Friday, December 19, 2008

Who's Who of Street Fighter -- 1968

We're talking about setting up a historical Street Fighter campaign, set roughly around 1968-1972. This is the era of Johnny Quest (and by extension of the first generation of Team Venture). It also is a good fit for setting a space age tone, and it matches up to the beginnings of the kung fu movie explosion of the seventies.

One interesting question is what the "who's who of the Street Fighter canon" would be at this time. I've gone to my strategy guides and the Street Fighter canon plot guide, and using 1968 as a point of reference for the campaign, here's what I've come up with.

First, we only have birth dates for the core 15 characters (minus Lord Vega) from the SFII era of games and for wrestlers from Muscle Bomber. In 1968, most of the main Street Fighter characters are young children or haven't been born yet (Ryu, born in 1964, is 4 years old). But there are a few who are nearing fighting age, especially considering how early fighters seem to get into the game in Street Fighter.

The year is 1968. Zangief is 12 years old. The man who will eventually come to dominate the fighting circuit, Sagat, is 13 years old. Dhalsim is 16. Mike Haggar is 27. Oro is already a hermit in Brazil and is currently 108 (born 1860).

These ages are definite. What else do we know? Well, the Japanese strategy guides estimate Gouki's age in SSFII Turbo as around 48, which would put him at around 21-23 in 1968. Gouken would be roughly the same age.

We can extrapolate other ages from there.

Here are some canonical characters who would probably be of or near fighting age in 1968.
  • Gen (based on his age in SF Zero, he'd be 50-60 years old in 1968)
  • Go Hibiki (Dan is roughly the same age as Ryu, which would suggest that Go Hibiki should be old enough to have a young son. Go could easily be about the same age as Gouki and Gouken -- in his early 20s.)
  • Zeku, Bushin-ryu Master (roughly the same age as Gouki and Gouken?)
  • Retsu (same as Gouki and Gouken?)
  • Li (a little younger --maybe 16, Dhalsim's age)
  • Kanzuki Juro (Karin's father, he'd work well at around 18-20 -- Karin is born 1973)
  • Rolento (he's late 30s to early 40s in SF Zero, which would put him around 20 in 1968)
  • Chun Li's father (Chun Li is born in 1968, so her father could be in his early 20s)
  • Remy's father (13-18)
  • Belgar (end boss in Final Fight -- maybe around 21-23)
Dudley's father would be a character of the right age, but he wouldn't be a fighter (he would be a wealthy businessman or aristocrat, from what I understand.)

In addition, there's Lord Vega, who I mentioned before. His age is unknown. If he's around the same age as Chun Li's father, he'd be in his early 20s -- the same generation as Gouki and Gouken.

And then there are a few teachers from Rival Schools who might be young fighters in this era.

I'm not sure if Goutetsu would be dead yet, or not. Ryu doesn't come to train with Gouken until he's around 8 to 10 years old (again, roughly), which wouldbe around 1972-74. I think Goutetsu is dead before Ryu comes to train with Gouken. So either Goutetsu would be dead when the campaign started... or the clock would be ticking.

Some of this info is based on the Japanese strategy guides and Gamest Mooks I have laying around here. Some is based on The Street Fighter Canon Plot Guide (v4.6). Much of it is basically guesswork and creative interpretation.

Character Creation

Character creation follows the standard point values, with a few additions and clarifications. This is a summary -- refer to Street Fighter: The Storytelling Game for the default rules.

Assign Starting Points
  • Attributes: 7/5/3
  • Abilities: 9/7/4
  • Backgrounds: 5
  • Techniques: 8
  • Styles: 5
  • Special Maneuvers: 7
  • Willpower and Chi: Determined by primary Style (highest level style, or select a primary if more than one style is tied)
  • Freebie Points: 18
During this first stage of character creation, Abilities and Techniques cannot exceed a rating of 3 and Attributes cannot exceed a rating of 5.

Freebie Points
Characters begin with a few more freebie points than in the default rules. However, these points are also spent at a slightly different rate. One problem raised by the default core rules is that freebie point costs and XP costs are different. This creates breakpoints during character creation that can be mostly removed by unifying the costs.

The new XP costs will be described in a later post. At this point, it is sufficient to note that the freebie point costs listed below match up to the XP costs.

As in the core rules, you can exceed a rating of 3 in Abilities and Techniques using freebie points.

When spending freebie points, use the following point costs in place of the costs in the core book (p. 39).
  • Attributes: 6 per dot (12 per dot past 5?)
  • Abilities: 1 per dot, 2 per dot past 5
  • Backgrounds: 1 per dot
  • Techniques: 1 per level of the desired rating, paid for at each increase (e.g., one point for a new technique at 1, two points to raise a 1 to a 2, three points to raise a 2 to a 3, etc.)
  • Styles: 2 per dot
  • Power Points: 1 per dot
  • Chi: 3 per dot
  • Willpower: 3 per dot
  • Health: 4 per dot
There are two important notes worth considering at this point. First, Backgrounds can only be bought during character creation. Second, a long-term decision about attribute totals needs to be made during character creation. Points added to attributes during character creation determine the maximum pool of attribute points the character can have in a particular category. The default is 15 (the equivalent of a 5/5/5 attribute outlay). Only if freebie points are spend to increase attributes during character creation can this maximum total be increased: a character who spends 6 freebie points to add 1 physical attribute during character creation can potentially reach a total of 16 attribute points, and so on.

This is a draft based on a discussion we had last night. I've made a couple changes after thinking about things a bit: first, we originally considered the "frontloading" of attributes to be sufficiently restrictive that raising them past 5 wouldn't need to cost more. After thinking about it a bit more, I'm not convinced that it's enough, so I've suggested an extra cost to go past 5. (I'm not sure what this cost should be, but I think it's preferable to keep attributes from jumping past 5 immediately, and increasing the cost should help here by making the jump more of a commitment.)

Street Fighter House Rules: Overview

This is part one of a series of posts where I'll review the current state of our house rules. We're preparing for a new Street Fighter campaign, and these are the rules changes we'll be making. In this post, I'll give a little bit of context. Then I'll move on to specific cases.

  • Street Fighter: The Storytelling Game
  • Secrets of the Shadoloo
Only these two books will be core. We'll be using the base combat rules and special maneuvers from this book, as well as the base character creation rules. We'll be changing how XP is awarded and spent and making changes to the martial arts styles and maneuver lists, but unless otherwise noted, these books form the core rules set. None of the other published supplements will be used.

Briefly, here are some of the changes we'll be making.
  • Glory and Honor: We won't be using these. They don't work in long term play. The numbers simply don't add up when characters enter regular tournaments, especially when the characters face each other in tournament matches. They break down in the case of NPC villains, as well, who can't succeed in tournament play because they have no way of regaining Chi and Willpower. The only positive outcome we've noticed in play is that honor does make the decision of whether or not to hit a dizzied opponent a real decision. This doesn't match up with how the video game works, but it is generally good in the RPG because of the length of the health track.
  • Recovering Willpower and Chi: Without Glory and Honor, we'll need another way to regain spent Willpower and Chi. We'll be using a simple method. If you win a fight, you can immediately roll your permanent score in Willpower and in Chi. You regain a number of points equal to your successes. We can then simply add other conditions that allow for a roll to regain points: not striking a dizzied opponent would be one, for example, that would allow you to make this roll in the middle of a fight. Spending a round showing off / posing might be another. In a later post, I'll draft a list of conditions that allow for Will/Chi recovery rolls.
  • Multiple Styles: We'll be using the "multiple styles" rules I mentioned in my last post.
  • Styles and Maneuver Lists: We'll be replacing the style lists from the core book. Some styles will go (Kabaddi and Native American Wrestling, I'm looking at you) and be replaced by other styles (Yoga, for example, replaces Kabaddi). In addition, we'll be taking a "style proliferation" approach. Having a large number of styles with relatively small maneuver lists works well with the multiple styles rules and allows for a lot of great character customization.
  • Freebie Point and XP Streamlining: The XP system needs an overhaul. We've used it for years, and if there's one thing that needs simplification and improvements, it's that. I'll outline our current changes soon.
That isn't all we'll be house ruling, but it covers the core issues. We'll also be working with the combo rules clarifications and updated maneuver tables (and other rules notes) from our "Street Fighter Revision" project from 2003 (at the time of this writing, these files are still available here).

Monday, August 11, 2008

Multiple Styles in Street Fighter: the Storytelling Game

One thing I've always wanted in Street Fighter is a way to model characters who study multiple styles. This is an idea for how to do that without making major changes to the system. If someone has already done this, I'd be happy to hear about it. And if there are obvious reasons this wouldn't work (or simply issues that would need to be sorted out), I'd love to hear those too -- I'm dashing this post off pretty fast, but I'll try to get back with replies if there are any comments.

The basic idea is to simply to a) add Style ratings to the character sheet, so characters could be level 4 Karate, level 3 Kung Fu (for example), and then b) treat the power point costs listed for the maneuvers as prerequisites. The special maneuver "Dragon Punch" has a power point cost of 4 for Shotokan Karate and 5 for Kung Fu and Thai Kickboxing. This would translate to a simple requirement that a character must have achieved the 4th level of mastery in the Shotokan Karate style to get access to dragon punch, whereas a kung fu stylist would need to be 5th level in their style before getting access to the same maneuver.

Using this system, characters would need a starting pool of points to place in different styles, with a standard maximum rating of 3 (before freebie points). How many? I'm tempted to simply say 3.

The "any" category would simply default to your highest level in any style: if you have a 3 Karate, you'd also have access to any maneuver from the "any" list with a cost of up to 3 power points. This is a fairly simple system for allowing characters to be masters of multiple styles, and it works best if you're taking a "style proliferation" approach to the martial arts in the game. With this system, you could create Ryu as something like Karate 5, Tae Kwon Do 3, Judo 3, and so on.

The system isn't perfect: I haven't checked it for breakpoints (why go to level 5 in style X, if there's no maneuver with a cost of 5 in the style?). If you're using standard experience point costs and rules, it also makes the power point costs doubly important -- they limit access to maneuvers which also will cost more when access is gained. If you're not using the regular SF:tSG xp system, this problem can be avoided.

The system doesn't only restrict, however: it also opens up options for characterization and for character building (in terms of combat). Previously, there was no way to build a character with certain combinations of special maneuvers: you had access to the maneuvers in your style, those in the any list, and that's it. For story based reasons, it was sometimes desirable for a character to be able to learn a particular maneuver, but the only way to get this access was simply to make an exception to the rules on a case by case basis.

That's the basic idea, essentially back-formed from ideas for multiclassing in the d20 street fighter hack I'll also be talking about sometime. As always, I'm open to suggestions.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Fist of the Assassin -- Aggression (version 1)

Fist of the Assassin is a martial arts rpg idea I've been kicking around for too long. It's been one of those "always in development, but never really in development" things, a game I always come back to and mess around with.

The blurb goes like this:

Fist of the Assassin
A game about Life, Death, and Kung Fu
It has always existed, just beyond the reach of civilization. It can be felt at the crossroads, on a storm-tossed ship at sea, in a windswept desert, and at the heart of an uprising.

It is home to heroes, masters, and boxers, to cultists, revolutionaries, and assassins, to villains, demons, and ghosts.

It is the martial world.

And it is your home.

A few months ago, I put together a rough draft document (thanks to some kind comments about the game made by Jonathan Walton), and I got some useful feedback in this thread started by Lukas Myhan at Story Games. At the time I got swept up in Game Chef and failed to respond properly to the thread, but I'm still thinking about revisions to account for the problems in the game as it stands right now.

The draft folks were working with is here.

The main current problem is pretty simple: the only smart thing to do is to turtle. There are too many defensive options and not enough offensive options. I've considered solutions that are based on reducing the number of options in play and handing them out by martial art style: so at base, the game might use only the numbers on the cards -- only simple, single card attacks and dodges. Suits are ignored. Then your style might give you a few strong attacks by allowing certain suits to be active for you. These strong attacks couldn't be dodged normally: they could only be stopped by playing blocks (cards of matching suits). Different styles would have access to different sets of strong suits and block suits. Combinations and reversals would be similarly restricted: you'd only get access to combinations and reversals for certain suits, ones granted by your style.

The advantage of this is to make styles matter in a fairly straightforward way. One disadvantage is that it ramps up the complexity of the core system, increasing how much you need to track to play the game. I'm not sure yet if it's a working solution.

Combinations need a buff up too, regardless of what is done with the styles. Right now, my idea for combinations is to make them more effective by stating that they cannot be dodged or blocked. Only a "reversal" (card of both higher rank and matching suit") could stop them, and it would only cancel them out -- not act as a counter-attack as it would against a single card. I think this helps offset the weakness of attacks, but only partially. I'm still working on the implications.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sirlin's "Yomi" street fighter card game

David Sirlin, top level street fighter tournament competitor and designer of the upcoming Super Street Fighter 2: HD Remix, has recently updated his "yomi" fighting card game. The game itself isn't new, but it's new to me, and definitely worth a link. It looks like a clever take on a street fighter themed card fighting game, and it's something I'll be interested in trying out when I get a chance.

The main page for the game is here. It's password protected, but the password isn't a secret: it's daigo, as mentioned by Sirlin on his own yomi message boards as well as at

The rules, faq, character card decks, and design discussion are all available at the main site.

Here's a related article by Sirlin talking about how he uses the term "yomi" in relation to fighting games: Yomi Layer 3: Knowing the Mind of the Opponent.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Roleplaying. It's kinda like that.

The Grand Unifying Theory of Roleplaying.
Calvin & Hobbes, January 01, 1995, Bill Watterson

SF Tribby Sagat Closeup
by ~joe-vriens on deviantART

Street fighter tokens 1

street fighter tokens: set 1 (pdf)

This set of tokens is for use with any street fighter rpg that uses a hex or grid map at 1" scale. They can be printed out and affixed to any 1" base with a little bit of heft to it, from quarters to wooden craft discs.

All the core characters from the original Street Fighter game, Street Fighter II, Street Fighter Zero, and Street Fighter III are represented. A few additional characters are included in the bottom row from Street Fighter IV and Street Fighter EX.

Eventually, I plan to create a separate set for each Street Fighter game. Right now, this set is a pretty good start, making most of the major characters available right away.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

A whole blog about street fighter roleplaying?

Well, yes, actually. That and a little bit more.

I have a lot to say about Street Fighter: The Storytelling Game, and about martial arts rpgs, campaign resources, techniques, and game design. Blogging is a perfect way to talk about it, and hopefully to get some discussion going with other people who are interested as well.

Since this is an introductory post, I thought I'd use it to talk a little bit about the kinds of things I'll be doing here. It's an open ended list, but this is a start.

I'll be talking about White Wolf's (now long out of print) Street Fighter: The Storytelling Game. That includes talking about the styles, special maneuvers, and characters in the original game, as well as statting up characters from the video game in SF:tSG terms. Eventually, after enough blog posts, I expect to have statted up every character from the official street fighter video game series.

I'll also be sharing various resources we've found useful in our home campaigns over the years, like tables of special maneuvers, standardized keywords for keeping track of what kinds of effects various maneuvers have, combat cards, and so on.

I'll also be talking about various game designs of my own. It seems like two out of every three ideas I have for rpgs are martial arts rpgs, and I'll be talking about these games here. This includes an OGL/d20 based street fighter rpg I've toyed around with designing, and it also includes various other rpg I've toyed around with such as Fist of the Assassin (a work-in-progress kung fu fighting rpg with "real time" combat) and Proving Ground (a game inspired by fighting and MMA manga including Grappler Baki, Tough, Shamo, and Garouden).

I may also talk about roleplaying games in general, from time to time.

This is also a blog about the street fighter phenomenon, and anything street fighter related might find a place here. This includes cool pieces of street fighter art found in the wilds of the internet, links to street fighter news and websites, and talk about street fighter comics, toys, and so on.