Indie3 5

Black Hack (2018)

This is the second edition Black Hack (2018). Why is it called the Black Hack? Because it is by David Black and it is a homebrew reimagining of the original D&D system with modern RPG design mixed in. The first edition of TBH was pretty brief and interesting, but in no way prepared me for the beautiful thing the second edition would become. Oh, and SkullFungus did the cover art, which, of course. Its pretty perfect.

Having recently tried to re-read the old White Box D&D rules, I can tell you that those books are a mess (it was first, and they were doing this on the fly, so it is forgivable). TBH, in contrast, is super light and streamlined. The core rules take about 30 pages. They are so polished, you’re liable to slip on them. They’re recognizable as the old classics (hey, fighter, thief, wizard, cleric), but there are plenty of modernizations (advantage and disadvantage are in here) and clever rules created from whole cloth (experience and armor, for instance, are radically reimagined). And the core rules are arranged to be learned on the fly as you’re playing, so they are clear and to the point.

The GM section is like, glittering perfection. It is part workbook, part tool box, packed with tables, generators, you name it. It breaks down everything you need to run a game into easy to use, easy to comprehend chunks, then nudges you to just mess around with them. There are piles of ideas here that will take you back to your old haunts and into brand new territory.

The whole thing is so elegant it approaches the platonic ideal of an old school RPG; easy to pick up, fast to run, not an ounce of nonsense in it, but open and flexible enough for you to fill it with whatever craziness you want to bolt on. Damn near perfection in 128 pages.

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