer a Failure or Fumble as in Action Resolution above.

 

The Ki Khanga Role Playing Game Kickstarter is 90% funded in only two days! We have those stretch goals ready. Come join the fun!

Why YOU should back Ki Khanga: The Sword and Soul Role-Playing Game

Ki KhangaKi Khanga: The Sword and Soul Role-Playing Game is an immersive fantasy role-playing game (RPG) that allows players to fulfill real-world social needs through interaction during imaginative play. Although Ki Khanga may appear to be a game of simple make-believe, the emotions, camaraderie, and accomplishments experienced by players are real, suggesting that this game of African heroes and sheroes, warriors and witches, sages and storytellers, kings, queens and clerics has real-world implications for its players.

Ki KhangaKi Khanga is an African-inspired epic and heroic fantasy roleplaying game that uses regular playing cards to resolve conflicts and to achieve feats in a fun and dynamic way that keeps the action and drama moving.

Ki Khanga: The Sword and Soul RPG contains all the tools and guidance players need to don the roles of sword, spear and bow-wielding warriors; powerful Babalawo and Nana priests, who control the forces of nature; nangas, who cast powerful magic through their nkisi statues; and countless other occupations, all creatable through Ki Khanga’s free form character creation system.

Taking many inspirations from oral history and literature, Ki Khanga gives players a unique experience, immersing them in a world of African folklore and culture. Add in some Sword and Sorcery excursions into the forests, desert, plains, rivers, seas and sprawling metropolises, along with ancient temples and powerful gods and demigods and you have Ki Khanga – classic tabletop roleplaying, with a fresh configuration of friends, fiends, foes and formidable dangers.

Ki KhangaThe guide – or referee, if you will – is called the Griot, and it is his or her responsibility to create the story structure, enforce rules, and describe actions. Though the Griot guides the story, the development and enactment is dependent on the creativity of the players. Players meet in small or large groups and work under a guiding set of rules to accomplish imaginary tasks. Thus, Ki Khanga functions as a form of group-related, organized, controlled, waking fantasy.

Ki KhangaThe notion that needs are met through RPGs is evidenced by the multitude of playtime hours accrued by groups as well as the ways that players bond, construct inside jokes, and revel in retelling specific adventures. When I was in high school, I committed to memory most of the rules from the core books of the Dungeons and Dragons RPG – the Player’s Handbook and the Dungeon Master’s Guide – and I could tell you what page(s), in what book, a rule, a weapon, a race, or a character class was on.

You do not put that much effort into a game unless it meets several of your needs.

Games have the potential to fulfill genuine human needs, engage learners, and unite people in unprecedented ways.

Ki KhangaFantasy games have been used to improve comprehension, spelling, and critical thinking for students with learning-disabilities.

Research on role playing games has shown that they contribute to higher levels of well-being, less depression, and less mental debilitation among older adults.

Playing games is an important activity in all cultures, at all age – and economic – levels, providing strong evidence that game-play contributes to a variety of positive effects on humanity.

Ki KhangaOne specific game genre that contributes to an assortment of cognitive health benefits is the RPG. Role-Playing Games allow players to become a character in a game by taking control of the character’s dialogue and actions.

This can be a deeply personal process in which a player delves into the character’s psyche. When a player merges minds with a fictional character, the process can result in a significantly higher level of character attachment compared to other forms of character-driven media. Some of the cognitive benefits of RPGs include the ability to experience other perspectives, practice visualization, escape social pressure, increase personal control, improve social skills, and release unconscious fantasies.

Ki KhangaWhile Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) RPGs, like World of Warcraft, allow players to meet in virtual spaces via the internet, tabletop RPGs, like Ki Khanga, typically require in-person group play. Regardless of the type, RPGs have the power to fulfill real-world needs.

Yet, it is not the mere act of role-play that satisfies needs; rather, it is through the act of communication in role-play that serves this function. Tabletop fantasy RPGs are guided entirely by talk and interaction. As such, they have much potential to teach us about communication and the subsequent needs that are met.

Symbolic worlds move toward each other to overlap through communication. It is an emotional understanding that enables group members to sympathize, empathize, and identify with one another.

Ki KhangaTo identify instances in which symbolic convergence occurs, examine the fantasy-themes that develop and emerge during communication. A fantasy theme emerges when a specific idea or discourse is supported within a community. The tempo of the conversation picks up. People grow excited, interrupt one another, blush, laugh, and forget their self-consciousness. In essence, when others gravitate toward a line of dialogue, the discourse expands, like a chain reaction.

When group members respond appropriately to a fantasy, they publicly display a verbal and nonverbal commitment to an attitude or perspective in an observable way – if we cheer a hero’s action, for example, we support that action; if we laugh at a character’s antics, we define his behaviors as deserving laughter. Typically we do this without giving it much thought.

Ki Khanga 4Participation in fictional extraordinary activity fulfills an important need to experience the world in exciting ways with the benefit that no real danger will take place.

So, as you can see, Ki Khanga has many psychological, sociological and emotional benefits. You should back the game’s Kickstarter for that.

You should also back Ki Khanga because the game is created and written by two of the most popular authors of African-inspired fantasy – Milton Davis and Balogun Ojetade. Balogun Ojetade, a forty-year veteran of tabletop role-playing games, created the gaming system and then Milton Davis and Balogun Ojetade worked together to create the world of Ki Khanga, its history, people, creatures, setting and natural laws.

And, Ki Khanga boasts the superb artistic talents of Eugene R. Young, Stanley J. Weaver, Chris Miller, Bryan Syme, and Sarah Macklin.

Finally, everything you could ask for in a role-playing game setting is in Ki Khanga: an angry Creator-God, scheming nobles, powerful, and often frightening, ancestral, nature and supernatural spirits, mighty warriors and hunters, fierce battles on the pyramid-strewn savannahs of Kamit, in the fighting pits of Oyo, and beyond.

It’s all in the world of Ki Khanga, and it’s almost ready to be enjoyed at your gaming table. The game is written and in final draft layout right now. We have about a third of the art already finished and in place.

Are you ready for African-flavored fantasy gaming? Are you eager to see African-inspired characters and settings in your game’s artwork? If your answer is yes, Ki Khanga can and will give you what you want to see and experience.

Join us in making Ki Khanga a reality!

An Exciting Ki Khanga Update!

The Kickstarter video is complete! We are in the process of sprucing up the Kickstarter page. Once we have a date we’ll create an event page for the launch.

As an added bonus, meeting our Ki Khanga Sword and Soul Role Playing Game goal unlocks Ki Khanga: The Fighting Pits, the TRADING CARD GAME version of the tabletop role playing game.

I am so looking forward to seeing scores of people play both games at Blacktasticon (SOBSFCon 2017)!

We can’t do this without you, so please, help spread the word.

The RPG world is about to get the African-centered world it has been waiting for. Let’s make it phenomenal!

Ki KhangaKi KhangaKi Khanga 

Guest Blog: “Dieselfunk!: The History behind the Funk by Milton Davis

Yesterday heralded the release of Dieselfunk!, the follow up anthology to the groundbreaking Steamfunk! anthology. The idea for Dieselfunk! came almost simultaneously with Steamfunk. Balogun and I had discussed the anthology at length; as a matter of fact he coined the term around the same time as we adopted the term Steamfunk to describe Steampunk rooted in the African/African Diaspora experience. Many of you are familiar with the afterDIESELFUNK - COVER 1 (1)math of the release of Steamfunk!; it’s was my top selling anthology until the release of Dark Universe and has been taught in a number of colleges and universities including Georgia Tech.

Although Steampunk is relatively well known among speculative fiction enthusiasts, Dieselpunk is a bit more obscure. So what exactly is Dieselpunk, and why does it deserved to be funkdafied?  Let’s start with the definition. Wikipedia defines Dieselpunk as a genre similar to that of its more well-known cousin “steampunk” that combines the aesthetics of the diesel-based technology of the interwar period (World War I and World War II) through to the 1950s with retro-futuristic technology and postmodern sensibilities.

Balogun Ojetade defines Dieselfunk as ‘a type of fiction, film and fashion that combines the style and mood of the period between World War I and the early 1950s with Afrofuturistic inspiration. Dieselfunk tells the exciting untold stories of people of African descent during the Jazz Age. Think the Harlem Renaissance meets Science Fiction…think Chalky White (from “Boardwalk Empire”) doing battle with robots run amok in his territory…THAT is Dieselfunk!’

It makes sense that Dieselpunk would be of interest to people of African Descent, particularly African Americans. This was a volatile time in America. The country was 50 years away

The 369th Harlem Hellfighters

from the Civil War and Jim Crow ruled the South. The Negro of the early 20th century was significantly different from the 19th century; black people were educated, restless and becoming more and more vocal against the inequality of America. Many sought to prove themselves by joining the armed forces to fight against the Germany and its allies. What they found when they reached Europe was an attitude that while not perfect, was significantly better than the racism in America. Black soldiers and pilots distinguished themselves in battle; Eugene Bullard became the first Black American fighter pilot, while the 369th ‘Harlem Hellfighters’ earned a ferocious reputation among allies and enemies alike while at the same time enduring the insults and discrimination of their countrymen.

When these soldiers returned home they found an America even more hostile to them than when they left despite their service. The Ku Klux Klan experienced a resurgence due to the fear of thousands of black men returning from war and the shameless propaganda of the movie ‘Birth of A Nation. Still, black people continued to strive and achieve, building communities such as Harlem, New York and Greenwood, Tulsa, also known as Black Wall Street. When World War II arrived Black men and woman once again answered the call. The push for equal rights at home and overseas resulted in the integration of the arm forces and changes which eventually led to the Civil Rights movement in the ’50s and ’60s.

So as you can see, the time in which Dieselpunk rests its hat is fertile ground for a unique perspective. In other words, Dieselpunk was begging to be funkdafied. While both Steampunk and Dieselpunk stories can be written without mention of the racial dynamics of the time, it is telling that most of the writers of Dieselfunk! chose to incorporate the history within their stories, resulting in stories that in my opinion raises the Dieselfunk! anthology to a level beyond it’s sister anthology.

Balogun Ojetade’s story, ‘SOAR: Wild Blue Yonder‘, sets the pace with an action-packed adventure which includes the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, the first all-black paratrooper unit and the Tuskegee Airmen joining forces to carry out a secret mission.

Day Al-Mohamed’s ‘Powerplay‘ centers around the real life story of mob-buster Eunice Carter with a special twist that qualifies her story for pages of the anthology.

S.A. Cosby’s ‘The Girl With The Iron Heart‘ takes us on an inter-dimensional journey where the main character finds himself invisible to the system, which has its advantages and disadvantages.

Then there’s ‘Into the Breach‘ by Malon Edwards, an imaginative patios ladened story that takes place in a Chicago like you never

imagined.

Eunice Carter, Mob Buster

Angel’s Flight by Joe Hilliard tells the story of a boy pursuing his dream and the legacy that fuels his life.

Ronald T. Jones ‘Unusual Threats and Circumstances‘ takes us back to Chicago, specifically to the city section known as Bronzeville, where Jericho Aldrige’s terror filled night becomes the beginning of an amazing adventure.

Carole McDonnell gives us rocket men and the personal trials of the Jim Crow South in her story ‘Bonregard and the Three Ninnies;’ and in my story ‘Down South,’ Roscoe Tanner travels back to the South against his better judgement to help a woman retrieve something of great value.

The Dieselfunk! Anthology ends with ‘Big Joe and the Electro-Men‘ by James A. Staten a perfect blend of science fiction, espionage and undercover brothers and sisters.

Though significantly shorter than the Steamfunk! anthology, Dieselfunk! packs a punch. The weight of history and the imaginative storytelling makes it an anthology I’m very proud of. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

To get your copy of Dieselfunk!, visit http://www.mvmediaatl.com/.