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:
Email me at for a set of high resolution hand logos. Freebies?!? Kinda. 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.