Friday, July 29, 2016

Maztica Bestiary: Giants

I haven't even completed a single part of one project and I'm already going to start another one. What an absolute madman I am! Incidentally, it seems like my capeshit posts aren't as popular as my D&D stuff. It's an interesting peek into the demographic of my regular readers.

Anyway, if you flip around in one of the books of the Maztica box set (don't ask me which one, I just use the ancient PDF copy that Wizards of The Coast had available for free in the bygone aeons of the thrice-and-one-half-accursed 3.5 era), you'll see a list of monsters that are supposedly suitable for use in the Maztica setting. Pic related:

So every once in a while I'll select some relevant and thematically cohesive monsters and detail how the Maztican counterparts differ from your standard Monstrous Compendium versions in fluff/lore . You will of course need the Monstrous Compendium to use any rule information presented here. Before I continue, I must admit that I really don't give a shit if I contradict the greater "canon" of either Maztica or the Forgotten Realms. In fact, I hate a lot of the canon. The notEuropeans coming over and krumping the notAztecs is one of the absolute worst concepts of Maztica. The absolute worst is using 9-point alignment (ba-dum-tssh). I'm still going to touch on the Maztican "present" but don't expect me to be happy about it. Let's get this show on the road.

Fire Giants

In ancient ruins of basalt and obsidian, a dying race make their homes. These are the Fire Giants of Maztica, called the "Sons of Tezca" or "Fire Children" in the native tongues. Centuries before the ancient empire of the Payit began its meteoric rise, the Fire Giants were struck with a mysterious plague that ravaged their population. The Fire Giants attributed the plague to their god, an aspect of Tezca; the Humans attributed it to Qotal. In any case, the Fire Giants have been slowly inching toward death ever since.

Maztican Fire Giants resemble standard Fire Giants except that they look slightly sickly and frail compared to their standard counterparts. They allow their hair to grow long; males sometimes have mustaches but they cannot grow beards. Because of the impact of the plague and malnutrition, Maztican Fire Giants only have 14 Hit Dice and their Strength bonus is +8.

Fire Giants mainly stick to their lonely ruined cities which are located near volcanic areas or in jungles with high quantities of volcanic soil. They raid Humans very rarely, mainly to carry off food.

Maztican Fire Giants speak their own language separate from standard Fire Giants. They can understand the languages of nearby (within 10 miles) native groups 50% of the time and the common tongue of all Giants 70% of the time. Fire Giants tend to be grim and fatalistic. The only topics that interest them are their race's past, the immediate future (mainly what to eat), local news, and stories about Fire Giants in other lands.

Maztican Fire Giants have lost (or perhaps never discovered) the arts of metallurgy, leatherworking, and even clothes-making. If they wear clothes at all they are always smelly loincloths of poorly cured and stitched hide or leather. As such, they only have AC 5. Their preferred weapons are slabs of obsidian, basalt, or other stone that deal the same damage as a standard Fire Giant's weapon (2d10, or 2d10+8 total).

Because of their declining population, a group of Fire Giants in its lair only numbers 11-16 (1d6+10) instead of the usual amount, and children only comprise one third of these groups as opposed the usual one-half.

The Fire Giants still worship an aspect of Tezca, although these trying times have diminished much of their faith. There is only a 10% chance of any band having a spellcaster, who will always be a shaman. Unlike standard Fire Giant shamans, their Maztican counterparts may only be priests of up to 3rd level. Maztican Fire Giants make sure that whenever they hunt they always catch at least two creatures; one is eaten while the other (usually the scrawnier or worse of the two - they have a healthy sense of pragmatism) is sacrificed to their god via immolation in either fire or lava.

The lairs of Maztican Fire Giants never contain Hellhounds, Trolls, or Red Dragons. If you are playing in the "present day" of Maztica then a band of 30 or more Maztican Fire Giants has a 30% chance of having 2-5 (1d4+1) Ogres in their lair, although these guests often end up as either food or sacrifices.

Hill Giants

Unlike their Fire Giant brethren, the Hill Giants of Maztica do quite well. Commonly known as "Painted Gluttons", Maztican Hill Giants are much more aggressive than their standard counterparts and launch uncoordinated but frequent raids on the smaller peoples of the True World.

Maztican Hill Giants look the same as regular Hill Giants except for two key aspects: First, they almost never wear clothes; second, their bodies are always covered with with brilliantly-colored warpaint. The Hill Giants believe that warpaint offers supernatural protection from harm. It actually does do so, giving Maztican Hill Giants AC 3. Unfortunately, their strange warpaints have no effect on non-Hill Giants and they know this. Because of their lack of clothes they don't carry bags like standard Hill Giants; their possessions are back in the caves or huts that they live in.

Maztican Hill Giants have their own language distinct from that of standard Hill Giants. They can understand the languages of nearby (within 30 miles) native groups 30% of the time and the common tongue of all Giants 50% of the time. Hill Giants tend to be easily bored unless the discussion is about battle, food, big monsters, or their hated enemies (Ogres and Jagres).

Maztican Hill Giants mainly worship a destructive aspect of Plutoq and a predatory aspect of Nula; their myths paint Hill Giants as the children of these two gods. They consider non-Hill Giant worshipers of these gods to be blasphemers. They also practice ritual cannibalism, eating the heart of related or allied warrior who died in battle; they believe that this transfers the deceased's bravery, skill, and luck to themselves. Rival groups of Hill Giants will often try to steal the hearts of each other's dead warriors, either directly or indirectly via manipulated Humans.

A Maztican Hill Giant lair only has a chance of having 2-8 (2d4) Dire Wolves or 1-3 (1d6/2) Giant Lizards (it's 50/50 likelihood between the two types). Their lairs never have Ogres; they consider these creatures to be imperfect mockeries of themselves and kill them mercilessly when they find them. Hill Giants will even aid the smaller peoples of Maztica if they can be convinced that there will be a significant chance of being able to kill Ogres and Jagres. The skin or pelt of a Jagre worn as a cape or mantle is one of the only articles of clothing a Hill Giant will ever wear.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Earth-3 Project: Prospectus

If you're a fan of DC comics to any significant extent then you've probably heard of either Earth-3 or the Crime Syndicate of America. If you haven't then head over to and start info-binging. 

Anyway, many many years ago back when I still used forums, someone on the Atomic Think Tank was recruiting for an Earth-3 one-shot game. There were some pretty good character submissions, like The Puffin (heroic version of The Penguin), Sureshot (heroic version of Deadshot), and The Man-Owl (heroic version of The Man-Bat). Ever since then, I've had intermittent thoughts about such a game. In fact, about two years ago I actually started writing things out. I had a nice little file with a rough history and bios for several heroic Earth-3 versions of DC villains. Then the external HD all this info was stored on decided to die. 

I'm finally going to try to pick up the pieces and charge forward again with Mutants & Masterminds Earth-3 material.This will hopefully be the first post of many. I'm more familiar with the 2nd Edition of Mutants & Masterminds but I have the 3rd Edition books too; any characters I present will be statted for both systems. And if people ask really nicely I can also stat characters in GURPS Supers 3rd Edition (don't judge me, I love dead trees). This post is basically just going to be an overview of my goal and core concepts.

Kinda like this but slightly less goofy.


1) Make a setting suitable for long-term play.
"Mirror morality" worlds share the same problem that D&D's Ravenloft did: They're basically treated as a throwaway place for "weekend in hell" scenarios. I want to be able to give people enough information to go beyond that. What is life like on the ground? How do the governments of the world react to the Syndicates? What do aliens, etc. think of this Earth? I want to answer those questions, even if I have to answer them vaguely.

Core Concepts:

1) Drawing on all of the many interpretations of the CSA/Earth-3. 
You can bet that I'm going to swiping stuff left and right for all the myriad versions of Earth-3 and the Syndicate to form my own personal version. Owlman will basically be straight out of JLA: Earth-Two, Johnny Quick will combine traits from JLA: Earth-Two and Forever Evil, and Superwoman will be lifted from Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths.

2a) Not a world of reversed morality.
While many people who are traditionally heroes on other DC Earths are instead villains and vice versa, Earth-3 is basically just like the baseline DC Earth (or Earth). People generally think that treating other people decently and sticking to your principles are admirable traits. Robbery and murder are still considered bad things. People are people.

2b) Sometimes evil is still evil and good is still good.
The serial killer Victor Zsasz is still an evil bastard on Earth-3. By the same token, Jon and Martha Kent are still good people.

2c) Heroes and Villains of circumstance.
Just because someone is part of the Crime Syndicate or the Justice Underground doesn't necessarily mean that he's a "bad guy" or "good guy". Ralph Dibney, The Elastic Man, only aids the Crime Syndicate because Owl-Man holds his wife hostage. Gorilla Grodd aids the Justice Underground because he believes that it is only with their help that he can crush the Syndicates and then conquer the world for himself.

3) There are some elements of the "normal" DC universe present.
Just because Earth-3 is "corrupted by anti-matter" or whatever doesn't mean that everything has to be different. There's still a Green Lantern Corps in Earth-3, although they are much more legalistic and only care about interplanetary laws and not intraplanetary laws; Sinestro's dictatorship on Korugar is well-known but the Guardians of Oa don't care because he still enforces their laws. Likewise, The New Gods wage a celestial war here, although both Darkseid and Highfather are not nearly as interested in this particular Earth. 

4) There's always something going on.
The US alone has at least three Syndicate-related organizations (the Crime Syndicate of America, the Crime Society of America, and the Young Offenders) and several more anti-Syndicate organizations (the Justice Underground, Extreme Justice, the Doom Patrol, and the Suicide Squad). Almost every country has their own splinter movements, cells, and derivatives of both the Syndicate and the Underground.

5) There's always a chance to change the world in at least a small way.
A corollary to the previous point. A metahuman might not be able to oust the CSA from the US but he can swing down to Peru or Colombia and take out local Syndicate affiliates, giving Justice Underground cells and local movements the opportunity to win their freedom while simultaneously . Or a Syndicate member can do the opposite. 

6) The Crime Syndicate of America is not all-powerful.
While the "Big Five" of the CSA are probably the most powerful metas on Earth, they aren't the unquestioned rulers of the world. The Crime Syndicate of Europe has weaker metas but compared to the CSA's average power level they're stronger; a head-to-head fight between the CSE and CSA would leave most of both organizations dead minus the CSA's Big Five, who would then be open to assault from the world's other big Syndicate. Headed by a mysterious creature said to be as strong as Ultraman, the Greater East Asian Co-Delinquency Sphere runs Asia. The CSA's Big Five believes that the Sphere's leadership is almost as strong as they are; thus, a war against the CSE would lead to an immediate war with another healthy Syndicate, one that a battle-wearied CSA might not win. The three Syndicates have therefore settled into a cold war.

7) The Syndicates actually do protect Earth to an extent.
The Syndicates have a vested interest in making sure that Earth doesn't suddenly explode or get eaten by Cthulhu or such; to paraphrase The Tick, Earth is where they keep (or at least get) all their valuables. On rare occasions such as when Johnny Sorrow is trying to screw everyone over or Darkseid decides to invade, the Syndicates and their enemies (like the Justice Underground) will even put aside their differences, call a truce, and save the world.

We'll see how this crazy project goes.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

My take on Bugbears

I'm running a solo D&Desque game right now for a player new to all this weird nerd shit. Because he has no preconceptions of what a number of monsters "should" be, I've taken the opportunity to reflavor some of the classic monster races into versions that I prefer. So Orcs are green-skinned pig-men, Kobolds are rat-badger-dog folk, and Bugbears are actually bear people. And I want to talk about those Bugbears.

Ask anyone who the most hated enemy of the Elves is and everyone, even Elves themselves, will say it's the Orcs. Ask an Elf what enemy they fear the most and they'll hesitantly tell you about Bugbears. When the world was young, Elves were innocent and ignorant of magic, and Humans didn't even exist, the Bugbears were around. If you believe the Elves, Bugbears were a hundred-foot tall Giants who ate whole villages of Elves. It was only with the gift of magic, stolen from the Elvish gods by a reckless warrior, that the Elves vanquished the Bugbears. Unfortunately for the Elves, the victory wasn't a total one.

The rarely-seen Bugbears are 8-foot tall humanoid bears with fur that resembles green moss. Although they have the same general proportions as normal bears, the general structure of their skeletons is optimized for bipedal activity. In fact, much like Humans and Elves, they find going on all fours to be a very awkward experience. A Bugbear's hand is about five inches wide and equally as long; its fingers are about as long as a Humans but twice as thick. Instead of fingernails, Bugbears have two-inch long jet-black claws. These claws are very sharp and Bugbears are very strong; they therefore tend to treat most weapons they acquire as jewelry.

Despite their size and claws, Bugbears are truly dangerous because of two reasons: Their intellect and their almost magical skills of stealth.

Among most adventurers, there's a number of shorthand rules that emerge: "Smaller monsters are more likely to attack in groups"; "Ghost can only be hurt by magic"; and "The bigger a monster is, the dumber it is." That final truism certainly has a bit of anecdotal weight, as shown by Orcs and Ogres. Firm adherents to this saying will dismiss counterexamples of Stone Giants and Dragons as exceptions that prove the rules. There's an idea that the more animalistic a monster is, the more dull-witted it is. Therefore, the inexperienced often dismiss the Bugbear as a dumb brute because of its size and appearance. This is often a fatal mistake. Bugbears are more intelligent than the average Human and are quick improvisers; monster-hunters who think they've got an iron-clad plan for catching a dumb beast are in for a rude awakening.

As for their stealth, Bugbears can even sneak up on an Elf doing guard duty. Despite being 8-foot tall green bear-people, Bugbears make very little sound unless they wish to be heard. Twigs don't snap and footfalls don't echo until they're inches away from their prey. For a Human peasant near Bugbear territory, death can come before they even notice that a Bugbear is right next to them.

Despite this, Bugbears are actually the least destructive of all the Goblinoid races. Yes, they kill and eat peasants, steal food, and often frame other creatures (particularly Elves) but they do this at a much lower frequency than their cousins. Bugbears even form treaties with certain Humans; Bugbears hunt and eat bandits, the bandits' loot is turned over to town authorities, and the town gives Bugbears foodstuffs and miscellaneous goods. Naturally, overzealous adventurers who discover these agreements tend to cause trouble by painting it as some grand conspiracy to undermine the kingdom, so such arrangements are kept secret by both the Bugbears and their allies.

Bugbears aren't very numerous; the average band/tribe is only about a dozen strong, with only about 20% or so of the group being children. Bugbears mature at 5 years of age and can live for up to 100 years. Bugbears have their own language, Bugbearish. Most tribes have a 60% chance to have someone who speaks a dialect of Goblin. Bugbearish has no traditional written form; Bugbears who want to record permanent information do so by phonetically rendering words using Goblin characters. Bugbears have a very respected oral tradition and look favorable on members of other races who share stories with them.

As a counterpoint to the story that Elves tell, Bugbears insist that their ancient forebears were actually trying to practice "tough love" with Elves. They say that Elves were (and are) ignorant animals trying to imitate plants. The Bugbears were trying to show the Elves that they should imitate animals, especially predators. They consider the efforts of the ancestors to have been a failure and that Elves are a lost cause. However Bugbears are usually quite amused to learn about the "hundred-foot tall Giants who ate whole villages of Elves" bit of the old Elf myths.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Human Race-as-class

The folks over at Sanctum Secorum recently did a podcast on Jack Kirby's Kamandi series and how it's deeply influential to the upcoming Mutant Crawl Classics RPG. In their podcast companion (available here for free) they offered a Kamandi-inspired Human racial class that represented them as feral and violent creatures. That got me to thinking: What would a Human race-as-class based on the common fantasy milieu look like? Keep in mind that this is very "broad strokes"/"brainstorming" post that isn't necessarily immediately usable.

General Concept: The keyword I would use for Humans in D&Desque fantasy is "versatile". Think about the fact that in OD&D and most versions of Basic D&D that Humans can be a whole slew of things (Fighting-men, Magic-users, Thieves, Priests, etc) while Elves, Dwarves, Halflings, etc. have much more limited options (the Mystara Gazetteers added extra slightly different racial classes for them).

Hit Dice: Probably a d8 per level. Tough but not too tough.

Arms & Armor: Humans are proficient with all arms and armor except for those unique to other races (no Dwarven urgoshes or Elfin chain for us). What a Human uses ultimately depends on his culture, wealth, location, and personal preference.

Base Attack Bonus: I use the 3.x terminology simply because I just don't like THAC0 that much. Humans aren't necessarily the fightiest guys around so their attacks and bonuses should probably progress as a Rogue/Thief (what 3.x called an Average Base Attack Bonus).

Magic Items: Humans can use any and all magic items they find but if the magic item has some kind of racial requirement ("Only Orcs can use this hat of hatred") then there's a 50% that item will be crumble to dust immediate after the Human uses it. For scrolls and other nerd stuff, treat the Human's HD as his caster level.

Clever Attack: Humans deal extra damage equal to opponents they catch unawares. This deals an extra 1d4 points of damage per point of Int bonus, to a minimum of 1d4 and maximum of 3d4 or thereabouts.

Animal Kinship: Humans have some sort of natural affinity for dogs and horses (or vice versa). These would translate to a +20%/+4 (depending on your skill system) bonus on checks made to befriend/clam/train/whatever such animals.

Animal Enmity: On the other hand, wolves and big cats (cougars, lions, etc.) hate Humans and will go out of their way to attack and/or eat them.

Destined for Greatness (?): Strange forces watch over Humans. Perhaps it is the will of the gods or the manipulations of more sinister forces. In any case, once per day a Human way re-roll any dice result.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Rethinking Hobgoblins

I think it's safe to say that when most RPG players hear the word "Hobgoblin" they tend to visualize something that boils down to "a Goblin but bigger and with decent equipment". If we're mapping out an equivalency between Lord of The Rings and Dungeons & Dragons then Hobgoblins are the Uruk-hai to Goblins' Orcs (as an aside, I suspect that Bugbears are based the Olog-hai).
Of course, that isn't what Hobgoblins were like folklore (at least according to wikipedia):
Hobgoblins seem to be small, hairy little men who—like their close relative, brownies—are often found within human dwellings, doing odd jobs around the house while the family is lost in sleep. Such chores are typically small deeds, like dusting and ironing. Often, the only compensation necessary in return for these is food.
While brownies are more peaceful creatures, hobgoblins are more fond of practical jokes. They also seem to be able to shape-shift, as seen in one of Puck's monologues in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Robin Goodfellow is perhaps the most mischievous and most infamous of all his kind, but many are less antagonizing. Like all of the fae folk, hobgoblins are easily annoyed. They can be mischievous, frightening, and even dangerous.[3] Attempts to give them clothing will often banish them forever, though whether they take offense to such gifts or are simply too proud to work in new clothes differs from teller to teller.
While certainly an interesting take, hairy little housekeepers aren't exactly prime material for most fantasy campaigns. At the same time, the militaristic Goblin jocks are a bit too overexposed. As an alternative, I present the Hobgoblins from Magic: The Gathering's Shadowmoor block:

Fair warning, I haven't been able to read the novels so the precise details might be off, I'm just going by what's on the cards. Shadowmoor's Hobgoblins are related to the setting's Goblins (who in terms of behavior are basically D&D Orcs). But they live in cozy cottages and pursue agrarian existences. So this is tying back into that domestic angle while also homaging Tolkienesque Hobbit/Halfling lifestyles. At the same time, they still have a sinister edge to them, as the flavor text for Hearthfire Hobgoblin (pictured above) states:
Hobgoblins are best left alone. They sharpen their farm implements far more than is necessary for their work in the fields.
 So behind this idyllic Shire-esque surface there's something dangerous, something murderous. But still, despite their seeming homicidal tendencies they don't seem to bother anyone who doesn't bother them. But look at the flavor text for Rugged Prairie:
Hobs bury their kin far from home. They believe the dry, open ground keeps hags from stealing the bones and gwyllions from stealing the spirits.
So what happens if a party of adventurers or Joe the peasant stumbles onto a Hob funeral? What happens when a Human village starts expanding out into Hob burial grounds? Sounds like an interesting potential encounter.

Extracting these Hobs from their native setting, think about how they could fit in to a "Traditonal" Fantasy setting. How are Hob-Halfling relations? What about Hobgoblin-Goblins relations? Are the Hobs ultimately just a weird off-shoot of Goblins or are they the product of Human-Goblin/Halfling-Goblin/Hobbit-Goblin pairings?

The last idea to consider is a bit more radical: Give Halflings the boot and replace them with Hobs. If the Short Guy PC race is composed of rustic axe-murderers instead of rustic thieves then it changes the flavor of the setting to something more sinister.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Roll d% to see if you rise as a Ghoul

One of the things has always bothered me about D&D is how so much of the fluff is segregated from crunch.

"You can fail a resurrection spell and someone back as zombie? That sounds -- oh wait, there are no rules for that."
"You can combine two animals into an abomination like an Owlbear? That sounds -- oh wait, there are no rules for that."
"People can spontaneously rise as undead? That sounds -- oh wait, there are no rules for that."

The last one brings me to today's post. I've been thinking on-and-off about developing my own retroclone-esque roleplaying game (probably something that'll end up an Owlbear-tier combination of GURPS, AD&D, 5e, and Mutants & Masterminds with a dash of Fighting Fantasy but I digress). 

One idea that keeps rattling about is a subsystem that allows the DM (or players, whatever) if a PC can rise as an Undead. Being a spy (or a voyeur) can make your PC rise as a Spectre. Party members near an evil shrine or temple may rise as Zombies. Eat any bit of the flesh of a sapient and you have a higher chance to rise as a Ghoul. Think of it as an earnest if somewhat misguided attempt to make those old adventure hooks into spontaneous self-perpetuating rules constructs. Anyway, on to the rules:

When the character dies, roll d% or 1d100. If the result is higher than the chance of rising then nothing happens. If it is equal to or lower than the percentage then the character rises as a Ghoul  about 24 (4d12) hours after his death. 

The base chance of a dead character rising as a Ghoul is 5% modified by the table below. Modifiers are cumulative. The final percentage cannot be less than 0% or greater than 100% unless you want to homebrew some crazy results.

The dead character . . .
% Modifier
. . . was Evil (if using an Alignment subsystem)
. . . was Chaotic (if using an Alignment subsystem)
. . . was Good (if using an Alignment subsystem)
. . . worshiped a god or power related to death, gluttony, Ghouls, or hunger
. . . had more than two character levels or Hit Dice (if using a level/Hit Dice subsystem)
+1% for each level/Hit Die beyond 2
. . . unknowingly ate the flesh of a sapient creature within the last 48 hours
+1% and additional +1% for every 5 pounds of sapient flesh consumed
. . . knowingly ate the flesh of a sapient creature within the last 48 hours
+10% and additional +1% for every 5 pounds of sapient flesh consumed
. . . killed a sapient creature within the last 48 hours specifically to eat it, but was in a state of extreme hunger and/or had no other food
. . . killed a sapient creature within the last 48 hours specifically to eat it, but was in a state of hunger and/or had little other food
. . . killed a sapient creature within the last 48 hours specifically to eat it despite having plenty of ordinary food

Here are examples of the system in practice:

Hogni Redbeard was a Lawful Evil (+10%) thief-acrobat-rogue with 3 Hit Dice (+1%). After becoming a devotee of The Great Maw, god of hunger (+10%), he adopted serial killing and cannibalism as hobbies. He kidnapped a Halfling merchant then killed him to make a stew (+45%). In the last 48 hours the only sapient flesh he managed to eat consisted of two hearty meals of Halfling stew which together added up 15 pounds (+10% for knowingly consuming, +15% for the amount consumed) before a band of vigilantes busted in and killed him. There is therefore a 96% (5% + 91%)chance that 4d12 hours after his death he will rise as a Ghoul.

Brother Magnus was a Neutral Good (-10%) Human 5th-level (+3%) cleric. Trapped underground and without food, he stumbled into the storage room of some Goblins. Inside, he found some bundles of preserved meat. He ate 5 pounds of the meat without realizing that it was Elf jerky (+1% for unknowingly eating, +1% for the amount). Suddenly, two Hobgoblins appeared and attacked! Magnus was victorious but one of the dying Hobgoblins taunted him by revealing the nature of Magnus’ last meal. Distraught but still hungry, he grabbed some more of the meat and continued on his journey to find an exit from the underground hell. Although hungry, he only managed to eat another 5 pounds of Elf jerky (+10% for knowingly eating, +1% for the amount) before his moral repulsion overpowered his gnawing hunger. Alas, in his sleep a leak of toxic gas suffocated him. There is therefore an 11% (5% +6%) chance that he will rise as a Ghoul in 4d12 hours.

Now of course, there are some issues that I still have with my concept. Do the same rules apply to carnivores? What does this mean for creatures like Gnolls that deliberately eat sapients on large-scale? Are they basically guaranteed to rise as Ghouls? Should a mammalian humanoid incur the normal penalties for eating the flesh of sapient avian, insectoid, or reptilian humanoid or should they be diminished or waived? What about eating the flesh of sapient non-humanoids like Awakened Cows, Beholders, and Sphinxes?

I should have plenty of time to iron out the finer details later but a start is a start.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

How many Hacks are too many?

If you follow OSR news then you may have heard a thing or two about The Black Hack. It's a streamlined retroclone that incorporates some modern D&D ideas like Advantage and Disadvantage. I've only skimmed it but it looks pretty great. There's just one thing that's bothering me: All the derivatives, splats, and hacks of it that are suddenly flooding the marketplace.

There are already about two dozen products that are either made to work with it or are based off it: A Hack of Class, The Class Hack, The Race Hack, The Bikini Hack, The Cthulhu Hack, Cyber-Hacked, The Gene Hack, The Jack Hack, The Wasteland Hack, The Drac Hack, Mirrorshades, Eight of Wands, The Solo Hack, etc. Some products like Mirrorshades, The Cthulhu Hack, and The Solo Hack also cost more than TBH itself.

I'm not complaining about TBH's popularity, which I think it frankly deserves. It's just that all these products pumped out makes me wonder how much of this is from enthusiastic fans of TBH wanting to contribute and how much of this opportunistic cashgrabbing, especially in the case of standalone games that are trying to force non-OSR genres like cyberpunk, beach adventures, and Star Trek-style sci-fi into OSR rulesets. Hopefully I'm just being too cynical and the truth is much more pleasant.