Sunday 19 February 2017

Additional Things - Luck

Prompted by the excellent people and excellent conversation in TBH's G+ community here's my very quick, thinking-out-loud version of luck (that means no play testing and it could be well wonky). I might add that if this makes it into the next version of the black hack -- it will be optional -- hence the 'Additional Things' tag.


When the PC's do something dangerous, ask them, "Do you want to push your luck?"

If they say no. Resolve the dangerous thing as you would do normally. If they say yes, pass them a Luck Token. (I'll explain what that is a little later, but its good)

Now choose one of the following things to make the dangerous situation potentially even more dangerous or complicated.

  • Ask the Players to roll to see if there is a random encounter.
  • Make the PC's involved pass an additional test or take damage.
  • Have every PC involved roll a Usage Die.
  • Give them Disadvantage on the test they're about to take. 
  • Split the party.
  • Disarm the PC's involved.
  • The next reaction roll is rolled with 3d6 (instead of 2d6)
  • The next Initiative test will be with Disadvantage.

I'll likely finesse and add to that list. I want these things to be adaptable to any situation the PC's find themselves in (Social conflict, Exploration, Combat, etc) and have distinct mechanical hooks ie, they link to something that TBH does mechanically. Still some testing/work to do.

Luck Tokens

These are shared between the whole group, and can be used at any stage to automatically succeed at any test.

Additional thoughts - I think that you should use this sparingly, ideally I don't want the players having more than 1 or 2 Luck Tokens.Otherwise it would be too easy for them to just steamroller those really important moments. If its a scarce resource, tough decisions will have to be made when and where to use it. I'd probably start the group with one Luck Token, then once used, start thinking about offering them an opportunity to get it back.

Also consider when you offer to push their luck - I'd recommend dangerous situations that aren't life or death, but have the potential to really ramp-up the tension if they were to get more complicated. Climbing ropes, Balancing over thing beams, Sneaking ahead to scout and orc camp etc.

Anyways, that's it for now.


Saturday 18 February 2017

The Usage Die and why its isn't that great

So here's the thing. I see a lot of people introducing the Usage Die (UD) mechanic into their hacks and house-rules for things that really shouldn't be using it. The UD is great - its a really neat tool for making resource management fun, something I think a lot of other games do really badly, but, it isn't a one stop solution for plugging the perceived holes in your home-brew system. There's two good reasons why.

Risk vs. Reward
Mechanical Association.

First up is Risk vs Reward. One of the very interesting things the UD lets us do is inject tension and drama into a situations that typically aren't very tense or dramatic. Normally D&D goes "Oh, my wand of Stone to Flesh has 3 charges, sorry petrified 4th party member, you'll be staying a statue" Whereas TBH asks us to take a Risk by rolling that UD for every 'Zzap' of that wand. Will that 4th party member be brought back? Will we be Rewarded? Maybe. Hopefully. Suddenly a very 'routine' situation became fraught, transformed into an event where everyone at the table will be watching the dice - holding their breath.

Well that's good, lets create those moments for other elements of the game - you might be saying. And I agree that we should, but not not using the same tactics. In Horror films a jump scare is only effective when delivered with a certain pace and it's the same with the UD. If we overdo it's use that natural tension becomes routine again, acting in opposition to the UD strengths -- we aren't asking people to make interesting choices -- just roll more dice. That's run-of-the-mill. It could even get boring.

Second is Mechanical Association. This is important, but probably not considered so much, so think of it like this. When you pass GO. What do you do? I'm gonna bet you know the answer, and when you get a chance card or whatever that asks you to pass go and not collect $/£200 .. how much more interesting is that, due to the subversion of that readily identifiable mechanic. Its the same with consumable, limited things in TBH. When you use something like a wand, drink a potion, light a torch, fire a bow. What you do? A readily identifiable, unique and special thing.

So when we apply the UD to traps, hirelings, the weather, armor all these other things -- rather than what does that add to those game elements -- think about what does it take away from the things the UD is meant for. The distinction of what your meant to do and why you do it blurs, any subversion becomes meaningless because its not special.

Now of course you should feel free to mash up TBH's rules however you want, its your game. That's TBH's spririt. But next time you think about using the UD to model something, think at it from a different angle. Is there a way you can uniquely model this thing, giving it its own Risk vs. Rewards. It's own Mechanical Association? Roll the Usage Die on the Usage Die mechanic, I hope it comes up a 1-2.

Looking forward to the comments.


Thursday 2 February 2017

Having fun with Lockpicking (v2)

A loong time ago I posted this which dealt with Lockping, it was fun and made for a nice change of pace in the dungeon delving, but, it was far from perfect. I had to explain the rules, my old players helped me playtest it so they got it - but new players? Head-scratching commence. Time for something new.

This is based on a idea stolen from Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower box set. Its got some very D&D'able ideas.

When someone attempts to pick a trapped lock - rather than resorting to boring skills checks - take a playing card, (or if your a fancy pants like I am - draw a padlock on a bit of paper the same size.) and make a tower from 2d6 on it.

  • The player must pick up the card from the table with one hand without spilling the dice or touching them in order to spring the lock.
  • If they touch the dice, their lockpick is broken - the GM resets the challenge.
  • If they spill the dice, any trap on the lock is set off.
  •  EDIT: If they have no thieves tools plus there's no trap .. go through the same process and if they spill the dice the tumblers in the lock are jammed/frozen -- now the lock must be forced open with a STR check or some other creative method. 

Its very doable, but requires some patience .. and a bit of practice. Its a focus on very literal player skill that old schooler's bang on about, AND explaining the rules to the players takes about 30 seconds, so you don't have to worry about muddying the waters with games-within-games. #winning

Also! Make things easier/harder by stacking less/more dice. If players have fancy thieves tools - less dice, maybe if the lock is magical and enchanted you swap the playing card for a bigger thing? Have a play, you get the idea.

EDIT: In a conversation with the super talented +Karl Stjernberg its become clear that its the tension of failure that makes this mini game interesting. So, Im going to rule that thieves with appropriate tools can open any lock, given enough time. However i'll use this method if there's some time-sensitive thing going on OR if the lock is trapped. I'll probably still use the method above if they have no thieves tools too.

Wednesday 1 February 2017

The Black Hack : Marauder

Here's what is an essentially working draft of a 'Barbarian' class. It combines some elements from the Beserker I wrote a while back, that's now been cannibalized to fix some issue's with the Warrior - so there's a job vacancy.

Starting HP : 4 + d6
HP Per Level/Resting : 1d6
Weapons & Armor : Anything that can be swung or thrown & No armor.
Attack Damage : 1d6 (See special features)

Special Features
When a Marauder is reduced to 0hp they are not taken Out of Action - Instead every time they would either Move or perform an Action, they must pass a CON test - if successful the action has succeeded. If they fail they are taken OofA and roll on the OofA table as per normal.

A Marauder may go into a rage for the duration of a combat, giving them:

  • Advantage on all tests to deal damage, Disadvantage on all tests to avoid damage. 
  • 1d12 damage instead of their normal 1d6. 
  • They may rage once at level 1, twice at level 3, three times at level 6 and four times at level 9 - per day.

If they receive any healing whilst in a rage it comes to an end.

A Marauder gains an AP for every severed head (of a sufficiently powerful enemy they have defeated) that they keep upon their person as a trophy - upto a maximum equal to their level.