Katanas & Trenchcoats

Are you the baddest of immortal dudes, who do awesome shit like constantly fence or be sad about their tragic…ly righteous existence? Probably not, but you can play one with the hit game Katanas & Trenchcoats. This game will revolutionize roleplaying into something more awesome: roleplaying with sexy people. That’s just good science.

Want a sneak peek at how Katanas & Trenchcoats works? Fuck yeah, you do.


There are four parts to making your immortal dude: your Personal Bullshit, Immortal Traits, Actions, and Meritorious Stunts.

Personal Bullshit

Answer these questions. If you’re a good roleplayer, you’ll write whole massive essays in them. (Great roleplayers do it to meter and verse.)

  • Mien: What sort of immortal dude are you on the outside? What do you present to others?
  • Essence: What sort of immortal dude are you really like, on the inside?
  • Tragic Flaw: What’s your deal? Remember, you’re awesome, so your tragic flaw should also be awesome (especially if roleplaying it well can get you laid).
  • Master of secret history: What events were you at that, like, make you secretly a part of major historical events? (Also, why didn’t you kill Hitler, Mr. or Ms. Master of Secret History? For shame.)
  • Oh, how you became immortal: I’m sure you have some emo or crazy story for this, too.

Once you have at least ten pages (single spaced!) worth of amazing backstory, distil it down into three phrases that…uh…okay, they’re aspects from Fate, all right? Distil your character’s entire sense of being into three aspects. (If you don’t know how aspects work, get Fate Core System. Then read it—you won’t know how something works just by owning the book, silly!)

Immortal Traits

Immortals have five overall traits, which represent strengths that immortal badasses command.

  • Wicked Sword
  • Ancient Memories
  • Being Emo
  • Mystical Shit
  • Outdated Wardrobe

Traits are rated in CFICs—completely filled-in circles—between 1 and 4. Each trait starts with 1 CFIC free. Beyond that, you have 7 CFICs to distribute in your traits. Maybe you’re all about haivng a sweet katana? Make your Wicked Sword rank 4. Or you’ve got some sort of crazy lightning bullshit going on? Take a high Mystical Shit.


To reprint from the This Totally Dark World core book, so you don’t have to look it up or have it or, fuck forbid, me actually write it:

Characters in This Totally Dark World can take all sorts of actions! Because roleplaying! Here are the six core actions, which you rank in CFICs from 1 to 4.

  • Endure
  • Fight
  • Influence
  • Know
  • Move
  • Sneak

Each action starts with 1 CFIC. Beyond that, you have 10 CFICs to distribute in your actions.

Meritorious Stunts

Finally, your immortal dude probably has some cool, special shit that no one else has. You can take up to 4 CFICs worth of meritorious stunts, either dividing them into multiple stunts or putting them into one.

Supplements will later flesh this out, because the point of supplements is to keep you interested in our shit, so here’s an anemic list. I guess if you want to be a bad roleplayer, you can use your imagination to make up more stuff.

Sanctum: You have a badass sanctum with weapons and maybe staff or an orphan protoege. If it’s especially high in rating, it probably has all kinds of crazy shit, like supercomputers or custom tanks or, well, you know, just watch one of the Nolan Batman films.

Lightning: You’re so one with the energy of life that you can shoot it out of your fucking hands or eyes or whatever.

Extra-Tragic Backstory: Your backstory is so tragic that you basically get more dice when it comes up. This is especially true if when sins from your past haunt you, literally and otherwise. The GM may require you to wear massacra and listen to the Cure—not just at the table, but in every moment of your life.

Being Real

Writing this was inspired by Steve Kenson’s tweet about how surely someone has made a “katanas and trenchcoats” game yet. This struck on chord in me, and so while talking with Leonard Balsera—who also grew up in the 90’s dream of Highlander and World of Darkness games—this came out of my head.

Totally, this will be the only blog post about it. I so don’t have notes for vampires and werewolves and ghosts and stuff. I seriously haven’t written all of the notes to the system on a barroom napkin. Finally, Lenny and I are super-seriously not going to fuck with this while we should be getting other things done. Nope. Not at all.

– Ryan


12 Responses to Katanas & Trenchcoats

  1. Ryan Macklin says:

    Hal Mangold totally leaked a Meritorious Stunt from a supplement:

    Genuine Foreign Accent: You get a bonus when you’re speaking in your character’s exotic and mysterious accent. People may claim that your accent is atrocious; they are just jealous of your roleplaying mastery.

  2. Holy shit. This is what I’ve been waiting for the last 30 years. Thank you. When do we start?

    I’ll be making an Aztec immortal named Cuatamoc who’s family/nation was destroyed by fellow immortal Hernan Cortez. He uses a cuatl to get MFers dead. Cue sad native american flutes when he passes a Taco Bell or trash in the river.

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      We started in the 90s. There is never a day when we aren’t LARPing K&T.


      – Ryan

  3. Kit says:

    The dream of the 90s is immortal and possibly undead in Portland.

  4. There’s only one thing missing: a colon and subtitle :)

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      DAMMIT. You’re right.

      *lights blog post on fire*

      *cackles as the world burns*

      – Ryan

  5. Eric says:

    It needs a location book. Just one, detailing all the environments, urban and rural, of Vancouver.

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      Noted. “Dark Vancouver” for This Totally Fucked World, it is.

      Since everywhere else can be shot in Vancouver, it’s like a setting book across time and space!

  6. So when will there be a Patreon/Kickstarter for this? Someone needs to take my money.

  7. Jeramy Ware says:

    There actually is… Or was rather. Legacy: War of Ages is the Highlander RPG in all but name and basically uses the rules from the classic World of Darkness. My copy is copyright 1993, as far as I know these ( https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9JrITv9ZsqZOUpLUFp3YnFoMEk/edit?usp=sharing ) are the only two books that were ever released for it.

    • Gareth says:

      What makes LEGACY: WAR OF AGES an especially platonic ideal of 90s Katanatrenchcoatiness is that the art is mostly comprised of badly Photoshop-filtered pics of the design team and their friends, posing on random bits of collegiate architecture, with wall-hanger swords from some catalog.

      Oh, the feels. All of the feels.

  8. Joshua Fontany says:

    LOL. Calssic. The 90s game was called “Tales From The Floating Vagabond” & had various Shticks, including “The Trenchcoat Effect”. Love this take on it. TF2V was intersting in that the GM was called the Bartender…

    A reboot 2nd Edition Kickstarter recently finished. http://www.thefloatingvagabond.com/