RPG Corner: Blood Chess

I wanted to change things up a bit for this week's "RPG Corner", and share with you a fun little one-off adventure we ran for our Champions (4th Edition) campaign. It's a game I called "Blood Chess" and basically lays out the rules for making the PCs and their opponents into living chess pieces, not unlike the hologram battles in "Star Wars".



THE OBJECT OF THE GAME: The game ends when either King is eliminated. A number of points is decided as follows: The King is worth twenty points. Each other real opponent is worth five points. Each decoy is worth one point. A perfect score, then, would be 51 to 0 (you eliminated all of their pieces and they eliminated none of yours). For our game, a point is worth a token, with both losers and winners keeping any tokens earned.

THE BOARD AND THE PIECES: The board is set up like a standard 8x8 chess board, each the equivalent of one hex (1") to a side. The pieces are identical in movement and number to regular chess. With the exception of the Knight, no piece can move over or through another piece.

  • KING: Moves in one space in any direction.
  • QUEEN: Moves any number of spaces in a straight line in any direction.
  • BISHOP: Moves any number of spaces in a straight line diagonally.
  • KNIGHT: Moves in an "L" shape, going two spaces horizontally or vertically, and then one space in a perpendicular direction. Knights are the only pieces that can move over interposing pieces.
  • ROOK: Moves any number of spaces horizontally or vertically in a straight line.
  • PAWN: Moves one or two spaces straight ahead on the first move only; all other movement is only one space straight ahead.

As in regular chess, there are eight Pawns, two each of Knights, Bishops, and Rooks, and but one King and Queen. Each player character must choose one major piece (not a Pawn). If that piece is a Knight, Bishop, or Rook, the player also has control of a Mirror piece (discussed under the DECOY section), and may move either the character or the Mirror. The King has control over all Pawns, and can move a Pawn on his or her turn if desired. Because she is so powerful in other respects, the Queen has control only over herself (or himself in the case of Freddy Mercury).

COMBAT: Combat is resolved per normal Champions rules, with some modifications discussed below. Each character will go, in DEX order, on his or her action Phase. The player can move either the real or the Mirror piece (or a Pawn, if you are the King).

  1. Except for Knights, you must have a clear path to move to or attack a square/opponent.
  2. Once engaged in HTH combat, neither combatant can leave the square until combat is resolved. Once combat is resolved (see Rule 4 below), the victor retains possession of the square. This does not apply to attacks at range; you can move to a different square on your Phase if you're getting shot at from afar, but you can't move away from a character grappling with you in the same square.
  3. Movement is limited by the piece's range and movement style. If your character can fly 100" per phase but is playing the Knight, he or she can only move the direction and distance of a Knight. Direction is also governed by this; Queens, for instance, cannot move three squares forward, then turn and go four more squares to the right. Character movement limitations do not apply, however; even a character with only 6" Running (for shame!) can move all the way from one end of the board to the other. Additional movement considerations:
    o No half moves; you have to either move onto an opponent's square and thus engage in HTH combat, or stay put and fire at range. You can't "half move" and then attack at range;
    o Characters can always attack at the end of a move, regardless of distance. In other words, Captain Quicksand, with only 6" of Running, can move 8" from one end of the board to the other, and can engage the opponent there in HTH combat even though that's more than his normal move;
    o You CAN Find Weakness and then move/attack;
    o No castling;
    o No Move-Bys or Move-Throughs once engaged in HTH combat, as that would necessitate leaving the square.
    o You can hold and dodge, but NOT half move, hold, and dodge. Again, no half moves are allowed; a move is a move, regardless of how far it is.
  4. A player is removed from the board when he or she is unconscious by more than their recovery, or when their BODY goes to 0. For example, a character with a 10 REC would be removed from play when at -11 STUN. A character at -4 Body would be removed from play. A character at -20 Body would make a nice coffee table, but wouldn't be much good for anything else.
  5. Ranged attacks are constrained by the same limitations as the piece's movement, meaning you can attack a square at range only if it would be possible for you to move there. Again, Knights are the only pieces that can fire through or over intervening pieces. If a player successfully knocks out an opponent with a ranged attack, the attacking player DOES NOT TAKE THAT SQUARE!
  6. It is legal to shoot over unconscious players who have not been removed from the board.
  7. No attacks do knockback.
  8. Two or more players from the same team cannot occupy the same square. Only two players from separate teams can occupy the same square, and then only if they are engaged in HTH combat.
  9. Players with ranged attacks can use those ranged powers to help teammates who are engaged in HTH combat.
  10. Area Effect Attacks affect only the target square. If an AE attack misses, it detonates in the attacker's square instead, since it's unreasonable to allow a miss to hit adjacent hexes outside the piece's normal attack range.
  11. Characters larger than one hex are, for the purposes of the game, considered to be normal sized, although (except for increased reach) the advantages and limitations of Growth still apply.

DECOYS: The Pawns and Mirror (fake) Knights, Bishops, and Rooks are all considered decoys. The Mirrors are exact holographic replicas of their real counterparts, and are indistinguishable from them by any means. Before any attack by any piece, the attacker asks "Is this a decoy I'm attacking?" If the answer is yes, the defender is removed from the board whether the attacker is a decoy or not. If the answer is no and the attacker is a decoy, the attacker is removed from the board. If the answer is no and the attacker is NOT a decoy, combat ensues.

KING RULES: Kings can freely move into and out of "check". They may not go desolid, even if they have the power.

GENERAL NOTES: This model is excellent for slugfests, or for when you only have two players. Each can control five characters, or ten if you have that many. Agents can be substituted for Pawns to make things more interesting for all (and more complicated, too!).

Here are the markers I made for the mini-game. Cut the pieces out, then fold over in half so an icon is on each side of the marker. There is space at the top to write the character's name on both sides. The check box is to let each side keep track of which of their pieces are Mirrors, without giving away the other team's positions.

Click on each of the images to embiggen it for printing.