Wednesday 28 December 2016

The Black Hack : The Beastmaster Class

Starting HP : 4 + d6
HP Per Level/Resting : 1d6
Weapons & Armor : Anything that doesn't use metal.
Attack Damage : 1d8

Special Features
Super Beast
When you create a Beastmaster choose a beast that will fight and adventure alongside them. Good choices would be something like a Bear, Lion, Giant Snake, Mega Eagle and to a lesser extent the Rabbit of Caerbannog (google it, if you don't know) 

This will be the creatures 'preferred form' however it can change into another animal, for a number of Moments equal to the Beastmasters Level, before turning back. The Beast can do all the normal things you would expect a creature of that type to do - fly, climb, swim etc.

Shared Existence
The Beastmasters and his beast are the same thing, both are physical incarnations of the same spirit. They share the same Attributes, HP and any negative effects. If one is taken Out of Action, so is the other. Both the Beastmaster and their Beast can move during a turn, but they can only take one action - and must choose who takes it.

Wild Nature
As the Beastmaster adventures and shares time with their Beast, they will eventually take on aspects of its nature - that influence both the Beasts' and their own abilities. At Levels 3, 5, 7, 10 choose one of the following, you cannot choose something you have chosen previously:

  • Aspect of Flight, gain Advantage on checks to avoid falling damage and jumping/clearing distances.
  • Aspect of Vision, gain Advantage on checks to see something.
  • Aspect of Nimbleness, gain Advantage on checks to manipulate small intricate things.
  • Aspect of Speed, gain Advantage on Initiative checks.
  • Aspect of Strength, once per session gain +2 STR for the duration of a combat.
  • Aspect of Agility, once per session gain +2 DEX for the duration of a combat. 
  • Aspect of Ferocity, once per combat deal half damage when you would have missed with an attack.
  • Aspect of Cunning, once per combat take half damage when you would been hit with an attack.
(NB this list isn't extensive, nor complete, GM's and Players should probably come up with their own - use these as a guide to how far reaching the mechanical effects should be. ALSO if you do come up with some, let me know)

Friday 23 December 2016

The Black Houserules : Critical Armor

People have been talking about Hit Points, Gristle, Meat and Armor - this sets me thinking, and creating new rules. It's worth noting that i'm thinking out loud - so all this could well be shithouse. Who knows? You probably.

In this house rule Armor Points (AP) don't reduce damage, they are now a measure of how hard you are to kill. This makes narrative sense, so were all good there (people in Plate & Mail are traditionally much harder to stab to death, right?) This means that HP is really just a measure of Stamina (and could easily me renamed as such) .. how much fight a person has in them before they are taken Out of Action (OofA)

Here's what i'm thinking. You get reduced to 0hp and are taken OofA as per normal. Then you roll a D6 - if you roll under your Armor Points you have taken a Light Wound, this is good for you - well not good for you, but its better than the alternative which is .. Rolling on or over gets you a Critical Wound ..very Warhammer.. obviously Critical Wounds are bad.

Then after the battle you roll on either the Light Wound or Critical Wound tables to see what happens. Do it afterwards to build some player drama round the table!

Here are the dials we can alter to fine tune this system.

The D6 we roll to see how we were wounded. Different creatures could make you roll higher die, Dragons would be a D10. Greenskin Skuttlers would be D4. We could go as far as calling this die a 'Threat Die' or something. Dunno.

Thanks go to +Warren Denning for suggesting we simply use the Powerful Opponents rule, adding that to the d6 we roll. Simplicity at its best - and using a mechanical device we already have. Bravo.

The Light Wound and Critical Wound tables. The actual results on these tables matter a lot. As is TBH's OofA table is kind of split down the middle into Light and Critical Wounds anyway .. look closely .. 1-3 is bad, but 4-6 are much worse. How forgiving Light Wounds and how gross and deadly Critical Wounds really matter.

Armor Points (AP) will be a huge measure on survivability. In vanilla TBH Plate & Mail gives you 8 AP so obviously you wont be able to critically wound someone if you're just rolling a D6. We could easily reduce them to a range Gambeson 1AP .. Plate & Mail 4AP with Shields giving +1/2AP for the Light and Heavy variants.

Thursday 15 December 2016

Death Beneath a Frozen Earth : Things

Here's my notes and working thoughts for 'Things' for DBaFE. A lot of thanks goes to +Chris H for working through some feedback and providing me some excellent ideas and things for my brain to chew on. You're a top guy.

The Thing
HD 3
HP 12

Amorphic Constitution: When another creature is assimilated, 1/2 its current total HP are added to the Things HP pool. The Thing has no maximum HP allowance, as long as it can continue to assimilate creatures, it continues to acquire additional HP. This is the only way A Thing may gain HP.

Exhaustive Potential: As an action during its turn a Thing may 'spend' its HP in order to perform a number of special actions, detailed below. The cost is given in brackets.

  • Crawling Spawn: (4HP) A Thing can detach part of its body that contains muscle mass, bone and other tissues. Choose one - Head, Forearm, Lower Leg. This then transforms into a Crawling Horror - see below.
  • Perfect Mimic: (4HP) Assume the unscathed form of another creature that has been assimilated by any Thing. If a Thing reveals its true form by using Whipping Tendrils. Rending Maw and Unnatural Mobility - it will need to perform this action to go unnoticed again.
  • Whipping Tendrils: (2HP) A This can grow a number of vicious fleshy, whip-like tentacles. These can tooth filled mouths or barbs - and attack a Nearby creature as part of this action. The Thing may attack again in each subsequent turn without spending HP.
  • Rending Maw: (2HP) A Thing can grow a large tooth filled mouth in any location on its body - and attack a Nearby creature as part of this action. The Thing may attack again in each subsequent turn without spending HP.
  • Unnatural Mobility: (4HP) A Thing can grow an addition method of movement (Pair of Legs, Tail, Wings) assuming it has assimilated a creature that has those original features - and move Nearby as part of this action. If they wish to use these features to gain additional movement on a subsequent turn (effectively giving them double movement) they must 'spend' 2HP each time they do so.
Alien environment: The Thing is not native to this Earth and the atmosphere is slowly and surely killing it. In order to survive it must constantly use its Exhaustive Potential and spend HP to stay alive - at the start of every day A Thing loses 2HP.

Crawling Spawn
HP 4

Mindless instincts: The Crawling Spawn doesn't have the capacity to think in the same way as its progenitor. It will do one of three things

  • Play Dead: The Crawling Spawn will stay in the form of the 'shed' body part, awaiting a suitable creature to come Nearby. Then it will perform the action 'Scuttle' detailed below.
  • Scuttle: The Crawling Spawn will Sprout several body appendages and attempt to assimilate a Nearby creature, by crawling up and onto them - attaching itself to a suitable fleshy area. Mouths, Faces and Arses preferred.
  • Flee: Sensing danger the Crawling Spawn will attempt to flee to a dark uninhabited place, where it can lay in ambush for creatures to come Close, then it will likely attempt to 'Scuttle'.

Monday 12 December 2016

The Black Hack : Conditions

When I first put together The Black Hack a number of things got left on the cutting room floor, some for 'lofty' designs goal I'd set myself - others due to the small page count. One of those things were ongoing effects and conditions. I forget why, however. Each of these effects should Finish at the end of the affected characters next turn unless stated otherwise.

Hindered - You can only make one basic attack (no spells), you can still move.
Distracted - You can only move nearby this turn, no attacking or casting spells.
Stuck - You can't move, otherwise you act as normal.
Paralyzed - You cannot move or take any actions.
Dazed - All ability checks to attack are taken with Disadvantage.
Helpless - All ability checks to avoid damage are taken with Disadvantage.
Weakened - All ability checks are taken with Disadvantage.
Stunned - All ability checks are taken with Disadvantage and you cannot move.
Vulnerable - All damage taken is rolled with Disadvantage.
Ongoing Damage - The creature take damage equal to its Level (HD) at the start of its turn, an Ability Test (GM will determine which) should be made to see if the damage continues next turn.

Its worth noting that theses use the most recent incarnation of the Advantage & Disadvantage rules (that should be available in the 'Additional Things' supplement) .. but for reference they are repeated below :

Advantage - Two die are rolled and the player decides which result to use.
Disadvantage - Two die are rolled and the GM decides which result to use.


Here's a thing I should share on my blog, some of you wonderful, beautiful people might not be connected to me on G+

Sunday Nights are gaming nights, either on Google Hangouts or Roll20, Run something or play, everybody is welcome. Drop a comment here if you wanna know more.

#SNG #SundayNightGaming

Saturday 10 December 2016

Death Beneath a Frozen Earth

This page will serve as my design notes for an adventure im feverishly writing - currently called 'Death Beneath a Frozen Earth' .. expect updates, changes and shit that won't make sense. If you like The Black Hack and have any remote intention of playing anything I write .. stop reading. If you're here because you might run it, or you're looking for ideas to steal. Crack on.

The players will start the game with four 0 level funnel characters. Don't bother with stats, roll them as soon as that character needs to make a test. We want players up and running as fast as humanly possible. I already made some TBH funnel sheets when I ran a DDC back in the summer. i'll adapt those.

Game/Scenario Objective
The characters are part of a lost and presumed doomed expedition into the deep frozen earth. The fluff and mcguffins need working out, but the crux of it is they're trapped underground and have to search for a way out before their food runs out or the cold kills them. Also they've managed to unearth some horrid extra-planar-shapeshifter thats slowly eating them one by one. Even if they make it to the surface, if the Things do too - its game over. Players will control both the 'Humans' and the 'Things' - so they will have split priorities, some will want the Humans to win, others the Things.

The gameplay is split into two distinct phases, Day and Night.

Day is very much a traditional dungeon crawl in the old school tradition. Deadly, weird, probably not a huge amount of monsters - certainly no 'higher-races' or super intelligent beings. Maybe shambling frozen undead. I'll work on that.

Night is slightly different - normally you just assign watch and fast-forward the clock, not so in this adventure! Characters should quickly realise the cold will kill them, so they must build a fire for the night. Unfortunately there wont be enough spaces round the fire for all the characters, some will have to sleep huddled in the cold, the players first task during the night phase is deciding who.

- If 'A Thing' sleeps round a fire the gradual thawing will reveal its true nature, initiating a combat (assuming the other characters don't just lay down and allow themselves to be eaten)

- If a Human DOES NOT sleep round a fire they will gain a 'Numb Die' (this is a working title - I might change it to reflect a more madness inspired vibe)

Nightly Actions - In addition to to the campfire mechanics - players must decide what each of their characters are doing for the night. They should pass the GM secret notes for each of their characters declaring what they will be doing. There are 3 possible actions.

Humans can:
- Sleep. They will wake in the morning rested and can remove 1d4 Numb Die.
- Stay Awake. They will have DISADVANTAGE on all tests they make until they next Sleep. They can only Stay Awake for 3 consecutive nights. They will then be forced to Sleep.

Things must:
- Select one character to convert into another Thing. If they choose someone who is Staying Awake, they will be revealed. If they choose someone who is asleep .. that person is now A Thing.

Once all the actions are declared the Night phase will end and the GM will pass back notes to the players (for each of their characters) letting them know how the night went, there are a few options:

- You had a good nights sleep, remove 1d4 Numb Die.
- You're tired, but alive. You have DISADVANTAGE on all test until you next sleep.
- You are now A THING.

After all these cards are handed out the players roll their Numb Die - i'm still working out what this does, but its not good.

Also i've got something i'm working on called fears. Basically if characters have to do something they are afraid of they gain and have to roll their Numb Die.


More to come

- DB

Friday 26 August 2016

The Black Houserules : Armor

One the greatest parts of being involved with the 'Hack movement is seeing what interesting things people can do with simple moving parts. Shout out to +Jeff Call for some inspiration on this.

Armor Hack
Im not  a huge fan of the Usage die being used for everything, but in additional things im already bringing in UD mechanics to Armor points and that solution isn't really doin git for me. So. Fuck it. Im thinking armor. There are two types of Armor. Light (d6) and Heavy (d8) When you take damage roll the Amor die, reduce the amount of damage taken by that amount. Additionally if you roll a natural 1-2 then the die downgrades in the normal Usage Die manner.Small shields +1 to the roll, and Large shields +2.

Note: You could do Light (d4) Medium (d6) Heavy (d8) - this fits with the 3 range band thing TBH has going on? Dunno, I like the simplicity of two options for amor, Heavy or Light. Binary sooths the soul.

Wednesday 24 August 2016

The Black Hack : The Beserker Class

Here's an alternative to the current Warrior class (and Knight class from The Vertex of Hate). This is WIP and needs play-testing, and will likely make an appearance in an official capacity at some stage. Please lend me your collective brains and help me smooth off the rough edges.

Starting HP : 4 + d10
HP Per Level/Resting : 1d10
Weapons & Armor : Anything that can be swung or thrown & All armor.
Attack Damage : *See special features

Special Features
For each level a character has, gain a damage dice (d8) kept in a dice pool, when you make your action to attack - assign your damage dice to all the creatures you want to damage. These can be Close, Nearby or Far-away. They do not have to be next to each other. Then for every target roll a corresponding Attribute test to confirm they take damage. The player must be able to, through narration and description, play out the attack. This pool resets at the start of the Berserker's turn.

A Beserker may go into a rage for the duration of a combat, giving them Advantage on all tests to deal damage, and Disadvantage on all tests to avoid damage. They may go Berserk once per day at level 1, twice per day and level 3, three times at level 6 and four times at level 9.

A Beserker gains an additional AP per level, on top of whatever armor they are wearing.

- DB

Monday 15 August 2016

This is what TBH Mass Combat would look like

So Mass Combat, I've seen a few ways of doing it - some do away with the wargame, some embrace it whole. My version sits in the middle somewhere - still using the d&d trappings but adding weird story game style descriptive tags to units and adopting a GW inspired combat resolution. I dunno. Might change after a bit of testing, but this is fresh out the mind oven.

We take a monster and make them a unit. We don't need to know specific numbers, although to the nearest 10 or so is good. Goblins have 1HD. Lets say its a pack of goblins, that's? 20? So the unit of Goblins has 1 HD and we can make a few other bits of fiction or assumption. They have poor weapons, armor and training. Now lets take a squad of honor guards, there's 5 of them. Specific numbers still aint no problem though'. They have excellent weapons, Armor Training Morale etc. You get the idea. They also have 2HD.

So the two units face off, and roll a d6. They add their HD to the roll. You also get +1 for each of the following if they apply to your unit.

  • Larger Force than the foe.
  • Be better equipped than the foe.
  • Have more battle experience than the foe.
  • Being led by/is a champion.
  • Faster than the foe.
  • Battlefield advantage. (such as a water elemental troop fighting in the sea)

Players compare scores and whoever wins deals that difference in damage. This damage is taken away from the HD. When HD = 0 the unit is Out of the Battle (1d4).

1. No survivors, all dead, including champion.
2. Champion Out of Action and unit destroyed.
3. Champion and handful of the unit remain fighting, rest dead.
4. Champion remains fighting, rest broken and fleeing.

Players should have all their units selected in an order on the table in front of them. Perhaps cards would be a good way to do this. The everyone takes turns to activate a unit. Move and attack or Double move move. Standard TBH. Close, Nearby, Far. Scale is just fractal. (Don't tell FATE). resolve spells normally? I dunno. A unit of wizards? Really? I like warhammer battle wizards so maybe i'll have work on some sort of magic system that uses existing spells. Another night perhaps

Spelling and grammar, i regret nothing.


Sunday 24 July 2016

The boys first dungeon

Benefits of having offspring is you get to experience cool moments where they show an interest in your hobbies. My hobby is d&d. What follows is the boy's (age 6) first dungeon. I consider it to be equal parts weird, familiar and interesting. I think ill run some players through it. Maybe add some 'filler black rooms' - plus yeah yeah, I get blank rooms don't need to be filler (all killer amirite?)

Room Contents:

1. Goblin Shark (Head of shark, body of Goblin)
2. Psycho Cyclops.
3. Creepy lab, Skeleton, liquid with label 'Toxic', if drank gain a level.
4. Cyborg Skeleton - teleportation, mind control, lazor eyes.
5. Bunch of Bats - Machine converts toxic waste to healing potions.
6. Another lab - more skeletons, sword that traps souls.
7. 12 chests - 6 trapped: Laval pit, Arrows, Scared to Death, Killed by darkness, Anvil falls on you, Virus Kills you.
8. Yellow orb - reach in? flip a coin, Heads: Ghost Wolf appears. Tails: Nightmare spawns.
9. No door, just a purple portal. (wait that's it?? shouldn't there be more? No. Apparently not)
10. Ghosts with some abstract medieval contraption that's basically a hoover. There was a picture but just trust me. 
11. Robot room - bear with hat.
12. Misty Room with chest guarded by octopus.

Friday 10 June 2016

The Black Hack : Guns & Ammo

Here are my thoughts on guns, these aren't 'official roolz' or anything - just my thoughts about how i'd like to do guns.

All guns have ammo, represented by the usage die. Just as it was intended. You roll your ammo die at the end of a combat, and it works as per normal. I'd normally expect usage die's to be in the d8-d10 region.

You can bypass the DEX test to hit, do automatic damage but you have to roll the Ammo's usage die immediately.

High power shells, LAZOR beams, angry bee's - all pack a serious punch. A gun with crazy ammo can roll with Advantage when dealing damage, but must also roll with Disadvantage when roll the Ammo's usage die at the end of the combat.

Long barreled guns or weapons with computers and fancy shit can skip a turn, 'aiming' and automatically deal damage the next turn. Roll usage die at the end of the combat as per normal.

Area of effect weapons attack 1d4 targets in a Nearby area.

If you kill a creature with this gun, and have any 'damage left over' you have to give that damage to a Nearby creature. Oh there are only your friends around? Then you shouldn't be playing with guns indoors.

If you have a gun that shoots shrapnel, pellets or other short range spreadables - should you miss, you deal your Level in damage to the target if they're Nearby.

Replace class damage with a d12, the usage die for this gun is always a d6.

That seems like a nice set of rules to make Guns feel distinct, but not overwhelming. Also its unlikely that one single gun would have more than a couple of these little rule - tops. One each also helps distinguish the gun.

Thursday 19 May 2016

How to make a successful RPG (or lessons i've learned)

I've got a game out as you know, one or two people thought it was pretty fucking neat :

Not bad for a jumped up little set of house rules-turned small press title. So far I think we've sold 900+ 'real copies' (bundles ofc) and 450+ pdf's, a bunch of GM screens, Char sheets and the 1 page micro-setting 'The Queer and Deadly Town of Sorrowset'. All gravy then. So much so, that the resulting conversation about the game, its mechanics and its success have given me reason to get my think on.

Why has The Black Hack been as successful as it has, despite it being yet another d&d clone? It really isn't doing something all that special, same rules just spun a little differently. (Although I'd claim, anecdotally, that TBH is what D&D looked like before it was D&D - Arnesonian style) If I were to draw a parallel - or reveal something that has inspired TBH it would be LotFP. Now i'll say upfront im not a huge fan of the LotFP rules. They're just B/X with some neat tweaks, but that's not what I wanted to talk about. What I really like, and the reason I think James has had the success he has? It's attitude. Despite having 'vanilla' rules - and I mean that as no real insult - when you play a LotFP game you know what you're getting into. Real cray-cray shit. So thats what I tried to inject into TBH's soul - the same level of projected attitude. And one thing I've learned is it's that 'voice' that the game needs to stand out from all the hundreds of other generic fantasy roleplaying games that are out there. Production values are real important important too. Super important. We asked for extra money to print on nicer paper, and it worked, and shit the bed did it make a difference. Arts important. I couldn't put any in the book, space was tight in places, but I made sure to do something bold for the cover. Just wait till you see the T-Shirts.

What's next? Well if I were to look at the Raggi method of success, its support. TBH has already in the few short weeks it's been available, had a shit tonne of 3rd party support. Which is good, It's also sort of a shame, because a lot of those things - were things I had planned on doing. I'm still going to do them of course, in my own unique way. I asked the G+ hivemind what they would want to see next ..

So there we are - pretty much an even split. Vertex of Hate is going to be something of a similar size to the rulebook, but purely adventure, with some other small bits thrown in. It's not a guaranteed go'er yet but it looks like it might be a KS with Gold Piece. That way there's the opportunity to get badges, t shirts and other shit I posted about made. But beyond that? Stay tuned. TBH will return.

Saturday 14 May 2016

3RD Party TBH

There's been a tonne of really creative and inventive uses of TBH as an 'engine' which i'm really digging and totally happy about. People have been kindly emailing me their drafts, and enquiring about what they want to do - but some haven't (which isn't an issue, mind you). But it prompts me to think now is a good time to publicly make everyone aware of how I want to approach 3rd party content that wants to reference TBH. The TBH rules are OGL, so you can totally use them for whatever purpose you want. The name 'The Black Hack' and the Hand logo aren't, however. But having said that, in the spirit of DIY gaming I want you to modify, create supplements and spawn spinoffs. Its what its all about. So if you want to create a supplement/module/hack, and if you want to use the name 'The Black Hack' - here's how you should go about it:

If it's a supplement (ie you need TBH to use it), somewhere on the cover you need the hand logo and the text 'For use with The Black Hack' If it's a standalone product (The opposite of above), somewhere on the cover you need the hand logo and the text 'Made using The Black Hack'

Any questions just get in touch!


Monday 9 May 2016

Boxes, Maybe? Badges, Yes. Stickers. Yep.

So it occurred to me that I post alot over at G+ but have somewhat neglected the blog here. I don't feel bummed out on producing stuff, i'm in my most production period yet, dahling. I've got a bunch of old notebooks of ideas that, never went anywhere, I might go back through those and do some retrospective stuff? I dunno. But I've been working on The Black Hack stuff. Already written skeletons for the narrative and structure of The Vertex of Hate. Im not ready to talk about how it will get out there - but it's definitely gestating at a rapid pace. I also wanted to post a couple of photos - to show you some updates on other things that are going on, oh and the blog post title, those too, enjoy.

Thats a die drop to-hit table thing (the last one got ruined) 

Thats a tshirt.

Friday 6 May 2016

Additional Things

Now the dust is settling, people all over the world are finally getting to tuck into their little black packages. Chortle. It's time to release 'Additional Things' - a document i've kept as I developed and whittled down The Black Hack to its 20 slim a5 pages.

Theres lots of variants, alternatives and optional rules in there. Theres some that expand on certain things or introduce whole new concepts such as Panic! and Failing Forward. Most were cut because of space, some because I wasn't sure they were right. But you get to decide now. Also there's a little bit of waffle from me on the rules, why I like them - a directors commentary if you will.

You can get it by clicking the image below, and in due time it will go on (I know i should do launches on all paltforms at once, but friday night)

It also worth noting that it's a living document, so if you would like to see something included - get in touch. Oh and did I mention that the games on sale, including all the Kickstarter Exra's if you missed those too?. Yeah im sure I haven't mentioned that before.


Wednesday 20 April 2016

The Black Hack dead tree copies are on their way!

I've been busy at work creating, amending and general doing lots of stuff for my surprisingly successful OSR D&D clone 'The Black Hack'. So busy that i've rather ignored my blog - sorry about that faithful reader! But i'm mega excited to announce that you can officially purchase physical copies of the game, the GM screen and characters sheets! Peter is hard at work licking stamps and stuffing envelopes, so backers from the Kickstarter should start receiving their rewards over the next few weeks - but if you're not one of those wonderful, talented all round excellent people (and even if you are!) .. Here's some more cool things for TBH that you should totally be all over!

PDF's are available at - you can get the Screen/Character Sheets and Rulebook all for the princely sum of $3.50

Physical copies can be nabbed from +Peter Regan's website - they'll be available pretty darn soon.

TBH now has a G+ community - already with 200+ members, plenty of resources and the opportunity to hurl profanity at me - what more could you ask for?

The lovely +Bruno Bord has kindly developed a reference document for all your Black Hack 'hacking needs.

The free supplement 'Additional Things' is being proofed, and should be out and available in a day or two (in PDF format - there's no plans for a print run.. yet)

So what's next? I've got some ideas, me and Peter will be conspiring over the coming weeks as to what our next move will be - but i'd love to hear from yourselves about the things you'd like to see produced to support 'The Hack.


Wednesday 17 February 2016

The 'Reactive BBEG'

Here's a method of procedurally 'activating' antagonists plans and actions, based on player rolls and relationships. I took inspiration from 13th Age and Dungeon World. I think it works best for GM who are slackers and make shit up as they go. Like me.

At the start of your campaign (no matter the length) choose a minimum of 3 Antagonists. These should be things that are capable of going the long haul - all the way to the end of the campaign if needed. But crucially they should represent something larger than the actual NPC you create. In my last campaign I had the Orc Lord, The Liche King and  The Great Druid. They each represented a 'prevailing attitude' in my game world, like the Orc was obviously war and chaos. Depending on the scale of the game its likely they'll have a shit-tonne of resources too.

Work those concepts up a bit - keeping them broad and undefined at this stage, but you need to assign each a goal or 'end state'. If their ultimate plan isn't stopped this happens, for good or for ill.  You should probably also come up with 3 loose 'milestones' - big things that need to happen in order for that final goal can be attained.

Have every character that is created choose 3 relationships with them - one positive, one undecided and the final negative. Have them spin a line or two of fluff around the relationship and they're good to go. At the end of every session have them roll d6 for each relationship - any 5's or 6's means that 'antagonist' will do something interesting to influence the story next session. Usually this will mean doing something toward achieving their ultimate goal, and hopefully someway that either reinforces or tests the relationship to the character that rolled a 5 or 6.

Now you've got an interesting sub-system with a bunch of antagonist that should react, act and generally have some backwards and forwards with the players. Also hopefully this takes some load off the GM between session, giving them a firm course to sail when creating stuff. - but also providing a lose structure so if it goes in an odd direction its not a problem. My games always go in odd directions.


Friday 12 February 2016

The Queer & Deadly Town of Sorrowset

Here are two cheeky previews of the second stretch goal for The Black Hack Kickstarter i'm involved with. I ran a game live on Hangouts for a couple of reasons. One was to demo the setting to some people who'd backed the project and see if it was possible to prepare nothing - and rely entirely on the 4 pages of a5 to generate the game elements as we played. The proof is in the pudding, I suppose, really my players should be the ones to tell you if it was a success. But we laughed, we explored, met strange NPC's and fought Giant Moths. That sounds like success to me, and the best thing? All the ideas all the gameplay seeds were generated as the players explored. 

Wednesday 10 February 2016

The Black Hack - Kickstarting Now

It suddenly occurred to me that I haven't posted to my blog since 'The Black Hack' kickstarter went live - and I know most people who read this will have seen me pimping the living shit out of TBH on G+, but you know, there might still be someone who hasn't seen it yet.


The Black Hack is an 'OSR' retro-clone, based on OD&D. Oh great another retro clone I hear every groan in unison. Yeah, thats right - another one. But this one is a bit different, in fact its arguably the simples of all the clones. Here's some of the thing what it does, like.

  • Characters take 5 minutes to roll. You'll be back in a pit trap in no time.
  • The rules fit into a 22 page Digest sized booklet, table reading is important and the rules are straightforward and elegant.
  • Players roll the dice, the GM will only ever roll some damage (if they want to, that is)
  • 4 classes Warrior, Wizard, Thief, Cleric
  • Races dont have rules, being an elf is cool enough! (but someones already homebrewed that)
  • AC is damage reduction, a small amount of soak, assuming your character is well rested.
  • There's 40 monsters in the book.
  • The character sheet has a backpack to write all your loot on.
  • We're already funded, and we've hit our first 2 stretch goals, the next ones not far off either.
  • I made made it and therefore, by logical extension, it must be pretty good.
If you feel like throwing me a couple of quid (the same price as a starbucks you don't need) heres the KS link:

Friday 15 January 2016

Clinton Clone 13

Made this in the photo shops and posted it to G+, was too funny and didn't want it to disappear so..

'Clinton Clone 13' a stasis frozen battle-clone from the United Nations of America commemorative-bloodsports, circa 3030 al (after Lincoln)

I'm playing him in a hyper gonzo space opera setting tomorrow, been doing my best Clinton impression when im alone - like some weird Gollum. Shits gunna be rad.

Wednesday 13 January 2016

Asking Your Employees To Do Off Key Shit

House ruling out loud. Stop me if i'm talking out my arse.

So hirelings are just people you employ to do very unusual and dangerous jobs. I was thinking about this whilst watching a co worker using the kitchen sink, I wondered what his reaction would be if I told him there was 150 quid in the food processor, heres 20 quid and i'll split it with you if you get it out. Might go off mind you.

Commanding people to do dumb shit for money is all about your relationship to the person. Charisma.

From now on, every-time a player asks a hireling to do some dangerous-ass-shit im putting a tally by the npc's name. You need this many Charisma to enjoy the ride, sorry. You reset that when the boss character levels. In my games hirelings level when characters do - so another reason for job satisfaction.

Additional thing.

When hiring, choose from 3 abstract types of employee.

Complete Waster : d6
9-5'er : d4
Mega Keen : 0

The NPC starts with that many tallies when taken into employment. Im also going to make PC's fill out HR forms and stipulate clauses in contracts because fuck those meat-emoji PC bastards.

Friday 1 January 2016


I really hate (during campaign play) people just acquiring spells as they level - like they just magically appeared in the spell book? pffft! I'm with you on dragons and car parks full of solid gold coins, but that's just one step too far!

Here's an idea I had for a gonzo campaign I might never run. Each Spell is unique - much like Highlander there can be only one, every magic user that a player creates - starts with one spell (randomly determined, re-rolled if the spell already exist in the world)

The only way to gain more spells is by stealing them from other Wizards. That's it.

Suddenly who has what spells became uber important, their actual acquisition roots for adventure - thanks for the hand out PHB but we make our own fun!

Some spells will be forgotten, if the Magic user dies and doesn't pass them on. Nobody knows them, I'd imagine they can be found on dusty scrolls at the bottom of a Dread Beholder's tomb. Apprentices just became important too. Double Dipper!

Also Happy New Year you Bastards.