Posts Tagged ‘ TFCH ’

Remember The Four Color Hack?

About two months ago, Max Traver e-mailed me and asked some great questions about The Four Color Hack. Then, life happened, and I never got around to answering any of those questions. So, here goes.

I may have asked this before, but the instructions for rolling a D16 seem off to me. As it stands, if the D6 comes up 4, 5, or 6, we are to add 4 to the result of the D8. However, if I roll an 8, then a 6, add 4 to the 8, wouldn’t the result be 18? Shouldn’t we add 2 to the D8, not 4?

Somehow somewhere something crucial got lost in translation. Rolling a d8 and a d6 to simulate a d16 is Official Old School. It hearkens way back to when I first started gaming and d20s weren’t numbered 1 through 20, but were numbered 0 through 9 twice. So, in order to generate 1 to 20, the d6 determined whether you added 10. The d8-and-d6 trick follows the same concept. I roll both. If the d6 equals 4-6, then I add 8 to the d8. For example:

* Roll 1: d8 = 4; d6 = 2. Result = 4.
* Roll 2: d8 = 4; d6 = 5. Result = 12, because I added 8 to the 4.
* Roll 3: d8 = 8; d6 = 1. Result = 8.
* Roll 4: d8 = 8; d6 = 6. Result = 16, because I added 8 to the 8.

Vigor is described as “working like hit points,” but then Vigor is also described as allowing a Hero to “ignore this much damage from an attack.” It is also mentioned that Vigor “recovers faster than hit points.” Overall, I’ve come away just a bit confused about how Vigor works in general.

This is just sloppy writing on my part. Vigor represents a number of bonus hit points that heroes recover much quickly than normal hit points. I need to clean up the verbiage in the rules. Mea culpa maxima.

“Body” is still used in place of “Hit Points” on pages 15 and 23.

More sloppiness, but this time with the editing. Mea culpa maxima.

How does this game handle Powers as the acting/resisting ability? Say, using Wind Control against Telekinesis to keep a car from being pushed off a bridge?

The short answer is that the hero makes a Stat check as normal. This might be modified by the Wind Controller’s level. Other factors may indicate that the hero rolls with Advantage or Disadvantage. If the hero succeeds, the car doesn’t get pushed off. If the hero fails, the car goes flying, and then hero gets a chance to catch it before it hits the icy river below.

How are binding powers (like Spidey’s webs, Wonder Woman’s lasso, etc) handled?

A binding power is used to create a lasting effect. Let’s say Wonder Woman has Golden Lasso d12. She can split that into Golden Lasso d10/d10. She could then bind Ares with one d10, and still have Golden Lasso d10 available for other purposes.

Are there rules for stunning effects?

A stunning effect could be simulated using the same lasting effect rules briefly described above.

Using Elements as Villains: other than “giving the Element a Level,” how does that work?

Assign the Element whatever abilities seem most appropriate, and then slot the Element into the initiative order. In short, the Element itself gets treated like a villain or a minion.

Do Villains ever downgrade their Power Dice, the way Heroes have to downgrade their Hero Dice?

This is one area that I neglected. Not sure how. In short, Villains can use their Power Dice for automatic successes, et cetera, just like a Hero can. In those instances, the Power Dice would downgrade. Villains can also split their Power Dice to create lasting effects, et cetera.

And finally: How Brutacles D10 for his Powers broken down? Specifically, how did his Ball and Chain end up with a 2D6 + 1D8 rating?

I broke Brutacles’s d10 into 2d8, and then broke 1d8 into 2d6, giving him 1d8 and 2d6. A d6 got used for Ball-and-Chain, and another d6 got used for Brutal Armor. The d8 went for Mutagenic Steroids. Brutacles’s Ball-and-Chain damage is d6 (base damage), d6 Power Die, and d8 Mutagenic Steroids due to his enhanced strength and aggression. When facing Brutacles, it behooves Heroes to disarm him and/or put him into situations where his Mutagenic Steroids enhancements cannot be brought to bear.

November 7th, 2017  in RPG No Comments »


At long last, the for-sale version of The Four Color Hack arrives at a virtual store near you. The revised, improved rules include streamlined, flexible ways to use Hero Dice to better simulate comic book action. Eleven villains make their debut in the rules as well.

If you’ve previously downloaded TFCH, you should have received an e-mail about the update. If not, the game sells for $3 US, but you can get it for $2 US by using this discount link (which expires at the end of July). Before the start of next week, I’ll also have updated Battle in Jurgen Zeeger Park, a short scenario for TFCH. If you’ve downloaded Zeeger Park, you should receive an e-mail about the updated file when it’s updated.

Here’s a new villain for TFCH suitable for a WWII-era setting:

Level 5 Villain

Quote: “I will crush you!”
Real Name: Bernd Kalbfleisch
Identity: Secret
Place of Birth: Essen, Germany
Height: 6 ft. 2 in. (7 ft. 2 in. in armor)
Weight: 200 lbs. (600 lbs. in armor)
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Brown

Hit Points: 30 (5 Vigor)
Base Damage: 1d12
Powers: Jet-Assisted Leap d10, Mechanical Genius d10, V-2 Eisenmann Power Armor d12 (7 protection, 2d12 damage)

Bernd Kalbfleisch was an early and avid supporter of the Nazis. After Adolf Hitler was appoint chancellor in 1933, Kalbfleisch quickly rose to prominence thanks to his mechanical genius and zeal to help rebuild Germany into a formidable military power. To his end, Kalbfleisch designed and built his Eisenmann Power Armor. In order to prove its effectiveness, he donned the armor himself and used it to crush resistance to the Nazis, operating in conjunction with the Sturmabteilung. Once the war started in September 1939, Kalbfleisch unveiled his second design. Now a member of the Schutzstaffel, Kalbfleisch splits his time between his laboratories and the field, where he aids the Wehrmacht under the code name Eisenmann.

Kalbfleisch’s armor greatly augments his strength, enabling him to lift about 25 tons. It also protects him from harm. The powerful jets built into the armor’s legs and feet permit jet-assisted leaps of about 320 yards. Kalbfleisch is a brilliant mechanical engineer, and he often field tests new devices. Use the d10 from Mechanical Genius as a Hero Die to “purchase” new devices to use against the heroes, splitting the d10 into at least 2d8.

June 29th, 2017  in Spes Magna News No Comments »

The Normal Kid

While I put the finishing touches on The Four Color Hack, which consists of adding three dozen to the end of the rulesbook, I’m also working on The Grimm’s Fairy Hack. (By the way, you can meet one of those villains by clicking this link.) I’ve already written a little about The Grimm’s Fairy Hack here, and I’ve posted a few times about it over on G+.

There are seven classes in The Grimm’s Fairy Hack, each based on a stereotypical sort of child whose age ranges from about 8 to 13. At the G+ link above, you can find a rough-draft version of the Bully. Below is the rough-draft version of the Normal. The other five classes are the Dreamer, the Jock, the Nerd, the Outcast, and the Popular. Each class has its advantages, its Imagination-based features, and its special vulnerability.

Starting HP: 1d4+4
HP Per Level/Resting: 1d4
Weapons & Armor: None
Attack Damage: 1d4 Weapon / 1d3 Improvising / 1 Unarmed
Starting Imagination: d6

Special Features

Normal’s Advantage: The player chooses at 1st level any two Stats with which the Normal rolls with Advantage.

Jack of All: Roll Imagination, and pick one of these class special features: Taunt, Happy Thoughts, Adrenaline Rush, Flash of Inspiration, Fight Dirty, or Cheerleading. If the Normal’s Imagination before rolling was at least equal to starting Imagination of the class from which the feature is chosen, then the Normal gets to use the feature as normal.

Unusual Heritage: The Normal isn’t really all that normal. Choose a special heritage at 1st level from this list: Descended from Kings, Fairy Kin, Forest Friend, Knight, Monster Within, or Prince/Princess. Roll Imagination. For that number of Minutes, the Normal benefits from his special heritage in ways appropriate to the heritage and the situation as adjudicated by the Referee.

Target: The monsters and threats of the fantasy world seem to instinctively realize the Normal is really something special. Whenever the Referee should pick a character at random to suffer some negative effect or attention, the Referee picks the Normal rather than rolling to see who the unlucky character is.

March 4th, 2017  in Product Development No Comments »

Read All About It!

The Bishop’s Secret, written for White Box: Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game, was released to my few Patrons yesterday. This short adventure was written in hopes that it could dropped into your Old School game with minimal changes.

This marks my third release of Dangerous Places for OSR Systems. The first, Narvon’s Stair, is available to everyone for nothing more than the time it takes to download. Last month saw the arrival of Goshahri: The City in a Cave, a ruin in the process of being restored by miscreants under the iron fist of the Bandit King. I plan to return to Goshahri for at least one more adventure.

For March, I’m going to shift away from fantasy into horror with The Strange Case of the Bell Witch Bootleggers, a one-shot descent into madness and terror written for The Cthulhu Hack. I also still plan on fleshing out Goshahri a bit with The Harpy’s Nest, a more detailed description of a location in the aforementioned release that go short shrifted because I didn’t manage my time well enough.

You can get in on the Old School action by becoming one my patrons. It won’t ever cost you more than $1 a month.

In other news, I think I’m nearly ready to release The Four Color Hack. It’s changed quite a bit from its initial pay-what-you-want release. I’ve got one last section to write in which I’m including an assortment of villains and threats. I’ll also probably include a short, introductory scenario. Part of me would like The Four Color Hack to be available print-on-demand, but I’m not sure I can figure out how to correctly format, et cetera, the necessary files. I’m looking at Lulu, which seems to have a pretty user-friendly set up. Maybe during the downtime of Spring Break I can give it a go.

I have two other major (for me) projects that I need to finish. The first is the long-neglected Boogie Knights of the Round Table in which the heroes fight the Man with the powers of song and dance. No, really. I’ve run one playtest of the system to rave reviews. I’ve also dusted off an idea I had for a fantasy game involving real-world children transported to a world of twisted fairy tales very much inspired by Grimm and Little Fears. Unfortunately, my original work on it quickly displeased me, and I abandoned the project, but it’s back now with a simpler system built on The Black Hack.

So, in short, I’ve got some big (for me) plans for 2017, and I seem to be off to a good start. Huzzah.

The Four Color Hack Gets Updated

The Four Color Hack is enduring a series of major edits. All in all, I think these are some positive changes, some resulting from player feedback and others resulting from me being displeased with how some things were playing out during sessions. I need to do another read-through or two over the next couple of days or so to root out inconsistencies, errors, et cetera. After that, the new playtest iteration of the rules should be made available via the usual suspects. Huzzah. Here’s a list of the major changes:

1. Changed Body to Hit Points. Back to basics, so to speak. This necessitated small changes throughout the rules that previously referred to Body and/or Spirit.

2. Changed Spirit to Fortune, which is no longer a capacity for damage but instead represent a way to exert narrative control for point cost. Fortune is spent and earned during play.

3. Changed base protection to Vigor. Both CON and CHA add to Vigor, which works like temporary Hit Points.

4. Merged Skills and Idioms, which are now just called Idioms. Idioms can be narrow or broad, and they let the player roll with Advantage.

5. Simplified odd and even mechanic, limiting it to failures. Simplified how Idioms affect this mechanic.

6. Expanded and clarified how Hero Dice are used. The major additions are using Hero Dice for multiple attacks and to create lasting effects.

7. Fortune has replaced the Bonus Hero Die. Fortune is earned and spent during play. It functions somewhat like Karma did way back when with TSR’s Marvel Super Heroes.

8. Changed Hero Die Benchmarks to reflect alterations to STR and Super-Strength previously blogged about at my site.

9. Changed how XP is earned. The Bonus Hero Die is gone. Fortune now becomes part of XP awards.

10. Retooled villain creation a bit.

February 17th, 2017  in Product Development No Comments »