The Grimm’s Fairy Hack

Some time ago, I toyed with the idea of an OSR system for playing children transported into a fantasy realm. I abandoned the idea. It just seemed like a whole lot of work, and I couldn’t really keep excited about it. I’ve recently returned to the idea using a much more user-friendly system, specifically The Black Hack, about which I’ve written here before.

Thus, I’ve started work on The Grimm’s Fairy Hack.

In this “based on The Black Hack” game, the players take on the roles of children from our real world. In addition to The Black Hack, I’m also referring to Grimm Lite and Horizon: Grimm. The character classes are based on childhood archetypes/stereotypes. Players choose from six character classes: Bully, Dreamer, Jock, Nerd, Normal, Outcast, and Popular. Each class has certain special abilities and a special weakness.

Since the characters are children, they do not have Stats like regular fantasy characters. No STR, DEX, CON, et cetera to be found here. Rather that the familiar six made famous by Dungeons & Dragons, characters have seven Stats, each one defining a particular facet of the character’s childhood:

Academics: Covers arithmetic, reading, writing, et cetera. In short, Academics reflects how good a student the character was.

Explorer: Covers survival, first aid, reading a map, et cetera. Explorer includes the sorts of things one might learn in the Boy Scouts.

Hick: Covers rural life. A character with a good Hick stat would know how to milk a cow, dig fence post holes, cook, et cetera.

Lore: Covers knowledge of myths, legends, and fairy tales. Where Academics is knowledge of the real world, Lore is knowledge of the fantasy world.

Shenanigans: Covers lying, stealing, being sneaky, et cetera. A character with a high Shenanigans Stat is good at making trouble and getting away with it.

Upbringing: Covers being polite, fitting in with adults, knowing the right thing to do, et cetera.

Zip: Covers strength, dexterity, toughness, athletics, et cetera. Children lack real experience and training in actual combat, but Zip helps them attack and avoid getting hurt.

The success mechanic from The Black Hack remains. For a character to succeed with an action, the player must roll under the character’s relevant Stat on 1d20.

All characters also have a special ability called Imagination. Imagination is not a Stat, but instead is a power governed by a Usage Die, the size of which varies depending on character class. Thus, a Dreamer has more Imagination than a Bully. As a character improves in level, his Imagination becomes stronger. Imagination powers a class’s special abilities. Also, Imagination lets a character manipulate the fantasy world in a variety of different ways, so long as the character doesn’t violate two simple rules:

1. Imagination cannot be used to directly damage or destroy anything.
2. Imagination cannot be used to copy the special abilities of another class.

Of course, all of this is just a brief overview; it’s not comprehensive. The Grimm’s Fairy Hack will eventually include all of this and more. Some of the more will almost certainly be advice for using The Grimm’s Fairy Hack characters and The Black Hack characters at the same time. The former is based on the latter, and there ought to be little in either set of rules that makes mixing them impossible.

February 23rd, 2017  in Product Development No Comments »

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 »

Have No Fear!

The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the protector of my life: of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 26:1, Douay-Rheims)

Last Sunday, I wrote about using turn undead as a way of transforming the Cleric into a melee master against affected undead. This seems especially appropriate for Clerics who follow deities devoted to battle, undead smashing, et cetera. Not all Clerics, however, fit that mold, so this Sunday I want to turn my attention to Clerics who seek to encourage their allies in conflict with the soul-rending terrors of the undead. Such a Cleric’s player rolls 2d10 and refers to the table for turning the undead as normal, but the results of success differ as follows:

* If the number on the dice is equal to or greater than the number shown on the table, the Cleric’s allies gain for 3d6 rounds a +1 “to-hit” bonus when fighting affected undead. Those allies also gain a +1 saving throw bonus against special attacks from the affected undead.

* If the table indicates “T”, the Cleric’s allies gain for 3d6 rounds +1 bonuses both “to-hit” and to damage. The saving throw bonus increases to +2. Furthermore, any ally who fails or who has failed a saving throw against a special attack from the affected undead immediately gains a reroll on that saving throw with that +2 bonus.

* If the table indicates “D”, the Cleric’s allies gain for 3d6 rounds a +2 “to-hit” and +2 damage bonus against the affected undead. Furthermore, the allies become immune to the special attacks of the affected undead.

January 22nd, 2017  in RPG No Comments »

Making STR Super

As mentioned earlier this week, I’ve uploaded an updated playtest version of The Four Color Hack, implementing some changes based on playtesting and feedback. One thing that didn’t get changed in the update was lifting capacities for heroes. In the current playtest version, I think those lifting capacities are too low. They just didn’t seem super-heroic enough; this was bugging me, and I couldn’t figure out how to get rid of the bug. As is the case when I face things that bug me, it helps to ignore the issue for a bit and then return to it with fresher eyes.

Notice the two tables to the below-right. The first shows the overhead press for heroes who do not have super-strength. It dawned on me that the only characters in the game that have a STR Stat are the heroes. Villains don’t have Stats such as STR or INT or CHA. With this in mind, I chucked the d20 System, which is from where I took the overhead press amounts in the first draft of the table.

Instead, I fell back on the third edition of DC Heroes and those old Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe comic books. As you can see, even a hero with an “average” STR of 10-11 is quite strong with an overhead press of 200-250 pounds.

For super-strength, I got rid of the multiplier. Instead, a Hero Die gives a hero a specific level of super-strength as a defined weight. Thus, a hero with Super-Strength d8 has an overhead press of 5 tons. De-linking STR and super-strength this way makes it possible to have a hero who excels in hand-to-hand combat (meaning has high STR), but who isn’t necessarily super-strong. It also makes it possible to have a hero who can shift quite a bit of weight (say, Super-Strength d12), but who has only average skill in hand-to-hand combat (say, 10 STR).

The other item that was on my list of problems regarding the rules was how to handle on-going effects created by the use of powers. Professor Positron had Positronic Energy Control d12. He packs a lot of power with his ability to control positrons. Can Professor Positron surround a villain in a positronic force bubble? Sure. The player just needs to describe the effect and make a Stat check. If he succeeds, the villain is trapped by a Positronic Bubble d12.

This bubble lasts as long as Professor Positron maintains the effect or until the villain escapes/destroys/whatevers the bubble. While the positronic bubble is in effect, Professor Positron no longer has Positronic Energy Control d12. Instead, he has Positronic Energy Control d10. The concentration, energy expenditure, et cetera, has temporarily reduced Professor Positron’s ability to control anti-electrons. When the Positronic Bubble d12 goes away, Professor Positron’s power returns to its previous level.

This system for on-going effects seems flexible enough, and it taps into the idea that dice upgrade and downgrade, as well as the idea that a larger die can be traded for two smaller dice. Thus, Professor Positron could conceivably trap two different villains in two different Positronic Bubbles, but each bubble would be d10 instead of d12, since 1d12 equals 2d10.

In news unrelated to TFCH, work progresses on Goshahri: The City in a Cave, a site-based adventure setting due to be released to Patrons only before the end of January. If you’ve not checked out my Dangerous Places, please do so. You’ll find the first adventure, Narvon’s Stair, which was released for the whole world in December. If you like what you see, think about committing $1 a month and become one of my Patrons.

January 18th, 2017  in Product Development 2 Comments »

The Four Color Hack Updated

I’ve uploaded an edited version of The Four Color Hack after making changes in response to playtesting and feedback. Here’s a list of the changes:

1. All Stats start at 9. They can be increased during hero creation as before.

2. Body and Spirit starting values are reduced.

3. Base protection starting values have changed. Base protection now works like Armor Points.

4. Odds/evens only matter with failures.

5. Idioms affect outcomes differently.

6. Hero Dice recovery has been clarified.

7. Body and Spirit increases with leveling have been modified.

8. Villain creation has been overhauled, to include adjusting the values found on Table 8: Villain Creation.

I hope the game plays better with these changes.

January 16th, 2017  in Product Development No Comments »