Ki-KhangaFor the past two years, author and publisher, Milton Davis and author and filmmaker, Balogun Ojetade have worked diligently at the creation of Ki Khanga™, the Sword and Soul tabletop roleplaying game.

What is a tabletop roleplaying game, you ask?

A roleplaying – or role-playing – game, also called an RPG, is a game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal acting or through a process of decision-making and character development.

Actions taken within the games succeed or fail according to a system of rules and guidelines.

There are several types of roleplaying games. The original form is the tabletop roleplaying game.

Sword and Soul RPGA tabletop RPG is conducted through discussion, whereas in live action roleplaying games, or LARPs, players physically perform their characters’ actions. In both of these forms, a game-master (GM), which we call a Griot in the Ki Khanga™ Sword and Soul RPG, decides on the rules and setting to be used and acts as storyteller and referee, while each of the other players plays the role of a single character.

Ki Khanga ™, like most great tabletop roleplaying games, is a form of interactive and collaborative storytelling. Events, characters, and narrative structure give a sense of a narrative experience.

Interactivity is the crucial difference between roleplaying games and traditional fiction – a player in a roleplaying game makes choices that affect the story. Such roleplaying games have their origins in an old Afrikan tradition of storytelling games in which a group of friends collaborate to create and tell a story.

Sword and Soul RPGParticipants in a role-playing game will generate their own unique characters or play pre-made ones and as they play, they create an ongoing plot. A consistent system of rules and a more or less realistic campaign setting in games aids suspension of disbelief. The level of realism in games ranges from just enough internal consistency to set up a believable story or credible challenge up to full-blown simulations of real-world processes and activities.

In Ki Khanga™, the Griot describes the game world and its inhabitants. The other players describe the intended actions of their characters, and the Griot describes the outcomes of attempted actions and interactions. Some outcomes are determined by the game system, and some are chosen by the Griot.

A standard concept in RPGs is the player character – or PC – which is a character in the fictional world of the game whose actions the player controls. Typically each player controls a separate player character, each of whom acts as a protagonist in the story.

In contrast to player characters, non-player characters, or NPCs, are controlled by the Griot. NPCs make up the population of the fictional setting and can act as antagonists, bystanders or allies of the player characters.

Ki Khanga Play 1We will now examine the basic character creation process in Ki Khanga™ to make your own player character.

Let’s join Milton Davis as he creates his very first Ki Khanga™ character:

Milton sits down with a steaming hazelnut latte…not the fancy type you buy at a coffeehouse; the kind you buy at your local gas station. Milton says cheap latte knockoffs help him understand roleplaying games. If you need to go grab a cup, too, dear reader, go ahead, we’ll wait…

Back?  Now, grab a pen, a calculator (there is a calculator app in your phone in case you don’t own such lo-tech antiques as a calculator) and a few sheets of paper. Got ’em? Okay, let’s get to it!

Basics

  1. Your character is built from Aṣe [ah-SHEH] – points used to build and advance him or her.
  2. Aṣe is an overall measure of power and effectiveness. Each character starts with 120 points of Aṣe. The Griot (GM) may decide to give more or less points, but starting at over 200 Aṣe could unbalance your game as 200+ Aṣe is considered demi-god level.

Milton asks Balogun, the Griot, how many points of Aṣe he is allowed to build his character with.

Balogun answers, his voice like rolling thunder in mountain air: “All characters in this Campaign (story arc) will start with 150 points of Aṣe to build their character with.”

Milton decides he is going to create Kofi, a Constable in the merchant city of Sati Baa. Kofi is a gruff, experienced law enforcer who is an expert with a throwing club and good at deduction. Milton must first purchase Kofi’s Traits out of his 150 points:

Trait Costs

  1. Traits are the attributes that make up your character.
  2. Abilities, Skills, Talents, Effects, Defense, Wealth, Health, Will and Fighting are all Traits that define your character and affects how successful or unsuccessful he or she is.
  3. Each level of a Trait is called its rank, thus Str 5 means your character has 5 ranks of Strength.
  4. Each Trait costs points of Aṣe as described in the chart below:

 

 

TRAIT                         COST IN AṢE

Ability                         2 per rank

Skill                             1 per rank

Talent                          1 per Talent or Talent rank

Effect                          (base Effect cost + modifiers) x rank + flat modifiers

Defense                       2 per rank

Fighting                       10 per addl. Rank

Health                         10 per addl. Rank

Will                             10 per addl. Rank

Wealth                        10 per addl. Rank.

 

First, Milton must calculate each rank Kofi possesses in the 7 basic Abilities. He checks the above chart and sees that each Ability costs 2 points of Aṣe per rank.

 Abilities

  1. We all have certain basic abilities – how strong, attractive, coordinated, charismatic and smart we are.
  2. There are seven basic abilities: Strength; Endurance; Dexterity; Agility; Intellect; Wisdom; and Presence.
  3. There are also four calculated abilities that are a combination of basic abilities: Fighting; Health; Will; and Wealth.
  • Strength (STR): Measures muscle power; damage dealt unarmed and with most melee (close combat) weapons; how far you can jump; the amount of weight you can lift, carry and throw; and is a factor in calculating your Health. STR is linked to the Clubs ♣ Suit.
  • Endurance (END): Measures fitness, stamina and overall resilience; resistance to poison, disease, drowning and similar threats; and is a factor in calculating your Health. END is linked to the Hearts ♥ Suit.
  • Dexterity (DEX): Measures hand-eye coordination, precision and reflexes. Dexterity is a factor in calculating your Fighting and is applied to Ranged Combat checks. DEX is linked to the Diamonds ♦ Suit.
  • Agility (AGL): Measures balance, grace, speed and overall physical coordination. Agility is a factor in calculating your Fighting. AGL is linked to the Clubs ♣ Suit.
  • Intellect (INT): Measures how well your character learns and reasons. Intellect is a factor in calculating your Fighting and Wealth. INT is linked to the Diamonds ♦ Suit.
  • Wisdom (WIS): Measures common sense, perception and intuition. Wisdom is a factor in calculating your Will and Fighting. WIS is linked to the Hearts ♥ Suit.
  • Presence (PRE): Measures force of personality, persuasiveness, leadership ability and physical attractiveness. Presence is a factor in calculating your Will and Wealth. PRE is linked to the Spades ♠ Suit.

 

ABILITY VALUES

1 – 3: Below Average (BA)

4 – 5: Average (AV)

6 – 7: Gifted (GF)

8 – 9: Highly Gifted (HG)

10 – 11: Exceptional (EX)

12+: Best Ever (BE)

 

Milton decides although Kofi is an older man, he is still an active Constable in the elite Constabulary of Sati Baa, so his Strength and Endurance should be above average. He checks the ABILITY VALUES Chart and decides Kofi has somewhat above average Strength, so he gives him a rank of 6, which costs him 12 points of Aṣe. This puts his Strength, or STR, in the Gifted (GF) category.

Milton decides Kofi will also have Gifted level Endurance (END), but it will be greater than his Strength, so he gives him an END of 7, which costs Milton 14 points of Aṣe.

The third Ability Milton gives Kofi is Dexterity (DEX). Milton determines that, as a master with throwing clubs, Kofi must have a high Dexterity. He feels that Kofi’s dexterity is Exceptional. He looks at the ABILITIES VALUE chart again. He gives Kofi a 10 Dexterity, which costs him 20 points of Aṣe.

Milton continues with this process for the remaining four Abilities. He ends up with the following stats:

Strength: 6 (cost: 12 Aṣe)

Endurance: 7 (cost: 14 Aṣe)

Dexterity: 10 (cost: 20 Aṣe)

Agility: 5 (cost: 10 Aṣe)

Intellect: 8 (cost: 16 Aṣe)

Wisdom: 10 (cost: 20 Aṣe)

Presence: 6 (cost: 12 Aṣe)

Total Cost: 104

 

Milton now has 46 points left to complete his character. He now determines Calculated Abilities, which are determined by a combination of basic Abilities. The Calculated Ability’s rank can be increased by spending 10 points of Aṣe. It can also be lowered if the player chooses to do so. A lowered Calculated Ability adds 10 points of Aṣe to the player’s remaining Aṣe points.

Milton studies the Calculated Abilities and each one’s corresponding chart:

Calculated Abilities

Fighting (FIGHT): Measures your natural, raw ability to attack and defend in both Close and Ranged Combat. FIGHT is used to determine how many cards you draw at the beginning of combat. Your base FIGHT rank is calculated on the chart below:

 

                                                               (AGL + WIS)/2 (round up)

(DEX + INT)/2 (round up)           BA   AV   GF   HG   EX   BE

                                       BA            2       3       4       5       6       7

AV              3       4       5       6       7       7

GF             4       5       6       7       7       7

HG            5       6       7       7       7       8

EX             6       7       7     7       8       8

BE             7       7       7     8       8       8

 

Kofi has a DEX 10, AGL 5, INT 8 and WIS 10. Milton calculates the base scores from the chart: (10+ 8)/2 = (18)/2 = 9; (5 + 10)/2 = (15)/2 = 7.5, rounded up to 8.

Kofi’s first score, the average of his Dexterity and Intellect, is 9, which is Highly Gifted (HG). His second score, the average of his Agility and Wisdom, is 8, which is also Highly Gifted (HG). Checking the chart, HG and HG meet at the rank of 7.

Kofi’s fighting rank is 7, so in the game, Milton will draw seven cards at the beginning of each combat Kofi is engaged in.

FIGHT (and all other calculated Abilities) can be increased with Aṣe during character creation and as the game progresses.

Health (HLTH): Measures fortitude, ruggedness, metabolism and the ability to resist damage from attacks and from the environment. HLTH is the amount of physical damage you can take before suffering critical Conditions (see Conditions). Your character’s HLTH score is calculated on the chart below:

 

                                                         Strength (STR)

Endurance (END)            BA   AV   GF   HG   EX   BE

                        BA            5       6       7       8       9     10

AV           6       7       8       9       10     10

GF            7       8       9       10     10     10

HG           8       9       10     10     10     11

EX             9       10     10     10     11     11

BE              10     10     10     11     11     12

 

Kofi has an END 7 (GF), and a STR of 6 (GF).

Checking the chart, GF and GF meet at the rank of 9, so Kofi’s Health is 9. Milton decides to increase Kofi’s health to 10 at the cost of 10 points of Aṣe.

Milton now has 36 points of Aṣe left to build his character.

Will (WILL): Measures mental stability, level-headedness, determination, self-awareness, self-confidence and willpower. WILL is used to resist mental and spiritual attacks and represents the amount of mental and spiritual damage you can take before suffering critical Conditions. Your WILL score is calculated on the chart below:

 

                                                        Wisdom (WIS)

     Presence (PRE)           BA   AV   GF   HG   EX   BE

                        BA            5       6       7       8       9     10

AV           6       7       8       9       10     10

GF            7       8       9       10     10     10

HG           8       9       10     10     10     11

EX             9       10     10     10     11     11

BE              10    10     10     11     11     12

 

Kofi has a PRE of 6 (GF), and a WIS of 10 (EX).

Checking the chart, GF and EX meet at the rank of 10, so Kofi’s Will is 10.

Wealth (WLTH): On the continent of Ki Khanga, currency comes in many forms – cowry shells, gold nuggets, pieces of ivory. To simplify things, money is expressed as Equipment Points (EP), which is related to your character’s Wealth rank. Wealth also represents your earnings at the end of each adventure. More EPs can be amassed through trade of goods and services, looting, etc. At character creation, you receive 5 EP per WLTH rank.

  1. For example, Yamil the Merchant has WLTH 8. He starts out with 40 Equipment Points (8 x 5). At the end of each adventure, Yamil is also awarded 40 EP.
  2. EP is used to buy equipment, weapons, clothing, other goods and services.
  3. Your Wealth is calculated on the chart below:

 

                                                                  Presence (PRE)

                   Intellect (INT)        BA   AV   GF   HG   EX   BE

                                       BA          2       3       4       5       6       7

AV           3       4       5       6       7       7

GF            4       5      6       7       7       7

HG           5       6       7       7       7       8

EX           6       7       7       7       8       8

BE            7       7       7       8       8       8

 

Milton calculates Kofi’s final Calculated Ability. Kofi has a. INT of 8 (HG), and a PRE of 6 (GF).

Checking the chart, HG and GF meet at the rank of 7, so Kofi’s Wealth is 7. Milton decides to reduce Kofi’s WLTH to 6. He earns 10 points of Aṣe by reducing his WLTH by 1 rank. This earned Aṣe is added to Milton’s points for building his character.

Milton now has 46 points of Aṣe left to build his character.

Milton decides to take a break here and grab the cream cheese danish he hid among his collection of Sword and Soul novels and comic books. Go ahead and take a break, too. But be sure to join us in two days for Part 2, wherein we give Kofi his Skills and Talents.

About Balogun

Balogun is the author of the bestselling Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within and screenwriter / producer / director of the films, A Single Link, Rite of Passage: Initiation and Rite of Passage: The Dentist of Westminster. He is one of the leading authorities on Steamfunk – a philosophy or style of writing that combines the African and / or African American culture and approach to life with that of the steampunk philosophy and / or steampunk fiction – and writes about it, the craft of writing, Sword & Soul and Steampunk in general, at https://chroniclesofharriet.com/. He is author of eight novels – the Steamfunk bestseller, MOSES: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman (Books 1 & 2); the Urban Science Fiction saga, Redeemer; the Sword & Soul epic, Once Upon A Time In Afrika; a Fight Fiction, New Pulp novella, Fist of Afrika; the gritty, Urban Superhero series, A Single Link and Wrath of the Siafu; the two-fisted Dieselfunk tale, The Scythe and the “Choose-Your-Own-Destiny”-style Young Adult novel, The Keys. Balogun is also contributing co-editor of two anthologies: Ki: Khanga: The Anthology and Steamfunk. Finally, Balogun is the Director and Fight Choreographer of the Steamfunk feature film, Rite of Passage, which he wrote based on the short story, Rite of Passage, by author Milton Davis and co-author of the award winning screenplay, Ngolo. You can reach him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Afrikan.Martial.Arts; on Twitter @Baba_Balogun and on Tumblr at www.tumblr.com/blog/blackspeculativefiction.

12 responses »

  1. Fujimoto says:

    Great to hear of Ki-Khanga again. It’s been a while. The system sounds very well-thought out and the cards are an innovative touch. Looking forward to the next post!

  2. […] our last post, Milton was busy creating his character, Kofi, a veteran Constable in the merchant riverine city of […]

  3. […] In our last post, Milton (actually my evil twin)  was busy creating his character, Kofi, a veteran Constable in the merchant riverine city of Sati Baa. […]

  4. […] the last two posts, we have worked on our Ki Khanga™ Characters. In this post, we complete our […]

  5. […] the last two posts, we have worked on our Ki Khanga™ Characters. In this post, we complete our […]

  6. […] I – and author Milton Davis – announced the coming release of Ki-Khanga: the Sword & Soul Role-Playing Game, we did so without losing any “street cred” or facing social alienation from the popular […]

  7. […] Referees – whatever you want to call yourselves – if you are interested in running a session of Ki Khanga: The Sword and Soul Role-Playing Game and can make the gaming experience fun for everyone, this is the job for […]

  8. […] addition to contributing stories to Griots and Griots Sisters of the Spear, Balogun and I wrote the Ki Khanga Anthology, a collection of stories based on the world we created for the upcoming role playing game of the […]

  9. […] 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 […]

  10. […] 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 […]

  11. […] 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 […]

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