Tag Archives: The Black Hack

The Black Hack – A Review

I am finally reviewing The Black Hack.

A few months back nearly two years ago, I did a review of The Front, before I understood that it was based on The Black Hack. Much of what I liked in The Front are mechanics from The Black Hack.

I backed the Kickstarter for The Black Hack and have had the items to fulfill it for several weeks over a year.

I am pleased with the book, setting, and other things that came with it.

The mechanics are as stripped down as you can get. There are the usual stats with 3d6, but then you do a d20 stat check to do anything. Roll under the ability score on the d20. Combat is quick. The players roll to hit their opponents and roll to dodge attacks. The GM doesn’t have to roll any dice if they don’t want to.

When you use an item, you roll a usage die to see if you use up any of your supplies. An item is assigned a usage die, for example, if it is a d8 for arrows and you shoot and roll a 1, your die type goes down to a d6. As long as you don’t roll a 1, you maintain the usage die. That is, you still have arrows. If you roll a 1 on the d6, it goes to d4. If you roll a 1 on the d4, you are out of arrows. I really like this concept. I suppose you could use other dice, like the d7, d5, and d3, but that just complicates it.

What You Get

  • 2 Rulebooks, each less than 20 pages, digest sized
  • GM screen, 3 panels, digest sized
    • This was a stretch goal.
  • Module/Setting, 4 pages
    • Normal sheet of paper sized cardstock folded to be digest size.
    • It has a die drop table for locations in town and tables to add flavor.
    • It discusses how to create a sandbox for that style of play.
    • This was also a stretch goal.
  • 12 character sheets
    • This was a stretch goal.

There is a robust community on G+ and there is a plethora of *Hack games for different genres. Rad Hack for post apocalyptic, for example. There is at least one such *Hack for every genre, and some have multiple efforts where many have decided to put their spin on it.

You can’t get more streamlined than this other than limiting the number of abilities and dice. This is taking OSR to the extreme in minimalism. One could probably reduce the essence of Black Hack to a page or two. I don’t know if anyone has tried.

There are rumblings about a version 2, but I have not followed those closely.

I have yet to run or play Black Hack. So far, I have only ran The Front at a couple of conventions.

Since this is a rules light system, that is what I like about it. It takes the familiar and boils it down to the essentials. Other rules light systems have boiled down to different essentials. I like it for what it is. Not having put the system through its paces across multiple sessions as a player and GM, I can’t think of anything that is missing.

If you are interested in getting the rules out of the way of playing the game, this may be what you’re looking for.