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The Black Hack

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The Black Hack is 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!

The Black Hack is a fast playing game and the rules can be picked up in minutes. The full rules fit in a single 20 page A5 book!

Here's a few quotes from the playtesting sessions of the game:

Mick Reddick - "Black Hack... Played this in beta and can honestly say this is as much fun as you can have with a retro clone! Simple, Streamlined and Superb."

Tony Tucker - "The Black Hack is so simple and flexible I can run it off the top of my head. Think up some weird monsters, give them some hit dice and go crazy!"

Daniel Sell, Undercroft ‘zine - "David black designs with spunk. Sharp and funny, full of the old spirit.”

Chris McDowall, Into the Odd - "Blackhack is three-chord D&D. It hand picks the best parts of the game's forty year history and distills it down to its firey, addictive spirit. Everything discarded is soon forgotten."

A printed edition of the rules is now available at the Squarehex website.

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Reviews (15)
Discussions (17)
Customer avatar
Daniel D July 02, 2018 3:48 am UTC
How many pages this book has?
Customer avatar
Daniel D July 03, 2018 3:20 pm UTC
20 pages, i see.
Customer avatar
Chad K October 23, 2017 7:47 pm UTC
The cover? Meh...not a good decision.
Customer avatar
Jarad C December 13, 2017 8:07 am UTC
Hurry up and change it David Black! You heard the man, it wasn't a good decision!!
Customer avatar
Brian S January 25, 2018 7:54 am UTC
what do you mean by "not a good decision"? why is that?
Customer avatar
Jack M January 25, 2018 4:29 pm UTC
I assume you mean that the cover is not printer friendly...which it certainly is not.
However, you should elaborate on such statements.
Customer avatar
Geoffrey W June 08, 2018 4:21 am UTC
Clearly this man is not ready to rock.
Customer avatar
Adam G March 21, 2017 3:54 pm UTC
how i can do it
Customer avatar
Adam D March 14, 2018 9:17 pm UTC
Do what? Explain and I can try to help.
Customer avatar
Benjamin N September 27, 2016 11:23 am UTC
I have a question about levels and hit points: I'm seeing no cap to levels. And the Pulp Hack is the only Hack (that I own. And I own most) that mentions hit points increase with each level. And it doesn't go into any detail.

My impression is that damage and hit points stay the same. Opponents simply become easier to defeat with each level increase. Am I close to the mark?
Customer avatar
Tristan T October 17, 2016 11:21 pm UTC
Hit points increase per level. Each class has an HP per level/resting value. Everytime a character gains a level, the character adds that amount of HP to their total.
Customer avatar
Adam D March 14, 2018 9:20 pm UTC
I think you have the gist of it.

Also keep in mind that as your level increases, you're less penalized by the Powerful Opponents rule. A high-level character also probably has a magical weapon and can add those pluses to damage, but it's a small favor against a 10d8 hp creature. Make sure to take a Conjurer with the big spells, because you don't want to deal out 1d8+1 damage for 5-6 turns to kill that thing.
Customer avatar
Jack M September 10, 2016 9:45 pm UTC
Kan havz print vurshun?
Customer avatar
August 24, 2016 3:06 am UTC
Purchased bundle on squarehex,any chance I can get a PDFs also?
Customer avatar
Dorian Y August 11, 2016 11:14 am UTC
A player rolls against their own state both to hit and to avoid being hit by monsters. So how do you resolve one player attacking another? If you ignore the stats of the defending player then the games mechanic is broken because thieves get advantages when defending using dexterity etc.

Maybe the attacker doesn't roll to hit when attacking another player, instead the other player defends? How can that work when the attacked player may be a higher level and the attacker should have an added penalty to their roll.

Seems like the rules paint themselves into a corner.
Customer avatar
David B September 11, 2016 8:40 pm UTC
Have the defender test their attributes to avoid the damage, if the attacker is a higher level - use the powerful opponents rule.
Customer avatar
Nathan C July 12, 2016 6:45 pm UTC
To my understanding monsters do not roll anything besides damage. And yet a few of the monster abilities had me confused. Succubi for example have Advantage on magic tests. Since they don't roll tests does that mean anyone casting a spell on the Succubi has advantage? That seems odd.

Owlbears also list the following: Hug for 2d8 if to-hit roll is 1-4.
Since an Owlbear does not roll to-hit does that mean they deal 2d8 when a PC rolls really well on an attack? This also struck me as odd.
Customer avatar
Christopher S July 21, 2016 3:34 am UTC
You are correct that monsters don't make rolls. Therefore, I would suggest that an advantage for them would be a disadvantage for the PCs. As for the Owlbear, just "invert" the value: 17-20.
Customer avatar
Christopher S July 21, 2016 3:39 am UTC
That is to say, 17-20 on the PCs defence roll, assuming the roll was a failure.
Customer avatar
Todor P July 07, 2016 8:40 pm UTC
Great stuff, purchased today, printing this out and having it bound tomorrow! Is there an extended spell list anywhere, as this seems to be the only thing I want in addition to the core book?
Customer avatar
Adam D March 14, 2018 9:23 pm UTC
Spells are SOOPER easy to make up, but a little harder to balance. I suspect you'd be able to balance them about as well as anyone would, though. Let players make up their own spells. Once you okay / rewrite them for basic balance, require like 4 successful INT checks in a row (one per week) to succeed, and treat the level of the spell as a "Powerful Monster" HD.
Customer avatar
Peter H June 28, 2016 6:11 pm UTC
Love the system. Any chance we can get version with a printer-friendly cover?
Customer avatar
David E May 11, 2016 4:22 pm UTC
@James - the parentheses value are average damage, monsters can do damage based on their hit die - or you can use a stat line attack, they're there so you have the option.

@Aaron - the 4hp doesn't add to the maximum. When a character is taken OoA they usually Zero HP, so the 1d4 is just a little top up when they get back up. A character with a starting stat feels very powerful, but remember he should also have a stat or two thats very weak.
Customer avatar
Aaron C May 12, 2016 4:21 am UTC
Thanks David.
Customer avatar
James H May 13, 2016 4:38 am UTC
Thanks for the clarification, David!
Customer avatar
Adam D March 14, 2018 9:25 pm UTC
(Except they're not the mathematical averages of the dice. Math is hard. Let's go spelunking.)
Customer avatar
Aaron C May 11, 2016 3:25 am UTC
Had lots of fun when we tried it last night.
I did have a couple of questions. If the character survives being out of action is the d4 Hps supposed to be a permanent addition to the characters maximum Hps?
One of the characters was a conjurer with 18 INT. He didn't miss his INT roll to loose his spell slot too often. Not a problem in itself but he was casting sleep. Is it really supposed to effect 4d6 HD? He has a better than even chance of taking out a 7HD beastie at first level!

I also noticed in the example of play the Thief gets to 'dodge' using DEX the attack from the Ghoul. Is this a mistake?

Customer avatar
Adam D March 14, 2018 9:08 pm UTC
Tackling some questions after almost a year...

"If the character survives being out of action is the d4 Hps supposed to be a permanent addition to the characters maximum Hps?"

My interpretation is that they heal 1d4 hp, not that their maximum hp increases by 1d4. This is because going to 0 hp took them OofA.

"Is it really supposed to effect 4d6 HD?"

That does seem pretty powerful! If you want to curb it a bit, say it affects only creatures with HD less than the caster's, and remember that (by logic, not by rule) you can't put something to sleep that doesn't normally sleep (like a mindless creature like an ooze or undead).

"I also noticed in the example of play the Thief gets to 'dodge' using DEX the attack from the Ghoul."

This is counter to the rules, yes. A PC should make a STR test to avoid melee damage. It's a nice house rule that Thief characters can use DEX instead of STR for those,...See more
Customer avatar
James H May 03, 2016 11:23 pm UTC
I have a few questions:

1) What are the values listed in parentheses to the right of hit dice on the monster hit dice/damage table (page 60)? Merely average damage values?

2) Why are different variable (i.e., rolled) damages listed for monster attacks on the monster list (pages 16-17) if monsters deal damage based on their hit die?
Customer avatar
Adam D March 14, 2018 9:13 pm UTC
1) If they are average values, they are wrong. For example, the average of 2d4 is (2+8)/2=5, not 4. I'd treat them as "use these instead of rolling" values. The dice progressions are weirdly chosen, as well.

2) The damage-by-HD table is the default. The monster listing overrides the default for specific monsters, generally when they get to attack more than once. For example a 4HD Gargoyle that would normally deal d10 damage with a single hit, instead attacks 4 times: 2 claws (1d3) + 1 XXX (1d4) + 1 horn (1d6). Nasty, since 2d3+1d4+1d6 deals 4-16 (10) damage vs. the 1-10 (5.5) damage normal for a 4HD monster!
Customer avatar
Steven G March 28, 2016 11:59 pm UTC
Might need to look at the armor points listed in the table on page 3 and the notes for armor on page 4; not congruent.

Also possible put notes on all other items listed in the equipment table that require a usage die like it was done for the Torches.
Customer avatar
Peter R March 31, 2016 9:24 am UTC
Armor points is on our list of corrections. The note is just for torches as characters would carry multiples each one getting a usage die. It's not required for say arrows as a quiver of arrows just gets 1 usage die.
Customer avatar
joshua E March 28, 2016 8:44 pm UTC
FIVE STARS! I would have liked to be able to revise my three star review based on the updated pdf but I'll post here instead.
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File Last Updated:
April 14, 2016
This title was added to our catalog on March 23, 2016.