A Short, Fan-Made, Narrative-Focused Game [ edit ]
KAIZOKU!, from independent developer Jarred Null, is a game for telling stories in a "pirate fantasy setting inspired by anime, manga, and film" ... and it's pretty clear that One Piece is a major inspiration for the game.
To be clear, KAIZOKU! isn't officially tied to One Piece ... or to any specific setting for that matter. In fact, all KAIZOKU! provides is just seven pages of basic rules. It leaves the setting (and just about everything else) entirely up to the GM's imagination. All the game them at that (although those seven pages have high production quality, and look like a published gaming product).
Fortunately, those seven pages have high production quality (the PDF looks like a published product), and because the game has such a minimalist design, they are more than enough to cover the basics of a fairly strong (if a bit rough around the edges), storytelling-focused system.
KAIZOKU!, v0.2 - Rules SummaryCollapse
Character Creation [ edit ]
Characters in KAIZOKU! have three positive attributes: Passion, Power, and Profession. By default characters get a 5 in Passion, a 4 in Power, and a 3 in Profession, although they are allowed to rearrange those numbers if they want. The number indicates how many dice the character can roll when that attribute is relevant Also, each attribute has to be further qualified, so for instance one can't just have "Profession (3)", they have to have "Profession (3): Helmsman" or "Profession (3): Dramatic poetry reading".
A character's Passion should be whatever drives them to a life of adventure (eg. "explore the corners of every sea" or "Protect my Cousin Charles, Who is an Idiot"). Their Power can either be a mundane power (eg. "Master of the Rifle") or a more ... One Piece-ish power (eg. "Human Pineapple" with a armored hide, spiky green hair, and super digesttion). Finally, their Profession should indicate not only what the character does for a living, but what part they are best at. Players are encouraged to take on unique and creative professions (eg. cat juggler).
In addition to the three positive attributes, each character can have one to three negative attributes, where a negative attribute is any characteristic that negatively impacts the character's ability to achieve their goals (but hopefully in a funny and relevant way).
Like positive attributes, negative ones have a number assigned (by default 3, and the rules are unclear as to when the GM should raise it). This number can, rarely, represent dice that the player rolls (if the attribute is helpful for the roll), but usually it will be dice that other players or the GM roll against the character.
Examples of negative attributes include "Afraid of heights", "Hates bad poetry", naivety, or lack of direction sense.
Calls to Action and Notes
After selecting attributes, players then need to write "Calls to Action" for each one, which is just a brief description of how the attribute guides the character's goals and dictates their responses. Players are also encouraged at this point to write some notes about their character's thoughts, feelings, relationships, etc.
Ki is the generic magical power source of KAIZOKU! There are three kinds of Ki: Awareness (ie. sensory), Substance (ie. physical), or Lordship (the ability to command other people and/or creatures). Just as with attributes, Ki stats have numbers (dice pools) associated with them.
Ki can then be used to make rolls that would otherwise be impossible (eg. you can infuse your bullets with Ki to hurt a foe who is immune to bullets). When you use Ki you still use your regular attribute dice, not your Ki dice, but those attribute dice are capped to your Ki level. For instance, if a character with Profession: Hunter (3) and Substance Ki (1) infused his bullets with Ki, he could only roll one die to shoot his infused bullets.
Every character starts with no bounty on their head (ie. Bounty 0), and yet the game says this number is the most important to a character. The descriptive text suggests that it is the game's equivalent of experience points, but doesn't provide any suggestions for what bounty actually does to improve a character, or how much should be awarded.
Core Mechanics [ edit ]
As a narrative-focused game, the player starts any action by simply describing what they will do. Whatever they describe happens ... but they don't get to describe the outcome.
To determine that, they make a roll, and only if they win do they get to choose the desired outcome. In this way, a character might describe themselves landing a series of vicious blows on their opponent ... but if they don't make the roll, the GM simply narrates that opponent shrugging the hits off.
Attributes and Rolls
After narrating the action the player rolls a number of dice equal to the corresponding attribute for what they are doing, and they keep the highest die rolled. If they don't have an applicable attribute, they just roll two dice instead.
The GM assigns a difficulty to the action, from 3 ("jumping onto an enemy from the roof") to 6 ("piloting a ship up a waterfall"). If the player's best roll exceeds the difficulty, their action succeeds, and they retain "narrative control" (they get to keep telling the story, including their action's outcome).
If the roll is below the difficulty, their action still finishes as described, but they lose narrative control and are put on their "Back Foot".
If their roll ties they can either treat it like a success, but the GM adds some unexpected complication, or they can treat it as a failure, but they gain some sort of helpful opportunity.
When a player fails a roll they are put on their "Back Foot", and cannot narrate again until they succeed at a new roll, with two exceptions. First, they can continue narrating their character's failure, including accitons using their Negative Attributes. Second, they can describe actions that might give them a chance to regain the initiative.
If they can succeed at a roll they lose "Back Foot" status, but if they fail again they become "Staggered". At that point they can't make any rolls until another character helps them, and if they are forced to anyway (eg. if someone fights them) they become "Knocked Out".
Many longer actions will require multiple successes to complete. For instance, climbing down a cliff to rescue someone might require two or three, while piloting through a severe storm might require five or more.
Main villains ("Headliners") may require ten or more successes over the course of an adventure to defeat, while groups of thugs can instead be treated as a single obstacle.
Cut Tos, Flashbacks, and Unearned Victories
Because KAIZOKU! is so story-focused, the general spirit of the game is to let everyone at the table describe things as they wish, and then roll dice to see the outcome.
However, one thing a player can't do is describe an outcome before making a roll. If this happens, the GM is instructed to keep the story flowing ... but instead have what the player described be an imagined or dream sequence. GMs are also encouraged to use "cut to", "flashback", and other non-linear storytelling techniques, again to keep the narrative focus of the game (although no separate "cut scene" rules are provided).
Combat [ edit ]
As with many narrative-focused games, KAIZOKU! has no explicit combat rules. Characters have no "hit points" (or any health statuses other than the ones already mentioned), there's no initiative, and anything that would require combat in another system is handled through a roll (or, more often, a series of rolls).
Should You Buy It? [ edit ]
Since KAIZOKU is completely free and available to to download for anyone with the Discord app, if you're looking for a One Piece RPG there's really no reason not to at least download it and take a look.
However, it's important to be aware of the game's limitations. With no supplements of any kind, no setting material whatsoever, and only a seven-page "0.2" version of its rules, KAIZOKU! is not yet a full-fledged gaming product.
What the game offers is some basic, quick-playing, story-telling rules. A GM with experience from other systems should have no problem coming up with pirate adventures to run with those rules but if they're looking for lists of pirate adversaries, more detailed/specific rules on ki, online articles ... or just more than seven pages ... KAIZOKU! may not be the game for you.