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.


  1. For my own part (and clearly I can only speak for myself), The Cthulhu Hack struck when I read/played The Black Hack for the first time and it dawned on me how good the Usage Die mechanic might be at handling scarce personal resources.

    Having run the game using adventures from more than one Cthulhu-focused system, it appeals to me as a neat tool for quick, flavourful adventures in a Lovecraftian vein - and I'd like to think if it works for me, it will work for others.

    1. Paul, I want to thank you for responding to me and for doing so in collected manner. I apologize if I personally offended you. Hopefully the ranks of TBH content producers are composed of people who share attitudes and motivations like yours.

      I just want you to understand that to me the current spike in TBH-related and -based products looks uncomfortably like the 3.x OGL bubble.