Saturday, April 27, 2019

First Impression of the Black Hack system

Yes, I realize I'm VERY late to the party on this. Before G+ went tits-up, there were ravening hordes of gamers talking about The Black Hack and the myriad of derivative games based on it. And I pretty much ignored all of that. But this afternoon, Jeremy messaged me asking if I wanted to game tonight, and I said sure. Dean played too. So I finally got a chance to try it out.

Jeremy was running The Rad Hack, which is obviously for post-apoc/Gamma World type stuff. I rolled up Cybersys 842, a robot with a laser gun and satellite uplink to a supercomputer. Dean rolled up Pompeo, a psychic with empathy and life leech. Our mission was to recover stolen property for the warlord of our enclave, but when we found the target we schmoozed with her and ended up traveling across the territory of mutant cannibal freaks to her enclave instead. We're still undecided if we want to stay with her bunch or return to our own.

Anyway, the Black Hack system is pretty simple and easy to run. It's got the standard six ability scores and every sort of check you make is to roll under one of the six. Many abilities and bits of gear have a resource die that you roll. If you get a 1 or 2, it goes down a step. If it's d4 and drops, it's depleted until you rest/resupply. Simple and easy.

The places that take getting used to are the rules for Armor and for NPC/monster rolls. For armor, it works as extra hit points and damage reduction at the same time. Just starting out, we didn't have the money to buy armor (as a robot, I have built in armor of 2) so it was hard to see just how effectively it works, but the rules are fairly simple. Armor reduces damage up to its value. Once damage goes above its value, it's depleted until you can repair it. The wording in the rule book was a bit confusing, but in actual play it was alright.

The fact that the DM doesn't roll for very much is a bit annoying for me, though. I'm not the sort of gamer that thinks, "Man, I wish I was rolling the dice more often!" So maybe I'm not the target audience. But after over three decades of games where the GM rolls to hit and saves for the monsters, this seems a bit meh to me. I mean, it allows for your ability scores to replace a separate AC number, but why not just let the DM roll?

So I have a few areas of dissatisfaction, but in general, the game went smoothly, character creation was easy and straightforward, and leveling up at the end of the session was no problem either. I can see now why so many people like the system. Maybe I'll give it a go as DM sometime. Or even make my own variant...

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