Saturday, March 25, 2017

Factions in the Ruined World

While "The Wasted Hack" can be used to role play in any post apocalyptic setting, from a ruined version of the players' hometowns or countries of origin to worlds taken out of popular fiction and film, it does come with a default "Ruined World" setting inspired by the card game project the RPG evolved from.

In addition to a number of important locations (such as Snail-Town which is featured in the solo-play adventure), There are several factions briefly discussed in the rulebook as well.


Feared, hated, and at best tolerated, Infected survivors often struggle to exist alongside non-infected humans.  Members of the HereAfter seek to find answers concerning the origin of the anthropomorphic virus released during the End Times War.  Some believe they are searching for a cure, while others believe they wish to share their “special curse” with all that remains of humanity.


A secret association of cultists obsessed with ending the suffering of the wounded world. Members of the End believe in the existence of a weapon system that was never deployed during the End Times Wars. Often hidden in plain sight, members of The End pursue this lost technology at any cost.


Claiming roots to an official military regiment that fought in the End Times War, the Sword is a ragtag band of mercenary soldiers that sell their services to the highest bidder. Members of the Sword are just as likely to defend a settlement against raiders as they are to aid the raiders in breaching the settlement’s walls.  The Sword has access to heavy firepower and “world before” military vehicles and equipment.


Little is known about these bizarre monks that have recently been discovered wandering the Big Nothing. A consensus on their purpose is hard to reach considering they all seem to suffer from some manner of insanity and do not give straight answers when interrogated or tortured.

What is known is that they are deadly unarmed combatants who posses strange abilities not witnessed in others in the ruined world.


Inhabiting the fringes of the Big Nothing, often lurking in radioactive foothills, large numbers of mutants greedily eye the human settlements scattered throughout the sands.

The Mutants typically have tribal social structures, and are just as likely to kill one another as they are humans. It is prophesied they will one day unite and enslave or devour (depending on the prophet) all of humankind. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Nevermind Why: How Does a Ratling Cross the Road?

One of the key elements of the Black Hack core mechanic is that it is geared almost entirely from the perspective of the character. A player rolls below their relevant ability score to attack, and then repeats the process to avoid damage from an attacking opponent. This places the onus on staying alive clearly on the shoulders of the character. There are some modifications based upon an opponent's Hit Dice which make such actions easier or harder for the character, but monsters in general do not have relevant abilities, or a "target to hit number". Again, this is all taken from the perspective of the character. Even Initiative is dependent on the character rolling below their dex to go before the opponent. I have also left out the mechanics of advantage and disadvantage, which are very simply ways to make this whole affair a bit more robust.

I have seen some criticism of this system, stating that having players make all the rolls ruins the sense of immersion. I think this is a valid argument from a certain perspective, and a certain playstyle. I don't personally see it as a problem, but that is just my opinion.

The real challenge for me with this system comes when an opponent has to deal with the environment. If a character uses a snare to trap an opponent, does the character roll each moment against their strength to prevent the opponent from breaking free from the snare, a trap that was on the ground? This doesn't make much sense. What about a character leaping over a chasm to escape a pursuing horde of goblins. It does not make much sense for the player to roll against their own dexterity or strength to prevent the goblins from making the jump.

I have run into this challenge with driving rules. Allowing a player to prevent an enemy from boarding their vehicle with a dex test makes sense. The player is actively trying to move their car away from the bandit or raider that is trying to jump onto it.

But consider a rubble strewn section of post apocalyptic highway that creates a driving hazard for the characters. The driver must make a handling check ( a dex check modified by the handling rating of their vehicle) to avoid the rubble and prevent rolling on the "crash table". It stands to reason that pursuing enemy vehicles would also need to avoid the hazard, and there is no way to abstract or rationalize a roll on the player's behalf to simulate this.

At some point, enemies will need some sort of stat to roll against, something more than hit points or hit dice, and this is where things get a little clunky. The system that works so simply, often described as elegant, starts to break down a little, and "work-arounds" are less "elegant".


The solution I have found adds an extra layer of complexity to the "light rules".
Whenever an enemy is opposed by the environment, "they" must roll under a target number. This number can be a default difficulty number (17 for easy, 15 for moderate, 10 for easy, 7 for challenging, 5 for difficult, for example.), subtracting their hit dice from the roll. In this system, the GM must roll for the opponent.

Another alternative might be using a default number such as "9". and adding +1 for each hit die an opponent has, and this is their default "stat" to roll under (In the same manner that players roll). While this feels more organic as it is tied directly to the mechanics used by players, it does require the GM to determine the "STAT" for a monster. One way around this is to give monsters a value such as "STAT" in their description and chart. One problem is that it assumes that a monster/ opponent is equally skilled at overcoming every type of obstacle they encounter, and also creates a system that runs contrary to player's perspective. If a wizard casts a spell, does the wizard test their relevant stat (INT or WIS) to affect an enemy, or should the enemy have the chance to oppose the spell using their generic "STAT".

This could be taken even further, and one could argue that enemies could try to resist a character's attack using their "STAT".

I think, for my purposes, I prefer the generic difficulty table for enemies to roll against vs environment (GM must roll under a predefined target number and subtract "monster's" Hit Dice from the roll, a natural roll of 20 (5% chance) always resulting in failure).

This does not emulate the same system used by characters, and is easier to keep separate.
Whenever enemies are dealing with a character, the system always skews back to the perspective of the character.

Perhaps the only exception would be surprise attacks. A character should not be able to actively defend against an attack they are unaware of.

A hidden orc archer (raider sniper, etc.) takes careful aim at a party member. The GM makes a quick judgement on the difficulty of the task (Is the character moving? Does the character have partial cover or concealment due to obstructions or lack of light?. The GM rolls against the target number associated with the difficulty, subtracting only the difference between the orc's Hit Dice and the character's level (if the orc's number is greater) from the roll. - adding this extra element of comparing hit dice to levels compensates for the fact that this is not merely a monster vs environment situation, and is a compromise on behalf of the character.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Raiders and Gangers

I am working on the "Game Master" section of "The Wasted Hack", which includes rules the players don't need to know as well as "default" setting information.

Among notable locations, I am providing some notes that go beyond "monster descriptions" in the bestiary section concerning larger groups of antagonists.

The image to the left is representative of a group of raiders known as the "Deaders".  If you grabbed a copy of Waste-Land Beasts and How to Kill Them", you might be familiar with the "Fallen Deader" already.

Deaders worship/ follow a charismatic and powerful Litch known as "The Grey Queen".  Their numbers are made up almost entirely of humans, cast off from other raider clans or "liberated" from settlements that employ slave labor.

Painting themselves to resemble skeletons or other forms of undead, the Deaders travel in smaller groups looting and pillaging supplies, but unlike other raider clans they often strip a settlement clean and haul away everything useful when they leave.

It is rumored that there is a vast encampment somewhere in the Big Nothing where the Grey Queen is amassing a force large enough to overrun even the most heavily fortified city.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Truth Podcast: Dark End of the Mall

I have been a fan of this podcast ( The Truth) for a while now, and the other day I listened to an episode that was surprisingly post-apocalyptic.

The twenty two minutes or so it takes to listen to it are well spent!

Listen to it here

Interactive Solo Adventure (Part One) Is Up!

As work on my current projects enters the final stages, I have released Part One of "True Tales of a Snail-Town Slave", and interactive online adventure set in the ruined world of "The Wasted Hack".

The game tracks armor points and hit points behind the scenes, Damage for successful attacks was pre-generated and incorporated into the story.

Using inklewriter, I was able to incorporate tags to track consequences, items acquired, and even previous actions and choices.

Click to start your adventure!

Sunday, March 5, 2017


I am wrapping up an inklewriter "interactive story" using the "Wasted Hack" rules and Inklewriter.

 The format allows for adding tags, tracking values, and placing conditions on available options. This allows for simulating combat in the story by tracking hit points, and giving attack options that approximate the percentage chance of rolling under an ability score.

A Dexterity of 16 would grant a 75% chance of success to attacks with a ranged weapon or to dodge a ranged attack, so three out of four "which-way" choices will result in success, with the ability to use a luck point until it is spent. I was even able to track armor points.

I will be updating this post with images that are being used in the story, as they cannot be directly embedded and need a spot to link to.

The above image is a WarHawk.  WarHawks are considered Marvelous Items, and fall under the category of "Lost Wonders". Lost wonders represent the pinnacle of innovation before the world fell into ruin during the End Time Wars.

WarHawks are muscle cars that bend the rules for vehicle construction and upgrading. They are better than they should be, all things being equal when compared to other cars (faster and able to hold more armor), but they are gas guzzlers and really only good for short range excursions.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

I have finally had a chance to put together a simple website for use with "The Wasted Hack", and all the other products/ projects I have completed or am currently working on. The website will not replace this blog, or host an "on site blog" or anything of the sort, but will act as a hub for all past, present and future projects.

This Blog will have a persistent link to the website over there on the right ( the shield and banner logo) and the webiste also links back to this blog.