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HK-TK: A New Beginning

Years ago, I started playing around with a game that celebrates what I love from the psychic action movie Push. I called it HK-TK, and wrote a stab of a game system in 2012. It was fairly broken, but had some spirit. Since then, I’ve been thinking about using Will Hindmarch’s excellent Always/Never/Now — cyberpunk using the Lady Blackbird rules — as a framework for HK-TK.

If you haven’t seen Push yet and you enjoy action movies, I cannot recommend it enough. It’s got a weird blend of Hong Kong and American film styles that makes it slightly jarring in, I think, a good way (though it’s Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes scores disagree with me). But for the purposes of the explanation: characters are different sorts of psychics in a world where psychics are secret, and Hong Kong is a weird place where a bunch of different psychics are trying to get by or rebel against the various organizations that use or suppress psychics.

There are hurdles to every endeavor, of course. I didn’t just want to rip off the characters and plot of Push, if only because that would bore me personally. A few months ago, I revisited the idea — I wrote up some neat character concepts and a few other notes, then put them into my unfinished games file. I had other pressing things to deal with (freelancing, wedding, etc.), and it seemed like considerable effort to turn those notes into something playtestable.

Over the weekend, I got to play A/N/N (run by the awesome Stephen Hood of Storium) at Go Play Northwest. Along with being a fun experience, it got me thinking: “Why not just make the Push characters, and then use them as parts?” Ideas started jumping at me, so I figure I’ll turn that into a few blog posts over time to get the ideas flowing. With that, here’s a stab at Nick Gant’s — the character played by Chris Evans — tags, keys, etc.


Nick Gant, Mover

Nick Gant is a second-generation mover. His father was killed by Division violently before his eyes, and he’s been on the run ever since. He’s been in Hong Kong for a few months, long enough to accumulate a lot of debt to local gambling bosses.

Traits

  • Survivor + Quick, Take a Hit, Sneaky, Blend In, Perceptive, Escape, [Telekinetic Freerunning], [Nerves of Steel]
  • Fighter + Tough, Reckless, Guns, Take a Hit, Clever, Threaten, [Telekinetic Brawler], [Telekinetic Gunplay], [Telekinetic Shield]
  • Conman + Bluff, Cheat, Risky, Contacts, Scheme, Size Up, [Gamble], [Fine Telekinesis], [Careful]
  • Charmer + Cute, Roguish Smile, Cultural Chameleon, Wit, Lie, Observant, [Allies], [Informed]

Keys

Key of the Untrained. To say Nick’s powers are weak is to understate it. He never had the mentor to push himself, and found ways to get by with what mediocre moving he could do. Earn XP when your untrained moving gets you into a jam. Buyoff: Demonstrate your abilities with complete confidence.

Key of Cocksure. Nick is a wiseass who’s always sure that the next scheme will pay off. Earn XP when you act on your hastily made plans with sureness (even plans you make up right on the spot). Buyoff: Demonstrate responsibility about yourself and others.

Key of Unsure Romance. Nick is a romantic at heart, but it’s a confusing time and he’s not sure about love right now. Select another player’s character. Earn XP when you make a decision because of romantic feelings for that character. Buyoff: Either push away your romantic feelings or solidify the relationship.

Edges

Versatility. As all the characters have in A/N/N.

Self Sacrificing. Once per session, when someone else takes a condition and you’re in a position to take it instead, describe how you do. Take a condition in their place — the GM will assign the same condition or another, depending on the moment. Also take 2 stunt dice. Rearm this Edge when you buy off a Key.

Power

Mover. You can create walls and vectors of force from your will, allowing you to push, push, lift, crush, block, and so on. There are limits to what you can move. Shoving a full-grown person, blocking bullets, and keeping a gun floating in the area are all fairly difficult, but not impossible. You can’t break down a building (at least, not in a single move) or launch someone into space, though.

Note that this isn’t a trait or an edge. Right now, I don’t believe that things like this should be traits of edges. This is a permission that allows you to do interesting things in the fiction, but doesn’t inherently give you dice. But as you see above, there are tags on traits that play off of being a mover.


Nick is probably the easiest character to do, though it took me watching Push to flesh out those traits and get a handle on the keys. I don’t know when I’ll get to more HK-TK posts — I have PaizoCon this weekend, Backstory Cards work to do, freelancing, wedding, blah blah — but folks have been asking me about this since 2012, and I figure I should remind y’all that it’s still periodically on my mind!

– Ryan

Photo: one of the DVD covers for Push.

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One Response to HK-TK: A New Beginning

  1. Ryan Macklin says:

    Some conversing on the G+ thread:
    https://plus.google.com/u/0/+RyanMacklin/posts/Dk38NFk5Aa3