Saturday, December 23, 2017

Eleventh Game Of Christmas 2017

Previous Games of Christmas: Traveller, Heavy Gear, Exalted, Mutants & Masterminds, Rifts, Hunters of Alexandria, Stars Without Number, Monster of the Week, Rules Cyclopedia, Lady Blackbird

Many of the games of Christmas have been games I have played for years, or at least rules sets I have played for years. Today's game is a little different. I encountered it for the first time this year. I thought it was just a stripped down version of another system, but it wasn't. It is a fantastic distillation of the core concepts of the dungeon crawl experience. It does its job well and in a very brief amount of space. Lets dig into...

The Black Hack

This game is a fine example of its craft. It does its job with almost no superfluous mechanics or cruft of any sort. It is minimalist and yet it works for me. I read through this as a primer on how to minimize space used while still retaining explanatory power.

Peritextual Elements
The cover makes me think of the movie, This Is Spinal Tap. Its like, "How much more black could it be, " and I'm like, "None...it could be none more black." There is no real art within the book. The layout is simple and utilitarian, with just enough style to make the game feel like itself without calling back to other games. The character sheet is well designed and focused around the play experience. It has a drawing of your characters backpack with a grid for figuring out how everything fits back there.

Mechanics
The mechanics are super simple. Your character has six attributes(Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, Cha). To accomplish a task or make a save you must roll a d20 and get a number lower than the appropriate attribute rating. Sometimes you will have a situation where you have an edge or where you have disadvantage. If you have advantage you roll 2d20 and take the lower of the two rolls. If you have disadvantage you do the same but take the higher of the two rolls. There are specific rules for combat and the like, but that is the basics. Really solid. The classes each take one page, they have a special ability, areas they gain advantage in, and how they advance in level. There are one page spell lists for the cleric and the conjurer classes and a solid bestiary. All of this is in less than 20 pages. Solid design, solid mechanics.

Setting
The setting is not explicit. However there are certain setting assumptions built into the mechanics of the game. The bestiary covers the standard monsters you would expect from a fantasy dungeon crawl. The setting has magic and monsters and you fight monster to gain treasure of a sort. But by and large there is not much of a setting. There are also a bunch of hacks of the black hack, some of them official some are made by others. They cover a lot of ground, you can find what you are looking for within the mechanical paradigm of the game. Check it out, its fun and interesting.

Now we are through the penultimate game of Christmas. Tomorrow the final game of Christmas...

Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game