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The Black Hack
by Ken G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/15/2017 15:49:42

Good little resourse. Sortof a pared down generic RPG from a "classic" perspective. Useful for gameplay, but also as a baseline for comparison while designing new RPGs. Nice and succinct, which is hard to come by.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Black Hack
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The Black Hack
by Alan S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/05/2017 12:24:27

This game is really cool IMO. A very elegant and quick game. I have seen lots of quick games, but this one has mechanics and aspects that I actually find compelling rather than just functional. I think I would use this as an alternative for some of my players for some stories. It is quick simple and interesting none the less. I think this one is right up there with Dungeon World and DCC. And it is even easier than Fate Accelerated. I would rather use this to introduce new players to RPGs than 5th edition. Its good. Check it out.....



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Black Hack
by SIMONE P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/17/2017 11:09:11

It's a minimalist game and I like it for its semplicity. It's amazing how the D&D literally reborn through this thin manual: it seems to play to a totally new game. It's pretty easy to roll characters, make up a party and start to explore all in the same evening: it's a save-timing game. I have bought other Hacked products because I like this style to roleplaly with my friends.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
1st Ed Advanced Character Sheet
by Will H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/16/2016 22:27:46

Interesting that absolutely no one mentioned that there is no place for "TO HIT ARMOR CLASS" numbers: believe it or not, that's kinda important in a pre-THAC0 system.

Oh, and it's missing SAVING THROWS as well -- you might need those if you actually played AD&D 1st ed.

It's got a large area for thief skills, "notes," and "misc", because everyone can just use those during melee or while under magical attack?

Is there supposed to be a second page?

A previous reviewer claimed "This character sheet is, from memory, an almost exact reproduction of the kind I used to play AD&D back in the late 1970s and early 80s."

No it isn't -- the TSR 1st edition character sheets looked absolutely nothing like this. Nothing in the 70s or 80s (or 90s) looked anything whatsoever like this sheet.

The dark borders are pointless, and likely to use a dollar's worth of toner per sheet.

Compare this to the sheet in OSRIC, which has places for every essential piece of information imaginable, even places for armor class with various armor, shields, etc added. And Saving Throw numbers and "To Hit Armor Class" from -10 to 10.

Alignment diagram in the bottom right doesn't help me know what I need to roll to hit or save. Really a tremendous example of style over substance.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
1st Ed Advanced Character Sheet
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Publisher Reply:
Sorry you don't like the sheet. It is an almost exact replica of Games Workshop's 1978 character sheet that was extremely popular in the UK. The PDF version here was created as the original for a very limited print run of new pads a few years ago.
Campaign Workbook
by Sarah K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/19/2016 06:01:10

I love this product! I find the pages to be useful in everyday life, not just gaming!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Campaign Workbook
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The Black Hack
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/01/2016 10:30:27

Is this the cheapest great rpg out there? I don't know but it's the best I've seen and too short to need a POD version. It's $2. Just try it out!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Black Hack
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The Black Hack
by David H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/14/2016 14:27:17

The best rules-light old-school D&D-style game I've seen. In just a few pages you get everyhting you need to play. The game is distilled down to its basics. The rules have a very old-school flavor but are very new-school in spirit, everything is "player-facing" and player agency is respected. No tables or matrices; the character sheet tells you everything you need to know. Saving throws are based on your stats, combat is quick and dirty. A new "resource die" mechanic replaces tracking of rations, torches and other consumables, and monsters are abstracted into just the numbers you need. I'll be playing this a lot.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Black Hack
by Todor P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/11/2016 04:46:27

I have been on the lookout for the perfect rules-lite distillation of D&D for quite a while now. This little product hit the nail right on the head.

There is a simplicity here that allows you to run your fast and loose adventuring, but there's also enough intricacy and mechanics to accommodate fun and fresh gameplay.

This little 20-page booklet has made its way into the holy trinity of the only 3 rules-light fantasy systems that I would ever want to run OR play, along with Barebones Fantasy RPG and Polyhedral Dungeon. To my mind, it fills the perfect middle ground between ultra-lite 2-page systems and something that advertises itself as rules-lite but really isn't (I'm looking at you, Savage Worlds).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Black Hack
by James H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/06/2016 17:09:38

A very simple, clever, and fun fantasy game based on the World's Most Popular Roleplaying Game, The Black Hack packs a lot of entertainment into a small number of pages for a ridiculously low price point. Specific high points for me were the mechanics for Usage Dice, which make tracking consumable items entertaining, and armor that functions as a depletable resource. If you like rules-light fantasy and have two dollars to burn, you owe it to yourself to pick this up. Finally, it's worth noting that a lot of third party support has already sprung up, most of it very good. If you want options to expand The Black Hack, you won't be left wanting.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
B/X Monster Reference Index
by Josh G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/04/2016 17:24:22

This is one of my favorite gaming accessories. I keep the hard copy on hand whenever I'm running games--it's small enough to not get in the way and organized so well I can find what I need immediately. I keep the PDF in my Dropbox so I can access it quickly when I'm doing mental prep on the go. The inclusion of a blank page--which you can fill in with some of the 1E stuff not included (I'm guessing for OGL reasons) or your own homebrew monsters--is a nice touch. If you run B/X or Labyrinth Lord and, like me, you're a more improvisational DM who sometimes struggles with too much stuff at the table, this is absolutely great.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
B/X Monster Reference Index
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The Black Hack
by Sophia B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/12/2016 09:34:40

http://dieheart.net/the-black-hack/ (updated review)

Maybe you are stumbling over this review at DTRPG/RPGnow or maybe you’ve picked it up on G+ or Twitter. And you are probably reading this because you are an OSR fan. Perhaps you’re wondering if The Black Hack is worth your time and money. Or maybe you are just interested in my opinion. (Thanks.) Either way, you are probably familiar with old school Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) games.

The Black Hack sells itself as

"… a super-streamlined roleplaying game that uses the Original 1970s Fantasy Roleplaying Game as a base, and could well be the most straightforward modern OSR compatible clone available. If speed of play and character creation, compatibility, and simple – yet elegant rules are what you yearn for. Look no further!"

You might want to know if the product can keep its promise. In a moment, we will take a look at the game. At the end of this article, you really should be able to decide for yourself. I know you’re wondering: such an effort for a 2 dollar product? But you will surely agree that people only want to spend their time and money for things which they hope will be valuable for them. So I’m writing a review for a 20-page product. Please note that this is a reading review.

You must know that I’m a great fan of lightweight systems and of course I also like old school games.

Alright, let’s get this out of the way: this is a modern OSR clone. That means that it is old school D&D at its core with some tweaking and some ideas from more recent games. It’s not a hipster “indie” game per se, it’s not a newer version of D&D nor is it a (straight) retro-clone (like Delving Deeper and such).

First of all, the game uses the standard array of stats. Roll 3d6 in order. You can swap two stats. If you roll a 15+, the next stat must be rolled with 2d6. Basically, you end up with pretty well-rounded characters as the bell curve output of 3d6 ensures that you most of your attributes end up somewhere between 8 and 13 anyway.

4 classes: Warrior, Cleric, Conjurer, Thief. No races. Classes have armor and weapon restrictions. Weapon restrictions are silly as the attack damage depends on your class, not on your chosen weapon. So a Warrior always deals 1d8 with a weapon, be it an axe, a sword or a flail. And Clerics always deal 1d6 damage but are only allowed blunt weapons. The author probably wanted to stay true to the OD&D roots.

The core mechanic for the game is roll below a stat on a d20. No saving throws, this is also handled with an attribute check. Time and turns are a bit weird. The author renamed rounds into Moments and turns into Minutes. And Minutes can also be Hours or Days. But because that’s not very intuitive, both terms are spelled out (i.e. Minutes (turns)). I don’t get the need for new names. Additionally, the author doesn’t explain the duration of a turn.

There are some deviations from standard old school fare in the Black Hack. Armor provides protection via Armor Points (AP). For example, Leather has 4 AP and reduced damage by that amount. Only the players roll dice. The text doesn’t directly say “Only the players roll dice” but it states what you need to do to attack or defend: if a monster attacks, the player might make a check to try to avoid. That means the GM doesn’t roll an attack roll. For example, if it’s possible to dodge the monster’s attack, the player makes a Dexterity test. Powerful opponents make a test harder but the basic mechanism is the same. Movement is abstract and uses 4 ranges: Close, Nearby, Far-Away, and Distant. When your Hit Points are reduced to zero, you are taken Out of Action and must roll a d6 on a table. Results vary from KO’d to Dead. Let’s hope that Lady Luck is on your side.

The GM decides about advancement. There are no experience points, for every milestone a character gains a level.

Additionally, the Black Hack uses the now popular Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic (think Barbarians of Lemuria or D&D 5e). While there are some guidelines when these apply (for example when you use a weapon you’re not proficient with), the rules are really vague on this. Eventually, the GM will need to decide when to apply this formula to make tasks harder or easier. There are no rules for combat maneuvers or other fancy stuff. That means that the mechanics only cover the basic attacking and defending moves. Everything else you need to come up on your own, call for an attribute check and maybe roll with Advantage/Disadvantage. And that’s where you must decide if that’s ok for you or not. If you like minimalist and rules-lite games, you might embrace the freedom. If you want a bit more crunch or just a list with some more options, this game falls flat on its ass. The Black Hack doesn’t reinvent the wheel but asks you to draw from your previous gaming experiences with old school games.

What I like about the ruleset is how it handles equipment. Consumable items have a Usage Die. A quiver of arrows has a d10. You need to roll it and when you roll a 1-2, you step down the die until. When you roll a 1-2 on a d4 item, the item is depleted. I like how this makes bookkeeping much easier. Chapeau! I’m a bit miffed about the equipment list, though. For instance, one-handed weapons are missing. Yes, a starter character gets one weapon of choice for free but what if I want to buy an additional ranged weapon?

Classes are imbalanced. Interestingly, characters start with much higher Hit Points (HP) than typical. For instance, a Warrior has 1d10 + 4 starting HP. Conjurers only have 1d4 + 4. So in the worst case scenario, you end up with 5 HP. Still, that’s not as bad as it sounds. That’s because monsters strangely deal less damage than characters. PCs can do between 1d4 (Conjurer) and 1d8 damage (Warrior) at level 1. A monster with 1 HD (Hit Die/Dice) deals only d4 damage (or a static 2 points). Per default rules, a fight can be pretty boring. There is no way to make a fight mechanically interesting except the Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic (again, there are almost no guidelines for when to use them in combat). Well, there is a rule for critical hits. And why are characters much more capable than monsters of the same level? I’m a bit surprised about the four range increments because there are no rules for tactical movement. The basic rule is that on a turn every character can move somewhere Nearby and still make an action (i.e. an attack). You can forgo an action and move further etc. But still I wonder why there is a need for four combat zones. Of course, melee attacks are only possible at Close range. The range for ranged weapons is not defined in the book. That’s because there are no ranged weapons included in the equipment list. So the GM will have to come up with her own rulings.

What about spells? There is a spell list for Clerics (Divine Spells) and one for Conjurers (Arcane Spells) with the typical stuff. Clerics gain their first spell at level 2. So a 1st level Cleric can’t cast spells. A 1st level Conjurer only can cast one spell. The game uses spell slots. You can only cast as many spells as you have slots per day. I don’t want to spell out the whole rulebook (see what I did here?), suffice to say that they are no big surprises here. It all fits snugly into the rest of the game and the base mechanic of making an attribute check. Clerics can try to banish undead which can be a consolidation for the lack of spells at first level.

There is no GM section per se, the rules are scattered across the whole book. But as The Black Hack is minimalist, that’s not a problem. As a GM, you have two pages of monsters at your disposal. But notice that spareness comes at a cost. Strictly speaking, the rules are incomplete and you won’t understand them if you aren’t already familiar with role-playing games.

A word about the appearance: The book is nicely laid out, text and tables are easy to read, good font choices. It’s 20 pages total, including the cover and the OGL at the back of the book.

The price of USD $2.00 is fair.

tl;dr

The Black Hack is a rules-lite neo D&D clone. I like the mix of old school feeling and newer innovations. However, the game is not without fault. At times, the game text just stays too vague for my taste. And why does the author insist on weapon restrictions when the damage value is fixed per class? Plus, the balance between monsters and characters feels off. Is the game supposed to be more heroic? If so, why don’t characters start with max HP at first level? And why are spellcasting classes that restricted at first level? That said, as the target audience, I like The Black Hack. Yes, it’s the millionth D&D clone but it fits my preferences. It feels elegant and fun. Suppose that you are not a rules-lite OSR gamer with a taste for modern tweaks, then you will probably much more critical of the rules. I want you to discover for yourself if this description fits you or not. Then you will know if The Black Hack is worth a shot.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Black Hack
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The Black Hack
by Corey W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/11/2016 17:29:16

Black Hack is an innovative RPG publication. It reconceptualises D&D, distilling it to its rawest essence, while offering some inspired rules variants. At times the simplicity threw me: "this can't be it?". But it is. I think the minimalism would put some people off, the spartan style is not for everyone. Those new to the hobby – those learning the game for the first time – might, I imagine, find the esoteric nature of the Black Hack ruleset problematic. The writing implies that the reader has prior experiences with role-playing games. Having said that, it would be an excellent option for teaching the game to new players (assuming the GM has prior experience). Reading through the booklet makes me want to run a game. It is simple, elegant, and improves some of the flaws of D&D without forsaking what makes the game great. It would also be useful as an options booklet for existing systems. I could imagine using the torch/rations/ammunition rules in any edition of D&D: it's easier than the traditional way of doing things. If you are looking for an ultra rule-lite RPG, this is a great purchase.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Black Hack
by Chris S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/06/2016 11:35:33

I see The Black Hack as a blank canvas, a brush, an easel, and paints. I see other systems with a lot of paint on them already, and sometimes too many colors to choose from. As a GM, I like the blank canvas better.

It really changes everything for me and for my players. I can dust off all the old modules I've wanted to run since I was a kid, and run them with minimal work, and very little for my players to learn and memorize. It's a fun system.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Black Hack Sorrowset & GM's Screen
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/30/2016 04:56:10

The queer and deadly town of sorrowset is a procedural village generator that can be used for any game with a fantasy style setting. With just a little work it would be easy to switch the encounters to whatever suits the game you're playing.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Black Hack Sorrowset & GM's Screen
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The Black Hack
by Ben K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/29/2016 21:17:59

Note: I had this as a 4-star review earlier, but the 1.1 version fixes enough of my issues with the game to bump it to a 5-star. I didn't think to copy my old review, so I lost some commentary on the way.

The Black Hack is a lightweight OSR game that isn't afraid to improve on old formulas. It strips AD&D down to it's core elements, replacing myriad subsystems with a single unified core mechanic (d20, roll under stat). It clearly borrows from modern games in places, adding a 5e-style advantage/disadvantage mechanic, and adds some of its own mechanics. I particularly love the idea of the usage die, in which consumables are represented by a die that is rolled whenever the item is used. If the die ever comes up 1 or 2, it is exchanged for a die one size down (d8 > d6, etc.). This system greatly streamlines the bookkeeping needed in play, while still retaining the resource-management gameplay.

There are a few things I would do differently when running TBH, starting with replacing the milestone experience system with an OD&D-style GP for XP system. Thankfully, the system readily accepts such modifications.

At $2.00, this game is a steal, and a worthy addition to any OSR collection.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Black Hack
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