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Maze of the Blue Medusa… The Black Hack Campaign

painting

The Pitch

By treachery and steel, you have acquired the oil painting titled False Chanterelle. Here in your hideout, you have a moment to examine it, as moonlight pours through the glass ceiling above. The rumors were true; it is shamefully perverse, mildly significant, and not very good. However, it is valuable, and you know its secret. You nod to your comrades and hang it on the wall.”

We’re using The Black Hack, with some optional rules from David Black that didn’t make it into the final document. See below for notes on character creation, a review of some standard rules, and introduction to the optional rules.

If you haven’t read or purchased a copy of The Black Hack, I recommend supporting this guy’s work. You can get a copy for $2 at RPGNow.com

Download a Black Hack character sheet (PDF)

First Thing’s First

Choose a class, and roll abilities and hit points per the rules in TBH.

You get a few more spells slots per level in the beginning. Use the spell slot progression below:

Conjurer

   2
2    3
3    3, 1
4    3, 2
5    4, 2, 1
6    4, 3, 2
   4, 3, 2, 1
8    4, 3, 3, 2, 1
9    4, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1
10  4, 4, 3, 2, 2, 2, 1

Cleric

   1
2    2
3    2, 1
4    2, 2
5    2, 2, 1
6    2, 2, 2
   2, 2, 2, 1
8    2, 2, 2, 2, 1
9    3, 3, 2, 2, 2, 1
10  3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 2, 1

Skills

Taken from multiple sources, all characters have access to these. As per TBH, test the appropriate Attribute to succeed. Some classes have Advantage to skills, such as the Thief with Thievery.

  • Animal Handling (WIS) – Commanding guard dogs, restraining horses, and coaxing mules.
  • Arcana (INT) – Discern the purpose and use of magical items and text.
  • Athletics (STR & DEX) – Open doors, bend bars, lift gates, and running, jumping, climbing.
  • Buschcraft (WIS) – Foraging for food, making shelter, creating fire.
  • Deception (CHR) – The use of lies, both written and spoken, and the use of disguises.
  • History (INT) – Not just for ancient history, but remembering what happened 10 minutes, 10 hours, or 10 days ago.
  • Instinct (WIS) – Discerning the true intent of folk and beast through their words and actions.
  • Chirurgery (INT) – Not intended for long term care. Restore 1d4 HP, or remove one temporary condition. A healing kit is required.
  • Perception (WIS) – Finding secret doors, traps, and hidden folk.
  • Persuasion (CHR) – The pleasant an unpleasant means of convincing others.
  • Thievery (DEX) – Moving in silence, hiding in shadows, pick locks, disable traps, sleight of hand, and eavesdropping.
  • Tinkering (INT) – Creating and fixing mechanical objects.

Encumbrance

A character can carry a number of items equal to their STR with no issues. Carrying over this amount means they are encumbered and all attribute tests are taken with Disadvantage – you can also only ever move to somewhere Nearby. They simply cannot carry more than double their STR.

Every item can have multiple keywords from the following list, for each one the item weighs ‘1’ more :

  • Fragile – Items that are prone to breaking, or to damage.
  • Long – Objects longer than 5ft in any dimension.
  • Cumbersome – Things that are shaped in ungainly or awkward ways,
  • Heavy – Objects that despite their size require greater effort to move.
  • Difficult – Objects that are hard to store or handle, for example hot or dangerous things.

Expert Crafted and Master Crafted items can eliminate they keywords, making an item more desirable. A Master Crafted suit of plate mail would neither be cumbersome nor heavy.

Usage Die

Any item listed in the equipment section that has a Usage die is considered a consumable, limited item. When that item is used the next Minute (turn) its Usage die is rolled. If the roll is 1-2 then the usage die is downgraded to the next lower die in the following chain: d20 > d12 > d10 > d8 > d6 > d4 When you roll a 1-2 on a d4 the item is expended and the character has no more of it left.

Examples are torches, rations, flashlights, first aid kits, and ammunition for missile weapons.

Movement and Distance

Distances are Close, Nearby, Far-Away and Distant. On their turn, every character can move somewhere Nearby as part of an action, performing that action at any stage of the move. They can forgo their action and move somewhere Far-Away instead. Anything beyond Far-Away can be classified as Distant and would take 3 moves to get to.

Use the following as a guide:

  • CLOSE 0 – 5ft
  • NEARBY 5 – 60ft
  • FAR AWAY 60 – 120ft

Out of Action

Taken from the Black Hack. When your character is reduced to zero HP, roll 1d6 and consult the following table. If the character receives more than twice his hit points in damage in one round, the character must roll twice on the table below, and results are cumulative:

  1. KO’d – Just knocked out for the fight.
  2. Fat Head – Disadvantage on all tests for the next hour.
  3. Cracked Bones – STR, DEX and CON are temporarily reduce by 2 for the next day.
  4. Crippled – STR or DEX is permanently reduced by 2.
  5. Disfigured – CHA reduced by 4.
  6. Dead – Not alive anymore.

If the character survives he gains 1d4 HP. If the characters all lose the fight or are unable to recover the body of the character, he is lost forever.

Saving Throws

We will roll Ability tests when any spell, trap or effect would impact them – using the below as a guide.

  • STR – Physical Harm that cannot be dodged.
  • DEX – Physical Harm that can be dodged.
  • CON – Poison, Disease or Death.
  • INT – Resisting Spells and Magic.
  • WIS – Deception and Illusions.
  • CHA – Charming effects.

Morale

If the number of opponents engaged in combat with the players drops by 50% they are ‘broken’ and a Reaction roll should be made to determine their new attitude.

If a character can make a successful CHA test the broken opponents will attempt to flee the combat as quickly as possible. If they have a leader fighting amongst them, the CHA test is taken with Disadvantage.

Hunger & Rations

At the start of a session every character rolls their ration’s Usage die. If they are unable to eat/drink for any reason – they roll all tests with Disadvantage until they do.

Damaging / Repairing Armor

Every piece of Armor now has a Usage Die (UD)- see the table below. I also doubled the AP for each armor type.

TYPE UD AP
Gambeson d4 2
Leather d6 4
Chain Mail d8 6
Plate & Mail d10 8
Small Shield d4 2
Large Shield d4 4

At the end of each session where armor has been used to reduce damage, its Usage Die must be rolled. If the roll is a 1 or 2 the Usage Die reduces as per normal, and the Armor then has the AP of the armor above it in the table. So for example failing a UD roll for Chain would reduce it to having 4 AP (Leather).

If the UD is a d4 and fails, it’s considered destroyed and should be removed from a players inventory. Armor can be repaired. Roll its current Usage Die and multiply the amount by 10 to determine the cost to upgrade the Usage Die to the next die up in the chain. This repair must be performed by a trained craftsman.

Alternatively, if you have the proper tools, you can attempt to fit it in the field. Make a Tinkering (INT) check. If successful, you upgrade the Usage Die by one. If you fail, the armor is rendered useless.

Magic Weapons and Armor

  • All magic weapons and armor are Master Crafted, so they do not have any detrimental tags, such as Heavy or Cumbersome.
  • Weapon modifiers add to damage, not to hit rolls.
  • Armor modifiers add to Armor Points, but these points never expire during combat like standard armor points.
  • Magic weapons and armor are not impervious to damage or destruction, but give Advantage to Tinkering checks to repair.
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